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Nikon D300 vs D50

The Nikon D300 and the Nikon D50 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2007 and April 2005. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The D300 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the D50 provides 6 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D300
versus
Nikon D50
Nikon D300   Nikon D50
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
12.2 MP – APS-C sensor 6 MP – APS-C sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 200-3,200 (100 - 6,400) ISO 200-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD – 922k dots 2.0" LCD – 130k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6 shutter flaps per second 2.5 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
1000 shots per battery charge400 shots per battery charge
147 x 114 x 74 mm, 925 g 133 x 102 x 76 mm, 620 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D300 and the Nikon D50? 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 D300 and the Nikon D50 is provided 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Nikon D300 vs Nikon D50
Compare D300 versus D50 top
Comparison D300 or D50 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D50 is notably smaller (19 percent) than the Nikon D300. Moreover, the D50 is markedly lighter (33 percent) than the D300. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D300 is splash and dust resistant, while the D50 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the D300 gets 1000 shots out of its EN-EL3e battery, while the D50 can take 400 images on a single charge of its EN-EL3 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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.
 
Nikon D300 147 mm 114 mm 74 mm 925 g 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799ebay.com
2.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749ebay.com
3.
 
Nikon D500 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 860 g 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 amazon.com
4.
 
Nikon D7000 132 mm 105 mm 77 mm 780 g 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499ebay.com
5.
 
Nikon D300S 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 938 g 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799ebay.com
6.
 
Nikon D60 126 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 500 n Jan 2008 629ebay.com
7.
 
Nikon D90 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299ebay.com
8.
 
Nikon D700 147 mm 123 mm 77 mm 1074 g 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999ebay.com
9.
 
Nikon D3 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1300 g 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999ebay.com
10.
 
Nikon D2Xs 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999ebay.com
13.
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899ebay.com
14.
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699ebay.com
15.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999ebay.com
16.
 
Olympus E-3 142 mm 116 mm 75 mm 876 g 750 Y Oct 2007 1,699ebay.com
Note: 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. The D50 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 58 percent) than the D300, 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.

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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D50 is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D300 and Nikon D50 sensor measures

With 12.2MP, the D300 offers a higher resolution than the D50 (6MP), but the D300 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.53μm versus 7.85μm for the D50). However, the D300 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 4 months) than the D50, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D300 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D300 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D50 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D300 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D50 are ISO 200 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

In terms of underlying technology, the D300 is build around a CMOS sensor, while the D50 uses a CCD imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

D300 versus D50 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 review, the D300 provides substantially higher image quality than the D50, with an overall score that is 12 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.2 bits higher color depth, 1.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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 D300 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.112.067967
2.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
3.
 
Nikon D500 APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483
4.
 
Nikon D7000 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/24p23.513.9116780
5.
 
Nikon D300S APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770
6.
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265
7.
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
8.
 
Nikon D700 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2230380
9.
 
Nikon D3 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2229081
10.
 
Nikon D2Xs APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.210.948959
11.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
12.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
13.
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
14.
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
15.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
16.
 
Olympus E-3 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.610.557156
The D300 offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The D50 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D300 and the D50 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 viewfinder in the D300 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D50 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D300 has a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.50x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D300 and Nikon D50 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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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 D300optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0/s Y n
2.
 
Nikon D50optical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
3.
 
Nikon D500optical Y3.2 / 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0/s n n
4.
 
Nikon D7000optical Y3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0/s Y n
5.
 
Nikon D300Soptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0/s Y n
6.
 
Nikon D60optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
7.
 
Nikon D90optical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5/s Y n
8.
 
Nikon D700optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0/s Y n
9.
 
Nikon D3optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0/s n n
10.
 
Nikon D2Xsoptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s n n
11.
 
Nikon D40optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
12.
 
Nikon D80optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
13.
 
Nikon D70soptical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
14.
 
Nikon D200optical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y n
15.
 
Nikon D70optical n1.8 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
16.
 
Olympus E-3optical Y2.5 / 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y Y
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One feature that is present on the D300, but is missing on the D50 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 Nikon D300 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.

The D300 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D50 uses 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 Nikon D300 and Nikon D50 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 D300Y- / ---mini2.0---
2.
 
Nikon D50Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Nikon D500Ystereo / monoYYmini3.0YYY
4.
 
Nikon D7000Ymono / monoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Nikon D300SYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
6.
 
Nikon D60Y- / ----2.0---
7.
 
Nikon D90Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D700Y- / ---mini2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D3Y- / ---mini2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D2XsY- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D40Y- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D80Y- / ----2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D70sY- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D200Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D70Y- / ----1.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-3Y- / ----2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D300 (unlike the D50) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the D300 and the D50 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D50 was replaced by the Nikon D40, while the D300 was followed by the Nikon D300S. Further information on the features and operation of the D300 and D50 can be found, respectively, in the Nikon D300 Manual (free pdf) or the online Nikon D50 Manual.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D300 and the Nikon D50? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Arguments in favor of the Nikon D300:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.2 vs 6MP) with a 43% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (12 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.2 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.2 EV of extra DR).
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.50x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • 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 (922k vs 130k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1000 versus 400) on a single battery charge.
  • 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 modern: Reflects 2 years and 4 months of technical progress since the D50 launch.


Advantages of the Nikon D50:

  • More compact: Is smaller (133x102mm vs 147x114mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 305g or 33 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (58 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in April 2005).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D300 is the clear winner of the match-up (16 : 4 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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.

D300 16:04 D50

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D300 and the Nikon D50 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 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 D300 or the D50 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

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], 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 D300..+ +..+ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799ebay.com
2.
 
Nikon D50..78/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749ebay.com
3.
 
Nikon D5005/5+ +4.7/591/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 amazon.com
4.
 
Nikon D70004/5....80/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499ebay.com
5.
 
Nikon D300S5/5+ +..82/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799ebay.com
6.
 
Nikon D60..80/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 629ebay.com
7.
 
Nikon D90..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299ebay.com
8.
 
Nikon D700..89/100..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999ebay.com
9.
 
Nikon D3......+ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999ebay.com
10.
 
Nikon D2Xs............ Jun 2006 4,699ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon D40..81/100..+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon D80..+..+ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999ebay.com
13.
 
Nikon D70s..........5/5 Apr 2005 899ebay.com
14.
 
Nikon D200..+ +..+ +o.. Nov 2005 1,699ebay.com
15.
 
Nikon D70......+ +.... Jan 2004 999ebay.com
16.
 
Olympus E-3..88/100..+ +o4/5 Oct 2007 1,699ebay.com
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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

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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 use the search menu 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 D300 vs Nikon D50

    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 D300 Nikon D50
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2007 April 2005
    Launch Price USD 1,799 USD 749
    Sensor Specs Nikon D300 Nikon D50
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.6 x 15.8 mm 23.7 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 372.88 mm2 369.72 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 6 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4288 x 2848 pixels 3008 x 2000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.53 μm 7.85 μm
    Pixel Density 3.28 MP/cm2 1.63 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 3,200 ISO 200 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 6,400 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 67 55
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 20.9
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.0 10.8
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 679 560
    Screen Specs Nikon D300 Nikon D50
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.63x 0.50x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.0inch
    LCD Resolution 922k dots 130k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D300 Nikon D50
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 6 shutter flaps/s 2.5 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy150 000 actuations50 000 actuations
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inno Intervalometer
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SD cards
    Single or Dual Card Slots Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D300 Nikon D50
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D300 Nikon D50
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type EN-EL3e EN-EL3
    Battery Life (CIPA)1000 shots per charge400 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 147 x 114 x 74 mm
    (5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in)
    133 x 102 x 76 mm
    (5.2 x 4.0 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 925 g (32.6 oz) 620 g (21.9 oz)
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