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Nikon Z7 vs Sony A1

The Nikon Z7 and the Sony A1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2018 and January 2021. Both the Z7 and the A1 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 45.4 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 49.8 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon Z7 versus Sony A1
Nikon Z7 Sony A1
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Nikon Z mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
45.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor 49.8 MP, Full Frame Sensor
4K/30p Video 8k/30p Video
ISO 64-25,600 (32 - 102,400) ISO 100-32,000 (500 - 102,400)
Electronic viewfinder (3690k dots) Electronic viewfinder (9437k dots)
3.2 LCD, 2100k dots 3.0 LCD, 1440k dots
Tilting touchscreen Tilting touchscreen
9 shutter flaps per second 10 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
330 shots per battery charge530 shots per battery charge
134 x 101 x 67 mm, 675 g 129 x 97 x 81 mm, 737 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon Z7 and the Sony A1? 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 Z7 and the Sony A1 is provided 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.

Size Nikon Z7 vs Sony A1
Compare Z7 versus A1 top
Comparison Z7 or A1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A1 is notably smaller (8 percent) than the Nikon Z7. However, the A1 is markedly heavier (9 percent) than the Z7. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

Concerning battery life, the Z7 gets 330 shots out of its EN-EL15b battery, while the A1 can take 530 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 power pack. The battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, 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, 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 Z7 134 mm 101 mm 67 mm 675 g 330 Y Aug 2018 3,399i
2.
 
Sony A1 129 mm 97 mm 81 mm 737 g 530 Y Jan 2021 6,499 i
3.
 
Canon R5 138 mm 98 mm 88 mm 738 g 320 Y Jul 2020 3,899 i
4.
 
Nikon Z7 II 134 mm 101 mm 70 mm 705 g 420 Y Oct 2020 2,999 i
5.
 
Nikon Z6 134 mm 101 mm 67 mm 675 g 310 Y Aug 2018 1,999i
6.
 
Nikon D850 146 mm 124 mm 79 mm 1005 g 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i
7.
 
Panasonic S1R 149 mm 110 mm 97 mm 1016 g 380 Y Feb 2019 3,699 i
8.
 
Sony A7S III 127 mm 97 mm 81 mm 699 g 600 Y Jul 2020 3,499 i
9.
 
Sony A7R IV 129 mm 96 mm 78 mm 665 g 670 Y Jul 2019 3,499 i
10.
 
Sony A7R III 127 mm 96 mm 74 mm 650 g 650 Y Oct 2017 3,199i
11.
 
Sony A9 127 mm 96 mm 63 mm 673 g 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499i
12.
 
Sony A7R II 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 625 g 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199i
13.
 
Sony A7S II 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 627 g 370 Y Sep 2015 2,999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Z7 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 48 percent) than the A1, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.

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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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around BSI-CMOS sensors.

Nikon Z7 and Sony A1 sensor measures

With 49.8MP, the A1 offers a higher resolution than the Z7 (45.4MP), but the A1 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.16μm versus 4.35μm for the Z7). Yet, the A1 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 5 months) than the Z7, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Sony A1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 43.2 x 28.8 inches or 109.7 x 73.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 34.6 x 23 inches or 87.8 x 58.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 28.8 x 19.2 inches or 73.2 x 48.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon Z7 are 41.3 x 27.5 inches or 104.9 x 69.9 cm for good quality, 33 x 22 inches or 83.9 x 55.9 cm for very good quality, and 27.5 x 18.3 inches or 69.9 x 46.6 cm for excellent quality prints.

Unlike the Z7, the A1 has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (YESMP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).

The Nikon Z7 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 64 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 32-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony A1 are ISO 100 to ISO 32000, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 500-102400.

Z7 versus A1 MP

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

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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 Z7 Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.314.6266899
2.
 
Sony A1 Full Frame 49.8 8640 57608k/30p........
3.
 
Canon R5 Full Frame 44.8 8192 54648k/30p25.314.6304295
4.
 
Nikon Z7 II Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/60p........
5.
 
Nikon Z6 Full Frame 24.3 6048 40244K/30p25.314.3329995
6.
 
Nikon D850 Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100
7.
 
Panasonic S1R Full Frame 46.7 8368 55844K/60p26.414.13525100
8.
 
Sony A7S III Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/120p23.713.9252086
9.
 
Sony A7R IV Full Frame 60.2 9504 63364K/30p26.014.8334499
10.
 
Sony A7R III Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.014.73523100
11.
 
Sony A9 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792
12.
 
Sony A7R II Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498
13.
 
Sony A7S II Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/30p23.613.3299385

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the A1 provides a better video resolution than the Z7. It can shoot movie footage at 8k/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 4K/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the A1 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the Z7 (9437k vs 3690k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon Z7 and Sony A1 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 Z73690 Y 3.2 2100 tilting Y 1/8000s 9.0 n Y
2.
 
Sony A19437 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
3.
 
Canon R55760 Y 3.2 2100 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
4.
 
Nikon Z7 II3690 Y 3.2 2100 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
5.
 
Nikon Z63690 Y 3.2 2100 tilting Y 1/8000s 12.0 n Y
6.
 
Nikon D850optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 9.0 n n
7.
 
Panasonic S1R5760 Y 3.2 2100 full-flex Y 1/8000s 9.0 n Y
8.
 
Sony A7S III9440 n 3.0 1440 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
9.
 
Sony A7R IV5760 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
10.
 
Sony A7R III3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
11.
 
Sony A93686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 20.0 n Y
12.
 
Sony A7R II2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y
13.
 
Sony A7S II2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y

One feature that is present on the Z7, but is missing on the A1 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, both cameras under consideration feature an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).

The Nikon Z7 and the Sony A1 both have 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 Z7 writes its imaging data to XQD cards, while the A1 uses CFexpress or SDXC cards. The A1 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the Z7 only has one slot.

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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 Z7 and Sony A1 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 Z7YstereomonoYYmicro3.1Y-Y
2.
 
Sony A1YstereomonoYYmini3.2Y-Y
3.
 
Canon R5YmonomonoYYmicro3.2Y-Y
4.
 
Nikon Z7 IIYstereomonoYYmicro3.2Y-Y
5.
 
Nikon Z6YstereomonoYYmicro3.1Y-Y
6.
 
Nikon D850YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYY
7.
 
Panasonic S1RYstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-Y
8.
 
Sony A7S IIIYstereomonoYYfull3.2Y-Y
9.
 
Sony A7R IVYstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYY
10.
 
Sony A7R IIIYstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYY
11.
 
Sony A9YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYY
12.
 
Sony A7R IIYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-
13.
 
Sony A7S IIYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A1 (unlike the Z7) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

The A1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the Z7 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the Z7 was succeeded by the Nikon Z7 II. 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.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon Z7 or the Sony A1 – 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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Reasons to prefer the Nikon Z7:

  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2100k vs 1440k dots).
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (48 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2018).

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Advantages of the Sony A1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (49.8 vs 45.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 5%.
  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (8k/30p vs 4K/30p).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (9437k vs 3690k dots).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.9x vs 0.80x).
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (530 versus 330) out of a single battery charge.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.2 vs 3.1).
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 5 months of technical progress since the Z7 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A1 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 5 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. 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.

Z7 05:10 A1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon Z7 and the Sony A1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing 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 Z7 and the A1 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 why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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 Z75/5+89/1004.5/55/5 Aug 2018 3,399i
2.
 
Sony A15/5........ Jan 2021 6,499 i
3.
 
Canon R54.5/5..91/1004.5/54.5/5 Jul 2020 3,899 i
4.
 
Nikon Z7 II4.5/5....4.5/54.5/5 Oct 2020 2,999 i
5.
 
Nikon Z65/5....4.5/55/5 Aug 2018 1,999i
6.
 
Nikon D8504.5/5+ +89/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i
7.
 
Panasonic S1R4.5/5..89/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2019 3,699 i
8.
 
Sony A7S III..+ +91/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2020 3,499 i
9.
 
Sony A7R IV5/5+91/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2019 3,499 i
10.
 
Sony A7R III..+ +90/1004.5/55/5 Oct 2017 3,199i
11.
 
Sony A95/5+ +89/1005/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499i
12.
 
Sony A7R II5/5+ +90/1005/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199i
13.
 
Sony A7S II5/5+..4.5/55/5 Sep 2015 2,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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 Z7:
Check Ebay offers
Sony A1:
Check Amazon price

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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Nikon Z7 vs Sony A1

    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 Z7 Sony A1
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Nikon Z mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2018 January 2021
    Launch Price USD 3,399 USD 6,499
    Sensor Specs Nikon Z7 Sony A1
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS BSI-CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 35.9 x 23.9 mm 35.9 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 858.01 mm2 861.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.1 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 45.4 Megapixels 49.8 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 8256 x 5504 pixels 8640 x 5760 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.35 μm 4.16 μm
    Pixel Density 5.30 MP/cm2 5.78 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 4K/30p Video 8k/30p Video
    ISO Setting 64 - 25,600 ISO 100 - 32,000 ISO
    ISO Boost 32 - 102,400 ISO 500 - 102,400 ISO
    Image Processor EXPEED 6 Dual BIONZ XR
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 99 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 26.3 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 14.6 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 2668 ..
    Screen Specs Nikon Z7 Sony A1
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.80x 0.9x
    Viewfinder Resolution 3690k dots 9437k dots
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.2inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 2100k dots 1440k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen Tilting screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Nikon Z7 Sony A1
    Focus System On-Sensor Phase-detect On-Sensor Phase-detect
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/8000s 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 9 shutter flaps/s 10 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy200 000 actuations500 000 actuations
    Electronic Shutterup to 1/8000sup to 1/32000s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inIntervalometer built-in
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium XQD cards CFexpress or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Nikon Z7 Sony A1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash no PC Sync PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 3.1 USB 3.2
    HDMI Port micro HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket Headphone port Headphone port
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in Wifi built-in
    Bluetooth Support Bluetooth built-in Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Nikon Z7 Sony A1
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-EL15b NP-FZ100
    Battery Life (CIPA)330 shots per charge530 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 134 x 101 x 67 mm
    (5.3 x 4.0 x 2.6 in)
    129 x 97 x 81 mm
    (5.1 x 3.8 x 3.2 in)
    Camera Weight 675 g (23.8 oz) 737 g (26.0 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

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