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Canon XT vs Olympus E-1

The Canon EOS Rebel XT (called Canon 350D in some regions) and the Olympus E-1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2005 and June 2003. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (XT) and a Four Thirds (E-1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 4.9 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon XT versus Olympus E-1
Canon XT Olympus E-1
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
8 MP, APS-C Sensor 4.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 100-800 (100 - 3,200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
1.8 LCD, 115k dots 1.8 LCD, 134k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
400 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
127 x 94 x 64 mm, 540 g 141 x 104 x 81 mm, 738 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Rebel XT and the Olympus E-1? 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 XT and the Olympus E-1 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.

The XT can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the E-1 is only available in black.

Size Canon XT vs Olympus E-1
Compare XT versus E-1 top
Comparison XT or E-1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-1 is notably larger (23 percent) than the Canon XT. Moreover, the E-1 is substantially heavier (37 percent) than the XT. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-1 is splash and dust-proof, while the XT does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (XT) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-1).

Concerning battery life, the XT gets 400 shots out of its NB-2LH battery, while the E-1 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-1 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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 XT 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899i
2.
 
Olympus E-1 141 mm 104 mm 81 mm 738 g 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699i
3.
 
Canon 77D 131 mm 100 mm 76 mm 540 g 600 n Feb 2017 899 i
4.
 
Canon T6i 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 555 g 440 n Feb 2015 749i
5.
 
Canon T6s 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 565 g 440 n Feb 2015 649i
6.
 
Canon T4i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
7.
 
Canon T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
8.
 
Canon XSi 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799i
9.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
10.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
11.
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
12.
 
Canon Rebel 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
13.
 
Leica Digilux 3 146 mm 87 mm 77 mm 606 g 750 n Sep 2006 1,499i
14.
 
Olympus E-5 142 mm 117 mm 75 mm 873 g 750 Y Sep 2010 1,699i
15.
 
Olympus E-3 142 mm 116 mm 75 mm 876 g 750 Y Oct 2007 1,699i
16.
 
Olympus E-330 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999i
17.
 
Olympus E-300 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 n Sep 2004 799i
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 XT was launched at a markedly lower price (by 47 percent) than the E-1, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 XT features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-1 is 32 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 2.0. The sensor in the XT has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Canon XT and Olympus E-1 sensor measures

With 8MP, the XT offers a higher resolution than the E-1 (4.9MP), but the XT has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.41μm versus 6.78μm for the E-1). However, the XT is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 7 months) than the E-1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The resolution advantage of the Canon XT implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the XT for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 13.8 x 9.2 inches or 35.1 x 23.4 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 11.5 x 7.7 inches or 29.3 x 19.5 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-1 are 12.8 x 9.6 inches or 32.5 x 24.4 cm for good quality, 10.2 x 7.7 inches or 26 x 19.5 cm for very good quality, and 8.5 x 6.4 inches or 21.7 x 16.3 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS Rebel XT has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.

XT versus E-1 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 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 XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
2.
 
Olympus E-1 Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920none........
3.
 
Canon 77D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.397178
4.
 
Canon T6i APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
5.
 
Canon T6s APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
6.
 
Canon T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
7.
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
8.
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
9.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
10.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
11.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
12.
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
13.
 
Leica Digilux 3 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
14.
 
Olympus E-5 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.610.551956
15.
 
Olympus E-3 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.610.557156
16.
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
17.
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........
Neither the XT nor the E-1 offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The XT and the E-1 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 viewfinder in the E-1 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the XT (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the XT has a higher magnification (0.49x vs 0.48x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon XT and Olympus E-1 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 XToptical n 1.8 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-1optical Y 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
3.
 
Canon 77Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon T6ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon T6soptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon T4ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
7.
 
Canon T1ioptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
8.
 
Canon XSioptical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
9.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
10.
 
Canon XTioptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
11.
 
Canon 20Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
12.
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
13.
 
Leica Digilux 3optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Olympus E-5optical Y 3.0 920 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-3optical Y 2.5 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
16.
 
Olympus E-330optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
Olympus E-300optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The XT has one, while the E-1 does not. While the built-in flash of the XT is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The XT writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-1 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-1 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the XT only has one slot.

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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 EOS Rebel XT and Olympus E-1 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 XTY-----2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-1Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon 77DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
4.
 
Canon T6iYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon T6sYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon T4iYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon T1iYmonomono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon XSiY----mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon 30DY-----2.0---
10.
 
Canon XTiY-----2.0---
11.
 
Canon 20DY-----1.1---
12.
 
Canon RebelY-----1.1---
13.
 
Leica Digilux 3Ystereomono---2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-5Ystereo---mini2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-3Y-----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-330Y-----2.0---
17.
 
Olympus E-300Y-----2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-1 (unlike the XT) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the XT and the E-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-1 was replaced by the Olympus E-3, while the XT was followed by the Canon Xti. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Olympus websites.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon XT and the Olympus E-1? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel XT:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (8 vs 4.9MP) with a 30% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
  • Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.49x vs 0.48x).
  • More compact: Is smaller (127x94mm vs 141x104mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 198g or 27 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (47 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 7 months after the E-1).

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Advantages of the Olympus E-1:

  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (134k vs 115k dots).
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
  • 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.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2003).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the XT emerges as the winner of the contest (11 : 8 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 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.

XT 11:08 E-1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon XT and the Olympus E-1 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the XT or the E-1 perform in practice. 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 table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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 XT..80/100+ +o.. Feb 2005 899i
2.
 
Olympus E-1....+o.. Jun 2003 1,699i
3.
 
Canon 77D4.5/5..82/1004.5/54/5 Feb 2017 899 i
4.
 
Canon T6i5/5..75/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749i
5.
 
Canon T6s5/5+77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
6.
 
Canon T4i4/5+ +77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
7.
 
Canon T1i..+ +74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
8.
 
Canon XSi..+ ++ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
9.
 
Canon 30D..+ ++ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
10.
 
Canon XTi..+ ++ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
11.
 
Canon 20D....+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499i
12.
 
Canon Rebel....+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
13.
 
Leica Digilux 3.......... Sep 2006 1,499i
14.
 
Olympus E-54/5..75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,699i
15.
 
Olympus E-3..88/100+ +o4/5 Oct 2007 1,699i
16.
 
Olympus E-330....+o.. Jan 2006 999i
17.
 
Olympus E-300....+o4.5/5 Sep 2004 799i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted 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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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 XT:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-1:
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 XT vs Olympus E-1

    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 XT Olympus E-1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date February 2005 June 2003
    Launch Price USD 899 USD 1,699
    Sensor Specs Canon XT Olympus E-1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.2 x 14.8 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 328.56 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.7 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 8 Megapixels 4.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3456 x 2304 pixels 2560 x 1920 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.41 μm 6.78 μm
    Pixel Density 2.42 MP/cm2 2.19 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 800 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 3,200 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC II TruePic
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 60 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.8 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 637 ..
    Screen Specs Canon XT Olympus E-1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.49x 0.48x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    Rear LCD Size 1.8inch 1.8inch
    LCD Resolution 115k dots 134k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon XT Olympus E-1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy50 000 actuations150 000 actuations
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon XT Olympus E-1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash no PC Sync PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon XT Olympus E-1
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type NB-2LH BLM-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 127 x 94 x 64 mm
    (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
    141 x 104 x 81 mm
    (5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
    Camera Weight 540 g (19.0 oz) 738 g (26.0 oz)

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