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Nikon D50 vs Olympus XZ-1

The Nikon D50 and the Olympus XZ-1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2005 and January 2011. The D50 is a DSLR, while the XZ-1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D50) and a 1/1.7-inch (XZ-1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 10.1 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D50 versus Olympus XZ-1
Nikon D50 Olympus XZ-1
Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
Nikon F mount lenses 28-112mm f/1.8-2.5
6 MP, APS-C Sensor 10.1 MP, 1/1.7" Sensor
no Video 720/30p Video
ISO 200-1,600 ISO 100-6,400
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.0 LCD, 130k dots 3.0 LCD, 614k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
2.5 shutter flaps per second 2 shutter flaps per second
Lens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
400 shots per battery charge320 shots per battery charge
133 x 102 x 76 mm, 620 g 111 x 65 x 42 mm, 275 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D50 and the Olympus XZ-1? 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 D50 and the Olympus XZ-1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The XZ-1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the D50 is only available in black.

Size Nikon D50 vs Olympus XZ-1
Compare D50 versus XZ-1 top
Comparison D50 or XZ-1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus XZ-1 is considerably smaller (47 percent) than the Nikon D50. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D50 nor the XZ-1 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the XZ-1 has a lens built in, whereas the D50 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 D50 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

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 D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749i
2.
 
Olympus XZ-1 111 mm 65 mm 42 mm 275 g 320 n Jan 2011 499i
3.
 
Nikon D5200 129 mm 98 mm 78 mm 555 g 500 n Nov 2012 749i
4.
 
Nikon D5100 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 n Apr 2011 749i
5.
 
Nikon D3000 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599i
6.
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749i
7.
 
Nikon D60 126 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 500 n Jan 2008 629i
8.
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729i
9.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499i
10.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
11.
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899i
12.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999i
13.
 
Olympus XZ-2 113 mm 65 mm 48 mm 346 g 340 n Sep 2012 599i
14.
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599i
15.
 
Olympus E-PM1 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 265 g 330 n Jun 2011 499i
16.
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599i
17.
 
Panasonic LX5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Jul 2010 499i
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 XZ-1 was launched at a lower price than the D50, despite having a lens built in. 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 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. 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D50 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus XZ-1 a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The sensor area in the XZ-1 is 88 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 4.4. The sensor in the D50 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the XZ-1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

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

Nikon D50 and Olympus XZ-1 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the XZ-1 offers a higher resolution of 10.1 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the D50. 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 2.13μm versus 7.85μm for the D50). However, it should be noted that the XZ-1 is much more recent (by 5 years and 8 months) than the D50, 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 Olympus XZ-1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the XZ-1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 18.3 x 13.8 inches or 46.5 x 35 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 14.7 x 11 inches or 37.2 x 28 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 12.2 x 9.2 inches or 31 x 23.3 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 D50 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus XZ-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

D50 versus XZ-1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the D50 provides substantially higher image quality than the XZ-1, with an overall score that is 21 points higher. This advantage is based on 2.1 bits higher color depth, 0.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.3 stops in additional 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 D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
2.
 
Olympus XZ-1 1/1.7 10.1 3664 2752720/30p18.810.411734
3.
 
Nikon D5200 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.213.9128484
4.
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380
5.
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362
6.
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
7.
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265
8.
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
9.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
10.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
11.
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
12.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
13.
 
Olympus XZ-2 1/1.7 11.8 3968 29761080/30p20.411.321649
14.
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
15.
 
Olympus E-PM1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952
16.
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
17.
 
Panasonic LX5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.610.813241

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The XZ-1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D50 does not. The highest resolution format that the XZ-1 can use is 720/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the D50 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the XZ-1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the XZ-1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D50 and Olympus XZ-1 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
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 D50optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
2.
 
Olympus XZ-1optional n 3.0 614 fixed n 1/2000s 2.0 Y Y
3.
 
Nikon D5200optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
4.
 
Nikon D5100optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
5.
 
Nikon D3000optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
6.
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
7.
 
Nikon D60optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
8.
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
9.
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
10.
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
11.
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Olympus XZ-2optional n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/2000s 5.0 Y Y
14.
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
15.
 
Olympus E-PM1optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
16.
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y Y
17.
 
Panasonic LX5optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y Y

The Olympus XZ-1 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 D50 writes its imaging data to SD cards, while the XZ-1 uses SDXC 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 D50 and Olympus XZ-1 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 D50Y-----2.0---
2.
 
Olympus XZ-1Ymono---mini2.0---
3.
 
Nikon D5200YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
4.
 
Nikon D5100YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Nikon D3000Y-----2.0---
6.
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Nikon D60Y-----2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D40XY-----2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D40Y-----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D70sY-----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D70Y-----1.0---
13.
 
Olympus XZ-2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo---mini2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-PM1Ystereomono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo---mini2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic LX5Ymonomono--mini2.0---

Both the D50 and the XZ-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D50 was replaced by the Nikon D40, while the XZ-1 was followed by the Olympus XZ-2. 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.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D50 or the Olympus XZ-1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D50:

  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (21 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2.1 bits more color depth).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (2.3 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.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (2.5 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 320) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in April 2005).

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Advantages of the Olympus XZ-1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (10.1 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 27%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/30p video.
  • 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 (614k vs 130k dots).
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D50 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (111x65mm vs 133x102mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the D50).
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 8 months of technical progress since the D50 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the XZ-1 emerges as the winner of the match-up (11 : 9 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 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.

D50 09:11 XZ-1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D50 and the Olympus XZ-1 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 comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D50 or the XZ-1 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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 D50..78/100+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749i
2.
 
Olympus XZ-14/5..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 499i
3.
 
Nikon D52004/5+ +79/1004.5/54.5/5 Nov 2012 749i
4.
 
Nikon D51005/5+ +76/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749i
5.
 
Nikon D3000..+72/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599i
6.
 
Nikon D5000..+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
7.
 
Nikon D60..80/100+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 629i
8.
 
Nikon D40X..79/100+ +4/54/5 Mar 2007 729i
9.
 
Nikon D40..81/100+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
10.
 
Nikon D80..++ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
11.
 
Nikon D70s........5/5 Apr 2005 899i
12.
 
Nikon D70....+ +.... Jan 2004 999i
13.
 
Olympus XZ-24/5+..4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599i
14.
 
Olympus E-PL33/5+ +72/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
15.
 
Olympus E-PM1..86/10071/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 499i
16.
 
Olympus E-PL1..86/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599i
17.
 
Panasonic LX54/5+73/1004.5/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Nikon D50:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus XZ-1:
Check Ebay offers

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 your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Nikon D50 vs Olympus XZ-1

    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 D50 Olympus XZ-1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses 28-112mm f/1.8-2.5
    Launch Date April 2005 January 2011
    Launch Price USD 749 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Nikon D50 Olympus XZ-1
    Sensor Technology CCD CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor 1/1.7" Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 7.85 x 5.89 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 46.2365 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 9.8 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 4.4x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 10.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 3664 x 2752 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 2.13 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 21.81 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 55 34
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.9 18.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 10.4
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 560 117
    Screen Specs Nikon D50 Olympus XZ-1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.50x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 130k dots 614k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D50 Olympus XZ-1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 2.5 shutter flaps/s 2 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Image StabilizationLens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SD cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D50 Olympus XZ-1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D50 Olympus XZ-1
    Battery Type EN-EL3 Li-50B
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge320 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 133 x 102 x 76 mm
    (5.2 x 4.0 x 3.0 in)
    111 x 65 x 42 mm
    (4.4 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
    Camera Weight 620 g (21.9 oz) 275 g (9.7 oz)

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