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Panasonic tosses dSLR into the ring

Panasonic tosses dSLR into the ring

PMA 2006 - CNET covers the show
Panasonic's Lumix DMC-L1 is the company's first digital SLR, and it looks like it will be an impressive model. The fruit of a technology alliance between Panasonic and Olympus, the L1 is based on the same 7.5-megapixel nMOS sensor as the -31675515.html?tag=txt">Olympus Evolt E-330--unsurprising, since Panasonic makes the chip--which enables the live-view LCD technology in both cameras. (This gives photographers the option to frame their shots with the L1's LCD instead of the optical viewfinder, just like a point-and-shoot model.) Olympus contributes the Supersonic Wave Filter technology, which repels dust from the sensor.

However, the L1 doesn't look like a mere clone of the E-330. It ships with the new Leica D f/2.8-to-f/3.5 14mm-to-50mm ASPH lens (the D is for digital), which incorporates Panasonic's optical image stabilization and image-processing chip into the lens itself. Given how little we liked the kit lens in the E-330, the lens promises to be an important advantage for the Panasonic model over the Olympus's.

As with the Leica lenses that have appeared on previous high-end models from the two companies, such as the Leica Digilux 2, the lens features an old-fashioned aperture ring, and the body has a shutter-speed dial to provide the same feel as a film SLR. The DMC-L1 may be Panasonic's first digital SLR, but its unique features give it great potential. It will be available some time this year (though I'm betting on a Photokina time frame) at an unspecified price.