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Nikon D1 vs Panasonic GF1

The Nikon D1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 1999 and September 2009. The D1 is a DSLR, while the GF1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D1) and a Four Thirds (GF1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 2.6 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
Nikon D1 versus Panasonic GF1
Nikon D1 Panasonic GF1
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Nikon F mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
2.6 MP, APS-C Sensor 12 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video 720/30p Video
ISO 200-1,600 (200 - 6,400) ISO 100-3,200
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.0 LCD, 120k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1.5 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
157 x 153 x 85 mm, 1100 g 119 x 71 x 36 mm, 385 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1? 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 Nikon D1 and the Panasonic GF1 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.

Size Nikon D1 vs Panasonic GF1
Compare D1 versus GF1 top
Comparison D1 or GF1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GF1 is considerably smaller (65 percent) than the Nikon D1. Moreover, the GF1 is substantially lighter (65 percent) than the D1. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D1 is splash and dust resistant, while the GF1 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D1) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GF1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the GF1, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.

As can be seen in the images above, the D1 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.

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.
 
Nikon D1 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g .. Y Jun 1999 5,499i
2.
 
Panasonic GF1 119 mm 71 mm 36 mm 385 g 380 n Sep 2009 749i
3.
 
Nikon D4 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1340 g 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999i
4.
 
Nikon D3S 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1240 g 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199i
5.
 
Nikon D300S 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 938 g 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799i
6.
 
Nikon D3 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1300 g 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999i
7.
 
Nikon D300 147 mm 114 mm 74 mm 925 g 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799i
8.
 
Nikon D2Xs 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699i
9.
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699i
10.
 
Nikon D2X 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999i
11.
 
Nikon D1H 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 4,499i
12.
 
Nikon D1X 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999i
13.
 
Panasonic GX1 116 mm 68 mm 39 mm 318 g 320 n Nov 2011 699i
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 GH1 124 mm 90 mm 45 mm 385 g 300 n Mar 2009 899i
17.
 
Panasonic G1 124 mm 84 mm 45 mm 360 g 410 n Sep 2008 599i
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. The GF1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 86 percent) than the D1, 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 Nikon D1 features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic GF1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GF1 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 D1 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GF1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Nikon D1 and Panasonic GF1 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the GF1 offers a higher resolution of 12 megapixels, compared with 2.6 MP of the D1. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.33μm versus 11.93μm for the D1). However, it should be noted that the GF1 is much more recent (by 10 years and 2 months) than the D1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

The resolution advantage of the Panasonic GF1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the GF1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D1 are 10 x 6.6 inches or 25.4 x 16.7 cm for good quality, 8 x 5.2 inches or 20.3 x 13.3 cm for very good quality, and 6.7 x 4.4 inches or 16.9 x 11.1 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 200-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).

D1 versus GF1 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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.
 
Nikon D1 APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........
2.
 
Panasonic GF1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.351354
3.
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589
4.
 
Nikon D3S Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
5.
 
Nikon D300S APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770
6.
 
Nikon D3 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2229081
7.
 
Nikon D300 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.112.067967
8.
 
Nikon D2Xs APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.210.948959
9.
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
10.
 
Nikon D2X APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.110.947659
11.
 
Nikon D1H APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........
12.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
13.
 
Panasonic GX1 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p20.810.670355
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 GH1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/24p21.611.677264
17.
 
Panasonic G1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000none21.110.346353

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The GF1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the GF1 can use is 720/30p.

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D1 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GF1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the GF1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the DMW-LVF1. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D1 and Panasonic GF1 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.
 
Nikon D1optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 1.5 n n
2.
 
Panasonic GF1optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
3.
 
Nikon D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
4.
 
Nikon D3Soptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
5.
 
Nikon D300Soptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
6.
 
Nikon D3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
7.
 
Nikon D300optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
8.
 
Nikon D2Xsoptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
9.
 
Nikon D200optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
10.
 
Nikon D2Xoptical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
11.
 
Nikon D1Hoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 5.0 n n
12.
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n
13.
 
Panasonic GX1optional n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.2 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 GH11440 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
Panasonic G11440 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

One feature that is present on the D1, but is missing on the GF1 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 D1 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the GF1 uses SDHC 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 Nikon D1 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 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.
 
Nikon D1Y-----FW---
2.
 
Panasonic GF1Ymonomono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Nikon D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---
4.
 
Nikon D3SYstereo---mini2.0---
5.
 
Nikon D300SYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
6.
 
Nikon D3Y----mini2.0---
7.
 
Nikon D300Y----mini2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D2XsY-----2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D200Y-----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D2XY-----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D1HY-----FW---
12.
 
Nikon D1XY-----FW---
13.
 
Panasonic GX1Ystereomono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic G10Ymono---mini2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic G2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic GH1Ystereo-Y-mini2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic G1Y----mini2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D1 (unlike the GF1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the D1 and the GF1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D1 was replaced by the Nikon D1X, while the GF1 was followed by the Panasonic DMC-GF2. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Panasonic websites.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon D1 better than the Panasonic GF1 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Nikon D1:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/16000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • 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.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 1999).

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Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 2.6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 109%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/30p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 120k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (119x71mm vs 157x153mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 715g or 65 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (86 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 10 years and 2 months of technical progress since the D1 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the GF1 is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 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.

D1 07:11 GF1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D1 and the Panasonic GF1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D1 or the GF1 perform in practice. 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 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.
 
Nikon D1....+ +.... Jun 1999 5,499i
2.
 
Panasonic GF1..85/10069/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 749i
3.
 
Nikon D4......4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999i
4.
 
Nikon D3S5/5..89/1004.5/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199i
5.
 
Nikon D300S5/5+ +82/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799i
6.
 
Nikon D3....+ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999i
7.
 
Nikon D300..+ ++ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799i
8.
 
Nikon D2Xs.......... Jun 2006 4,699i
9.
 
Nikon D200..+ ++ +o.. Nov 2005 1,699i
10.
 
Nikon D2X....+ +.... Sep 2004 4,999i
11.
 
Nikon D1H....+ +.... Feb 2001 4,499i
12.
 
Nikon D1X....+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999i
13.
 
Panasonic GX13/5+77/1004.5/54.5/5 Nov 2011 699i
14.
 
Panasonic G103/5..70/1004/54/5 Mar 2010 499i
15.
 
Panasonic G2....72/1004/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599i
16.
 
Panasonic GH1..+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 899i
17.
 
Panasonic G1..+ +70/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2008 599i
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. 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Nikon D1:
Check Ebay offers
Panasonic GF1:
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: Nikon D1 vs Panasonic GF1

    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 Nikon D1 Panasonic GF1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date June 1999 September 2009
    Launch Price USD 5,499 USD 749
    Sensor Specs Nikon D1 Panasonic GF1
    Sensor Technology CCD 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 2.6 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 2000 x 1312 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 11.93 μm 4.33 μm
    Pixel Density 0.71 MP/cm2 5.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    ISO Boost 200 - 6,400 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 54
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 21.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 513
    Screen Specs Nikon D1 Panasonic GF1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 96%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 120k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D1 Panasonic GF1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1.5 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D1 Panasonic GF1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector Firewire USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D1 Panasonic GF1
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type EN-4 DMW-BLB13
    Body Dimensions 157 x 153 x 85 mm
    (6.2 x 6.0 x 3.3 in)
    119 x 71 x 36 mm
    (4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4 in)
    Camera Weight 1100 g (38.8 oz) 385 g (13.6 oz)

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