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Canon G12 vs Olympus E-PM2

The Canon PowerShot G12 and the Olympus PEN E-PM2 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2010 and September 2012. The G12 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-PM2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/1.7-inch (G12) and a Four Thirds (E-PM2) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 15.9 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon G12 versus Olympus E-PM2
Canon G12 Olympus E-PM2
Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
28-140mm f/2.8-4.5 Micro Four Thirds lenses
10 MP, 1/1.7" Sensor 15.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
720/24p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 80-3,200 (80 - 12,800) ISO 100-25,600
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.8 LCD, 461k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed touchscreen
1.1 shutter flaps per second 8 shutter flaps per second
Lens-based stabilizationIn-body stabilization
370 shots per battery charge360 shots per battery charge
112 x 76 x 48 mm, 401 g 110 x 64 x 34 mm, 269 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot G12 and the Olympus PEN E-PM2? 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 G12 and the Olympus E-PM2 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The E-PM2 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the G12 is only available in black.

Size Canon G12 vs Olympus E-PM2
Compare G12 versus E-PM2 top
Comparison G12 or E-PM2 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PM2 is notably smaller (17 percent) than the Canon G12. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the G12 nor the E-PM2 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the G12 has a lens built in, whereas the E-PM2 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 E-PM2 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the G12 gets 370 shots out of its NB-7L battery, while the E-PM2 can take 360 images on a single charge of its BLS-5 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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
 
Canon G12 4.4 in 3.0 in 1.9 in 14.1 oz 370 n Sep 2010 499i
 
Olympus E-PM2 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.3 in 9.5 oz 360 n Sep 2012 499i
 
Canon G16 4.3 in 3.0 in 1.6 in 12.6 oz 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
 
Canon G15 4.2 in 3.0 in 1.6 in 12.4 oz 350 n Sep 2012 499i
 
Canon SX50 4.8 in 3.4 in 4.2 in 21.0 oz 315 n Sep 2012 429i
 
Fujifilm X10 4.6 in 2.8 in 2.2 in 12.3 oz 270 n Sep 2011 599i
 
Nikon P7800 4.7 in 3.1 in 2.0 in 14.1 oz 350 n Sep 2013 549i
 
Olympus E-M10 II 4.7 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 13.8 oz 320 n Aug 2015 649i
 
Olympus E-P5 4.8 in 2.7 in 1.5 in 14.8 oz 330 n May 2013 999i
 
Olympus E-PL6 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.5 oz 360 n May 2013 599i
 
Olympus E-PL5 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.5 oz 360 n Sep 2012 599i
 
Olympus E-PM1 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.3 in 9.3 oz 330 n Jun 2011 499i
 
Olympus E-450 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 n Mar 2009 499i
 
Panasonic FZ150 4.9 in 3.2 in 3.6 in 18.6 oz 410 n Aug 2011 499i
 
Panasonic G10 4.9 in 3.3 in 2.9 in 13.7 oz 380 n Mar 2010 499i
 
Panasonic G2 4.9 in 3.3 in 2.9 in 15.1 oz 360 n Mar 2010 599i
 
Panasonic LX5 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 9.6 oz 400 n Jul 2010 499i
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. 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 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 G12 features a 1/1.7-inch sensor and the Olympus E-PM2 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PM2 is 423 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.6 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Canon G12 and Olympus E-PM2 sensor measures

With 15.9MP, the E-PM2 offers a higher resolution than the G12 (10MP), but the E-PM2 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.76μm versus 2.07μm for the G12) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the E-PM2 is a much more recent model (by 2 years) than the G12, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-PM2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-PM2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon G12 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon PowerShot G12 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 80-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PM2 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).

G12 versus E-PM2 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. Of the two cameras under consideration, the E-PM2 offers substantially better image quality than the G12 (overall score 25 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.3 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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 G12 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/24p20.411.216147
 
Olympus E-PM2 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.293272
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
 
Canon G15 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.911.516546
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.217947
 
Fujifilm X10 2/3 12.0 4000 30001080/30p20.511.324550
 
Nikon P7800 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/30p21.211.720054
 
Olympus E-M10 II Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.112.584273
 
Olympus E-P5 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.489572
 
Olympus E-PL6 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
 
Olympus E-PL5 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388972
 
Olympus E-PM1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.551256
 
Panasonic FZ150 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.410.913240
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353
 
Panasonic LX5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.610.813241

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the E-PM2 provides a better video resolution than the G12. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/30p, while the Canon is limited to 720/24p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the G12 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PM2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PM2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-4. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon G12, the Olympus E-PM2, 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 G12optical n 2.8 461 swivel n 1/4000s 1.1 Y Y
 
Olympus E-PM2optional n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
 
Canon G16optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y
 
Canon G15optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.1 Y Y
 
Canon SX50202 n 3.0 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2 Y Y
 
Fujifilm X10optical n 2.8 460 fixed n 1/4000s 10.0 Y Y
 
Nikon P7800921 n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-M10 II2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-P5optional n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/8000s 9.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-PL6optional n 3.0 460 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
 
Olympus E-PL5optional n 3.0 460 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
 
Olympus E-PM1optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
 
Olympus E-450optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
 
Panasonic FZ150202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0 Y Y
 
Panasonic G10202 n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
 
Panasonic G21440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
 
Panasonic LX5optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y Y

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The G12 has one, while the E-PM2 does not. While the built-in flash of the G12 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the G12 and the E-PM2 write their files to SDXC cards. The E-PM2 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the G12 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 PowerShot G12 and Olympus PEN E-PM2 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 G12Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PM2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon G16Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Canon G15Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon SX50Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Fujifilm X10Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon P7800YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-M10 IIYstereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Olympus E-P5Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Olympus E-PL6Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PL5Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PM1Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-450Y-----2.0---
 
Panasonic FZ150Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Panasonic G10Ymono---mini2.0---
 
Panasonic G2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Panasonic LX5Ymonomono--mini2.0---

Both the G12 and the E-PM2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The G12 was replaced by the Canon G15, while the E-PM2 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Olympus websites.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon G12 and the Olympus E-PM2? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot G12:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the E-PM2 requires a separate lens.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2010).

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PM2:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (15.9 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 26%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (25 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.3 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/30p vs 720/24p).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.8") for image review and settings control.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 1.1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 112x76mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years of technical progress since the G12 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PM2 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 5 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.

G12 05:13 E-PM2

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon G12 and the Olympus E-PM2 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the G12 or the E-PM2. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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 G12+73/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 499i
 
Olympus E-PM2..77/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
 
Canon G16+..4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
 
Canon G15+76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
 
Canon SX50+ +72/1004.5/5..4.5/5 Sep 2012 429i
 
Fujifilm X10..76/1004/53.5/54.5/5 Sep 2011 599i
 
Nikon P7800....4/53.5/54.5/5 Sep 2013 549i
 
Olympus E-M10 II+ +80/1005/55/55/5 Aug 2015 649i
 
Olympus E-P5+ +78/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2013 999i
 
Olympus E-PL6.......... May 2013 599i
 
Olympus E-PL5+ +..4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599i
 
Olympus E-PM186/10071/1004.5/5..4.5/5 Jun 2011 499i
 
Olympus E-450....4/5..4/5 Mar 2009 499i
 
Panasonic FZ150+ +76/1004/55/54.5/5 Aug 2011 499i
 
Panasonic G10..70/1004/5..4/5 Mar 2010 499i
 
Panasonic G2..72/1004/54/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599i
 
Panasonic LX5+73/1004.5/55/54.5/5 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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon G12:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-PM2:
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 G12 vs Olympus E-PM2

    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 G12 Olympus E-PM2
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens 28-140mm f/2.8-4.5 Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2010 September 2012
    Launch Price USD 499 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Canon G12 Olympus E-PM2
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/1.7" Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 7.6 x 5.7 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 43.32 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 9.5 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 4.6x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 10 Megapixels 15.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3648 x 2736 pixels 4608 x 3456 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 2.07 μm 3.76 μm
    Pixel Density 23.04 MP/cm2 7.08 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/24p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 80 - 12,800 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 TruePic VI
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 47 72
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.4 22.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.2 12.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 161 932
    Screen Specs Canon G12 Olympus E-PM2
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Magnification
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.8inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon G12 Olympus E-PM2
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1.1 shutter flaps/s 8 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationLens-based stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Canon G12 Olympus E-PM2
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon G12 Olympus E-PM2
    Battery Type NB-7L BLS-5
    Battery Life (CIPA)370 shots per charge360 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 112 x 76 x 48 mm
    (4.4 x 3.0 x 1.9 in)
    110 x 64 x 34 mm
    (4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 401 g (14.1 oz) 269 g (9.5 oz)

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