Thursday, January 25, 2007

Panasonic Lumix L1 digital single lens reflex

Panasonic Lumix L1 digital single lens reflex
Price: $3849
Highly Recommended

Low-down: This 7.5 megapixel camera is Panasonic's first digital single lens reflex. It is also sold as a Leica. That camera's influence on design is apparent in the austere retro look and the high quality of construction. Lens aperture is controlled with a traditional barrel ring and shutter speed is set with a knob that has the shutter release in its centre. To set the camera to program exposure mode, the ring and the knob are both set to A. Turning one or the other control away from A puts the camera into either aperture or shutter priority. It is an elegant and intuitive arrangement. The outstanding feature is the Leica lens, which is the best kit lens we have seen. The startlingly high price of this 7.5 mp camera can be justified by the 14-50mm f2.8-3.5 zoom lens. (This is 28-100mm film equivalent - with the Four Thirds system the focal length is doubled.) Focus is instantaneous and pin sharp. Exposure and colour are excellent and the tonal qualities of photographs are superb. We didn't detect excessive or intrusive noise either.

Like: The image-stabilised Leica lens has not been made down to a price, but up to a high standard of optical and mechanical perfection. It is in a class of its own.

Dislike: The viewfinder is the Achilles heel of this camera. It is small and dim, due to the use of mirrors rather than a prism and, perhaps, due to stealing light for the useless "live view" option on the LCD.

Verdict: This is a difficult camera to rate because of the price. The Olympus E330, with which it shares components, sells for about $1800 but doesn't have a comparable lens. The Nikon D200, with a better viewfinder, more pixels but lesser optics sells for $2900. This Lumix L1 is highly recommended because it is a fine camera but whether it is value for money will be for the customer to decide. In the US the price is already dropping.

No comments: