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Olympus E-5 vs E-500

The Olympus E-5 and the Olympus Evolt E-500 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2010 and September 2005. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The E-5 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the E-500 provides 8 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-5 versus Olympus E-500
Olympus E-5 Olympus E-500
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Four Thirds lenses Four Thirds lenses
12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
720/30p Video no Video
ISO 100-6,400 ISO 100-400 (100 - 1,600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 920k dots 2.5 LCD, 215k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 2.5 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationLens stabilization only
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
750 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
142 x 117 x 75 mm, 873 g 130 x 95 x 66 mm, 479 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-5 and the Olympus Evolt E-500? 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 Olympus E-5 and the Olympus E-500. 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 Olympus E-5 vs Olympus E-500
Compare E-5 versus E-500 top
Comparison E-5 or E-500 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-500 is notably smaller (26 percent) than the Olympus E-5. Moreover, the E-500 is substantially lighter (45 percent) than the E-5. It is worth mentioning in this context that the E-5 is splash and dust resistant, while the E-500 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.
 
Olympus E-5 142 mm 117 mm 75 mm 873 g 750 Y Sep 2010 1,699i
2.
 
Olympus E-500 130 mm 95 mm 66 mm 479 g 750 n Sep 2005 599i
3.
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599i
4.
 
Olympus E-600 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 535 g 500 n Aug 2009 449i
5.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699i
6.
 
Olympus E-P1 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Jun 2009 799i
7.
 
Olympus E-P2 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Nov 2009 799i
8.
 
Olympus E-30 142 mm 108 mm 75 mm 701 g 750 n Nov 2008 1,299i
9.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699i
10.
 
Olympus E-3 142 mm 116 mm 75 mm 876 g 750 Y Oct 2007 1,699i
11.
 
Olympus E-410 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Mar 2007 699i
12.
 
Olympus E-510 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 n Mar 2007 799i
13.
 
Olympus E-330 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999i
14.
 
Olympus E-400 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Sep 2006 699i
15.
 
Olympus E-300 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 n Sep 2004 799i
16.
 
Olympus E-1 141 mm 104 mm 81 mm 738 g 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699i
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 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-500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 65 percent) than the E-5, 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.

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

Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

In terms of chip-set technology, the E-5 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic V+) than the E-500 (TruePic), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Olympus E-5 and Olympus E-500 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-5 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 8 MP of the E-500. This megapixels advantage translates into a 24 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-5 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 5.30μm for the E-500). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-5 is much more recent (by 4 years and 11 months) than the E-500, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.

The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-500 are 16.3 x 12.2 inches or 41.5 x 31.1 cm for good quality, 13.1 x 9.8 inches or 33.2 x 24.9 cm for very good quality, and 10.9 x 8.2 inches or 27.6 x 20.7 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Olympus E-5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus Evolt E-500 are ISO 100 to ISO 400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-1600.

E-5 versus E-500 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar 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.
 
Olympus E-5 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.610.551956
2.
 
Olympus E-500 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........
3.
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
4.
 
Olympus E-600 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.510.354155
5.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
6.
 
Olympus E-P1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655
7.
 
Olympus E-P2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556
8.
 
Olympus E-30 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.453055
9.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
10.
 
Olympus E-3 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.610.557156
11.
 
Olympus E-410 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.110.049451
12.
 
Olympus E-510 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.210.044252
13.
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
14.
 
Olympus E-400 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none........
15.
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........
16.
 
Olympus E-1 Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920none........

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The E-5 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-500 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-5 can use is 720/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The E-5 and the E-500 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 viewfinder in the E-5 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the E-500 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the E-5 has a higher magnification (0.58x vs 0.45x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-5 and Olympus E-500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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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.
 
Olympus E-5optical Y 3.0 920 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
2.
 
Olympus E-500optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
3.
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y Y
4.
 
Olympus E-600optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
5.
 
Olympus E-620optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
6.
 
Olympus E-P1none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y
7.
 
Olympus E-P2optional n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y
8.
 
Olympus E-30optical Y 2.7 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
9.
 
Olympus E-520optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y Y
10.
 
Olympus E-3optical Y 2.5 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
11.
 
Olympus E-410optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Olympus E-510optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
13.
 
Olympus E-330optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Olympus E-400optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
15.
 
Olympus E-300optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
16.
 
Olympus E-1optical Y 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n

One feature that is present on the E-5, but is missing on the E-500 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 E-5 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the E-500 does not have a selfie-screen.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-5 and the E-500 write their files to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

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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 Olympus E-5 and Olympus Evolt E-500 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.
 
Olympus E-5Ystereo---mini2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-500Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo---mini2.0---
4.
 
Olympus E-600Y-----2.0---
5.
 
Olympus E-620Y-----2.0---
6.
 
Olympus E-P1Ystereo---mini2.0---
7.
 
Olympus E-P2Ystereo---mini2.0---
8.
 
Olympus E-30Y-----2.0---
9.
 
Olympus E-520Y-----2.0---
10.
 
Olympus E-3Y-----2.0---
11.
 
Olympus E-410Y-----2.0---
12.
 
Olympus E-510Y-----2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-330Y-----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-400Y-----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-300Y-----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-1Y-----2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-5 (unlike the E-500) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the E-5 and the E-500 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-500 was replaced by the Olympus E-510, while the E-5 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus website.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-5 better than the Olympus E-500 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Arguments in favor of the Olympus E-5:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.2 vs 8MP) with a 24% higher linear resolution.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic V+ vs TruePic).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 720/30p movies.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.58x vs 0.45x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 215k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 11 months of technical progress since the E-500 launch.


Advantages of the Olympus Evolt E-500:

  • More compact: Is smaller (130x95mm vs 142x117mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 394g or 45 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (65 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2005).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-5 is the clear winner of the match-up (16 : 4 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 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.

E-5 16:04 E-500

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-5 and the Olympus E-500 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 comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-5 or the E-500 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

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera 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.
 
Olympus E-54/5..75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,699i
2.
 
Olympus E-500..76/100+ +.... Sep 2005 599i
3.
 
Olympus E-PL1..86/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599i
4.
 
Olympus E-600........4.5/5 Aug 2009 449i
5.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/10072/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699i
6.
 
Olympus E-P1..+66/1004/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799i
7.
 
Olympus E-P23/5+69/1004/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799i
8.
 
Olympus E-30....71/1004.5/54/5 Nov 2008 1,299i
9.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699i
10.
 
Olympus E-3..88/100+ +o4/5 Oct 2007 1,699i
11.
 
Olympus E-410..86/100+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2007 699i
12.
 
Olympus E-510..89/100+ +3.5/54.5/5 Mar 2007 799i
13.
 
Olympus E-330....+o.. Jan 2006 999i
14.
 
Olympus E-400..85/100..4/54/5 Sep 2006 699i
15.
 
Olympus E-300....+o4.5/5 Sep 2004 799i
16.
 
Olympus E-1....+o.. Jun 2003 1,699i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Olympus E-5:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-500:
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: Olympus E-5 vs Olympus E-500

    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 Olympus E-5 Olympus E-500
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Four Thirds lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2010 September 2005
    Launch Price USD 1,699 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-5 Olympus E-500
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 224.9 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 8 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4032 x 3024 pixels 3264 x 2448 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.29 μm 5.30 μm
    Pixel Density 5.42 MP/cm2 3.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 6,400 ISO 100 - 400 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 1,600 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic V+ TruePic
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 56 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.6 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.5 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 519 ..
    Screen Specs Olympus E-5 Olympus E-500
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.58x 0.45x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 215k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-5 Olympus E-500
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 2.5 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationLens stabilization only
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF or XD cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Olympus E-5 Olympus E-500
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Olympus E-5 Olympus E-500
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type BLM-5 BLM-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)750 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 142 x 117 x 75 mm
    (5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
    130 x 95 x 66 mm
    (5.1 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)
    Camera Weight 873 g (30.8 oz) 479 g (16.9 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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