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Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Nikon D4S

The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and the Nikon D4S are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2004 and February 2014. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 16.6 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 16.2 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 1Ds Mark II versus Nikon D4S
Canon 1Ds Mark II Nikon D4S
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
16.6 MP, Full Frame Sensor 16.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 100-1,600 (50 - 3,200) ISO 100-25,600 (50 - 409,600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0 LCD, 230k dots 3.2 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
4 shutter flaps per second 11 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
1200 shots per battery charge3020 shots per battery charge
156 x 158 x 80 mm, 1215 g 160 x 157 x 91 mm, 1350 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and the Nikon D4S? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 1Ds Mark II and the Nikon D4S. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Nikon D4S
Compare 1Ds Mark II versus D4S top
Comparison 1Ds Mark II or D4S rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D4S is somewhat larger (2 percent) than the Canon 1Ds Mark II. Moreover, the D4S is markedly heavier (11 percent) than the 1Ds Mark II. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Yet, since both cameras are based around a full frame sensor, their respective lenses will tend to have similar dimensions and heft. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1Ds Mark II) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D4S).

Concerning battery life, the 1Ds Mark II gets 1200 shots out of its NP-E3 battery, while the D4S can take 3020 images on a single charge of its EN-EL18a power pack. As can be seen in the images above, both cameras have a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 42.9 oz 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999i
 
Nikon D4S 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.6 oz 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499i
 
Canon 1D X Mark III 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 50.8 oz 2850 Y Jan 2020 6,499 i
 
Canon 1D X Mark II 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999i
 
Canon 6D 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099i
 
Canon 1D X 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.7 oz 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799i
 
Canon 1D Mark IV 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 43.4 oz 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999i
 
Canon 1D Mark III 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 40.7 oz 2200 Y Feb 2007 4,499i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999i
 
Canon 1D Mark II N 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.2 oz 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999i
 
Canon 5D 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299i
 
Canon 1Ds 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 44.6 oz 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999i
 
Nikon D5 6.3 in 6.3 in 3.6 in 49.9 oz 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499i
 
Nikon D750 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299i
 
Nikon D810 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299i
 
Nikon Df 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.6 in 26.8 oz 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749i
 
Nikon D4 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D4S was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 19 percent) than the 1Ds Mark II, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Canon 1Ds Mark II and Nikon D4S sensor measures

With 16.6MP, the 1Ds Mark II offers a slightly higher resolution than the D4S (16.2MP), but the 1Ds Mark II has marginally smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.21μm versus 7.29μm for the D4S). Moreover, the D4S is a much more recent model (by 9 years and 5 months) than the 1Ds Mark II, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 50-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D4S are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-409600.

1Ds Mark II versus D4S MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D4S offers substantially better image quality than the 1Ds Mark II (overall score 15 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.1 bits higher color depth, 2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328none23.311.3148074
 
Nikon D4S Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489
 
Canon 1D X Mark III Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.214.5324891
 
Canon 1D X Mark II Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
 
Canon 6D Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
 
Canon 1D X Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
 
Canon 1D Mark IV APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074
 
Canon 1D Mark III APS-H 10.1 3888 2592none22.711.7107871
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744none24.012.0166380
 
Canon 1D Mark II N APS-H 8.2 3504 2336none22.311.297566
 
Canon 5D Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912none22.911.1136871
 
Canon 1Ds Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704none21.811.095463
 
Nikon D5 Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388
 
Nikon D750 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693
 
Nikon D810 Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397
 
Nikon Df Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280none24.613.1327989
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D4S indeed provides for movie recording, while the 1Ds Mark II does not. The highest resolution format that the D4S can use is 1080/60p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1Ds Mark II and the D4S are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), as well as the same magnification (0.70x). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 1Ds Mark II and Nikon D4S in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIoptical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
 
Nikon D4Soptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIIoptical Y 3.2 2100 fixed Y 1/8000s 20.0 n n
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIoptical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0 n n
 
Canon 6Doptical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 n n
 
Canon 1D Xoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n
 
Canon 1D Mark IVoptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 n n
 
Canon 1D Mark IIIoptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 n n
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIoptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Canon 1D Mark II Noptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 8.5 n n
 
Canon 5Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
 
Canon 1Dsoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
 
Nikon D5optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0 n n
 
Nikon D750optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D810optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon Dfoptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n n
 
Nikon D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n

The Nikon D4S has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

The 1Ds Mark II writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDHC cards, while the D4S uses Compact Flash or XQD cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and Nikon D4S and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D4SYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIIYmonomonoYYmini3.1Y-Y
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Canon 6DYmonomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Canon 1D XYmono-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 1D Mark IVYstereo-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 1D Mark IIIY-----2.0---
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIY-----2.0---
 
Canon 1D Mark II NY-----1.1---
 
Canon 5DY-----2.0---
 
Canon 1DsY-----FW---
 
Nikon D5YstereomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Nikon D750YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--
 
Nikon D810YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--
 
Nikon DfY----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the 1Ds Mark II and the D4S have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1Ds Mark II was replaced by the Canon 1Ds Mark III, while the D4S was followed by the Nikon D5. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1Ds Mark II or the Nikon D4S – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II:

  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 135g or 10 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2004).

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D4S:

  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (15 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.1 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (3020 versus 1200) out of a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (19 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 9 years and 5 months of technical progress since the 1Ds Mark II launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D4S is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 2 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

1Ds Mark II 02:12 D4S

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 1Ds Mark II and the Nikon D4S place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 1Ds Mark II and the D4S in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II..+ +...... Sep 2004 7,999i
 
Nikon D4S....4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499i
 
Canon 1D X Mark III+ +........ Jan 2020 6,499 i
 
Canon 1D X Mark II..89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999i
 
Canon 6D+ +83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099i
 
Canon 1D X....4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799i
 
Canon 1D Mark IV..89/100..5/5.. Oct 2009 4,999i
 
Canon 1D Mark III......o.. Feb 2007 4,499i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III..+ +4.5/5.... Aug 2007 7,999i
 
Canon 1D Mark II N.......... Aug 2005 3,999i
 
Canon 5D88/100+ +oo.. Aug 2005 3,299i
 
Canon 1Ds..+ +...... Sep 2002 8,999i
 
Nikon D5..89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499i
 
Nikon D750+ +90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299i
 
Nikon D810..86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299i
 
Nikon Df..81/1004/54/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749i
 
Nikon D4....4.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon 1Ds Mark II:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D4S:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Nikon D4S

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 1Ds Mark II Nikon D4S
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2004 February 2014
    Launch Price USD 7,999 USD 6,499
    Sensor Specs Canon 1Ds Mark II Nikon D4S
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 36.0 x 23.9 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 860.4 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 16.6 Megapixels 16.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4992 x 3328 pixels 4928 x 3280 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.21 μm 7.29 μm
    Pixel Density 1.92 MP/cm2 1.88 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 3,200 ISO 50 - 409,600 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC II EXPEED 4
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 74 89
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.3 24.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.3 13.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1480 3074
    Screen Specs Canon 1Ds Mark II Nikon D4S
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.70x 0.70x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.2inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 1Ds Mark II Nikon D4S
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 4 shutter flaps/s 11 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy200 000 actuations400 000 actuations
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF or SDHC cards CF or XQD cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon 1Ds Mark II Nikon D4S
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Headphone Socket no Headphone port Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 1Ds Mark II Nikon D4S
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type NP-E3 EN-EL18a
    Battery Life (CIPA)1200 shots per charge3020 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 156 x 158 x 80 mm
    (6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
    160 x 157 x 91 mm
    (6.3 x 6.2 x 3.6 in)
    Camera Weight 1215 g (42.9 oz) 1350 g (47.6 oz)

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