Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 Review
Conclusion - Pros
- Excellent control layout; proper shutter speed and aperture dials
- Very fast access to aperture and shutter priority modes
- Very good build quality; magnesium alloy frame
- Supersonic Wave Filter ensures no dust on sensor
- Metering available in viewfinder and live view modes
- Good dynamic range, very similar to Canon EOS 30D
- Natural color and tone response, not over saturated or over contrasty
- Adjustable noise reduction level (although default is 'zero')
- Very good automatic white balance across the board (all light sources)
- Better noise reduction algorithm than we've seen from Panasonic (mostly chroma NR)
- Noise only becomes an issue at ISO 1600
- Unique on-board flash can be positioned for bounce or direct illumination
- Dedicated AF assist lamp (doesn't require flash to be raised)
- Unlimited continuous shooting with a fast card
- Fairly good SD card throughput and USB 2.0 transfer speed
- Support for both SD and SDHC cards
- Live view feature useful for certain subject types (and for manual focus)
- Excellent 'kit' lens (although accounts for more than half of the kit price)
- Very effective Optical Image Stabilization in lens
- Two customizable FUNC buttons
- Large, bright and detailed 2.5" LCD monitor (although not tilting)
- Powerful, lightweight Lithium-Ion battery
- Orientation sensor
Conclusion - Cons
- Small and dark viewfinder view (difficult to see fine detail, difficult to check focus)
- Auto-focus in live view requires display freeze and mirror flip down / up
- Image processing algorithm not 'crisp' in appearance (although artifact free)
- Live view becomes dark in low light / DOF preview (doesn't adjust gain)
- Shutter release delay in live view
- Image parameter adjustments don't offer enough latitude of change
- Auto focus provides just three focus points, although AF performance good
- No record review delete / cancel
- Some dials are too easily knocked (metering mode, drive mode, focus mode)
- Lack of status LCD can mean shorter battery life (LCD monitor takes more power)
- Artifacts in SilkyPix images from RAW
- RF interference artifacts (one off incident?)
- Size / weight (especially with provided lens)
- Price, competition
The DMC-L1 is Panasonic's first foray into the highly competitive digital SLR market. As such I think they should be pretty happy with the result. From an image quality point of view they've taken a surprisingly mature and conservative approach delivering clean images with natural color and tone response which aren't over-sharpened or over-processed. That said I would have liked to have seen a little more 'crispness' from the in-camera image processing engine which is clearly there if you process RAW. On their consumer camera's Panasonic have a bit of a reputation for their noise reduction algorithm which at higher sensitivities delivers 'water color like' images, that could easily be solved by implementing the algorithm used in the L1 which appears to concentrate on dealing with chroma noise (color blotches) while maintaining luminance information (detail).
Physically this is a big camera, I think 'chunky' would be an apt description with some very Leica-like design hints. The 'good old' shutter speed and aperture dials are simply very useful, you can flip into aperture priority mode by just turning the aperture dial from the 'A' position (although obviously only with the kit lens). I was less happy with the viewfinder which just like all other Four Thirds cameras was too small and tunnel like.
Nobody can doubt the quality of the kit Panasonic / Leica lens, contrasty and sharp with a very usable zoom range and excellent image stabilization. However it does add considerably to the cost of the DMC-L1 (in our estimations about half of its asking price), so at the point of sale it's a double edged sword.
The usefulness of Live View will no doubt continue to be debated and as I stated in my E-330 review I think we're still not there and won't be until Live View has no impact on the usability of the camera (auto focus, metering, shutter release lag). That said the L1's implementation is a step forward from the E-330, we now have white balance applied to the live view image and metering (although not using the same metering sensor as would be used with the viewfinder). Panasonic also chose not to use the additional CCD in the viewfinder chamber so the L1 only has one Live View mode (which makes it easier to understand).
The other thing the L1 achieves (and now the E-330 through a firmware update) is Auto Focus in live view, however it's less than perfect as it requires the mirror to drop and raise introducing a freeze in the display, an additional noise and a delay. It's a 'clunky solution' which should really be solved by implementing contrast detect auto focus on the main sensor (even if it wasn't as fast as the dedicated AF sensor it would be better than the current solution).
Overall I liked the DMC-L1 but it was never my immediate choice when I just needed to 'grab a camera' for a snapshot, it requires a little more consideration and can deliver great results once you work your way around it and tune the image parameters to your personal tastes. Unfortunately due to its price position it does have to go up against stiff competition such as Canon's EOS 30D and now the cheaper Olympus E-510.
Rating (out of 10)
|Ergonomics & handling||8.0|
Nikon turns 100 years old today, and the company is celebrating with a wacky music video, some tributes to its history, and a new vision presented by president Kazuo Ushida.
Phottix just released the Premio Parabolic Umbrellas series, replacing their Para-Pro line with a stronger, deeper and better made set of parabolic umbrellas.
The Moto Z2 is Motorola's first dual-camera smartphone and, compared to its predecessor, comes with a number of improvements and new camera features.
Researchers at Stanford have revealed a new '4D camera system' built for robots. The system is based on the same light field tech that allowed Lytro cameras to refocus images after they were taken.
If you want 'beautiful rendition' from your lenses, follow this simple rule: only buy classic low-element prime lenses with lead glass elements—everything else is junk.
In an interview with CNBC, Leica Chairman Andreas Kaufmann said he dreams of a 'true Leica phone,' and hinted at what's next for the Leica and Huawei partnership.
Wildlife and nature photographer Peter Mather tells the story behind this exceptional shot of a mama grizzly and her cub searching for salmon in Yukon, Canada.
Popular YouTube channel TastyTuts has put together this 33-video Beginner's Guide to Adobe Photoshop—a godsend for anybody who wants to learn Photoshop from scratch.
The long anticipated replacement for the popular Rode VideoMic Pro is almost ready for shipping. The price of the upgraded VideoMic Pro+ will be £290/$300 when it goes on sale in mid-August.
A new iOS app called Explorest wants to help you find new locations to shoot. It's limited to Singapore for now, but the app is packed full of useful location scouting features.
Nikon's D850 development announcement is extremely light on details, so we assembled a wish list of upgrades and features we'd love to see.
Nikon has announced the development of the long-awaited replacement to its full-frame D810: the D850. Nikon says that the D850 will build on the strengths of its predecessor and offer 'new technologies, features and performance enhancements.'
Lens manufacturer Voigtlander has introduced a 65mm F2 macro lens for Sony E-mount that it says "rates as one of the finest in the history of Voigtländer."
The UK released a preview of their upcoming drone safety regulations, and it looks like drone pilots will have to both register their device and pass safety awareness tests.
National Geographic photographer Bob Holmes talks about light, and why you need to learn how to 'see' and not just 'look' at your subject.
Photographer Alessandro Barteletti shares the story behind his National Geographic Italia cover, shot with a 10-year-old DSLR and an iPhone flashlight.
Fashion catalog photographers in China have some next-level models to work with. In this video, you see one model hitting 30 poses in 15 seconds as the photographer snaps away.
Photographer Paul Adshead breaks down 11 photography-related smartphone apps he couldn't live without—from a pocket light meter to a lighting diagram app.
Fast-growing Chinese flash brand Godox is teasing a brand new flash trigger... for smartphones. The Godox A1 is a 'phone flash system' that can act as both flash and 2.4GHz trigger.
On July 12, Canon opened its newest Technology and Support Center, designed to serve the motion picture industry, in Burbank, CA. DPReview got a sneak peak and takes you behind the scenes.
The Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art is truly one-of-a-kind. It offers the fastest aperture of any lens that shares its focal length, produces beautiful sunstars and is incredibly sharp to boot. If you're in the market for a fast ultrawide prime, this looks to be the one to get.
In this article, expert macro photographer Thomas Shahan shares advice for successful closeup photography of bugs, insects and small animals.
DJI's new firmware makes it difficult to fly in restricted airspace, even when you have proper clearance. Is DJI placing themselves between professionals and the FAA?
Go behind the scenes with National Geographic photographer Renan Ozturk and see what it takes to capture a dangerous, harrowing, stunning Nat Geo photo essay.
Erez Marom tells the story behind this ominous photo of the sand 'reaching up' towards the mountains at Skagsanden beach in Norway. He calls this photo 'Torment.'
DPReview staffer Carey Rose has taken the Panasonic Leica DG 15mm F1.7 along for everything from a city-side boat ride to a bachelor party across the mountains. Find out how the little Leica fared.
Canon just unveiled the largest 12-ink printer on the market. The new imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 printer can make prints from 17 all the way up to 60 inches wide.
"Standing in one of the holiest places on earth, I felt uneasy," writes Wired's Jason Parham. "Most of my fellow visitors, I realized with a brief bloom of nausea, were taking selfies."
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk has been receiving great reviews, but it's a challenge to see it in its full glory. This handy infographic reveals the aspect ratio chaos that is wrought as the industry retreats from film.
Anti-bullying organization Ditch the Label's Annual Bullying Survey 2017 reveals yet again that Instagram, more so than any other social network, has the worst effect on youth mental health.