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Ricoh GR vs Sony NEX-5R

The Ricoh GR and the Sony Alpha NEX-5R are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2013 and August 2012. The GR is a fixed lens compact, while the NEX-5R is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Ricoh has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 16 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Ricoh GR   Sony NEX-5R
Ricoh GR Sony NEX-5R
Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
28mm f/2.8 Sony E mount lenses
16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 16 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 100-25600 ISO 100-25600
Viewfinder optional Viewfinder optional
3.0" LCD, 1230k dots 3.0" LCD, 920k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Tilting touchscreen
4 shutter flaps per second 10 shutter flaps per second
290 shots per battery charge330 shots per battery charge
117 x 61 x 35 mm, 245 g 111 x 59 x 39 mm, 276 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Ricoh GR and the Sony Alpha NEX-5R? 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: Ricoh GR vs Sony NEX-5R

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Ricoh GR and the Sony NEX-5R is provided 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 NEX-5R can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the GR is only available in black.

Size Ricoh GR vs Sony NEX-5R
Compare GR versus NEX-5R top
Comparison GR or NEX-5R rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-5R is notably smaller (8 percent) than the Ricoh GR. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the GR nor the NEX-5R are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the GR has a lens built in, whereas the NEX-5R 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 NEX-5R and their specifications in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the GR gets 290 shots out of its DB65 battery, while the NEX-5R can take 330 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the GR 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, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Ricoh GR» 4.6 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 8.6 oz 290 n Apr 2013 799- i Ricoh GR
 
Sony NEX-5R« 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.7 oz 330 n Aug 2012 749- i Sony NEX-5R
 
Leica X Vario« » 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.7 in 24.0 oz 450 n Jun 2013 2,850 i i Leica X Vario
 
Nikon Coolpix A« » 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 230 n Mar 2013 1,099- i Nikon Coolpix A
 
Panasonic GM5« » 3.9 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 7.4 oz 220 n Sep 2014 749- i Panasonic GM5
 
Panasonic GM1« » 3.9 in 2.2 in 1.2 in 7.2 oz 230 n Oct 2013 749- i Panasonic GM1
 
Ricoh GR II« » 4.6 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 8.9 oz 320 n Jun 2015 699 i i Ricoh GR II
 
Sony RX100 III« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.2 oz 320 n May 2014 799- i Sony RX100 III
 
Sony NEX-3N« » 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 480 n Feb 2013 499- i Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-5T« » 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 97.9 oz 330 n Aug 2013 699- i Sony NEX-5T
 
Sony RX100 II« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.9 oz 350 n Jun 2013 749- i Sony RX100 II
 
Sony NEX-5N« » 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.5 oz 460 n Aug 2011 699- i Sony NEX-5N
 
Sony NEX-3« » 4.6 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 10.5 oz 330 n May 2010 599- i Sony NEX-3
 
Sony NEX-5« » 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 10.1 oz 330 n May 2010 699- i Sony NEX-5
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Ricoh GR vs Sony NEX-5R

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the NEX-5R 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.

Ricoh GR and Sony NEX-5R sensor measures

With 16.1MP, the GR offers a slightly higher resolution than the NEX-5R (16MP), but the GR nevertheless has marginally larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.79μm versus 4.78μm for the NEX-5R) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the GR is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 months) than the NEX-5R, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the GR has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The Ricoh GR has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The Sony Alpha NEX-5R offers exactly the same ISO settings.

GR versus NEX-5R 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Ricoh GR» APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.597278Ricoh GR
 
Sony NEX-5R« APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.191078Sony NEX-5R
 
Leica X Vario« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078Leica X Vario
 
Nikon Coolpix A« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.413.8116480Nikon Coolpix A
 
Panasonic GM5« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p22.111.772166Panasonic GM5
 
Panasonic GM1« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i22.311.766066Panasonic GM1
 
Ricoh GR II« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.7107880Ricoh GR II
 
Sony RX100 III« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.412.349567Sony RX100 III
 
Sony NEX-3N« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-5T« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60p23.613.0101578Sony NEX-5T
 
Sony RX100 II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.512.448367Sony RX100 II
 
Sony NEX-5N« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.612.7107977Sony NEX-5N
 
Sony NEX-3« » APS-C 14.0 4592 3056720/30p22.112.083068Sony NEX-3
 
Sony NEX-5« » APS-C 14.0 4592 30561080/60i22.212.279669Sony NEX-5

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, but the NEX-5R provides a faster frame rate than the GR. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Ricoh is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Ricoh GR vs Sony NEX-5R

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The GR and the NEX-5R 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. However, optional viewfinders – the GV-1 for the GR and the FDA-EV1S for the NEX-5R – are available as accessories. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Ricoh GR and Sony NEX-5R in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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
Camera
Model
 
Ricoh GR»- n 3.0 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Ricoh GR
 
Sony NEX-5R«- n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n Sony NEX-5R
 
Leica X Vario« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n Leica X Vario
 
Nikon Coolpix A« »- n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/2000s 4.0 Y n Nikon Coolpix A
 
Panasonic GM5« »1166 n 3.0 921 fixed Y 1/500s 5.8 n n Panasonic GM5
 
Panasonic GM1« »- n 3.0 1036 fixed Y 1/500s 5.0 Y n Panasonic GM1
 
Ricoh GR II« »- n 3.0 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Ricoh GR II
 
Sony RX100 III« »1440 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100 III
 
Sony NEX-3N« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-5T« »- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n Sony NEX-5T
 
Sony RX100 II« »- n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100 II
 
Sony NEX-5N« »- n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n Sony NEX-5N
 
Sony NEX-3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n Sony NEX-3
 
Sony NEX-5« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n Sony NEX-5

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The GR has one, while the NEX-5R does not. While the built-in flash of the GR is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The NEX-5R 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 GR does not have a selfie-screen.

The Ricoh GR 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.

The GR writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-5R uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The GR supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-5R cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.

 

Connectivity comparison: Ricoh GR vs Sony NEX-5R

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 Ricoh GR and Sony Alpha NEX-5R and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Ricoh GR»Ymonomono--micro2.0---Ricoh GR
 
Sony NEX-5R«Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--Sony NEX-5R
 
Leica X Vario« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Leica X Vario
 
Nikon Coolpix A« »Ystereomono---2.0---Nikon Coolpix A
 
Panasonic GM5« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Panasonic GM5
 
Panasonic GM1« »-stereomono--micro2.0Y--Panasonic GM1
 
Ricoh GR II« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Ricoh GR II
 
Sony RX100 III« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 III
 
Sony NEX-3N« »-stereomono--micro2.0---Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-5T« »Ystereomono--mini2.0YY-Sony NEX-5T
 
Sony RX100 II« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 II
 
Sony NEX-5N« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-5N
 
Sony NEX-3« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-3
 
Sony NEX-5« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-5

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

Both the GR and the NEX-5R have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The NEX-5R was replaced by the Sony NEX-5T, while the GR was followed by the Ricoh GR II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Ricoh and Sony websites.


Review summary: Ricoh GR vs Sony NEX-5R

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Ricoh GR or the Sony NEX-5R – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Ricoh GR:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 920k dots).
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the NEX-5R requires a separate lens.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the NEX-5R).
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 7 months after the NEX-5R).

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha NEX-5R:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (330 versus 290) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2012).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-5R emerges as the winner of the match-up (10 : 8 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

GR 08:10 NEX-5R

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Ricoh GR and the Sony NEX-5R place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Prime Lens Compact Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings 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 GR and the NEX-5R in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews: Ricoh GR vs Sony NEX-5R

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Ricoh GR»-79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 799- i Ricoh GR
 
Sony NEX-5R«--4.5/5-4.5/5 Aug 2012 749- i Sony NEX-5R
 
Leica X Vario« »--4/54/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850 i i Leica X Vario
 
Nikon Coolpix A« »+75/1004/54.5/54/5 Mar 2013 1,099- i Nikon Coolpix A
 
Panasonic GM5« »+77/1005/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 749- i Panasonic GM5
 
Panasonic GM1« »+78/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 749- i Panasonic GM1
 
Ricoh GR II« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 699 i i Ricoh GR II
 
Sony RX100 III« »+ +82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2014 799- i Sony RX100 III
 
Sony NEX-3N« »--4.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499- i Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony NEX-5T« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Aug 2013 699- i Sony NEX-5T
 
Sony RX100 II« »+ +79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jun 2013 749- i Sony RX100 II
 
Sony NEX-5N« »+ +79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2011 699- i Sony NEX-5N
 
Sony NEX-3« »-70/1004.5/55/54/5 May 2010 599- i Sony NEX-3
 
Sony NEX-5« »+ +71/1004.5/54/54/5 May 2010 699- i Sony NEX-5
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Ricoh GR:
Check Ebay offers
Sony NEX-5R:
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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Ricoh GR vs Sony NEX-5R

    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 Ricoh GR Sony NEX-5R
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens 28mm f/2.8 Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date April 2013 August 2012
    Launch Price USD 799 USD 749
    Sensor Specs Ricoh GR Sony NEX-5R
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 23.4 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 365.04 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 28.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 16.1 Megapixels 16 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3264 pixels 4912 x 3264 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.79 μm 4.78 μm
    Pixel Density 4.35 MP/cm2 4.39 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100-25600 ISO 100-25600 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 78 78
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.6 23.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 13.5 13.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 972 910
    Screen Specs Ricoh GR Sony NEX-5R
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional Viewfinder optional
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 1230k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Tilting screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Ricoh GR Sony NEX-5R
    Autofocus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 4 shutter flaps/s 10 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inno Intervalometer
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I no
    Connectivity Specs Ricoh GR Sony NEX-5R
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Body Specs Ricoh GR Sony NEX-5R
    Battery Type DB65 power pack NP-FW50 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)290 shots per charge330 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging no USB charging
    Body Dimensions 117 x 61 x 35 mm
    (4.6 x 2.4 x 1.4 in)
    111 x 59 x 39 mm
    (4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 245 g (8.6 oz) 276 g (9.7 oz)

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