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Contax N Digital vs Nikon D3200

The Contax N Digital and the Nikon D3200 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2002 and April 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (N Digital) and an APS-C (D3200) sensor. The Contax has a resolution of 6.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24.1 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Contax N Digital VS Nikon D3200
Contax N Digital Nikon D3200
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Contax N mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor 24.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 50-1600 ISO 100-6400 (100-12800)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0" LCD, 200k dots 3.0" LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
4 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
100 shots per battery charge540 shots per battery charge
152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g 125 x 96 x 77 mm, 505 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Contax N Digital and the Nikon D3200? 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 Contax N Digital and the Nikon D3200. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The D3200 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the N Digital is only available in black.

Size Contax N Digital vs Nikon D3200
Compare N Digital versus D3200 top
Comparison N Digital or D3200 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3200 is considerably smaller (43 percent) than the Contax N Digital. Moreover, the D3200 is substantially lighter (49 percent) than the N Digital. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the N Digital nor the D3200 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

As can be seen in the images above, the N Digital has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the D3200, there are third party battery grips available as optional accessories (see here on eBay).

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Contax N Digital» 152 mm 138 mm 80 mm 990 g 100 n Feb 2002 7,399iContax N Digital
 
Nikon D3200« 125 mm 96 mm 77 mm 505 g 540 n Apr 2012 599iNikon D3200
 
Canon XC10« » 125 mm 102 mm 122 mm 1040 g .. n Apr 2015 2,499iCanon XC10
 
Canon 10D« » 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999iCanon 10D
 
Canon 300D« » 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899iCanon 300D
 
Canon D60« » 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 855 g 620 n Feb 2002 2,999iCanon D60
 
Leica M10« » 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 iLeica M10
 
Leica SL« » 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450iLeica SL
 
Leica M9« » 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999iLeica M9
 
Nikon D5600« » 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 465 g 970 n Nov 2016 699 iNikon D5600
 
Nikon D3400« » 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 n Aug 2016 499iNikon D3400
 
Nikon D3300« » 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 430 g 700 n Jan 2014 499iNikon D3300
 
Nikon D5300« » 125 mm 98 mm 76 mm 480 g 600 n Oct 2013 799iNikon D5300
 
Nikon D3100« » 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 n Aug 2010 599iNikon D3100
 
Nikon D100« » 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999iNikon D100
 
Nikon D1X« » 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999iNikon D1X
 
Panasonic FZ1000« » 137 mm 99 mm 131 mm 831 g 360 n Jun 2014 899iPanasonic FZ1000
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 D3200 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 92 percent) than the N Digital, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 Contax N Digital features a full frame sensor and the Nikon D3200 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D3200 is 59 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Contax N Digital and Nikon D3200 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the D3200 offers a higher resolution of 24.1 megapixels, compared with 6.1 MP of the N Digital. 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 3.85μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the D3200 is much more recent (by 10 years and 1 month) than the N Digital, 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 Nikon D3200 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3200 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.1 x 20 inch or 76.4 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.1 x 16 inch or 61.1 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.1 x 13.3 inch or 50.9 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Contax N Digital are 15.2 x 10 inch or 38.6 x 25.5 cm for good quality, 12.2 x 8 inch or 30.9 x 20.4 cm for very good quality, and 10.1 x 6.7 inch or 25.7 x 17 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Contax N Digital has a native sensitivity range from ISO 50 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3200 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-12800.

N Digital versus D3200 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Contax N Digital Full Frame 6.1 3040 2008none........Contax N Digital
 
Nikon D3200 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/30p24.113.2113181Nikon D3200
 
Canon XC10 1-inch 12.0 4000 30004K/30p........Canon XC10
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157Canon 10D
 
Canon 300D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455Canon 300D
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none........Canon D60
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386Leica M10
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188Leica SL
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469Leica M9
 
Nikon D5600 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684Nikon D5600
 
Nikon D3400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286Nikon D3400
 
Nikon D3300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582Nikon D3300
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883Nikon D5300
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........Nikon D100
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........Nikon D1X
 
Panasonic FZ1000 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764Panasonic FZ1000

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D3200 indeed provides for movie recording, while the N Digital does not. The highest resolution format that the D3200 can use is 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The N Digital and the D3200 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 N Digital has a higher magnification than the one of the D3200 (0.73x 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 Contax N Digital, the Nikon D3200, and comparable cameras.

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
Camera
Model
 
Contax N Digitaloptical Y 2.0 200 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n Contax N Digital
 
Nikon D3200optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Nikon D3200
 
Canon XC10none n 3.0 1030 tilting Y 1/2000s 3.8 n Y Canon XC10
 
Canon 10Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Canon 10D
 
Canon 300Doptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Canon 300D
 
Canon D60optical Y 1.8 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Canon D60
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n Leica M10
 
Leica SL4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n Leica SL
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n Leica M9
 
Nikon D5600optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Nikon D5600
 
Nikon D3400optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Nikon D3400
 
Nikon D3300optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Nikon D3300
 
Nikon D5300optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Nikon D5300
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D100
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n Nikon D1X
 
Panasonic FZ10002359 n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 12.0 Y Y Panasonic FZ1000

One feature that is present on the N Digital, but is missing on the D3200 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The N Digital writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D3200 uses SDXC 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 Contax N Digital and Nikon D3200 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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
Camera
Model
 
Contax N DigitalYnonenone--noneFW---Contax N Digital
 
Nikon D3200YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D3200
 
Canon XC10YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Canon XC10
 
Canon 10DYnonenone--none1.1---Canon 10D
 
Canon 300DYnonenone--none1.1---Canon 300D
 
Canon D60Ynonenone--none1.1---Canon D60
 
Leica M10Ynonenone--nonenoneY--Leica M10
 
Leica SLYstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--Leica SL
 
Leica M9Ynonenone--none2.0---Leica M9
 
Nikon D5600YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYNikon D5600
 
Nikon D3400Ymonomono--mini2.0--YNikon D3400
 
Nikon D3300YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D3300
 
Nikon D5300YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Nikon D5300
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D100Ynonenone--none1.1---Nikon D100
 
Nikon D1XYnonenone--noneFW---Nikon D1X
 
Panasonic FZ1000YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Panasonic FZ1000

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the D3200) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the N Digital and the D3200 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3200 was replaced by the Nikon D3300, while the N Digital does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Contax and Nikon websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Contax N Digital or the Nikon D3200 – 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 Contax N Digital:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.53x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2002).

ilogo

Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3200:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24.1 vs 6.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 98%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 200k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (125x96mm vs 152x138mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 485g or 49 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (540 versus 100) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (92 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 10 years and 1 month of technical progress since the N Digital launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3200 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 6 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 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.

N Digital 06:10 D3200

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Contax N Digital and the Nikon D3200 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 N Digital or the D3200 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 why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cam
era
  labs  
dp
re
  view  
e
photo
  zine  
ima
ging
resource
photo
graphy
  blog  
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Contax N Digital.......... Feb 2002 7,399iContax N Digital
 
Nikon D3200+ +73/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 599iNikon D3200
 
Canon XC10..80/100...... Apr 2015 2,499iCanon XC10
 
Canon 10D..+ +..o.. Feb 2003 1,999iCanon 10D
 
Canon 300D..+ +..o.. Aug 2003 899iCanon 300D
 
Canon D60..+ +o.... Feb 2002 2,999iCanon D60
 
Leica M10....4/5..4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 iLeica M10
 
Leica SL..84/1004.5/54/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450iLeica SL
 
Leica M9....4.5/54.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999iLeica M9
 
Nikon D5600..79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 iNikon D5600
 
Nikon D3400+76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499iNikon D3400
 
Nikon D3300+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499iNikon D3300
 
Nikon D5300+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799iNikon D5300
 
Nikon D3100+ +72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599iNikon D3100
 
Nikon D100..+ +oo.. Feb 2002 1,999iNikon D100
 
Nikon D1X..+ +..o.. Feb 2001 5,999iNikon D1X
 
Panasonic FZ1000+ +82/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899iPanasonic FZ1000
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. 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.

Contax N Digital:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D3200:
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 make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Contax N Digital vs Nikon D3200

    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 Contax N Digital Nikon D3200
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Contax N mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2002 April 2012
    Launch Price USD 7399 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Contax N Digital Nikon D3200
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 23.2 x 15.4 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 357.28 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 27.8 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 6.1 Megapixels 24.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3040 x 2008 pixels 6016 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 11.90 μm 3.85 μm
    Pixel Density 0.71 MP/cm2 6.74 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 50-1600 ISO 100-6400 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100-12800 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 81
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 24.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 13.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 1131
    Screen Specs Contax N Digital Nikon D3200
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.73x 0.53x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 200k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Contax N Digital Nikon D3200
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 4 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Contax N Digital Nikon D3200
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector Firewire USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Contax N Digital Nikon D3200
    Battery Type 4xAA EN-EL14
    Battery Life (CIPA)100 shots per charge540 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 152 x 138 x 80 mm
    (6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
    125 x 96 x 77 mm
    (4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 990 g (34.9 oz) 505 g (17.8 oz)

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