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Leica X2 vs Panasonic GF3

The Leica X2 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in May 2012 and June 2011. The X2 is a fixed lens compact, while the GF3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (X2) and a Four Thirds (GF3) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12 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 Panasonic GF3
Leica X2 Panasonic GF3
Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
36mm f/2.8 Micro Four Thirds lenses
16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 12 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 100-12,500 ISO 160-6,400
Viewfinder optional No viewfinder, LCD framing
2.7 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed touchscreen
5 shutter flaps per second 3.2 shutter flaps per second
450 shots per battery charge300 shots per battery charge
124 x 69 x 52 mm, 345 g 108 x 67 x 32 mm, 264 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica X2 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3? 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 X2 and the Panasonic GF3 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The X2 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the GF3 is available in five color-versions (black, brown, pink, red, white).

Size Leica X2 vs Panasonic GF3
Compare X2 versus GF3 top
Comparison X2 or GF3 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GF3 is notably smaller (15 percent) than the Leica X2. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X2 nor the GF3 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 GF3 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 GF3 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 GF3 can take 300 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLE9 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras 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 X2 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 n May 2012 1,995i
2.
 
Panasonic GF3 108 mm 67 mm 32 mm 264 g 300 n Jun 2011 549i
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.
 
Panasonic GF5 108 mm 67 mm 37 mm 267 g 360 n Apr 2012 499i
13.
 
Panasonic G3 115 mm 84 mm 47 mm 336 g 270 n May 2011 599i
14.
 
Panasonic G10 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 388 g 380 n Mar 2010 499i
15.
 
Panasonic G2 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 428 g 360 n Mar 2010 599i
16.
 
Panasonic GF2 113 mm 68 mm 33 mm 310 g 300 n Nov 2010 549i
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 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. 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 imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 X2 features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic GF3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GF3 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 GF3 offers a 4:3 aspect.

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

Leica X2 and Panasonic GF3 sensor measures

With 16.1MP, the X2 offers a higher resolution than the GF3 (12MP), but the X2 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.79μm versus 4.33μm for the GF3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the X2 is a somewhat more recent model (by 10 months) than the GF3, 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 Panasonic GF3 are 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 are ISO 160 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

X2 versus GF3 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"). 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.
 
Panasonic GF3 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i20.610.045849
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.
 
Panasonic GF5 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.411.661861
13.
 
Panasonic G3 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i21.010.666756
14.
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152
15.
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353
16.
 
Panasonic GF2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.210.350654
17.
 
Ricoh GR APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.597278

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The GF3 indeed provides for movie recording, while the X2 does not. The highest resolution format that the GF3 can use is 1080/60i.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The X2 and the GF3 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. That said, the X2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the EVF 2. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica X2, the Panasonic GF3, 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 X2optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
2.
 
Panasonic GF3none n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.2 Y n
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.
 
Panasonic GF5none n 3.0 920 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
13.
 
Panasonic G31440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
14.
 
Panasonic G10202 n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
15.
 
Panasonic G21440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
16.
 
Panasonic GF2optional n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
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 GF3 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 GF3 uses SDXC 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 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.
 
Panasonic GF3-stereomono--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.
 
Panasonic GF5-stereomono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Panasonic G3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic G10Ymono---mini2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic G2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic GF2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Ricoh GRYmonomono--micro2.0---

It is notable that the X2 has a hotshoe, while the GF3 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.

Both the X2 and the GF3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The GF3 was replaced by the Panasonic GF5, 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 Panasonic websites.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Leica X2 or the Panasonic GF3 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Leica X2:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (16.1 vs 12MP) with a 18% 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.
  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the GF3 requires a separate lens.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (450 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 10 months after the GF3).

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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3:

  • 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 (460k 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.
  • More compact: Is smaller (108x67mm vs 124x69mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2011).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the X2 is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 8 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 12:08 GF3

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica X2 and the Panasonic GF3 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the X2 and the GF3 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 where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.
 
Panasonic GF33/582/10071/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 549i
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.
 
Panasonic GF53/5....4.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 499i
13.
 
Panasonic G33/5+ +75/1004.5/55/5 May 2011 599i
14.
 
Panasonic G103/5..70/1004/54/5 Mar 2010 499i
15.
 
Panasonic G2....72/1004/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599i
16.
 
Panasonic GF23/582/10070/1004.5/54.5/5 Nov 2010 549i
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 assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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 X2:
Check Ebay offers
Panasonic GF3:
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 X2 vs Panasonic GF3

    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 Panasonic GF3
    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 549
    Sensor Specs Leica X2 Panasonic GF3
    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 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3264 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.79 μm 4.33 μm
    Pixel Density 4.35 MP/cm2 5.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,500 ISO 160 - 6,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 49
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 20.6
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 458
    Screen Specs Leica X2 Panasonic GF3
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional no viewfinder
    Viewfinder Magnification
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.7inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Leica X2 Panasonic GF3
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 3.2 shutter flaps/s
    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 no
    Connectivity Specs Leica X2 Panasonic GF3
    External Flash Hotshoe no 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 Panasonic GF3
    Battery Type BP-DC8 DMW-BLE9
    Battery Life (CIPA)450 shots per charge300 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 124 x 69 x 52 mm
    (4.9 x 2.7 x 2.0 in)
    108 x 67 x 32 mm
    (4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 345 g (12.2 oz) 264 g (9.3 oz)

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