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Nikon D50 vs Sony RX1

The Nikon D50 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2005 and September 2012. The D50 is a DSLR, while the RX1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D50) and a full frame (RX1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D50   VS Sony RX1
Nikon D50 Sony RX1
Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
Nikon F mount lenses 35mm f/2.0
6 MP, APS-C Sensor 24 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 200-1600 ISO 100-25600 (50-102400)
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.0" LCD, 130k dots 3.0" LCD, 1229k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
2.5 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
400 shots per battery charge270 shots per battery charge
133 x 102 x 76 mm, 620 g 113 x 65 x 70 mm, 482 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D50 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1? 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 D50 and the Sony RX1. 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 D50 vs Sony RX1
Compare D50 versus RX1 top
Comparison D50 or RX1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX1 is considerably smaller (46 percent) than the Nikon D50. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D50 nor the RX1 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX1 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.

Concerning battery life, the D50 gets 400 shots out of its EN-EL3 battery, while the RX1 can take 270 images on a single charge of its NP-BX1 power pack. The power pack in the RX1 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 would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D50» 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.0 in 21.9 oz 400 n Apr 2005 749iNikon D50
 
Sony RX1« 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Sep 2012 2,799iSony RX1
 
Nikon D5300« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 16.9 oz 600 n Oct 2013 799iNikon D5300
 
Nikon D5200« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 500 n Nov 2012 749iNikon D5200
 
Nikon D5100« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.8 oz 660 n Apr 2011 749iNikon D5100
 
Nikon D3000« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 18.9 oz 500 n Jul 2009 599iNikon D3000
 
Nikon D5000« » 5.0 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 20.8 oz 510 n Apr 2009 749iNikon D5000
 
Nikon D60« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 500 n Jan 2008 629iNikon D60
 
Nikon D40X« » 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 520 n Mar 2007 729iNikon D40X
 
Nikon D40« » 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 470 n Nov 2006 499iNikon D40
 
Nikon D80« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 999iNikon D80
 
Nikon D70s« » 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 500 n Apr 2005 899iNikon D70s
 
Nikon D70« » 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 400 n Jan 2004 999iNikon D70
 
Sony RX1R II« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.9 oz 220 n Oct 2015 3,299 iSony RX1R II
 
Sony A3000« » 5.0 in 3.6 in 3.3 in 14.5 oz 470 n Aug 2013 329iSony A3000
 
Sony RX1R« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Jun 2013 2,799iSony RX1R
 
Sony NEX-7« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 14.1 oz 430 n Aug 2011 1,349iSony NEX-7
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. 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.

 

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. 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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D50 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony RX1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the RX1 is 130 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D50 and Sony RX1 sensor measures

With 24MP, the RX1 offers a higher resolution than the D50 (6MP), but the RX1 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.96μm versus 7.85μm for the D50). Yet, the RX1 is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 4 months) than the D50, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The resolution advantage of the Sony RX1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the RX1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inch or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inch or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inch or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D50 are 15 x 10 inch or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inch or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inch 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-102400.

D50 versus RX1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 RX1 offers substantially better image quality than the D50 (overall score 38 points higher). The advantage is based on 4.2 bits higher color depth, 3.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.2 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055Nikon D50
 
Sony RX1 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.114.3253493Sony RX1
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883Nikon D5300
 
Nikon D5200 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.213.9128484Nikon D5200
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380Nikon D5100
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362Nikon D3000
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265Nikon D60
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663Nikon D40X
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156Nikon D40
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461Nikon D80
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950Nikon D70
 
Sony RX1R II Full Frame 42.2 7952 53041080/60p25.813.9320497Sony RX1R II
 
Sony A3000 APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.8106878Sony A3000
 
Sony RX1R Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791Sony RX1R
 
Sony NEX-7 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.4101681Sony NEX-7

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The RX1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D50 does not. The highest resolution format that the RX1 can use is 1080/60p.

 

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 RX1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the RX1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-EV1MK. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D50, the Sony RX1, and comparable cameras.

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
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D50optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Nikon D50
 
Sony RX1optional n 3.0 1229 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Sony RX1
 
Nikon D5300optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Nikon D5300
 
Nikon D5200optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Nikon D5200
 
Nikon D5100optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Nikon D5100
 
Nikon D3000optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D3000
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D60optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D60
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D40X
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Nikon D40
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D80
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D70
 
Sony RX1R II2360 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/4000s 5.0 n n Sony RX1R II
 
Sony A3000202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Sony A3000
 
Sony RX1Roptional n 3.0 1229 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Sony RX1R
 
Sony NEX-72359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/4000s 10.0 Y n Sony NEX-7

The D50 writes its imaging data to SD cards, while the RX1 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D50Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D50
 
Sony RX1YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Sony RX1
 
Nikon D5300YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Nikon D5300
 
Nikon D5200YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D5200
 
Nikon D5100YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D5100
 
Nikon D3000Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D3000
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D60Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D60
 
Nikon D40XYnonenone--none2.0---Nikon D40X
 
Nikon D40Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D40
 
Nikon D80Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D80
 
Nikon D70sYnonenone--none2.0---Nikon D70s
 
Nikon D70Ynonenone--none1.0---Nikon D70
 
Sony RX1R IIYstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Sony RX1R II
 
Sony A3000Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony A3000
 
Sony RX1RYstereomonoY-mini2.0---Sony RX1R
 
Sony NEX-7YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Sony NEX-7

Both the D50 and the RX1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D50 was replaced by the Nikon D40, while the RX1 was followed by the Sony RX1R. 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.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D50 better than the Sony RX1 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D50:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 270) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in April 2005).

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 100%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (38 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (4.2 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3.5 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.2 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p 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 (1229k vs 130k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D50 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (113x65mm 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).
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • More modern: Reflects 7 years and 4 months of technical progress since the D50 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX1 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 4 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 04:13 RX1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D50 and the Sony RX1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D50 and the RX1 in practical situations. 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 why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cam
era
  labs  
dp
re
  view  
e
photo
  zine  
ima
ging
resource
photo
graphy
  blog  
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D5078/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Apr 2005 749iNikon D50
 
Sony RX1..79/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799iSony RX1
 
Nikon D5300+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799iNikon D5300
 
Nikon D5200+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2012 749iNikon D5200
 
Nikon D5100+ +76/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749iNikon D5100
 
Nikon D3000+72/1004/53.5/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599iNikon D3000
 
Nikon D5000+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749iNikon D5000
 
Nikon D6080/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Jan 2008 629iNikon D60
 
Nikon D40X79/100+ +4/5o4/5 Mar 2007 729iNikon D40X
 
Nikon D4081/100+ +o5/54.5/5 Nov 2006 499iNikon D40
 
Nikon D80++ +o4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999iNikon D80
 
Nikon D70s......o5/5 Apr 2005 899iNikon D70s
 
Nikon D70..+ +..o.. Jan 2004 999iNikon D70
 
Sony RX1R II..82/100..o4.5/5 Oct 2015 3,299 iSony RX1R II
 
Sony A3000+..4/54.5/54/5 Aug 2013 329iSony A3000
 
Sony RX1R....4/5o4.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799iSony RX1R
 
Sony NEX-7+ +81/1004.5/55/55/5 Aug 2011 1,349iSony NEX-7
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted 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
Sony RX1:
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 Sony RX1

    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 Sony RX1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses 35mm f/2.0
    Launch Date April 2005 September 2012
    Launch Price USD 749 USD 2799
    Sensor Specs Nikon D50 Sony RX1
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 35.8 x 23.8 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 852.04 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 43 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 5.96 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 2.82 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 200-1600 ISO 100-25600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 50-102400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 55 93
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.9 25.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 14.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 560 2534
    Screen Specs Nikon D50 Sony RX1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.50x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 130k dots 1229k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D50 Sony RX1
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidNo Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000/s 1/4000/s
    Continuous Shooting 2.5 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SD cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D50 Sony RX1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D50 Sony RX1
    Battery Type EN-EL3 NP-BX1
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge270 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 133 x 102 x 76 mm
    (5.2 x 4.0 x 3.0 in)
    113 x 65 x 70 mm
    (4.4 x 2.6 x 2.8 in)
    Camera Weight 620 g (21.9 oz) 482 g (17.0 oz)

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