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Canon 50D vs Leica X1

The Canon EOS 50D and the Leica X1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2008 and September 2009. The 50D is a DSLR, while the X1 is a fixed lens compact. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.1 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 12.2 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon 50D
versus
Leica X1
Canon 50D   Leica X1
Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
Canon EF mount lenses 36mm f/2.8
15.1 MP – APS-C sensor 12.2 MP – APS-C sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-3,200 (100 - 12,800) ISO 100-3,200
Optical viewfinder No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0" LCD – 920k dots 3.0" LCD – 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6.3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
800 shots per battery charge260 shots per battery charge
146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 g 124 x 60 x 32 mm, 306 g
Canon 50D:
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Leica X1:
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 50D and the Leica X1? 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 50D and the Leica X1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The X1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the 50D is only available in black.

Size Canon 50D vs Leica X1
Compare 50D versus X1 top
Comparison 50D or X1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica X1 is considerably smaller (53 percent) than the Canon 50D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 50D is splash and dust resistant, while the X1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the X1 has a lens built in, whereas the 50D is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the 50D and their specifications in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 50D gets 800 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the X1 can take 260 images on a single charge of its BP-DC8 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 50D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299i
2.
 
Leica X1 124 mm 60 mm 32 mm 306 g 260 n Sep 2009 1,995i
3.
 
Canon 90D 141 mm 105 mm 77 mm 701 g 1300 Y Aug 2019 1,199 i
4.
 
Canon 80D 139 mm 105 mm 79 mm 730 g 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199i
5.
 
Canon 7D II 149 mm 112 mm 78 mm 910 g 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i
6.
 
Canon 70D 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199i
7.
 
Canon 60D 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399i
8.
 
Canon 7D 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699i
9.
 
Canon T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
10.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
11.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
12.
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
13.
 
Fujifilm X100 126 mm 75 mm 54 mm 445 g 300 n Sep 2010 1,199i
14.
 
Leica D-LUX 6 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Sep 2012 699i
15.
 
Leica X2 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 n May 2012 1,995i
16.
 
Leica D-LUX 5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Sep 2010 699i
17.
 
Panasonic LX5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Jul 2010 499i
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the X1 is 11 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (50D) and 1.5. 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 50D and Leica X1 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 50D offers a higher resolution of 15.1 megapixels, compared with 12.2 MP of the Leica X1. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.69μm versus 5.51μm for the X1). Moreover, it should be noted that the X1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the 50D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The resolution advantage of the Canon 50D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 50D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23.8 x 15.8 inches or 60.4 x 40.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19 x 12.7 inches or 48.3 x 32.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.8 x 10.6 inches or 40.2 x 26.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica X1 are 21.4 x 14.3 inches or 54.3 x 36.3 cm for good quality, 17.1 x 11.4 inches or 43.4 x 29 cm for very good quality, and 14.2 x 9.5 inches or 36.2 x 24.2 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 50D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica X1 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).

50D versus X1 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-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
1.
 
Canon 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663
2.
 
Leica X1 APS-C 12.2 4272 2856none22.611.8103769
3.
 
Canon 90D APS-C 32.3 6960 46404K/30p24.013.5184883
4.
 
Canon 80D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579
5.
 
Canon 7D II APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270
6.
 
Canon 70D APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
7.
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
8.
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
9.
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
10.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
11.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
12.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
13.
 
Fujifilm X100 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/30p22.912.4100173
14.
 
Leica D-LUX 6 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p19.810.8-30343
15.
 
Leica X2 APS-C 16.1 4928 3264none23.212.4127574
16.
 
Leica D-LUX 5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.510.4-58339
17.
 
Panasonic LX5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.610.813241
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
The 50D offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The X1 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 50D has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the X1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 50D, the Leica X1, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon 50Doptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3/s Y n
2.
 
Leica X1none n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0/s Y n
3.
 
Canon 90Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 11.0/s Y n
4.
 
Canon 80Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0/s Y n
5.
 
Canon 7D IIoptical Y3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0/s Y n
6.
 
Canon 70Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0/s Y n
7.
 
Canon 60Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3/s Y n
8.
 
Canon 7Doptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0/s Y n
9.
 
Canon T1ioptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4/s Y n
10.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5/s Y n
11.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y n
12.
 
Canon 20Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y n
13.
 
Fujifilm X1001440 n2.8 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
14.
 
Leica D-LUX 6optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0/s Y Y
15.
 
Leica X2optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
16.
 
Leica D-LUX 5optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y Y
17.
 
Panasonic LX5optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y Y
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One feature that is present on the 50D, but is missing on the X1 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The 50D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the X1 uses SDHC cards.

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 50D and Leica X1 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon 50DY- / ---mini2.0---
2.
 
Leica X1Y- / ---mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon 90DYstereo / monoYYmini2.0Y-Y
4.
 
Canon 80DYstereo / monoYYmini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon 7D IIYstereo / monoYYmini3.0---
6.
 
Canon 70DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0Y--
7.
 
Canon 60DYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 7DYmono / -Y-mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon T1iYmono / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon 40DY- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Canon 30DY- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Canon 20DY- / ----1.1---
13.
 
Fujifilm X100Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
14.
 
Leica D-LUX 6Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
15.
 
Leica X2Y- / ---mini2.0---
16.
 
Leica D-LUX 5Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic LX5Ymono / mono--mini2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 50D (unlike the X1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 50D and the X1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 50D was replaced by the Canon 60D, while the X1 was followed by the Leica X2. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Leica websites.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Canon 50D better than the Leica X1 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 50D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.1 vs 12.2MP) with a 11% higher linear resolution.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.3 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (800 versus 260) on a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2008).

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Arguments in favor of the Leica X1:

  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the 50D requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (124x60mm vs 146x108mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the 50D).
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 50D is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 5 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding 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.

50D 12:05 X1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 50D and the Leica X1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 50D or the X1 perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 50D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
2.
 
Leica X13/5....+..4/5 Sep 2009 1,995i
3.
 
Canon 90D4/5+4.5/585/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2019 1,199 i
4.
 
Canon 80D4/5+ +4.5/584/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199i
5.
 
Canon 7D II4.5/5+3.5/584/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i
6.
 
Canon 70D5/5+ +..83/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199i
7.
 
Canon 60D5/5+..79/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399i
8.
 
Canon 7D5/5+ +..84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699i
9.
 
Canon T1i..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
10.
 
Canon 40D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
11.
 
Canon 30D..+ +..+ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
12.
 
Canon 20D......+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499i
13.
 
Fujifilm X1003/5....75/1004/55/5 Sep 2010 1,199i
14.
 
Leica D-LUX 6........4/54/5 Sep 2012 699i
15.
 
Leica X23/5......3/54/5 May 2012 1,995i
16.
 
Leica D-LUX 5........4.5/54/5 Sep 2010 699i
17.
 
Panasonic LX54/5+..73/1004.5/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499i
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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon 50D:
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Leica X1:
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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 50D vs Leica X1

    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 50D Leica X1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses 36mm f/2.8
    Launch Date August 2008 September 2009
    Launch Price USD 1,299 USD 1,995
    Sensor Specs Canon 50D Leica X1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 23.7 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 369.72 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 15.1 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4752 x 3168 pixels 4272 x 2856 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.69 μm 5.51 μm
    Pixel Density 4.53 MP/cm2 3.30 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 12,800 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 63 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.8 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.4 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 696 ..
    Screen Specs Canon 50D Leica X1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder no viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.59x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.7inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 50D Leica X1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 6.3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 50D Leica X1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 50D Leica X1
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type BP-511A BP-DC8
    Battery Life (CIPA)800 shots per charge260 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 146 x 108 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
    124 x 60 x 32 mm
    (4.9 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 822 g (29.0 oz) 306 g (10.8 oz)
    Canon 50D:
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    Leica X1:
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