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Canon G12 vs S120

The Canon PowerShot G12 and the Canon PowerShot S120 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2010 and August 2013. Both the G12 and the S120 are fixed lens compact cameras that are equipped with a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The G12 has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the S120 provides 12 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon G12 versus Canon S120
Canon G12 Canon S120
Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
28-140mm f/2.8-4.5 24-120mm f/1.8-5.7
10 MP, 1/1.7" Sensor 12 MP, 1/1.7" Sensor
720/24p Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 80-3,200 (80 - 12,800) ISO 80-12,800
Optical viewfinder No viewfinder, LCD framing
2.8 LCD, 461k dots 3.0 LCD, 922k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed touchscreen
1.1 shutter flaps per second 12.1 shutter flaps per second
370 shots per battery charge230 shots per battery charge
112 x 76 x 48 mm, 401 g 100 x 59 x 29 mm, 217 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot G12 and the Canon PowerShot S120? 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 physical size and weight of the Canon G12 and the Canon S120 are illustrated 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon G12 vs Canon S120
Compare G12 versus S120 top
Comparison G12 or S120 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon S120 is considerably smaller (31 percent) than the Canon G12. Moreover, the S120 is substantially lighter (46 percent) than the G12. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the G12 nor the S120 are weather-sealed.

Concerning battery life, the G12 gets 370 shots out of its NB-7L battery, while the S120 can take 230 images on a single charge of its NB-6LH power pack.

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 G12 112 mm 76 mm 48 mm 401 g 370 n Sep 2010 499i
2.
 
Canon S120 100 mm 59 mm 29 mm 217 g 230 n Aug 2013 449i
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 116 mm 74 mm 66 mm 553 g 240 n Feb 2014 799i
4.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
5.
 
Canon G15 107 mm 76 mm 40 mm 352 g 350 n Sep 2012 499i
6.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429i
7.
 
Fujifilm X10 117 mm 70 mm 57 mm 350 g 270 n Sep 2011 599i
8.
 
Nikon P7800 119 mm 78 mm 50 mm 399 g 350 n Sep 2013 549i
9.
 
Olympus E-450 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2009 499i
10.
 
Panasonic LF1 103 mm 62 mm 28 mm 192 g 250 n Apr 2013 499 i
11.
 
Panasonic FZ150 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 528 g 410 n Aug 2011 499i
12.
 
Panasonic G10 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 388 g 380 n Mar 2010 499i
13.
 
Panasonic G2 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 428 g 360 n Mar 2010 599i
14.
 
Panasonic LX5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Jul 2010 499i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 S120 was somewhat cheaper (by 10 percent) than the G12 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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 sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a 1/1.7-inch sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 4.6. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the smaller-sensor digicams that favor affordability and compact design. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Canon G12 and Canon S120 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the S120 offers a higher resolution of 12 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the G12. This megapixels advantage translates into a 10 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the S120 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.89μm versus 2.07μm for the G12). However, it should be noted that the S120 is much more recent (by 2 years and 11 months) than the G12, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.

The resolution advantage of the Canon S120 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S120 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon G12 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon PowerShot G12 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 80-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon PowerShot S120 are ISO 80 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

G12 versus S120 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 consideration, the S120 has a markedly higher DXO score than the G12 (overall score 9 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 0.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.6 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 G12 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/24p20.411.216147
2.
 
Canon S120 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.311.924656
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
4.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
5.
 
Canon G15 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.911.516546
6.
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.217947
7.
 
Fujifilm X10 2/3 12.0 4000 30001080/30p20.511.324550
8.
 
Nikon P7800 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/30p21.211.720054
9.
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.551256
10.
 
Panasonic LF1 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60i20.811.621152
11.
 
Panasonic FZ150 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.410.913240
12.
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152
13.
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353
14.
 
Panasonic LX5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.610.813241

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the S120 provides a better video resolution than the G12. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the G12 is limited to 720/24p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the G12 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the S120 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon G12 and Canon S120 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
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.
 
Canon G12optical n 2.8 461 swivel n 1/4000s 1.1 Y Y
2.
 
Canon S120none n 3.0 922 fixed Y 1/2000s 12.1 Y Y
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIoptional n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 5.2 Y Y
4.
 
Canon G16optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y
5.
 
Canon G15optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.1 Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX50202 n 3.0 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2 Y Y
7.
 
Fujifilm X10optical n 2.8 460 fixed n 1/4000s 10.0 Y Y
8.
 
Nikon P7800921 n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
9.
 
Olympus E-450optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
10.
 
Panasonic LF1200 n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 10.0 Y Y
11.
 
Panasonic FZ150202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0 Y Y
12.
 
Panasonic G10202 n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
13.
 
Panasonic G21440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
14.
 
Panasonic LX5optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y Y

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The S120 has a touchscreen, while the G12 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The Canon S120 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.

Both the G12 and the S120 have zoom lenses built in. The G12 has a 28-140mm f/2.8-4.5 optic and the S120 offers a 24-120mm f/1.8-5.7 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the S120 provides a wider angle of view at the short end than the G12, but less tele-photo reach at the long end. The S120 offers the faster maximum aperture.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the G12 and the S120 write their files to SDXC cards. The S120 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the G12 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 Canon PowerShot G12 and Canon PowerShot S120 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.
 
Canon G12Ystereomono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Canon S120-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereomono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon G16Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
5.
 
Canon G15Ystereomono--mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon SX50Ystereomono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Fujifilm X10Ystereomono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Nikon P7800YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
9.
 
Olympus E-450Y-----2.0---
10.
 
Panasonic LF1-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
11.
 
Panasonic FZ150Ystereo---mini2.0---
12.
 
Panasonic G10Ymono---mini2.0---
13.
 
Panasonic G2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic LX5Ymonomono--mini2.0---

It is notable that the G12 has a hotshoe, while the S120 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.

Both the G12 and the S120 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The G12 was replaced by the Canon G15, while the S120 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 website.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon G12 or the Canon S120 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Advantages of the Canon PowerShot G12:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • More tele-reach: Has a longer tele-lens for perspective compression and subject magnification.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (370 versus 230) on a single battery charge.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2010).


Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot S120:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (9 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60p vs 720/24p).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 461k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12.1 vs 1.1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/1.8 vs f/2.8).
  • Wider view: Has a wider-angle lens that facilitates landscape or interior shots.
  • More compact: Is smaller (100x59mm vs 112x76mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 184g or 46 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 11 months of technical progress since the G12 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the S120 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 7 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.

G12 07:17 S120

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon G12 and the Canon S120 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera listing 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 G12 or the S120 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 where reviews by experts come in. 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.
 
Canon G124/5+73/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 499i
2.
 
Canon S120..+ +..4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 449i
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II3/5+77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799i
4.
 
Canon G164/5+..4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
5.
 
Canon G154/5+76/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
6.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429i
7.
 
Fujifilm X10....76/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2011 599i
8.
 
Nikon P78003/5....4/54.5/5 Sep 2013 549i
9.
 
Olympus E-450......4/54/5 Mar 2009 499i
10.
 
Panasonic LF13/5+..4/54.5/5 Apr 2013 499 i
11.
 
Panasonic FZ1503/5+ +76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2011 499i
12.
 
Panasonic G103/5..70/1004/54/5 Mar 2010 499i
13.
 
Panasonic G2....72/1004/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599i
14.
 
Panasonic LX54/5+73/1004.5/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon G12:
Check Ebay offers
Canon S120:
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 G12 vs Canon S120

    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 G12 Canon S120
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 28-140mm f/2.8-4.5 24-120mm f/1.8-5.7
    Launch Date September 2010 August 2013
    Launch Price USD 499 USD 449
    Sensor Specs Canon G12 Canon S120
    Sensor Technology CCD BSI-CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/1.7" Sensor 1/1.7" Sensor
    Sensor Size 7.6 x 5.7 mm 7.6 x 5.7 mm
    Sensor Area 43.32 mm2 43.32 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 9.5 mm 9.5 mm
    Crop Factor 4.6x 4.5x
    Sensor Resolution 10 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3648 x 2736 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 2.07 μm 1.89 μm
    Pixel Density 23.04 MP/cm2 27.70 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/24p Video 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 3,200 ISO 80 - 12,800 ISO
    ISO Boost 80 - 12,800 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 Digic 6
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 47 56
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.4 21.3
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.2 11.9
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 161 246
    Screen Specs Canon G12 Canon S120
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder no viewfinder
    Viewfinder Magnification
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.8inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots 922k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon G12 Canon S120
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/2000s
    Continuous Shooting 1.1 shutter flaps/s 12.1 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Canon G12 Canon S120
    External Flash Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Body Specs Canon G12 Canon S120
    Battery Type NB-7L NB-6LH
    Battery Life (CIPA)370 shots per charge230 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 112 x 76 x 48 mm
    (4.4 x 3.0 x 1.9 in)
    100 x 59 x 29 mm
    (3.9 x 2.3 x 1.1 in)
    Camera Weight 401 g (14.1 oz) 217 g (7.7 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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