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Canon XS vs Olympus E-PL2

The Canon EOS Rebel XS (called Canon 1000D in some regions) and the Olympus PEN E-PL2 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 2008 and January 2011. The XS is a DSLR, while the E-PL2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (XS) and a Four Thirds (E-PL2) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 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 XS versus Olympus E-PL2
Canon XS Olympus E-PL2
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Canon EF mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
10.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video 720/30p Video
ISO 100-800 (100 - 1,600) ISO 200-6,400
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Lens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
500 shots per battery charge280 shots per battery charge
126 x 98 x 65 mm, 502 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 EOS Rebel XS 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 XS 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 successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

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

Size Canon XS vs Olympus E-PL2
Compare XS versus E-PL2 top
Comparison XS 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 considerably smaller (34 percent) than the Canon XS. Moreover, the E-PL2 is markedly lighter (28 percent) than the XS. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the XS nor the E-PL2 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (XS) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PL2). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-PL2, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.

Concerning battery life, the XS gets 500 shots out of its LP-E5 battery, while the E-PL2 can take 280 images on a single charge of its BLS-5 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, 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 XS 126 mm 98 mm 65 mm 502 g 500 n Jun 2008 449i
2.
 
Olympus E-PL2 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 n Jan 2011 599i
3.
 
Canon T7 129 mm 101 mm 78 mm 475 g 500 n Feb 2018 449 i
4.
 
Canon T100 129 mm 102 mm 77 mm 436 g 500 n Feb 2018 399 i
5.
 
Canon T5 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449i
6.
 
Canon T3 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
7.
 
Canon SX20 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Aug 2009 399i
8.
 
Canon T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
9.
 
Canon SX10 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Sep 2008 399i
10.
 
Canon XSi 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799i
11.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
12.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
13.
 
Olympus E-P3 122 mm 69 mm 34 mm 369 g 330 n Jun 2011 799i
14.
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599i
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599i
16.
 
Olympus E-P2 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Nov 2009 799i
17.
 
Panasonic G10 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 388 g 380 n Mar 2010 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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The XS was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the E-PL2, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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. 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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon XS features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-PL2 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL2 is 32 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 2.0. The sensor in the XS has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PL2 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Canon XS and Olympus E-PL2 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-PL2 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 10.1 MP of the XS. 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 4.29μm versus 5.71μm for the XS). However, it should be noted that the E-PL2 is much more recent (by 2 years and 6 months) than the XS, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-PL2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-PL2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon XS are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.4 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.6 x 10.4 inches or 39.5 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 13 x 8.6 inches or 32.9 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS Rebel XS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 800, which can be extended to ISO 100-1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL2 are ISO 200 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

XS versus E-PL2 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 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 XS APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none........
2.
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
3.
 
Canon T7 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p........
4.
 
Canon T100 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.469563
5.
 
Canon T5 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
6.
 
Canon T3 APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
7.
 
Canon SX20 1/2.3 12.0 4000 3000720/30p........
8.
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
9.
 
Canon SX10 1/2.3 10.0 3648 2736480/30p........
10.
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
11.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
12.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
13.
 
Olympus E-P3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651
14.
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
16.
 
Olympus E-P2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556
17.
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The E-PL2 indeed provides for movie recording, while the XS does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PL2 can use is 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 XS has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon XS, the Olympus E-PL2, 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 XSoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-PL2optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
3.
 
Canon T7optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon T100optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon T5optical n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon T3optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
7.
 
Canon SX20202 n 2.5 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.7 Y Y
8.
 
Canon T1ioptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
9.
 
Canon SX10202 n 2.5 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.7 Y Y
10.
 
Canon XSioptical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
11.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
12.
 
Canon XTioptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Olympus E-P3optional n 3.0 614 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
14.
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y Y
16.
 
Olympus E-P2optional n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y
17.
 
Panasonic G10202 n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6 Y n

One feature that differentiates the E-PL2 and the XS is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-PL2 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the XS offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the XS and the E-PL2 write their files to SDHC 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 Rebel XS 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
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon XSY-----2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo---mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon T7Ymonomono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon T100Ymonomono--mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon T5Ymonomono--mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon T3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon SX20Ystereomono--YES2.0---
8.
 
Canon T1iYmonomono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon SX10Ystereomono---2.0---
10.
 
Canon XSiY----mini2.0---
11.
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
12.
 
Canon XTiY-----2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-P3Ystereo---mini2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo---mini2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo---mini2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-P2Ystereo---mini2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic G10Ymono---mini2.0---

Both the XS and the E-PL2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The XS was replaced by the Canon T3, while the E-PL2 was followed by the Olympus E-PL3. 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 there a clear favorite between the Canon XS and the Olympus E-PL2? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel XS:

  • 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.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 280) on a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2008).

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PL2:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 10.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 8%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/30p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 230k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (114x72mm vs 126x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 140g or 28 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 6 months of technical progress since the XS launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PL2 comes out slightly ahead of the XS (9 : 8 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding 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.

XS 08:09 E-PL2

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon XS and the Olympus E-PL2 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the XS or the E-PL2 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 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 (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 XS..82/100+ +3.5/54.5/5 Jun 2008 449i
2.
 
Olympus E-PL23/583/10071/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599i
3.
 
Canon T7..o..3.5/53.5/5 Feb 2018 449 i
4.
 
Canon T100..o..3.5/53.5/5 Feb 2018 399 i
5.
 
Canon T53/5+..4/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449i
6.
 
Canon T3..80/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
7.
 
Canon SX20..+ +73/100..4/5 Aug 2009 399i
8.
 
Canon T1i..+ +74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
9.
 
Canon SX10..+ +....4/5 Sep 2008 399i
10.
 
Canon XSi..+ ++ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
11.
 
Canon 40D..+ ++ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
12.
 
Canon XTi..+ ++ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
13.
 
Olympus E-P3..83/10074/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799i
14.
 
Olympus E-PL33/5+ +72/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
15.
 
Olympus E-PL1..86/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599i
16.
 
Olympus E-P23/5+69/1004/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799i
17.
 
Panasonic G103/5..70/1004/54/5 Mar 2010 499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon XS:
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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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 XS 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 XS Olympus E-PL2
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date June 2008 January 2011
    Launch Price USD 449 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Canon XS Olympus E-PL2
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.2 x 14.8 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 328.56 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.7 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 10.1 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3888 x 2592 pixels 4032 x 3024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.71 μm 4.29 μm
    Pixel Density 3.07 MP/cm2 5.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 800 ISO 200 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 1,600 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor DIGIC 3 Truepic V
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 55
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 21.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 573
    Screen Specs Canon XS Olympus E-PL2
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.51x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon XS Olympus E-PL2
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationLens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon XS Olympus E-PL2
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon XS Olympus E-PL2
    Battery Type LP-E5 BLS-5
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge280 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 126 x 98 x 65 mm
    (5.0 x 3.9 x 2.6 in)
    114 x 72 x 42 mm
    (4.5 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
    Camera Weight 502 g (17.7 oz) 362 g (12.8 oz)

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