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Canon XT vs Olympus E-PL2

The Canon EOS Rebel XT (called Canon 350D in some regions) and the Olympus PEN E-PL2 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2005 and January 2011. The XT is a DSLR, while the E-PL2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (XT) and a Four Thirds (E-PL2) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8 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 XT versus Olympus E-PL2
Canon XT Olympus E-PL2
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Canon EF mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
8 MP, APS-C Sensor 12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video 720/30p Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 200-6,400
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
1.8 LCD, 115k 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
400 shots per battery charge280 shots per battery charge
127 x 94 x 64 mm, 540 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 XT 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 XT 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The XT can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the E-PL2 is available in four color-versions (black, silver, red, white).

Size Canon XT vs Olympus E-PL2
Compare XT versus E-PL2 top
Comparison XT 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 (31 percent) than the Canon XT. Moreover, the E-PL2 is markedly lighter (33 percent) than the XT. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the XT 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 (XT) 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 XT gets 400 shots out of its NB-2LH 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 XT 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899i
2.
 
Olympus E-PL2 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 n Jan 2011 599i
3.
 
Canon 77D 131 mm 100 mm 76 mm 540 g 600 n Feb 2017 899 i
4.
 
Canon T6i 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 555 g 440 n Feb 2015 749i
5.
 
Canon T6s 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 565 g 440 n Feb 2015 649i
6.
 
Canon T4i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
7.
 
Canon T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
8.
 
Canon XSi 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799i
9.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
10.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
11.
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
12.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
13.
 
Olympus XZ-2 113 mm 65 mm 48 mm 346 g 340 n Sep 2012 599i
14.
 
Olympus E-P3 122 mm 69 mm 34 mm 369 g 330 n Jun 2011 799i
15.
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599i
16.
 
Olympus E-PM1 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 265 g 330 n Jun 2011 499i
17.
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599i
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 E-PL2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 33 percent) than the XT, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 XT 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 XT has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PL2 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Canon XT and Olympus E-PL2 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-PL2 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 8 MP of the XT. 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 6.41μm for the XT). However, it should be noted that the E-PL2 is much more recent (by 5 years and 10 months) than the XT, 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 XT are 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm for good quality, 13.8 x 9.2 inches or 35.1 x 23.4 cm for very good quality, and 11.5 x 7.7 inches or 29.3 x 19.5 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS Rebel XT has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL2 are ISO 200 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

XT versus E-PL2 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the XT has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-PL2 (overall score 5 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.4 bits higher color depth, 0.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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 XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
2.
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
3.
 
Canon 77D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.397178
4.
 
Canon T6i APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
5.
 
Canon T6s APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
6.
 
Canon T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
7.
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
8.
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
9.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
10.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
11.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
12.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
13.
 
Olympus XZ-2 1/1.7 11.8 3968 29761080/30p20.411.321649
14.
 
Olympus E-P3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651
15.
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
16.
 
Olympus E-PM1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952
17.
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-PL2 indeed provides for movie recording, while the XT does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PL2 can use is 720/30p.

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the XT 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon XT and Olympus E-PL2 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 XToptical n 1.8 115 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 77Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon T6ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon T6soptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon T4ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
7.
 
Canon T1ioptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
8.
 
Canon XSioptical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
9.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
10.
 
Canon XTioptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
11.
 
Canon 20Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
12.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
13.
 
Olympus XZ-2optional n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/2000s 5.0 Y Y
14.
 
Olympus E-P3optional n 3.0 614 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
16.
 
Olympus E-PM1optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
17.
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y Y

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

The XT writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-PL2 uses 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 XT 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 XTY-----2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo---mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon 77DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
4.
 
Canon T6iYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon T6sYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon T4iYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon T1iYmonomono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon XSiY----mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon 30DY-----2.0---
10.
 
Canon XTiY-----2.0---
11.
 
Canon 20DY-----1.1---
12.
 
Canon RebelY-----1.1---
13.
 
Olympus XZ-2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-P3Ystereo---mini2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo---mini2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-PM1Ystereomono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo---mini2.0---

Both the XT and the E-PL2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The XT was replaced by the Canon Xti, 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 how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon XT and the Olympus E-PL2? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel XT:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 280) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2005).

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Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-PL2:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 8MP), which boosts linear resolution by 21%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/30p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 115k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (114x72mm vs 127x94mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 178g or 33 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 affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (33 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 10 months of technical progress since the XT launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PL2 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 5 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.

XT 05:10 E-PL2

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon XT 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the XT 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 why hands-on reviews by experts 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 XT..80/100+ +o.. Feb 2005 899i
2.
 
Olympus E-PL23/583/10071/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599i
3.
 
Canon 77D4.5/5..82/1004.5/54/5 Feb 2017 899 i
4.
 
Canon T6i5/5..75/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749i
5.
 
Canon T6s5/5+77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
6.
 
Canon T4i4/5+ +77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
7.
 
Canon T1i..+ +74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
8.
 
Canon XSi..+ ++ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
9.
 
Canon 30D..+ ++ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
10.
 
Canon XTi..+ ++ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
11.
 
Canon 20D....+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499i
12.
 
Canon Rebel....+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
13.
 
Olympus XZ-24/5+..4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599i
14.
 
Olympus E-P3..83/10074/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799i
15.
 
Olympus E-PL33/5+ +72/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
16.
 
Olympus E-PM1..86/10071/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 499i
17.
 
Olympus E-PL1..86/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599i
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. 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon XT:
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon XT 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 XT Olympus E-PL2
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date February 2005 January 2011
    Launch Price USD 899 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Canon XT 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 8 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3456 x 2304 pixels 4032 x 3024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.41 μm 4.29 μm
    Pixel Density 2.42 MP/cm2 5.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 200 - 6,400 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC II Truepic V
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 60 55
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.8 21.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 10.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 637 573
    Screen Specs Canon XT Olympus E-PL2
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.49x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 1.8inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 115k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon XT 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 CF cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon XT 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 XT Olympus E-PL2
    Battery Type NB-2LH BLS-5
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge280 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 127 x 94 x 64 mm
    (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
    114 x 72 x 42 mm
    (4.5 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
    Camera Weight 540 g (19.0 oz) 362 g (12.8 oz)

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