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Nikon D4S vs D600

The Nikon D4S and the Nikon D600 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2014 and September 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The D4S has a resolution of 16.2 megapixels, whereas the D600 provides 24.2 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D4S versus Nikon D600
Nikon D4S Nikon D600
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
16.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor 24.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/60p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-25,600 (50 - 409,600) ISO 100-6,400 (50 - 25,600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.2 LCD, 921k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
11 shutter flaps per second 5.5 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
3020 shots per battery charge900 shots per battery charge
160 x 157 x 91 mm, 1350 g 141 x 113 x 82 mm, 850 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D4S and the Nikon D600? 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 D4S and the Nikon D600 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 D4S vs Nikon D600
Compare D4S versus D600 top
Comparison D4S or D600 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D600 is considerably smaller (37 percent) than the Nikon D4S. Moreover, the D600 is substantially lighter (37 percent) than the D4S. 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. 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 D4S gets 3020 shots out of its EN-EL18a battery, while the D600 can take 900 images on a single charge of its EN-EL15 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D4S 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 D600, Nikon provides the MB-D14 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 D4S 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1350 g 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499i
2.
 
Nikon D600 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 Y Sep 2012 2,099i
3.
 
Canon 6D 145 mm 111 mm 71 mm 770 g 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099i
4.
 
Canon 1D X 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1551 g 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799i
5.
 
Nikon D6 160 mm 163 mm 92 mm 1270 g 3580 Y Feb 2020 6,499 i
6.
 
Nikon D5 160 mm 159 mm 92 mm 1415 g 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499i
7.
 
Nikon D750 141 mm 113 mm 78 mm 750 g 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299i
8.
 
Nikon D810 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 980 g 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299i
9.
 
Nikon Df 144 mm 110 mm 67 mm 760 g 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749i
10.
 
Nikon D610 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i
11.
 
Nikon D4 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1340 g 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999i
12.
 
Nikon D800 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 1000 g 900 Y Feb 2012 2,999i
13.
 
Nikon D3S 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1240 g 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199i
14.
 
Nikon D3X 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1260 g 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999i
15.
 
Nikon D3 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1300 g 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999i
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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D600 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 68 percent) than the D4S, 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 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

In terms of chip-set technology, the D4S uses a more advanced image processing engine (EXPEED 4) than the D600 (EXPEED 3), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Nikon D4S and Nikon D600 sensor measures

With 24.2MP, the D600 offers a higher resolution than the D4S (16.2MP), but the D600 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.97μm versus 7.29μm for the D4S). It is noteworthy in this context that the D4S is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 5 months) than the D600, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D600 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D600 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.1 x 20.1 inches or 76.4 x 51 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.1 x 16.1 inches or 61.1 x 40.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.1 x 13.4 inches or 50.9 x 34 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D4S are 24.6 x 16.4 inches or 62.6 x 41.7 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.3 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.8 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D4S has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-409600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D600 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.

D4S versus D600 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the D600 has a markedly higher DXO score than the D4S (overall score 5 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0 stops of reduced low light sensitivity. 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.
 
Nikon D4S Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489
2.
 
Nikon D600 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.2298094
3.
 
Canon 6D Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
4.
 
Canon 1D X Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
5.
 
Nikon D6 Full Frame 20.7 5568 37124K/30p........
6.
 
Nikon D5 Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388
7.
 
Nikon D750 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693
8.
 
Nikon D810 Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397
9.
 
Nikon Df Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280none24.613.1327989
10.
 
Nikon D610 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594
11.
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589
12.
 
Nikon D800 Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.314.4285395
13.
 
Nikon D3S Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
14.
 
Nikon D3X Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none24.713.7199288
15.
 
Nikon D3 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2229081

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the D4S provides a higher frame rate than the D600. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the D600 is limited to 1080/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D4S and the D600 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%), as well as the same magnification (0.70x). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D4S, the Nikon D600, 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.
 
Nikon D4Soptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
2.
 
Nikon D600optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 Y n
3.
 
Canon 6Doptical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 n n
4.
 
Canon 1D Xoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n
5.
 
Nikon D6optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0 n n
6.
 
Nikon D5optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0 n n
7.
 
Nikon D750optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
8.
 
Nikon D810optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
9.
 
Nikon Dfoptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n n
10.
 
Nikon D610optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
11.
 
Nikon D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
12.
 
Nikon D800optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 Y n
13.
 
Nikon D3Soptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
14.
 
Nikon D3Xoptical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
15.
 
Nikon D3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D600 has one, while the D4S does not. While the built-in flash of the D600 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The Nikon D4S and the Nikon D600 both have 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 D4S writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or XQD cards, while the D600 uses SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

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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 D4S and Nikon D600 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 D4SYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
2.
 
Nikon D600YmonomonoYYmini2.0---
3.
 
Canon 6DYmonomonoY-mini2.0Y--
4.
 
Canon 1D XYmono-Y-mini2.0---
5.
 
Nikon D6YstereomonoYYmini3.1Y-Y
6.
 
Nikon D5YstereomonoYYmini3.0---
7.
 
Nikon D750YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--
8.
 
Nikon D810YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--
9.
 
Nikon DfY----mini2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D610YmonomonoYYmini2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D800YmonomonoYYmini3.0---
13.
 
Nikon D3SYstereo---mini2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D3XY----mini2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D3Y----mini2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D4S (unlike the D600) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the D4S and the D600 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D600 was replaced by the Nikon D610, while the D4S was followed by the Nikon D5. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D4S better than the Nikon D600 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Arguments in favor of the Nikon D4S:

  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (EXPEED 4 vs EXPEED 3).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 5.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (3020 versus 900) on a single battery charge.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 5 months after the D600).


Reasons to prefer the Nikon D600:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24.2 vs 16.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 22%.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
  • More compact: Is smaller (141x113mm vs 160x157mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 500g or 37 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (68 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2012).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D4S comes out slightly ahead of the D600 (9 : 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.

D4S 09:08 D600

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D4S and the Nikon D600 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 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 D4S and the D600 in practical situations. 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 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], 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 D4S5/5....4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499i
2.
 
Nikon D6004/5+ +87/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099i
3.
 
Canon 6D5/5+ +83/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099i
4.
 
Canon 1D X5/5....4.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799i
5.
 
Nikon D6......4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2020 6,499 i
6.
 
Nikon D5....89/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499i
7.
 
Nikon D7505/5+ +90/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299i
8.
 
Nikon D8105/5..86/1005/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299i
9.
 
Nikon Df4/5..81/1004/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749i
10.
 
Nikon D6104/5+ +87/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i
11.
 
Nikon D4......4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999i
12.
 
Nikon D8005/5+ +82/1005/55/5 Feb 2012 2,999i
13.
 
Nikon D3S5/5..89/1004.5/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199i
14.
 
Nikon D3X....86/1004/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999i
15.
 
Nikon D3....+ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated 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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Nikon D4S:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D600:
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 D4S vs Nikon D600

    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 D4S Nikon D600
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2014 September 2012
    Launch Price USD 6,499 USD 2,099
    Sensor Specs Nikon D4S Nikon D600
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 23.9 mm 35.9 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 860.4 mm2 861.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.2 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 16.2 Megapixels 24.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3280 pixels 6016 x 4016 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.29 μm 5.97 μm
    Pixel Density 1.88 MP/cm2 2.80 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 25,600 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 409,600 ISO 50 - 25,600 ISO
    Image Processor EXPEED 4 EXPEED 3
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 89 94
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 24.4 25.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 13.3 14.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 3074 2980
    Screen Specs Nikon D4S Nikon D600
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.70x 0.70x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.2inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 921k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D4S Nikon D600
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 11 shutter flaps/s 5.5 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy400 000 actuations150 000 actuations
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF or XQD cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D4S Nikon D600
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket Headphone port Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D4S Nikon D600
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-EL18a EN-EL15
    Battery Life (CIPA)3020 shots per charge900 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 160 x 157 x 91 mm
    (6.3 x 6.2 x 3.6 in)
    141 x 113 x 82 mm
    (5.6 x 4.4 x 3.2 in)
    Camera Weight 1350 g (47.6 oz) 850 g (30.0 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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