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Canon S120 vs Olympus E-600

The Canon PowerShot S120 and the Olympus E-600 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2013 and August 2009. The S120 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-600 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/1.7-inch (S120) and a Four Thirds (E-600) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Olympus 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 S120 versus Olympus E-600
Canon S120 Olympus E-600
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
24-120mm f/1.8-5.7 Four Thirds lenses
12 MP, 1/1.7" Sensor 12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/60p Video no Video
ISO 80-12,800 ISO 100-3,200
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 922k dots 2.7 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed touchscreen Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
12.1 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
Lens-based stabilizationIn-body stabilization
230 shots per battery charge500 shots per battery charge
100 x 59 x 29 mm, 217 g 130 x 94 x 60 mm, 535 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot S120 and the Olympus E-600? 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 S120 and the Olympus E-600 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon S120 vs Olympus E-600
Compare S120 versus E-600 top
Comparison S120 or E-600 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-600 is considerably larger (107 percent) than the Canon S120. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the S120 nor the E-600 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the S120 has a lens built in, whereas the E-600 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-600 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the S120 gets 230 shots out of its NB-6LH battery, while the E-600 can take 500 images on a single charge of its BLS-1 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, 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
1.
 
Canon S120 100 mm 59 mm 29 mm 217 g 230 n Aug 2013 449i
2.
 
Olympus E-600 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 535 g 500 n Aug 2009 449i
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 206 g 235 n Jan 2017 529 i
4.
 
Canon G9 X 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 209 g 220 n Oct 2015 529i
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 116 mm 74 mm 66 mm 553 g 240 n Feb 2014 799i
6.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
7.
 
Canon G1 X 117 mm 81 mm 65 mm 534 g 250 n Jan 2012 799i
8.
 
Canon G15 107 mm 76 mm 40 mm 352 g 350 n Sep 2012 499i
9.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429i
10.
 
Canon G12 112 mm 76 mm 48 mm 401 g 370 n Sep 2010 499i
11.
 
Olympus E-450 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2009 499i
12.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699i
13.
 
Olympus E-420 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2008 599i
14.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699i
15.
 
Olympus E-510 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 n Mar 2007 799i
16.
 
Panasonic LF1 103 mm 62 mm 28 mm 192 g 250 n Apr 2013 499 i
17.
 
Panasonic LX7 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Jul 2012 499i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

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. 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 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. 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 S120 features a 1/1.7-inch sensor and the Olympus E-600 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-600 is 423 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.5 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Canon S120 and Olympus E-600 sensor measures

With 12.2MP, the E-600 offers a higher resolution than the S120 (12MP), but the E-600 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 1.89μm for the S120) due to its larger sensor. However, the S120 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 11 months) than the E-600, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The Canon PowerShot S120 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-600 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).

S120 versus E-600 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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
1.
 
Canon S120 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.311.924656
2.
 
Olympus E-600 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.510.354155
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.912.552265
4.
 
Canon G9 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.512.349563
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
6.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
7.
 
Canon G1 X 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 32641080/24p21.710.864460
8.
 
Canon G15 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.911.516546
9.
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.217947
10.
 
Canon G12 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/24p20.411.216147
11.
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.551256
12.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
13.
 
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.452756
14.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
15.
 
Olympus E-510 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.210.044252
16.
 
Panasonic LF1 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60i20.811.621152
17.
 
Panasonic LX7 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p20.711.714750

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The S120 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-600 does not. The highest resolution format that the S120 can use is 1080/60p.

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-600 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the S120 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 S120, the Olympus E-600, 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
1.
 
Canon S120none n 3.0 922 fixed Y 1/2000s 12.1 Y Y
2.
 
Olympus E-600optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark IInone n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 8.2 Y Y
4.
 
Canon G9 Xnone n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 6.0 Y Y
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIoptional n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 5.2 Y Y
6.
 
Canon G16optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y
7.
 
Canon G1 Xoptical n 3.0 922 Swivel n 1/4000s 1.9 Y Y
8.
 
Canon G15optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.1 Y Y
9.
 
Canon SX50202 n 3.0 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2 Y Y
10.
 
Canon G12optical n 2.8 461 swivel n 1/4000s 1.1 Y Y
11.
 
Olympus E-450optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
12.
 
Olympus E-620optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
13.
 
Olympus E-420optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
14.
 
Olympus E-520optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-510optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
16.
 
Panasonic LF1200 n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 10.0 Y Y
17.
 
Panasonic LX7optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The S120 has a touchscreen, while the E-600 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The E-600 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 S120 does not have a selfie-screen.

The Canon S120 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 S120 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the E-600 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-600 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the S120 only has one slot.

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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 S120 and Olympus E-600 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
1.
 
Canon S120-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
2.
 
Olympus E-600Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
4.
 
Canon G9 X-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereomono--mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon G16Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
7.
 
Canon G1 XYstereomono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon G15Ystereomono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon SX50Ystereomono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon G12Ystereomono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Olympus E-450Y-----2.0---
12.
 
Olympus E-620Y-----2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-420Y-----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-520Y-----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-510Y-----2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic LF1-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
17.
 
Panasonic LX7Ystereomono--mini2.0---

It is notable that the S120 offers wifi support, while the E-600 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Both the S120 and the E-600 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Canon and Olympus. 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 is the bottom line? Is the Canon S120 better than the Olympus E-600 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot S120:

  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.6 EV of extra DR).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 230k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12.1 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the E-600 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (100x59mm vs 130x94mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the E-600).
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 11 months of technical progress since the E-600 launch.

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Advantages of the Olympus E-600:

  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.1 stops ISO advantage).
  • 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.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (500 versus 230) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2009).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S120 emerges as the winner of the contest (12 : 10 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.

S120 12:10 E-600

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon S120 and the Olympus E-600 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best DSLR 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the S120 or the E-600 perform in practice. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon S120..+ +..4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 449i
2.
 
Olympus E-600........4.5/5 Aug 2009 449i
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II4/5..75/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2017 529 i
4.
 
Canon G9 X3.5/5+ +..4.5/54.5/5 Oct 2015 529i
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II3/5+77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799i
6.
 
Canon G164/5+..4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
7.
 
Canon G1 X5/5+76/1004/54.5/5 Jan 2012 799i
8.
 
Canon G154/5+76/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
9.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429i
10.
 
Canon G124/5+73/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 499i
11.
 
Olympus E-450......4/54/5 Mar 2009 499i
12.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/10072/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699i
13.
 
Olympus E-420..85/100+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2008 599i
14.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699i
15.
 
Olympus E-510..89/100+ +3.5/54.5/5 Mar 2007 799i
16.
 
Panasonic LF13/5+..4/54.5/5 Apr 2013 499 i
17.
 
Panasonic LX73/5+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2012 499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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 S120:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-600:
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon S120 vs Olympus E-600

    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 S120 Olympus E-600
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 24-120mm f/1.8-5.7 Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date August 2013 August 2009
    Launch Price USD 449 USD 449
    Sensor Specs Canon S120 Olympus E-600
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS 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 4.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 12 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4000 x 3000 pixels 4032 x 3024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.89 μm 4.29 μm
    Pixel Density 27.70 MP/cm2 5.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    Image Processor Digic 6 TruePic III+
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 56 55
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.3 21.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.9 10.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 246 541
    Screen Specs Canon S120 Olympus E-600
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.48x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.7inch
    LCD Resolution 922k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon S120 Olympus E-600
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus Peakingno Peaking Feature
    Continuous Shooting 12.1 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inno Intervalometer
    Image StabilizationLens-based stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon S120 Olympus E-600
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon S120 Olympus E-600
    Battery Type NB-6LH BLS-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)230 shots per charge500 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 100 x 59 x 29 mm
    (3.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 in)
    130 x 94 x 60 mm
    (5.1 x 3.7 x 2.4 in)
    Camera Weight 217 g (7.7 oz) 535 g (18.9 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

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