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Nikon D50 vs Panasonic GF2

The Nikon D50 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2005 and November 2010. The D50 is a DSLR, while the GF2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D50) and a Four Thirds (GF2) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12 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
Panasonic GF2
Nikon D50   Panasonic GF2
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Nikon F mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
6 MP – APS-C sensor 12 MP – Four Thirds sensor
no Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 200-1,600 ISO 100-6,400
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.0" LCD – 130k dots 3.0" LCD – 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed touchscreen
2.5 shutter flaps per second 2.6 shutter flaps per second
400 shots per battery charge300 shots per battery charge
133 x 102 x 76 mm, 620 g 113 x 68 x 33 mm, 310 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D50 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2? 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 D50 and the Panasonic GF2 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The GF2 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the D50 is only available in black.

Size Nikon D50 vs Panasonic GF2
Compare D50 versus GF2 top
Comparison D50 or GF2 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GF2 is considerably smaller (43 percent) than the Nikon D50. Moreover, the GF2 is substantially lighter (50 percent) than the D50. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D50 nor the GF2 are weather-sealed.

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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D50) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GF2). Mirrorless cameras, such as the GF2, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.

Concerning battery life, the D50 gets 400 shots out of its EN-EL3 battery, while the GF2 can take 300 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLD10 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras 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 749ebay.com
2.
 
Panasonic GF2 113 mm 68 mm 33 mm 310 g 300 n Nov 2010 549ebay.com
3.
 
Nikon D5200 129 mm 98 mm 78 mm 555 g 500 n Nov 2012 749ebay.com
4.
 
Nikon D5100 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 n Apr 2011 749ebay.com
5.
 
Nikon D3000 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599ebay.com
6.
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749ebay.com
7.
 
Nikon D60 126 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 500 n Jan 2008 629ebay.com
8.
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729ebay.com
9.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499ebay.com
10.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999ebay.com
13.
 
Panasonic G3 115 mm 84 mm 47 mm 336 g 270 n May 2011 599ebay.com
14.
 
Panasonic GF3 108 mm 67 mm 32 mm 264 g 300 n Jun 2011 549ebay.com
15.
 
Panasonic G10 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 388 g 380 n Mar 2010 499ebay.com
16.
 
Panasonic G2 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 428 g 360 n Mar 2010 599ebay.com
17.
 
Panasonic GF1 119 mm 71 mm 36 mm 385 g 380 n Sep 2009 749ebay.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 obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The GF2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 27 percent) than the D50, 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 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 Panasonic GF2 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GF2 is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the D50 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GF2 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Nikon D50 and Panasonic GF2 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the GF2 offers a higher resolution of 12 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 4.33μm versus 7.85μm for the D50). However, it should be noted that the GF2 is much more recent (by 5 years and 6 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 Panasonic GF2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the GF2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

In terms of underlying technology, the D50 is build around a CCD sensor, while the GF2 uses a CMOS 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.

D50 versus GF2 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. 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.
 
Panasonic GF2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.210.350654
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.
 
Panasonic G3 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i21.010.666756
14.
 
Panasonic GF3 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i20.610.145950
15.
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152
16.
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353
17.
 
Panasonic GF1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.351354

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The GF2 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D50 does not. The highest resolution format that the GF2 can use is 1080/60i.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D50 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GF2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the GF2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the DMW-LVF1. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D50, the Panasonic GF2, and comparable cameras.

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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 D50optical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
2.
 
Panasonic GF2optional n3.0 / 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 2.6/s Y n
3.
 
Nikon D5200optical n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
4.
 
Nikon D5100optical n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
5.
 
Nikon D3000optical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
6.
 
Nikon D5000optical n2.7 / 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
7.
 
Nikon D60optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
8.
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
9.
 
Nikon D40optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
10.
 
Nikon D80optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
11.
 
Nikon D70soptical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
12.
 
Nikon D70optical n1.8 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
13.
 
Panasonic G31440 n3.0 / 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
14.
 
Panasonic GF3none n3.0 / 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.2/s Y n
15.
 
Panasonic G10202 n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6/s Y n
16.
 
Panasonic G21440 n3.0 / 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6/s Y n
17.
 
Panasonic GF1optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The GF2 has a touchscreen, while the D50 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The D50 writes its imaging data to SD cards, while the GF2 uses SDXC 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 D50 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 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 D50Y- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Panasonic GF2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Nikon D5200Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0---
4.
 
Nikon D5100Ymono / monoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Nikon D3000Y- / ----2.0---
6.
 
Nikon D5000Ymono / mono--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.
 
Panasonic G3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic GF3-stereo / mono--mini2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic G10Ymono / ---mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic G2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic GF1Ymono / mono--mini2.0---

Both the D50 and the GF2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D50 was replaced by the Nikon D40, while the GF2 was followed by the Panasonic GF3. Further information on the features and operation of the D50 and GF2 can be found, respectively, in the Nikon D50 Manual (free pdf) or the online Panasonic GF2 Manual.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D50 or the Panasonic GF2 – 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.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D50:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 300) 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 38%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i 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 (460k vs 130k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • More compact: Is smaller (113x68mm vs 133x102mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 310g or 50 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (27 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 6 months of technical progress since the D50 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GF2 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 3 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.

D50 03:10 GF2

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D50 and the Panasonic GF2 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D50 and the GF2 in practical situations. 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 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 D50..78/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749ebay.com
2.
 
Panasonic GF23/582/100..70/1004.5/54.5/5 Nov 2010 549ebay.com
3.
 
Nikon D52004/5+ +..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Nov 2012 749ebay.com
4.
 
Nikon D51005/5+ +..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749ebay.com
5.
 
Nikon D3000..+..72/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599ebay.com
6.
 
Nikon D5000..+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749ebay.com
7.
 
Nikon D60..80/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 629ebay.com
8.
 
Nikon D40X..79/100..+ +4/54/5 Mar 2007 729ebay.com
9.
 
Nikon D40..81/100..+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499ebay.com
10.
 
Nikon D80..+..+ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon D70s..........5/5 Apr 2005 899ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon D70......+ +.... Jan 2004 999ebay.com
13.
 
Panasonic G33/5+ +..75/1004.5/55/5 May 2011 599ebay.com
14.
 
Panasonic GF33/582/100..71/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 549ebay.com
15.
 
Panasonic G103/5....70/1004/54/5 Mar 2010 499ebay.com
16.
 
Panasonic G2......72/1004/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599ebay.com
17.
 
Panasonic GF1..85/100..69/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 749ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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 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 D50 vs Panasonic GF2

    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 Panasonic GF2
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date April 2005 November 2010
    Launch Price USD 749 USD 549
    Sensor Specs Nikon D50 Panasonic GF2
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 4.33 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 5.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 55 54
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.9 21.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 10.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 560 506
    Screen Specs Nikon D50 Panasonic GF2
    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 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D50 Panasonic GF2
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 2.5 shutter flaps/s 2.6 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SD cards SDXC cards
    Single or Dual Card Slots Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D50 Panasonic GF2
    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 Panasonic GF2
    Battery Type EN-EL3 DMW-BLD10
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge300 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 133 x 102 x 76 mm
    (5.2 x 4.0 x 3.0 in)
    113 x 68 x 33 mm
    (4.4 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 620 g (21.9 oz) 310 g (10.9 oz)
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