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Pentax K-5 vs K-S2

The Pentax K-5 and the Pentax K-S2 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2010 and February 2015. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The K-5 has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the K-S2 provides 20 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Pentax K-5 versus Pentax K-S2
Pentax K-5 Pentax K-S2
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Pentax K mount lenses Pentax K mount lenses
16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 20 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/25p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-12,800 (80 - 51,200) ISO 100-51,200
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 921k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
7 shutter flaps per second 5.4 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
740 shots per battery charge410 shots per battery charge
131 x 97 x 73 mm, 760 g 123 x 91 x 73 mm, 678 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Pentax K-5 and the Pentax K-S2? 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 Pentax K-5 and the Pentax K-S2 are illustrated 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The K-S2 can be obtained in six different colors (black, grey, pink, orange, green, white), while the K-5 is only available in black.

Size Pentax K-5 vs Pentax K-S2
Compare K-5 versus K-S2 top
Comparison K-5 or K-S2 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-S2 is notably smaller (12 percent) than the Pentax K-5. Moreover, the K-S2 is markedly lighter (11 percent) than the K-5. 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. 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.

Concerning battery life, the K-5 gets 740 shots out of its D-LI90 battery, while the K-S2 can take 410 images on a single charge of its D-LI109 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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.
 
Pentax K-5 131 mm 97 mm 73 mm 760 g 740 Y Sep 2010 1,099i
2.
 
Pentax K-S2 123 mm 91 mm 73 mm 678 g 410 Y Feb 2015 749 i
3.
 
Nikon D7000 132 mm 105 mm 77 mm 780 g 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499i
4.
 
Pentax KP 132 mm 101 mm 76 mm 703 g 390 Y Jan 2017 1,099 i
5.
 
Pentax K-70 126 mm 93 mm 74 mm 688 g 410 Y Jun 2016 649 i
6.
 
Pentax K-3 II 131 mm 100 mm 77 mm 800 g 720 Y Apr 2015 1,099i
7.
 
Pentax K-S1 121 mm 93 mm 70 mm 558 g 410 n Aug 2014 749i
8.
 
Pentax K-50 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 650 g 410 Y Jun 2013 599i
9.
 
Pentax K-500 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 646 g 710 n Jun 2013 549i
10.
 
Pentax K-3 131 mm 100 mm 77 mm 800 g 560 Y Oct 2013 1,299i
11.
 
Pentax K-30 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 650 g 410 Y May 2012 849i
12.
 
Pentax K-5 II 131 mm 97 mm 73 mm 760 g 740 Y Sep 2012 1,099i
13.
 
Sony A77 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 732 g 470 Y Aug 2011 1,399i
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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The K-S2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 32 percent) than the K-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. 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. 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. 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 an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the K-S2 is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Pentax K-5 and Pentax K-S2 sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the K-S2 offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixels, compared with 16.1 MP of the K-5. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.28μm versus 4.81μm for the K-5). However, it should be noted that the K-S2 is much more recent (by 4 years and 4 months) than the K-5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the K-S2 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Pentax K-S2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the K-S2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Pentax K-5 are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Pentax K-5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 80-51200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax K-S2 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200 (no boost).

K-5 versus K-S2 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). 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.
 
Pentax K-5 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/25p23.714.1116282
2.
 
Pentax K-S2 APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p........
3.
 
Nikon D7000 APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780
4.
 
Pentax KP APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i........
5.
 
Pentax K-70 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i........
6.
 
Pentax K-3 II APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.613.6110680
7.
 
Pentax K-S1 APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.513.0106178
8.
 
Pentax K-50 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.0112079
9.
 
Pentax K-500 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.1108779
10.
 
Pentax K-3 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.713.4121680
11.
 
Pentax K-30 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.0112979
12.
 
Pentax K-5 II APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/25p23.814.1123582
13.
 
Sony A77 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.280178

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the K-S2 provides a faster frame rate than the K-5. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/30p, while the K-5 is limited to 1080/25p.

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The K-5 and the K-S2 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the K-S2 has a higher magnification than the one of the K-5 (0.63x vs 0.61x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Pentax K-5, the Pentax K-S2, 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
1.
 
Pentax K-5optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y Y
2.
 
Pentax K-S2optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/6000s 5.4 Y Y
3.
 
Nikon D7000optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
4.
 
Pentax KPoptical n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/6000s 7.0 Y Y
5.
 
Pentax K-70optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
6.
 
Pentax K-3 IIoptical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 n Y
7.
 
Pentax K-S1optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 5.4 Y Y
8.
 
Pentax K-50optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
9.
 
Pentax K-500optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
10.
 
Pentax K-3optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 Y Y
11.
 
Pentax K-30optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
12.
 
Pentax K-5 IIoptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y Y
13.
 
Sony A772359 Y 3.0 921 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 Y Y

One feature that is present on the K-5, but is missing on the K-S2 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 K-S2 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the K-5 does not have a selfie-screen.

The Pentax K-5 and the Pentax K-S2 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 K-5 and the K-S2 write their files to SDXC cards. The K-S2 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the K-5 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 Pentax K-5 and Pentax K-S2 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.
 
Pentax K-5YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
2.
 
Pentax K-S2YmonomonoY-micro2.0YY-
3.
 
Nikon D7000YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
4.
 
Pentax KPYstereomonoY--2.0Y--
5.
 
Pentax K-70YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
6.
 
Pentax K-3 IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
7.
 
Pentax K-S1Ystereomono--micro2.0---
8.
 
Pentax K-50Ymonomono--micro2.0---
9.
 
Pentax K-500Ymonomono---2.0---
10.
 
Pentax K-3YmonomonoYYmini3.0---
11.
 
Pentax K-30Ymonomono---2.0---
12.
 
Pentax K-5 IIYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
13.
 
Sony A77YstereomonoY-mini2.0---

It is notable that the K-S2 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the K-5 does not provide wifi capability.

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-5 (unlike the K-S2) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

The K-S2 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Pentax. In contrast, the K-5 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the K-5 was succeeded by the Pentax K-5 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Pentax website.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Pentax K-5 better than the Pentax K-S2 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-5:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/6000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 5.4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (740 versus 410) on a single battery charge.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2010).


Reasons to prefer the Pentax K-S2:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 16.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 11%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/30p versus 1080/25p).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.61x).
  • 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.
  • More compact: Is smaller (123x91mm vs 131x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 82g or 11 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (32 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 4 months of technical progress since the K-5 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-S2 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 7 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.

K-5 07:13 K-S2

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Pentax K-5 and the Pentax K-S2 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 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 K-5 and the K-S2 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts 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], 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.
 
Pentax K-54/5..83/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,099i
2.
 
Pentax K-S24.5/5....5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749 i
3.
 
Nikon D70004/5..80/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499i
4.
 
Pentax KP4/5..82/1005/54.5/5 Jan 2017 1,099 i
5.
 
Pentax K-704.5/5..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2016 649 i
6.
 
Pentax K-3 II4.5/5....5/55/5 Apr 2015 1,099i
7.
 
Pentax K-S14/5....4.5/54/5 Aug 2014 749i
8.
 
Pentax K-505/5....5/54.5/5 Jun 2013 599i
9.
 
Pentax K-500......4.5/54.5/5 Jun 2013 549i
10.
 
Pentax K-34/5..83/1005/55/5 Oct 2013 1,299i
11.
 
Pentax K-304/5..78/1004.5/54.5/5 May 2012 849i
12.
 
Pentax K-5 II5/5..80/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2012 1,099i
13.
 
Sony A775/591/10081/100..5/5 Aug 2011 1,399i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted 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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Pentax K-5:
Check Ebay offers
Pentax K-S2:
Check Amazon price

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: Pentax K-5 vs Pentax K-S2

    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 Pentax K-5 Pentax K-S2
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Pentax K mount lenses Pentax K mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2010 February 2015
    Launch Price USD 1,099 USD 749
    Sensor Specs Pentax K-5 Pentax K-S2
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.7 mm 23.5 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 372.09 mm2 366.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 28.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 16.1 Megapixels 20 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3264 pixels 5472 x 3648 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.81 μm 4.28 μm
    Pixel Density 4.32 MP/cm2 5.45 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/25p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 51,200 ISO
    ISO Boost 80 - 51,200 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor PRIME II PRIME MII
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 82 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.7 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 14.1 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1162 ..
    Screen Specs Pentax K-5 Pentax K-S2
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.61x 0.63x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 921k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Pentax K-5 Pentax K-S2
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/8000s 1/6000s
    Continuous Shooting 7 shutter flaps/s 5.4 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 no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Pentax K-5 Pentax K-S2
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI micro HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication no NFC NFC built-in
    Body Specs Pentax K-5 Pentax K-S2
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type D-LI90 D-LI109
    Battery Life (CIPA)740 shots per charge410 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 131 x 97 x 73 mm
    (5.2 x 3.8 x 2.9 in)
    123 x 91 x 73 mm
    (4.8 x 3.6 x 2.9 in)
    Camera Weight 760 g (26.8 oz) 678 g (23.9 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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