Canon T3i vs Nikon D80
The Canon EOS Rebel T3i (called Canon 600D in some regions) and the Nikon D80 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2011 and August 2006. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 10 MP.
As their names suggest, both the Canon EOS Rebel T3i and the Nikon D80 belong to Canon's Rebel line of DSLR cameras. This range of APS-C cameras, which started out with the Canon EOS Digital Rebel in 2003, has been a big commercial success and the backbone of Canon's dominance in the digital camera market. The popularity of the Rebel cameras is the result of them inheriting much of the sensor and shooting technology from earlier released professional DSLRs, while being sold at a much more budget-friendly price point. The strong brand reputation of Canon and the comprehensive EOS system of compatible lenses and accessories further contributes to the appeal of the Rebel cams, including the Canon T3i and Nikon D80. Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Canon T3i||Nikon D80|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|17.9 MP, APS-C Sensor||10 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO 100-6400 (100-12800)||ISO 100-1600 (100-3200)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 1040k dots||2.5" LCD, 230k dots|
|Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3.7 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|440 shots per battery charge||600 shots per battery charge|
|133 x 100 x 80 mm, 570 g||132 x 103 x 77 mm, 668 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Rebel T3i and the Nikon D80? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Canon T3i and the Nikon D80 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D80 is somewhat larger (2 percent) than the Canon T3i. Moreover, the D80 is markedly heavier (17 percent) than the T3i. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the T3i nor the D80 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Yet, since both cameras are based around an APS-C sensor, their respective lenses will tend to have similar dimensions and heft. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (T3i) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D80).
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Canon T3i»||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.1 oz||440||n||Feb 2011||599||-||Canon T3i|
|Nikon D80«||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||23.6 oz||600||n||Aug 2006||999||-||Nikon D80|
|Canon SL2« »||4.8 in||3.7 in||2.8 in||16.0 oz||650||n||Jun 2017||549||-||Canon SL2|
|Canon T6s« »||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.9 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||649||-||Canon T6s|
|Canon T5« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||16.9 oz||500||n||Feb 2014||449||-||Canon T5|
|Canon SL1« »||4.6 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||14.4 oz||380||n||Mar 2013||549||-||Canon SL1|
|Canon T5i« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.5 oz||440||n||Mar 2013||649||-||Canon T5i|
|Canon M« »||4.3 in||2.6 in||1.3 in||10.5 oz||230||n||Jul 2012||599||-||Canon M|
|Canon T4i« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.3 oz||440||n||Jun 2012||849||-||Canon T4i|
|Canon T3« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||17.5 oz||700||n||Feb 2011||449||-||Canon T3|
|Canon T2i« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.7 oz||440||n||Feb 2010||699||-||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.3 oz||400||n||Mar 2009||799||-||Canon T1i|
|Nikon D3000« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Jul 2009||599||-||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D90« »||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||24.8 oz||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299||-||Nikon D90|
|Nikon D300« »||5.8 in||4.5 in||2.9 in||32.6 oz||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799||-||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D2Xs« »||6.2 in||5.9 in||3.4 in||44.2 oz||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699||-||Nikon D2Xs|
|Nikon D70s« »||5.5 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||24.0 oz||500||n||Apr 2005||899||-||Nikon D70s|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The T3i was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the D80, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.
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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D80 is 12 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (T3i) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon T3i offers a higher resolution of 17.9 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the Nikon D80. 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 4.31μm versus 6.11μm for the D80). However, it should be noted that the T3i is much more recent (by 4 years and 6 months) than the D80, 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 T3i implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the T3i for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 17.3 inch or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 13.8 inch or 52.7 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 11.5 inch or 43.9 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D80 are 19.4 x 13 inch or 49.2 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.5 x 10.4 inch or 39.3 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 12.9 x 8.6 inch or 32.8 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS Rebel T3i has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D80 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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. Of the two cameras under review, the T3i has a notably higher overall DXO score than the D80 (overall score 4 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. 0.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Canon T3i»||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||793||65||Canon T3i|
|Nikon D80«||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||-||22.1||11.2||524||61||Nikon D80|
|Canon SL2« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.6||13.4||1041||79||Canon SL2|
|Canon T6s« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/30p||22.6||12.0||915||70||Canon T6s|
|Canon T5« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.9||11.3||724||63||Canon T5|
|Canon SL1« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.8||11.3||843||63||Canon SL1|
|Canon T5i« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||681||61||Canon T5i|
|Canon M« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.2||827||65||Canon M|
|Canon T4i« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||722||62||Canon T4i|
|Canon T3« »||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||720/30p||21.9||11.0||755||62||Canon T3|
|Canon T2i« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||784||66||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i« »||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||1080/20p||21.7||11.5||663||63||Canon T1i|
|Nikon D3000« »||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||-||22.3||11.1||563||62||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D90« »||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||977||73||Nikon D90|
|Nikon D300« »||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||-||22.1||12.0||679||67||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D2Xs« »||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||-||22.2||10.9||489||59||Nikon D2Xs|
|Nikon D70s« »||APS-C||6.0||3008||2000||-||20.4||10.3||529||50||Nikon D70s|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The T3i indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D80 does not. The highest resolution format that the T3i can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The T3i and the D80 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the D80 has a higher magnification than the one of the T3i (0.62x vs 0.53x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon T3i, the Nikon D80, and comparable cameras.
|Canon T3i»||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon T3i|
|Nikon D80«||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D80|
|Canon SL2« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon SL2|
|Canon T6s« »||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon T6s|
|Canon T5« »||optical||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon T5|
|Canon SL1« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.9||Y||n||Canon SL1|
|Canon T5i« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon T5i|
|Canon M« »||-||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.3||n||n||Canon M|
|Canon T4i« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon T4i|
|Canon T3« »||optical||n||2.7||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon T3|
|Canon T2i« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i« »||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4||Y||n||Canon T1i|
|Nikon D3000« »||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D90« »||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5||Y||n||Nikon D90|
|Nikon D300« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D2Xs« »||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Nikon D2Xs|
|Nikon D70s« »||optical||n||2.0||130||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D70s|
The T3i writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D80 uses SDHC cards.
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 EOS Rebel T3i and Nikon D80 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon T3i»||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T3i|
|Nikon D80«||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D80|
|Canon SL2« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Canon SL2|
|Canon T6s« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon T6s|
|Canon T5« »||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T5|
|Canon SL1« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon SL1|
|Canon T5i« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T5i|
|Canon M« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon M|
|Canon T4i« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T4i|
|Canon T3« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T3|
|Canon T2i« »||Y||stereo||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i« »||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T1i|
|Nikon D3000« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D90« »||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D90|
|Nikon D300« »||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D2Xs« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D2Xs|
|Nikon D70s« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D70s|
Both the T3i and the D80 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D80 was replaced by the Nikon D90, while the T3i was followed by the Canon T4i. 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.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon T3i and the Nikon D80? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel T3i:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 10MP) with a 34% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
- 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 (1040k 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.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.7 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 98g or 15 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 6 months of technical progress since the D80 launch.
Advantages of the Nikon D80:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.62x vs 0.53x).
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (600 versus 440) out of a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2006).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the T3i is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 3 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon T3i and the Nikon D80 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the T3i and the D80 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.
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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Canon T3i»||o||77/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599||-||Canon T3i|
|Nikon D80«||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999||-||Nikon D80|
|Canon SL2« »||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549||-||Canon SL2|
|Canon T6s« »||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649||-||Canon T6s|
|Canon T5« »||+||-||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449||-||Canon T5|
|Canon SL1« »||+||78/100||4/5||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549||-||Canon SL1|
|Canon T5i« »||-||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649||-||Canon T5i|
|Canon M« »||+||-||4/5||3.5/5||4/5||Jul 2012||599||-||Canon M|
|Canon T4i« »||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849||-||Canon T4i|
|Canon T3« »||80/100||69/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449||-||Canon T3|
|Canon T2i« »||+ +||77/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699||-||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i« »||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799||-||Canon T1i|
|Nikon D3000« »||+||72/100||4/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599||-||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D90« »||+ +||+ +||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299||-||Nikon D90|
|Nikon D300« »||+ +||+ +||5/5||o||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799||-||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D2Xs« »||-||-||-||o||-||Jun 2006||4,699||-||Nikon D2Xs|
|Nikon D70s« »||-||-||-||o||5/5||Apr 2005||899||-||Nikon D70s|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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.
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon T3i vs Nikon D80
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 Model||Canon T3i||Nikon D80|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2011||August 2006|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 999|
|Sensor Specs||Canon T3i||Nikon D80|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||23.6 x 15.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||372.88 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||10 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||3872 x 2592 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||6.11 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||2.69 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100-6400 ISO||100-1600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-12800 ISO||100-3200 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||65||61|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||22.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||11.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||793||524|
|Screen Specs||Canon T3i||Nikon D80|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||2.5 inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon T3i||Nikon D80|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.7 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|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 T3i||Nikon D80|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon T3i||Nikon D80|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||440 shots per charge||600 shots per charge|
133 x 100 x 80 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
132 x 103 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||570 g (20.1 oz)||668 g (23.6 oz)|
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