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Canon SX50 vs Nikon D40

The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and the Nikon D40 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2012 and November 2006. The SX50 is a fixed lens compact, while the D40 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX50) and an APS-C (D40) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 6 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon SX50 versus Nikon D40
Canon SX50 Nikon D40
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 Nikon F mount lenses
12 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 6 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/24p Video no Video
ISO 80-6,400 ISO 200-1,600 (200 - 3,200)
Electronic viewfinder (202k dots) Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 461k dots 2.5 LCD, 230k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
2.2 shutter flaps per second 2.5 shutter flaps per second
315 shots per battery charge470 shots per battery charge
123 x 87 x 106 mm, 595 g 124 x 94 x 64 mm, 522 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS and the Nikon D40? 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 SX50 and the Nikon D40. 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 SX50 vs Nikon D40
Compare SX50 versus D40 top
Comparison SX50 or D40 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D40 is notably larger (9 percent) than the Canon SX50. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX50 nor the D40 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX50 has a lens built in, whereas the D40 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 D40 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the SX50 gets 315 shots out of its NB-10L battery, while the D40 can take 470 images on a single charge of its EN-EL9 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429i
2.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499i
3.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549i
4.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
5.
 
Canon S120 100 mm 59 mm 29 mm 217 g 230 n Aug 2013 449i
6.
 
Canon G1 X 117 mm 81 mm 65 mm 534 g 250 n Jan 2012 799i
7.
 
Canon G15 107 mm 76 mm 40 mm 352 g 350 n Sep 2012 499i
8.
 
Canon SX40 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 600 g 380 n Sep 2011 429i
9.
 
Canon SX30 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 601 g 370 n Sep 2010 429i
10.
 
Canon SX20 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Aug 2009 399i
11.
 
Canon SX10 123 mm 88 mm 87 mm 600 g .. n Sep 2008 399i
12.
 
Nikon D3400 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 n Aug 2016 499i
13.
 
Nikon D3300 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 430 g 700 n Jan 2014 499i
14.
 
Nikon D3100 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 n Aug 2010 599i
15.
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729i
16.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749i
17.
 
Panasonic FZ150 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 528 g 410 n Aug 2011 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 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 SX50 was launched at a lower price than the D40, 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.

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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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon SX50 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Nikon D40 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D40 is 1221 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.5. The sensor in the SX50 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D40 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Canon SX50 and Nikon D40 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX50 offers a higher resolution of 12 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the Nikon D40. 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 1.53μm versus 7.85μm for the D40). However, it should be noted that the SX50 is much more recent (by 5 years and 10 months) than the D40, 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 SX50 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SX50 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 Nikon D40 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D40 are ISO 200 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-3200.

SX50 versus D40 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 D40 has a markedly higher DXO score than the SX50 (overall score 9 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.2 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar 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 SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.217947
2.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
3.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
4.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
5.
 
Canon S120 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.311.924656
6.
 
Canon G1 X 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 32641080/24p21.710.864460
7.
 
Canon G15 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.911.516546
8.
 
Canon SX40 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p........
9.
 
Canon SX30 1/2.3 14.0 4320 3240720/30p........
10.
 
Canon SX20 1/2.3 12.0 4000 3000720/30p........
11.
 
Canon SX10 1/2.3 10.0 3648 2736480/30p........
12.
 
Nikon D3400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
13.
 
Nikon D3300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582
14.
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967
15.
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
16.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
17.
 
Panasonic FZ150 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.410.913240

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The SX50 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D40 does not. The highest resolution format that the SX50 can use is 1080/24p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the SX50 has an electronic viewfinder (202k dots), while the D40 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SX50 and Nikon D40 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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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 SX50202 n 3.0 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2 Y Y
2.
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
3.
 
Canon SX60922 n 3.0 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4 Y Y
4.
 
Canon G16optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y
5.
 
Canon S120none n 3.0 922 fixed Y 1/2000s 12.1 Y Y
6.
 
Canon G1 Xoptical n 3.0 922 Swivel n 1/4000s 1.9 Y Y
7.
 
Canon G15optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.1 Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX40202 n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/3200s 10.3 Y Y
9.
 
Canon SX30202 n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.6 Y Y
10.
 
Canon SX20202 n 2.5 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.7 Y Y
11.
 
Canon SX10202 n 2.5 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.7 Y Y
12.
 
Nikon D3400optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
13.
 
Nikon D3300optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
14.
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
15.
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
16.
 
Nikon D50optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
17.
 
Panasonic FZ150202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0 Y Y
The SX50 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the D40 does not have a selfie-screen.

The SX50 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D40 uses SDHC 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 SX50 HS and Nikon D40 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 SX50Ystereomono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Nikon D40Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon SX60YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon G16Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
5.
 
Canon S120-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
6.
 
Canon G1 XYstereomono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon G15Ystereomono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon SX40Ystereomono--YES2.0---
9.
 
Canon SX30Ystereomono--YES2.0---
10.
 
Canon SX20Ystereomono--YES2.0---
11.
 
Canon SX10Ystereomono---2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D3400Ymonomono--mini2.0--Y
13.
 
Nikon D3300YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D40XY-----2.0---
16.
 
Nikon D50Y-----2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic FZ150Ystereo---mini2.0---

Both the SX50 and the D40 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D40 was replaced by the Nikon D40X, while the SX50 was followed by the Canon SX60. 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.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon SX50 or the Nikon D40 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (12 vs 6MP) with a 38% higher linear resolution.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/24p movies.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (461k vs 230k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D40 requires a separate lens.
  • 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 5 years and 10 months of technical progress since the D40 launch.

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Advantages of the Nikon D40:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (9 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (2.5 vs 2.2 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 (470 versus 315) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in November 2006).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the SX50 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.

SX50 11:08 D40

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX50 and the Nikon D40 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX50 or the D40 perform in practice. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera 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 SX503/5+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429i
2.
 
Nikon D40..81/100+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
3.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549i
4.
 
Canon G164/5+..4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
5.
 
Canon S120..+ +..4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 449i
6.
 
Canon G1 X5/5+76/1004/54.5/5 Jan 2012 799i
7.
 
Canon G154/5+76/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
8.
 
Canon SX40..+..4.5/54/5 Sep 2011 429i
9.
 
Canon SX303/5+ +..3.5/54/5 Sep 2010 429i
10.
 
Canon SX20..+ +73/100..4/5 Aug 2009 399i
11.
 
Canon SX10..+ +....4/5 Sep 2008 399i
12.
 
Nikon D34004/5+76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499i
13.
 
Nikon D33003/5+77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499i
14.
 
Nikon D31005/5+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599i
15.
 
Nikon D40X..79/100+ +4/54/5 Mar 2007 729i
16.
 
Nikon D50..78/100+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749i
17.
 
Panasonic FZ1503/5+ +76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2011 499i
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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon SX50:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D40:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon SX50 vs Nikon D40

    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 SX50 Nikon D40
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2012 November 2006
    Launch Price USD 429 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Canon SX50 Nikon D40
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 23.7 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 369.72 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 12 Megapixels 6 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4000 x 3000 pixels 3008 x 2000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.53 μm 7.85 μm
    Pixel Density 42.74 MP/cm2 1.63 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/24p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 6,400 ISO 200 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 200 - 3,200 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 47 56
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.3 21.0
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.2 11.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 179 561
    Screen Specs Canon SX50 Nikon D40
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x
    Viewfinder Resolution 202k dots
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX50 Nikon D40
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 2.2 shutter flaps/s 2.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-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 SX50 Nikon D40
    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 SX50 Nikon D40
    Battery Type NB-10L EN-EL9
    Battery Life (CIPA)315 shots per charge470 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 123 x 87 x 106 mm
    (4.8 x 3.4 x 4.2 in)
    124 x 94 x 64 mm
    (4.9 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
    Camera Weight 595 g (21.0 oz) 522 g (18.4 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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