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Canon 5D vs Leica M8

The Canon EOS 5D and the Leica M8 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2005 and September 2006. The 5D is a DSLR, while the M8 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (5D) and an APS-H (M8) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12.7 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 10.4 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon 5D VS Leica M8
Canon 5D Leica M8
Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
Canon EF mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
12.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor 10.4 MP, APS-H Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1600 (50-3200) ISO 160-2500
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5" LCD, 230k dots 2.5" LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 2 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyNot weather sealed
152 x 113 x 75 mm, 895 g 139 x 80 x 37 mm, 591 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 5D and the Leica M8? 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 Canon 5D and the Leica M8 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The M8 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the 5D is only available in black.

Size Canon 5D vs Leica M8
Compare 5D versus M8 top
Comparison 5D or M8 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica M8 is considerably smaller (35 percent) than the Canon 5D. Moreover, the M8 is markedly lighter (34 percent) than the 5D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 5D is splash and dust resistant, while the M8 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 (5D) and the Leica M Lens Catalog (M8).

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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)
Camera
Model
 
Canon 5D» 152 mm 113 mm 75 mm 895 g 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299iCanon 5D
 
Leica M8« 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499iLeica M8
 
Canon 6D Mark II« » 144 mm 111 mm 75 mm 765 g 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 iCanon 6D Mark II
 
Canon 5D Mark IV« » 151 mm 116 mm 76 mm 890 g 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 iCanon 5D Mark IV
 
Canon 5DS« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 iCanon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 iCanon 5DS R
 
Canon 5D Mark III« » 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499iCanon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 6D« » 145 mm 111 mm 71 mm 770 g 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099iCanon 6D
 
Canon 5D Mark II« » 152 mm 114 mm 75 mm 850 g 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499iCanon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 50D« » 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299iCanon 50D
 
Canon 400D« » 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799iCanon 400D
 
Canon 1D Mark II N« » 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1565 g 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999iCanon 1D Mark II N
 
Leica M10« » 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 iLeica M10
 
Leica M9« » 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999iLeica M9
 
Nikon D700« » 147 mm 123 mm 77 mm 1074 g 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999iNikon D700
 
Nikon D80« » 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999iNikon D80
 
Panasonic L10« » 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599iPanasonic L10
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 5D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the M8, 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 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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 5D features a full frame sensor and the Leica M8 an APS-H sensor. The sensor area in the M8 is 44 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.3. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 5D and Leica M8 sensor measures

With 12.7MP, the 5D offers a higher resolution than the M8 (10.4MP), but the 5D nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 8.25μm versus 6.84μm for the M8) due to its larger sensor. However, the M8 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 1 month) than the 5D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the M8 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Canon 5D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 5D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.8 x 14.6 inch or 55.5 x 37 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17.5 x 11.6 inch or 44.4 x 29.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.6 x 9.7 inch or 37 x 24.7 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica M8 are 19.7 x 13.2 inch or 50 x 33.4 cm for good quality, 15.7 x 10.5 inch or 40 x 26.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.1 x 8.8 inch or 33.3 x 22.3 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 5D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 50-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica M8 are ISO 160 to ISO 2500 (no boost).

5D versus M8 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 5D provides substantially higher image quality than the M8, with an overall score that is 12 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.8 bits higher color depth, 0.2 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1 stops in additional 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Canon 5D Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912none22.911.1136871Canon 5D
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359Leica M8
 
Canon 6D Mark II Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285Canon 6D Mark II
 
Canon 5D Mark IV Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591Canon 5D Mark IV
 
Canon 5DS Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.712.4238187Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.612.4230886Canon 5DS R
 
Canon 5D Mark III Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 6D Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082Canon 6D
 
Canon 5D Mark II Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663Canon 50D
 
Canon 400D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462Canon 400D
 
Canon 1D Mark II N APS-H 8.2 3504 2336none22.311.297566Canon 1D Mark II N
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386Leica M10
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469Leica M9
 
Nikon D700 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2230380Nikon D700
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461Nikon D80
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955Panasonic L10
Neither the 5D nor the M8 offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, 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 5D and the M8 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 5D, the Leica M8, and comparable 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
 
Canon 5Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n Canon 5D
 
Leica M8optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n Leica M8
 
Canon 6D Mark IIoptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.5 n n Canon 6D Mark II
 
Canon 5D Mark IVoptical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 7.0 n n Canon 5D Mark IV
 
Canon 5DSoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS Roptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n Canon 5DS R
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 n n Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 6Doptical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 n n Canon 6D
 
Canon 5D Mark IIoptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 3.9 n n Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 50Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3 Y n Canon 50D
 
Canon 400Doptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Canon 400D
 
Canon 1D Mark II Noptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 8.5 n n Canon 1D Mark II N
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n Leica M10
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n Leica M9
 
Nikon D700optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n Nikon D700
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D80
 
Panasonic L10optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Panasonic L10

One feature that is present on the 5D, but is missing on the M8 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 5D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the M8 uses SDXC cards.

 

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 5D and Leica M8 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
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Canon 5DYnonenone--none2.0---Canon 5D
 
Leica M8Ynonenone--none2.0---Leica M8
 
Canon 6D Mark IIYstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon 6D Mark II
 
Canon 5D Mark IVYmonomonoYYmini3.0YY-Canon 5D Mark IV
 
Canon 5DSYmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS RYmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS R
 
Canon 5D Mark IIIYmonomonoYYmini2.0---Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 6DYmonomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 6D
 
Canon 5D Mark IIYmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 50DYnonenone--mini2.0---Canon 50D
 
Canon 400DYnonenone--none2.0---Canon 400D
 
Canon 1D Mark II NYnonenone--none1.1---Canon 1D Mark II N
 
Leica M10Ynonenone--nonenoneY--Leica M10
 
Leica M9Ynonenone--none2.0---Leica M9
 
Nikon D700Ynonenone--mini2.0---Nikon D700
 
Nikon D80Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D80
 
Panasonic L10Ynonenone--none2.0---Panasonic L10

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 5D (unlike the M8) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 5D and the M8 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 5D was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark II, while the M8 was followed by the Leica M9. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Leica websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 5D and the Leica M8? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 5D:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.7 vs 10.4MP) with a 11% higher linear resolution.
  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (12 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.8 bits more color depth).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1 stops ISO advantage).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2005).

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Reasons to prefer the Leica M8:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 152x113mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 304g or 34 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 1 month) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 5D is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 5 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.

5D 11:05 M8

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 5D and the M8 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

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. 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
cam
era
  labs  
dp
re
  view  
e
photo
  zine  
ima
ging
resource
photo
graphy
  blog  
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Canon 5D88/100+ +oo.. Aug 2005 3,299iCanon 5D
 
Leica M8..+ +...... Sep 2006 5,499iLeica M8
 
Canon 6D Mark II+80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 iCanon 6D Mark II
 
Canon 5D Mark IV+ +87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 iCanon 5D Mark IV
 
Canon 5DS+83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 iCanon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R+83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 iCanon 5DS R
 
Canon 5D Mark III+ +82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499iCanon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 6D+ +83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099iCanon 6D
 
Canon 5D Mark II91/10079/1004/55/5.. Sep 2008 3,499iCanon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 50D+ ++ +4.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299iCanon 50D
 
Canon 400D+ ++ +o4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799iCanon 400D
 
Canon 1D Mark II N.......... Aug 2005 3,999iCanon 1D Mark II N
 
Leica M10....4/5..4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 iLeica M10
 
Leica M9....4.5/54.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999iLeica M9
 
Nikon D70089/100+ +4.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999iNikon D700
 
Nikon D80++ +o4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999iNikon D80
 
Panasonic L1085/100+3.5/5o4/5 Aug 2007 599iPanasonic L10
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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.

Canon 5D:
Check Ebay offers
Leica M8:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon 5D vs Leica M8

    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 5D Leica M8
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2005 September 2006
    Launch Price USD 3299 USD 5499
    Sensor Specs Canon 5D Leica M8
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor APS-H Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 27.0 x 18.0 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 486 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 32.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.3x
    Sensor Resolution 12.7 Megapixels 10.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4368 x 2912 pixels 3936 x 2630 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 8.25 μm 6.84 μm
    Pixel Density 1.47 MP/cm2 2.13 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100-1600 ISO 160-2500 ISO
    ISO Boost 50-3200 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 71 59
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.9 21.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.1 11.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1368 663
    Screen Specs Canon 5D Leica M8
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 96% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.71x ..x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    Rear LCD Size 2.5 inch 2.5 inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 5D Leica M8
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Manual Focus
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 2 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 5D Leica M8
    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 5D Leica M8
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyNot weather sealed
    Battery Type BP-511A BLI-312
    Body Dimensions 152 x 113 x 75 mm
    (6.0 x 4.4 x 3.0 in)
    139 x 80 x 37 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 895 g (31.6 oz) 591 g (20.8 oz)

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