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Monday, September 1, 2008

Does Your Camera Have An Evil Twin?

What’s in a camera’s DNA? We’ll show you the features and technologies that have trickled down from the top-end models to the popular sweet-spot cameras.

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 & Leica Digilux 3
After Olympus introduced the first few Four Thirds System digital SLRs, Panasonic and Leica joined the party, working, in part, with one another. Panasonic’s first D-SLR, the Lumix DMC-L1, and Leica’s first, the Digilux 3, are twins under the skin, featuring the same lens mount, mirror box, viewfinder chamber, AF and metering sensors, and 7.5-megapixel Panasonic Live MOS image sensor. The body configurations are near-identical, too, with a Leica look and all controls in the same locations. Each camera is even sold with the same Leica D Vario-Elmarit 14-50mm ƒ/2.8-3.5 ASPH zoom with Panasonic’s Mega O.I.S. optical image stabilization. (Olympus’ out-of-production E-330 also shared much of this technology and basic configuration, although it incorporated a second Live-View sensor and a tilting LCD monitor.)

The DMC-L1 and Digilux 3 feature Live-View shooting via their 2.5-inch LCD monitors (with manual focusing or phase-detection AF), the effective Supersonic Wave Filter sensor-dust reduction system introduced by Olympus, a built-in pop-up flash (ISO 100, guide number 10, in meters), three image aspect ratios (4:3, 3:2 and 16:9), a proprietary lithium-ion battery good for about 450 shots per charge, a top shooting rate of 3 fps, 49-zone metering (256-zone in Live-View mode), storage on SD or SDHC cards, ISOs from 100 to 1600, eye-level porro-mirror viewfinders, 3-point phase-detection autofocusing, shutter speeds from 60 to 1⁄4000 sec., plus B, and straightforward operation. Shutter speeds are set directly via a shutter-speed dial, and apertures are set via the lens’ aperture ring (Four Thirds System lenses lacking aperture rings also can be used.)

There’s a major price difference, the Leica appealing to the sort of photographer who prefers Leica film cameras, while the lower-cost DMC-L1 appeals to the more budget-minded photographer who likes the look, features and performance of the camera.

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Panasonic might not be well known in the U.S. for cameras, but the rest of the world is aware of its high-quality models. The Lumix DMC-L1 marks the company’s first foray into interchangeable-lens D-SLRs. A partnership between Panasonic and Leica yields both high-quality optics and Leica’s Digilux 3, which is identical to the Lumix DMC-L1 beneath the surface. A partnership between Panasonic and Leica yields both high-quality optics and Leica’s Digilux 3, which is identical to the Lumix DMC-L1 beneath the surface.

Panasonic LumixDMC-L1 Leica Digilux 3
Sensor: 7.5-megapixel Live MOS 7.5-megapixel Live MOS
Sensor Size: 17.3x13.0mm (2.0x) 17.3x13.0mm (2.0x)
Processor: Venus Engine III Leica
A/D Conversion: 12-bit 12-bit
Sensor Cleaning: Yes Yes
AF Points: 3 3
Metering: 49-zone (256 in Live-View) 49-zone (256 in Live-View)
ISO Range: 100-1600 100-1600
Shutter Speeds: 60 to 1⁄4000 sec., plus B 60 to 1⁄4000 sec., plus B
Max. Advance Rate: 3 fps 3 fps
Dimensions: 5.7x3.4x3.1 in. 5.7x3.4x3.1 in.
Weight: 18.7 oz. 18.7 oz.
Estimated Street Price: $1,299 (with 14-50mm zoom) $2,499 (with 14-50mm zoom)

(800) OK-CANON
(800) 222-0118
(800) NIKON-US
(800) 211-PANA
(800) 877-0155
(800) 896-6858
(877) 865-SONY


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