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Canon 50D vs Nikon D3000

The Canon EOS 50D and the Nikon D3000 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2008 and July 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 10 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 Nikon D3000
Canon 50D Nikon D3000
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
15.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 10 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-3,200 (100 - 12,800) ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
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 charge500 shots per battery charge
146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 g 126 x 97 x 64 mm, 536 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 50D and the Nikon D3000? 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 physical size and weight of the Canon 50D and the Nikon D3000 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 50D vs Nikon D3000
Compare 50D versus D3000 top
Comparison 50D or D3000 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3000 is notably smaller (22 percent) than the Canon 50D. Moreover, the D3000 is substantially lighter (35 percent) than the 50D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 50D is splash and dust resistant, while the D3000 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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 an APS-C 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 (50D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3000).

Concerning battery life, the 50D gets 800 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the D3000 can take 500 images on a single charge of its EN-EL9a power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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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 1,299 i
2.
 
Nikon D3000 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599 i
3.
 
Canon 80D 139 mm 105 mm 79 mm 730 g 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199 i
4.
 
Canon 7D II 149 mm 112 mm 78 mm 910 g 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i
5.
 
Canon 70D 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199 i
6.
 
Canon 60D 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399 i
7.
 
Canon 1D Mark IV 156 mm 157 mm 80 mm 1230 g 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999 i
8.
 
Canon 7D 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699 i
9.
 
Canon 500D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799 i
10.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299 i
11.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399 i
12.
 
Canon 5D 152 mm 113 mm 75 mm 895 g 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299 i
13.
 
Nikon D3100 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 n Aug 2010 599 i
14.
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749 i
15.
 
Nikon D60 126 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 500 n Jan 2008 629 i
16.
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729 i
17.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499 i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D3000 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 54 percent) than the 50D, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D3000 is 12 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.

Canon 50D and Nikon D3000 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon 50D offers a higher resolution of 15.1 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the Nikon D3000. 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 6.11μm for the D3000). Moreover, it should be noted that the D3000 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) 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 Nikon D3000 are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.2 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.5 x 10.4 inches or 39.3 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 12.9 x 8.6 inches or 32.8 x 21.9 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 Nikon D3000 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.

50D versus D3000 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. 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
1.
 
Canon 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.4696 63
2.
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.1563 62
3.
 
Canon 80D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.21135 79
4.
 
Canon 7D II APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.81082 70
5.
 
Canon 70D APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.6926 68
6.
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.5813 66
7.
 
Canon 1D Mark IV APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.01320 74
8.
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.7854 66
9.
 
Canon 500D APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.5663 63
10.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.3703 64
11.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.8736 59
12.
 
Canon 5D Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912none22.911.11368 71
13.
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.3919 67
14.
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.5868 72
15.
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.4562 65
16.
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.4516 63
17.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.0561 56
The 50D offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The D3000 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. The 50D and the D3000 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 (95%), but the viewfinder of the 50D has a higher magnification than the one of the D3000 (0.59x vs 0.53x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 50D and Nikon D3000 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
1.
 
Canon 50Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3 Y n
2.
 
Nikon D3000optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon 80Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon 7D IIoptical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon 70Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon 60Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3 Y n
7.
 
Canon 1D Mark IVoptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 n n
8.
 
Canon 7Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon 500Doptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
10.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
11.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
12.
 
Canon 5Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
13.
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
15.
 
Nikon D60optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
16.
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n

One feature that is present on the 50D, but is missing on the D3000 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 D3000 uses SDHC cards.

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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 Nikon D3000 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
1.
 
Canon 50DY----mini2.0---
2.
 
Nikon D3000Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon 80DYstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon 7D IIYstereomonoYYmini3.0---
5.
 
Canon 70DYstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
6.
 
Canon 60DYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon 1D Mark IVYstereo-Y-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 7DYmono-Y-mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon 500DYmonomono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
11.
 
Canon 30DY-----2.0---
12.
 
Canon 5DY-----2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D60Y-----2.0---
16.
 
Nikon D40XY-----2.0---
17.
 
Nikon D40Y-----2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 50D (unlike the D3000) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 50D and the D3000 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 50D was replaced by the Canon 60D, while the D3000 was followed by the Nikon D3100. 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.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Canon 50D better than the Nikon D3000 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 50D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.1 vs 10MP) with a 23% higher linear resolution.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.59x vs 0.53x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.3 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (800 versus 500) 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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Advantages of the Nikon D3000:

  • More compact: Is smaller (126x97mm vs 146x108mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 286g or 35 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (54 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 50D is the clear winner of the match-up (10 : 4 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

50D 10:04 D3000

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 50D and the Nikon D3000 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 50D or the D3000 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews 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], 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 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 50D..+ ++ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299 i
2.
 
Nikon D3000..+72/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599 i
3.
 
Canon 80D4/5+ +84/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199 i
4.
 
Canon 7D II4.5/5+84/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i
5.
 
Canon 70D5/5+ +83/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199 i
6.
 
Canon 60D5/5+79/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399 i
7.
 
Canon 1D Mark IV5/5..89/100.... Oct 2009 4,999 i
8.
 
Canon 7D5/5+ +84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699 i
9.
 
Canon 500D..+ +74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799 i
10.
 
Canon 40D..+ ++ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299 i
11.
 
Canon 30D..+ ++ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399 i
12.
 
Canon 5D..88/100+ +o.. Aug 2005 3,299 i
13.
 
Nikon D31005/5+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599 i
14.
 
Nikon D5000..+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749 i
15.
 
Nikon D60..80/100+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 629 i
16.
 
Nikon D40X..79/100+ +4/54/5 Mar 2007 729 i
17.
 
Nikon D40..81/100+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon 50D:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D3000:
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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon 50D vs Nikon D3000

    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 Nikon D3000
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2008 July 2009
    Launch Price USD 1,299 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Canon 50D Nikon D3000
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 23.6 x 15.8 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 372.88 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 15.1 Megapixels 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4752 x 3168 pixels 3872 x 2592 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.69 μm 6.11 μm
    Pixel Density 4.53 MP/cm2 2.69 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 EXPEED
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 63 62
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.8 22.3
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.4 11.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 696 563
    Screen Specs Canon 50D Nikon D3000
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.59x 0.53x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 50D Nikon D3000
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 6.3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 50D Nikon D3000
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 50D Nikon D3000
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type BP-511A EN-EL9a
    Battery Life (CIPA)800 shots per charge500 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 146 x 108 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
    126 x 97 x 64 mm
    (5.0 x 3.8 x 2.5 in)
    Camera Weight 822 g (29.0 oz) 536 g (18.9 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

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