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Leica S Typ 006 vs Nikon D1

The Leica S (Typ 006) and the Nikon D1 are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2012 and June 1999. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a medium format (S Typ 006) and an APS-C (D1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 37.5 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 2.6 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Leica S Typ 006 versus Nikon D1
Leica S Typ 006 Nikon D1
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Leica S mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
37.5 MP, Medium Format Sensor 2.6 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 200-1,600 (200 - 6,400)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 922k dots 2.0 LCD, 120k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1.5 shutter flaps per second 1.5 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
160 x 120 x 80 mm, 1260 g 157 x 153 x 85 mm, 1100 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica S (Typ 006) and the Nikon D1? 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 Leica S Typ 006 and the Nikon D1. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Leica S Typ 006 vs Nikon D1
Compare S Typ 006 versus D1 top
Comparison S Typ 006 or D1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D1 is notably larger (25 percent) than the Leica S Typ 006. However, the D1 is markedly lighter (13 percent) than the S Typ 006. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

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 D1 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 S Typ 006, Leica provides the Multi-Function Handgrip S vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).

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.
 
Leica S Typ 006 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2012 21,950i
2.
 
Nikon D1 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g .. Y Jun 1999 5,499i
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999i
4.
 
Canon 70D 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199i
5.
 
Leica S3 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2018 18,995 i
6.
 
Leica SL 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450i
7.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2014 16,900i
8.
 
Leica S Typ 007 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2014 24,490i
9.
 
Leica M Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Sep 2012 6,950i
10.
 
Leica S2 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1410 g .. Y Sep 2008 22,995i
11.
 
Nikon D4 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1340 g 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999i
12.
 
Nikon D2Xs 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699i
13.
 
Nikon D2X 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999i
14.
 
Nikon D1H 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 4,499i
15.
 
Nikon D1X 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999i
16.
 
Pentax 645D 156 mm 117 mm 119 mm 1480 g 800 Y Mar 2010 9,995i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 75 percent) than the S Typ 006, 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. 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 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 Leica S Typ 006 features a medium format sensor and the Nikon D1 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D1 is 73 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.8 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica S Typ 006 and Nikon D1 sensor measures

With 37.5MP, the S Typ 006 offers a higher resolution than the D1 (2.6MP), but the S Typ 006 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 11.93μm for the D1). However, the S Typ 006 is a much more recent model (by 13 years and 3 months) than the D1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the S Typ 006 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Leica S Typ 006 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S Typ 006 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 37.5 x 25 inches or 95.3 x 63.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 25 x 16.7 inches or 63.5 x 42.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D1 are 10 x 6.6 inches or 25.4 x 16.7 cm for good quality, 8 x 5.2 inches or 20.3 x 13.3 cm for very good quality, and 6.7 x 4.4 inches or 16.9 x 11.1 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Leica S (Typ 006) has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D1 are ISO 200 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-6400.

S Typ 006 versus D1 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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.
 
Leica S Typ 006 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none23.912.282476
2.
 
Nikon D1 APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
4.
 
Canon 70D APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
5.
 
Leica S3 Medium Format 64.0 9800 65334K/24p........
6.
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
7.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none........
8.
 
Leica S Typ 007 Medium Format 37.5 7500 50004K/24p........
9.
 
Leica M Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
10.
 
Leica S2 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none........
11.
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589
12.
 
Nikon D2Xs APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.210.948959
13.
 
Nikon D2X APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.110.947659
14.
 
Nikon D1H APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........
15.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
16.
 
Pentax 645D Medium Format 39.5 7264 5440none24.612.6126282
Neither the S Typ 006 nor the D1 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

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The S Typ 006 and the D1 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 S Typ 006 offers a wider field of view (98%) than the one in the D1 (96%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the S Typ 006 has a higher magnification (0.87x vs 0.53x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica S Typ 006 and Nikon D1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar 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.
 
Leica S Typ 006optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
2.
 
Nikon D1optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 1.5 n n
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIoptical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0 n n
4.
 
Canon 70Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
5.
 
Leica S3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
6.
 
Leica SL4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n
7.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
8.
 
Leica S Typ 007optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 n n
9.
 
Leica M Typ 240optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
10.
 
Leica S2optical Y 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
11.
 
Nikon D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
12.
 
Nikon D2Xsoptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
13.
 
Nikon D2Xoptical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
14.
 
Nikon D1Hoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 5.0 n n
15.
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n
16.
 
Pentax 645Doptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 1.1 n n

The S Typ 006 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the D1 uses Compact Flash cards. The S Typ 006 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D1 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 Leica S (Typ 006) and Nikon D1 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.
 
Leica S Typ 006Y----mini2.0---
2.
 
Nikon D1Y-----FW---
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
4.
 
Canon 70DYstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
5.
 
Leica S3YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--
6.
 
Leica SLYstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--
7.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006Y----mini2.0---
8.
 
Leica S Typ 007YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--
9.
 
Leica M Typ 240Ystereomono---2.0---
10.
 
Leica S2Y----mini2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D2XsY-----2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D2XY-----2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D1HY-----FW---
15.
 
Nikon D1XY-----FW---
16.
 
Pentax 645DYstereo----2.0---

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the S Typ 006 and the D1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D1 was replaced by the Nikon D1X, while the S Typ 006 was followed by the Leica S Typ 007. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Nikon websites.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Leica S Typ 006 or the Nikon D1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Leica S (Typ 006):

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (37.5 vs 2.6MP) with a 277% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • 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.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (98% vs 96%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.87x vs 0.53x).
  • 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 (922k vs 120k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (160x120mm vs 157x153mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Reflects 13 years and 3 months of technical progress since the D1 launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D1:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/16000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 160g or 13 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (75 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 1999).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S Typ 006 is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 6 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. 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.

S Typ 006 14:06 D1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica S Typ 006 and the Nikon D1 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 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 S Typ 006 or the D1. 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 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.
 
Leica S Typ 006.......... Sep 2012 21,950i
2.
 
Nikon D1....+ +.... Jun 1999 5,499i
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II....89/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999i
4.
 
Canon 70D5/5+ +83/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199i
5.
 
Leica S3.......... Sep 2018 18,995 i
6.
 
Leica SL4/5..84/1004.5/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450i
7.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006.......... Sep 2014 16,900i
8.
 
Leica S Typ 0074/5........ Sep 2014 24,490i
9.
 
Leica M Typ 2404/5....4/5.. Sep 2012 6,950i
10.
 
Leica S2.......... Sep 2008 22,995i
11.
 
Nikon D4......4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999i
12.
 
Nikon D2Xs.......... Jun 2006 4,699i
13.
 
Nikon D2X....+ +.... Sep 2004 4,999i
14.
 
Nikon D1H....+ +.... Feb 2001 4,499i
15.
 
Nikon D1X....+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999i
16.
 
Pentax 645D5/5........ Mar 2010 9,995i
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.

Leica S Typ 006:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D1:
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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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: Leica S Typ 006 vs Nikon D1

    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 Leica S Typ 006 Nikon D1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Leica S mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2012 June 1999
    Launch Price USD 21,950 USD 5,499
    Sensor Specs Leica S Typ 006 Nikon D1
    Sensor Technology CCD CCD
    Sensor Format Medium Format Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 45.0 x 30.0 mm 23.7 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 1350 mm2 369.72 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 54.1 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 0.8x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 37.5 Megapixels 2.6 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 7500 x 5000 pixels 2000 x 1312 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.00 μm 11.93 μm
    Pixel Density 2.78 MP/cm2 0.71 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 200 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 200 - 6,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 76 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.9 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.2 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 824 ..
    Screen Specs Leica S Typ 006 Nikon D1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 98% 96%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.87x 0.53x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.0inch
    LCD Resolution 922k dots 120k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Leica S Typ 006 Nikon D1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1.5 shutter flaps/s 1.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF or SDXC cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Leica S Typ 006 Nikon D1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 Firewire
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica S Typ 006 Nikon D1
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-PRO1 EN-4
    Body Dimensions 160 x 120 x 80 mm
    (6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
    157 x 153 x 85 mm
    (6.2 x 6.0 x 3.3 in)
    Camera Weight 1260 g (44.4 oz) 1100 g (38.8 oz)

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