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Panasonic Lumix DMC L1 | Digital Camera Review | Camera
The least that can be said is that the Panasonic L1 features truly peculiar looks, which certainly doesn't mean the camera isn't attractive. Panasonic clearly haven't opted for a streamlined design. If we are to be blunt: to the eye the Panasonic Lumix L1 isn't much more than a square block with a whopper of a lens. It isn't exactly a light-weight camera either. Then again, that isn't always necessary, especially when considering the durable build of the Panasonic L1. The camera has been neatly finished, and it is the rubber finish in particular that ensures the Panasonic Lumix L1 is pleasant to hold. You really do notice you have a quality product in hands.
Panasonic Lumix DMC L1 | Digital Camera Panasonic Lumix DMC L1 | Digital Camera
Panasonic Lumix L1 - Small hand grip
The front side of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 features a small hand grip, which is just enough to offer sufficient grip. Above the hand grip, and in fact barely visible, we find the infrared sensor, which is also used for the white balance metering. Just off-centre, we see a metal bayonet, which fits all lenses from the FourThirds system, whether it is an Olympus or a Leica lens. The mirror housing shows a small mirror, which folds away side-ways. The lens unlock is positioned on the right side below the bayonet. At the top we find the auto focus assistance illuminator.

Panasonic L1 - Connections & Memory compartment
On the lower right side of the camera, we see a small lid behind which you find the connections for the USB, the TV and the remote control. This small lid has been properly integrated into the camera, and can hardly be noticed. Although it will not be entirely dustproof or water-resistant, the interfaces are reasonably protected against dust and water. The opposite side holds the small door to the Secure Digital memory card. Again, we find a particularly attractive finish here. The small door opens with a spring, and proves very solid to the touch. Below this door, we find another small lid, through which the A/C cable fits, if you opt to connect the Panasonic Lumix L1 to the mains power via the A/C power adaptor.

Panasonic DMC-L1 SLR - LCD display & Viewfinder
The back side of the camera is very crowded indeed. Apart from the fact that the large 2.5-inch LCD monitor takes up a fair bit of space, the camera also features a generous amount of buttons. The ocular is found at the far top left. It extends quite far, which means your nose will not easily bump against the screen when photographing with your left eye. This ensures you will not have to remove as many smudges. A dioptre-setting is positioned on the ocular. In my opinion, the viewfinder itself is a tad too small and dark. The viewfinder view shows the three focus points, which are positioned quite closely together. Next to it, you find the information area, which displays a large amount of information. Consequently, there is no need to remove your eye from the viewfinder in order to check the main settings. I find this abundance of information quite pleasant indeed. A pity, however, that the viewfinder proves too small, especially when compared to the viewfinders of DSLR cameras like the Nikon D80.

Panasonic Lumix DMC L1 DSLR - Buttons
The buttons for the white balance, the sensitivity, the flash setting and the flash correction can all be found on the left side of the monitor, and are positioned in a vertical row. The right side of the monitor holds the playback button, the button for the screen rendition, the depth of field control button for Live View, and the indispensable recycle bin.
Besides these, the camera features additional buttons located above the screen. These serve to activate Live View and flip up the built-in flash. We also find a switch for the various focus options (continuous, single or manual), with the exposure and focus lock located in its centre.

Panasonic L1 reflex camera - Mode dial
If you think that sums up all buttons on the camera's rear, you will be surprised. At the far top right, we find the main switch. A rather inconvenient position, as it easily causes you to switch the camera on or off by accident. The mode dial is positioned on the left side below the main switch. It allows you to browse through the available functions and photos, create settings, and zoom in. Moreover, this dial allows you to alter the combination of the shutter speed and the aperture when working in the P mode. It is somewhat hidden from sight, and I thus found myself in search of the dial on several occasions. However, you will quickly familiarise yourself with this location after having worked with the camera in practice. Lastly, we find four navigation buttons at the bottom, positioned in a circle with the Menu and Set button located in the centre. These four buttons enable you to browse through the menu. All in all, the back side of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 thus holds a staggering 20 operation elements!

Panasonic L1 - Shutter speed button & Shutter release button
The top side of the Panasonic L1 offers yet more buttons. Remarkable is the shutter speed button, which reminds us of the analogue cameras. It holds the shutter release button in its centre, which looks quite striking indeed. Below the shutter speed button, we find a switch for the various image speeds. On the right side, we see the switch to set the camera to spot metering, centre-weighted metering or multi-segment metering. Furthermore, we find two programmable buttons. The menu allows you to assign frequently used settings to these buttons.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 - Built-in flash
The centre of the camera holds the built-in flash, which features a special construction with two hinges. If you flip up the flash, it will point upwards. This enables indirect flashing, a very clever solution! We have also seen this feature on several of Panasonic's compact cameras, and I must say I find it pure genius. To point the flash towards the front, you will need to pull it forwards by hand. Lastly, we find a hot shoe for an external flash located on the left side above the viewfinder. The bottom side of the Panasonic DMC-L1 is equipped with a metal tripod mount, and a small lid for the battery. It has to be said that the camera features a particularly solid finish, and simply radiates quality.
Panasonic Lumix DMC L1 Panasonic Lumix DMC L1
   
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