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Canon G12 vs Panasonic L1

The Canon PowerShot G12 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2010 and February 2006. The G12 is a fixed lens compact, while the L1 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/1.7-inch (G12) and a Four Thirds (L1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 7.4 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
Panasonic L1
Canon G12   Panasonic L1
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
28-140mm f/2.8-4.5 Four Thirds lenses
10 MP – 1/1.7" sensor 7.4 MP – Four Thirds sensor
720/24p Video no Video
ISO 80-3,200 (80 - 12,800) ISO 100-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.8" LCD – 461k dots 2.5" LCD – 207k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1.1 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
370 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
112 x 76 x 48 mm, 401 g 146 x 87 x 64 mm, 606 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot G12 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1? 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 G12 and the Panasonic L1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon G12 vs Panasonic L1
Compare G12 versus L1 top
Comparison G12 or L1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic L1 is considerably larger (49 percent) than the Canon G12. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the G12 nor the L1 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the G12 has a lens built in, whereas the L1 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 L1 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons 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 499ebay.com
2.
 
Panasonic L1 146 mm 87 mm 64 mm 606 g 750 n Feb 2006 999ebay.com
3.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549ebay.com
4.
 
Canon G15 107 mm 76 mm 40 mm 352 g 350 n Sep 2012 499ebay.com
5.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429ebay.com
6.
 
Canon XT 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899ebay.com
7.
 
Fujifilm X10 117 mm 70 mm 57 mm 350 g 270 n Sep 2011 599ebay.com
8.
 
Leica Digilux 3 146 mm 87 mm 77 mm 606 g 750 n Sep 2006 1,499ebay.com
9.
 
Nikon P7800 119 mm 78 mm 50 mm 399 g 350 n Sep 2013 549ebay.com
10.
 
Olympus E-450 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2009 499ebay.com
11.
 
Olympus E-330 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999ebay.com
12.
 
Olympus E-300 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 n Sep 2004 799ebay.com
13.
 
Panasonic FZ150 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 528 g 410 n Aug 2011 499ebay.com
14.
 
Panasonic G10 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 388 g 380 n Mar 2010 499ebay.com
15.
 
Panasonic G2 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 428 g 360 n Mar 2010 599ebay.com
16.
 
Panasonic LX5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Jul 2010 499ebay.com
17.
 
Panasonic L10 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599ebay.com
Note: 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 G12 was launched at a lower price than the L1, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 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 Panasonic L1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the L1 is 423 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.6 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Canon G12 and Panasonic L1 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon G12 offers a higher resolution of 10 megapixels, compared with 7.4 MP of the Panasonic L1. 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 5.51μm for the L1). However, it should be noted that the G12 is much more recent (by 4 years and 6 months) than the L1, 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 Panasonic L1 are 15.7 x 11.8 inches or 39.8 x 29.9 cm for good quality, 12.5 x 9.4 inches or 31.9 x 23.9 cm for very good quality, and 10.5 x 7.8 inches or 26.6 x 19.9 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

In terms of underlying technology, the G12 is build around a CCD sensor, while the L1 uses a CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

G12 versus L1 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). 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.
 
Panasonic L1 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none20.810.48052
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.
 
Canon XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
7.
 
Fujifilm X10 2/3 12.0 4000 30001080/30p20.511.324550
8.
 
Leica Digilux 3 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none21.010.612753
9.
 
Nikon P7800 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/30p21.211.720054
10.
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.551256
11.
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none20.810.47352
12.
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none20.410.1-4048
13.
 
Panasonic FZ150 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.410.913240
14.
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152
15.
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353
16.
 
Panasonic LX5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.610.813241
17.
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

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 L1 does not. The highest resolution format that the G12 can use is 720/24p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The G12 and the L1 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 Panasonic L1, 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)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon G12optical n2.8 / 461 swivel n 1/4000s 1.1/s Y Y
2.
 
Panasonic L1optical n2.5 / 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
3.
 
Canon G16optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2/s Y Y
4.
 
Canon G15optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.1/s Y Y
5.
 
Canon SX50202 n3.0 / 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2/s Y Y
6.
 
Canon XToptical n1.8 / 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
7.
 
Fujifilm X10optical n2.8 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 10.0/s Y Y
8.
 
Leica Digilux 3optical n2.5 / 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
9.
 
Nikon P7800921 n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 8.0/s Y Y
10.
 
Olympus E-450optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y n
11.
 
Olympus E-330optical n2.5 / 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
12.
 
Olympus E-300optical n1.8 / 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
13.
 
Panasonic FZ150202 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0/s Y Y
14.
 
Panasonic G10202 n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6/s Y n
15.
 
Panasonic G21440 n3.0 / 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6/s Y n
16.
 
Panasonic LX5optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y Y
17.
 
Panasonic L10optical n2.5 / 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

The G12 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the L1 uses SDHC 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 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.
 
Panasonic L1Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon G16Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
4.
 
Canon G15Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
5.
 
Canon SX50Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon XTY- / ----2.0---
7.
 
Fujifilm X10Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Leica Digilux 3Ystereo / mono---2.0---
9.
 
Nikon P7800Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0---
10.
 
Olympus E-450Y- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Olympus E-330Y- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Olympus E-300Y- / ----2.0---
13.
 
Panasonic FZ150Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic G10Ymono / ---mini2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic G2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic LX5Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic L10Y- / ----2.0---

Both the G12 and the L1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The L1 was replaced by the Panasonic L10, 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 Panasonic websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon G12 or the Panasonic L1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot G12:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (10 vs 7.4MP) with a 16% 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 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (461k vs 207k 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 L1 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (112x76mm vs 146x87mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the L1).
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 6 months of technical progress since the L1 launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:

  • 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.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 1.1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 370) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2006).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the G12 emerges as the winner of the contest (11 : 8 points). 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 11:08 L1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon G12 and the Panasonic L1 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 L1 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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 G124/5+..73/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 499ebay.com
2.
 
Panasonic L1..85/100..+..3.5/5 Feb 2006 999ebay.com
3.
 
Canon G164/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549ebay.com
4.
 
Canon G154/5+..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499ebay.com
5.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429ebay.com
6.
 
Canon XT..80/100..+ +o.. Feb 2005 899ebay.com
7.
 
Fujifilm X10......76/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2011 599ebay.com
8.
 
Leica Digilux 3............ Sep 2006 1,499ebay.com
9.
 
Nikon P78003/5......4/54.5/5 Sep 2013 549ebay.com
10.
 
Olympus E-450........4/54/5 Mar 2009 499ebay.com
11.
 
Olympus E-330......+o.. Jan 2006 999ebay.com
12.
 
Olympus E-300......+o4.5/5 Sep 2004 799ebay.com
13.
 
Panasonic FZ1503/5+ +..76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2011 499ebay.com
14.
 
Panasonic G103/5....70/1004/54/5 Mar 2010 499ebay.com
15.
 
Panasonic G2......72/1004/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599ebay.com
16.
 
Panasonic LX54/5+..73/1004.5/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499ebay.com
17.
 
Panasonic L10..85/100..+3.5/54/5 Aug 2007 599ebay.com
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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

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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. 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 Panasonic L1

    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 Panasonic L1
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 28-140mm f/2.8-4.5 Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2010 February 2006
    Launch Price USD 499 USD 999
    Sensor Specs Canon G12 Panasonic L1
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/1.7" Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 7.6 x 5.7 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 43.32 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 9.5 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 4.6x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 10 Megapixels 7.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3648 x 2736 pixels 3136 x 2352 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 2.07 μm 5.51 μm
    Pixel Density 23.04 MP/cm2 3.28 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/24p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 80 - 12,800 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 Venus
    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 Panasonic L1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.47x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.8inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots 207k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon G12 Panasonic L1
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1.1 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon G12 Panasonic L1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon G12 Panasonic L1
    Battery Type NB-7L CGR-S602
    Battery Life (CIPA)370 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 112 x 76 x 48 mm
    (4.4 x 3.0 x 1.9 in)
    146 x 87 x 64 mm
    (5.7 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
    Camera Weight 401 g (14.1 oz) 606 g (21.4 oz)
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