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Panasonic L1 versus Olympus E-330

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 and the Olympus Evolt E-330 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2006 and January 2006. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 7.4 megapixel. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Panasonic L1 vs Olympus E-330

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Panasonic L1 and the Olympus E-330 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the L1 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Panasonic L1 vs Olympus E-330
Compare L1 versus E-330 top
Compare L1 and E-330 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-330 is somewhat smaller (4 percent) than the Panasonic L1. However, the E-330 is markedly heavier (5 percent) than the L1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the L1 nor the E-330 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Panasonic L1» 5.7 in 3.4 in 2.5 in 21.4 oz 750 n Feb 2006 999- i Panasonic L1
Olympus E-330« 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 n Jan 2006 999- i Olympus E-330
Canon XT« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
Canon Rebel« » 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Leica Digilux 3« » 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499- i Leica Digilux 3
Leica V-LUX 1« » 5.6 in 3.4 in 5.6 in 25.9 oz 360 n Sep 2006 849- i Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D80« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
Nikon D70s« » 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 500 n Apr 2005 899- i Nikon D70s
Olympus E-500« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.6 in 16.9 oz 750 n Sep 2005 599- i Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300« » 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 n Sep 2004 799- i Olympus E-300
Panasonic L10« » 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 n Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Panasonic L1 vs Olympus E-330

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Panasonic L1 and Olympus E-330 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 7.4 megapixel. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the L1 and the E-330 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. Moreover, the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.

L1 versus E-330 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Panasonic L1» Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Panasonic L1
Olympus E-330« Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Olympus E-330
Canon XT« » APS-C 8.0 3456 2304-21.810.863760Canon XT
Canon Rebel« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.010.854455Canon Rebel
Leica Digilux 3« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Leica Digilux 3
Leica V-LUX 1« » 1/1.8 10.0 3648 2736480/30p----Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D80« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.111.252461Nikon D80
Nikon D70s« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-20.410.352950Nikon D70s
Olympus E-500« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----Olympus E-300
Panasonic L10« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.310.842955Panasonic L10
Both the L1 and the E-330 offer Live View, so that they make it possible to use the rear screen for framing. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Panasonic L1 vs Olympus E-330

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The L1 and the E-330 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Panasonic L1, the Olympus E-330, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Panasonic L1»optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic L1
Olympus E-330«optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 4000 3.0 Y n Olympus E-330
Canon XT« »optical n 1.8 115 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon XT
Canon Rebel« »optical n 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Canon Rebel
Leica Digilux 3« »optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Leica Digilux 3
Leica V-LUX 1« »235 n 2.0 207 swivel n 2000 2.0 Y Y Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D80« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D80
Nikon D70s« »optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 8000 3.0 Y n Nikon D70s
Olympus E-500« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300« »optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Olympus E-300
Panasonic L10« »optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic L10

The L1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the E-330 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-330 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the L1 only has one slot.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Panasonic L1»Y-----2.0---Panasonic L1
Olympus E-330«Y-----2.0---Olympus E-330
Canon XT« »Y-----2.0---Canon XT
Canon Rebel« »Y-----1.1---Canon Rebel
Leica Digilux 3« »Ystereomono---2.0---Leica Digilux 3
Leica V-LUX 1« »Ymonomono---2.0---Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D80« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D80
Nikon D70s« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D70s
Olympus E-500« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-300
Panasonic L10« »Y-----2.0---Panasonic L10

Both the L1 and the E-330 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The L1 was replaced by the Panasonic L10, while the E-330 does not have a direct successor.

Review summary: Panasonic L1 vs Olympus E-330

So how do things add up? Is the Panasonic L1 better than the Olympus E-330 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:

  • Well, not many: Does not have any feature that gives it a substantial advantage over the E-330.


Arguments in favor of the Olympus Evolt E-330:

  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-330 emerges as the winner of the match-up (2 : 0 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

L1 00:02 E-330

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the L1 or the E-330 handle or perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Panasonic L1»85/100Rec-rev3.5/5 Feb 2006 999- i Panasonic L1
Olympus E-330«-Recrev3.5/5- Jan 2006 999- i Olympus E-330
Canon XT« »80/100HiRecrevrev- Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
Canon Rebel« »-HiRec-rev- Aug 2003 899- i Canon Rebel
Leica Digilux 3« »----- Sep 2006 1,499- i Leica Digilux 3
Leica V-LUX 1« »----- Sep 2006 849- i Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D80« »RecHiRecrev4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
Nikon D70s« »---rev5/5 Apr 2005 899- i Nikon D70s
Olympus E-500« »76/100HiRec--- Sep 2005 599- i Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300« »-Recrevrev4.5/5 Sep 2004 799- i Olympus E-300
Panasonic L10« »85/100Rec3.5/5rev4/5 Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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