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Olympus E-M1 II vs E-M1 III

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2016 and February 2020. Both the E-M1 II and the E-M1 III are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 20.2 megapixels.

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

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-M1 II versus Olympus E-M1 III
Olympus E-M1 II Olympus E-M1 III
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
20.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 20.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
4K/30p Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 200-25,600 ISO 200-25,600
Electronic viewfinder (2360k dots) Electronic viewfinder (2360k dots)
3.0 LCD, 1037k dots 3.0 LCD, 1037k dots
Swivel touchscreen Swivel touchscreen
18 shutter flaps per second 18 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
440 shots per battery charge420 shots per battery charge
134 x 91 x 67 mm, 574 g 134 x 91 x 69 mm, 580 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III? 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 Olympus E-M1 II and the Olympus E-M1 III 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Olympus E-M1 II vs Olympus E-M1 III
Compare E-M1 II versus E-M1 III top
Comparison E-M1 II or E-M1 III rear

In this particular case, the Olympus E-M1 II and the Olympus E-M1 III have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. However, the E-M1 III is slightly heavier (1 percent) than the E-M1 II. 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. 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 Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog. Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.

The power pack in the E-M1 III can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.

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.
 
Olympus E-M1 II 134 mm 91 mm 67 mm 574 g 440 Y Sep 2016 1,999 i
2.
 
Olympus E-M1 III 134 mm 91 mm 69 mm 580 g 420 Y Feb 2020 1,799 i
3.
 
Olympus E-M5 III 125 mm 85 mm 50 mm 414 g 310 Y Oct 2019 1,199 i
4.
 
Olympus E-M1X 144 mm 147 mm 75 mm 997 g 870 Y Jan 2019 2,999 i
5.
 
Olympus PEN-F 125 mm 72 mm 37 mm 427 g 330 n Jan 2016 1,199i
6.
 
Olympus E-M5 II 124 mm 85 mm 45 mm 469 g 310 Y Feb 2015 1,099i
7.
 
Olympus E-M1 130 mm 94 mm 63 mm 497 g 350 Y Sep 2013 1,399i
8.
 
Panasonic G95 130 mm 94 mm 77 mm 536 g 290 Y Apr 2019 999 i
9.
 
Panasonic G9 137 mm 97 mm 92 mm 658 g 400 Y Nov 2017 1,699 i
10.
 
Panasonic GH5 139 mm 98 mm 87 mm 725 g 410 Y Jan 2017 1,999 i
11.
 
Panasonic G85 128 mm 89 mm 74 mm 505 g 330 Y Sep 2016 899i
12.
 
Panasonic GX8 133 mm 78 mm 63 mm 487 g 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199i
13.
 
Sony A9 127 mm 96 mm 63 mm 673 g 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499i
14.
 
Sony A7 II 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 599 g 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999i
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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-M1 III was somewhat cheaper (by 10 percent) than the E-M1 II at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras 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.

Technology-wise, the E-M1 III uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic IX) than the E-M1 II (TruePic VIII), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Olympus E-M1 II and Olympus E-M1 III sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 20.2 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the E-M1 II and the E-M1 III have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-M1 III is much more recent (by 3 years and 4 months) than the E-M1 II, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time. 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.

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

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 64-25600. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III offers exactly the same ISO settings.

E-M1 II versus E-M1 III MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 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.
 
Olympus E-M1 II Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280
2.
 
Olympus E-M1 III Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p........
3.
 
Olympus E-M5 III Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p........
4.
 
Olympus E-M1X Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p........
5.
 
Olympus PEN-F Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474
6.
 
Olympus E-M5 II Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.584273
7.
 
Olympus E-M1 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p23.012.775773
8.
 
Panasonic G95 Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p........
9.
 
Panasonic G9 Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p........
10.
 
Panasonic GH5 Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p23.913.080777
11.
 
Panasonic G85 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p22.812.565671
12.
 
Panasonic GX8 Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675
13.
 
Sony A9 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792
14.
 
Sony A7 II Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-M1 II and the E-M1 III are similar in the sense that both feature an electronic viewfinder, which is helpful when framing images in bright sunlight. Moreover, their viewfinders offer an identical resolution of 2360k dots. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-M1 II and Olympus E-M1 III 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.
 
Olympus E-M1 II2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 18.0 n Y
2.
 
Olympus E-M1 III2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 18.0 n Y
3.
 
Olympus E-M5 III2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
4.
 
Olympus E-M1X2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 18.0 n Y
5.
 
Olympus PEN-F2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
6.
 
Olympus E-M5 II2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
7.
 
Olympus E-M12360 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
8.
 
Panasonic G952360 n 3.0 1240 swivel Y 1/4000s 9.0 Y Y
9.
 
Panasonic G93680 Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 20.0 n Y
10.
 
Panasonic GH53680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 1/8000s 12.0 n Y
11.
 
Panasonic G852360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 9.0 Y Y
12.
 
Panasonic GX82360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
13.
 
Sony A93686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 20.0 n Y
14.
 
Sony A7 II2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y
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 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 Olympus E-M1 II and the Olympus E-M1 III 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.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-M1 II and the E-M1 III write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. Both the E-M1 II and the E-M1 III support UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s) on the first slot and UHS-I cards (104 MB/s) on the second one.

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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 OM-D E-M1 Mark II and Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III 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-M1 IIYstereomonoYYmicro3.0Y--
2.
 
Olympus E-M1 IIIYstereomonoYYmicro3.1Y-Y
3.
 
Olympus E-M5 IIIYstereomonoY-micro2.0Y-Y
4.
 
Olympus E-M1XYstereomonoYYmicro3.0Y-Y
5.
 
Olympus PEN-FYstereomono--micro2.0Y--
6.
 
Olympus E-M5 IIYstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
7.
 
Olympus E-M1YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
8.
 
Panasonic G95YstereomonoYYmicro2.0Y-Y
9.
 
Panasonic G9YstereomonoYYfull3.0Y-Y
10.
 
Panasonic GH5YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-Y
11.
 
Panasonic G85YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
12.
 
Panasonic GX8YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-
13.
 
Sony A9YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYY
14.
 
Sony A7 IIYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the E-M1 II and the E-M1 III are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The E-M1 II replaced the earlier Olympus E-M1, while the E-M1 III followed on from the Olympus E-M1 II. 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 conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus E-M1 II or the Olympus E-M1 III – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2016).


Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III:

  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic IX vs TruePic VIII).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.83x vs 0.74x).
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 4 months of technical progress since the E-M1 II launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-M1 III is the clear winner of the contest (5 : 1 points). 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. 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-M1 II 01:05 E-M1 III

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-M1 II and the Olympus E-M1 III 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 E-M1 II and the E-M1 III 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 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], 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-M1 II5/5+ +85/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i
2.
 
Olympus E-M1 III5/5..83/1004.5/54/5 Feb 2020 1,799 i
3.
 
Olympus E-M5 III5/5+82/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2019 1,199 i
4.
 
Olympus E-M1X4.5/5o..4.5/5.. Jan 2019 2,999 i
5.
 
Olympus PEN-F....82/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199i
6.
 
Olympus E-M5 II5/5+ +81/1005/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099i
7.
 
Olympus E-M15/5+ +84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2013 1,399i
8.
 
Panasonic G954.5/5+83/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2019 999 i
9.
 
Panasonic G9..+ +85/1005/55/5 Nov 2017 1,699 i
10.
 
Panasonic GH54.5/5+ +85/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2017 1,999 i
11.
 
Panasonic G85..+ +84/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2016 899i
12.
 
Panasonic GX85/5+82/1004.5/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199i
13.
 
Sony A95/5+ +89/1005/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499i
14.
 
Sony A7 II5/5+82/1004.5/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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.

Olympus E-M1 II:
Check Amazon price
Olympus E-M1 III:
Check Amazon price

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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: Olympus E-M1 II vs Olympus E-M1 III

    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-M1 II Olympus E-M1 III
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2016 February 2020
    Launch Price USD 1,999 USD 1,799
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-M1 II Olympus E-M1 III
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    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 20.2 Megapixels 20.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3888 pixels 5184 x 3888 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.34 μm 3.34 μm
    Pixel Density 8.96 MP/cm2 8.96 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 4K/30p Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 25,600 ISO 200 - 25,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 64 - 25,600 ISO 64 - 25,600 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic VIII TruePic IX
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 80 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.7 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.8 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1312 ..
    Screen Specs Olympus E-M1 II Olympus E-M1 III
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.74x 0.83x
    Viewfinder Resolution 2360k dots 2360k dots
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1037k dots 1037k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Swivel screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-M1 II Olympus E-M1 III
    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 18 shutter flaps/s 18 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy200 000 actuations400 000 actuations
    Electronic Shutterup to 1/32000sup 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 SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Dual card slots
    UHS card support Single UHS-II Single UHS-II
    Connectivity Specs Olympus E-M1 II Olympus E-M1 III
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 3.0 USB 3.1
    HDMI Port micro HDMI micro 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 no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Olympus E-M1 II Olympus E-M1 III
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BLH-1 BLH-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)440 shots per charge420 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 134 x 91 x 67 mm
    (5.3 x 3.6 x 2.6 in)
    134 x 91 x 69 mm
    (5.3 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
    Camera Weight 574 g (20.2 oz) 580 g (20.5 oz)

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