Sony A5100 vs Panasonic L1
The Sony Alpha A5100 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2014 and February 2006. The A5100 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the L1 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (A5100) and a Four Thirds (L1) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 7.4 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
|Sony A5100||Panasonic L1|
|Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Sony E mount lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|24 MP, APS-C Sensor||7.4 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|1080/60p Video||no Video|
|ISO 100-25600||ISO 100-1600|
|No viewfinder, LCD framing||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 922k dots||2.5" LCD, 207k dots|
|Tilting touchscreen||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|6 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|400 shots per battery charge||750 shots per battery charge|
|110 x 63 x 36 mm, 283 g||146 x 87 x 64 mm, 606 g|
Body comparison: Sony A5100 vs Panasonic L1
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A5100 and the Panasonic L1. 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic L1 is considerably larger (83 percent) than the Sony A5100. Moreover, the L1 is substantially heavier (114 percent) than the A5100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the A5100 nor the L1 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A5100) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (L1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the Sony A5100, have moreover the advantage that they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance and can thus use many lenses from other systems via adapters.
The power pack in the A5100 can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.
|Sony A5100»||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||10.0 oz||400||n||Aug 2014||549||Sony A5100|
|Panasonic L1«||5.7 in||3.4 in||2.5 in||21.4 oz||750||n||Feb 2006||999||-||Panasonic L1|
|Canon XT« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||19.0 oz||400||n||Feb 2005||899||-||Canon XT|
|Leica Digilux 3« »||5.7 in||3.4 in||3.0 in||21.4 oz||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499||-||Leica Digilux 3|
|Olympus E-330« »||5.5 in||3.4 in||2.8 in||22.5 oz||750||n||Jan 2006||999||-||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-300« »||5.8 in||3.3 in||2.5 in||22.0 oz||750||n||Sep 2004||799||-||Olympus E-300|
|Panasonic L10« »||5.3 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||450||n||Aug 2007||599||-||Panasonic L10|
|Sony RX100 IV« »||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.6 in||10.5 oz||280||n||Jun 2015||999||-||Sony RX100 IV|
|Sony A5000« »||4.3 in||2.5 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||420||n||Jan 2014||449||-||Sony A5000|
|Sony A6000« »||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.8 in||12.1 oz||360||n||Feb 2014||599||-||Sony A6000|
|Sony RX100 III« »||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.6 in||10.2 oz||320||n||May 2014||799||-||Sony RX100 III|
|Sony A3000« »||5.0 in||3.6 in||3.3 in||14.5 oz||470||n||Aug 2013||329||-||Sony A3000|
|Sony NEX-3N« »||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||480||n||Feb 2013||499||-||Sony NEX-3N|
|Sony RX100 II« »||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.9 oz||350||n||Jun 2013||749||-||Sony RX100 II|
|Sony NEX-F3« »||4.6 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||11.1 oz||470||n||May 2012||599||-||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony RX100« »||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.4 in||8.5 oz||330||n||Jun 2012||649||-||Sony RX100|
|Sony NEX-3« »||4.6 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||10.5 oz||330||n||May 2010||599||-||Sony NEX-3|
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 A5100 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 45 percent) than the L1, 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.
Sensor comparison: Sony A5100 vs Panasonic L1
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. 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A5100 features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic L1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the L1 is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the A5100 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the L1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 24MP, the A5100 offers a higher resolution than the L1 (7.4MP), but the A5100 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 5.51μm for the L1). However, the A5100 is a somewhat more recent model (by 8 years and 5 months) than the L1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The A5100 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during video recording.
The Sony Alpha A5100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600 The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Sony A5100»||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.8||12.7||1347||80||Sony A5100|
|Panasonic L1«||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||-||-||-||-||-||Panasonic L1|
|Canon XT« »||APS-C||8.0||3456||2304||-||21.8||10.8||637||60||Canon XT|
|Leica Digilux 3« »||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||-||-||-||-||-||Leica Digilux 3|
|Olympus E-330« »||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||-||-||-||-||-||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-300« »||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||-||-||-||-||-||Olympus E-300|
|Panasonic L10« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.3||10.8||429||55||Panasonic L10|
|Sony RX100 IV« »||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70||Sony RX100 IV|
|Sony A5000« »||APS-C||19.8||5456||3632||1080/60i||23.8||13.0||1089||79||Sony A5000|
|Sony A6000« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||13.1||1347||82||Sony A6000|
|Sony RX100 III« »||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||12.3||495||67||Sony RX100 III|
|Sony A3000« »||APS-C||19.8||5456||3632||1080/60i||23.7||12.8||1068||78||Sony A3000|
|Sony NEX-3N« »||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||22.8||12.5||1067||74||Sony NEX-3N|
|Sony RX100 II« »||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.5||12.4||483||67||Sony RX100 II|
|Sony NEX-F3« »||APS-C||16.0||4912||3264||1080/60i||22.7||12.3||1114||73||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony RX100« »||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.6||12.4||390||66||Sony RX100|
|Sony NEX-3« »||APS-C||14.0||4592||3056||720/30p||22.1||12.0||830||68||Sony NEX-3|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The A5100 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the L1 does not. The highest resolution format that the A5100 can use is 1080/60p.
Feature comparison: Sony A5100 vs Panasonic L1
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the L1 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the A5100 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A5100, the Panasonic L1, and comparable cameras.
|Sony A5100»||-||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||4000||6.0||Y||n||Sony A5100|
|Panasonic L1«||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||4000||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic L1|
|Canon XT« »||optical||n||1.8||115||fixed||n||4000||3.0||Y||n||Canon XT|
|Leica Digilux 3« »||optical||n||2.5||207||fixed||n||4000||3.0||Y||n||Leica Digilux 3|
|Olympus E-330« »||optical||n||2.5||215||tilting||n||4000||3.0||Y||n||Olympus E-330|
|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|
|Sony RX100 IV« »||2359||n||3.0||1228||tilting||n||2000||16.0||Y||Y||Sony RX100 IV|
|Sony A5000« »||-||n||3.0||461||tilting||n||4000||3.5||Y||n||Sony A5000|
|Sony A6000« »||1440||n||3.0||922||tilting||n||4000||11.0||Y||n||Sony A6000|
|Sony RX100 III« »||1440||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||2000||10.0||Y||Y||Sony RX100 III|
|Sony A3000« »||202||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||4000||2.5||Y||n||Sony A3000|
|Sony NEX-3N« »||-||n||3.0||460||tilting||n||4000||4.0||Y||n||Sony NEX-3N|
|Sony RX100 II« »||-||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||2000||10.0||Y||Y||Sony RX100 II|
|Sony NEX-F3« »||-||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||4000||5.5||Y||n||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony RX100« »||-||n||3.0||1229||fixed||n||2000||10.0||Y||Y||Sony RX100|
|Sony NEX-3« »||-||n||3.0||920||tilting||n||4000||7.0||n||n||Sony NEX-3|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The A5100 has a touchscreen, while the L1 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The A5100 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the L1 does not have a selfie-screen.
The A5100 writes its imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the L1 uses SDHC cards.
Connectivity comparison: Sony A5100 vs Panasonic L1
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 Sony Alpha A5100 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Sony A5100»||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A5100|
|Panasonic L1«||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic L1|
|Canon XT« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Canon XT|
|Leica Digilux 3« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Leica Digilux 3|
|Olympus E-330« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-300« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-300|
|Panasonic L10« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic L10|
|Sony RX100 IV« »||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony RX100 IV|
|Sony A5000« »||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A5000|
|Sony A6000« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A6000|
|Sony RX100 III« »||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony RX100 III|
|Sony A3000« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A3000|
|Sony NEX-3N« »||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-3N|
|Sony RX100 II« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony RX100 II|
|Sony NEX-F3« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony RX100« »||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-||Sony RX100|
|Sony NEX-3« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-3|
It is notable that the A5100 offers wifi support, while the L1 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
The A5100 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. 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: Sony A5100 vs Panasonic L1
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A5100 or the Panasonic L1 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A5100:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 7.4MP) with a 84% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
- Richer colors: Larger sensor generates images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Capable of capturing a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can be used in poorly lit environments and still produce good images.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60p movies.
- Better video autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident movie 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 (922k vs 207k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x63mm vs 146x87mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 323g or 53 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (45 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 8 years and 5 months of technical progress since the L1 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2006).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A5100 is the clear winner of the match-up (20 : 4 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 comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the A5100 or the L1. 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.
Expert reviews: Sony A5100 vs Panasonic L1
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Sony A5100»||Rec||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549||Sony A5100|
|Panasonic L1«||85/100||Rec||-||rev||3.5/5||Feb 2006||999||-||Panasonic L1|
|Canon XT« »||80/100||HiRec||rev||rev||-||Feb 2005||899||-||Canon XT|
|Leica Digilux 3« »||-||-||-||-||-||Sep 2006||1,499||-||Leica Digilux 3|
|Olympus E-330« »||-||Rec||rev||3.5/5||-||Jan 2006||999||-||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-300« »||-||Rec||rev||rev||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799||-||Olympus E-300|
|Panasonic L10« »||85/100||Rec||3.5/5||rev||4/5||Aug 2007||599||-||Panasonic L10|
|Sony RX100 IV« »||HiRec||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||999||-||Sony RX100 IV|
|Sony A5000« »||Rec||-||4.5/5||rev||4.5/5||Jan 2014||449||-||Sony A5000|
|Sony A6000« »||Rec||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599||-||Sony A6000|
|Sony RX100 III« »||HiRec||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||799||-||Sony RX100 III|
|Sony A3000« »||Rec||-||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2013||329||-||Sony A3000|
|Sony NEX-3N« »||-||-||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499||-||Sony NEX-3N|
|Sony RX100 II« »||HiRec||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||749||-||Sony RX100 II|
|Sony NEX-F3« »||-||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599||-||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sony RX100« »||HiRec||78/100||4/5||5/5||5/5||Jun 2012||649||-||Sony RX100|
|Sony NEX-3« »||-||70/100||4.5/5||5/5||4/5||May 2010||599||-||Sony NEX-3|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
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- Leica M10 vs Pentax Q
- Nikon D4S vs Sony A9
- Nikon D5100 vs Sony RX100
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- Panasonic LX15 vs Sony A7R II
Specifications: Sony A5100 vs Panasonic L1
|Camera Model||Sony A5100||Panasonic L1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2014||February 2006|
|Launch Price||USD 549||USD 999|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.6 mm||17.3 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||366.6 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.2 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||7.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||3136 x 2352 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.91 μm||5.51 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.55 MP/cm2||3.28 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100-25600 ISO||100-1600 ISO|
|Image Processor||BIONZ X||Venus|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||80||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.8||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.7||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1347||..|
|Viewfinder Type||No viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||n/a||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||2.5 inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||207k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Autofocus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Phase-detect AF|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||6 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||MS or SDXC cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Battery Type||NP-FW50 power pack||CGR-S602 power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
110 x 63 x 36 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in)
146 x 87 x 64 mm
(5.7 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
|Camera Weight||283 g (10.0 oz)||606 g (21.4 oz)|
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