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Olympus E-600 vs Pentax MX-1

The Olympus E-600 and the Pentax MX-1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2009 and January 2013. The E-600 is a DSLR, while the MX-1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-600) and a 1/1.7-inch (MX-1) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 12 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-600
versus
Pentax MX-1
Olympus E-600   Pentax MX-1
Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
Four Thirds lenses 28-112mm f/1.8-2.5
12.2 MP – Four Thirds sensor 12 MP – 1/1.7" sensor
no Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 100-12,800
Optical viewfinder No viewfinder, LCD framing
2.7" LCD – 230k dots 3.0" LCD – 920k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Tilting screen (no touchscreen)
4 shutter flaps per second 1 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
500 shots per battery charge290 shots per battery charge
130 x 94 x 60 mm, 535 g 122 x 61 x 51 mm, 391 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus E-600 and the Pentax MX-1? 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 physical size and weight of the Olympus E-600 and the Pentax MX-1 are illustrated 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 Olympus E-600 vs Pentax MX-1
Compare E-600 versus MX-1 top
Comparison E-600 or MX-1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax MX-1 is considerably smaller (39 percent) than the Olympus E-600. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-600 nor the MX-1 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the MX-1 has a lens built in, whereas the E-600 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 E-600 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.
 
Olympus E-600 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 535 g 500 n Aug 2009 449ebay.com
2.
 
Pentax MX-1 122 mm 61 mm 51 mm 391 g 290 n Jan 2013 499ebay.com
3.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549ebay.com
4.
 
Canon G15 107 mm 76 mm 40 mm 352 g 350 n Sep 2012 499ebay.com
5.
 
Fujifilm X20 117 mm 70 mm 57 mm 353 g 270 n Jan 2013 599ebay.com
6.
 
Nikon P7800 119 mm 78 mm 50 mm 399 g 350 n Sep 2013 549ebay.com
7.
 
Olympus XZ-2 113 mm 65 mm 48 mm 346 g 340 n Sep 2012 599ebay.com
8.
 
Olympus E-PM1 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 265 g 330 n Jun 2011 499ebay.com
9.
 
Olympus E-5 142 mm 117 mm 75 mm 873 g 750 Y Sep 2010 1,699ebay.com
10.
 
Olympus E-450 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2009 499ebay.com
11.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699ebay.com
12.
 
Olympus E-P1 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Jun 2009 799ebay.com
13.
 
Olympus E-P2 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Nov 2009 799ebay.com
14.
 
Olympus E-30 142 mm 108 mm 75 mm 701 g 750 n Nov 2008 1,299ebay.com
15.
 
Olympus E-420 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2008 599ebay.com
16.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699ebay.com
17.
 
Olympus E-510 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 n Mar 2007 799ebay.com
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. 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. 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. 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.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-600 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Pentax MX-1 a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The sensor area in the MX-1 is 81 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 4.5. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Olympus E-600 and Pentax MX-1 sensor measures

With 12.2MP, the E-600 offers a slightly higher resolution than the MX-1 (12MP), but the E-600 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 1.89μm for the MX-1) due to its larger sensor. However, the MX-1 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 4 months) than the E-600, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The Olympus E-600 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax MX-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

E-600 versus MX-1 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. Of the two cameras under review, the E-600 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the MX-1 (overall score 6 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1.1 bits higher color depth, 1 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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-600 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.510.354155
2.
 
Pentax MX-1 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/30p20.411.320849
3.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
4.
 
Canon G15 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.911.516546
5.
 
Fujifilm X20 2/3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p20.110.9-46246
6.
 
Nikon P7800 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/30p21.211.720054
7.
 
Olympus XZ-2 1/1.7 11.8 3968 29761080/30p20.411.321649
8.
 
Olympus E-PM1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952
9.
 
Olympus E-5 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.610.551956
10.
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.551256
11.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
12.
 
Olympus E-P1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655
13.
 
Olympus E-P2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556
14.
 
Olympus E-30 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.453055
15.
 
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.452756
16.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
17.
 
Olympus E-510 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.210.044252
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The MX-1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the E-600 does not. The highest resolution format that the MX-1 can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-600 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the MX-1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-600, the Pentax MX-1, 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.
 
Olympus E-600optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y Y
2.
 
Pentax MX-1none n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/8000s 1.0/s Y Y
3.
 
Canon G16optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2/s Y Y
4.
 
Canon G15optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.1/s Y Y
5.
 
Fujifilm X20optical n2.8 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 12.0/s Y Y
6.
 
Nikon P7800921 n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 8.0/s Y Y
7.
 
Olympus XZ-2optional n3.0 / 920 tilting Y 1/2000s 5.0/s Y Y
8.
 
Olympus E-PM1optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5/s n Y
9.
 
Olympus E-5optical Y3.0 / 920 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y Y
10.
 
Olympus E-450optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y n
11.
 
Olympus E-620optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y Y
12.
 
Olympus E-P1none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s n Y
13.
 
Olympus E-P2optional n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s n Y
14.
 
Olympus E-30optical Y2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-420optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y n
16.
 
Olympus E-520optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y Y
17.
 
Olympus E-510optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y Y
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.
The E-600 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 MX-1 does not have a selfie-screen.

The E-600 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or xD Picture cards, while the MX-1 uses SDXC cards. The E-600 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the MX-1 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 Olympus E-600 and Pentax MX-1 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.
 
Olympus E-600Y- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Pentax MX-1-stereo / mono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon G16Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
4.
 
Canon G15Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
5.
 
Fujifilm X20Ystereo / mono--micro2.0---
6.
 
Nikon P7800Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Olympus XZ-2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Olympus E-PM1Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Olympus E-5Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
10.
 
Olympus E-450Y- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Olympus E-620Y- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Olympus E-P1Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-P2Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-30Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-420Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-520Y- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Olympus E-510Y- / ----2.0---

It is notable that the E-600 has a hotshoe, while the MX-1 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.

Both the E-600 and the MX-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Olympus and Pentax. Further information on the features and operation of the E-600 and MX-1 can be found, respectively, in the Olympus E-600 Manual (free pdf) or the online Pentax MX-1 Manual.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-600 or the Pentax MX-1 – 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 Olympus E-600:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • 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 burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 290) on a single battery charge.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2009).

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Arguments in favor of the Pentax MX-1:

  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the E-600 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (122x61mm vs 130x94mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the E-600).
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 4 months of technical progress since the E-600 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-600 emerges as the winner of the contest (12 : 9 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 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-600 12:09 MX-1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-600 and the Pentax MX-1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Travel-Zoom Camera listings 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the E-600 and the MX-1 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 (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.
 
Olympus E-600..........4.5/5 Aug 2009 449ebay.com
2.
 
Pentax MX-13/5....74/1004/54/5 Jan 2013 499ebay.com
3.
 
Canon G164/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549ebay.com
4.
 
Canon G154/5+..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499ebay.com
5.
 
Fujifilm X204/5+ +..77/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2013 599ebay.com
6.
 
Nikon P78003/5......4/54.5/5 Sep 2013 549ebay.com
7.
 
Olympus XZ-24/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599ebay.com
8.
 
Olympus E-PM1..86/100..71/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 499ebay.com
9.
 
Olympus E-54/5....75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,699ebay.com
10.
 
Olympus E-450........4/54/5 Mar 2009 499ebay.com
11.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/100..72/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699ebay.com
12.
 
Olympus E-P1..+..66/1004/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799ebay.com
13.
 
Olympus E-P23/5+..69/1004/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799ebay.com
14.
 
Olympus E-30......71/1004.5/54/5 Nov 2008 1,299ebay.com
15.
 
Olympus E-420..85/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2008 599ebay.com
16.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100..+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699ebay.com
17.
 
Olympus E-510..89/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Mar 2007 799ebay.com
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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

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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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Olympus E-600 vs Pentax MX-1

    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-600 Pentax MX-1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Four Thirds lenses 28-112mm f/1.8-2.5
    Launch Date August 2009 January 2013
    Launch Price USD 449 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-600 Pentax MX-1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor 1/1.7" Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm 7.6 x 5.7 mm
    Sensor Area 224.9 mm2 43.32 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm 9.5 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x 4.5x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4032 x 3024 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.29 μm 1.89 μm
    Pixel Density 5.42 MP/cm2 27.70 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 12,800 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 55 49
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.5 20.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.3 11.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 541 208
    Screen Specs Olympus E-600 Pentax MX-1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder no viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.48x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.7inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-600 Pentax MX-1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 4 shutter flaps/s 1 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF or XD cards SDXC cards
    Single or Dual Card Slots Dual card slots Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Olympus E-600 Pentax MX-1
    External Flash Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Olympus E-600 Pentax MX-1
    Battery Type BLS-1 D-LI106
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge290 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 130 x 94 x 60 mm
    (5.1 x 3.7 x 2.4 in)
    122 x 61 x 51 mm
    (4.8 x 2.4 x 2.0 in)
    Camera Weight 535 g (18.9 oz) 391 g (13.8 oz)
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    Check E-600 offers at
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    Check MX-1 offers at
    ebay.com

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