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Canon Rebel vs Nikon D5100

The Canon EOS Digital Rebel (called Canon 300D in some regions) and the Nikon D5100 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2003 and April 2011. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 6.3 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 16.1 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon Rebel versus Nikon D5100
Canon Rebel Nikon D5100
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
6.3 MP, APS-C Sensor 16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 25,600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
1.8 LCD, 118k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
2.5 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
400 shots per battery charge660 shots per battery charge
142 x 99 x 72 mm, 649 g 128 x 97 x 79 mm, 560 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Digital Rebel and the Nikon D5100? 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 Rebel and the Nikon D5100 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.

Size Canon Rebel vs Nikon D5100
Compare Rebel versus D5100 top
Comparison Rebel or D5100 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D5100 is notably smaller (12 percent) than the Canon Rebel. Moreover, the D5100 is markedly lighter (14 percent) than the Rebel. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the Rebel nor the D5100 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. 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 (Rebel) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D5100).

Concerning battery life, the Rebel gets 400 shots out of its BP-511 battery, while the D5100 can take 660 images on a single charge of its EN-EL14 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.

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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 Rebel 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899i
 
Nikon D5100 5.0 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.8 oz 660 n Apr 2011 749i
 
Canon T7i 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 18.8 oz 600 n Feb 2017 749i
 
Canon T6s 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.9 oz 440 n Feb 2015 649i
 
Canon T4i 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.3 oz 440 n Jun 2012 849i
 
Canon T3i 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.1 oz 440 n Feb 2011 599i
 
Canon T1i 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799i
 
Canon XTi 5.0 in 3.3 in 2.6 in 19.6 oz 370 n Aug 2006 799i
 
Canon XT 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899i
 
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
 
Nikon D5600 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 16.4 oz 970 n Nov 2016 699 i
 
Nikon D5300 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 16.9 oz 600 n Oct 2013 799i
 
Nikon D5200 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 500 n Nov 2012 749i
 
Nikon D3100 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 550 n Aug 2010 599i
 
Nikon D5000 5.0 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 20.8 oz 510 n Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D70 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 400 n Jan 2004 999i
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.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 D5100 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 17 percent) than the Rebel, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

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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 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. 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 D5100 is 8 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (Rebel) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon Rebel and Nikon D5100 sensor measures

With 16.1MP, the D5100 offers a higher resolution than the Rebel (6.3MP), but the D5100 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.80μm versus 7.38μm for the Rebel). Yet, the D5100 is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 7 months) than the Rebel, 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 Nikon D5100 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D5100 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon Rebel are 15.4 x 10.2 inches or 39 x 26 cm for good quality, 12.3 x 8.2 inches or 31.2 x 20.8 cm for very good quality, and 10.2 x 6.8 inches or 26 x 17.3 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS Digital Rebel has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D5100 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.

Rebel versus D5100 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 D5100 offers substantially better image quality than the Rebel (overall score 25 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.5 bits higher color depth, 2.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380
 
Canon T7i APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p........
 
Canon T6s APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
 
Canon T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
 
Canon T3i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.579365
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
 
Canon XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
 
Nikon D5600 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883
 
Nikon D5200 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.213.9128484
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D5100 indeed provides for movie recording, while the Rebel does not. The highest resolution format that the D5100 can use is 1080/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The Rebel and the D5100 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 Rebel has a higher magnification than the one of the D5100 (0.55x vs 0.51x), 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 Rebel and Nikon D5100 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
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Nikon D5100optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Canon T7ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Canon T6soptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon T4ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon T3ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
 
Canon T1ioptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
 
Canon XTioptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon XToptical n 1.8 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 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
 
Nikon D5600optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5300optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5200optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
The D5100 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 Rebel does not have a selfie-screen.

The Nikon D5100 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

The Rebel writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D5100 uses SDXC 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 Digital Rebel and Nikon D5100 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 RebelY-----1.1---
 
Nikon D5100YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon T7iYstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Canon T6sYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Canon T4iYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon T3iYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon T1iYmonomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon XTiY-----2.0---
 
Canon XTY-----2.0---
 
Canon 20DY-----1.1---
 
Canon 10DY-----1.1---
 
Nikon D5600YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Nikon D5300YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Nikon D5200YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D70Y-----1.0---

Both the Rebel and the D5100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The Rebel was replaced by the Canon XT, while the D5100 was followed by the Nikon D5200. 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 there a clear favorite between the Canon Rebel and the Nikon D5100? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS Digital Rebel:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.55x vs 0.51x).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2003).

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D5100:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (16.1 vs 6.3MP), which boosts linear resolution by 60%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (25 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.5 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.8 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.1 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p 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 (921k vs 118k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • More compact: Is smaller (128x97mm vs 142x99mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 89g or 14 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (660 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (17 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 7 years and 7 months of technical progress since the Rebel launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D5100 is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 2 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 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.

Rebel 02:18 D5100

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon Rebel and the Nikon D5100 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 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 Rebel or the D5100. 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 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 Rebel..+ +..o.. Aug 2003 899i
 
Nikon D5100+ +76/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749i
 
Canon T7i..80/1004.5/54/54/5 Feb 2017 749i
 
Canon T6s+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
 
Canon T4i+ +77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
 
Canon T3io77/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2011 599i
 
Canon T1i+ +74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
 
Canon XTi+ ++ +o4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799i
 
Canon XT80/100+ +oo.. Feb 2005 899i
 
Canon 20D..+ +..o.. Aug 2004 1,499i
 
Canon 10D..+ +..o.. Feb 2003 1,999i
 
Nikon D5600..79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i
 
Nikon D5300+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799i
 
Nikon D5200+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2012 749i
 
Nikon D3100+ +72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599i
 
Nikon D5000+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D70..+ +..o.. Jan 2004 999i
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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon Rebel:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D5100:
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 your choice using the following search menu. 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 Rebel vs Nikon D5100

    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 Rebel Nikon D5100
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2003 April 2011
    Launch Price USD 899 USD 749
    Sensor Specs Canon Rebel Nikon D5100
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.7 x 15.1 mm 23.6 x 15.7 mm
    Sensor Area 342.77 mm2 370.52 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 27.3 mm 28.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 6.3 Megapixels 16.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3072 x 2048 pixels 4928 x 3264 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.38 μm 4.80 μm
    Pixel Density 1.84 MP/cm2 4.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 25,600 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 55 80
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.0 23.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 13.6
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 544 1183
    Screen Specs Canon Rebel Nikon D5100
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.55x 0.51x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 1.8inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 118k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Canon Rebel Nikon D5100
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 2.5 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon Rebel Nikon D5100
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 1.1 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon Rebel Nikon D5100
    Battery Type BP-511 EN-EL14
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge660 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 142 x 99 x 72 mm
    (5.6 x 3.9 x 2.8 in)
    128 x 97 x 79 mm
    (5.0 x 3.8 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 649 g (22.9 oz) 560 g (19.8 oz)

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