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Contax N Digital vs Leica D-LUX 5

The Contax N Digital and the Leica D-LUX 5 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2002 and September 2010. The N Digital is a DSLR, while the D-LUX 5 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a full frame (N Digital) and a 1/1.7-inch (D-LUX 5) sensor. The Contax has a resolution of 6.1 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 10 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Contax N Digital versus Leica D-LUX 5
Contax N Digital Leica D-LUX 5
Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
Contax N mount lenses 24-90mm f/2.0-3.3
6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor 10 MP, 1/1.7" Sensor
no Video 720/60p Video
ISO 50-1,600 ISO 80-3,200 (80 - 12,800)
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.0 LCD, 200k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
4 shutter flaps per second 2.5 shutter flaps per second
100 shots per battery charge400 shots per battery charge
152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g 110 x 65 x 43 mm, 271 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Contax N Digital and the Leica D-LUX 5? 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 physical size and weight of the Contax N Digital and the Leica D-LUX 5 are illustrated 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Contax N Digital vs Leica D-LUX 5
Compare N Digital versus D-LUX 5 top
Comparison N Digital or D-LUX 5 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica D-LUX 5 is considerably smaller (66 percent) than the Contax N Digital. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the N Digital nor the D-LUX 5 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the D-LUX 5 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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
 
Contax N Digital 6.0 in 5.4 in 3.1 in 34.9 oz 100 n Feb 2002 7,399i
 
Leica D-LUX 5 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 9.6 oz 400 n Sep 2010 699i
 
Canon 10D 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
 
Canon Rebel 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899i
 
Canon 1Ds 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 44.6 oz 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999i
 
Canon D60 5.9 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 30.2 oz 620 n Feb 2002 2,999i
 
Fujifilm X10 4.6 in 2.8 in 2.2 in 12.3 oz 270 n Sep 2011 599i
 
Leica M10-P 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 Y Aug 2018 7,995 i
 
Leica M10 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
 
Leica SL 5.8 in 4.1 in 1.5 in 29.9 oz 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450i
 
Leica D-LUX 6 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.8 in 10.5 oz 330 n Sep 2012 699i
 
Leica V-LUX 3 4.9 in 3.2 in 3.7 in 19.0 oz 410 n Dec 2011 949i
 
Leica M9 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.6 oz .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
 
Leica X1 4.9 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 10.8 oz 260 n Sep 2009 1,995i
 
Nikon D100 5.7 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 27.5 oz 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
 
Nikon D1X 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999i
 
Panasonic LX5 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 9.6 oz 400 n Jul 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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D-LUX 5 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 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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Contax N Digital features a full frame sensor and the Leica D-LUX 5 a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The sensor area in the D-LUX 5 is 95 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 4.4. The sensor in the N Digital has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the D-LUX 5 offers a 4:3 aspect. The D-LUX 5 has the particularity of featuring a switch that allows to toggle between multiple aspect ratios, while maintaining the same field of view and full image resolution.

Contax N Digital and Leica D-LUX 5 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the D-LUX 5 offers a higher resolution of 10 megapixels, compared with 6.1 MP of the 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 2.14μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the D-LUX 5 is much more recent (by 8 years and 6 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.

The resolution advantage of the Leica D-LUX 5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D-LUX 5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 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 Contax N Digital has a native sensitivity range from ISO 50 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica D-LUX 5 are ISO 80 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-12800.

N Digital versus D-LUX 5 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 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
 
Contax N Digital Full Frame 6.1 3040 2008none........
 
Leica D-LUX 5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p........
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
 
Canon 1Ds Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704none21.811.095463
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none........
 
Fujifilm X10 2/3 12.0 4000 30001080/30p20.511.324550
 
Leica M10-P Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none........
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
 
Leica D-LUX 6 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p........
 
Leica V-LUX 3 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p........
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
 
Leica X1 APS-C 12.2 4272 2856none........
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
 
Panasonic LX5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.610.813241

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D-LUX 5 indeed provides for movie recording, while the N Digital does not. The highest resolution format that the D-LUX 5 can use is 720/60p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the N Digital has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the D-LUX 5 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the D-LUX 5 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the EVF1. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Contax N Digital and Leica D-LUX 5 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
 
Contax N Digitaloptical Y 2.0 200 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
 
Leica D-LUX 5optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y Y
 
Canon 10Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Canon 1Dsoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
 
Canon D60optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Fujifilm X10optical n 2.8 460 fixed n 1/4000s 10.0 Y Y
 
Leica M10-Poptical n 3.0 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 n n
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
 
Leica SL4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Leica D-LUX 6optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y
 
Leica V-LUX 3202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0 Y Y
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
 
Leica X1none n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n
 
Panasonic LX5optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y Y

One feature that is present on the N Digital, but is missing on the D-LUX 5 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The N Digital writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D-LUX 5 uses SDXC 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 Contax N Digital and Leica D-LUX 5 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
 
Contax N DigitalY-----FW---
 
Leica D-LUX 5Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon 10DY-----1.1---
 
Canon RebelY-----1.1---
 
Canon 1DsY-----FW---
 
Canon D60Y-----1.1---
 
Fujifilm X10Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Leica M10-PY------Y--
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
 
Leica SLYstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--
 
Leica D-LUX 6Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Leica V-LUX 3Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
 
Leica X1Y----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D100Y-----1.1---
 
Nikon D1XY-----FW---
 
Panasonic LX5Ymonomono--mini2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the D-LUX 5) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the N Digital and the D-LUX 5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D-LUX 5 was replaced by the Leica D-LUX 6, 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 Contax and Leica websites.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Contax N Digital and the Leica D-LUX 5? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Contax N Digital:

  • 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 an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2002).

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Reasons to prefer the Leica D-LUX 5:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (10 vs 6.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 25%.
  • Flexible image proportions: Has a multi-aspect sensor that allows for alternative image shapes.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/60p video.
  • 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 (460k vs 200k dots).
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the N Digital requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (110x65mm vs 152x138mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the N Digital).
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (400 versus 100) out of a single battery charge.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 8 years and 6 months of technical progress since the N Digital launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D-LUX 5 emerges as the winner of the match-up (14 : 12 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 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.

N Digital 12:14 D-LUX 5

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Contax N Digital and the Leica D-LUX 5 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Travel-Zoom 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the N Digital or the D-LUX 5. 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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Contax N Digital.......... Feb 2002 7,399i
 
Leica D-LUX 5....4.5/5..4/5 Sep 2010 699i
 
Canon 10D..+ +..o.. Feb 2003 1,999i
 
Canon Rebel..+ +..o.. Aug 2003 899i
 
Canon 1Ds..+ +...... Sep 2002 8,999i
 
Canon D60..+ +o.... Feb 2002 2,999i
 
Fujifilm X10..76/1004/53.5/54.5/5 Sep 2011 599i
 
Leica M10-P........4/5 Aug 2018 7,995 i
 
Leica M10....4/5..4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
 
Leica SL..84/1004.5/54/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450i
 
Leica D-LUX 6....4/5..4/5 Sep 2012 699i
 
Leica V-LUX 3.......... Dec 2011 949i
 
Leica M9....4.5/54.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
 
Leica X1..+....4/5 Sep 2009 1,995i
 
Nikon D100..+ +oo.. Feb 2002 1,999i
 
Nikon D1X..+ +..o.. Feb 2001 5,999i
 
Panasonic LX5+73/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Contax N Digital:
Check Ebay offers
Leica D-LUX 5:
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 your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Contax N Digital vs Leica D-LUX 5

    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 Contax N Digital Leica D-LUX 5
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Contax N mount lenses 24-90mm f/2.0-3.3
    Launch Date February 2002 September 2010
    Launch Price USD 7,399 USD 699
    Sensor Specs Contax N Digital Leica D-LUX 5
    Sensor Technology CCD CCD
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor 1/1.7" Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 7.85 x 5.89 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 46.2365 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 9.8 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 4.4x
    Sensor Resolution 6.1 Megapixels 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3040 x 2008 pixels 3648 x 2736 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 11.90 μm 2.14 μm
    Pixel Density 0.71 MP/cm2 21.59 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 720/60p Video
    ISO Setting 50 - 1,600 ISO 80 - 3,200 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 80 - 12,800 ISO
    Screen Specs Contax N Digital Leica D-LUX 5
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.73x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 200k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Contax N Digital Leica D-LUX 5
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 4 shutter flaps/s 2.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Contax N Digital Leica D-LUX 5
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector Firewire USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Contax N Digital Leica D-LUX 5
    Battery Type 4xAA BP-DC10
    Battery Life (CIPA)100 shots per charge400 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 152 x 138 x 80 mm
    (6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
    110 x 65 x 43 mm
    (4.3 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
    Camera Weight 990 g (34.9 oz) 271 g (9.6 oz)

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