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Canon D30 vs Sony NEX-5

The Canon EOS-D30 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in May 2000 and May 2010. The D30 is a DSLR, while the NEX-5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 3.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 14 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon D30 versus Sony NEX-5
Canon D30 Sony NEX-5
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Canon EF mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
3.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 14 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 200-12,800
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
1.8 LCD, 114k dots 3.0 LCD, 920k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 7 shutter flaps per second
540 shots per battery charge330 shots per battery charge
150 x 107 x 75 mm, 750 g 111 x 59 x 38 mm, 287 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-D30 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5? 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 D30 and the Sony NEX-5 is provided 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The NEX-5 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the D30 is only available in black.

Size Canon D30 vs Sony NEX-5
Compare D30 versus NEX-5 top
Comparison D30 or NEX-5 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-5 is considerably smaller (59 percent) than the Canon D30. Moreover, the NEX-5 is substantially lighter (62 percent) than the D30. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D30 nor the NEX-5 are weather-sealed.

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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (D30) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-5). Mirrorless cameras, such as the NEX-5, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.

Concerning battery life, the D30 gets 540 shots out of its BP-511 battery, while the NEX-5 can take 330 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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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 D30 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 26.5 oz 540 n May 2000 2,999i
 
Sony NEX-5 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 10.1 oz 330 n May 2010 699i
 
Canon T7 5.1 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 16.8 oz 500 n Feb 2018 449 i
 
Canon SL2 4.8 in 3.7 in 2.8 in 16.0 oz 650 n Jun 2017 549i
 
Canon T7i 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 18.8 oz 600 n Feb 2017 749i
 
Canon 80D 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 25.8 oz 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199i
 
Canon 40D 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Canon 30D 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
 
Canon 20D 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
 
Canon 10D 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
 
Canon Rebel 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899i
 
Canon D60 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.2 oz 620 n Feb 2002 2,999i
 
Sony NEX-5R 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.7 oz 330 n Aug 2012 749i
 
Sony NEX-F3 4.6 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 11.1 oz 470 n May 2012 599i
 
Sony NEX-5N 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.5 oz 460 n Aug 2011 699i
 
Sony NEX-C3 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 7.9 oz 400 n Jun 2011 599i
 
Sony NEX-3 4.6 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 10.5 oz 330 n May 2010 599i
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 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 NEX-5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 77 percent) than the D30, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.

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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. 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 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 NEX-5 is 11 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (D30) 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 D30 and Sony NEX-5 sensor measures

With 14MP, the NEX-5 offers a higher resolution than the D30 (3.1MP), but the NEX-5 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.11μm versus 10.29μm for the D30). Yet, the NEX-5 is a much more recent model (by 9 years and 11 months) than the D30, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The resolution advantage of the Sony NEX-5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 15.3 inches or 58.3 x 38.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 12.2 inches or 46.7 x 31 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.3 x 10.2 inches or 38.9 x 25.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon D30 are 10.8 x 7.2 inches or 27.4 x 18.3 cm for good quality, 8.6 x 5.8 inches or 21.9 x 14.6 cm for very good quality, and 7.2 x 4.8 inches or 18.3 x 12.2 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS-D30 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-5 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

D30 versus NEX-5 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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.

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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 D30 APS-C 3.1 2160 1440none........
 
Sony NEX-5 APS-C 14.0 4592 30561080/60i22.212.279669
 
Canon T7 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p........
 
Canon SL2 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.4104179
 
Canon T7i APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p........
 
Canon 80D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none........
 
Sony NEX-5R APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.191078
 
Sony NEX-F3 APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.712.3111473
 
Sony NEX-5N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.612.7107977
 
Sony NEX-C3 APS-C 16.0 4912 3264720/30p22.712.2108373
 
Sony NEX-3 APS-C 14.0 4592 3056720/30p22.112.083068

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The NEX-5 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D30 does not. The highest resolution format that the NEX-5 can use is 1080/60i.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D30 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-5 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-5 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-SV1. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon D30, the Sony NEX-5, and comparable 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 D30optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Sony NEX-5optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n
 
Canon T7optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon SL2optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon T7ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Canon 80Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
 
Canon 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon 20Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon 10Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Canon D60optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Sony NEX-5Roptional n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n
 
Sony NEX-F3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 Y n
 
Sony NEX-5Noptional n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n
 
Sony NEX-C3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n n
 
Sony NEX-3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D30 has one, while the NEX-5 does not. While the built-in flash of the D30 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The NEX-5 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the D30 does not have a selfie-screen.

The D30 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the NEX-5 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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-D30 and Sony Alpha NEX-5 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 D30Y-----1.0---
 
Sony NEX-5Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon T7Ymonomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Canon SL2YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Canon T7iYstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Canon 80DYstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
 
Canon 30DY-----2.0---
 
Canon 20DY-----1.1---
 
Canon 10DY-----1.1---
 
Canon RebelY-----1.1---
 
Canon D60Y-----1.1---
 
Sony NEX-5RYstereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Sony NEX-F3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-5NYstereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-C3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-3Ystereomono--mini2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon D30 (unlike the NEX-5) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the D30 and the NEX-5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D30 was replaced by the Canon D60, while the NEX-5 was followed by the Sony NEX-5N. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Sony websites.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Canon D30 better than the Sony NEX-5 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-D30:

  • 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.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (540 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • 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 May 2000).

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha NEX-5:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (14 vs 3.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 112%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 114k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (111x59mm vs 150x107mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 463g or 62 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.0).
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (77 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 9 years and 11 months of technical progress since the D30 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-5 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 6 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 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.

D30 06:13 NEX-5

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon D30 and the Sony NEX-5 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D30 and the NEX-5 in practical situations. 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 (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 D30..+ +...... May 2000 2,999i
 
Sony NEX-5+ +71/1004.5/54/54/5 May 2010 699i
 
Canon T7o..3.5/5..3.5/5 Feb 2018 449 i
 
Canon SL2+ +78/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2017 549i
 
Canon T7i..80/1004.5/54/54/5 Feb 2017 749i
 
Canon 80D+ +84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199i
 
Canon 40D+ ++ +4.5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Canon 30D+ ++ +oo.. Feb 2006 1,399i
 
Canon 20D..+ +..o.. Aug 2004 1,499i
 
Canon 10D..+ +..o.. Feb 2003 1,999i
 
Canon Rebel..+ +..o.. Aug 2003 899i
 
Canon D60..+ +o.... Feb 2002 2,999i
 
Sony NEX-5R....4.5/5..4.5/5 Aug 2012 749i
 
Sony NEX-F3..74/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 May 2012 599i
 
Sony NEX-5N+ +79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2011 699i
 
Sony NEX-C3+ +74/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
 
Sony NEX-3..70/1004.5/55/54/5 May 2010 599i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon D30:
Check Ebay offers
Sony NEX-5:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Canon D30 vs Sony NEX-5

    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 D30 Sony NEX-5
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date May 2000 May 2010
    Launch Price USD 2,999 USD 699
    Sensor Specs Canon D30 Sony NEX-5
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.0 x 14.9 mm 23.4 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 327.8 mm2 365.04 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.6 mm 28.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 3.1 Megapixels 14 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 2160 x 1440 pixels 4592 x 3056 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 10.29 μm 5.11 μm
    Pixel Density 0.95 MP/cm2 3.84 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 200 - 12,800 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 69
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 22.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 12.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 796
    Screen Specs Canon D30 Sony NEX-5
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.54x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 1.8inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 114k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Canon D30 Sony NEX-5
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 7 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon D30 Sony NEX-5
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 1.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon D30 Sony NEX-5
    Battery Type BP-511 NP-FW50
    Battery Life (CIPA)540 shots per charge330 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 150 x 107 x 75 mm
    (5.9 x 4.2 x 3.0 in)
    111 x 59 x 38 mm
    (4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 750 g (26.5 oz) 287 g (10.1 oz)

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