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Canon SX30 vs Nikon D3500

The Canon PowerShot SX30 IS and the Nikon D3500 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2010 and August 2018. The SX30 is a fixed lens compact, while the D3500 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX30) and an APS-C (D3500) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 14 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon SX30 versus Nikon D3500
Canon SX30 Nikon D3500
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
24-840mm f/2.7-5.8 Nikon F mount lenses
14 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 24 MP, APS-C Sensor
720/30p Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 6,400) ISO 100-25,600
Electronic viewfinder (202k dots) Optical viewfinder
2.7 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
0.6 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
370 shots per battery charge1550 shots per battery charge
123 x 92 x 108 mm, 601 g 124 x 97 x 70 mm, 365 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS and the Nikon D3500? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon SX30 and the Nikon D3500. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon SX30 vs Nikon D3500
Compare SX30 versus D3500 top
Comparison SX30 or D3500 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3500 is notably larger (6 percent) than the Canon SX30. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX30 nor the D3500 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX30 has a lens built in, whereas the D3500 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 D3500 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 SX30 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 601 g 370 n Sep 2010 429i
2.
 
Nikon D3500 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 365 g 1550 n Aug 2018 429 i
3.
 
Canon M100 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 302 g 295 n Aug 2017 499i
4.
 
Canon SX730 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 300 g 250 n Apr 2017 399i
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 116 mm 74 mm 66 mm 553 g 240 n Feb 2014 799i
6.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549i
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 SX40 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 600 g 380 n Sep 2011 429i
11.
 
Canon 1100D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
12.
 
Canon SX20 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Aug 2009 399i
13.
 
Nikon D3400 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 n Aug 2016 499i
14.
 
Nikon D5500 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 420 g 820 n Jan 2015 899i
15.
 
Nikon D3300 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 430 g 700 n Jan 2014 499i
16.
 
Panasonic FZ150 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 528 g 410 n Aug 2011 499i
17.
 
Panasonic FZ100 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 540 g 410 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 naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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. 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 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the 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 SX30 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Nikon D3500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D3500 is 1211 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.5. The sensor in the SX30 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D3500 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Canon SX30 and Nikon D3500 sensor measures

With 24MP, the D3500 offers a higher resolution than the SX30 (14MP), but the D3500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 1.41μm for the SX30) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D3500 is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 11 months) than the SX30, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3500 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon SX30 are 21.6 x 16.2 inches or 54.9 x 41.1 cm for good quality, 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.4 x 10.8 inches or 36.6 x 27.4 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon PowerShot SX30 IS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3500 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).

SX30 versus D3500 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 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
1.
 
Canon SX30 1/2.3 14.0 4320 3240720/30p........
2.
 
Nikon D3500 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p........
3.
 
Canon M100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.512.9127278
4.
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
6.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
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 SX40 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p........
11.
 
Canon 1100D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
12.
 
Canon SX20 1/2.3 12.0 4000 3000720/30p........
13.
 
Nikon D3400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
14.
 
Nikon D5500 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0143884
15.
 
Nikon D3300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582
16.
 
Panasonic FZ150 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.410.913240
17.
 
Panasonic FZ100 1/2.3 14.0 4320 32401080/60i........

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the D3500 provides a better video resolution than the SX30. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 720/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the SX30 has an electronic viewfinder (202k dots), while the D3500 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SX30 and Nikon D3500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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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 SX30202 n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.6 Y Y
2.
 
Nikon D3500optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon M100none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.1 Y n
4.
 
Canon SX730none n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIoptional n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 5.2 Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX60922 n 3.0 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4 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 SX40202 n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/3200s 10.3 Y Y
11.
 
Canon 1100Doptical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Canon SX20202 n 2.5 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.7 Y Y
13.
 
Nikon D3400optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
14.
 
Nikon D5500optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
15.
 
Nikon D3300optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
16.
 
Panasonic FZ150202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0 Y Y
17.
 
Panasonic FZ100202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 11.0 Y Y

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX30 and the D3500 write their files to SDXC cards. The D3500 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the SX30 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 SX30 IS and Nikon D3500 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 SX30Ystereomono--YES2.0---
2.
 
Nikon D3500Ymonomono--mini2.0--Y
3.
 
Canon M100-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
4.
 
Canon SX730-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereomono--mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon SX60YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon G1 XYstereomono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon G15Ystereomono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon SX50Ystereomono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon SX40Ystereomono--YES2.0---
11.
 
Canon 1100DYstereomono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Canon SX20Ystereomono--YES2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D3400Ymonomono--mini2.0--Y
14.
 
Nikon D5500YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
15.
 
Nikon D3300YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic FZ150Ystereo---mini2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic FZ100Ystereomono--mini2.0---

The D3500 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the SX30 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the SX30 was succeeded by the Canon SX40. 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? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SX30 or the Nikon D3500 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX30 IS:

  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D3500 requires a separate lens.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2010).

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Advantages of the Nikon D3500:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 14MP), which boosts linear resolution by 34%.
  • Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
  • Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60p vs 720/30p).
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • 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 (921k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/3200s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 0.6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1550 versus 370) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More modern: Reflects 7 years and 11 months of technical progress since the SX30 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D3500 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

SX30 05:16 D3500

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX30 and the Nikon D3500 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the SX30 or the D3500. 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 expert reviews 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 SX303/5+ +..3.5/54/5 Sep 2010 429i
2.
 
Nikon D3500....75/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2018 429 i
3.
 
Canon M1003/5+..4/53.5/5 Aug 2017 499i
4.
 
Canon SX730..+..4/54/5 Apr 2017 399i
5.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II3/5+77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799i
6.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549i
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 SX40..+..4.5/54/5 Sep 2011 429i
11.
 
Canon 1100D..80/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
12.
 
Canon SX20..+ +73/100..4/5 Aug 2009 399i
13.
 
Nikon D34004/5+76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499i
14.
 
Nikon D55005/5+79/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2015 899i
15.
 
Nikon D33003/5+77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499i
16.
 
Panasonic FZ1503/5+ +76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2011 499i
17.
 
Panasonic FZ100..+..4.5/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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 SX30:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D3500:
Check Amazon price

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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon SX30 vs Nikon D3500

    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 SX30 Nikon D3500
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 24-840mm f/2.7-5.8 Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2010 August 2018
    Launch Price USD 429 USD 429
    Sensor Specs Canon SX30 Nikon D3500
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 23.5 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 366.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 28.2 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 14 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4320 x 3240 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.41 μm 3.91 μm
    Pixel Density 49.86 MP/cm2 6.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 720/30p Video 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 6,400 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 EXPEED 4
    Screen Specs Canon SX30 Nikon D3500
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.57x
    Viewfinder Resolution 202k dots
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.7inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX30 Nikon D3500
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 0.6 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in 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 SX30 Nikon D3500
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port YES HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Bluetooth Support no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Canon SX30 Nikon D3500
    Battery Type NB-7L EN-EL14a
    Battery Life (CIPA)370 shots per charge1550 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 123 x 92 x 108 mm
    (4.8 x 3.6 x 4.3 in)
    124 x 97 x 70 mm
    (4.9 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
    Camera Weight 601 g (21.2 oz) 365 g (12.9 oz)

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