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Nikon D5100 vs Sony A5000

The Nikon D5100 and the Sony Alpha A5000 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2011 and January 2014. The D5200 is a DSLR, while the A5000 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 19.8 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D5100   Sony A5000
Nikon D5100 Sony A5000
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Nikon F mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 19.8 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 100-6400 (100-25600) ISO 100-16000
Optical viewfinder No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0" LCD, 921k dots 3.0" LCD, 461k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)
4 shutter flaps per second 3.5 shutter flaps per second
660 shots per battery charge420 shots per battery charge
128 x 97 x 79 mm, 560 g 110 x 63 x 36 mm, 269 g

Body comparison: Nikon D5100 vs Sony A5000

The physical size and weight of the Nikon D5100 and the Sony A5000 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.

The A5000 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the D5200 is only available in black.

Compare Nikon D5100 and Sony A5000
Compare D5200 versus A5000 top
Compare D5200 or A5000 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A5000 is considerably smaller (44 percent) than the Nikon D5100. Moreover, the A5000 is substantially lighter (52 percent) than the D5200. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D5200 nor the A5000 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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D5200) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A5000). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A5000, 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 D5200 gets 660 shots out of its EN-EL14 battery, while the A5000 can take 420 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the A5000 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D5100» 5.0 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.8 oz 660 n Apr 2011 749- i Nikon D5100
 
Sony A5000« 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 420 n Jan 2014 449- i Sony A5000
 
Canon M10« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.4 in 10.6 oz 255 n Oct 2015 499- i Canon M10
 
Canon T2i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.7 oz 440 n Feb 2010 699- i Canon T2i
 
Nikon D5600« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 16.4 oz 970 n Nov 2016 699 i i Nikon D5600
 
Nikon D3300« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.2 oz 700 n Jan 2014 499- i Nikon D3300
 
Nikon D5300« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 16.9 oz 600 n Oct 2013 799- i Nikon D5300
 
Nikon D3200« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 540 n Apr 2012 599- i Nikon D3200
 
Nikon D5200« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 500 n Nov 2012 749- i Nikon D5200
 
Nikon D7000« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 27.5 oz 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499- i Nikon D7000
 
Nikon D3100« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 550 n Aug 2010 599- i Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D5000« » 5.0 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 20.8 oz 510 n Apr 2009 749- i Nikon D5000
 
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
 
Sony A5100« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 10.0 oz 400 n Aug 2014 549 i i Sony A5100
 
Sony NEX-3N« » 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 480 n Feb 2013 499- i Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-5R« » 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.7 oz 330 n Aug 2012 749- i Sony NEX-5R
 
Sony NEX-5N« » 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.5 oz 460 n Aug 2011 699- i Sony NEX-5N

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 A5000 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the D5200, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Nikon D5100 vs Sony A5000

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the A5000 is 4 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D5100 and Sony A5000 sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the A5000 offers a higher resolution of 19.8 megapixels, compared with 16.1 MP of the D5200. 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 4.25μm versus 4.80μm for the D5200). However, it should be noted that the A5000 is much more recent (by 2 years and 9 months) than the D5200, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

The Nikon D5100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A5000 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000 (no boost).

D5200 versus A5000 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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 D5100» APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380Nikon D5100
 
Sony A5000« APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.813.0108979Sony A5000
 
Canon M10« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.475365Canon M10
 
Canon T2i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466Canon T2i
 
Nikon D5600« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684Nikon D5600
 
Nikon D3300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582Nikon D3300
 
Nikon D5300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883Nikon D5300
 
Nikon D3200« » APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/30p24.113.2113181Nikon D3200
 
Nikon D5200« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.213.9128484Nikon D5200
 
Nikon D7000« » APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780Nikon D7000
 
Nikon D3100« » APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D5000« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872Nikon D5000
 
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170Sony RX100 IV
 
Sony A5100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780Sony A5100
 
Sony NEX-3N« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-5R« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.191078Sony NEX-5R
 
Sony NEX-5N« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.612.7107977Sony NEX-5N

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 A5000 provides a faster frame rate than the D5200. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Nikon D5100 vs Sony A5000

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D5200 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the A5000 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D5100 and Sony A5000 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar 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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D5100»optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 4.0 Y n Nikon D5100
 
Sony A5000«- n 3.0 461 tilting n 4000 3.5 Y n Sony A5000
 
Canon M10« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 4.6 Y n Canon M10
 
Canon T2i« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 3.7 Y n Canon T2i
 
Nikon D5600« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5600
 
Nikon D3300« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D3300
 
Nikon D5300« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5300
 
Nikon D3200« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n Nikon D3200
 
Nikon D5200« »optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5200
 
Nikon D7000« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n Nikon D7000
 
Nikon D3100« »optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D5000« »optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 4000 4.0 Y n Nikon D5000
 
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y Sony RX100 IV
 
Sony A5100« »- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 6.0 Y n Sony A5100
 
Sony NEX-3N« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 4000 4.0 Y n Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-5R« »- n 3.0 920 tilting Y 4000 10.0 n n Sony NEX-5R
 
Sony NEX-5N« »- n 3.0 920 tilting Y 4000 10.0 n n Sony NEX-5N
Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.

The D5200 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A5000 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.

 

Connectivity comparison: Nikon D5100 vs Sony A5000

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 D5100 and Sony Alpha A5000 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
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D5100»YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D5100
 
Sony A5000«-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony A5000
 
Canon M10« »-stereomono--mini2.0YY-Canon M10
 
Canon T2i« »Ystereo-Y-mini2.0---Canon T2i
 
Nikon D5600« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYNikon D5600
 
Nikon D3300« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D3300
 
Nikon D5300« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Nikon D5300
 
Nikon D3200« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D3200
 
Nikon D5200« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D5200
 
Nikon D7000« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D7000
 
Nikon D3100« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D5000« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D5000
 
Sony RX100 IV« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 IV
 
Sony A5100« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony A5100
 
Sony NEX-3N« »-stereomono--micro2.0---Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-5R« »Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--Sony NEX-5R
 
Sony NEX-5N« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-5N

It is notable that the D5200 has a hotshoe, while the A5000 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.

Both the D5200 and the A5000 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D5200 was replaced by the Nikon D5200, while the A5000 was followed by the Sony A5100.


Review summary: Nikon D5100 vs Sony A5000

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon D5100 better than the Sony A5000 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Nikon D5100:

  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 461k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (660 versus 420) on a single battery charge.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in April 2011).

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Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A5000:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (19.8 vs 16.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 11%.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
  • More compact: Is smaller (110x63mm vs 128x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 291g or 52 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 9 months of technical progress since the D5200 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (9 points each). 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.

D5200 09:09 A5000

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D5200 or the A5000 perform in practice. 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: Nikon D5100 vs Sony A5000

This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D5100»++76/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749- i Nikon D5100
 
Sony A5000«+-4.5/5o4.5/5 Jan 2014 449- i Sony A5000
 
Canon M10« »---o4/5 Oct 2015 499- i Canon M10
 
Canon T2i« »++77/1004/55/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699- i Canon T2i
 
Nikon D5600« »-79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i i Nikon D5600
 
Nikon D3300« »+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499- i Nikon D3300
 
Nikon D5300« »++79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799- i Nikon D5300
 
Nikon D3200« »++73/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 599- i Nikon D3200
 
Nikon D5200« »++79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2012 749- i Nikon D5200
 
Nikon D7000« »-80/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499- i Nikon D7000
 
Nikon D3100« »++72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599- i Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D5000« »++75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749- i Nikon D5000
 
Sony RX100 IV« »++85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
 
Sony A5100« »+-4.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i i Sony A5100
 
Sony NEX-3N« »--4.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499- i Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-5R« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Aug 2012 749- i Sony NEX-5R
 
Sony NEX-5N« »++79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2011 699- i Sony NEX-5N
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.

Nikon D5100:
Check Ebay offers
Sony A5000:
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Nikon D5100 vs Sony A5000

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon D5100 Sony A5000
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date April 2011 January 2014
    Launch Price USD 749 USD 449
    Sensor Specs Nikon D5100 Sony A5000
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.6 x 15.7 mm 23.2 x 15.7 mm
    Sensor Area 370.52 mm2 357.28 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.3 mm 27.8 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 16.1 Megapixels 19.8 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3264 pixels 5456 x 3632 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.80 μm 4.25 μm
    Pixel Density 4.34 MP/cm2 5.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100-6400 ISO 100-16000 ISO
    ISO Boost 100-25600 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor EXPEED 2 BIONZ X
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 80 79
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.5 23.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 13.6 13.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1183 1089
    Screen Specs Nikon D5100 Sony A5000
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder No viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.51x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 921k dots 461k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D5100 Sony A5000
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/4000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 4 shutter flaps/s 3.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D5100 Sony A5000
    External Flash Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI micro HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication no NFC NFC built-in
    Body Specs Nikon D5100 Sony A5000
    Battery Type EN-EL14 power pack NP-FW50 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)660 shots per charge420 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 128 x 97 x 79 mm
    (5.0 x 3.8 x 3.1 in)
    110 x 63 x 36 mm
    (4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in)
    Camera Weight 560 g (19.8 oz) 269 g (9.5 oz)

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