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Canon SX540 vs Nikon D70

The Canon PowerShot SX540 HS and the Nikon D70 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2016 and January 2004. The SX540 is a fixed lens compact, while the D70 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX540) and an APS-C (D70) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20.2 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 SX540
versus
Nikon D70
Canon SX540 Nikon D70
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 Nikon F mount lenses
20.2 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 6 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/60p Video no Video
ISO 80-3,200 ISO 200-1,600
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 461k dots 1.8 LCD, 130k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5.9 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
205 shots per battery charge400 shots per battery charge
120 x 82 x 92 mm, 442 g 140 x 111 x 78 mm, 679 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX540 HS and the Nikon D70? 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 SX540 and the Nikon D70 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.

Size Canon SX540 vs Nikon D70
Compare SX540 versus D70 top
Comparison SX540 or D70 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D70 is considerably larger (58 percent) than the Canon SX540. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX540 nor the D70 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX540 has a lens built in, whereas the D70 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 D70 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the SX540 gets 205 shots out of its NB-6LH battery, while the D70 can take 400 images on a single charge of its EN-EL3 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 SX540 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 205 n Jan 2016 399 i
2.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999 i
3.
 
Canon SX740 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 299 g 265 n Jul 2018 399 i
4.
 
Canon SX730 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 300 g 250 n Apr 2017 399 i
5.
 
Canon T6 129 mm 101 mm 78 mm 485 g 500 n Mar 2016 449 i
6.
 
Canon SX420 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 195 n Jan 2016 299 i
7.
 
Canon SX720 110 mm 64 mm 36 mm 270 g 250 n Feb 2016 379 i
8.
 
Canon SX410 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 185 n Feb 2015 279 i
9.
 
Canon SX530 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 210 n Jan 2015 429 i
10.
 
Canon SX710 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 230 n Jan 2015 349 i
11.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899 i
12.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999 i
13.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749 i
14.
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899 i
15.
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999 i
16.
 
Panasonic ZS70 112 mm 67 mm 41 mm 322 g 380 n Apr 2017 449 i
17.
 
Panasonic FZ80 130 mm 94 mm 119 mm 616 g 330 n Jan 2017 399 i
Notes: 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 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 SX540 was launched at a lower price than the D70, 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.

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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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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 SX540 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Nikon D70 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D70 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 SX540 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D70 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Canon SX540 and Nikon D70 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon SX540 offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the Nikon D70. 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 1.18μm versus 7.85μm for the D70). However, it should be noted that the SX540 is much more recent (by 11 years and 11 months) than the D70, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the SX540 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Canon SX540 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SX540 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D70 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 SX540 HS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D70 are ISO 200 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

SX540 versus D70 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"). 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 SX540 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p...... ..
2.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.3529 50
3.
 
Canon SX740 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p...... ..
4.
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p...... ..
5.
 
Canon T6 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p...... ..
6.
 
Canon SX420 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p...... ..
7.
 
Canon SX720 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p...... ..
8.
 
Canon SX410 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/30p...... ..
9.
 
Canon SX530 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p...... ..
10.
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p...... ..
11.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.8544 55
12.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.2524 61
13.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.8560 55
14.
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.3529 50
15.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none...... ..
16.
 
Panasonic ZS70 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p19.110.6106 36
17.
 
Panasonic FZ80 1/2.3 18.0 4896 36724K/30p...... ..

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The SX540 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D70 does not. The highest resolution format that the SX540 can use is 1080/60p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D70 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX540 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon SX540, the Nikon D70, and comparable 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 SX540none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 5.9 Y Y
2.
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon SX740none n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/3200s 10.0 Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX730none n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
5.
 
Canon T6optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon SX420none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX720none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX410none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
9.
 
Canon SX530none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6 Y Y
10.
 
Canon SX710none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0 Y Y
11.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Nikon D50optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
14.
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
15.
 
Nikon D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
16.
 
Panasonic ZS701166 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y
17.
 
Panasonic FZ801166 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y

The SX540 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D70 uses Compact Flash 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 SX540 HS and Nikon D70 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 SX540-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
2.
 
Nikon D70Y-----1.0---
3.
 
Canon SX740-stereomono--micro2.0Y-Y
4.
 
Canon SX730-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
5.
 
Canon T6Ymonomono--mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon SX420-monomono---2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon SX720-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
8.
 
Canon SX410-stereomono---2.0---
9.
 
Canon SX530-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
10.
 
Canon SX710-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
11.
 
Canon RebelY-----1.1---
12.
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D50Y-----2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D70sY-----2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D100Y-----1.1---
16.
 
Panasonic ZS70-stereomono--micro2.0Y--
17.
 
Panasonic FZ80Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--

It is notable that the SX540 offers wifi support, while the D70 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

The SX540 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the D70 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D70 was succeeded by the Nikon D70s. 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 how do things add up? Is the Canon SX540 better than the Nikon D70 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot SX540 HS:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (20.2 vs 6MP) with a 79% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (461k vs 130k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.9 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D70 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (120x82mm vs 140x111mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D70).
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.0).
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 11 years and 11 months of technical progress since the D70 launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D70:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • 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 framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (400 versus 205) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in January 2004).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SX540 is the clear winner of the match-up (15 : 11 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 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.

SX540 15:11 D70

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX540 and the Nikon D70 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the SX540 or the D70. 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 expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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 SX540.......... Jan 2016 399 i
2.
 
Nikon D70....+ +.... Jan 2004 999 i
3.
 
Canon SX740..+..4/54/5 Jul 2018 399 i
4.
 
Canon SX730..+..4/54/5 Apr 2017 399 i
5.
 
Canon T64/5o73/1004/54/5 Mar 2016 449 i
6.
 
Canon SX420........3/5 Jan 2016 299 i
7.
 
Canon SX720..+..4/54.5/5 Feb 2016 379 i
8.
 
Canon SX410..o...... Feb 2015 279 i
9.
 
Canon SX530..+ +..4/54/5 Jan 2015 429 i
10.
 
Canon SX710..+..4/53.5/5 Jan 2015 349 i
11.
 
Canon Rebel....+ +.... Aug 2003 899 i
12.
 
Nikon D80..++ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999 i
13.
 
Nikon D50..78/100+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749 i
14.
 
Nikon D70s........5/5 Apr 2005 899 i
15.
 
Nikon D100....+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999 i
16.
 
Panasonic ZS70..+ +..4/54/5 Apr 2017 449 i
17.
 
Panasonic FZ80..+ +..4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2017 399 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon SX540:
Check Amazon price
Nikon D70:
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 SX540 vs Nikon D70

    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 SX540 Nikon D70
    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 January 2016 January 2004
    Launch Price USD 399 USD 999
    Sensor Specs Canon SX540 Nikon D70
    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 20.2 Megapixels 6 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3888 pixels 3008 x 2000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.18 μm 7.85 μm
    Pixel Density 71.80 MP/cm2 1.63 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 3,200 ISO 200 - 1,600 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 50
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 20.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 529
    Screen Specs Canon SX540 Nikon D70
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.50x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 1.8inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots 130k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX540 Nikon D70
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5.9 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX540 Nikon D70
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 1.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in no NFC
    Body Specs Canon SX540 Nikon D70
    Battery Type NB-6LH EN-EL3
    Battery Life (CIPA)205 shots per charge400 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 120 x 82 x 92 mm
    (4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
    140 x 111 x 78 mm
    (5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 442 g (15.6 oz) 679 g (24.0 oz)

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