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Canon SX610 vs Contax N Digital

The Canon PowerShot SX610 HS and the Contax N Digital are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2015 and February 2002. The SX610 is a fixed lens compact, while the N Digital is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX610) and a full frame (N Digital) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20.2 megapixels, whereas the Contax provides 6.1 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon SX610 versus Contax N Digital
Canon SX610 Contax N Digital
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
25-450mm f/3.8-6.9 Contax N mount lenses
20.2 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/30p Video no Video
ISO 80-3,200 ISO 50-1,600
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 922k dots 2.0 LCD, 200k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
2.5 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
270 shots per battery charge100 shots per battery charge
105 x 61 x 27 mm, 191 g 152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX610 HS and the Contax N Digital? 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 SX610 and the Contax N Digital. 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 SX610 can be obtained in three different colors (black, red, white), while the N Digital is only available in black.

Size Canon SX610 vs Contax N Digital
Compare SX610 versus N Digital top
Comparison SX610 or N Digital rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Contax N Digital is considerably larger (227 percent) than the Canon SX610. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX610 nor the N Digital are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX610 has a lens built in, whereas the N Digital is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.

As can be seen in the images above, the N Digital has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.

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 SX610 105 mm 61 mm 27 mm 191 g 270 n Jan 2015 249i
2.
 
Contax N Digital 152 mm 138 mm 80 mm 990 g 100 n Feb 2002 7,399i
3.
 
Canon SX420 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 195 n Jan 2016 299i
4.
 
Canon SX540 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 205 n Jan 2016 399 i
5.
 
Canon SX620 97 mm 57 mm 28 mm 182 g 295 n May 2016 279 i
6.
 
Canon SX720 110 mm 64 mm 36 mm 270 g 250 n Feb 2016 379i
7.
 
Canon G9 X 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 209 g 220 n Oct 2015 529i
8.
 
Canon SX410 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 185 n Feb 2015 279i
9.
 
Canon SX710 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 230 n Jan 2015 349i
10.
 
Canon SX600 104 mm 61 mm 26 mm 188 g 290 n Jan 2014 249i
11.
 
Canon SX400 104 mm 69 mm 80 mm 313 g 190 n Jul 2014 249i
12.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
13.
 
Canon D60 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 855 g 620 n Feb 2002 2,999i
14.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
15.
 
Leica SL 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450i
16.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
17.
 
Sony H300 128 mm 89 mm 92 mm 590 g 350 n Feb 2014 219 i
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 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 SX610 was launched at a lower price than the N Digital, 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.

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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 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX610 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Contax N Digital a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the N Digital is 2986 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.0. The sensor in the SX610 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the N Digital offers a 3:2 aspect.

Canon SX610 and Contax N Digital sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX610 offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixels, compared with 6.1 MP of the Contax N Digital. 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 1.18μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the SX610 is much more recent (by 12 years and 10 months) than the N Digital, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the SX610 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Canon SX610 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SX610 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Contax N Digital are 15.2 x 10 inches or 38.6 x 25.5 cm for good quality, 12.2 x 8 inches or 30.9 x 20.4 cm for very good quality, and 10.1 x 6.7 inches or 25.7 x 17 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon PowerShot SX610 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Contax N Digital are ISO 50 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

SX610 versus N Digital 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 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 SX610 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/30p........
2.
 
Contax N Digital Full Frame 6.1 3040 2008none........
3.
 
Canon SX420 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p........
4.
 
Canon SX540 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
5.
 
Canon SX620 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/30p........
6.
 
Canon SX720 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
7.
 
Canon G9 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.512.349563
8.
 
Canon SX410 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/30p........
9.
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
10.
 
Canon SX600 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
11.
 
Canon SX400 1/2.3 15.9 4608 3456720/30p........
12.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
13.
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none........
14.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
15.
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
16.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
17.
 
Sony H300 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/30p........

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The SX610 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the N Digital does not. The highest resolution format that the SX610 can use is 1080/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the N Digital has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX610 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SX610 and Contax N Digital 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 SX610none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/2000s 2.5 Y Y
2.
 
Contax N Digitaloptical Y 2.0 200 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
3.
 
Canon SX420none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX540none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 5.9 Y Y
5.
 
Canon SX620none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/2000s 2.5 Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX720none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
7.
 
Canon G9 Xnone n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 6.0 Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX410none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
9.
 
Canon SX710none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0 Y Y
10.
 
Canon SX600none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 3.9 Y Y
11.
 
Canon SX400none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/1600s 0.8 Y Y
12.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Canon D60optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
15.
 
Leica SL4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n
16.
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
17.
 
Sony H300none n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/1500s 0.8 Y Y

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SX610 has one, while the N Digital does not. While the built-in flash of the SX610 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The SX610 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the N Digital uses Compact Flash 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 SX610 HS and Contax N Digital 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 SX610-----micro2.0YY-
2.
 
Contax N DigitalY-----FW---
3.
 
Canon SX420-monomono---2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon SX540-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon SX620-monomono--micro2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon SX720-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon G9 X-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
8.
 
Canon SX410-stereomono---2.0---
9.
 
Canon SX710-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
10.
 
Canon SX600-monomono--micro2.0YY-
11.
 
Canon SX400-stereomono---2.0---
12.
 
Canon 10DY-----1.1---
13.
 
Canon D60Y-----1.1---
14.
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
15.
 
Leica SLYstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--
16.
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
17.
 
Sony H300-monomono--micro2.0Y--

It is notable that the SX610 offers wifi support, while the N Digital does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the SX610) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the SX610 and the N Digital have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The SX610 was replaced by the Canon SX620, while the N Digital does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Contax websites.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon SX610 and the Contax N Digital? 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 SX610 HS:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (20.2 vs 6.1MP) with a 78% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 200k dots).
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the N Digital requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (105x61mm vs 152x138mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the N Digital).
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (270 versus 100) on a single battery charge.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 12 years and 10 months of technical progress since the N Digital launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Contax N Digital:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2002).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SX610 comes out slightly ahead of the N Digital (15 : 14 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.

SX610 15:14 N Digital

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX610 and the Contax N Digital 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX610 or the N Digital perform in practice. 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 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], 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 SX610......4/54/5 Jan 2015 249i
2.
 
Contax N Digital.......... Feb 2002 7,399i
3.
 
Canon SX420........3/5 Jan 2016 299i
4.
 
Canon SX540.......... Jan 2016 399 i
5.
 
Canon SX620........4/5 May 2016 279 i
6.
 
Canon SX720..+..4/54.5/5 Feb 2016 379i
7.
 
Canon G9 X3.5/5+ +..4.5/54.5/5 Oct 2015 529i
8.
 
Canon SX410..o...... Feb 2015 279i
9.
 
Canon SX710..+..4/53.5/5 Jan 2015 349i
10.
 
Canon SX600..+..4/54/5 Jan 2014 249i
11.
 
Canon SX400..+...... Jul 2014 249i
12.
 
Canon 10D....+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
13.
 
Canon D60....+ +o.. Feb 2002 2,999i
14.
 
Leica M104.5/5....4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
15.
 
Leica SL4/5..84/1004.5/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450i
16.
 
Leica M9......4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
17.
 
Sony H300..+..4.5/54/5 Feb 2014 219 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon SX610:
Check Ebay offers
Contax N Digital:
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon SX610 vs Contax N Digital

    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 SX610 Contax N Digital
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 25-450mm f/3.8-6.9 Contax N mount lenses
    Launch Date January 2015 February 2002
    Launch Price USD 249 USD 7,399
    Sensor Specs Canon SX610 Contax N Digital
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 20.2 Megapixels 6.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3888 pixels 3040 x 2008 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.18 μm 11.90 μm
    Pixel Density 71.80 MP/cm2 0.71 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 3,200 ISO 50 - 1,600 ISO
    Screen Specs Canon SX610 Contax N Digital
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.73x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.0inch
    LCD Resolution 922k dots 200k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX610 Contax N Digital
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 2.5 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX610 Contax N Digital
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash no PC Sync PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 Firewire
    HDMI Port micro HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in no NFC
    Body Specs Canon SX610 Contax N Digital
    Battery Type NB-6LH 4xAA
    Battery Life (CIPA)270 shots per charge100 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 105 x 61 x 27 mm
    (4.1 x 2.4 x 1.1 in)
    152 x 138 x 80 mm
    (6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 191 g (6.7 oz) 990 g (34.9 oz)

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