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Leica X2 vs Olympus E-P3

The Leica X2 and the Olympus PEN E-P3 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in May 2012 and June 2011. The X2 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-P3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (X2) and a Four Thirds (E-P3) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 12.2 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Leica X2 versus Olympus E-P3
Leica X2 Olympus E-P3
Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
36mm f/2.8 Micro Four Thirds lenses
16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 100-12,500 ISO 200-12,800
Viewfinder optional Viewfinder optional
2.7 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 614k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed touchscreen
5 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
no shake reductionIn-body stabilization
450 shots per battery charge330 shots per battery charge
124 x 69 x 52 mm, 345 g 122 x 69 x 34 mm, 369 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica X2 and the Olympus PEN E-P3? 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 X2 and the Olympus E-P3. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The X2 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the E-P3 is available in three color-versions (black, silver, white).

Size Leica X2 vs Olympus E-P3
Compare X2 versus E-P3 top
Comparison X2 or E-P3 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-P3 is somewhat smaller (2 percent) than the Leica X2. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X2 nor the E-P3 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the X2 has a lens built in, whereas the E-P3 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 E-P3 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the X2 gets 450 shots out of its BP-DC8 battery, while the E-P3 can take 330 images on a single charge of its BLS-5 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, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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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 X2 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 n May 2012 1,995i
2.
 
Olympus E-P3 122 mm 69 mm 34 mm 369 g 330 n Jun 2011 799i
3.
 
Fujifilm X100S 127 mm 74 mm 54 mm 445 g 330 n Jan 2013 1,299i
4.
 
Fujifilm X-A1 117 mm 67 mm 39 mm 330 g 350 n Sep 2013 399i
5.
 
Fujifilm X-E2 129 mm 75 mm 37 mm 350 g 350 n Oct 2013 999i
6.
 
Leica TL 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Nov 2016 1,695i
7.
 
Leica T 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Apr 2014 1,850i
8.
 
Leica X Typ 113 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295i
9.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
10.
 
Leica X1 124 mm 60 mm 32 mm 306 g 260 n Sep 2009 1,995i
11.
 
Nikon Coolpix A 111 mm 64 mm 40 mm 299 g 230 n Mar 2013 1,099i
12.
 
Olympus E-PL2 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 n Jan 2011 599i
13.
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599i
14.
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599i
15.
 
Olympus E-P1 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Jun 2009 799i
16.
 
Olympus E-P2 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Nov 2009 799i
17.
 
Ricoh GR 117 mm 61 mm 35 mm 245 g 290 n Apr 2013 799i
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 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. 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. 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. 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica X2 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-P3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-P3 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 X2 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-P3 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Leica X2 and Olympus E-P3 sensor measures

With 16.1MP, the X2 offers a higher resolution than the E-P3 (12.2MP), but the X2 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.79μm versus 4.29μm for the E-P3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the X2 is a somewhat more recent model (by 10 months) than the E-P3, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The resolution advantage of the Leica X2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the X2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-P3 are 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm for good quality, 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Leica X2 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12500. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-P3 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

X2 versus E-P3 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-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 X2 APS-C 16.1 4928 3264none........
2.
 
Olympus E-P3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651
3.
 
Fujifilm X100S APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p........
4.
 
Fujifilm X-A1 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/30p........
5.
 
Fujifilm X-E2 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p........
6.
 
Leica TL APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
7.
 
Leica T APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275
8.
 
Leica X Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
9.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
10.
 
Leica X1 APS-C 12.2 4272 2856none........
11.
 
Nikon Coolpix A APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.413.8116480
12.
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
13.
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
14.
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
15.
 
Olympus E-P1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655
16.
 
Olympus E-P2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556
17.
 
Ricoh GR APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.597278

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-P3 indeed provides for movie recording, while the X2 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-P3 can use is 1080/60i.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The X2 and the E-P3 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. However, optional viewfinders – the EVF 2 for the X2 and the VF-3 for the E-P3 – are available as accessories. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica X2 and Olympus E-P3 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
1.
 
Leica X2optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-P3optional n 3.0 614 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
3.
 
Fujifilm X100S2360 n 2.8 460 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
4.
 
Fujifilm X-A1none n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.6 Y n
5.
 
Fujifilm X-E22360 n 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 7.0 Y n
6.
 
Leica TLoptional n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
7.
 
Leica Toptional n 3.7 1300 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
8.
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
9.
 
Leica X Variooptional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
10.
 
Leica X1none n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y n
11.
 
Nikon Coolpix Aoptional n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/2000s 4.0 Y n
12.
 
Olympus E-PL2optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
13.
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
14.
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-P1none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y
16.
 
Olympus E-P2optional n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y
17.
 
Ricoh GRoptional n 3.0 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The E-P3 has a touchscreen, while the X2 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The X2 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the E-P3 uses SDXC cards. The E-P3 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the X2 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 X2 and Olympus PEN E-P3 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 X2Y----mini2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-P3Ystereo---mini2.0---
3.
 
Fujifilm X100SYstereomono--micro2.0---
4.
 
Fujifilm X-A1Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
5.
 
Fujifilm X-E2YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
6.
 
Leica TLYstereomono--micro2.0Y--
7.
 
Leica TYstereomono---2.0Y--
8.
 
Leica X Typ 113Ystereomono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Leica X VarioYstereomono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Leica X1Y----mini2.0---
11.
 
Nikon Coolpix AYstereomono---2.0---
12.
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo---mini2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo---mini2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo---mini2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-P1Ystereo---mini2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-P2Ystereo---mini2.0---
17.
 
Ricoh GRYmonomono--micro2.0---

Both the X2 and the E-P3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-P3 was replaced by the Olympus E-P5, while the X2 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 how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica X2 and the Olympus E-P3? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Leica X2:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (16.1 vs 12.2MP) with a 17% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
  • Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the E-P3 requires a separate lens.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the E-P3).
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (450 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 10 months after the E-P3).

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Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-P3:

  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
  • 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 (614k vs 230k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2011).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the X2 emerges as the winner of the contest (11 : 9 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.

X2 11:09 E-P3

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica X2 and the Olympus E-P3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Prime Lens Compact Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the X2 and the E-P3 in practical situations. 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 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 (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 X23/5....3/54/5 May 2012 1,995i
2.
 
Olympus E-P3..83/10074/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799i
3.
 
Fujifilm X100S5/5+ +81/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2013 1,299i
4.
 
Fujifilm X-A1......4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2013 399i
5.
 
Fujifilm X-E24/5..80/1004.5/55/5 Oct 2013 999i
6.
 
Leica TL........4/5 Nov 2016 1,695i
7.
 
Leica T3/5....4/54/5 Apr 2014 1,850i
8.
 
Leica X Typ 1133.5/5....3.5/54/5 Sep 2014 2,295i
9.
 
Leica X Vario3/5....4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
10.
 
Leica X13/5..+..4/5 Sep 2009 1,995i
11.
 
Nikon Coolpix A4/5+75/1004/54/5 Mar 2013 1,099i
12.
 
Olympus E-PL23/583/10071/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599i
13.
 
Olympus E-PL33/5+ +72/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
14.
 
Olympus E-PL1..86/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599i
15.
 
Olympus E-P1..+66/1004/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799i
16.
 
Olympus E-P23/5+69/1004/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799i
17.
 
Ricoh GR5/5..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 799i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted 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. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Leica X2:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-P3:
Check Ebay offers

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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Leica X2 vs Olympus E-P3

    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 X2 Olympus E-P3
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens 36mm f/2.8 Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date May 2012 June 2011
    Launch Price USD 1,995 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Leica X2 Olympus E-P3
    Sensor Technology CMOS 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 16.1 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3264 pixels 4032 x 3024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.79 μm 4.29 μm
    Pixel Density 4.35 MP/cm2 5.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,500 ISO 200 - 12,800 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 51
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 20.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 536
    Screen Specs Leica X2 Olympus E-P3
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Magnification
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.7inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 614k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Leica X2 Olympus E-P3
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Image Stabilizationno shake reductionIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Leica X2 Olympus E-P3
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica X2 Olympus E-P3
    Battery Type BP-DC8 BLS-5
    Battery Life (CIPA)450 shots per charge330 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 124 x 69 x 52 mm
    (4.9 x 2.7 x 2.0 in)
    122 x 69 x 34 mm
    (4.8 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 345 g (12.2 oz) 369 g (13.0 oz)

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