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Olympus TG-4 vs Pentax Q

The Olympus Tough TG-4 and the Pentax Q are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2015 and June 2011. The TG-4 is a fixed lens compact, while the Pentax Q is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 15.9 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 TG-4 versus Pentax Q
Olympus TG-4 Pentax Q
Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
25-100mm f/2.0-4.9 Pentax Q mount lenses
15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 12 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-6,400 ISO 125-6,400
No viewfinder, LCD framing Viewfinder optional
3.0 LCD, 460k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 1.5 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
Waterproof body (nom)not weather sealed
380 shots per battery charge230 shots per battery charge
112 x 66 x 31 mm, 247 g 98 x 57 x 31 mm, 180 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus Tough TG-4 and the Pentax Q? 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 TG-4 and the Pentax Q 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.

The TG-4 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the Pentax Q is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, white).

Size Olympus TG-4 vs Pentax Q
Compare TG-4 versus Pentax Q top
Comparison TG-4 or Pentax Q rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax Q is notably smaller (24 percent) than the Olympus TG-4. It is worth mentioning in this context that the TG-4 is splash and dust resistant, while the Pentax Q does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing. More than that, the TG-4 is water-proof up to 15m and can, thus, be used for underwater photography.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the TG-4 has a lens built in, whereas the Pentax Q is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.

The power pack in the TG-4 can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along 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
 
Olympus TG-4 112 mm 66 mm 31 mm 247 g 380 Y Apr 2015 379i
 
Pentax Q 98 mm 57 mm 31 mm 180 g 230 n Jun 2011 649i
 
Canon SX700 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 250 n Feb 2014 349i
 
Fujifilm XP140 110 mm 71 mm 28 mm 207 g 240 Y Feb 2019 229 i
 
Fujifilm XP120 110 mm 71 mm 28 mm 203 g 210 Y Jan 2017 229i
 
Nikon W300 112 mm 66 mm 29 mm 231 g 280 Y May 2017 389 i
 
Olympus TG-6 113 mm 66 mm 32 mm 253 g 340 Y May 2019 449 i
 
Olympus TG-5 113 mm 66 mm 32 mm 250 g 340 Y May 2017 449i
 
Olympus E-M1 II 134 mm 91 mm 67 mm 574 g 440 Y Sep 2016 1,999 i
 
Olympus E-M5 II 124 mm 85 mm 45 mm 469 g 310 Y Feb 2015 1,099i
 
Olympus XZ-2 113 mm 65 mm 48 mm 346 g 340 n Sep 2012 599i
 
Olympus E-PL2 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 n Jan 2011 599i
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599i
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599i
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699i
 
Sony HX80 102 mm 58 mm 36 mm 245 g 390 n Mar 2016 349 i
 
Sony HX90V 102 mm 58 mm 36 mm 245 g 360 n Apr 2015 429 i
Notes: 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 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 TG-4 was launched at a lower price than the Pentax Q, despite having a lens built in. 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 sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a 1/2.3-inch sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 5.6. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the smaller-sensor digicams that favor affordability and compact design. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Olympus TG-4 and Pentax Q sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the TG-4 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the Pentax Q. This megapixels advantage translates into a 15 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the TG-4 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.33μm versus 1.53μm for the Pentax Q). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the TG-4 is much more recent (by 3 years and 9 months) than the Pentax Q, 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 TG-4 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the TG-4 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Pentax Q are 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Olympus Tough TG-4 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax Q are ISO 125 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

TG-4 versus Pentax Q MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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
 
Olympus TG-4 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
 
Pentax Q 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/30p20.211.118947
 
Canon SX700 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p........
 
Fujifilm XP140 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34564K/15p........
 
Fujifilm XP120 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p........
 
Nikon W300 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34564K/30p........
 
Olympus TG-6 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30004K/30p........
 
Olympus TG-5 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30004K/30p........
 
Olympus E-M1 II Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280
 
Olympus E-M5 II Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.012.584273
 
Olympus XZ-2 1/1.7 11.8 3968 29761080/30p20.411.321649
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
 
Sony HX80 1/2.3 18.0 4896 36721080/60p........
 
Sony HX90V 1/2.3 18.0 4896 36721080/60p........

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. 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

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The TG-4 and the Pentax Q are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. That said, the Pentax Q can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the O-VF1. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus TG-4, the Pentax Q, and comparable 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
 
Olympus TG-4none n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y Y
 
Pentax Qoptional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/2000s 1.5 Y Y
 
Canon SX700none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 8.5 Y Y
 
Fujifilm XP140none n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y
 
Fujifilm XP120none n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y
 
Nikon W300none n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 7.0 Y Y
 
Olympus TG-6none n 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/2000s 20.0 Y Y
 
Olympus TG-5none n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/2000s 20.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-M1 II2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 18.0 n Y
 
Olympus E-M5 II2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
 
Olympus XZ-2optional n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/2000s 5.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-PL2optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-620optical n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
 
Sony HX80638 n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y
 
Sony HX90V638 n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y

The Olympus TG-4 and the Pentax Q 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 TG-4 and the Pentax Q write their files to SDXC cards. The TG-4 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the Pentax Q 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 Tough TG-4 and Pentax Q 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
 
Olympus TG-4-stereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Pentax QYmonomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon SX700-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Fujifilm XP140-monomono--micro2.0Y-Y
 
Fujifilm XP120-monomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Nikon W300-stereomono--micro2.0Y-Y
 
Olympus TG-6-stereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Olympus TG-5-stereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Olympus E-M1 IIYstereomonoYYmicro3.0Y--
 
Olympus E-M5 IIYstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
 
Olympus XZ-2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-620Y-----2.0---
 
Sony HX80-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Sony HX90V-stereomono--micro2.0YY-

It is notable that the TG-4 offers wifi support, while the Pentax Q does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the TG-4 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.

Both the TG-4 and the Pentax Q have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The Pentax Q was replaced by the Pentax Q10, while the TG-4 was followed by the Olympus TG-5. 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 conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Olympus TG-4 or the Pentax Q – 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 Tough TG-4:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (15.9 vs 12MP) with a 15% higher linear resolution.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the Pentax Q requires a separate lens.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (380 versus 230) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • Water-proof: Is rugged and sealed and can thus be used for underwater photography (up to 15m).
  • Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 9 months of technical progress since the Pentax Q launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Pentax Q:

  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • More compact: Is smaller (98x57mm vs 112x66mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 2011).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the TG-4 is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 5 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.

TG-4 12:05 Pentax Q

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus TG-4 and the Pentax Q place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens 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 TG-4 and the Pentax Q 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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Olympus TG-4+79/1004/54/54/5 Apr 2015 379i
 
Pentax Q....4/53.5/53.5/5 Jun 2011 649i
 
Canon SX700+ +..4/5..4/5 Feb 2014 349i
 
Fujifilm XP140+..3.5/5..4/5 Feb 2019 229 i
 
Fujifilm XP120o..3.5/5..4/5 Jan 2017 229i
 
Nikon W300+..4/5..4/5 May 2017 389 i
 
Olympus TG-6+ +76/1004/5..4/5 May 2019 449 i
 
Olympus TG-5+ +..4/5o4/5 May 2017 449i
 
Olympus E-M1 II+ +85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i
 
Olympus E-M5 II+ +81/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2015 1,099i
 
Olympus XZ-2+..4.5/54/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599i
 
Olympus E-PL283/10071/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599i
 
Olympus E-PL3+ +72/1004.5/5..4/5 Jun 2011 599i
 
Olympus E-PL186/10069/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599i
 
Olympus E-62088/10072/1004.5/5o5/5 Feb 2009 699i
 
Sony HX80.......... Mar 2016 349 i
 
Sony HX90V+ +..4/5..4.5/5 Apr 2015 429 i
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.

Olympus TG-4:
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Pentax Q:
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 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 TG-4 vs Pentax Q

    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 TG-4 Pentax Q
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens 25-100mm f/2.0-4.9 Pentax Q mount lenses
    Launch Date April 2015 June 2011
    Launch Price USD 379 USD 649
    Sensor Specs Olympus TG-4 Pentax Q
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor 1/2.3" Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 6.17 x 4.55 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 28.0735 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 7.7 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 5.6x
    Sensor Resolution 15.9 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3456 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.33 μm 1.53 μm
    Pixel Density 56.73 MP/cm2 42.74 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 6,400 ISO 125 - 6,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 47
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 20.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 11.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 189
    Screen Specs Olympus TG-4 Pentax Q
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Magnification
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 460k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Olympus TG-4 Pentax Q
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 1.5 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inIntervalometer built-in
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in 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 TG-4 Pentax Q
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Geotagging GPS built-in no internal GPS
    Body Specs Olympus TG-4 Pentax Q
    Environmental SealingWaterproof body (15m)not weather sealed
    Battery Type LI-92B D-LI68
    Battery Life (CIPA)380 shots per charge230 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging no USB charging
    Body Dimensions 112 x 66 x 31 mm
    (4.4 x 2.6 x 1.2 in)
    98 x 57 x 31 mm
    (3.9 x 2.2 x 1.2 in)
    Camera Weight 247 g (8.7 oz) 180 g (6.3 oz)

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