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Leica X Vario vs Nikon Df

The Leica X Vario (Typ 107) and the Nikon Df are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2013 and November 2013. The X Vario is a fixed lens compact, while the Df is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (X Vario) and a full frame (Df) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 16.2 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Leica X Vario VS Nikon Df
Leica X Vario Nikon Df
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
28-70mm f/3.5-6.4 Nikon F mount lenses
16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 16.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/30p Video no Video
ISO 100-12500 ISO 100-12800 (50-204800)
Viewfinder optional Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD, 920k dots 3.2" LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 5.5 shutter flaps per second
Not weather sealedWeathersealed body
450 shots per battery charge1400 shots per battery charge
133 x 73 x 95 mm, 680 g 144 x 110 x 67 mm, 760 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica X Vario (Typ 107) and the Nikon Df? 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 X Vario and the Nikon Df. 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.

Both cameras are available in two different colors (black, silver).

Size Leica X Vario vs Nikon Df
Compare X Vario versus Df top
Comparison X Vario or Df rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon Df is considerably larger (63 percent) than the Leica X Vario. It is noteworthy in this context that the Df is splash and dust-proof, while the X Vario does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the X Vario has a lens built in, whereas the Df is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the Df and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the X Vario gets 450 shots out of its BP-DC8 battery, while the Df can take 1400 images on a single charge of its EN-EL14 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Leica X Vario» 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.7 in 24.0 oz 450 n Jun 2013 2,850 iLeica X Vario
 
Nikon Df« 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.6 in 26.8 oz 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749 iNikon Df
 
Leica X-U Typ 113« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 3.5 in 22.4 oz 450 Y Jan 2016 2,950 iLeica X-U Typ 113
 
Leica Q Typ 116« » 5.1 in 3.1 in 3.7 in 22.6 oz 300 n Jun 2015 4,249iLeica Q Typ 116
 
Leica T« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Apr 2014 1,850iLeica T
 
Leica X Typ 113« » 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.1 in 17.1 oz 350 n Sep 2014 2,295 iLeica X Typ 113
 
Leica X2« » 4.9 in 2.7 in 2.0 in 12.2 oz 450 n May 2012 1,995iLeica X2
 
Nikon D850« » 5.7 in 4.9 in 3.1 in 35.5 oz 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 iNikon D850
 
Nikon D750« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299iNikon D750
 
Nikon D810« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299iNikon D810
 
Nikon Coolpix A« » 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 230 n Mar 2013 1,099iNikon Coolpix A
 
Nikon D610« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 iNikon D610
 
Nikon D4« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999iNikon D4
 
Panasonic FZ1000« » 5.4 in 3.9 in 5.2 in 29.3 oz 360 n Jun 2014 899iPanasonic FZ1000
 
Ricoh GR« » 4.6 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 8.6 oz 290 n Apr 2013 799iRicoh GR
 
Sony RX1R« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Jun 2013 2,799iSony RX1R
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as 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. 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.

 

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 Leica X Vario features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon Df a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the Df 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.

Leica X Vario and Nikon Df sensor measures

With 16.2MP, the Df offers a higher resolution than the X Vario (16.1MP), but the Df nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.29μm versus 4.80μm for the X Vario) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the Df is a somewhat more recent model (by 4 months) than the X Vario, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The Leica X Vario (Typ 107) has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12500. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon Df are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.

X Vario versus Df 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the Df offers substantially better image quality than the X Vario (overall score 11 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.2 bits higher color depth, 0.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078Leica X Vario
 
Nikon Df Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280none24.613.1327989Nikon Df
 
Leica X-U Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........Leica X-U Typ 113
 
Leica Q Typ 116 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185Leica Q Typ 116
 
Leica T APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275Leica T
 
Leica X Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........Leica X Typ 113
 
Leica X2 APS-C 16.1 4928 3264none........Leica X2
 
Nikon D850 Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100Nikon D850
 
Nikon D750 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693Nikon D750
 
Nikon D810 Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397Nikon D810
 
Nikon Coolpix A APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.413.8116480Nikon Coolpix A
 
Nikon D610 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594Nikon D610
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589Nikon D4
 
Panasonic FZ1000 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764Panasonic FZ1000
 
Ricoh GR APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.597278Ricoh GR
 
Sony RX1R Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791Sony RX1R

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The X Vario indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the Df does not. The highest resolution format that the X Vario can use is 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the Df has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the X Vario relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the X Vario can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the EVF 2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica X Vario and Nikon Df in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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
Camera
Model
 
Leica X Variooptional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n Leica X Vario
 
Nikon Dfoptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n n Nikon Df
 
Leica X-U Typ 113optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n Leica X-U Typ 113
 
Leica Q Typ 1163680 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0 n Y Leica Q Typ 116
 
Leica Toptional n 3.7 1300 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Leica T
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n Leica X Typ 113
 
Leica X2optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n Leica X2
 
Nikon D850optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 9.0 n n Nikon D850
 
Nikon D750optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n Nikon D750
 
Nikon D810optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n Nikon D810
 
Nikon Coolpix Aoptional n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/2000s 4.0 Y n Nikon Coolpix A
 
Nikon D610optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n Nikon D610
 
Nikon D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n Nikon D4
 
Panasonic FZ10002359 n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 12.0 Y Y Panasonic FZ1000
 
Ricoh GRoptional n 3.0 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Ricoh GR
 
Sony RX1Roptional n 3.0 1229 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Sony RX1R

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

The Nikon Df has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the X Vario and the Df write their files to SDXC cards. The Df supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the X Vario cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 Leica X Vario (Typ 107) and Nikon Df and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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
Camera
Model
 
Leica X VarioYstereomono--mini2.0---Leica X Vario
 
Nikon DfYnonenone--mini2.0---Nikon Df
 
Leica X-U Typ 113Ystereomono--none2.0---Leica X-U Typ 113
 
Leica Q Typ 116Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Leica Q Typ 116
 
Leica TYstereomono--none2.0Y--Leica T
 
Leica X Typ 113Ystereomono--mini2.0---Leica X Typ 113
 
Leica X2Ynonenone--mini2.0---Leica X2
 
Nikon D850YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYYNikon D850
 
Nikon D750YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--Nikon D750
 
Nikon D810YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--Nikon D810
 
Nikon Coolpix AYstereomono--none2.0---Nikon Coolpix A
 
Nikon D610YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D610
 
Nikon D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---Nikon D4
 
Panasonic FZ1000YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Panasonic FZ1000
 
Ricoh GRYmonomono--micro2.0---Ricoh GR
 
Sony RX1RYstereomonoY-mini2.0---Sony RX1R

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon Df (unlike the X Vario) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the X Vario and the Df are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. Neither of the two has a direct predecessor, so perhaps they will constitute the origins of new camera lines for Leica and Nikon. 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.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica X Vario and the Nikon Df? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Leica X Vario (Typ 107):

  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the Df requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (133x73mm vs 144x110mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the Df).
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2013).

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Advantages of the Nikon Df:

  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.2 bits more color depth).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • 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.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1400 versus 450) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (4 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the Df is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 7 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

X Vario 07:14 Df

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica X Vario and the Nikon Df place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best DSLR 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 X Vario or the Df. 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 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.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cam
era
  labs  
dp
re
  view  
e
photo
  zine  
ima
ging
resource
photo
graphy
  blog  
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Leica X Vario....4/54/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850 iLeica X Vario
 
Nikon Df..81/1004/54/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749 iNikon Df
 
Leica X-U Typ 113........3.5/5 Jan 2016 2,950 iLeica X-U Typ 113
 
Leica Q Typ 116..80/1004.5/5..4.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249iLeica Q Typ 116
 
Leica T....4/5..4/5 Apr 2014 1,850iLeica T
 
Leica X Typ 113....3.5/5..4/5 Sep 2014 2,295 iLeica X Typ 113
 
Leica X2....3/5..4/5 May 2012 1,995iLeica X2
 
Nikon D850+ +89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 iNikon D850
 
Nikon D750+ +90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299iNikon D750
 
Nikon D810..86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299iNikon D810
 
Nikon Coolpix A+75/1004/54.5/54/5 Mar 2013 1,099iNikon Coolpix A
 
Nikon D610+ +87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 iNikon D610
 
Nikon D4....4.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999iNikon D4
 
Panasonic FZ1000+ +82/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899iPanasonic FZ1000
 
Ricoh GR..79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 799iRicoh GR
 
Sony RX1R....4/5o4.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799iSony RX1R
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Leica X Vario:
Check Amazon price
Nikon Df:
Check Amazon price

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 use the search menu 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: Leica X Vario vs Nikon Df

    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 X Vario Nikon Df
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 28-70mm f/3.5-6.4 Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date June 2013 November 2013
    Launch Price USD 2850 USD 2749
    Sensor Specs Leica X Vario Nikon Df
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.6 x 15.7 mm 36.0 x 23.9 mm
    Sensor Area 370.52 mm2 860.4 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.3 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 16.1 Megapixels 16.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3272 pixels 4928 x 3280 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.80 μm 7.29 μm
    Pixel Density 4.35 MP/cm2 1.88 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100-12500 ISO 100-12800 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 50-204800 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 78 89
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.4 24.6
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.7 13.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1320 3279
    Screen Specs Leica X Vario Nikon Df
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.70x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 3.2 inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Leica X Vario Nikon Df
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 5.5 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Leica X Vario Nikon Df
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash no PC Sync PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica X Vario Nikon Df
    Environmental SealingNot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-DC8 EN-EL14
    Battery Life (CIPA)450 shots per charge1400 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 133 x 73 x 95 mm
    (5.2 x 2.9 x 3.7 in)
    144 x 110 x 67 mm
    (5.7 x 4.3 x 2.6 in)
    Camera Weight 680 g (24.0 oz) 760 g (26.8 oz)

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