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Leica TL2 vs Sony A850

The Leica TL2 and the Sony Alpha A850 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in July 2017 and August 2009. The TL2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the A850 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (TL2) and a full frame (A850) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 24.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24.4 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Leica TL2 versus Sony A850
Leica TL2 Sony A850
Mirrorless system camera Digital single lens reflex
Leica T mount lenses Sony A mount lenses
24.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 24.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor
4K/30p Video no Video
ISO 100-50,000 ISO 200-3,200 (100 - 6,400)
Viewfinder optional Optical viewfinder
3.7 LCD, 1230k dots 3.0 LCD, 922k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
7 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Lens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
250 shots per battery charge880 shots per battery charge
134 x 69 x 33 mm, 399 g 156 x 117 x 82 mm, 895 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica TL2 and the Sony Alpha A850? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica TL2 and the Sony A850. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The TL2 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A850 is only available in black.

Size Leica TL2 vs Sony A850
Compare TL2 versus A850 top
Comparison TL2 or A850 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A850 is considerably larger (97 percent) than the Leica TL2. Moreover, the A850 is substantially heavier (124 percent) than the TL2. It is noteworthy in this context that the A850 is splash and dust-proof, while the TL2 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 power pack in the TL2 can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.

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, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also 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 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica TL2 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 14.1 oz 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i
 
Sony A850 6.1 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 31.6 oz 880 Y Aug 2009 1,999i
 
Fujifilm X-T100 4.8 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 15.8 oz 430 n May 2018 599i
 
Fujifilm X-T20 4.6 in 3.3 in 1.6 in 13.5 oz 350 n Jan 2017 899 i
 
Fujifilm X-A3 4.6 in 2.6 in 1.6 in 12.0 oz 410 n Aug 2016 399i
 
Leica C-LUX 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.0 oz 370 n Jun 2018 1,049 i
 
Leica CL 5.2 in 3.1 in 1.8 in 14.2 oz 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i
 
Leica TL 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Nov 2016 1,695i
 
Leica T 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Apr 2014 1,850i
 
Nikon D3500 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 12.9 oz 1550 n Aug 2018 429 i
 
Nikon D5600 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 16.4 oz 970 n Nov 2016 699 i
 
Nikon D3400 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.7 oz 1200 n Aug 2016 499i
 
Nikon D750 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299i
 
Sony A7 II 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999i
 
Sony A7 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699i
 
Sony A99 5.8 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 28.6 oz 500 Y Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Sony A900 6.1 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 31.6 oz 880 Y Sep 2008 2,999i
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.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The TL2 was somewhat cheaper (by 2 percent) than the A850 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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. 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 imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 Leica TL2 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A850 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A850 is 132 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Leica TL2 and Sony A850 sensor measures

With 24.4MP, the A850 offers a higher resolution than the TL2 (24.1MP), but the A850 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 3.92μm for the TL2) due to its larger sensor. However, the TL2 is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 10 months) than the A850, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the TL2 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The Leica TL2 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 50000. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A850 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.

TL2 versus A850 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 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
 
Leica TL2 APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
 
Sony A850 Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none23.812.2141579
 
Fujifilm X-T100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/15p........
 
Fujifilm X-T20 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p........
 
Fujifilm X-A3 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p........
 
Leica C-LUX 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p........
 
Leica CL APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
 
Leica TL APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
 
Leica T APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275
 
Nikon D3500 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p........
 
Nikon D5600 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684
 
Nikon D3400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
 
Nikon D750 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693
 
Sony A7 II Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990
 
Sony A7 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890
 
Sony A99 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.014.0155589
 
Sony A900 Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none23.712.3143179

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The TL2 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the A850 does not. The highest resolution format that the TL2 can use is 4K/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A850 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the TL2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the TL2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the Visoflex (Typ 020). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica TL2 and Sony A850 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
 
Leica TL2optional n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 7.0 n n
 
Sony A850optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n Y
 
Fujifilm X-T1002360 n 3.0 1040 full-flex Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-T202360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-A3none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Leica C-LUX2330 n 3.0 1240 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y
 
Leica CL2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
 
Leica TLoptional n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Leica Toptional n 3.7 1300 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3500optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5600optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3400optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D750optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Sony A7 II2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y
 
Sony A72400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Sony A992359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 6.0 n Y
 
Sony A900optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The TL2 has a touchscreen, while the A850 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The TL2 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A850 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A850 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the TL2 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 TL2 and Sony Alpha A850 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 TL2Ystereomono--micro3.0Y--
 
Sony A850Y----mini2.0---
 
Fujifilm X-T100YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y-Y
 
Fujifilm X-T20YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
 
Fujifilm X-A3Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Leica C-LUX-stereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Leica CLYstereomono----Y--
 
Leica TLYstereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Leica TYstereomono---2.0Y--
 
Nikon D3500Ymonomono--mini2.0--Y
 
Nikon D5600YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Nikon D3400Ymonomono--mini2.0--Y
 
Nikon D750YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--
 
Sony A7 IIYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-
 
Sony A7YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-
 
Sony A99YstereomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Sony A900Y----mini2.0---

It is notable that the TL2 offers wifi support, while the A850 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A850 (unlike the TL2) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

The TL2 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Leica. In contrast, the A850 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the A850 from Sony. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Sony websites.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Leica TL2 better than the Sony A850 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Leica TL2:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 4K/30p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.7" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 922k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (134x69mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 496g or 55 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Reflects 7 years and 10 months of technical progress since the A850 launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A850:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (880 versus 250) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • 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 heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2009).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the TL2 is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 10 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.

TL2 14:10 A850

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica TL2 and the Sony A850 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

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 TL2 or the A850. 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera 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 TL2....4/5..4/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i
 
Sony A850..75/100..4/54.5/5 Aug 2009 1,999i
 
Fujifilm X-T100+79/1004/5..4.5/5 May 2018 599i
 
Fujifilm X-T20+ +82/1005/5..4.5/5 Jan 2017 899 i
 
Fujifilm X-A3..74/1004.5/5..4/5 Aug 2016 399i
 
Leica C-LUX....4.5/5..4/5 Jun 2018 1,049 i
 
Leica CL........4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i
 
Leica TL........4/5 Nov 2016 1,695i
 
Leica T....4/5..4/5 Apr 2014 1,850i
 
Nikon D3500..75/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2018 429 i
 
Nikon D5600..79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i
 
Nikon D3400+76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499i
 
Nikon D750+ +90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299i
 
Sony A7 II+82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999i
 
Sony A7+ +80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699i
 
Sony A99..84/1004.5/5o4.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Sony A900+ ++ +4.5/54/55/5 Sep 2008 2,999i
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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Leica TL2:
Check Amazon price
Sony A850:
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Leica TL2 vs Sony A850

    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 TL2 Sony A850
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Leica T mount lenses Sony A mount lenses
    Launch Date July 2017 August 2009
    Launch Price USD 1,950 USD 1,999
    Sensor Specs Leica TL2 Sony A850
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.6 x 15.7 mm 35.9 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 370.52 mm2 861.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.3 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 24.1 Megapixels 24.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 6014 x 4014 pixels 6048 x 4032 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.92 μm 5.94 μm
    Pixel Density 6.52 MP/cm2 2.83 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 4K/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 50,000 ISO 200 - 3,200 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 6,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 79
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 23.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 12.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 1415
    Screen Specs Leica TL2 Sony A850
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 98%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.74x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.7inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1230k dots 922k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Leica TL2 Sony A850
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 7 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationLens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF or MS cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Leica TL2 Sony A850
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash no PC Sync PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 3.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica TL2 Sony A850
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-DC13 NP-FM500H
    Battery Life (CIPA)250 shots per charge880 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging no USB charging
    Body Dimensions 134 x 69 x 33 mm
    (5.3 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
    156 x 117 x 82 mm
    (6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
    Camera Weight 399 g (14.1 oz) 895 g (31.6 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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