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Leica M Typ 240 vs Olympus E-420

The Leica M (Typ 240) and the Olympus E-420 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2012 and March 2008. The M Typ 240 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, while the E-420 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a full frame (M Typ 240) and a Four Thirds (E-420) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 23.7 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 10 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Leica M Typ 240 versus Olympus E-420
Leica M Typ 240 Olympus E-420
Rangefinder camera Digital single lens reflex
Leica M mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
23.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor 10 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/25p Video no Video
ISO 200-6,400 ISO 100-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 920k dots 2.7 LCD, 215k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3.5 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
139 x 80 x 42 mm, 680 g 130 x 91 x 53 mm, 440 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica M (Typ 240) and the Olympus E-420? 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 Leica M Typ 240 and the Olympus E-420 is provided 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The M Typ 240 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the E-420 is only available in black.

Size Leica M Typ 240 vs Olympus E-420
Compare M Typ 240 versus E-420 top
Comparison M Typ 240 or E-420 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-420 is notably larger (6 percent) than the Leica M Typ 240. However, the E-420 is substantially lighter (35 percent) than the M Typ 240. It is worth mentioning in this context that the M Typ 240 is splash and dust resistant, while the E-420 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. 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 (M Typ 240) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-420).

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica M Typ 240 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Sep 2012 6,950i
 
Olympus E-420 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 n Mar 2008 599i
 
Canon 6D Mark II 5.7 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i
 
Canon 1D X Mark II 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999i
 
Canon 6D 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099i
 
Leica M10-R 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 Y Jul 2020 8,295 i
 
Leica M-E Typ 240 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Jun 2019 3,999 i
 
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 M Typ 262 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Nov 2015 5,195i
 
Leica SL 5.8 in 4.1 in 1.5 in 29.9 oz 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450i
 
Leica M9 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.6 oz .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
 
Olympus E-450 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 n Mar 2009 499i
 
Olympus E-620 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.4 in 18.4 oz 500 n Feb 2009 699i
 
Olympus E-520 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 18.9 oz 750 n May 2008 699i
 
Olympus E-410 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 n Mar 2007 699i
 
Olympus E-400 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 n Sep 2006 699i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-420 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 91 percent) than the M Typ 240, 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. 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica M Typ 240 features a full frame sensor and the Olympus E-420 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-420 is 74 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.0. The sensor in the M Typ 240 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-420 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Leica M Typ 240 and Olympus E-420 sensor measures

With 23.7MP, the M Typ 240 offers a higher resolution than the E-420 (10MP), but the M Typ 240 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.01μm versus 4.74μm for the E-420) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the M Typ 240 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 6 months) than the E-420, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The resolution advantage of the Leica M Typ 240 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M Typ 240 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 29.8 x 19.9 inches or 75.6 x 50.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 23.8 x 15.9 inches or 60.5 x 40.4 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 19.8 x 13.3 inches or 50.4 x 33.7 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-420 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Leica M (Typ 240) has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-420 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

M Typ 240 versus E-420 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 M Typ 240 provides substantially higher image quality than the E-420, with an overall score that is 28 points higher. This advantage is based on 2.5 bits higher color depth, 2.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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
 
Leica M Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
 
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.452756
 
Canon 6D Mark II Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285
 
Canon 1D X Mark II Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
 
Canon 6D Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
 
Leica M10-R Full Frame 40.9 7864 5200none........
 
Leica M-E Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p........
 
Leica M10-P Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none........
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
 
Leica M Typ 262 Full Frame 23.7 5952 3976none........
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.551256
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
 
Olympus E-410 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.110.049451
 
Olympus E-400 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none........

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The M Typ 240 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-420 does not. The highest resolution format that the M Typ 240 can use is 1080/25p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The M Typ 240 and the E-420 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 M Typ 240 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the E-420 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the M Typ 240 has a higher magnification (0.68x vs 0.46x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica M Typ 240 and Olympus E-420 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
 
Leica M Typ 240optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
 
Olympus E-420optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
 
Canon 6D Mark IIoptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.5 n n
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIoptical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0 n n
 
Canon 6Doptical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 n n
 
Leica M10-Roptical n 3.0 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.5 n n
 
Leica M-E Typ 240optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
 
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 M Typ 262optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
 
Leica SL4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
 
Olympus E-450optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
 
Olympus E-620optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-520optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y Y
 
Olympus E-410optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Olympus E-400optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-420 has one, while the M Typ 240 does not. While the built-in flash of the E-420 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The M Typ 240 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the E-420 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-420 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the M Typ 240 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 Leica M (Typ 240) and Olympus E-420 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
 
Leica M Typ 240Ystereomono---2.0---
 
Olympus E-420Y-----2.0---
 
Canon 6D Mark IIYstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Canon 6DYmonomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Leica M10-RY------Y--
 
Leica M-E Typ 240Ymono----2.0---
 
Leica M10-PY------Y--
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
 
Leica M Typ 262Y-----2.0---
 
Leica SLYstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-450Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-620Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-520Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-410Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-400Y-----2.0---

Both the M Typ 240 and the E-420 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M Typ 240 was replaced by the Leica M Typ 262, while the E-420 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 Leica and Olympus websites.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica M Typ 240 and the Olympus E-420? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Leica M (Typ 240):

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (23.7 vs 10MP) with a 57% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (28 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2.5 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (2.9 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.8 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/25p movies.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.68x vs 0.46x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 215k dots).
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 6 months of technical progress since the E-420 launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-420:

  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 240g or 35 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (91 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in March 2008).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M Typ 240 is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 6 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 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.

M Typ 240 13:06 E-420

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the M Typ 240 or the E-420. 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 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
 
Leica M Typ 240....4/5.... Sep 2012 6,950i
 
Olympus E-42085/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Mar 2008 599i
 
Canon 6D Mark II+80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i
 
Canon 1D X Mark II..89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999i
 
Canon 6D+ +83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099i
 
Leica M10-R........4/5 Jul 2020 8,295 i
 
Leica M-E Typ 240.......... Jun 2019 3,999 i
 
Leica M10-P........4/5 Aug 2018 7,995 i
 
Leica M10....4/5..4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
 
Leica M Typ 262.......... Nov 2015 5,195i
 
Leica SL..84/1004.5/54/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450i
 
Leica M9....4.5/54.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
 
Olympus E-450....4/5..4/5 Mar 2009 499i
 
Olympus E-62088/10072/1004.5/5o5/5 Feb 2009 699i
 
Olympus E-52087/100+ +4.5/54/54.5/5 May 2008 699i
 
Olympus E-41086/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Mar 2007 699i
 
Olympus E-40085/100..4/5..4/5 Sep 2006 699i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Leica M Typ 240:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-420:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. 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: Leica M Typ 240 vs Olympus E-420

    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 Leica M Typ 240 Olympus E-420
    Camera Type Rangefinder camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Leica M mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2012 March 2008
    Launch Price USD 6,950 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Leica M Typ 240 Olympus E-420
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 35.8 x 23.9 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 855.62 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 23.7 Megapixels 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5952 x 3976 pixels 3648 x 2736 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.01 μm 4.74 μm
    Pixel Density 2.77 MP/cm2 4.44 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/25p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 6,400 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 6,400 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 84 56
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 24.0 21.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 13.3 10.4
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1860 527
    Screen Specs Leica M Typ 240 Olympus E-420
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.68x 0.46x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.7inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 215k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Leica M Typ 240 Olympus E-420
    Focus System Manual Focus Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus Peakingno Peaking Feature
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Leica M Typ 240 Olympus E-420
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica M Typ 240 Olympus E-420
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type BP-SCL2 BLS-1
    Body Dimensions 139 x 80 x 42 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.7 in)
    130 x 91 x 53 mm
    (5.1 x 3.6 x 2.1 in)
    Camera Weight 680 g (24.0 oz) 440 g (15.5 oz)

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