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Sony A58 vs NEX-3

The Sony Alpha SLT-A58 and the Sony Alpha NEX-3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2013 and May 2010. The A58 is a DSLR, while the NEX-3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The A58 has a resolution of 19.8 megapixels, whereas the NEX-3 provides 14 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Sony A58
versus
Sony NEX-3
Sony A58 Sony NEX-3
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Sony A mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
19.8 MP, APS-C Sensor 14 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/60i Video 720/30p Video
ISO 100-16,000 (100 - 25,600) ISO 200-12,800
Electronic viewfinder (1440k dots) Viewfinder optional
2.7 LCD, 460k dots 3.0 LCD, 920k dots
Tilting screen (no touchscreen) Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 7 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationLens stabilization only
690 shots per battery charge330 shots per battery charge
129 x 95 x 78 mm, 492 g 117 x 62 x 33 mm, 297 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Alpha SLT-A58 and the Sony Alpha NEX-3? 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 Sony A58 and the Sony NEX-3 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 width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The NEX-3 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, red), while the A58 is only available in black.

Size Sony A58 vs Sony NEX-3
Compare A58 versus NEX-3 top
Comparison A58 or NEX-3 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-3 is considerably smaller (41 percent) than the Sony A58. Moreover, the NEX-3 is substantially lighter (40 percent) than the A58. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the A58 nor the NEX-3 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.

Concerning battery life, the A58 gets 690 shots out of its NP-FM500H battery, while the NEX-3 can take 330 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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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.
 
Sony A58 129 mm 95 mm 78 mm 492 g 690 n Feb 2013 599 i
2.
 
Sony NEX-3 117 mm 62 mm 33 mm 297 g 330 n May 2010 599 i
3.
 
Canon SL1 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 n Mar 2013 549 i
4.
 
Canon T5i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649 i
5.
 
Nikon D5600 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 465 g 970 n Nov 2016 699 i
6.
 
Nikon D3300 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 430 g 700 n Jan 2014 499 i
7.
 
Nikon D3200 125 mm 96 mm 77 mm 505 g 540 n Apr 2012 599 i
8.
 
Pentax K-S1 121 mm 93 mm 70 mm 558 g 410 n Aug 2014 749 i
9.
 
Sony A68 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 610 g 540 n Nov 2015 699 i
10.
 
Sony A5100 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 283 g 400 n Aug 2014 549 i
11.
 
Sony A6000 120 mm 67 mm 45 mm 344 g 360 n Feb 2014 599 i
12.
 
Sony A3000 128 mm 91 mm 85 mm 411 g 470 n Aug 2013 329 i
13.
 
Sony NEX-3N 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 n Feb 2013 499 i
14.
 
Sony NEX-5R 111 mm 59 mm 39 mm 276 g 330 n Aug 2012 749 i
15.
 
Sony NEX-5N 111 mm 59 mm 38 mm 269 g 460 n Aug 2011 699 i
16.
 
Sony NEX-5 111 mm 59 mm 38 mm 287 g 330 n May 2010 699 i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same 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. 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 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 NEX-3 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.

Sony A58 and Sony NEX-3 sensor measures

With 19.8MP, the A58 offers a higher resolution than the NEX-3 (14MP), but the A58 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 5.11μm for the NEX-3). However, the A58 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 9 months) than the NEX-3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The resolution advantage of the Sony A58 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A58 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.3 x 18.2 inches or 69.3 x 46.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.8 x 14.5 inches or 55.4 x 36.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.1 inches or 46.2 x 30.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony NEX-3 are 23 x 15.3 inches or 58.3 x 38.8 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 12.2 inches or 46.7 x 31 cm for very good quality, and 15.3 x 10.2 inches or 38.9 x 25.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Sony Alpha SLT-A58 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 16000, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-3 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

A58 versus NEX-3 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 review, the A58 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the NEX-3 (overall score 6 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1.2 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 stops of reduced low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-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.
 
Sony A58 APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.312.5753 74
2.
 
Sony NEX-3 APS-C 14.0 4592 3056720/30p22.112.0830 68
3.
 
Canon SL1 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.3843 63
4.
 
Canon T5i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.2681 61
5.
 
Nikon D5600 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.01306 84
6.
 
Nikon D3300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.81385 82
7.
 
Nikon D3200 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/30p24.113.21131 81
8.
 
Pentax K-S1 APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.513.01061 78
9.
 
Sony A68 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.5701 79
10.
 
Sony A5100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.71347 80
11.
 
Sony A6000 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.113.11347 82
12.
 
Sony A3000 APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.81068 78
13.
 
Sony NEX-3N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.51067 74
14.
 
Sony NEX-5R APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.1910 78
15.
 
Sony NEX-5N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.612.71079 77
16.
 
Sony NEX-5 APS-C 14.0 4592 30561080/60i22.212.2796 69

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 A58 provides a higher video resolution than the NEX-3. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60i, while the NEX-3 is limited to 720/30p.

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A58 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-SV1. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A58, the Sony NEX-3, 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.
 
Sony A581440 n 2.7 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.0 Y Y
2.
 
Sony NEX-3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n
3.
 
Canon SL1optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.9 Y n
4.
 
Canon T5ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Nikon D5600optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
6.
 
Nikon D3300optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
7.
 
Nikon D3200optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
8.
 
Pentax K-S1optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 5.4 Y Y
9.
 
Sony A681440 Y 2.7 460 tilting n 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
10.
 
Sony A5100none n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
11.
 
Sony A60001440 n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/4000s 11.0 Y n
12.
 
Sony A3000202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
13.
 
Sony NEX-3Noptional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
14.
 
Sony NEX-5Roptional n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n
15.
 
Sony NEX-5Noptional n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n
16.
 
Sony NEX-5optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The A58 has one, while the NEX-3 does not. While the built-in flash of the A58 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The NEX-3 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 A58 does not have a selfie-screen.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the A58 and the NEX-3 write their files to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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 Sony Alpha SLT-A58 and Sony Alpha NEX-3 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.
 
Sony A58YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
2.
 
Sony NEX-3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon SL1YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
4.
 
Canon T5iYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Nikon D5600YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
6.
 
Nikon D3300YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Nikon D3200YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
8.
 
Pentax K-S1Ystereomono--micro2.0---
9.
 
Sony A68YstereomonoY-micro2.0---
10.
 
Sony A5100-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
11.
 
Sony A6000Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-
12.
 
Sony A3000Ystereomono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Sony NEX-3N-stereomono--micro2.0---
14.
 
Sony NEX-5RYstereomono--mini2.0Y--
15.
 
Sony NEX-5NYstereomono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Sony NEX-5Ystereomono--mini2.0---

It is notable that the A58 has a microphone port, which is missing on the NEX-3. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.

Both the A58 and the NEX-3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The NEX-3 was replaced by the Sony NEX-3N, while the A58 was followed by the Sony A68. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Sony website.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Sony A58 better than the Sony NEX-3 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha SLT-A58:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (19.8 vs 14MP) with a 19% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.2 bits more color depth).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60i vs 720/30p).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (690 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 9 months of technical progress since the NEX-3 launch.


Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-3:

  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 460k dots).
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (117x62mm vs 129x95mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 195g or 40 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in May 2010).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A58 emerges as the winner of the contest (10 : 8 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 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.

A58 10:08 NEX-3

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Sony A58 and the Sony NEX-3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A58 or the NEX-3 perform in practice. 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

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.
 
Sony A583/5....4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2013 599 i
2.
 
Sony NEX-3....70/1004.5/54/5 May 2010 599 i
3.
 
Canon SL14/5+78/1004/54/5 Mar 2013 549 i
4.
 
Canon T5i....76/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649 i
5.
 
Nikon D56004/5..79/1004.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i
6.
 
Nikon D33003/5+77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499 i
7.
 
Nikon D32005/5+ +73/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 599 i
8.
 
Pentax K-S14/5....4.5/54/5 Aug 2014 749 i
9.
 
Sony A683/5....4/54/5 Nov 2015 699 i
10.
 
Sony A51004.5/5+..4.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i
11.
 
Sony A60005/5+80/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2014 599 i
12.
 
Sony A30003/5+..4/54/5 Aug 2013 329 i
13.
 
Sony NEX-3N3/5....4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499 i
14.
 
Sony NEX-5R......4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2012 749 i
15.
 
Sony NEX-5N3/5+ +79/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2011 699 i
16.
 
Sony NEX-53/5+ +71/1004.5/54/5 May 2010 699 i
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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Sony A58:
Check Ebay offers
Sony NEX-3:
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: Sony A58 vs Sony NEX-3

    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 Sony A58 Sony NEX-3
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Sony A mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2013 May 2010
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Sony A58 Sony NEX-3
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.5 x 15.6 mm 23.4 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 366.6 mm2 365.04 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.2 mm 28.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 19.8 Megapixels 14 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5456 x 3632 pixels 4592 x 3056 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.31 μm 5.11 μm
    Pixel Density 5.41 MP/cm2 3.84 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60i Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 16,000 ISO 200 - 12,800 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 25,600 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor BIONZ BIONZ
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 74 68
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.3 22.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.5 12.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 753 830
    Screen Specs Sony A58 Sony NEX-3
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.57x
    Viewfinder Resolution 1440k dots
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.7inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 460k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Sony A58 Sony NEX-3
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus Peakingno Peaking Feature
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 7 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationLens stabilization only
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium MS or SDXC cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Sony A58 Sony NEX-3
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Sony A58 Sony NEX-3
    Battery Type NP-FM500H NP-FW50
    Battery Life (CIPA)690 shots per charge330 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 129 x 95 x 78 mm
    (5.1 x 3.7 x 3.1 in)
    117 x 62 x 33 mm
    (4.6 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 492 g (17.4 oz) 297 g (10.5 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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