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Leica X Vario vs Panasonic L1

The Leica X Vario (Typ 107) and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 2013 and February 2006. The X Vario is a fixed lens compact, while the L1 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (X Vario) and a Four Thirds (L1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 7.4 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Leica X Vario
versus
Panasonic L1
Leica X Vario   Panasonic L1
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
28-70mm f/3.5-6.4 Four Thirds lenses
16.1 MP – APS-C sensor 7.4 MP – Four Thirds sensor
1080/30p Video no Video
ISO 100-12,500 ISO 100-1,600
Viewfinder optional Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD – 920k dots 2.5" LCD – 207k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
450 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
133 x 73 x 95 mm, 680 g 146 x 87 x 64 mm, 606 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica X Vario (Typ 107) and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1? 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 physical size and weight of the Leica X Vario and the Panasonic L1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The X Vario can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the L1 is only available in black.

Size Leica X Vario vs Panasonic L1
Compare X Vario versus L1 top
Comparison X Vario or L1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic L1 is notably larger (31 percent) than the Leica X Vario. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X Vario nor the L1 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the X Vario has a lens built in, whereas the L1 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 L1 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

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 X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850ebay.com
2.
 
Panasonic L1 146 mm 87 mm 64 mm 606 g 750 n Feb 2006 999ebay.com
3.
 
Canon XT 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899ebay.com
4.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113 140 mm 79 mm 88 mm 635 g 450 Y Jan 2016 2,950ebay.com
5.
 
Leica Q Typ 116 130 mm 80 mm 93 mm 640 g 300 n Jun 2015 4,249ebay.com
6.
 
Leica T 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Apr 2014 1,850ebay.com
7.
 
Leica X Typ 113 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295ebay.com
8.
 
Leica X2 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 n May 2012 1,995ebay.com
9.
 
Leica Digilux 3 146 mm 87 mm 77 mm 606 g 750 n Sep 2006 1,499ebay.com
10.
 
Nikon Df 144 mm 110 mm 67 mm 760 g 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon Coolpix A 111 mm 64 mm 40 mm 299 g 230 n Mar 2013 1,099ebay.com
12.
 
Olympus E-330 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999ebay.com
13.
 
Olympus E-300 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 n Sep 2004 799ebay.com
14.
 
Panasonic FZ1000 137 mm 99 mm 131 mm 831 g 360 n Jun 2014 899ebay.com
15.
 
Panasonic L10 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599ebay.com
16.
 
Ricoh GR 117 mm 61 mm 35 mm 245 g 290 n Apr 2013 799ebay.com
17.
 
Sony RX1R 113 mm 65 mm 70 mm 482 g 270 n Jun 2013 2,799ebay.com
Note: 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. 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica X Vario features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic L1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the L1 is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the X Vario has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the L1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Leica X Vario and Panasonic L1 sensor measures

With 16.1MP, the X Vario offers a higher resolution than the L1 (7.4MP), but the X Vario has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.80μm versus 5.51μm for the L1). However, the X Vario is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 3 months) than the L1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The resolution advantage of the Leica X Vario implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the X Vario for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.4 inches or 62.6 x 41.6 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.7 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic L1 are 15.7 x 11.8 inches or 39.8 x 29.9 cm for good quality, 12.5 x 9.4 inches or 31.9 x 23.9 cm for very good quality, and 10.5 x 7.8 inches or 26.6 x 19.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Leica X Vario (Typ 107) has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12500. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

X Vario versus L1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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 X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
2.
 
Panasonic L1 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none20.810.48052
3.
 
Canon XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
4.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.813.0161480
5.
 
Leica Q Typ 116 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185
6.
 
Leica T APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275
7.
 
Leica X Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.612.8149178
8.
 
Leica X2 APS-C 16.1 4928 3264none23.212.4127574
9.
 
Leica Digilux 3 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none21.010.612753
10.
 
Nikon Df Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280none24.613.1327989
11.
 
Nikon Coolpix A APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.413.8116480
12.
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none20.810.47352
13.
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none20.410.1-4048
14.
 
Panasonic FZ1000 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764
15.
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
16.
 
Ricoh GR APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.597278
17.
 
Sony RX1R Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The X Vario indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the L1 does not. The highest resolution format that the X Vario can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the L1 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the X Vario relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the X Vario can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the EVF 2. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica X Vario and Panasonic L1 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
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Leica X Variooptional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
2.
 
Panasonic L1optical n2.5 / 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
3.
 
Canon XToptical n1.8 / 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
4.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
5.
 
Leica Q Typ 1163680 n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0/s n Y
6.
 
Leica Toptional n3.7 / 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
7.
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
8.
 
Leica X2optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
9.
 
Leica Digilux 3optical n2.5 / 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
10.
 
Nikon Dfoptical Y3.2 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5/s n n
11.
 
Nikon Coolpix Aoptional n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/2000s 4.0/s Y n
12.
 
Olympus E-330optical n2.5 / 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
13.
 
Olympus E-300optical n1.8 / 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
14.
 
Panasonic FZ10002359 n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 12.0/s Y Y
15.
 
Panasonic L10optical n2.5 / 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
16.
 
Ricoh GRoptional n3.0 / 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
17.
 
Sony RX1Roptional n3.0 / 1229 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

The X Vario writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the L1 uses SDHC 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 Leica X Vario (Typ 107) and Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Leica X VarioYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Panasonic L1Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon XTY- / ----2.0---
4.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113Ystereo / mono---2.0---
5.
 
Leica Q Typ 116Ystereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
6.
 
Leica TYstereo / mono---2.0Y--
7.
 
Leica X Typ 113Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Leica X2Y- / ---mini2.0---
9.
 
Leica Digilux 3Ystereo / mono---2.0---
10.
 
Nikon DfY- / ---mini2.0---
11.
 
Nikon Coolpix AYstereo / mono---2.0---
12.
 
Olympus E-330Y- / ----2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-300Y- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic FZ1000Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0YY-
15.
 
Panasonic L10Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Ricoh GRYmono / mono--micro2.0---
17.
 
Sony RX1RYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---

Both the X Vario and the L1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The L1 was replaced by the Panasonic L10, while the X Vario 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 Leica and Panasonic websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica X Vario and the Panasonic L1? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Leica X Vario (Typ 107):

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (16.1 vs 7.4MP) with a 51% 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.
  • 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 (920k vs 207k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the L1 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (133x73mm vs 146x87mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Reflects 7 years and 3 months of technical progress since the L1 launch.

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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s 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 (750 versus 450) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2006).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the X Vario is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 5 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.

X Vario 13:05 L1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica X Vario and the Panasonic L1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the X Vario or the L1 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], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica X Vario3/5......4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850ebay.com
2.
 
Panasonic L1..85/100..+..3.5/5 Feb 2006 999ebay.com
3.
 
Canon XT..80/100..+ +o.. Feb 2005 899ebay.com
4.
 
Leica X-U Typ 1133.5/5........3.5/5 Jan 2016 2,950ebay.com
5.
 
Leica Q Typ 1165/5....80/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249ebay.com
6.
 
Leica T3/5......4/54/5 Apr 2014 1,850ebay.com
7.
 
Leica X Typ 1133.5/5......3.5/54/5 Sep 2014 2,295ebay.com
8.
 
Leica X23/5......3/54/5 May 2012 1,995ebay.com
9.
 
Leica Digilux 3............ Sep 2006 1,499ebay.com
10.
 
Nikon Df4/5....81/1004/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon Coolpix A4/5+..75/1004/54/5 Mar 2013 1,099ebay.com
12.
 
Olympus E-330......+o.. Jan 2006 999ebay.com
13.
 
Olympus E-300......+o4.5/5 Sep 2004 799ebay.com
14.
 
Panasonic FZ10004/5+ +..82/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899ebay.com
15.
 
Panasonic L10..85/100..+3.5/54/5 Aug 2007 599ebay.com
16.
 
Ricoh GR5/5....79/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 799ebay.com
17.
 
Sony RX1R5/5......4/54.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated 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.

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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: Leica X Vario vs Panasonic L1

    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 X Vario Panasonic L1
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 28-70mm f/3.5-6.4 Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date June 2013 February 2006
    Launch Price USD 2,850 USD 999
    Sensor Specs Leica X Vario Panasonic L1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.6 x 15.7 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 370.52 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.3 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 16.1 Megapixels 7.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3272 pixels 3136 x 2352 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.80 μm 5.51 μm
    Pixel Density 4.35 MP/cm2 3.28 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,500 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 78 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.4 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.7 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1320 ..
    Screen Specs Leica X Vario Panasonic L1
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.47x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 207k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Leica X Vario Panasonic L1
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Leica X Vario Panasonic L1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica X Vario Panasonic L1
    Battery Type BP-DC8 CGR-S602
    Battery Life (CIPA)450 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 133 x 73 x 95 mm
    (5.2 x 2.9 x 3.7 in)
    146 x 87 x 64 mm
    (5.7 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
    Camera Weight 680 g (24.0 oz) 606 g (21.4 oz)
    logo
    Check X Vario offers at
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    Check L1 offers at
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