Friday, January 6, 2012

Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1- Still a Real Gem!

Panasonic Lumix DMC L1 Review- Still a Real Gem!
January 2012, Carl Garrard
Panasonic DMC-L1 w/Minolta MD Rokkor 45mm f/2
Panasonic L1 Review- The Four Thirds mount may have been shown the door, but that doesn't diminish the shine of some of the cameras that use/used it, namely the DMC-L1 by Panasonic. Some of you may have this camera confused by the DMC-LC1 but the two cameras couldn't be more night and day different. After all the L1 is a true DSLR in a rangefinder's clothing unlike the LC1 which is a fixed lens digicam. And some of you still may have this camera confused with using the Micro Four Thirds mount, but this camera existed well before m4/3 was even conceived. Today it still remains one of my favorite cameras of all time, and for reasons I will outline. My current  L1 is relegated to doing near infrared photography only, having been converted by Spencers Camera as a dedicated near IR photographic tool.

As a tool for near IR photography it contains all of the essentials plus a few hidden surprises that make it a dream to work with. And the image quality it produces still impresses even though it is some six years old.

Panasonic DMC-L1 w/Leica Kit Lens Price Check New
The Panasonic DMC-L1 DSLR Review

Why am I writing about a six year old DSLR? Simply because it is a unique and capable camera, fun to use, and has a set of features that can stomp some modern DSLRS even today. And yeah, it looks really cool as a rangefinder styled camera as well. Really cool. It's looks aren't the half of it though. This is a serious photographic tool with an excellent set of controls and features to match.

The DMC-L1 has no less than 20 buttons and switches on the backside alone, and all fall nicely to the hand. The L1 comes from a family of "L" cameras starting back in 2001 with the LC5. Since then, a progressive development of the rangefinder styled camera has ensued giving the L1 the advantage of years of feedback to improve the body layout and controls all the while keeping a very similar look to previous cameras in the lineup, such as the DMC-LC1 (just add a C). The main difference of course is that this is a DSLR and the other two were digicams with fixed lenses.

On top we have more controls, again falling nicely to the hand and there to make fast adjustments keeping the photographer out of the menu system. The placement of the controls is not the only important aspect, of the L1, it's the type of controls they chose to put around the camera.

Why I Like the L1

First and foremost let me introduce you to my feature list of the DMC-L1. Some of these features aren't shown as highlights on the press announcement or reviews on the net but are absolutely vital as a photographic tool (and are noted with an * below) and make the L1 a real bonafide enthusiasts tool. This list also serves as my personal favorite stand out features.

  • 7.5mp Live MOS Image Sensor (blend of CCD and CMOS development)
  • Dedicated AF assist lamp*
  • Unique Dual position on board flash w/bounce feature*
  • Multi-Exposure mode that records even to Raw files*
  • Live view mode with digital telephoto and manual focus magnification features*
  • Ability to confirm focus with manual focus lenses of all brands and types*
  • DNG Format Raw Files*
  • Manually selectable dedicated Shutter Speed dial*
  • External controls for AF type, Drive mode, Metering, White Balance, ISO, Flash EV compensation, DOF preview, Flash settings, AEL/AFL, Shutter speed, and two custom Function Buttons you assign*
  • Unique Film mode settings and two customizable memory stored user film settings*
  • Automatic metering up to a full 60 seconds (most DSLRS are only 30 seconds)
  • 2 second Mirror Lock Up*
  • Release without lens setting (allows usage of any MF lens on the market w/adapter)*
  • In camera resizing and trimming*
  • Thumb operated  control wheel set for fast EV compensation adjustments*
  • Durable Die Cast Magnesium body
  • Ultra Sonic Sensor Vibration for Dust Removal (the most effective kind)*
  • Three frames per second shooting
  • SD Card
  • ISO 100-1600 range
  • Great candidate for infrared conversion because of the live view tools and white balance range*
  • And many, many more features 
Check out all those dedicate controls again! Bliss I say, pure bliss!

Panasonic DMC-L1 w/Leica Kit Lens Price Check New

Unfair Treatment?

Sound like an enthusiast photographic tool to you? Exactly! It is of my opinion that the L1's capabilities somehow got lost/overshadowed by the heated DSLR race in which it entered. The L1 may be a victim of timing to the market more than anything- sporting wildly popular rangefinder styling, looks, and external controls/handling way before they became popular in the mainstream as they are now.

External Controls like this. Take that you run of the mill DSLR you!

The L1 might have also fallen prey to a specification contest to other makes. It could have been that its set of features were simply overlooked because it lacked certain specifications that the press love to rave about. You know, features such as megapixels or high speed frame rates. Nevermind that most people never take advantage of either of those features to their fullest extent, and, add on that this camera's feature set was probably more useful as a real tool than many other popular cameras at the time.

To be fair, it's price in 2006 was rather steep if all you were looking at were megapixels and frame rates. To me however, there are far more valuable features to a budding or active photographer than just megapixels or high frame rates. In fact, those really don't appeal to me much at all. I find that six megapixels is far more resolution than most people ever use even today, and most people don't need frame rates higher than three frames per second either. If either of those are your priority when using a camera, go ahead and stop reading this article now and save yourself the angst and time spent.

And on top of all that I feel the L1 was way over criticized and misunderstood by a majority of the press. The L1 was never designed to compete with the likes of the standard DSLR (if there ever was such a thing), rather this camera was something entirely new and different in many respects and that fact alone was grossly missed. What a pity, a real pity.

Well, no use crying over spilled milk. What is done is done.

And today the L1 is still a very capable photographic tool, just as it always was. The difference now is that you can buy a body only for about 1/4th the original retail price if you look around for a bit. My advice to bargain shoppers is this- If you like rangefinder styling and handling, need a camera that can use many brands of manual focus lenses effectively, you like unique quirky cameras, and the feature list I mentioned previously appeals to you at all- then I suggest you grab one now. You're likely to fall in love with it and the expense you shell out will be wholly worthwhile.

Live View

If you don't trust the AF confirmation in the optical viewfinder, you can can always magnify the image in live view up to 10x the normal size for ultra fine focusing when manually focusing. The screen is large and detailed enough to ensure a tack sharp image when using this method. You can also auto-focus in live view but there's no contrast detection style AF system here, the mirror will flip flop when you focus using phase detect type focusing. I say just take your time and manual focus, enjoy the features the L1 has that help you with that.

Live View Mode (Image courtesy of Panasonic)

Besides focusing aids, the L1 is equipped with a live histogram and a couple different types of composition grids including the traditional rule of thirds grid. Pushing the display button cycles through the different information and a lot of it is tailored to your liking in the menu system. Don't want some of the information, chose to leave it out. Want more, include more- it's up to you.


One of the more notable traits of the L1 is how well it lays in the hand and how well the form of the body functions- it's not just good looks. This is of course assuming you know how to properly hold the L1, i.e. hold it how it was designed to be held. Do this, and the camera suddenly becomes very comfortable  to hold and operate as well the shutter release and all other controls become easily mapped and second nature to use.

This is how you hold the L1. Right side in the palm, thumb flat on the backside rested, forefinger on the shutter release. Hold it this way, and I assure you this is one comfortable camera to hold all day long!

I don't know how many times the flat sides of the L1 have helped me hold it much more steadily than a typical every day DSLR, I've actually lost count. That's good too since the L1 doesn't have in body stabilization like most of the DSLR's I use- you'll need to find a lens that has that feature optically if you really need it.

Easy to hold with the left hand and make a self portrait.

Even making self portraits is a breeze with the L1, namely because of the position of the shutter release and the shape of the grip. Using my left hand on this camera to take a shot is almost as natural as using my right hand, can't do this nearly as easily with the other DSLRS I have. This is very typical of rangefinder designed cameras like this, but the size of the L1 helps matters even more.

Handling is mostly subjective, but overall the L1 remains a well laid out comfortable design to use because of its inherent design platform. Form follows function, bottom line. Just so happens that the form factor is quite pleasant to look at!

Build Quality

A metal chassis says a lot to me about what kind of consumer a camera is designed to court. The L1's die cast magnesium chassis is stiff, light, and high quality. The rest of the camera surrounding its magnesium frame is also above average in quality giving the L1 the object permanence an enthusiast desires. Plain speak, I just hate creaky plasticy cameras.

Unique Flash
I say unique but that isn't entirely telling the truth. Panasonic has this type of on board flash on the L1's predecessor- the LC1, and Leica share's the same type as well on the Digilux 2 and 3 models. However, that is where the lack of unique ownership ends. No other designer has built a two position on board flash in the same manner as Panasonic.

Flash position 1, Bounce Flash mode. Effective indoors with low ceilings, what a bonus!

Flash position 2, Normal. High enough to eliminate red eye, genius!

For indoor shooting or product shooting, that bounce flash does a great job as long as you realize it has power limitations and work within its means. Bounce flash is very nice to use because it doesn't blast your subjects with frontal lighting, instead it bathes them and the lighting appears much more.. um, natural than direct flash.

I have used the L1 for weddings and other events without bringing an accessory flash. Granted I had to choose my spots a bit better than had I brought a big heavy flash, but nevertheless I've made due with it just fine and it always brings a smile knowing I got away with very minimalist standard equipment so well.

Adapted Lenses- The New Trend

In my opinion the "new" trend of using older film lenses on DSLR's with adapters should have breathed new life into interest for the L1, it's a perfect camera to use for such lenses- especially because it includes an optical finder with auto focus points that will confirm focus with ANY manual focus lens you attach. Thats right, any manual focus lens.

Fotodiox MD-4/3 adapter and Minolta MD 45mm f/2 Lens

Because of the inherent advantages the 4/3 mount has, a vast array of lenses are available for use with adapters- more than most types of cameras. Two lenses that I like to use quite a bit are the Minolta MD 45mm f/2 and Vivitar SCS 28mm Close Focus f/2.8. Both were purchased in near new condition for under $40.00 apiece, and both are capable of lovely images with smooth out of focus areas. Not to mention they are tack sharp.

For my near infrared camera, not all lenses are usable because of the dreaded hot spot that occurs on the images due to some lens designs. It took a bit of trial and error to see which lenses I could use that didn't exhibit this issue. I found the Zuiko 14-42mm Olympus lens to be quite good, as well as the 25mm pancake too if you like AF lenses. My two pancake prime budget lenses I mentioned above are free from this issue as well.

Image Quality

Panasonic DMC-L1 w/Leica Kit Lens Price Check New

Something about the L1's image quality is almost sort of magical. Test charts and DXO measurements won't tell you the whole story, so don't go looking there. I'll do my best to explain, and what better way to do that than with a few sample images? Maybe I'm seeing something that isn't there maybe I am. But I will say this, the L1 has surprised me on more occasions I can count when reviewing the images on screen or print.

Lake Fulmor, Idyllwild California DMC-L1
 Cleveland National Forest, Near Rancho Santa Margarita, California DMC-L1
Snowy Santiago Peak, Winter, California DMC-L1

There is a tonality to the images that is both calming and soothing. No, it's not just the subject matter of the images above, there is something else to them. Example, I have a folder of web images I keep that has images from every make and model of camera I've ever used in it, and the ones from the L1 always seem to stand out in their own unique way. The image(s) above for example, I completely forgot I shot them with the L1, but after I reviewed the exif data the odd attraction I have to this images suddenly made sense. Surprised me pleasantly to find out that I used the L1 here, and it justified that mystical look the L1 has.

With my IR converted L1, this holds true more than ever. Even the out of camera Jpegs seem to have some sort of glow or iridescence to them that I can't quite grasp technically- perhaps the answer is that it's not a technical trait at all. It might just be artistic, and,  that also might have been the intention of the designers at the Lumix facility.

Near IR Daytime Moon Image, ISO 100, Pentax A 50mm f/1.4 lens
The Pilgrim, Dana Point Harbor, California- IR Converted DMC-L1

I've owned two or three L1's, but currently I just have the one IR converted L1 in my collection of cameras. I may some day add another used L1, but for now the IR model suits me just fine. The L1 makes a fine specimen for a dedicated IR camera, ticking off nearly every serious feature I prefer for IR shooting.

Technically speaking it might have a lot to do with the "Live-MOS" sensor that Panasonic designed for the L1. It really is a combination of what a CMOS and CCD sensor bring to the table. CCD sensors in my opinion are superior in image quality to CMOS sensors at low sensitivities, while CMOS reign supreme at higher sensitivities and video applications.

The Live Mos sensor of the L1 retains the look of CCD at low ISO's and the live view capabilities of CMOS. I can't help but wonder how good a 7.5mp Live Mos sensor would perform nowadays for higher ISO work considering the new 16mp Live Mos sensor from Panasonic performs better than the L1's sensor with it's pixels being about 1/2 the size. 

Regarding the banding I mentioned earlier in the article, note that it doesn't have to plague your images. After figuring out how to properly combat it, I happily use my L1 all the way up to ISO 1600 where I find the camera makes great looking images with a fine, uniform grain pattern. Quite lovely from my IR camera as you can see below.

ISO 1,600 ACR converted Raw

Yet I'll only use the higher sensitivities when I convert from raw. As nice as the Jpegs are I find I'd much rather control the amount of chroma/luminescence noise in my files.

Used Prices/Replacement?

Panasonic DMC-L1 w/Leica Kit Lens Price Check New

I've seen L1's go as low as $150.00, and I've seen them sell as high as $1,000.00. The price fluctuation with supply and demand used to be that great, but since then the DSLR market has continued to move forward with great speed. L1's now settle in near new condition for about $300.00 body only. You'll pay more than that for the matching Panasonic/Leica 14-50mm f/2.8-3.5 kit lens, at least double if you are lucky. While its true bodies come and go for the most part, some come and are never replaced with a real successor. That is the case here for the L1, so don't be expecting a replacement L2 to come around anytime soon.

While Olympus and Panasonic never officially gave a public statement they were no longer making products for the 4/3 mount (don't confuse that with the m4/3 mount), its pretty obvious that Panasonic is done making DSLRS for the immediate future. I don't consider the new GX1 or previous GF1 to be successors to the L1 or L10 because neither have a built in viewfinder of any kind. I don't like accessory viewfinders generally speaking.

It's Not all Roses

As much as I like the L1, there are a few weaknesses I should mention to the reader or potential buyer. Keep in mind these are weaknesses that I've completely learned to ignore or simply work around.

Viewfinder- First and foremost its optical viewfinder won't dazzle even the sharpest eyed photographer. The viewing size/magnification is pretty small in comparison to other DSLR's I use and is probably the L1's biggest weakness. That said, the viewfinder still manages to report a good amount of information to the eye, but lacks some settings such as ISO and file type. (see * in Roses section). A magnifying eyepiece is available to increase the viewing size if that is something you need, and it works quite well. Olympus and Panasonic both make one to fit this although the Panasonic one is harder to find. I have both.

Flash- For flash geeks, there is no dedicated flash sync port on the L1, yet keeping on the bright side of things it still manages to include the more common style hot shoe vs. a proprietary mount at least.

Weather Sealing- For all weather types, the L1 isn't sealed for dust or moisture protection, you'll need to keep an umbrella or camera sock handy if you like to shoot in the elements much.

Image Banding- In some samples (not all ironically) image banding has been reported. This is the phenomena wherein a camera's image files show horizontal, diagonal, or vertical dark noise bands in the final image. Many cameras have this issue and it's not entirely uncommon although it quite well should be I say. I've owned two L1's, one showed banding in the shadow regions at higher ISO's and the other does not. On the unit that showed banding I found the blue channel to be the culprit of the banding.

How to fix the handing- Adjusting the blue channel saturation slider in ACR in the "calibrate" field will really help matters if you happen upon an L1 that exhibits banding. It can all but be eliminated with careful adjustments of this setting using Adobe Camera Raw. There are rare circumstances and under exposed images at higher ISO's that no matter what I do you can still see some, but again, those images are rare and I don't think the ones I'm mentioning were ever really good enough to want to keep around long term anyways.

The Roses

What I really like about the L1 is its versatile and complete feature set, and all of the external controls. The angel is in the details of the L1, it's a thoroughly thought out camera with an excellent menu system and set of features. It's pretty obvious to me that the L1 was designed by active photographers that placed an emphasis on including features that photographers really need when they are shooting. Grand idea hah?

As obvious as that sounds you'd be surprised at just how many cameras I've used where a manufacturer has left out some very important and obvious bits in a camera. With the L1, I don't recall I've ever had a day of shooting with it wherein I sat wishing it would have been better thought out or had included features I really need. That is one reason why the ol' L1 continues to be a camera that appeals to me as a tool and why it has never "got old".

Specifically I appreciate the way the L1 was designed to aid in manual focusing. First and foremost it's ability to confirm focus on the auto focus points even with obscure lenses using an adapter, is extremely valuable. Although there are only three auto focus points, they are the ones I use most. *With such a small viewfinder the fact the L1 gives you a confirmation "green dot" when you have achieved focus nearly eliminates the need for a large and bright finder for the benefit of manual focusing. You can add a magnifying eyepiece that will enlarge the view at the expense of eye relief.

Conclusion- Panasonic DMC-L1 Review

In a rapidly changing and unsure digital camera market I find certain cameras have been overlooked or forgotten that shouldn't be. Of course I'm not saying the L1 is the bees knees for every application, or even the best choice in a DSLR with a manufacturer that may not even make new products for its mount in the future ever again. What I am saying is that this camera is an excellent deal and that currently you can still find plenty of them around and plenty of excellent glass to use, whether you prefer autofocus or especially manual focus lenses.

The image quality is excellent from ISO 100-800, and perfectly usable (see my section on banding) at 1,600- in fact quite lovely if you like a bit of tight grain like I do in certain images. At lower ISO's the L1's performance is just as good as any other DSLR I've used, and often they have much larger sensors than the L1. I've never been disappointed in the image quality from the L1 here at all.

Handling is superb, and one of my favorite aspects of this camera. Controls are bountiful and well placed. If you like a camera that bristles with them, I find it hard to believe you won't like the L1. It's comfortable, not too heavy, not to big or small, and is adorned with grip all over the camera for a secure hand hold in any position.

To my eyes the DMC-L1 is a Panasonic classic that might just be a victim of being born in the wrong era- it was never as popular as I think it should have been. To me, the L1 was, and still is a gem.

As always, be safe and happy shooting.

-Carl Garrard

Panasonic DMC-L1 w/Leica Kit Lens Price Check New


  1. Great read. There's such a saturation of articles about new cameras on the web that it's more fun to read stuff like this about the overlooked gems of the recent past.

  2. Another great write up. Wondering of you had any more information on that Opteka G12 combo? More Shots would be great. Looking to expand my G12 for architectural interiors.

  3. Appreciate the comments, both of you. Glad you enjoyed it.

    bmike- I recall doing something with that Opteka combo written online somewhere. From my memory, if you need excellent quality from ultrawide angle, that might not be the best choice. I recall a lot of barrel distortion, and soft corners which might not coincide with Architecture photography too well unless you don't mind doing some post processing work. I recall too, that there were other makes of ultrawides for the g12 that cost a bit more but were optically better than the Opteka. Hope that helps a bit.

  4. I agree with you. For me it is the best camera I've owned. Thanks for the post.

  5. Great review, really enjoyed the read, i never owned one, but did have a L10 with PL 14-50 that was end of line, and cost me very little, like a mug i returned it because i thought it was to noisy, although the low ISO images were just lovely, one of my biggest mistakes.


  6. Miguel and Mark, thank you again for your comments. Mark- Sometimes we forget about some of the purchases we make. I find the real good cameras are the ones you still like to pick up years later.

    That makes a good/great design. The forgettable ones (G1, cough) are the ones you never think of to want to use again.

    Panasonic has made a few good/great designs, and those are rare from manufacturers. That says something about Panasonic's design team and I hope they never lose sight of what makes them great.


  7. I purchased L1 brand new few years ago...use it for a couple of years then sold it to a friend. Then I bought my self an E30 to replace the L1. The E30 mostly sit in my dry cabinet since I bought it and only stayed for few months. Then I asked my friend to trade the E30 and give me back my beloved L1 last week. I think he will contact me back in the future :P

    The bounced flash feature is my top reason, then the AF assist with AF lens, combined with bounced flash I can get awesome top lighted image in a total darkness room....still amazes me until now, and cant think how I could get the same result with other cameras.

    Still wishing they will make L1's successor....just use the same old design & materials in a mFT format with updated sensor.

  8. Must agree. I love my camera! I think the Leica lens also helps the quality. People think I'm strange because I ONLY use this camera. What they don't know...

  9. Anon- I hope you get it back! :)

    Nicole- Reminds me of a Doors song "people are strange...", don't worry you aren't but maybe they are because they think you are. It's nice to connect with others that enjoy this camera.


  10. I used to own an L1 and sold it along with the 14-50 and 14-150 Panasonic Leica lenses. I must say that of all my camera's this is the one I regret selling the most. Good article, loved it.

  11. Try getting kit lens, if you didnt already. :D That lens is really "something" (and it include aperture ring .. on AF lens!).

  12. Thank you Neil, maybe you'll get reunited one day? :)

    Corwin, yes I've definitely owned that lens. It's remarkable in every aspect to me except that I tend to find it a bit more bulky than I typically like to use. I like small fast lenses on this camera a lot. I might get it again one day, when prices aren't so outrageous :).


  13. ive upgraded to an E-5..not as fun as my L1, but 7Mo is not enough for today's works.
    the L1 is still a reference for me (if only they made a 4/3 successor...)


  14. Hey, Carl, you've done it again with another "loving" review of a classic camera (reminds me of your reviews of the Panasonic LC1 and Leica Digilux 2).

    Having both the LC1 and D2 (and I bought one LC1 from you!), I also own an L1, and it is truly something special. Since I'm well into 4/3s with my Oly cameras and lenses, I pretty much have a bevy of lens choices for use also with the L1.

    - Chuck C.

  15. Wow. Interesting camera. Something that Minolta might have released if they're still around.

  16. You just changed my mind about selling it :)
    Now I never will.

  17. This is my primary digital BW camera - its default dynamic B&W jpeg has *the* perfect look for the pictures I like to make. I definitely agree about the ergonomics - and am profoundly sorry that it's design hasn't been continued; it is panasonic's classic in the same league with olympus's E1.

  18. Randy, doesn't it look like the Konica Minolta Hexar film camera??? :)

  19. Is this advertising for a new DMC-L2? Look here

  20. great cameram still love it, still have it

  21. own three L1 bodies 1 original kit lense use my other two bodies with my collection of minolta glass my favorite combo L1 with minolta 28 3.5,also own two Lc1 and a digilux 2.

  22. I like Sigma Dp1, Dp2, Ricoh GXR A12 M-Mount, Nex-5N, Lumix L1, Epson R-d1.

    I love rare Cameras!!!!!! Fun Fun Fun!!!!

    Thanks for the review. A just buy mi first L1 in Ebay.


  23. Had to mention you in my blog, you're on my reading list now. Keep it up.

  24. so carl, i just got my old/mint l1 back from a friend who i lent it to 4 years ago with lens. it looks as if he never used it. do you think i should keep it, sell it or trade it in? for an x10? i am partial to panny/oly and the 43/m43 line of cameras also. this may be my cross between x1 pro and x10. is it still viable today? i dont know when your article was weitten. thx. lisa

  25. you should keep the camera and you will be happy...

  26. do you guys think the l1 can take a knock or two? it was in the case with the lens in its case both in a camera bag. the case was on the bed and fell to the floor. all seems ok. this jar shouldnt have hurt anything to the camera or lens, right? thx

  27. Hi Lisa,

    Tough call on the trade up. I'm reviewing the X10 now, totally different cameras of course. What would your primary motivation be to trade? The L1 article is very recent.

  28. Well the L1 is made from magnesium (the body) so it should be able to withstand a reasonable "knock" or two. From what you described you should be just fine :).


  29. carl i like the hot new gizmos but the more i use the l1 the more i like it. lisa

  30. thx carl on the build and the knock or two issue. lisa

  31. Hi Carl, which firmware do you use? Is there a difference between 2.0. and 2.1? what kind of? thanks! joe

  32. I found one of these camera on sale for $250 (body only) recently, nearly mint with box etc.
    I check the SC, around 4000 and everything seems OK.. do you think its a good bargain if I buy it? sfme and thanks.. chan

  33. Great article. I recently bought a used Lecis Digilux 3 (same as L1).The shutter count to my surpise is only 2000. Upgraded to firmware 2. The Jpeg output is really good.

  34. Nice read! thanks for the review - one thing: my Panasonic L1, firmware 2.1 has no "DNG Format Raw Files*" as mentioned in your "Pro" list.

    The L1 uses a early Panasonic RAW format without a preview jpg and some exif tags missing.

  35. very nice .. I have two L1 bodies right now

  36. I really love the L1 and matching Leica Kitlens, even it's too expensive used
    for me..but the bad thing is, the IQ of this beauty can't match even the Nikon D80
    with 18-70 AF-S DX Kitlens...sad, but true, also only 3 (!) AF Points, just like
    my old Nikon D40, but very great built quality, because of the Leica lens, i am
    going to by an older Lumix LC1, which can't compete nearly with a Sony R1 for example,
    even the Leica lens on the LC1 is very good, the Zeiss 24-120mm is better, and the R1
    Goldie has an almost APS-C Size Sensor with 10 MP instead of a noisy 2/3" 5 MP Sensor -
    but i love the LC1 for it's Magnesium Alloy Body, and like the L1 here for it's tons
    of manual Controls, and the Lens, of course. ;) I love to take pictures, Gear are just
    tools, but in the other hand i'd love to collect old camera gear, too. Keep up your
    great reviews of Vintage Gear, please!


  37. I was thinking of selling my L1 and then ran into this article making me rethink that idea and take it out of the drawer after the last 2 years and take it with me on my Bahama cruise. That bounce flash built in was one of my favorite features I used so often to keep the ISO at 400 for low light situations.

  38. Great review! Bought it new when it was a year old for $850. It was a bargain then and has retained it's value. After reading your article, I will keep it as my main large camera and possibly pick up Canon S110 (which are a deal now) as a pocket camera.

  39. I have had my L1 since it first appeared on the market. I have loved it and still love it. I use it mostly with the 25mm f/1,4 lens and it is great. I am in the process of thinking about getting the Olympus Zuiko pancake 17mm f/2.8 lens to have for street photography, but since it is a micro four thirds I am told I need an adaptor. Do you have any input on using an adaptor with this lens. My email is I would appreciate any information you can give me.
    Doug Albert

  40. Doug, four thirds lenses can be used on micro four thirds cameras, but the inverse is not true unfortunately. I think a 17mm f/1.8 lens on the L1 would be nearly perfect.

  41. Hi, beautiful article. I bought a Panasonic L1 in Leica kit 14-50mm at 300 euros all because I needed the optics to use it on my Panasonic G6. I saw that you can make IR pictures with L1 can you explain how do you do it? did you buy an optional adidamor? Or can IR photos do the L1 only by changing some options from the menu? Thanks so much

  42. Hi Fausto,

    I had an L1 specially converted to IR by Spencers camera in utah. Thank you for the kind words and good luck to you!

  43. Thank you for the great article. Interesting throughout! I recently got hold of an L1 and also happen to own a Vivitar 28MM f2.8. It works fine. However, my L1 viewfinder does not display any informatio(e.g. green confimation dot). Is this a known issue? Did i accidentily turn it off? I couldn't find anything in the manual. At any rate, nice article and thanks! Matthias

  44. Hi Matthias! (burling?) If you set the L1 to manual focus mode and half press the shutter while focusing manually, it will give you focus confirmation as you run the lens through its focus. :) Hope that helps you!

  45. A blast from the past.....Got a body for 65 euros at a charity shop. First one I've seen since I reviewed it late 2006...And yes, of course it's dated but it's quite fun to use and pictures are ok in good lighting conditions. Pana did a great design job back then. No kit lens included, thats a pity, but an Olympus kit lens was dirt cheap on Ebay.

  46. Hi Johan! Great find, I have two of them, one is the Leica version. Where is your review posted? I'd love to read it!

  47. Hi, it was published in the swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter and is swedish...In short I thought it was original and a quality product but the Leica kit lens made in too expensive to compete with the Nikons and Canons of the day. When the L10 was introduced I asked the Pana representative how many L1:s they sold in Sweden and he was forced to reluctantly admit "fewer than 100...". Some of them through Media Markt with the price slashed to just about half original price.

  48. Very interesting. There's some new information to my eyes. I appreciate you taking the time to share it Johan. In the states, the major review sites didnt get it. They kept comparing it to DSLR's when they should have taken a different view as it was something of an alternative to DSLRS (even though technically, it is a DSLR). It was obvious to me they had a major impact on its low sales. That's too bad. I felt like they all got it mostly wrong :).

  49. I actually just received a mint L1 today from Japan. Very stylish with the Oly 25mm f/2.8. Although I can't figure out how to put in into Program mode with my Oly lenses, as the manual addresses that issue assuming the Leica is attached. After having been so spoiled by my Sony A7III and Oly OM-D E-M10iii, it's actually refreshing to be thrust back into a tighter feature set. Hoping to put it to good use when the light gets good (which is sometimes, at best, here in south central Alaska).
    Perhaps other reasons why it wasn't very successful was the collaborative peer found in the Olympus EVOLT E-330 with the same sensor and similar form factor but a couple more features, like more versatile live view or loyal Oly customer base already familiar with the brand.

  50. Congrats on the "new" L1 :). You'll figure out program mode. I'd tell you but I don't want to spoil the surprise. The manual is available online too btw. And I would say overall that Pana had no idea how to compete in the DSLR space, just like the other electronic giant, Sony. Both companies gave up DSLR's but Pana hardly really tried. They knew what it would take to go toe to toe with Canon or Nikon. They took the best path they could.