The Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 is a digital
camera targeted to advanced amateur photographers
desiring the image quality and flexibility provided
by a digital SLR. It has 7.5 megapixel resolution
on a 4/3 in. (17.3 x 13 mm) Live MOS Sensor, and
comes with the LEICA D VARIO-ELMARIT 14-50mm/F2.8-3.5
(28mm, 35mm equivalent)
(100mm, 35mm equivalent)
One of the advantage of a dSLR is the ability
to use interchangeable lenses suited for specific
jobs. The lens mount system used in the Panasonic
L1 is based on the Four
Thirds open standard which means that you
can use other Four Thirds lenses, such as the
Olympus Zuiko digital lenses created for the EVOLT
digital SLRs and Sigma 4/3-System lenses. Leica
is also promising to design and manufacture more
4/3-Systems lenses. Here is a list of compatible
Four Thirds lenses.
What is not visible outwardly but is another
exclusive feature of the Olympus E-330/Panasonic
L1 is the Dust Reduction System. With SLR cameras
that use interchangeable lenses, dust can enter
the camera and settle on the image sensor everytime
the lens is changed. A Supersonic Wave Filter
is positioned in front of the image sensor and
everytime the camera is switched on, this filter
generates supersonic vibrations at a rate of around
30,000 per second to shake off dust and other
particles from the sensor. The dust is collected
by a dust absorption section below the filter.
This ensures the quality of the images is not
compromised by dust on the image sensor.
14mm (28mm), Program, ESP,
1/6 sec., F3.5, ISO 400
About 29cm away, Self-timer 2 sec., Tripod
The actual macro capability is a function of
the lens you use, and the included Leica lens
allows you to focus only as close as 29 cm (11.5
in.). That does not allow you to cover a small
area enough for what we generally call "macro."
If you are into macro photography, check out the
50mm f/2.0 Macro Zuiko Digital Lens which allows
you to move in as close as 24 cm (9.45 in.) with
a 35mm equivalent of 100mm and a large F2.0 aperture.
As the above pictures show, the auto white balance
(AWB) indoors under tungsten artificial light
is not accurate. Manual WB provides the best results.
As expected, AWB works well in natural light.
f you are in a situation where you may not be
able to use Manual WB, the Panasonic L1 provides
a quick and easy way to adjust WB by using WB
ADJUST. Simply press the WB button, followed by
the DOWN ARROW. The WB ADJUST screen overlays
on your image. Then use the arrow keys to fine
tune the WB.
The Live View LCD displays the effect of white
balance selection as well as exposure compensation
The Panasonic L1 has 5 ISO settings going from
ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The 100%
crops above (area delimited by the white square)
demonstrate the noise at the available ISO Speeds
of 100, 200 and 400, 800 and 1600. The images
above have been taken indoors at night under two
regular household incandescent bulbs. Images are
clean from ISO 100 to 400, and I can't find much
fault with ISO 800 either! Many will be quite
happy with ISO 1600, though its quality seems
to depend on the subject matter [see the Panasonic
L1 Photo Gallery].
I have not been able to find much CA in everyday
high-contrast shots, and where it is present it
is minimal. The square delimited by the red square
at top left, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom
right, shows slight purple fringing.
42mm (84mm), Aperture-Priority,
ESP, 50 sec., F11, ISO 100
Manual WB, Self-timer 10 sec., Tripod Used
Noise Reduction ON, 100% crop
using the 14-50mm F2.8-3.5 Leica lens
The Panasonic L1 allows the use of a long shutter
speed of up to 30 sec. in P and 60 sec. in Aperture-Priority,
Shutter-Priority and Manual modes (plus up to
8 minutes Bulb in Manual mode), therefore allowing
very nice night photography. Generally, with image
sensors, noise usually becomes more prominent
at slow shutter speeds. When you set Noise Reduction
to ON in the menu [Menu - Custom - Long Shutter
NR - ON], the Panasonic L1 has special noise reduction
algorithm that automatically kicks in and you'll
notice a longer processing time (approx. twice
as long) before the next picture can be taken.
To test this noise reduction algorithm, we decided
to take a low-light indoors shot. To obtain a
long exposure, I place Bamm-Bamm under my desk
where it's dark.
On P mode, the Panasonic L1 selects 6 sec. at
F3.5. Since I want a much longer shutter time,
I turn the Aperture Ring to F22 [and effectively
switch to Aperture-Priority mode]. The camera's
meter indicates there's not enough light, so I
turn the aperture to F16 and then F11. At F11,
the camera meters a 50 sec. shutter time. The
Panasonic L1 positively shines here: even at this
long shutter speed, the noise reduction works
great, producing a nice smooth blurring effect
of the background.
How did Panasonic achieve this? Here is Panasonic
"Panasonic also applied embedded photodiode
technology that we accumulated in developing CCDs
and created a new low-noise process technology
that achieves low-voltage (5.0 V) operation. This
reduces noise in dark image areas, so you can
capture bright images even when shooting in dim
I find that the AF is very responsive and images
snap quickly enough into focus. For Bamm-Bamm's
picture above, it was so dark I could see only
the faintest of outline in the viewfinder or LCD.
I just made sure the center of the frame pointed
on the subject, half-press to engage AF (with
AF-assist ON) and took the picture. You'd agree
with me that it came out pretty sharp enough.
P, ESP, 1/3.2 sec., F3.5, ISO Auto = 400
Handheld without & with Optical Image
To demonstrate the effectiveness of the O.I.S.
(Optical Image Stabilization), I handheld the
above two shots at 1/3.2 sec. without and with
the O.I.S. set at MODE 2.
The Panasonic L1 allows you to save an image
in the RAW file format. The camera saves your
image in both RAW and JPEG. It takes about 4-5
sec. to save both to memory card (I used a regular
SanDisk 2GB SD card). Note that these times do
not include the extra write times you'll experience
if Noise Reduction kicks in.
At L 3, a 7.5MP image is compressed down to anywhere
between 5MB and 6MB. A RAW image occupies about
We find the overall image quality of the Panasonic
Lumix DMC-L1 to be excellent with good details
in the shadows and highlights. Colours come out
with very good depth of tonality.
The pictures in the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1
Photo Gallery page provide a good sample of
what the camera is capable of. I have provided
unprocessed samples at 800x600 pixels (compressed
to Quality 60/100 in Photoshop Elements) as well
as the 3136x2352 pixels original size (click on
the image for the original version). Any of the
800x600 image that is adjusted for levels and/or
sharpened in Photoshop has "_adjusted"
appended to the file name. Original images are
You can safely assume that most macro shots and
slow shutter speed shots required the use of a
I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels.
For those who have their monitor resolution set
to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit
and you should not have to scroll to see the whole
image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels
resolution, start the slide show and then scroll
to the right to position the image within your
screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using
Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode,
and the image should fill your screen nicely.
Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor
display back to normal mode.
To return to this page from the Photo Gallery,
click on the animated graphics of the camera.
Please open and download the original size version
only if you need to and only once
to your hard drive -- and save me some precious