Panasonic L1 versus Sony A7S II
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 and the Sony Alpha 7S II are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2006 and September 2015. The L1 is a DSLR, while the A7S II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (L1) and a full frame (A7S II) sensor. The Panasonic has a resolution of 7.4 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 12 MP. 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 Sony A7S II
The physical size and weight of the Panasonic L1 and the Sony A7S II are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions 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 – the L1 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7S II is somewhat smaller (4 percent) than the Panasonic L1. However, the A7S II is slightly heavier (3 percent) than the L1. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7S II 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (L1) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7S II). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A7S II, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
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|
|Panasonic L1»||5.7 in||3.4 in||2.5 in||21.4 oz||750||n||Feb 2006||999||-|
|Sony A7S II«||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.1 oz||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Canon XT« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||19.0 oz||400||n||Feb 2005||899||-|
|Canon Rebel« »||5.6 in||3.9 in||2.8 in||22.9 oz||400||n||Aug 2003||899||-|
|Leica V-LUX 1« »||5.6 in||3.4 in||5.6 in||25.9 oz||360||n||Sep 2006||849||-|
|Leica Digilux 3« »||5.7 in||3.4 in||3.0 in||21.4 oz||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499||-|
|Nikon D80« »||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||23.6 oz||600||n||Aug 2006||999||-|
|Nikon D70s« »||5.5 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||24.0 oz||500||n||Apr 2005||899||-|
|Olympus E-330« »||5.5 in||3.4 in||2.8 in||22.5 oz||750||n||Jan 2006||999||-|
|Olympus E-500« »||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.6 in||16.9 oz||750||n||Sep 2005||599||-|
|Olympus E-300« »||5.8 in||3.3 in||2.5 in||22.0 oz||750||n||Sep 2004||799||-|
|Panasonic L10« »||5.3 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||450||n||Aug 2007||599||-|
|Sony A7 III« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Sony A99 II« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony A7R II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.0 oz||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199||-|
|Sony A7 II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999||-|
|Sony A7S« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||17.2 oz||380||Y||Apr 2014||2,499||-|
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 L1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 67 percent) than the A7S II, which puts it into a different 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 Sony A7S II
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. 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Panasonic L1 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony A7S II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7S II 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 A7S II offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 12MP, the A7S II offers a higher resolution than the L1 (7.4MP), but the A7S II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 8.40μm versus 5.51μm for the L1) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A7S II is a much more recent model (by 9 years and 6 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.
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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.
|Panasonic L1»||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||-||-||-||-||-|
|Sony A7S II«||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|Canon XT« »||APS-C||8.0||3456||2304||-||21.8||10.8||637||60|
|Canon Rebel« »||APS-C||6.3||3072||2048||-||21.0||10.8||544||55|
|Leica V-LUX 1« »||1/1.8||10.0||3648||2736||480/30p||-||-||-||-|
|Leica Digilux 3« »||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||-||-||-||-||-|
|Nikon D80« »||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||-||22.1||11.2||524||61|
|Nikon D70s« »||APS-C||6.0||3008||2000||-||20.4||10.3||529||50|
|Olympus E-330« »||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||-||-||-||-||-|
|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||-||21.3||10.8||429||55|
|Sony A7 III« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|Sony A99 II« »||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|Sony A7R II« »||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|Sony A7 II« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony A7S« »||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||1080/60p||23.9||13.2||3702||87|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The A7S II indeed provides for movie recording, while the L1 does not. The highest resolution format that the A7S II can use is 4K/30p.
Feature comparison: Panasonic L1 vs Sony A7S II
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A7S II has an electronic viewfinder (2400k 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Panasonic L1 and Sony A7S II 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.
|Sony A7S II«||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||Y|
|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-330« »||optical||n||2.5||215||tilting||n||4000||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|
|Sony A7 III« »||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A99 II« »||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||8000||12.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R II« »||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7 II« »||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7S« »||2400||n||3.0||921||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||n|
The A7S II is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the L1 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the L1 was succeeded by the Panasonic L10.
Review summary: Panasonic L1 vs Sony A7S II
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Panasonic L1 or the Sony A7S II – has the upper hand? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 370) 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 (67 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2006).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha 7S II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 7.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 30%.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- 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 (1229k vs 207k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More modern: Reflects 9 years and 6 months of technical progress since the L1 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A7S II is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 5 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.
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 A7S II 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 where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known 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.
|Panasonic L1»||85/100||Rec||-||rev||3.5/5||Feb 2006||999||-|
|Sony A7S II«||Rec||-||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Canon XT« »||80/100||HiRec||rev||rev||-||Feb 2005||899||-|
|Canon Rebel« »||-||HiRec||-||rev||-||Aug 2003||899||-|
|Leica V-LUX 1« »||-||-||-||-||-||Sep 2006||849||-|
|Leica Digilux 3« »||-||-||-||-||-||Sep 2006||1,499||-|
|Nikon D80« »||Rec||HiRec||rev||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999||-|
|Nikon D70s« »||-||-||-||rev||5/5||Apr 2005||899||-|
|Olympus E-330« »||-||Rec||rev||3.5/5||-||Jan 2006||999||-|
|Olympus E-500« »||76/100||HiRec||-||-||-||Sep 2005||599||-|
|Olympus E-300« »||-||Rec||rev||rev||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799||-|
|Panasonic L10« »||85/100||Rec||3.5/5||rev||4/5||Aug 2007||599||-|
|Sony A7 III« »||HiRec||89/100||5/5||-||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Sony A99 II« »||-||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony A7R II« »||HiRec||90/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199||-|
|Sony A7 II« »||Rec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999||-|
|Sony A7S« »||-||86/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||2,499||-|
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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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.
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