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Nikon D40 vs Sony RX100

The Nikon D40 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in November 2006 and June 2012. The D40 is a DSLR, while the RX100 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D40) and an one-inch (RX100) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 20 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D40 versus Sony RX100
Nikon D40 Sony RX100
Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
Nikon F mount lenses 28-100mm f/1.8-4.9
6 MP, APS-C Sensor 20 MP, 1" Sensor
no Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 200-1,600 (200 - 3,200) ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 25,600)
Optical viewfinder No viewfinder, LCD framing
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 1229k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
2.5 shutter flaps per second 10 shutter flaps per second
470 shots per battery charge330 shots per battery charge
124 x 94 x 64 mm, 522 g 102 x 58 x 36 mm, 240 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D40 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100? 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 D40 and the Sony RX100 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Nikon D40 vs Sony RX100
Compare D40 versus RX100 top
Comparison D40 or RX100 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX100 is considerably smaller (49 percent) than the Nikon D40. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D40 nor the RX100 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX100 has a lens built in, whereas the D40 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 D40 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the D40 gets 470 shots out of its EN-EL9 battery, while the RX100 can take 330 images on a single charge of its NP-BX1 power pack. The power pack in the RX100 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons 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 D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499i
2.
 
Sony RX100 102 mm 58 mm 36 mm 240 g 330 n Jun 2012 649i
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 206 g 235 n Jan 2017 529 i
4.
 
Canon G9 X 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 209 g 220 n Oct 2015 529i
5.
 
Nikon D3400 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 n Aug 2016 499i
6.
 
Nikon D3300 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 430 g 700 n Jan 2014 499i
7.
 
Nikon D3100 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 n Aug 2010 599i
8.
 
Nikon D3000 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599i
9.
 
Nikon D60 126 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 500 n Jan 2008 629i
10.
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729i
11.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
12.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749i
13.
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899i
14.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999i
15.
 
Sony RX100 III 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 290 g 320 n May 2014 799i
16.
 
Sony RX10 129 mm 88 mm 102 mm 813 g 420 Y Oct 2013 1,299i
17.
 
Sony RX100 II 102 mm 58 mm 38 mm 281 g 350 n Jun 2013 749i
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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D40 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony RX100 an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX100 is 69 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.7. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D40 and Sony RX100 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the RX100 offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the D40. 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 2.41μm versus 7.85μm for the D40). However, it should be noted that the RX100 is much more recent (by 5 years and 6 months) than the D40, 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 Sony RX100 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the RX100 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D40 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 D40 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 200-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.

D40 versus RX100 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 consideration, the RX100 has a markedly higher DXO score than the D40 (overall score 10 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 1.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 stops of reduced 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 D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
2.
 
Sony RX100 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.612.439066
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.912.552265
4.
 
Canon G9 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.512.349563
5.
 
Nikon D3400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
6.
 
Nikon D3300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582
7.
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967
8.
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362
9.
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265
10.
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
11.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
12.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
13.
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
14.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
15.
 
Sony RX100 III 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.412.349567
16.
 
Sony RX10 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.912.647469
17.
 
Sony RX100 II 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.512.448367

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The RX100 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D40 does not. The highest resolution format that the RX100 can use is 1080/60p.

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D40 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the RX100 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D40 and Sony RX100 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
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 D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
2.
 
Sony RX100none n 3.0 1229 fixed n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark IInone n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 8.2 Y Y
4.
 
Canon G9 Xnone n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 6.0 Y Y
5.
 
Nikon D3400optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
6.
 
Nikon D3300optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
7.
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
8.
 
Nikon D3000optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
9.
 
Nikon D60optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
11.
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D50optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
13.
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
15.
 
Sony RX100 III1440 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y
16.
 
Sony RX101440 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/3200s 10.0 Y Y
17.
 
Sony RX100 IIoptional n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y

The D40 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the RX100 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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 D40 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 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 D40Y-----2.0---
2.
 
Sony RX100-stereomono--micro2.0---
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
4.
 
Canon G9 X-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
5.
 
Nikon D3400Ymonomono--mini2.0--Y
6.
 
Nikon D3300YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D3000Y-----2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D60Y-----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D40XY-----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D50Y-----2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D70sY-----2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D70Y-----1.0---
15.
 
Sony RX100 III-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
16.
 
Sony RX10YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-
17.
 
Sony RX100 IIYstereomono--micro2.0YY-

It is notable that the D40 has a hotshoe, while the RX100 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.

Both the D40 and the RX100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D40 was replaced by the Nikon D40X, while the RX100 was followed by the Sony RX100 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Sony websites.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D40 or the Sony RX100 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D40:

  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (470 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in November 2006).

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Advantages of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 82%.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.4 EV of extra DR).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
  • 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 (1229k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D40 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 124x94mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the D40).
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 6 months of technical progress since the D40 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX100 is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 7 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 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.

D40 07:14 RX100

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D40 and the Sony RX100 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Travel-Zoom Camera listings 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D40 or the RX100 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 following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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 D40..81/100+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
2.
 
Sony RX1005/5+ +78/1004/55/5 Jun 2012 649i
3.
 
Canon G9 X Mark II4/5..75/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2017 529 i
4.
 
Canon G9 X3.5/5+ +..4.5/54.5/5 Oct 2015 529i
5.
 
Nikon D34004/5+76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499i
6.
 
Nikon D33003/5+77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499i
7.
 
Nikon D31005/5+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599i
8.
 
Nikon D3000..+72/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599i
9.
 
Nikon D60..80/100+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 629i
10.
 
Nikon D40X..79/100+ +4/54/5 Mar 2007 729i
11.
 
Nikon D80..++ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
12.
 
Nikon D50..78/100+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749i
13.
 
Nikon D70s........5/5 Apr 2005 899i
14.
 
Nikon D70....+ +.... Jan 2004 999i
15.
 
Sony RX100 III5/5+ +82/1004.5/55/5 May 2014 799i
16.
 
Sony RX105/5+80/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,299i
17.
 
Sony RX100 II5/5+ +79/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2013 749i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Nikon D40:
Check Ebay offers
Sony RX100:
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: Nikon D40 vs Sony RX100

    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 D40 Sony RX100
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses 28-100mm f/1.8-4.9
    Launch Date November 2006 June 2012
    Launch Price USD 499 USD 649
    Sensor Specs Nikon D40 Sony RX100
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor 1" Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 13.2 x 8.8 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 116.16 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 15.9 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.7x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 20 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 5472 x 3648 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 2.41 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 17.18 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost 200 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 56 66
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.0 22.6
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.0 12.4
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 561 390
    Screen Specs Nikon D40 Sony RX100
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder no viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 1229k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D40 Sony RX100
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/2000s
    Continuous Shooting 2.5 shutter flaps/s 10 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D40 Sony RX100
    External Flash Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D40 Sony RX100
    Battery Type EN-EL9 NP-BX1
    Battery Life (CIPA)470 shots per charge330 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 124 x 94 x 64 mm
    (4.9 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
    102 x 58 x 36 mm
    (4.0 x 2.3 x 1.4 in)
    Camera Weight 522 g (18.4 oz) 240 g (8.5 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

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