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Canon M vs Nikon D80

The Canon EOS M and the Nikon D80 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in July 2012 and August 2006. The Canon M is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the D80 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 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 M VS Nikon D80
Canon M Nikon D80
Mirrorless system camera Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF-M mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
17.9 MP, APS-C Sensor 10 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/30p Video no Video
ISO 100-12800 (100-25600) ISO 100-1600 (100-3200)
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD, 1040k dots 2.5" LCD, 230k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
4.3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
230 shots per battery charge600 shots per battery charge
109 x 66 x 32 mm, 298 g 132 x 103 x 77 mm, 668 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS M and the Nikon D80? 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 M and the Nikon D80 are illustrated 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The Canon M can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the D80 is only available in black.

Size Canon M vs Nikon D80
Compare Canon M versus D80 top
Comparison Canon M or D80 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D80 is considerably larger (89 percent) than the Canon M. Moreover, the D80 is substantially heavier (124 percent) than the Canon M. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the Canon M nor the D80 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

Concerning battery life, the Canon M gets 230 shots out of its LP-E12 battery, while the D80 can take 600 images on a single charge of its EN-EL3e power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras 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)
Camera
Model
 
Canon M» 109 mm 66 mm 32 mm 298 g 230 n Jul 2012 599iCanon M
 
Nikon D80« 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999iNikon D80
 
Canon M100« » 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 302 g 295 n Aug 2017 499iCanon M100
 
Canon M10« » 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 301 g 255 n Oct 2015 499iCanon M10
 
Canon G7 X« » 103 mm 60 mm 40 mm 304 g 210 n Sep 2014 699iCanon G7 X
 
Canon 100D« » 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 n Mar 2013 549iCanon 100D
 
Canon 700D« » 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649iCanon 700D
 
Canon G16« » 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 iCanon G16
 
Nikon D5000« » 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749iNikon D5000
 
Nikon D90« » 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299iNikon D90
 
Nikon D50« » 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749iNikon D50
 
Nikon D70s« » 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899iNikon D70s
 
Nikon D70« » 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999iNikon D70
 
Panasonic GF6« » 111 mm 65 mm 38 mm 323 g 340 n Apr 2013 499iPanasonic GF6
 
Panasonic G3« » 115 mm 84 mm 47 mm 336 g 270 n May 2011 599iPanasonic G3
 
Sony NEX-3N« » 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 n Feb 2013 499iSony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-F3« » 117 mm 67 mm 42 mm 314 g 470 n May 2012 599iSony NEX-F3
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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. The Canon M was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the D80, 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. 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. 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 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 D80 is 12 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (Canon M) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon M and Nikon D80 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon M offers a higher resolution of 17.9 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the Nikon D80. 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 4.31μm versus 6.11μm for the D80). However, it should be noted that the Canon M is much more recent (by 5 years and 11 months) than the D80, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

The resolution advantage of the Canon M implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the Canon M for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 17.3 inch or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 13.8 inch or 52.7 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 11.5 inch or 43.9 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D80 are 19.4 x 13 inch or 49.2 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.5 x 10.4 inch or 39.3 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 12.9 x 8.6 inch or 32.8 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon M has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.

The Canon EOS M has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D80 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.

Canon M versus D80 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. Of the two cameras under review, the Canon M has a notably higher overall DXO score than the D80 (overall score 4 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. and 0.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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 M APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.282765Canon M
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461Nikon D80
 
Canon M100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.512.9127278Canon M100
 
Canon M10 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.475365Canon M10
 
Canon G7 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p23.012.755671Canon G7 X
 
Canon 100D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363Canon 100D
 
Canon 700D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161Canon 700D
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054Canon G16
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773Nikon D90
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055Nikon D50
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950Nikon D70
 
Panasonic GF6 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i20.710.662254Panasonic GF6
 
Panasonic G3 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i21.010.666756Panasonic G3
 
Sony NEX-3N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-F3 APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.712.3111473Sony NEX-F3

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The Canon M indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D80 does not. The highest resolution format that the Canon M can use is 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D80 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the Canon M 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 M, the Nikon D80, and comparable cameras.

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 Mnone n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.3 n n Canon M
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D80
 
Canon M100none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.1 Y n Canon M100
 
Canon M10none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.6 Y n Canon M10
 
Canon G7 Xnone n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 6.5 Y Y Canon G7 X
 
Canon 100Doptical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.9 Y n Canon 100D
 
Canon 700Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Canon 700D
 
Canon G16optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y Canon G16
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D90optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 Y n Nikon D90
 
Nikon D50optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Nikon D50
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D70
 
Panasonic GF6none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.2 Y n Panasonic GF6
 
Panasonic G31440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Panasonic G3
 
Sony NEX-3Noptional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-F3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 Y n Sony NEX-F3

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The Canon M has a touchscreen, while the D80 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The Canon M writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D80 uses SDHC cards. The Canon M supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D80 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 M and Nikon D80 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
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Canon MYstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon M
 
Nikon D80Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D80
 
Canon M100-stereomono--mini2.0YYYCanon M100
 
Canon M10-stereomono--mini2.0YY-Canon M10
 
Canon G7 X-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Canon G7 X
 
Canon 100DYmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 100D
 
Canon 700DYstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 700D
 
Canon G16Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--Canon G16
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D90Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D90
 
Nikon D50Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D50
 
Nikon D70sYnonenone--none2.0---Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70Ynonenone--none1.0---Nikon D70
 
Panasonic GF6-stereomono--mini2.0YY-Panasonic GF6
 
Panasonic G3Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic G3
 
Sony NEX-3N-stereomono--micro2.0---Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-F3Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-F3

Both the Canon M and the D80 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D80 was replaced by the Nikon D90, while the Canon M was followed by the Canon EOS M3. 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.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon M or the Nikon D80 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS M:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 10MP) with a 34% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.3 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (109x66mm vs 132x103mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 370g or 55 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 11 months of technical progress since the D80 launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D80:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (600 versus 230) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2006).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the Canon M is the clear winner of the match-up (15 : 4 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.

Canon M 15:04 D80

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon M and the Nikon D80 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the Canon M or the D80. 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 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.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cam
era
  labs  
dp
re
  view  
e
photo
  zine  
ima
ging
resource
photo
graphy
  blog  
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Canon M+..4/53.5/54/5 Jul 2012 599iCanon M
 
Nikon D80++ +o4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999iNikon D80
 
Canon M100+..4/5..3.5/5 Aug 2017 499iCanon M100
 
Canon M10......o4/5 Oct 2015 499iCanon M10
 
Canon G7 X+ +77/1004.5/53.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 699iCanon G7 X
 
Canon 100D+78/1004/54/54/5 Mar 2013 549iCanon 100D
 
Canon 700D..76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649iCanon 700D
 
Canon G16+..4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 iCanon G16
 
Nikon D5000+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749iNikon D5000
 
Nikon D90+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299iNikon D90
 
Nikon D5078/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Apr 2005 749iNikon D50
 
Nikon D70s......o5/5 Apr 2005 899iNikon D70s
 
Nikon D70..+ +..o.. Jan 2004 999iNikon D70
 
Panasonic GF6+ +..4.5/5..4.5/5 Apr 2013 499iPanasonic GF6
 
Panasonic G3+ +75/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2011 599iPanasonic G3
 
Sony NEX-3N....4.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499iSony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-F3..74/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 May 2012 599iSony NEX-F3
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods 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 M:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D80:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, 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 M vs Nikon D80

    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 M Nikon D80
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF-M mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date July 2012 August 2006
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 999
    Sensor Specs Canon M Nikon D80
    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 17.9 Megapixels 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3456 pixels 3872 x 2592 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.31 μm 6.11 μm
    Pixel Density 5.39 MP/cm2 2.69 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100-12800 ISO 100-1600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100-25600 ISO 100-3200 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 65 61
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 22.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.2 11.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 827 524
    Screen Specs Canon M Nikon D80
    Viewfinder Type No viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.62x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 2.5 inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon M Nikon D80
    Focus System On-Sensor Phase-detect Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 4.3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I no
    Connectivity Specs Canon M Nikon D80
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon M Nikon D80
    Battery Type LP-E12 EN-EL3e
    Battery Life (CIPA)230 shots per charge600 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 109 x 66 x 32 mm
    (4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
    132 x 103 x 77 mm
    (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 298 g (10.5 oz) 668 g (23.6 oz)

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