Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 Review

 
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Panasonic DMC-L1 Operation

The Panasonic L1's menu is more like other Panasonic Lumix models than the Olympus E-300/330 models. The user interface overall is far different from other SLRs on the market, given the Panasonic L1's use of analog Shutter speed and Aperture controls. Rather than using a Mode dial, the combination of settings between these two dials determines the mode. Set them both to A for Automatic, and you're in Program mode. Set the Aperture ring around the lens to another setting than A and you've entered Aperture priority mode, a setting that is verified on the LCD with a large A in the upper right corner. Move the lens ring back to A and move the Shutter speed dial to a manual setting, and you're in Shutter priority mode. Move them both to a manual setting and you're in Manual mode. All of these are indicated on the LCD with a P, A, S, or M letter in the upper left corner. By default, this Status display stays on the LCD until it times out, or you press the Display button. Pressing the buttons surrounding the LCD activates different areas of the Status display, turning it into a quick menu. The Panasonic L1 is a shooting priority camera, meaning regardless of the mode you're in, just press the shutter button to return to the Record mode. In Live View mode, of course, you lose the Status display, and instead are presented with only a few items. Pressing the control buttons like White balance and ISO still bring up a menu, but they're semi-transparent overlays that still show the live image.

Viewfinder
The DMC-L1 has an optical viewfinder, although smaller and dimmer than most SLRs. Still, you get something better than Live View mode on the LCD: a true live view of what you're about to shoot, with no electronic delay. Three autofocus points are arrayed across the center of the screen and the active AF point optionally illuminates when autofocus is achieved. At the right of the screen, the L1 keeps you posted about its settings and status, including Aperture, AE lock, Shutter speed, Exposure compensation, Focus indication, Flash mode, Auto bracket, Card access and Number of images available. See the complete list below.

1
AF frame
6
Auto bracket
2
AF LED
7
Flash setting
3
AE lock
8
Number of recordable pictures
4
Exposure compensation value
9
Card access
Manual exposure assistance
10
Focus confirmation
Auto bracket comp. range
11
Shutter speed
5
Exposure compensation
12
Aperture value

 

Record Mode Display
In record mode, the Panasonic Lumix L1's LCD monitor shows a standard Status display with basic exposure information or one of several Live View display modes. The standard display shows focus point brackets, selected mode, and shutter speed and aperture settings. Battery status, resolution and compression, Optical Image Stabilization mode, Film mode, and number of images also appear on the display. Press the Display button and a live histogram appears. Press it again, and all basic info disappears, replaced by a grid. Press it one more time, and the grid gets finer, with five horizontal and five vertical dotted lines. A final press removes all information until you press the shutter halfway to focus and set exposure.

Playback Mode Display
In Playback mode, the default image display shows the most recently captured image, with a modest information overlay present. Pressing the Display button cycles through a more detailed information overlay with a histogram, and no information. Turning the Command dial upward cycles through a nine, or 25-image index display, then to a Calendar display. Turning the dial to the right enlarges the captured image as much as 16x. You use the four arrow keys to move around the zoomed image.

 

Panasonic DMC-L1 Modes and Menus

Manual Exposure Mode: Manual mode provides complete user control over the exposure, with extended shutter speed settings from 1/1,000 to 1/4,000 second, 2 to 60 seconds, and a Bulb setting for longer exposures. The lens must be set to an aperture and the shutter dial set to a shutter speed to enter this mode. To use Bulb mode you must set the shutter speed dial to 2-60s setting and rotate the Command dial past the 60 second setting to B for Bulb. To set a shutter speed higher than 1/1,000 second, you must again use the Command dial to move from 1/1,000 to 1/4,000 in 1/3 stop increments.

Shutter Priority Mode: This mode lets the user control the shutter speed from 1/1,000 to 2 seconds, while the camera selects the best aperture setting. To move into the extended settings, you must use the Command dial. The lens must be set to A and the shutter dial set to a shutter speed to operate in this mode.

Aperture Priority Mode: The user controls the lens aperture setting while the camera selects the best corresponding shutter speed. Aperture ranges will vary with the lens in use. The lens must be set to an aperture (not A) and the shutter dial set to A to operate in Aperture Priority Mode.

Program Mode: In Program mode, the camera controls both aperture and shutter speed settings, while the user can adjust all other exposure variables. Turning the Command dial while holding down the shutter button in this mode enables Program Shift, which offers a range of equivalent exposure settings biased either toward shutter speed or aperture. The lens must be set to A and the shutter speed dial set to A to operate in Program Mode.

Playback Mode: Accessed by pressing the Playback button on the rear panel, this mode lets you scroll through previously captured images using the Arrow Pad. The Command dial switches the image display to Index mode when turned upward, and when turned downward, enlarges a single image as much as 16x. While zoomed in on an image, the Arrow buttons move the enlarged view around the full image area, allowing you to inspect all parts of it.

Record Menu: In any camera mode but Playback, pressing the Menu button brings up the following four-tab menu screen. Note that not all Camera menu options will be available in all modes.

Record Menu Options
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Third-Level
Notes
Film Mode

- Standard
- Dynamic
- Nature
- Smooth
- Standard B&W
- Dynamic B&W
- Smooth B&W
- My Film 1
- My Film 2

- My Film settings allow you to change the contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise reduction by five units.

- Selects various film shooting modes.

Pict. Size
- L large
- M medium
- S small

- Select picture size.
Quality
- High
- Medium
- Low

 - Select picture quality, represented by icons.
Raw Recording

- On
- Off

 
- Turns Raw Recording on or off.
Aspect
- 4:3
- 3:2
- 16:9
 
- Selects the angle of view that matches the subject.
Ext. Opt Zoom
- Off
- On
 
- Enlarges a picture with no picture quality deterioration (used with Live View only).
D. Zoom
- Off
- 2X
- 4X
 
 -Further extends the zoom range by 2X or by 4X (used with Live View only).
Self Timer
- 2 Sec
- 10 Sec

 - Selects self timer wait time before shooting.
AF Assist Lamp
- Off
- On

 

- Selects if the AF Assist light will be turned on.
OIS Mode
- Mode 1
- Mode 2
- Mode 3

 - Selects which mode of Optical Image Stabilization to use. Mode 1 operates continuously, Mode 2 operates only when the shutter button is pressed. Mode 3 is for panning, limiting compensation to vertical movement.
Auto Bracket
-No. / Step





- Sequence
- 3/ 1/3 EV
- 3/ 2/3 EV
- 3/ 1 EV
- 5/ 1/3 EV
- 5/ 2/3 EV
- 5/ 1 EV
- 0/-/+/--/++
- --/-/0/+/++
- Selects number of pictures to record, the compensation adjustment and the bracket order.
AF/AE Lock
- AF
- AE
- AF/AE
- Sets AFL/AEL button to lock focus, exposure, or both.
Burst
- H
- L
- Selects the high or low speed for shooting continuously. High is 3 pictures per second, low is 2 pictures per second. Speed depends on several factors, especially the available shutter speed.
Multi Exposure
- Allows 2 or 3 multiple exposures to be made to the same image.
Flash Sync.
- 1st
- 2nd
- Selects first of second curtain shutter sync.

 

Setup Menu:

Setup Menu Options
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Third-Level
Notes
Clock Set

- M/D/Y
- D/M/Y
- Y/M/D

 

- Sets camera's internal clock. Three different formats are available.

World Time

- Destination
- Home 

- Info

- Sets the time at your home and your travel destination.
Monitor
- -3/+3
 
 - Sets the brightness of the LCD monitor up to seven steps.
Auto Review

- Off
- 1 Sec
- 2 Sec
- 3 Sec
- Hold

 
- Sets the time that the picture just taken will remain on the LCD monitor. This is useful for confirming focus.
Zoom

- Off
- 1 Sec
- 2 Sec
- 3 Sec

 
- If a time is set, it will display the recorded picture enlarged four times and it appears for the set time.
Power Save
- Off
- 1 Min
- 2 Min
- 5 Min
- 10 Min
- Shuts down the camera after a set time of inactivity to conserve battery life.
MF Assist
- Off
- 4X
- 10X
 
- When set and taking photos in Live View in Manual focus the whole screen of the LCD monitor is enlarged 4x or 10x.
Beep
- Off
- Normal
- Louder

 

- Sets the volume for the focus confirmation beep, the self-timer beep and the alarm beep. Represented by Icons
No. Reset
- Yes
- No

 

- Sets the file number on your next recording to start from 0001.
Reset
- Yes
- No

- Yes
- No

- Sets the custom parameters back to the initial camera settings.
USB Mode
- Select on connection
- PC
- PictBridge
- Sets the connection type depending on whether you are communicating with a PC or a Printer. You can also be prompted with which connection type you want.
Highlight
- On
- Off
- When the auto review function is activated, white saturated areas will blink in black and white.
Video Out
- NTSC
- PAL
- Sets the video output to your regions standard.
TV Aspect
- 16:9
- 4:3
- Sets the Aspect ration for display on a 16:9 TV screen or a 4:3 TV screen.
Language
- English
- Deutsch
- Francais
- Espanol
- Italiano
- Chinese
- Japanese
- Sets the language you want your text on the camera to display.
Version
- Body
- Lens
- Shows which version of firmware is being used for the camera and the lens.

 

Custom Menu:

Custom Menu Options
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Third-Level
Notes
Custom Set

- Normal
- Factory
- Set1
- Set 2
- Set 3

 

- Allows you to change the settings for each function.

Cust. Set Mem

- Custom Set 1
- Custom Set 2
- Custom Set 3  

- Allows you to select the menu setting for your camera.
Func. 1 Set
- Exposure
- Film Mode
- Pict. Size
- Raw Rec.
- OIS Mode
- Burst Rate
- Flash Sync
- Custom Set
- Allows you to change what the Func 1 button modifies.
Func. 2 Set
- Exposure
- Film Mode
- Pict. Size
- Raw Rec.
- OIS Mode
- Burst Rate
- Flash Sync
- Custom Set
- Allows you to change what the Func 2 button modifies.
Direc. EX. Comp.
- Off
- On
- If set to "on" you can set the exposure compensation by rotating the command dial only.
LCD Auto

- Off
- On 

- If set to "on" while not in Live View mode, the LCD status display turns off while the shutter button is pressed halfway to prevent glare while you look through the optical viewfinder.
AF Frame

- Auto
- Center
- Select

 
- Sets the AF frame to the desired focus position.
AF + MF
- Off
- On
- If set to "on," you can finely focus on the subject after it is automatically focused by rotating the focus ring.
AF/AE Lock Hold
-Off
- On
- If set to "on" the focus and exposure remain fixed even after you release the AFL/AEL button. If you press the AFL/AEL button again AF/AE Lock is cancelled. If set to "off" the focus and exposure are fixed only while you are pressing the AFL/AEL button. If you release the AFL/AEL button, AF/AE lock is cancelled.
AF LED
- Off
- On
- Sets the lamp to light where the subject is focused in the AF frame on the viewfinder.
Focus Priority
- Off
- On
- When set to "on" you cannot take a picture until the subject is brought into focus.
Color Space
- sRGB
- Adobe RGB
- Allows you to correct the color reproduction on a PC or printer, etc. Generally sRGB is used for displaying on a PC, Adobe RGB is used in printing.
Long Shutter NR
- Off
- On
- This setting removes picture noise when the shutter speeds become slower to take pictures of night scenery, etc.
Mirror Up
- Off
- On
- This can be used to prevent camera shake caused by the mirror movement when the self-timer is set.
Display Set
- Rec. Info.
- Histogram
- Guide 1
- Guide 2
- On/Off
- On/Off
- On/Off
- On/Off
- Sets the information to display on the LCD monitor when taking pictures with Live View.
Pixel Refresh
- Yes
- No
- Recommended to do once a year to check for bad pixels.
No Release without Lens
- Off
- On
- If set to "on" you cannot fully press the shutter button when a lens is not attached to the camera.

 

Playback Menu:

Playback Menu Options
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Third-Level
Notes
Slide Show

- Start
- Duration

(duration)
- 1 sec
- 2 sec
- 3 sec
- 5 sec
- Manual

- This will display a slide show of pictures in the camera advancing pictures manually or after a 1 to 5 second display duration.

Favorite
- Off
- On
- Allows you to mark pictures as your favorites.
Rotate Display
- Off
- On
- Allows you to automatically display pictures vertically if they were recorded holding the camera vertically or rotate the pictures in 90 degree steps.
Rotate
- Displays picture
- Rotate the picture manually
DPOF Print
- Single
- Multi
- Selects single or multiple pictures to print.
Protect
- Single
- Multi
- Cancel
- Protects pictures you do not want to delete by mistake, though it will not protect images if the card is formatted.
Resize
- Displays picture
- You can use this to reduce the size of the recorded picture.
Trimming
- Displays picture
- You can enlarge and trim the recorded picture.
Aspect Conv.
- 3:2
- 4:3
- You can convert pictures taken with a 16:9 ratio to a 3:2 or 4:3 ratio.
Format
- Yes
- No
- Deletes all pictures from the memory card.

 

Panasonic DMC-L1

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