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Canon 30D vs Olympus E-520

The Canon EOS 30D and the Olympus E-520 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2006 and May 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (30D) and a Four Thirds (E-520) 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-520
Canon 30D   Olympus E-520
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 100-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 2.7 LCD, 215k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 3.5 shutter flaps per second
Lens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
750 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
144 x 106 x 74 mm, 785 g 136 x 92 x 68 mm, 535 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 30D and the Olympus E-520? 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-520. 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.

Size Canon 30D vs Olympus E-520
Compare 30D versus E-520 top
Comparison 30D or E-520 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-520 is notably smaller (18 percent) than the Canon 30D. Moreover, the E-520 is markedly lighter (32 percent) than the 30D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 30D nor the E-520 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. 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-520).

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-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 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 400D 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
9.
 
Canon 350D 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.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
12.
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699i
13.
 
Olympus E-600 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 535 g 500 n Aug 2009 449i
14.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699i
15.
 
Olympus E-420 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2008 599i
16.
 
Olympus E-410 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Mar 2007 699i
17.
 
Olympus E-510 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 n Mar 2007 799i
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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-520 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 50 percent) than the 30D, 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.

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. 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-520 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-520 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-520 offers a 4:3 aspect.

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

Canon 30D and Olympus E-520 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-520 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-520 is much more recent (by 2 years and 2 months) than the 30D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-520 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-520 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-520 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

30D versus E-520 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the 30D has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-520 (overall score 4 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.1 bits higher color depth, 0.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
2.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
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 400D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
9.
 
Canon 350D APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
10.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
11.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
12.
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
13.
 
Olympus E-600 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.510.354155
14.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
15.
 
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.452756
16.
 
Olympus E-410 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.110.049451
17.
 
Olympus E-510 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.210.044252
The E-520 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-520 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 (95%), but the viewfinder of the 30D has a higher magnification than the one of the E-520 (0.56x vs 0.46x), 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-520 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-520optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 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 400Doptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon 350Doptical 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.
 
Nikon D80optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D200optical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
13.
 
Olympus E-600optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
14.
 
Olympus E-620optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-420optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
16.
 
Olympus E-410optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
Olympus E-510optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y

One feature that is present on the 30D, but is missing on the E-520 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 30D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-520 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-520 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-520 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-520Y- / ----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 400DY- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Canon 350DY- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Canon 20DY- / ----1.1---
11.
 
Nikon D80Y- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D200Y- / ----2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-600Y- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-620Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-420Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-410Y- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Olympus E-510Y- / ----2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 30D (unlike the E-520) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 30D and the E-520 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 30D was replaced by the Canon 40D, while the E-520 does not have a direct successor. 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? Is the Canon 30D better than the Olympus E-520 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 30D:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.56x vs 0.46x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • 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 February 2006).

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Advantages of the Olympus E-520:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (10 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 8%.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More compact: Is smaller (136x92mm vs 144x106mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 250g or 32 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • 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 affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (50 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 2 months of technical progress since the 30D launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (8 points each). 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

30D 08:08 E-520

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 30D and the Olympus E-520 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 30D and the E-520 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-520..87/100..+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 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 400D..+ +..+ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
9.
 
Canon 350D..80/100..+ +o.. Feb 2005 899i
10.
 
Canon 20D......+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499i
11.
 
Nikon D80..+..+ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
12.
 
Nikon D200..+ +..+ +o.. Nov 2005 1,699i
13.
 
Olympus E-600..........4.5/5 Aug 2009 449i
14.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/100..72/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699i
15.
 
Olympus E-420..85/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2008 599i
16.
 
Olympus E-410..86/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2007 699i
17.
 
Olympus E-510..89/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Mar 2007 799i
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. 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. 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-520:
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 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: Canon 30D vs Olympus E-520

    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-520
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date February 2006 May 2008
    Launch Price USD 1,399 USD 699
    Sensor Specs Canon 30D Olympus E-520
    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 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 3,200 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor DIGIC 2 TruePic III
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 59 55
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.5 21.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 10.4
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 736 548
    Screen Specs Canon 30D Olympus E-520
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.56x 0.46x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 2.7inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 215k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 30D Olympus E-520
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 3.5 shutter flaps/s
    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-520
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    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-520
    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)
    136 x 92 x 68 mm
    (5.4 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
    Camera Weight 785 g (27.7 oz) 535 g (18.9 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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