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Canon G12 vs Nikon D1

The Canon PowerShot G12 and the Nikon D1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2010 and June 1999. The G12 is a fixed lens compact, while the D1 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/1.7-inch (G12) and an APS-C (D1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 2.6 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
Nikon D1
Canon G12   Nikon D1
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
28-140mm f/2.8-4.5 Nikon F mount lenses
10 MP, 1/1.7" Sensor 2.6 MP, APS-C Sensor
720/24p Video no Video
ISO 80-3,200 (80 - 12,800) ISO 200-1,600 (200 - 6,400)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.8 LCD, 461k dots 2.0 LCD, 120k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1.1 shutter flaps per second 1.5 shutter flaps per second
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
112 x 76 x 48 mm, 401 g 157 x 153 x 85 mm, 1100 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot G12 and the Nikon D1? 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 Nikon D1 are illustrated 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon G12 vs Nikon D1
Compare G12 versus D1 top
Comparison G12 or D1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D1 is considerably larger (182 percent) than the Canon G12. It is noteworthy in this context that the D1 is splash and dust-proof, while the G12 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the G12 has a lens built in, whereas the D1 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the D1 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

As can be seen in the images above, the D1 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.

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.
 
Canon G12 112 mm 76 mm 48 mm 401 g 370 n Sep 2010 499i
2.
 
Nikon D1 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g .. Y Jun 1999 5,499i
3.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
4.
 
Canon G15 107 mm 76 mm 40 mm 352 g 350 n Sep 2012 499i
5.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429i
6.
 
Fujifilm X10 117 mm 70 mm 57 mm 350 g 270 n Sep 2011 599i
7.
 
Nikon P7800 119 mm 78 mm 50 mm 399 g 350 n Sep 2013 549i
8.
 
Nikon D300S 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 938 g 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799i
9.
 
Nikon D300 147 mm 114 mm 74 mm 925 g 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799i
10.
 
Nikon D2Xs 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699i
11.
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699i
12.
 
Nikon D1X 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999i
13.
 
Olympus E-450 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2009 499i
14.
 
Panasonic FZ150 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 528 g 410 n Aug 2011 499i
15.
 
Panasonic G10 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 388 g 380 n Mar 2010 499i
16.
 
Panasonic G2 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 428 g 360 n Mar 2010 599i
17.
 
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 G12 was launched at a lower price than the D1, despite having a lens built in. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon G12 features a 1/1.7-inch sensor and the Nikon D1 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D1 is 760 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.6 and 1.5. The sensor in the G12 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D1 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CCD (Charged Coupled Device) sensors.

Canon G12 and Nikon D1 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon G12 offers a higher resolution of 10 megapixels, compared with 2.6 MP of the Nikon D1. 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 2.07μm versus 11.93μm for the D1). However, it should be noted that the G12 is much more recent (by 11 years and 3 months) than the D1, 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 Canon G12 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the G12 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 Nikon D1 are 10 x 6.6 inches or 25.4 x 16.7 cm for good quality, 8 x 5.2 inches or 20.3 x 13.3 cm for very good quality, and 6.7 x 4.4 inches or 16.9 x 11.1 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 Nikon D1 are ISO 200 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-6400.

G12 versus D1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. 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 G12 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/24p20.411.216147
2.
 
Nikon D1 APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........
3.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
4.
 
Canon G15 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.911.516546
5.
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.217947
6.
 
Fujifilm X10 2/3 12.0 4000 30001080/30p20.511.324550
7.
 
Nikon P7800 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/30p21.211.720054
8.
 
Nikon D300S APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770
9.
 
Nikon D300 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.112.067967
10.
 
Nikon D2Xs APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.210.948959
11.
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
12.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
13.
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.551256
14.
 
Panasonic FZ150 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.410.913240
15.
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152
16.
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353
17.
 
Panasonic LX5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.610.813241

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The G12 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the G12 can use is 720/24p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The G12 and the D1 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 G12, the Nikon D1, and comparable 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 G12optical n2.8 / 461 swivel n 1/4000s 1.1 Y Y
2.
 
Nikon D1optical Y2.0 / 120 fixed n 1/16000s 1.5 n n
3.
 
Canon G16optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y
4.
 
Canon G15optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.1 Y Y
5.
 
Canon SX50202 n3.0 / 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2 Y Y
6.
 
Fujifilm X10optical n2.8 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 10.0 Y Y
7.
 
Nikon P7800921 n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
8.
 
Nikon D300Soptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
9.
 
Nikon D300optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
10.
 
Nikon D2Xsoptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
11.
 
Nikon D200optical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y2.0 / 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n
13.
 
Olympus E-450optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
14.
 
Panasonic FZ150202 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0 Y Y
15.
 
Panasonic G10202 n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
16.
 
Panasonic G21440 n3.0 / 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
17.
 
Panasonic LX5optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y Y

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The G12 has one, while the D1 does not. While the built-in flash of the G12 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The G12 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D1 uses Compact Flash 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 PowerShot G12 and Nikon D1 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 G12Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Nikon D1Y- / ----FW---
3.
 
Canon G16Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
4.
 
Canon G15Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
5.
 
Canon SX50Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
6.
 
Fujifilm X10Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Nikon P7800Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D300SYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D300Y- / ---mini2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D2XsY- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D200Y- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D1XY- / ----FW---
13.
 
Olympus E-450Y- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic FZ150Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic G10Ymono / ---mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic G2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic LX5Ymono / mono--mini2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D1 (unlike the G12) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the G12 and the D1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D1 was replaced by the Nikon D1X, while the G12 was followed by the Canon G15. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Canon G12 better than the Nikon D1 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot G12:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (10 vs 2.6MP) with a 91% higher linear resolution.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 720/24p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.8" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (461k vs 120k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D1 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (112x76mm vs 157x153mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D1).
  • 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 affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 11 years and 3 months of technical progress since the D1 launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D1:

  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/16000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (1.5 vs 1.1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 1999).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (12 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

G12 12:12 D1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon G12 and the Nikon D1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings 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 G12 and the D1 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

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], 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 G124/5+..73/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 499i
2.
 
Nikon D1......+ +.... Jun 1999 5,499i
3.
 
Canon G164/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
4.
 
Canon G154/5+..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
5.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429i
6.
 
Fujifilm X10......76/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2011 599i
7.
 
Nikon P78003/5......4/54.5/5 Sep 2013 549i
8.
 
Nikon D300S5/5+ +..82/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799i
9.
 
Nikon D300..+ +..+ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799i
10.
 
Nikon D2Xs............ Jun 2006 4,699i
11.
 
Nikon D200..+ +..+ +o.. Nov 2005 1,699i
12.
 
Nikon D1X......+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999i
13.
 
Olympus E-450........4/54/5 Mar 2009 499i
14.
 
Panasonic FZ1503/5+ +..76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2011 499i
15.
 
Panasonic G103/5....70/1004/54/5 Mar 2010 499i
16.
 
Panasonic G2......72/1004/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599i
17.
 
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. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon G12:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D1:
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 make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Canon G12 vs Nikon D1

    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 Nikon D1
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 28-140mm f/2.8-4.5 Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2010 June 1999
    Launch Price USD 499 USD 5,499
    Sensor Specs Canon G12 Nikon D1
    Sensor Technology CCD CCD
    Sensor Format 1/1.7" Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 7.6 x 5.7 mm 23.7 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 43.32 mm2 369.72 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 9.5 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 4.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 10 Megapixels 2.6 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3648 x 2736 pixels 2000 x 1312 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 2.07 μm 11.93 μm
    Pixel Density 23.04 MP/cm2 0.71 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/24p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 3,200 ISO 200 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 80 - 12,800 ISO 200 - 6,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 47 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.4 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.2 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 161 ..
    Screen Specs Canon G12 Nikon D1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 96%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.8inch 2.0inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots 120k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon G12 Nikon D1
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1.1 shutter flaps/s 1.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon G12 Nikon D1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash no PC Sync PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 Firewire
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon G12 Nikon D1
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type NB-7L EN-4
    Body Dimensions 112 x 76 x 48 mm
    (4.4 x 3.0 x 1.9 in)
    157 x 153 x 85 mm
    (6.2 x 6.0 x 3.3 in)
    Camera Weight 401 g (14.1 oz) 1100 g (38.8 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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