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Canon 30D vs Olympus E-3

The Canon EOS 30D and the Olympus E-3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2006 and October 2007. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (30D) and a Four Thirds (E-3) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8.2 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 10 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon 30D
versus
Olympus E-3
Canon 30D   Olympus E-3
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
8.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 10 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200) ISO 100-3,200
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 2.5 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
Lens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
750 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
144 x 106 x 74 mm, 785 g 142 x 116 x 75 mm, 876 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 30D and the Olympus E-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

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 30D and the Olympus E-3. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 30D vs Olympus E-3
Compare 30D versus E-3 top
Comparison 30D or E-3 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-3 is notably larger (8 percent) than the Canon 30D. Moreover, the E-3 is markedly heavier (12 percent) than the 30D. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-3 is splash and dust-proof, while the 30D does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (30D) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-3).

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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
1.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
2.
 
Olympus E-3 142 mm 116 mm 75 mm 876 g 750 Y Oct 2007 1,699i
3.
 
Canon 70D 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199i
4.
 
Canon 60D 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399i
5.
 
Canon 7D 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699i
6.
 
Canon 50D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299i
7.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
8.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
9.
 
Canon XT 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899i
10.
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
11.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
12.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
13.
 
Olympus E-5 142 mm 117 mm 75 mm 873 g 750 Y Sep 2010 1,699i
14.
 
Olympus E-30 142 mm 108 mm 75 mm 701 g 750 n Nov 2008 1,299i
15.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699i
16.
 
Olympus E-510 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 n Mar 2007 799i
17.
 
Olympus E-1 141 mm 104 mm 81 mm 738 g 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699i
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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 30D was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 18 percent) than the E-3, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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

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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 30D features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-3 is 33 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 2.0. The sensor in the 30D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-3 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Canon 30D and Olympus E-3 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-3 offers a higher resolution of 10 megapixels, compared with 8.2 MP of the 30D. 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 4.74μm versus 6.42μm for the 30D). However, it should be noted that the E-3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 7 months) than the 30D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.

The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 30D are 17.5 x 11.7 inches or 44.5 x 29.7 cm for good quality, 14 x 9.3 inches or 35.6 x 23.7 cm for very good quality, and 11.7 x 7.8 inches or 29.7 x 19.8 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 30D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-3 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).

30D versus E-3 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. 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.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
2.
 
Olympus E-3 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.610.557156
3.
 
Canon 70D APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
4.
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
5.
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
6.
 
Canon 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663
7.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
8.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
9.
 
Canon XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
10.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
11.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
12.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
13.
 
Olympus E-5 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.610.551956
14.
 
Olympus E-30 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.453055
15.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
16.
 
Olympus E-510 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.210.044252
17.
 
Olympus E-1 Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920none20.09.7-14544
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
The E-3 offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The 30D lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 30D and the E-3 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 viewfinder in the E-3 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 30D (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the E-3 has a higher magnification (0.58x vs 0.56x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 30D and Olympus E-3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/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.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-3optical Y2.5 / 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
3.
 
Canon 70Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon 60Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3 Y n
5.
 
Canon 7Doptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon 50Doptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3 Y n
7.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
8.
 
Canon XTioptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon XToptical n1.8 / 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Canon 20Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
11.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
13.
 
Olympus E-5optical Y3.0 / 920 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
14.
 
Olympus E-30optical Y2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-520optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y Y
16.
 
Olympus E-510optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
17.
 
Olympus E-1optical Y1.8 / 134 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n

One feature that differentiates the E-3 and the 30D is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-3 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the 30D offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.

The E-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 30D does not have a selfie-screen.

The 30D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-3 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-3 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 30D only has one slot.

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 Canon EOS 30D and Olympus E-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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon 30DY- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-3Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon 70DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0Y--
4.
 
Canon 60DYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Canon 7DYmono / -Y-mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon 50DY- / ---mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon 40DY- / ----2.0---
8.
 
Canon XTiY- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Canon XTY- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Canon 20DY- / ----1.1---
11.
 
Canon 10DY- / ----1.1---
12.
 
Canon RebelY- / ----1.1---
13.
 
Olympus E-5Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-30Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-520Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-510Y- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Olympus E-1Y- / ----2.0---

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the 30D and the E-3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 30D was replaced by the Canon 40D, while the E-3 was followed by the Olympus E-5. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Olympus websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 30D or the Olympus E-3 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS 30D:

  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 91g or 10 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (18 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2006).

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-3:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (10 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 8%.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.58x vs 0.56x).
  • 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.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 7 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-3 is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 4 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 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.

30D 04:09 E-3

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 30D and the Olympus E-3 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 30D and the E-3 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 adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 30D..+ +..+ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
2.
 
Olympus E-3..88/100..+ +o4/5 Oct 2007 1,699i
3.
 
Canon 70D5/5+ +..83/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199i
4.
 
Canon 60D5/5+..79/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399i
5.
 
Canon 7D5/5+ +..84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699i
6.
 
Canon 50D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
7.
 
Canon 40D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
8.
 
Canon XTi..+ +..+ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
9.
 
Canon XT..80/100..+ +o.. Feb 2005 899i
10.
 
Canon 20D......+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499i
11.
 
Canon 10D......+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
12.
 
Canon Rebel......+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
13.
 
Olympus E-54/5....75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,699i
14.
 
Olympus E-30......71/1004.5/54/5 Nov 2008 1,299i
15.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100..+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699i
16.
 
Olympus E-510..89/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Mar 2007 799i
17.
 
Olympus E-1......+o.. Jun 2003 1,699i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon 30D:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-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: Canon 30D vs Olympus E-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 Canon 30D Olympus E-3
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date February 2006 October 2007
    Launch Price USD 1,399 USD 1,699
    Sensor Specs Canon 30D Olympus E-3
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.5 x 15.0 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 337.5 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 27 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 8.2 Megapixels 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3504 x 2336 pixels 3648 x 2736 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.42 μm 4.74 μm
    Pixel Density 2.43 MP/cm2 4.44 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 3,200 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor DIGIC 2 TruePic III
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 59 56
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.5 21.6
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 10.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 736 571
    Screen Specs Canon 30D Olympus E-3
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.56x 0.58x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 30D Olympus E-3
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations150 000 actuations
    Image StabilizationLens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon 30D Olympus E-3
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 30D Olympus E-3
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-511A BLM-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)750 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 144 x 106 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in)
    142 x 116 x 75 mm
    (5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 785 g (27.7 oz) 876 g (30.9 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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