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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 revealed to the public, 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

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Panasonic L1 and the Olympus E-330. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the L1 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort 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 want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons 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)
Panasonic L1» 5.7 in 3.4 in 2.5 in 21.4 oz 750 n Feb 2006 999- i
Olympus E-330« 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 n Jan 2006 999- i
Canon XT« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899- i
Canon Rebel« » 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899- i
Leica V-LUX 1« » 5.6 in 3.4 in 5.6 in 25.9 oz 360 n Sep 2006 849- i
Leica Digilux 3« » 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499- i
Nikon D80« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 999- i
Nikon D70s« » 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 500 n Apr 2005 899- i
Olympus E-500« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.6 in 16.9 oz 750 n Sep 2005 599- i
Olympus E-300« » 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 n Sep 2004 799- i
Panasonic L10« » 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 n Aug 2007 599- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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.

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

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Panasonic L1» Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----
Olympus E-330« Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----
Canon XT« » APS-C 8.0 3456 2304-21.810.863760
Canon Rebel« » APS-C 6.3 3072 2048-21.010.854455
Leica V-LUX 1« » 1/1.8 10.0 3648 2736480/30p----
Leica Digilux 3« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----
Nikon D80« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.111.252461
Nikon D70s« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-20.410.352950
Olympus E-500« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----
Olympus E-300« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----
Panasonic L10« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.310.842955
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

Apart from 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Panasonic L1 and Olympus E-330 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera 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
Panasonic L1»optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Olympus E-330«optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 4000 3.0 Y n
Canon XT« »optical n 1.8 115 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Canon Rebel« »optical n 1.8 118 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n
Leica V-LUX 1« »235 n 2.0 207 swivel n 2000 2.0 Y Y
Leica Digilux 3« »optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Nikon D80« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Nikon D70s« »optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 8000 3.0 Y n
Olympus E-500« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n
Olympus E-300« »optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n
Panasonic L10« »optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n

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 what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Panasonic L1 or the Olympus E-330 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:

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


Reasons to prefer the Olympus Evolt E-330:

  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-330 comes out slightly ahead of the L1 (1 : 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 00:01 E-330

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the L1 and the E-330 in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

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

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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 send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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