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Nikon D2Xs vs Olympus E-5

The Nikon D2Xs and the Olympus E-5 are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2006 and September 2010. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D2Xs) and a Four Thirds (E-5) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12.2 megapixels.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D2Xs
versus
Olympus E-5
Nikon D2Xs   Olympus E-5
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
12.2 MP – APS-C sensor 12.2 MP – Four Thirds sensor
no Video 720/30p Video
ISO 100-800 (800 - 3,200) ISO 100-6,400
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5" LCD – 230k dots 2.5" LCD – 920k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
Lens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
3800 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
158 x 150 x 86 mm, 1252 g 142 x 117 x 75 mm, 873 g
Nikon D2Xs:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-5:
Check Ebay offers

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D2Xs and the Olympus E-5? 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 Nikon D2Xs and the Olympus E-5 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Nikon D2Xs vs Olympus E-5
Compare D2Xs versus E-5 top
Comparison D2Xs or E-5 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-5 is considerably smaller (30 percent) than the Nikon D2Xs. Moreover, the E-5 is markedly lighter (30 percent) than the D2Xs. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

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 (D2Xs) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-5).

Concerning battery life, the D2Xs gets 3800 shots out of its EN-EL4a battery, while the E-5 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-5 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D2Xs has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the E-5, Olympus provides the HLD-4 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).

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 D2Xs 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699i
2.
 
Olympus E-5 142 mm 117 mm 75 mm 873 g 750 Y Sep 2010 1,699i
3.
 
Canon 1D Mark III 156 mm 157 mm 80 mm 1155 g 2200 Y Feb 2007 4,499i
4.
 
Nikon D300S 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 938 g 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799i
5.
 
Nikon D3 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1300 g 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999i
6.
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729i
7.
 
Nikon D300 147 mm 114 mm 74 mm 925 g 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799i
8.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
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 D1 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g .. Y Jun 1999 5,499i
13.
 
Olympus E-30 142 mm 108 mm 75 mm 701 g 750 n Nov 2008 1,299i
14.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699i
15.
 
Olympus E-3 142 mm 116 mm 75 mm 876 g 750 Y Oct 2007 1,699i
16.
 
Olympus E-510 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 n Mar 2007 799i
17.
 
Olympus E-1 141 mm 104 mm 81 mm 738 g 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699i
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or 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. The E-5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 64 percent) than the D2Xs, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 Nikon D2Xs features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-5 is 40 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 D2Xs has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-5 offers a 4:3 aspect.

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

Nikon D2Xs and Olympus E-5 sensor measures

Even though the D2Xs has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 12.2 megapixels. This implies that the D2Xs has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 5.52μm versus 4.29μm for the E-5), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. It should, however, be noted that the E-5 is much more recent (by 4 years and 3 months) than the D2Xs, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

The Nikon D2Xs has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 800, which can be extended to ISO 800-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-5 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

D2Xs versus E-5 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. 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
1.
 
Nikon D2Xs APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.210.948959
2.
 
Olympus E-5 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.610.551956
3.
 
Canon 1D Mark III APS-H 10.1 3888 2592none22.711.7107871
4.
 
Nikon D300S APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770
5.
 
Nikon D3 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2229081
6.
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
7.
 
Nikon D300 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.112.067967
8.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
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 D1 APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........
13.
 
Olympus E-30 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.453055
14.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
15.
 
Olympus E-3 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.610.557156
16.
 
Olympus E-510 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.210.044252
17.
 
Olympus E-1 Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920none20.09.7-14544
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-5 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D2Xs does not. The highest resolution format that the E-5 can use is 720/30p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D2Xs and the E-5 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the E-5 has a higher magnification than the one of the D2Xs (0.58x vs 0.57x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D2Xs and Olympus E-5 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
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Nikon D2Xsoptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s n n
2.
 
Olympus E-5optical Y3.0 / 920 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y Y
3.
 
Canon 1D Mark IIIoptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0/s n n
4.
 
Nikon D300Soptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0/s Y n
5.
 
Nikon D3optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0/s n n
6.
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
7.
 
Nikon D300optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0/s Y n
8.
 
Nikon D80optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
9.
 
Nikon D200optical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y n
10.
 
Nikon D2Xoptical Y2.5 / 235 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s n n
11.
 
Nikon D1Hoptical Y2.0 / 120 fixed n 1/16000s 5.0/s n n
12.
 
Nikon D1optical Y2.0 / 120 fixed n 1/16000s 1.5/s n n
13.
 
Olympus E-30optical Y2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y Y
14.
 
Olympus E-520optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-3optical Y2.5 / 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y Y
16.
 
Olympus E-510optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y Y
17.
 
Olympus E-1optical Y1.8 / 134 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s n n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One feature that differentiates the E-5 and the D2Xs is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-5 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the D2Xs offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.

The E-5 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the D2Xs does not have a selfie-screen.

The D2Xs writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-5 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-5 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D2Xs only has one slot.

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 D2Xs and Olympus E-5 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Nikon D2XsY- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-5Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon 1D Mark IIIY- / ----2.0---
4.
 
Nikon D300SYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Nikon D3Y- / ---mini2.0---
6.
 
Nikon D40XY- / ----2.0---
7.
 
Nikon D300Y- / ---mini2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D80Y- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D200Y- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D2XY- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D1HY- / ----FW---
12.
 
Nikon D1Y- / ----FW---
13.
 
Olympus E-30Y- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-520Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-3Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-510Y- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Olympus E-1Y- / ----2.0---

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the D2Xs and the E-5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D2Xs was replaced by the Nikon D3X, while the E-5 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 Nikon and Olympus websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D2Xs and the Olympus E-5? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Nikon D2Xs:

  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (3800 versus 750) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2006).

ilogo

Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-5:

  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/30p video.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.58x vs 0.57x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • More compact: Is smaller (142x117mm vs 158x150mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 379g or 30 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (64 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 3 months of technical progress since the D2Xs launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-5 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 3 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

D2Xs 03:13 E-5

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D2Xs and the Olympus E-5 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing 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 D2Xs or the E-5. 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 table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D2Xs............ Jun 2006 4,699i
2.
 
Olympus E-54/5....75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,699i
3.
 
Canon 1D Mark III............ Feb 2007 4,499i
4.
 
Nikon D300S5/5+ +..82/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799i
5.
 
Nikon D3......+ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999i
6.
 
Nikon D40X..79/100..+ +4/54/5 Mar 2007 729i
7.
 
Nikon D300..+ +..+ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799i
8.
 
Nikon D80..+..+ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
9.
 
Nikon D200..+ +..+ +o.. Nov 2005 1,699i
10.
 
Nikon D2X......+ +.... Sep 2004 4,999i
11.
 
Nikon D1H......+ +.... Feb 2001 4,499i
12.
 
Nikon D1......+ +.... Jun 1999 5,499i
13.
 
Olympus E-30......71/1004.5/54/5 Nov 2008 1,299i
14.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100..+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699i
15.
 
Olympus E-3..88/100..+ +o4/5 Oct 2007 1,699i
16.
 
Olympus E-510..89/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Mar 2007 799i
17.
 
Olympus E-1......+o.. Jun 2003 1,699i
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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Nikon D2Xs:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-5:
Check Ebay offers

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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Nikon D2Xs vs Olympus E-5

    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 D2Xs Olympus E-5
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date June 2006 September 2010
    Launch Price USD 4,699 USD 1,699
    Sensor Specs Nikon D2Xs Olympus E-5
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.7 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 372.09 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4288 x 2848 pixels 4032 x 3024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.52 μm 4.29 μm
    Pixel Density 3.28 MP/cm2 5.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 800 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost 800 - 3,200 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 59 56
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.2 21.6
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.9 10.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 489 519
    Screen Specs Nikon D2Xs Olympus E-5
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.57x 0.58x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D2Xs Olympus E-5
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy150 000 actuations150 000 actuations
    Image StabilizationLens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D2Xs Olympus E-5
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D2Xs Olympus E-5
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-EL4a BLM-5
    Battery Life (CIPA)3800 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 158 x 150 x 86 mm
    (6.2 x 5.9 x 3.4 in)
    142 x 117 x 75 mm
    (5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 1252 g (44.2 oz) 873 g (30.8 oz)
    Nikon D2Xs:
    Check Ebay offers
    Olympus E-5:
    Check Ebay offers

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