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Leica S2 vs Nikon D3300

The Leica S2 and the Nikon D3300 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2008 and January 2014. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a medium format (S2) and an APS-C (D3300) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 37.5 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Leica S2 versus Nikon D3300
Leica S2 Nikon D3300
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Leica S mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
37.5 MP, Medium Format Sensor 24 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 80-1,250 ISO 100-12,800 (100 - 25,600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 460k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1.5 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
160 x 120 x 80 mm, 1410 g 124 x 98 x 76 mm, 430 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica S2 and the Nikon D3300? 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 Leica S2 and the Nikon D3300 are illustrated 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The D3300 can be obtained in three different colors (black, grey, red), while the S2 is only available in black.

Size Leica S2 vs Nikon D3300
Compare S2 versus D3300 top
Comparison S2 or D3300 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3300 is considerably smaller (37 percent) than the Leica S2. Moreover, the D3300 is substantially lighter (70 percent) than the S2. It is worth mentioning in this context that the S2 is splash and dust resistant, while the D3300 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.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.
 
Leica S2 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1410 g .. Y Sep 2008 22,995i
2.
 
Nikon D3300 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 430 g 700 n Jan 2014 499i
3.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III 150 mm 160 mm 80 mm 1385 g 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999i
4.
 
Leica S3 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2018 18,995 i
5.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2014 16,900i
6.
 
Leica S Typ 007 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2014 24,490i
7.
 
Leica S Typ 006 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2012 21,950i
8.
 
Leica S1 339 mm 214 mm 119 mm 2500 g .. n Aug 1996 21,490i
9.
 
Nikon D5600 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 465 g 970 n Nov 2016 699 i
10.
 
Nikon D3400 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 n Aug 2016 499i
11.
 
Nikon D5500 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 420 g 820 n Jan 2015 899i
12.
 
Nikon D5300 125 mm 98 mm 76 mm 480 g 600 n Oct 2013 799i
13.
 
Nikon D3200 125 mm 96 mm 77 mm 505 g 540 n Apr 2012 599i
14.
 
Nikon D3S 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1240 g 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199i
15.
 
Nikon D3X 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1260 g 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999i
16.
 
Nikon D3 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1300 g 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999i
17.
 
Pentax 645D 156 mm 117 mm 119 mm 1480 g 800 Y Mar 2010 9,995i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 D3300 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 98 percent) than the S2, 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 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 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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica S2 features a medium format sensor and the Nikon D3300 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D3300 is 73 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.8 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica S2 and Nikon D3300 sensor measures

With 37.5MP, the S2 offers a higher resolution than the D3300 (24MP), but the S2 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 3.91μm for the D3300) due to its larger sensor. However, the D3300 is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 3 months) than the S2, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Leica S2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 37.5 x 25 inches or 95.3 x 63.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 25 x 16.7 inches or 63.5 x 42.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3300 are 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm for good quality, 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm for very good quality, and 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Leica S2 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 1250. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3300 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.

S2 versus D3300 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 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.
 
Leica S2 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none........
2.
 
Nikon D3300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582
3.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744none24.012.0166380
4.
 
Leica S3 Medium Format 64.0 9800 65334K/24p........
5.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none........
6.
 
Leica S Typ 007 Medium Format 37.5 7500 50004K/24p........
7.
 
Leica S Typ 006 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none23.912.282476
8.
 
Leica S1 Medium Format 26.4 5140 5140none........
9.
 
Nikon D5600 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684
10.
 
Nikon D3400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
11.
 
Nikon D5500 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0143884
12.
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883
13.
 
Nikon D3200 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/30p24.113.2113181
14.
 
Nikon D3S Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
15.
 
Nikon D3X Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none24.713.7199288
16.
 
Nikon D3 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2229081
17.
 
Pentax 645D Medium Format 39.5 7264 5440none24.612.6126282

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D3300 indeed provides for movie recording, while the S2 does not. The highest resolution format that the D3300 can use is 1080/60p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The S2 and the D3300 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 S2 offers a wider field of view (96%) than the one in the D3300 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the S2 has a higher magnification (0.86x vs 0.57x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica S2, the Nikon D3300, and comparable 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.
 
Leica S2optical Y 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
2.
 
Nikon D3300optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIoptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
4.
 
Leica S3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
5.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
6.
 
Leica S Typ 007optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 n n
7.
 
Leica S Typ 006optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
8.
 
Leica S1optical n none none none n .. 0.01 n n
9.
 
Nikon D5600optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
10.
 
Nikon D3400optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
11.
 
Nikon D5500optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D5300optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
13.
 
Nikon D3200optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
14.
 
Nikon D3Soptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
15.
 
Nikon D3Xoptical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
16.
 
Nikon D3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
17.
 
Pentax 645Doptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 1.1 n n

One feature that is present on the S2, but is missing on the D3300 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 S2 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDHC cards, while the D3300 uses SDXC cards. The S2 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D3300 only has one slot. The D3300 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the S2 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 Leica S2 and Nikon D3300 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.
 
Leica S2Y----mini2.0---
2.
 
Nikon D3300YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIYmono----2.0---
4.
 
Leica S3YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--
5.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006Y----mini2.0---
6.
 
Leica S Typ 007YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--
7.
 
Leica S Typ 006Y----mini2.0---
8.
 
Leica S1----------
9.
 
Nikon D5600YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
10.
 
Nikon D3400Ymonomono--mini2.0--Y
11.
 
Nikon D5500YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
12.
 
Nikon D5300YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
13.
 
Nikon D3200YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D3SYstereo---mini2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D3XY----mini2.0---
16.
 
Nikon D3Y----mini2.0---
17.
 
Pentax 645DYstereo----2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Leica S2 (unlike the D3300) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the S2 and the D3300 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The S2 was replaced by the Leica S Typ 006, while the D3300 was followed by the Nikon D3400. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Nikon websites.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Leica S2 better than the Nikon D3300 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Leica S2:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (37.5 vs 24MP) with a 25% higher linear resolution.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (96% vs 95%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.86x vs 0.57x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • 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 prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2008).

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Advantages of the Nikon D3300:

  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 460k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (124x98mm vs 160x120mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 980g or 70 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (98 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 3 months of technical progress since the S2 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (9 points each). 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.

S2 09:09 D3300

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica S2 and the Nikon D3300 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the S2 or the D3300 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.
 
Leica S2.......... Sep 2008 22,995i
2.
 
Nikon D33003/5+77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499i
3.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III....+ +4.5/5.. Aug 2007 7,999i
4.
 
Leica S3.......... Sep 2018 18,995 i
5.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006.......... Sep 2014 16,900i
6.
 
Leica S Typ 0074/5........ Sep 2014 24,490i
7.
 
Leica S Typ 006.......... Sep 2012 21,950i
8.
 
Leica S1.......... Aug 1996 21,490i
9.
 
Nikon D56004/5..79/1004.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i
10.
 
Nikon D34004/5+76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499i
11.
 
Nikon D55005/5+79/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2015 899i
12.
 
Nikon D53004/5+ +79/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799i
13.
 
Nikon D32005/5+ +73/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 599i
14.
 
Nikon D3S5/5..89/1004.5/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199i
15.
 
Nikon D3X....86/1004/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999i
16.
 
Nikon D3....+ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999i
17.
 
Pentax 645D5/5........ Mar 2010 9,995i
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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Leica S2:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D3300:
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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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: Leica S2 vs Nikon D3300

    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 S2 Nikon D3300
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Leica S mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2008 January 2014
    Launch Price USD 22,995 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Leica S2 Nikon D3300
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format Medium Format Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 45.0 x 30.0 mm 23.5 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 1350 mm2 366.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 54.1 mm 28.2 mm
    Crop Factor 0.8x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 37.5 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 7500 x 5000 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.00 μm 3.91 μm
    Pixel Density 2.78 MP/cm2 6.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 1,250 ISO 100 - 12,800 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 25,600 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 82
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 24.3
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 12.8
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 1385
    Screen Specs Leica S2 Nikon D3300
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 96% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.86x 0.57x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 460k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Leica S2 Nikon D3300
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1.5 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF or SDHC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Single card slot
    UHS card support no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Leica S2 Nikon D3300
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica S2 Nikon D3300
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type BP-PRO1 EN-EL14a
    Body Dimensions 160 x 120 x 80 mm
    (6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
    124 x 98 x 76 mm
    (4.9 x 3.9 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 1410 g (49.7 oz) 430 g (15.2 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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