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Nikon D70s vs Olympus E-510

The Nikon D70s and the Olympus E-510 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in April 2005 and March 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D70s) and a Four Thirds (E-510) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 10 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D70s
versus
Olympus E-510
Nikon D70s   Olympus E-510
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
6 MP – APS-C sensor 10 MP – Four Thirds sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 200-1,600 ISO 100-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0" LCD – 130k dots 2.5" LCD – 215k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Lens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
500 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
140 x 111 x 78 mm, 679 g 136 x 92 x 68 mm, 538 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D70s and the Olympus E-510? 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 D70s and the Olympus E-510 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.

Size Nikon D70s vs Olympus E-510
Compare D70s versus E-510 top
Comparison D70s or E-510 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-510 is notably smaller (19 percent) than the Nikon D70s. Moreover, the E-510 is markedly lighter (21 percent) than the D70s. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D70s nor the E-510 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 (D70s) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-510).

Concerning battery life, the D70s gets 500 shots out of its EN-EL3a battery, while the E-510 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-1 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899ebay.com
2.
 
Olympus E-510 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 n Mar 2007 799ebay.com
3.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899ebay.com
4.
 
Nikon D5500 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 470 g 820 n Jan 2015 899ebay.com
5.
 
Nikon D5300 125 mm 98 mm 76 mm 480 g 600 n Oct 2013 799ebay.com
6.
 
Nikon D5100 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 n Apr 2011 749ebay.com
7.
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749ebay.com
8.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499ebay.com
9.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999ebay.com
10.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999ebay.com
13.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699ebay.com
14.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699ebay.com
15.
 
Olympus E-410 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Mar 2007 699ebay.com
16.
 
Olympus E-400 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Sep 2006 699ebay.com
17.
 
Olympus E-500 130 mm 95 mm 66 mm 479 g 750 n Sep 2005 599ebay.com
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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. The E-510 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 11 percent) than the D70s, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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 D70s features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-510 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-510 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 D70s has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-510 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Nikon D70s and Olympus E-510 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-510 offers a higher resolution of 10 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the D70s. 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 4.74μm versus 7.85μm for the D70s). However, it should be noted that the E-510 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 10 months) than the D70s, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.

The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-510 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-510 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D70s 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 D70s has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-510 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

In terms of underlying technology, the D70s is build around a CCD sensor, while the E-510 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.

D70s versus E-510 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. 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 D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
2.
 
Olympus E-510 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.210.044252
3.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
4.
 
Nikon D5500 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0143884
5.
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883
6.
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380
7.
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
8.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
9.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
10.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
11.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
12.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.49.939448
13.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
14.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
15.
 
Olympus E-410 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.110.049451
16.
 
Olympus E-400 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.010.612753
17.
 
Olympus E-500 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none20.710.34551
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
The E-510 offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The D70s lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D70s and the E-510 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 (95%), but the viewfinder of the D70s has a higher magnification than the one of the E-510 (0.50x vs 0.46x), 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 D70s, the Olympus E-510, 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 D70soptical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-510optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y Y
3.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
4.
 
Nikon D5500optical n3.2 / 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
5.
 
Nikon D5300optical n3.2 / 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
6.
 
Nikon D5100optical n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
7.
 
Nikon D5000optical n2.7 / 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
8.
 
Nikon D40optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
9.
 
Nikon D80optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
10.
 
Nikon D50optical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
11.
 
Nikon D70optical n1.8 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
12.
 
Nikon D100optical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
13.
 
Olympus E-620optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y Y
14.
 
Olympus E-520optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-410optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
16.
 
Olympus E-400optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
17.
 
Olympus E-500optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One feature that differentiates the E-510 and the D70s is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-510 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the D70s offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.

The D70s writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-510 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-510 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D70s only has one slot.

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 D70s and Olympus E-510 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 D70sY- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-510Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon RebelY- / ----1.1---
4.
 
Nikon D5500Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0Y--
5.
 
Nikon D5300Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0Y--
6.
 
Nikon D5100Ymono / monoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Nikon D5000Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D40Y- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D80Y- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D50Y- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D70Y- / ----1.0---
12.
 
Nikon D100Y- / ----1.1---
13.
 
Olympus E-620Y- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-520Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-410Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-400Y- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Olympus E-500Y- / ----2.0---

Both the D70s and the E-510 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D70s was replaced by the Nikon D80, while the E-510 was followed by the Olympus E-520. Further information on the features and operation of the D70s and E-510 can be found, respectively, in the Nikon D70s Manual (free pdf) or the online Olympus E-510 Manual.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D70s and the Olympus E-510? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D70s:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.50x vs 0.46x).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2005).

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Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-510:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (10 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 26%.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.5" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (215k vs 130k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (136x92mm vs 140x111mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 141g or 21 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 500) out of a single battery charge.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (11 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 10 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-510 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 3 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

D70s 03:10 E-510

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D70s and the Olympus E-510 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D70s or the E-510 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 following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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 D70s..........5/5 Apr 2005 899ebay.com
2.
 
Olympus E-510..89/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Mar 2007 799ebay.com
3.
 
Canon Rebel......+ +.... Aug 2003 899ebay.com
4.
 
Nikon D55005/5+..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2015 899ebay.com
5.
 
Nikon D53004/5+ +..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799ebay.com
6.
 
Nikon D51005/5+ +..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749ebay.com
7.
 
Nikon D5000..+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749ebay.com
8.
 
Nikon D40..81/100..+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499ebay.com
9.
 
Nikon D80..+..+ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999ebay.com
10.
 
Nikon D50..78/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon D70......+ +.... Jan 2004 999ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon D100......+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999ebay.com
13.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/100..72/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699ebay.com
14.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100..+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699ebay.com
15.
 
Olympus E-410..86/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2007 699ebay.com
16.
 
Olympus E-400..85/100....4/54/5 Sep 2006 699ebay.com
17.
 
Olympus E-500..76/100..+ +.... Sep 2005 599ebay.com
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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

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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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Nikon D70s vs Olympus E-510

    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 D70s Olympus E-510
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date April 2005 March 2007
    Launch Price USD 899 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Nikon D70s Olympus E-510
    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 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 3648 x 2736 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 4.74 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 4.44 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 50 52
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.4 21.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.3 10.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 529 442
    Screen Specs Nikon D70s Olympus E-510
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.50x 0.46x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 130k dots 215k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D70s Olympus E-510
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationLens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or XD cards
    Single or Dual Card Slots Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D70s Olympus E-510
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D70s Olympus E-510
    Battery Type EN-EL3a BLM-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 140 x 111 x 78 mm
    (5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
    136 x 92 x 68 mm
    (5.4 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
    Camera Weight 679 g (24.0 oz) 538 g (19.0 oz)
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