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Canon SX50 vs Olympus E-PL2

The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and the Olympus PEN E-PL2 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2012 and January 2011. The SX50 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-PL2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX50) and a Four Thirds (E-PL2) 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 SX50
versus
Olympus E-PL2
Canon SX50   Olympus E-PL2
Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 Micro Four Thirds lenses
12 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/24p Video 720/30p Video
ISO 80-6,400 ISO 200-6,400
Electronic viewfinder (202k dots) Viewfinder optional
3.0 LCD, 461k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
2.2 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Lens-based stabilizationIn-body stabilization
315 shots per battery charge280 shots per battery charge
123 x 87 x 106 mm, 595 g 114 x 72 x 42 mm, 362 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and the Olympus PEN E-PL2? 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 SX50 and the Olympus E-PL2 is provided 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The E-PL2 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the SX50 is only available in black.

Size Canon SX50 vs Olympus E-PL2
Compare SX50 versus E-PL2 top
Comparison SX50 or E-PL2 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PL2 is notably smaller (23 percent) than the Canon SX50. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX50 nor the E-PL2 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX50 has a lens built in, whereas the E-PL2 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-PL2 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the SX50 gets 315 shots out of its NB-10L battery, while the E-PL2 can take 280 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. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can 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
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429i
2.
 
Olympus E-PL2 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 n Jan 2011 599i
3.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549i
4.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
5.
 
Canon S120 100 mm 59 mm 29 mm 217 g 230 n Aug 2013 449i
6.
 
Canon G1 X 117 mm 81 mm 65 mm 534 g 250 n Jan 2012 799i
7.
 
Canon G15 107 mm 76 mm 40 mm 352 g 350 n Sep 2012 499i
8.
 
Canon SX40 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 600 g 380 n Sep 2011 429i
9.
 
Canon 1100D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
10.
 
Canon G12 112 mm 76 mm 48 mm 401 g 370 n Sep 2010 499i
11.
 
Olympus XZ-2 113 mm 65 mm 48 mm 346 g 340 n Sep 2012 599i
12.
 
Olympus E-P3 122 mm 69 mm 34 mm 369 g 330 n Jun 2011 799i
13.
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599i
14.
 
Olympus E-PM1 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 265 g 330 n Jun 2011 499i
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599i
16.
 
Panasonic LX7 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Jul 2012 499i
17.
 
Panasonic FZ150 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 528 g 410 n Aug 2011 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. The SX50 was launched at a lower price than the E-PL2, despite having a lens built in. 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 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 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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX50 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Olympus E-PL2 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL2 is 704 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Canon SX50 and Olympus E-PL2 sensor measures

With 12.2MP, the E-PL2 offers a higher resolution than the SX50 (12MP), but the E-PL2 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 1.53μm for the SX50) due to its larger sensor. However, the SX50 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 8 months) than the E-PL2, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL2 are ISO 200 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

SX50 versus E-PL2 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. Of the two cameras under consideration, the E-PL2 has a markedly higher DXO score than the SX50 (overall score 8 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.1 bits higher color depth, 1 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1.7 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
1.
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.217947
2.
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
3.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
4.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
5.
 
Canon S120 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.311.924656
6.
 
Canon G1 X 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 32641080/24p21.710.864460
7.
 
Canon G15 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.911.516546
8.
 
Canon SX40 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.610.940941
9.
 
Canon 1100D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
10.
 
Canon G12 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/24p20.411.216147
11.
 
Olympus XZ-2 1/1.7 11.8 3968 29761080/30p20.411.321649
12.
 
Olympus E-P3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651
13.
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
14.
 
Olympus E-PM1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
16.
 
Panasonic LX7 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p20.711.714750
17.
 
Panasonic FZ150 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.410.913240
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the SX50 provides a higher video resolution than the E-PL2. It can shoot video footage at 1080/24p, while the Olympus is limited to 720/30p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the SX50 has an electronic viewfinder (202k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SX50 and Olympus E-PL2 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
Specifications
(inch/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 SX50202 n3.0 / 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2 Y Y
2.
 
Olympus E-PL2optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
3.
 
Canon SX60922 n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4 Y Y
4.
 
Canon G16optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y
5.
 
Canon S120none n3.0 / 922 fixed Y 1/2000s 12.1 Y Y
6.
 
Canon G1 Xoptical n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/4000s 1.9 Y Y
7.
 
Canon G15optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.1 Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX40202 n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/3200s 10.3 Y Y
9.
 
Canon 1100Doptical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Canon G12optical n2.8 / 461 swivel n 1/4000s 1.1 Y Y
11.
 
Olympus XZ-2optional n3.0 / 920 tilting Y 1/2000s 5.0 Y Y
12.
 
Olympus E-P3optional n3.0 / 614 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
13.
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n3.0 / 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
14.
 
Olympus E-PM1optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y Y
16.
 
Panasonic LX7optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y
17.
 
Panasonic FZ150202 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0 Y Y
The SX50 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the E-PL2 does not have a selfie-screen.

The SX50 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the E-PL2 uses SDHC 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 PowerShot SX50 HS and Olympus PEN E-PL2 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon SX50Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon SX60Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon G16Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
5.
 
Canon S120-stereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
6.
 
Canon G1 XYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon G15Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon SX40Ystereo / mono--YES2.0---
9.
 
Canon 1100DYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon G12Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Olympus XZ-2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Olympus E-P3Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-PM1Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic LX7Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic FZ150Ystereo / ---mini2.0---

Both the SX50 and the E-PL2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-PL2 was replaced by the Olympus E-PL3, while the SX50 was followed by the Canon SX60. 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.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon SX50 and the Olympus E-PL2? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS:

  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/24p vs 720/30p).
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic 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.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the E-PL2 requires a separate lens.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (315 versus 280) on a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 8 months after the E-PL2).

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PL2:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 2.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • More compact: Is smaller (114x72mm vs 123x87mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2011).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the SX50 comes out slightly ahead of the E-PL2 (9 : 8 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.

SX50 09:08 E-PL2

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX50 and the Olympus E-PL2 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the SX50 and the E-PL2 in practical situations. 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 (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429i
2.
 
Olympus E-PL23/583/100..71/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599i
3.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549i
4.
 
Canon G164/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
5.
 
Canon S120..+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 449i
6.
 
Canon G1 X5/5+..76/1004/54.5/5 Jan 2012 799i
7.
 
Canon G154/5+..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
8.
 
Canon SX40..+....4.5/54/5 Sep 2011 429i
9.
 
Canon 1100D..80/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
10.
 
Canon G124/5+..73/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 499i
11.
 
Olympus XZ-24/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599i
12.
 
Olympus E-P3..83/100..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799i
13.
 
Olympus E-PL33/5+ +..72/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
14.
 
Olympus E-PM1..86/100..71/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 499i
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1..86/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599i
16.
 
Panasonic LX73/5+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2012 499i
17.
 
Panasonic FZ1503/5+ +..76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2011 499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon SX50:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-PL2:
Check Ebay offers

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 make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Canon SX50 vs Olympus E-PL2

    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 SX50 Olympus E-PL2
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2012 January 2011
    Launch Price USD 429 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Canon SX50 Olympus E-PL2
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 12 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4000 x 3000 pixels 4032 x 3024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.53 μm 4.29 μm
    Pixel Density 42.74 MP/cm2 5.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/24p Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 6,400 ISO 200 - 6,400 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 5 Truepic V
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 47 55
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.3 21.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.2 10.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 179 573
    Screen Specs Canon SX50 Olympus E-PL2
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Resolution 202k dots
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX50 Olympus E-PL2
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 2.2 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationLens-based stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX50 Olympus E-PL2
    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 SX50 Olympus E-PL2
    Battery Type NB-10L BLS-5
    Battery Life (CIPA)315 shots per charge280 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 123 x 87 x 106 mm
    (4.8 x 3.4 x 4.2 in)
    114 x 72 x 42 mm
    (4.5 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
    Camera Weight 595 g (21.0 oz) 362 g (12.8 oz)

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