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Panasonic Lumix DMC L1 Review

Digital camera review overview
Panasonic Lumix DMC L1 Introduction
Panasonic Lumix DMC L1 Camera
Panasonic Lumix DMC L1 Control
Panasonic Lumix DMC L1 Adjustments
Panasonic Lumix DMC L1 Storage and Energy
Panasonic Lumix DMC L1 Conclusion

Panasonic Lumix DMC L1 Review conclusion

Panasonic Lumix DMC L1 digital reflexcamera
Panasonic show they are realistic. They know they will not instantly become a market leader. After all, the market will need to get used to them, and Panasonic will in turn have to learn a thing or two about this "new market". This strategy of building things up slowly and unhurriedly is something I can certainly appreciate. It indicates Panasonic intend to take things seriously, and are keen to go for the long-term run. They know the L1 will not be an instant sales hit, but that isn't the concept of this type of product in the first place. Their decision to start off with an almost high-end model is thus a wise choice. The statement is clear: Panasonic have made their entrée, and this is their business card!

Panasonic DMC-L1 - Solid D-SLR camera
There is much to be said about the looks of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1. I too am not yet entirely sure whether I find the camera attractive or a little peculiar. Either way, the combination of the camera and the standard lens proves to be an imposing presence. It simply radiates solidity, and we must say that is exactly the impression one gets from holding the camera. Despite the lack of a genuine prism housing, the Panasonic has a rather classic appearance. Both the lens and the shutter speed ring clearly contribute to this. It should be obvious that this camera does not prioritize design; the Panasonic Lumix L1 is all about photography! In fact, it is rather odd to perceive, something I not often encounter with a technical product. It seems as if the photographer and the L1 gradually explore each another, before becoming inseparable partners, remarkable!

Panasonic Lumix L1 - Pleasant operation
The operation of the Panasonic L1 is very pleasant indeed. I am particularly charmed by the ease with which the shutter speed and aperture can be adjusted, and the way you can simply switch back to P. It is similar to working with a classic camera, which is a rather welcome addition in a time where it is often become impossible to decipher the exact meaning or use of certain features or functions. The Panasonic Lumix L1 is therefore likely to appeal to the more traditional photographer. Perhaps this type of photographer will also be less troubled by the fact that the L1 isn't exactly the fastest available camera. The focussing is without question sufficient, yet far from the fastest as far as DSLR cameras are concerned. Then again, it never hurts to take things easy in this world where everything seems hectic, and in a way it even suits the camera.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 - Live View
Although I had my doubts about the use of Live View, I find Panasonic's approach increasingly appealing. It is the use of Live View when setting the white balance in particular that I consider to be a true gem. It is exactly as one would like it to be. It clearly shows what will happen, and even enables you to capture a decent photo in advance. Everything that has to be done afterwards always takes more time, and sometimes even affects the actual quality, especially when photographing in JPEG. A pity, however, that the histogram cannot be consulted when setting an exposure correction in Live View. That would truly make things perfect.

Panasonic L1 - Various image ratios
Panasonic also make clever use of Live View to enable various image ratios, without having to design a very pricey viewfinder. The fact that a DSLR camera offers you the option to work with three different ratios is both unique and fun. You can quickly capture a widescreen shot, which instantly results in a slightly different photo than usual. Granted, it can also be done afterwards by cropping the image, but it is easier if done at the moment of capturing. Moreover, this will prompt you to really think about how you want your photo to turn out.

Panasonic Lumix L1 SLR - Viewfinder
As far as I'm concerned, the viewfinder of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 is a bit of a downside. It is simply a tad too small, which can make it tricky to see what you're doing. One would consider using Live View even for that alone, had it not been for the fact that the operation will then slow down somewhat. You will need to wait briefly until the focussing has taken place, and the mirror has flipped back, before the mirror flips up again and the shutter can open. Not exactly ideal for action. However, Live View does prove perfect for manual focussing. It is the enlargement in particular that allows you to achieve a very accurate focus. Something that would certainly be trickier to accomplish through that small viewfinder.

Panasonic L1 digitale SLR - Many setting options
In addition to the Live View options, the Panasonic L1 features many more settings. The cover of the user manual reads 'Please read all of these instructions before use". It has to be said it would indeed be wise to do so if you really want to get to know the camera. In fact, you will likely have to read through it several times at least in order to get the best results out of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1. Needless to say this isn't a camera for the novice or impatient photographer. One could say it is a camera which you will need to grow into. It offers such a staggering amount of options that finding the summit of your photographic abilities will be an interesting challenge for any photographer. The Panasonic L1 certainly isn't a camera that merely wants to promote the simple AUTO mode. However, I am convinced this approach will know exactly how to stimulate this target group in the right way.

Panasonic L1 digital SLR - Excellent image quality
Once you have gotten acquainted with the camera, the Panasonic L1 will allow you to capture striking, well-balanced shots. The image quality is excellent, even though the sensor remains a tad on the small side. The colour rendition proves a little too saturated, but this can easily be fixed when shooting in RAW. Up to and including ISO 400, noise does not play a part, although it quickly increases with higher values. Fortunately, MEGA O.I.S. enables extensive hand-held shooting, so that you do not easily end up above ISO 400.

Panasonic DMC L1 - Recommended DSLR camera
All in all, I took quite a liking to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1. It certainly is a cheeky camera with a number of equally cheeky quirks. If Panasonic manage to deal with these small issues, they will without question have a winner in hands. The challenge that Panasonic face is that they are yet to build their reputation as a DSLR manufacturer. However, the combination of the Panasonic L1 and the superior standard lens provides Panasonic with an impressive business card, which is always a great starting point. We have certainly gotten a taste for more!
Panasonic Lumix DMC L1 review

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SanDisk Extreme III flash memory
The resolution of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 isn't remarkably high. A "mere" 7.5 Megapixels fit onto the sensor. Still, you are likely to need large cards, especially when working in RAW. Each RAW file comes with an additional JPEG that also needs to be stored. And even if you choose the smallest JPEG, the card will still easily fill up. The following table shows the amount of images that fit onto a 2GB card. I would therefore seriously recommend this type of card, particularly to those who will be capturing their photos in RAW. It is also wise to invest in fast cards, such as the SanDisk Extreme III. The buffer will fit 6 RAW images. If shooting in JPEG, you will be able to keep going until the card is full. Provided you have a fast card, of course.

Considering 2GB of storage capacity:

Ratio 4:3
Large - 3136x2352 pixels - Fine - 260 [RAW 88] images
Large - 3136x2352 pixels - Normal - 530 [RAW 105] images
Large - 3136x2352 pixels - Basic - 1040 [RAW 115] images
Average - 2560x1920 pixels - Fine - 400 [RAW 98] images
Average - 2560x1920 pixels - Normal - 790 [RAW 110] images
Average - 2560x1920 pixels - Basic - 1530 [RAW 120] images
Small - 2048x1536 pixels - Fine - 620 [RAW 105] images
Small - 2048x1536 pixels - Normal - 1220 [RAW 115] images
Small - 2048x1536 pixels - Basic - 2360 [RAW 120] images

Ratio 3:2
Large - 3136x2080 pixels - Fine - 300 [RAW 99] images
Large - 3136x2080 pixels - Normal - 600 [RAW 115] images
Large - 3136x2080 pixels - Basic - 1180 [RAW 130] images
Average - 2560x1712 pixels - Fine - 450 [RAW 110] images
Average - 2560x1712 pixels - Normal - 880 [RAW 125] images
Average - 2560x1712 pixels - Basic - 1700 [RAW 135] images
Small - 2048x1360 pixels - Fine - 700 [RAW 120] images
Small - 2048x1360 pixels - Normal - 1360 [RAW 130] images
Small - 2048x1360 pixels - Basic - 2560 [RAW 135] images

Ratio 16:9
Large - 3136x1760 pixels - Fine - 350 [RAW 115] images
Large - 3136x1760 pixels - Normal - 700 [RAW 135] images
Large - 3136x1760 pixels - Basic - 1390 [RAW 150] images
Small - 2048x1080 pixels - Fine - 930 [RAW 145] images
Small - 2048x1080 pixels - Normal - 1800 [RAW 155] images
Small - 2048x1080 pixels - Basic - 3410 [RAW 165] images

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