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Olympus E-PM2 vs Pentax K-500

The Olympus PEN E-PM2 and the Pentax K-500 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2012 and June 2013. The E-PM2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the K-500 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (E-PM2) and an APS-C (K-500) sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 16.1 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-PM2 versus Pentax K-500
Olympus E-PM2 Pentax K-500
Mirrorless system camera Digital single lens reflex
Micro Four Thirds lenses Pentax K mount lenses
15.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-25,600 ISO 100-51,200
Viewfinder optional Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 460k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
8 shutter flaps per second 6 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
360 shots per battery charge710 shots per battery charge
110 x 64 x 34 mm, 269 g 130 x 97 x 71 mm, 646 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-PM2 and the Pentax K-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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Olympus E-PM2 and the Pentax K-500 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.

The E-PM2 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the K-500 is only available in black.

Size Olympus E-PM2 vs Pentax K-500
Compare E-PM2 versus K-500 top
Comparison E-PM2 or K-500 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-500 is considerably larger (79 percent) than the Olympus E-PM2. Moreover, the K-500 is substantially heavier (140 percent) than the E-PM2. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PM2 nor the K-500 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. 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.

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-PM2 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 269 g 360 n Sep 2012 499i
2.
 
Pentax K-500 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 646 g 710 n Jun 2013 549i
3.
 
Olympus E-M10 II 120 mm 83 mm 47 mm 390 g 320 n Aug 2015 649i
4.
 
Olympus E-M10 119 mm 82 mm 46 mm 396 g 320 n Jan 2014 699i
5.
 
Olympus E-PL7 115 mm 67 mm 38 mm 357 g 350 n Aug 2014 599i
6.
 
Olympus E-M1 130 mm 94 mm 63 mm 497 g 350 Y Sep 2013 1,399i
7.
 
Olympus E-P5 122 mm 69 mm 37 mm 420 g 330 n May 2013 999i
8.
 
Olympus E-PL6 111 mm 64 mm 38 mm 325 g 360 n May 2013 599i
9.
 
Olympus E-PL5 111 mm 64 mm 38 mm 325 g 360 n Sep 2012 599i
10.
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599i
11.
 
Olympus E-PM1 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 265 g 330 n Jun 2011 499i
12.
 
Panasonic G6 122 mm 85 mm 71 mm 390 g 340 n Apr 2013 599i
13.
 
Pentax K-S1 121 mm 93 mm 70 mm 558 g 410 n Aug 2014 749i
14.
 
Pentax K-50 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 650 g 410 Y Jun 2013 599i
15.
 
Pentax K-30 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 650 g 410 Y May 2012 849i
16.
 
Pentax K-5 II 131 mm 97 mm 73 mm 760 g 740 Y Sep 2012 1,099i
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-PM2 was somewhat cheaper (by 9 percent) than the K-500 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 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 tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Olympus E-PM2 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Pentax K-500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the K-500 is 63 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.5. The sensor in the E-PM2 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the K-500 offers a 3:2 aspect.

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

Olympus E-PM2 and Pentax K-500 sensor measures

With 16.1MP, the K-500 offers a higher resolution than the E-PM2 (15.9MP), but the K-500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.77μm versus 3.76μm for the E-PM2) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the K-500 is a somewhat more recent model (by 8 months) than the E-PM2, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The Olympus PEN E-PM2 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax K-500 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200 (no boost).

E-PM2 versus K-500 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the K-500 has a markedly higher DXO score than the E-PM2 (overall score 7 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 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-PM2 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.293272
2.
 
Pentax K-500 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.1108779
3.
 
Olympus E-M10 II Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.112.584273
4.
 
Olympus E-M10 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388472
5.
 
Olympus E-PL7 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.487372
6.
 
Olympus E-M1 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p23.012.775773
7.
 
Olympus E-P5 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.489572
8.
 
Olympus E-PL6 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
9.
 
Olympus E-PL5 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388972
10.
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
11.
 
Olympus E-PM1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952
12.
 
Panasonic G6 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961
13.
 
Pentax K-S1 APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.513.0106178
14.
 
Pentax K-50 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.0112079
15.
 
Pentax K-30 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.0112979
16.
 
Pentax K-5 II APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/25p23.814.1123582

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the K-500 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PM2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PM2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-4. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Olympus E-PM2 and Pentax K-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-PM2optional n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
2.
 
Pentax K-500optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
3.
 
Olympus E-M10 II2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
4.
 
Olympus E-M101440 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
5.
 
Olympus E-PL7optional n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
6.
 
Olympus E-M12360 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
7.
 
Olympus E-P5optional n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/8000s 9.0 Y Y
8.
 
Olympus E-PL6optional n 3.0 460 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
9.
 
Olympus E-PL5optional n 3.0 460 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
10.
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
11.
 
Olympus E-PM1optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
12.
 
Panasonic G61440 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 1/4000s 7.0 Y n
13.
 
Pentax K-S1optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 5.4 Y Y
14.
 
Pentax K-50optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
15.
 
Pentax K-30optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
16.
 
Pentax K-5 IIoptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y Y

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The E-PM2 has a touchscreen, while the K-500 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The Pentax K-500 has 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-PM2 and the K-500 write their files to SDXC cards. The E-PM2 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the K-500 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.

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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 PEN E-PM2 and Pentax K-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-PM2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Pentax K-500Ymonomono---2.0---
3.
 
Olympus E-M10 IIYstereomono--micro2.0Y--
4.
 
Olympus E-M10Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--
5.
 
Olympus E-PL7Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--
6.
 
Olympus E-M1YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
7.
 
Olympus E-P5Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--
8.
 
Olympus E-PL6Ystereomono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Olympus E-PL5Ystereomono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo---mini2.0---
11.
 
Olympus E-PM1Ystereomono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Panasonic G6YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
13.
 
Pentax K-S1Ystereomono--micro2.0---
14.
 
Pentax K-50Ymonomono--micro2.0---
15.
 
Pentax K-30Ymonomono---2.0---
16.
 
Pentax K-5 IIYstereomonoY-mini2.0---

Both the E-PM2 and the K-500 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 two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Pentax websites.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Olympus E-PM2 better than the Pentax K-500 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-PM2:

  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 130x97mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 377g or 58 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2012).

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Advantages of the Pentax K-500:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 460k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/6000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (710 versus 360) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (8 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-500 emerges as the winner of the match-up (9 : 7 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-PM2 07:09 K-500

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-PM2 and the Pentax K-500 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-PM2 or the K-500 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews 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-PM23/5..77/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
2.
 
Pentax K-500......4.5/54.5/5 Jun 2013 549i
3.
 
Olympus E-M10 II4.5/5+ +80/1005/55/5 Aug 2015 649i
4.
 
Olympus E-M104/5..80/1005/55/5 Jan 2014 699i
5.
 
Olympus E-PL74/5+..5/54/5 Aug 2014 599i
6.
 
Olympus E-M15/5+ +84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2013 1,399i
7.
 
Olympus E-P55/5+ +78/1004.5/55/5 May 2013 999i
8.
 
Olympus E-PL6.......... May 2013 599i
9.
 
Olympus E-PL53/5+ +..4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599i
10.
 
Olympus E-PL33/5+ +72/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
11.
 
Olympus E-PM1..86/10071/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 499i
12.
 
Panasonic G64/5+ +..5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 599i
13.
 
Pentax K-S14/5....4.5/54/5 Aug 2014 749i
14.
 
Pentax K-505/5....5/54.5/5 Jun 2013 599i
15.
 
Pentax K-304/5..78/1004.5/54.5/5 May 2012 849i
16.
 
Pentax K-5 II5/5..80/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2012 1,099i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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-PM2:
Check Ebay offers
Pentax K-500:
Check Ebay offers

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-PM2 vs Pentax K-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-PM2 Pentax K-500
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Micro Four Thirds lenses Pentax K mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2012 June 2013
    Launch Price USD 499 USD 549
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-PM2 Pentax K-500
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm 23.5 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 224.9 mm2 366.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm 28.2 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 15.9 Megapixels 16.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3456 pixels 4928 x 3264 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.76 μm 4.77 μm
    Pixel Density 7.08 MP/cm2 4.39 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 25,600 ISO 100 - 51,200 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic VI PRIME M
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 72 79
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.7 23.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.2 13.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 932 1087
    Screen Specs Olympus E-PM2 Pentax K-500
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.61x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 460k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-PM2 Pentax K-500
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/6000s
    Continuous Shooting 8 shutter flaps/s 6 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I no
    Connectivity Specs Olympus E-PM2 Pentax K-500
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Olympus E-PM2 Pentax K-500
    Battery Type BLS-5 4xAA
    Battery Life (CIPA)360 shots per charge710 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 110 x 64 x 34 mm
    (4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
    130 x 97 x 71 mm
    (5.1 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
    Camera Weight 269 g (9.5 oz) 646 g (22.8 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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