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Nikon D5 vs D780

The Nikon D5 and the Nikon D780 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2016 and January 2020. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The D5 has a resolution of 20.7 megapixels, whereas the D780 provides 24.3 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D5 versus Nikon D780
Nikon D5 Nikon D780
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
20.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor 24.3 MP, Full Frame Sensor
4K/30p Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 100-102,400 (50 - 3,280,000) ISO 100-51,200 (50 - 204,800)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.2 LCD, 2359k dots 3.2 LCD, 2359k dots
Fixed touchscreen Tilting touchscreen
14 shutter flaps per second 12 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
3780 shots per battery charge2260 shots per battery charge
160 x 159 x 92 mm, 1415 g 144 x 116 x 76 mm, 840 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D5 and the Nikon D780? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D5 and the Nikon D780. 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 D5 vs Nikon D780
Compare D5 versus D780 top
Comparison D5 or D780 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D780 is considerably smaller (34 percent) than the Nikon D5. Moreover, the D780 is substantially lighter (41 percent) than the D5. 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 D5 gets 3780 shots out of its EN-EL18a battery, while the D780 can take 2260 images on a single charge of its EN-EL15b power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D5 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. The power pack in the D780 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 D5 160 mm 159 mm 92 mm 1415 g 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499i
2.
 
Nikon D780 144 mm 116 mm 76 mm 840 g 2260 Y Jan 2020 2,299 i
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999i
4.
 
Leica SL 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450i
5.
 
Nikon D6 160 mm 163 mm 92 mm 1270 g 3580 Y Feb 2020 6,499 i
6.
 
Nikon Z6 II 134 mm 101 mm 70 mm 705 g 410 Y Oct 2020 1,999 i
7.
 
Nikon D7500 136 mm 104 mm 73 mm 720 g 950 Y Apr 2017 1,299 i
8.
 
Nikon D500 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 860 g 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i
9.
 
Nikon D7200 136 mm 107 mm 76 mm 765 g 1110 Y Mar 2015 1,199i
10.
 
Nikon D4S 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1350 g 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499i
11.
 
Nikon D750 141 mm 113 mm 78 mm 750 g 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299i
12.
 
Nikon D610 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i
13.
 
Nikon D4 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1340 g 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999i
14.
 
Nikon D3X 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1260 g 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D780 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 65 percent) than the D5, 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.

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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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, the D780 uses a more advanced image processing engine (EXPEED 6) than the D5 (EXPEED 5), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Nikon D5 and Nikon D780 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the D780 offers a higher resolution of 24.3 megapixels, compared with 20.7 MP of the D5. This megapixels advantage translates into a 8 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the D780 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 6.44μm for the D5). However, it should be noted that the D780 is much more recent (by 4 years) than the D5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D780 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D780 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.1 inches or 76.8 x 51.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 40.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D5 are 27.9 x 18.6 inches or 71 x 47.1 cm for good quality, 22.4 x 14.8 inches or 56.8 x 37.7 cm for very good quality, and 18.6 x 12.4 inches or 47.3 x 31.4 cm for excellent quality prints.

The D780 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.

The Nikon D5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 102400, which can be extended to ISO 50-3280000. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D780 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.

D5 versus D780 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). 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 D5 Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388
2.
 
Nikon D780 Full Frame 24.3 6048 40244K/30p........
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
4.
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
5.
 
Nikon D6 Full Frame 20.7 5568 37124K/30p........
6.
 
Nikon Z6 II Full Frame 24.3 6048 40244K/60p........
7.
 
Nikon D7500 APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.314.0148386
8.
 
Nikon D500 APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483
9.
 
Nikon D7200 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.514.6133387
10.
 
Nikon D4S Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489
11.
 
Nikon D750 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693
12.
 
Nikon D610 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594
13.
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589
14.
 
Nikon D3X Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none24.713.7199288

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D5 and the D780 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 D5 has a higher magnification than the one of the D780 (0.72x vs 0.70x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D5, the Nikon D780, 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 D5optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0 n n
2.
 
Nikon D780optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 12.0 n n
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIoptical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0 n n
4.
 
Leica SL4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n
5.
 
Nikon D6optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0 n n
6.
 
Nikon Z6 II3690 Y 3.2 2100 tilting Y 1/8000s 14.0 n Y
7.
 
Nikon D7500optical Y 3.2 922 tilting Y 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
8.
 
Nikon D500optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
9.
 
Nikon D7200optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
10.
 
Nikon D4Soptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
11.
 
Nikon D750optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D610optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
13.
 
Nikon D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
14.
 
Nikon D3Xoptical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n

The Nikon D5 and the Nikon D780 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 D5 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or XQD cards, while the D780 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 D5 and Nikon D780 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 D5YstereomonoYYmini3.0---
2.
 
Nikon D780YstereomonoYYmini3.1Y-Y
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
4.
 
Leica SLYstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--
5.
 
Nikon D6YstereomonoYYmini3.1Y-Y
6.
 
Nikon Z6 IIYstereomonoYYmicro3.2Y-Y
7.
 
Nikon D7500YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y-Y
8.
 
Nikon D500YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYY
9.
 
Nikon D7200YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-
10.
 
Nikon D4SYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D750YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--
12.
 
Nikon D610YmonomonoYYmini2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D3XY----mini2.0---

It is notable that the D780 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D5 does not provide wifi capability.

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

The D780 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the D5 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D5 was succeeded by the Nikon D6. 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D5 or the Nikon D780 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Nikon D5:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.72x vs 0.70x).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 12 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 (3780 versus 2260) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2016).


Arguments in favor of the Nikon D780:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24.3 vs 20.7MP), which boosts linear resolution by 8%.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (EXPEED 6 vs EXPEED 5).
  • Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • More compact: Is smaller (144x116mm vs 160x159mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 575g or 41 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (65 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the D5 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D780 is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 5 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.

D5 05:11 D780

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D5 and the Nikon D780 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 D5 or the D780. 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 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 D5....89/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499i
2.
 
Nikon D7805/5..87/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2020 2,299 i
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II....89/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999i
4.
 
Leica SL4/5..84/1004.5/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450i
5.
 
Nikon D6......4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2020 6,499 i
6.
 
Nikon Z6 II4.5/5..89/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2020 1,999 i
7.
 
Nikon D75004.5/5+ +86/1005/54.5/5 Apr 2017 1,299 i
8.
 
Nikon D5005/5+ +91/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i
9.
 
Nikon D72004/5+ +84/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2015 1,199i
10.
 
Nikon D4S5/5....4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499i
11.
 
Nikon D7505/5+ +90/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299i
12.
 
Nikon D6104/5+ +87/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i
13.
 
Nikon D4......4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999i
14.
 
Nikon D3X....86/1004/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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 D5:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D780:
Check Amazon price

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Nikon D5 vs Nikon D780

    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 D5 Nikon D780
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date January 2016 January 2020
    Launch Price USD 6,499 USD 2,299
    Sensor Specs Nikon D5 Nikon D780
    Sensor Technology CMOS BSI-CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 35.9 x 23.9 mm 35.9 x 23.9 mm
    Sensor Area 858.01 mm2 858.01 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.1 mm 43.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 20.7 Megapixels 24.3 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5588 x 3712 pixels 6048 x 4024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.44 μm 5.94 μm
    Pixel Density 2.42 MP/cm2 2.84 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 4K/30p Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 102,400 ISO 100 - 51,200 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 3,280,000 ISO 50 - 204,800 ISO
    Image Processor EXPEED 5 EXPEED 6
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 88 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 25.1 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.3 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 2343 ..
    Screen Specs Nikon D5 Nikon D780
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.72x 0.70x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.2inch 3.2inch
    LCD Resolution 2359k dots 2359k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Tilting screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D5 Nikon D780
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/8000s 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 14 shutter flaps/s 12 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy400 000 actuations200 000 actuations
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF or XQD cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D5 Nikon D780
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 3.0 USB 3.1
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket Headphone port Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Bluetooth Support no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Nikon D5 Nikon D780
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-EL18a EN-EL15b
    Battery Life (CIPA)3780 shots per charge2260 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 160 x 159 x 92 mm
    (6.3 x 6.3 x 3.6 in)
    144 x 116 x 76 mm
    (5.7 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 1415 g (49.9 oz) 840 g (29.6 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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