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Canon XS vs Sony A850

The Canon EOS Rebel XS (called Canon 1000D in some regions) and the Sony Alpha A850 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2008 and August 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (XS) and a full frame (A850) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24.4 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 Sony A850
Canon XS Sony A850
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Sony A mount lenses
10.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 24.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-800 (100 - 1,600) ISO 200-3,200 (100 - 6,400)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 922k 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
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
500 shots per battery charge880 shots per battery charge
126 x 98 x 65 mm, 502 g 156 x 117 x 82 mm, 895 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Rebel XS and the Sony Alpha A850? 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 Sony A850 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 XS vs Sony A850
Compare XS versus A850 top
Comparison XS or A850 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A850 is considerably larger (48 percent) than the Canon XS. Moreover, the A850 is substantially heavier (78 percent) than the XS. It is noteworthy in this context that the A850 is splash and dust-proof, while the XS does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

Concerning battery life, the XS gets 500 shots out of its LP-E5 battery, while the A850 can take 880 images on a single charge of its NP-FM500H power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 XS 126 mm 98 mm 65 mm 502 g 500 n Jun 2008 449 i
2.
 
Sony A850 156 mm 117 mm 82 mm 895 g 880 Y Aug 2009 1,999 i
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 449 i
6.
 
Canon T3 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449 i
7.
 
Canon SX20 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Aug 2009 399 i
8.
 
Canon T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799 i
9.
 
Canon SX10 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Sep 2008 399 i
10.
 
Canon XSi 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799 i
11.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299 i
12.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799 i
13.
 
Nikon D750 141 mm 113 mm 78 mm 750 g 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299 i
14.
 
Sony A7C 124 mm 71 mm 60 mm 509 g 740 Y Sep 2020 1,799 i
15.
 
Sony A7 III 127 mm 96 mm 74 mm 650 g 610 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i
16.
 
Sony A99 147 mm 111 mm 78 mm 812 g 500 Y Sep 2012 2,799 i
17.
 
Sony A900 156 mm 117 mm 82 mm 895 g 880 Y Sep 2008 2,999 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 XS was launched at a markedly lower price (by 78 percent) than the A850, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon XS features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A850 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A850 is 162 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Canon XS and Sony A850 sensor measures

With 24.4MP, the A850 offers a higher resolution than the XS (10.1MP), but the A850 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 5.71μm for the XS) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A850 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 2 months) than the XS, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The resolution advantage of the Sony A850 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A850 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.2 inches or 76.8 x 51.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 41 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 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 Sony Alpha A850 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.

XS versus A850 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). 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 XS APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none...... ..
2.
 
Sony A850 Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none23.812.21415 79
3.
 
Canon T7 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p...... ..
4.
 
Canon T100 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.4695 63
5.
 
Canon T5 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.3724 63
6.
 
Canon T3 APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.0755 62
7.
 
Canon SX20 1/2.3 12.0 4000 3000720/30p...... ..
8.
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.5663 63
9.
 
Canon SX10 1/2.3 10.0 3648 2736480/30p...... ..
10.
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.8692 61
11.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.3703 64
12.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.0664 62
13.
 
Nikon D750 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.52956 93
14.
 
Sony A7C Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.73407 95
15.
 
Sony A7 III Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.73730 96
16.
 
Sony A99 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.014.01555 89
17.
 
Sony A900 Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none23.712.31431 79
The XS offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The A850 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The XS and the A850 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the A850 offers a wider field of view (98%) than the one in the XS (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the A850 has a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.51x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon XS and Sony A850 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
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.
 
Sony A850optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n 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.
 
Nikon D750optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
14.
 
Sony A7C2360 n 3.0 922 swivel Y 1/4000s 10.0 n Y
15.
 
Sony A7 III2359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
16.
 
Sony A992359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 6.0 n Y
17.
 
Sony A900optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The XS has one, while the A850 does not. While the built-in flash of the XS is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The XS writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the A850 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A850 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the XS 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 EOS Rebel XS and Sony Alpha A850 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.
 
Sony A850Y----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.
 
Nikon D750YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--
14.
 
Sony A7CYstereomonoYYmicro3.2YYY
15.
 
Sony A7 IIIYstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYY
16.
 
Sony A99YstereomonoYYmini2.0---
17.
 
Sony A900Y----mini2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A850 (unlike the XS) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the XS and the A850 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The XS was replaced by the Canon T3, while the A850 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 Sony websites.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon XS and the Sony A850? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel XS:

  • More compact: Is smaller (126x98mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 393g or 44 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (78 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2008).

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Advantages of the Sony Alpha A850:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24.4 vs 10.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 56%.
  • 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.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (98% vs 95%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.51x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • 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 (922k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (880 versus 500) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 2 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A850 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 5 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 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.

XS 05:17 A850

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon XS and the Sony A850 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the XS or the A850. 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], 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 449 i
2.
 
Sony A8503/5..75/100..4.5/5 Aug 2009 1,999 i
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 449 i
6.
 
Canon T3..80/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449 i
7.
 
Canon SX20..+ +73/100..4/5 Aug 2009 399 i
8.
 
Canon T1i..+ +74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799 i
9.
 
Canon SX10..+ +....4/5 Sep 2008 399 i
10.
 
Canon XSi..+ ++ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799 i
11.
 
Canon 40D..+ ++ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299 i
12.
 
Canon XTi..+ ++ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799 i
13.
 
Nikon D7505/5+ +90/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299 i
14.
 
Sony A7C3.5/5..86/1004/54/5 Sep 2020 1,799 i
15.
 
Sony A7 III..+ +89/1005/55/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i
16.
 
Sony A995/5..84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799 i
17.
 
Sony A900..+ ++ +4.5/55/5 Sep 2008 2,999 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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
Sony A850:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu 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 Sony A850

    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 Sony A850
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Sony A mount lenses
    Launch Date June 2008 August 2009
    Launch Price USD 449 USD 1,999
    Sensor Specs Canon XS Sony A850
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.2 x 14.8 mm 35.9 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 328.56 mm2 861.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.7 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 10.1 Megapixels 24.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3888 x 2592 pixels 6048 x 4032 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.71 μm 5.94 μm
    Pixel Density 3.07 MP/cm2 2.83 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 800 ISO 200 - 3,200 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 3 BIONZ
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 79
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 23.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 12.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 1415
    Screen Specs Canon XS Sony A850
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 98%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.51x 0.74x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 922k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon XS Sony A850
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationLens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards CF or MS cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon XS Sony A850
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash no PC Sync PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon XS Sony A850
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type LP-E5 NP-FM500H
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge880 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 126 x 98 x 65 mm
    (5.0 x 3.9 x 2.6 in)
    156 x 117 x 82 mm
    (6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
    Camera Weight 502 g (17.7 oz) 895 g (31.6 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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