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Epson R-D1 vs Panasonic GF1

The Epson R-D1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2004 and September 2009. The R-D1 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless, while the GF1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (R-D1) and a Four Thirds (GF1) sensor. The Epson has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Epson R-D1
versus
Panasonic GF1
Epson R-D1   Panasonic GF1
Rangefinder camera Mirrorless system camera
Leica M mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
6 MP – APS-C sensor 12 MP – Four Thirds sensor
no Video 720/30p Video
ISO 200-1,600 ISO 100-3,200
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.0" LCD – 235k dots 3.0" LCD – 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
142 x 89 x 40 mm, 620 g 119 x 71 x 36 mm, 385 g
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Check R-D1 offers at
ebay.com
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Check GF1 offers at
ebay.com

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Epson R-D1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1? 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 Epson R-D1 and the Panasonic GF1 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.

Size Epson R-D1 vs Panasonic GF1
Compare R-D1 versus GF1 top
Comparison R-D1 or GF1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GF1 is considerably smaller (33 percent) than the Epson R-D1. Moreover, the GF1 is substantially lighter (38 percent) than the R-D1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the R-D1 nor the GF1 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 Leica M Lens Catalog (R-D1) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GF1).

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras 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.
 
Epson R-D1 142 mm 89 mm 40 mm 620 g .. n Mar 2004 2,999ebay.com
2.
 
Panasonic GF1 119 mm 71 mm 36 mm 385 g 380 n Sep 2009 749ebay.com
3.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899ebay.com
4.
 
Leica CL 131 mm 78 mm 45 mm 403 g 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 amazon.com
5.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595ebay.com
6.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113 140 mm 79 mm 88 mm 635 g 450 Y Jan 2016 2,950ebay.com
7.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850ebay.com
8.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999ebay.com
9.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499ebay.com
10.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999ebay.com
13.
 
Panasonic GX1 116 mm 68 mm 39 mm 318 g 320 n Nov 2011 699ebay.com
14.
 
Panasonic G10 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 388 g 380 n Mar 2010 499ebay.com
15.
 
Panasonic G2 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 428 g 360 n Mar 2010 599ebay.com
16.
 
Panasonic GH1 124 mm 90 mm 45 mm 385 g 300 n Mar 2009 899ebay.com
17.
 
Panasonic G1 124 mm 84 mm 45 mm 360 g 410 n Sep 2008 599ebay.com
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 GF1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 75 percent) than the R-D1, 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.

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. 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 Epson R-D1 features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic GF1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GF1 is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the R-D1 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GF1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Epson R-D1 and Panasonic GF1 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the GF1 offers a higher resolution of 12 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the R-D1. 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 4.33μm versus 7.85μm for the R-D1). However, it should be noted that the GF1 is much more recent (by 5 years and 5 months) than the R-D1, 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 Panasonic GF1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the GF1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Epson R-D1 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Epson R-D1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).

In terms of underlying technology, the R-D1 is build around a CCD sensor, while the GF1 uses a CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

R-D1 versus GF1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 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.
 
Epson R-D1 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.110.456455
2.
 
Panasonic GF1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.351354
3.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
4.
 
Leica CL APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p24.013.3178882
5.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
6.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.813.0161480
7.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
8.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
9.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
10.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
11.
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
12.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
13.
 
Panasonic GX1 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p20.810.670355
14.
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152
15.
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353
16.
 
Panasonic GH1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/24p21.611.677264
17.
 
Panasonic G1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000none21.110.346353
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The GF1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the R-D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the GF1 can use is 720/30p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the R-D1 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GF1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the GF1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the DMW-LVF1. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Epson R-D1 and Panasonic GF1 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
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Epson R-D1optical n2.0 / 235 fixed n 1/2000s 1.0/s n n
2.
 
Panasonic GF1optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
3.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
4.
 
Leica CL2360 Y3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0/s n n
5.
 
Leica M10optical n3.0 / 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0/s n n
6.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
7.
 
Leica X Variooptional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
8.
 
Leica M9optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0/s n n
9.
 
Nikon D40optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
10.
 
Nikon D50optical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
11.
 
Nikon D70soptical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
12.
 
Nikon D70optical n1.8 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
13.
 
Panasonic GX1optional n3.0 / 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.2/s Y n
14.
 
Panasonic G10202 n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6/s Y n
15.
 
Panasonic G21440 n3.0 / 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6/s Y n
16.
 
Panasonic GH11440 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
17.
 
Panasonic G11440 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The GF1 has one, while the R-D1 does not. While the built-in flash of the GF1 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the R-D1 and the GF1 write their files to SDHC cards.

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 Epson R-D1 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Epson R-D1Y- / --------
2.
 
Panasonic GF1Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon RebelY- / ----1.1---
4.
 
Leica CLYstereo / mono----Y--
5.
 
Leica M10Y- / -----Y--
6.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113Ystereo / mono---2.0---
7.
 
Leica X VarioYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Leica M9Y- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D40Y- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D50Y- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D70sY- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D70Y- / ----1.0---
13.
 
Panasonic GX1Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic G10Ymono / ---mini2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic G2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic GH1Ystereo / -Y-mini2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic G1Y- / ---mini2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Epson R-D1 (unlike the GF1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the R-D1 and the GF1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The GF1 was replaced by the Panasonic DMC-GF2, while the R-D1 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 Epson and Panasonic websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Epson R-D1 or the Panasonic GF1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Epson R-D1:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • 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 March 2004).

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Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 38%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/30p 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 235k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (119x71mm vs 142x89mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 235g or 38 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (75 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 5 months of technical progress since the R-D1 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GF1 is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 3 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

R-D1 03:11 GF1

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the R-D1 or the GF1. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

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], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Epson R-D1............ Mar 2004 2,999ebay.com
2.
 
Panasonic GF1..85/100..69/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 749ebay.com
3.
 
Canon Rebel......+ +.... Aug 2003 899ebay.com
4.
 
Leica CL....4.2/5....4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 amazon.com
5.
 
Leica M104.5/5......4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595ebay.com
6.
 
Leica X-U Typ 1133.5/5........3.5/5 Jan 2016 2,950ebay.com
7.
 
Leica X Vario3/5......4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850ebay.com
8.
 
Leica M9........4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999ebay.com
9.
 
Nikon D40..81/100..+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499ebay.com
10.
 
Nikon D50..78/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon D70s..........5/5 Apr 2005 899ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon D70......+ +.... Jan 2004 999ebay.com
13.
 
Panasonic GX13/5+..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Nov 2011 699ebay.com
14.
 
Panasonic G103/5....70/1004/54/5 Mar 2010 499ebay.com
15.
 
Panasonic G2......72/1004/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599ebay.com
16.
 
Panasonic GH1..+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 899ebay.com
17.
 
Panasonic G1..+ +..70/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2008 599ebay.com
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 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.

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Check R-D1 offers at
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Check GF1 offers at
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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: Epson R-D1 vs Panasonic GF1

    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 Epson R-D1 Panasonic GF1
    Camera Type Rangefinder camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Leica M mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date March 2004 September 2009
    Launch Price USD 2,999 USD 749
    Sensor Specs Epson R-D1 Panasonic GF1
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 4.33 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 5.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 54
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 21.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 513
    Screen Specs Epson R-D1 Panasonic GF1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 235k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Epson R-D1 Panasonic GF1
    Focus System Manual Focus Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Epson R-D1 Panasonic GF1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector no USB USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Epson R-D1 Panasonic GF1
    Battery Type EU-85 DMW-BLB13
    Body Dimensions 142 x 89 x 40 mm
    (5.6 x 3.5 x 1.6 in)
    119 x 71 x 36 mm
    (4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4 in)
    Camera Weight 620 g (21.9 oz) 385 g (13.6 oz)
    logo
    Check R-D1 offers at
    ebay.com
    logo
    Check GF1 offers at
    ebay.com

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