Panasonic L1 vs Ricoh GR III
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 and the Ricoh GR III are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2006 and February 2019. The L1 is a DSLR, while the GR III is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (L1) and an APS-C (GR III) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 7.4 megapixels, whereas the Ricoh 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 Ricoh GR III? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Panasonic L1 and the Ricoh GR III is provided 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 width, height and depth 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 Ricoh GR III is considerably smaller (47 percent) than the Panasonic L1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the L1 nor the GR III are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the GR III has a lens built in, whereas the L1 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the L1 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The power pack in the GR III can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Panasonic L1||146 mm||87 mm||64 mm||606 g||750||n||Feb 2006||999|
|2.||Ricoh GR III||109 mm||62 mm||33 mm||257 g||200||n||Feb 2019||899|
|3.||Canon G7 X Mark III||105 mm||61 mm||41 mm||304 g||235||n||Jul 2019||749|
|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.||Fujifilm XF10||113 mm||64 mm||41 mm||279 g||330||n||Jul 2018||499|
|7.||Leica Digilux 3||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499|
|8.||Leica V-LUX 1||141 mm||86 mm||142 mm||734 g||360||n||Sep 2006||849|
|9.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|10.||Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|11.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|12.||Olympus E-500||130 mm||95 mm||66 mm||479 g||750||n||Sep 2005||599|
|13.||Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799|
|14.||Panasonic ZS200||111 mm||65 mm||45 mm||340 g||370||n||Feb 2018||799|
|15.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599|
|16.||Ricoh GR II||117 mm||63 mm||35 mm||251 g||320||n||Jun 2015||699|
|17.||Ricoh GR||117 mm||61 mm||35 mm||245 g||290||n||Apr 2013||799|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 GR III was launched at a lower price than the L1, despite having a lens built in. 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 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. 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Panasonic L1 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Ricoh GR III an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the GR III is 63 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.5. The sensor in the L1 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the GR III offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 24MP, the GR III offers a higher resolution than the L1 (7.4MP), but the GR III has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 5.51μm for the L1). Yet, the GR III 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 enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the GR III has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Ricoh GR III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the GR III 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.
The GR III has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Ricoh GR III are ISO 100 to ISO 102400 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 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.||Ricoh GR III||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Canon G7 X Mark III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Leica V-LUX 1||1/1.8||10.0||3648||2736||480/30p||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Olympus E-500||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
|16.||Ricoh GR II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||23.6||13.7||1078||80|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The GR III indeed provides for movie recording, while the L1 does not. The highest resolution format that the GR III can use is 1080/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the L1 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GR III relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the GR III can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the GV-1. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Panasonic L1 and Ricoh GR III along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|2.||Ricoh GR III||optional||n||3.0||1037||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.0||n||Y|
|3.||Canon G7 X Mark III||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||30||Y||Y|
|7.||Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|8.||Leica V-LUX 1||235||n||2.0||207||swivel||n||1/2000s||2.0||Y||Y|
|16.||Ricoh GR II||optional||n||3.0||1230||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The L1 has one, while the GR III 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 Ricoh GR III 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 GR III uses SDXC cards. The GR III supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 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 Ricoh GR III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|2.||Ricoh GR III||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||3.0||Y||-||Y|
|3.||Canon G7 X Mark III||-||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|7.||Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Leica V-LUX 1||Y||mono||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Ricoh GR II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the GR III 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.
The GR III is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Ricoh. 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 and Ricoh websites.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Panasonic L1 or the Ricoh GR III – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 200) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2006).
Arguments in favor of the Ricoh GR III:
- 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.
- 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 1080/60p video.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 207k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the L1 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (109x62mm vs 146x87mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the L1).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 12 years and 11 months of technical progress since the L1 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GR III is the clear winner of the contest (24 : 6 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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 Ricoh GR III place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the L1 or the GR III. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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.||Ricoh GR III||4/5||..||81/100||4/5||..||Feb 2019||899|
|3.||Canon G7 X Mark III||..||+ +||81/100||4/5||..||Jul 2019||749|
|4.||Canon XT||..||80/100||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|5.||Canon Rebel||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899|
|6.||Fujifilm XF10||..||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2018||499|
|7.||Leica Digilux 3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||1,499|
|8.||Leica V-LUX 1||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||849|
|9.||Nikon D80||..||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|10.||Nikon D70s||..||..||..||..||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|11.||Olympus E-330||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999|
|12.||Olympus E-500||..||76/100||+ +||..||..||Sep 2005||599|
|13.||Olympus E-300||..||..||+||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799|
|14.||Panasonic ZS200||..||+ +||81/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2018||799|
|15.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|16.||Ricoh GR II||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||699|
|17.||Ricoh GR||5/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Panasonic L1 vs Ricoh GR III
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||Ricoh GR III|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||28mm f/2.8|
|Launch Date||February 2006||February 2019|
|Launch Price||USD 999||USD 899|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic L1||Ricoh GR III|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||7.4 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3136 x 2352 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.51 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 102,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||Venus||GR Engine VI|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic L1||Ricoh GR III|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||207k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic L1||Ricoh GR III|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic L1||Ricoh GR III|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Panasonic L1||Ricoh GR III|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||200 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)
109 x 62 x 33 mm
(4.3 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||606 g (21.4 oz)||257 g (9.1 oz)|
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