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Canon 5D vs Leica X1

The Canon EOS 5D and the Leica X1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2005 and September 2009. The 5D is a DSLR, while the X1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a full frame (5D) and an APS-C (X1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12.7 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 5D   Leica X1
Canon 5D Leica X1
Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
Canon EF mount lenses 36mm f/2.8
12.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor 12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1600 (50-3200) ISO 100-3200
Optical viewfinder No viewfinder, LCD framing
2.5" LCD, 230k dots 2.7" LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyNot weather sealed
400 shots per battery charge260 shots per battery charge
152 x 113 x 75 mm, 895 g 124 x 60 x 32 mm, 306 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 5D 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 5D 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 5D is only available in black.

Size Canon 5D vs Leica X1
Compare 5D versus X1 top
Comparison 5D 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 (57 percent) than the Canon 5D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 5D 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 5D 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 5D and their specifications in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 5D gets 400 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Canon 5D» 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
 
Leica X1« 4.9 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 10.8 oz 260 n Sep 2009 1,995- i Leica X1
 
Canon 6D Mark II« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i Canon 6D Mark II
 
Canon 5DS« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
 
Canon 5D Mark III« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 6D« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i Canon 6D
 
Canon 5D Mark II« » 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 1D Mark II N« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.2 oz 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999- i Canon 1D Mark II N
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 42.9 oz 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark II
 
Canon 1Ds« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 44.6 oz 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999- i Canon 1Ds
 
Fujifilm X100« » 5.0 in 3.0 in 2.1 in 15.7 oz 300 n Sep 2010 1,199- i Fujifilm X100
 
Leica D-LUX 6« » 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.8 in 10.5 oz 330 n Sep 2012 699- i Leica D-LUX 6
 
Leica X2« » 4.9 in 2.7 in 2.0 in 12.2 oz 450 n May 2012 1,995- i Leica X2
 
Leica D-LUX 5« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 9.6 oz 400 n Sep 2010 699- i Leica D-LUX 5
 
Nikon D700« » 5.8 in 4.8 in 3.0 in 37.9 oz 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999- i Nikon D700
 
Panasonic LX5« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 9.6 oz 400 n Jul 2010 499- i Panasonic LX5
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

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 X1 was launched at a lower price than the 5D, despite having a lens built in. 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.

 

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 5D features a full frame sensor and the Leica X1 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the X1 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Canon 5D and Leica X1 sensor measures

With 12.7MP, the 5D offers a slightly higher resolution than the X1 (12.2MP), but the 5D nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 8.25μm versus 5.51μm for the X1) due to its larger sensor. However, the X1 is a much more recent model (by 4 years) than the 5D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The Canon EOS 5D 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 Leica X1 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).

5D versus X1 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Canon 5D» Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871Canon 5D
 
Leica X1« APS-C 12.2 4272 2856-----Leica X1
 
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285Canon 6D Mark II
 
Canon 5DS« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.712.4238187Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.612.4230886Canon 5DS R
 
Canon 5D Mark III« » Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 6D« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082Canon 6D
 
Canon 5D Mark II« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 1D Mark II N« » APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.297566Canon 1D Mark II N
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328-23.311.3148074Canon 1Ds Mark II
 
Canon 1Ds« » Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704-21.811.095463Canon 1Ds
 
Fujifilm X100« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/30p22.912.4100173Fujifilm X100
 
Leica D-LUX 6« » 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p----Leica D-LUX 6
 
Leica X2« » APS-C 16.1 4928 3264-----Leica X2
 
Leica D-LUX 5« » 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p----Leica D-LUX 5
 
Nikon D700« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2230380Nikon D700
 
Panasonic LX5« » 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.610.813241Panasonic LX5
Neither the 5D nor the X1 offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 5D 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 5D and Leica X1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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
Camera
Model
 
Canon 5D»optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n Canon 5D
 
Leica X1«- n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y n Leica X1
 
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.5 n n Canon 6D Mark II
 
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n Canon 5DS R
 
Canon 5D Mark III« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 n n Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 6D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 n n Canon 6D
 
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 3.9 n n Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 1D Mark II N« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 8.5 n n Canon 1D Mark II N
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n Canon 1Ds Mark II
 
Canon 1Ds« »optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n Canon 1Ds
 
Fujifilm X100« »1440 n 2.8 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Fujifilm X100
 
Leica D-LUX 6« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y Leica D-LUX 6
 
Leica X2« »- n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n Leica X2
 
Leica D-LUX 5« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y Y Leica D-LUX 5
 
Nikon D700« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n Nikon D700
 
Panasonic LX5« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y Y Panasonic LX5

One feature that is present on the 5D, 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 5D 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 5D and Leica X1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Canon 5D»Y-----2.0---Canon 5D
 
Leica X1«Y----mini2.0---Leica X1
 
Canon 6D Mark II« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon 6D Mark II
 
Canon 5DS« »YmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« »YmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS R
 
Canon 5D Mark III« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 6D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 6D
 
Canon 5D Mark II« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 1D Mark II N« »Y-----1.1---Canon 1D Mark II N
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »Y-----2.0---Canon 1Ds Mark II
 
Canon 1Ds« »Y-----FW---Canon 1Ds
 
Fujifilm X100« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Fujifilm X100
 
Leica D-LUX 6« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Leica D-LUX 6
 
Leica X2« »Y----mini2.0---Leica X2
 
Leica D-LUX 5« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Leica D-LUX 5
 
Nikon D700« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon D700
 
Panasonic LX5« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Panasonic LX5

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 5D (unlike the X1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 5D and the X1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 5D was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark II, 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.


Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 5D or the Leica X1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS 5D:

  • 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.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 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 available for much longer (launched in August 2005).

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Arguments in favor of the Leica X1:

  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the 5D requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (124x60mm vs 152x113mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the 5D).
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the 5D launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (8 points each). 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

5D 08:08 X1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 5D 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 5D or the X1 perform in practice. 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 why expert reviews are important. 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.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Canon 5D»88/100+ +oo- Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
 
Leica X1«-+--4/5 Sep 2009 1,995- i Leica X1
 
Canon 6D Mark II« »+80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i Canon 6D Mark II
 
Canon 5DS« »+83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« »+83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
 
Canon 5D Mark III« »+ +82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 6D« »+ +83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i Canon 6D
 
Canon 5D Mark II« »91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 1D Mark II N« »----- Aug 2005 3,999- i Canon 1D Mark II N
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »-+ +--- Sep 2004 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark II
 
Canon 1Ds« »-+ +--- Sep 2002 8,999- i Canon 1Ds
 
Fujifilm X100« »-75/1004/54/55/5 Sep 2010 1,199- i Fujifilm X100
 
Leica D-LUX 6« »--4/5-4/5 Sep 2012 699- i Leica D-LUX 6
 
Leica X2« »--3/5-4/5 May 2012 1,995- i Leica X2
 
Leica D-LUX 5« »--4.5/5-4/5 Sep 2010 699- i Leica D-LUX 5
 
Nikon D700« »89/100+ +4.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999- i Nikon D700
 
Panasonic LX5« »+73/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499- i Panasonic LX5
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. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon 5D:
Check Ebay offers
Leica X1:
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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon 5D 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 5D 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 2005 September 2009
    Launch Price USD 3299 USD 1995
    Sensor Specs Canon 5D Leica X1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 23.7 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 369.72 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 12.7 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4368 x 2912 pixels 4272 x 2856 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 8.25 μm 5.51 μm
    Pixel Density 1.47 MP/cm2 3.30 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100-1600 ISO 100-3200 ISO
    ISO Boost 50-3200 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 71 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.9 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.1 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1368 ..
    Screen Specs Canon 5D Leica X1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder No viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 96%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.71x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    Rear LCD Size 2.5 inch 2.7 inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 5D Leica X1
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 5D Leica X1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 5D Leica X1
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyNot weather sealed
    Battery Type BP-511A BP-DC8
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge260 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 152 x 113 x 75 mm
    (6.0 x 4.4 x 3.0 in)
    124 x 60 x 32 mm
    (4.9 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 895 g (31.6 oz) 306 g (10.8 oz)

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