Panasonic L1 vs S1
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 and the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2006 and February 2019. The L1 is a DSLR, while the S1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (L1) and a full frame (S1) sensor. The L1 has a resolution of 7.4 megapixels, whereas the S1 provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 and the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Panasonic L1 and the Panasonic S1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic S1 is notably larger (29 percent) than the Panasonic L1. Moreover, the S1 is substantially heavier (68 percent) than the L1. It is noteworthy in this context that the S1 is splash and dust-proof, while the L1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The power pack in the S1 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Panasonic L1||146 mm||87 mm||64 mm||606 g||750||n||Feb 2006||999|
|2.||Panasonic S1||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1017 g||400||Y||Feb 2019||2,499|
|3.||Canon R6||138 mm||98 mm||88 mm||680 g||360||Y||Jul 2020||2,499|
|4.||Canon XT||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|5.||Canon Rebel||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899|
|6.||Leica Digilux 3||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 1||141 mm||86 mm||142 mm||734 g||360||n||Sep 2006||849|
|8.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|9.||Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|10.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|11.||Olympus E-500||130 mm||95 mm||66 mm||479 g||750||n||Sep 2005||599|
|12.||Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799|
|13.||Panasonic S5||133 mm||98 mm||82 mm||714 g||440||Y||Sep 2020||1,999|
|14.||Panasonic S1R||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1016 g||380||Y||Feb 2019||3,699|
|15.||Panasonic S1H||151 mm||114 mm||110 mm||1052 g||400||Y||May 2019||3,999|
|16.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599|
|17.||Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The L1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 60 percent) than the S1, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Panasonic L1 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Panasonic S1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the S1 is 276 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.0. The sensor in the L1 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the S1 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 24MP, the S1 offers a higher resolution than the L1 (7.4MP), but the S1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 5.51μm for the L1) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the S1 is a much more recent model (by 12 years and 11 months) than the L1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the S1 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Panasonic S1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic L1 are 15.7 x 11.8 inches or 39.8 x 29.9 cm for good quality, 12.5 x 9.4 inches or 31.9 x 23.9 cm for very good quality, and 10.5 x 7.8 inches or 26.6 x 19.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
Unlike the L1, the S1 has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (96MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Panasonic L1||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Panasonic S1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.5||3333||95|
|3.||Canon R6||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4k/60p||24.2||14.3||3394||90|
|6.||Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 1||1/1.8||10.0||3648||2736||480/30p||..||..||..||..|
|10.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Olympus E-500||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Panasonic S5||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.1||14.5||2697||94|
|14.||Panasonic S1R||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||26.4||14.1||3525||100|
|15.||Panasonic S1H||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||6K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|16.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
|17.||Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The S1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the L1 does not. The highest resolution format that the S1 can use is 4K/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the S1 has an electronic viewfinder (5760k dots), while the L1 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the S1 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the L1 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the S1 has a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.47x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Panasonic L1 and Panasonic S1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|6.||Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 1||235||n||2.0||207||swivel||n||1/2000s||2.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The L1 has one, while the S1 does not. While the built-in flash of the L1 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the S1 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Panasonic S1 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The L1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the S1 uses SDHC or XQD cards. The S1 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the L1 only has one slot. The S1 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the L1 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 and Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|6.||Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 1||Y||mono||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the S1 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the L1 does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Panasonic S1 (unlike the L1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The S1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the L1 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the L1 was succeeded by the Panasonic L10. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Panasonic website.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Panasonic L1 and the Panasonic S1? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- More compact: Is smaller (146x87mm vs 149x110mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 411g or 40 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 400) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (60 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2006).
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 7.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 84%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/60p video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.47x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2100k vs 207k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-II standard.
- More modern: Reflects 12 years and 11 months of technical progress since the L1 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S1 is the clear winner of the contest (31 : 8 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Panasonic L1 and the Panasonic S1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the L1 or the S1 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 provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Panasonic L1||..||85/100||+||..||3.5/5||Feb 2006||999|
|2.||Panasonic S1||4.5/5||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||2,499|
|3.||Canon R6||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||2,499|
|4.||Canon XT||..||80/100||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|5.||Canon Rebel||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899|
|6.||Leica Digilux 3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||1,499|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 1||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||849|
|8.||Nikon D80||..||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|9.||Nikon D70s||..||..||..||..||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|10.||Olympus E-330||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999|
|11.||Olympus E-500||..||76/100||+ +||..||..||Sep 2005||599|
|12.||Olympus E-300||..||..||+||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799|
|13.||Panasonic S5||4.5/5||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2020||1,999|
|14.||Panasonic S1R||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||3,699|
|15.||Panasonic S1H||..||..||90/100||..||..||May 2019||3,999|
|16.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|17.||Sony A900||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Panasonic L1 vs Panasonic S1
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Panasonic L1||Panasonic S1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Leica L mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2006||February 2019|
|Launch Price||USD 999||USD 2,499|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic L1||Panasonic S1|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||7.4 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3136 x 2352 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.51 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||95|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||25.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||14.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||3333|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic L1||Panasonic S1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||5760k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||207k dots||2100k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic L1||Panasonic S1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||9 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/8000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDXC or XQD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic L1||Panasonic S1|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||full HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Panasonic L1||Panasonic S1|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||400 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
146 x 87 x 64 mm
(5.7 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
149 x 110 x 97 mm
(5.9 x 4.3 x 3.8 in)
|Camera Weight||606 g (21.4 oz)||1017 g (35.9 oz)|
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