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Nikon B500 vs Sony NEX-3N

The Nikon Coolpix B500 and the Sony Alpha NEX-3N are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2016 and February 2013. The B500 is a fixed lens compact, while the NEX-3N is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (B500) and an APS-C (NEX-3N) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 16 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon B500 VS Sony NEX-3N
Nikon B500 Sony NEX-3N
Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
22.5-900mm f/3-6.5 Sony E mount lenses
15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 16 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/60i Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 80-6400 ISO 200-16000
No viewfinder, LCD framing Viewfinder optional
3.0" LCD, 921k dots 3.0" LCD, 460k dots
Tilting screen (no touchscreen) Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)
7.4 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
600 shots per battery charge480 shots per battery charge
114 x 78 x 95 mm, 541 g 110 x 62 x 35 mm, 269 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon Coolpix B500 and the Sony Alpha NEX-3N? 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 Nikon B500 and the Sony NEX-3N 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.

The B500 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the NEX-3N is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, white).

Size Nikon B500 vs Sony NEX-3N
Compare B500 versus NEX-3N top
Comparison B500 or NEX-3N rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-3N is notably smaller (23 percent) than the Nikon B500. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the B500 nor the NEX-3N are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the B500 has a lens built in, whereas the NEX-3N 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 NEX-3N and their specifications in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog.

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
 
Nikon B500» 114 mm 78 mm 95 mm 541 g 600 n Jan 2016 299iNikon B500
 
Sony NEX-3N« 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 n Feb 2013 499iSony NEX-3N
 
Fujifilm X100F« » 127 mm 75 mm 52 mm 469 g 390 n Jan 2017 1,299iFujifilm X100F
 
Fujifilm X70« » 113 mm 64 mm 44 mm 340 g 330 n Jan 2016 799iFujifilm X70
 
Nikon B600« » 122 mm 82 mm 99 mm 500 g 280 n Jan 2019 349 iNikon B600
 
Nikon D5600« » 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 465 g 970 n Nov 2016 699 iNikon D5600
 
Nikon B700« » 125 mm 85 mm 107 mm 565 g 350 n Feb 2016 499 iNikon B700
 
Nikon P900« » 140 mm 103 mm 137 mm 899 g 360 n Mar 2015 599iNikon P900
 
Nikon L840« » 113 mm 78 mm 96 mm 538 g 590 n Feb 2015 299iNikon L840
 
Panasonic FZ82« » 130 mm 94 mm 119 mm 616 g 330 n Jan 2017 399 iPanasonic FZ82
 
Sony HX80« » 102 mm 58 mm 36 mm 245 g 390 n Mar 2016 349 iSony HX80
 
Sony A5000« » 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 269 g 420 n Jan 2014 449iSony A5000
 
Sony A5100« » 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 283 g 400 n Aug 2014 549 iSony A5100
 
Sony H200« » 123 mm 83 mm 87 mm 530 g 240 n Jan 2013 249 iSony H200
 
Sony NEX-5R« » 111 mm 59 mm 39 mm 276 g 330 n Aug 2012 749iSony NEX-5R
 
Sony NEX-F3« » 117 mm 67 mm 42 mm 314 g 470 n May 2012 599iSony NEX-F3
 
Sony NEX-3« » 117 mm 62 mm 33 mm 297 g 330 n May 2010 599iSony NEX-3
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 B500 was launched at a lower price than the NEX-3N, despite having a lens built in. 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.

 

Sensor comparison

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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon B500 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Sony NEX-3N an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-3N is 1204 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.5. The sensor in the B500 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-3N offers a 3:2 aspect.

Nikon B500 and Sony NEX-3N sensor measures

With 16MP, the NEX-3N offers a higher resolution than the B500 (15.9MP), but the NEX-3N nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 1.33μm for the B500) due to its larger sensor. However, the B500 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 11 months) than the NEX-3N, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the B500 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The Nikon Coolpix B500 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-3N are ISO 200 to ISO 16000 (no boost).

B500 versus NEX-3N MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Nikon B500 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60i........Nikon B500
 
Sony NEX-3N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774Sony NEX-3N
 
Fujifilm X100F APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p........Fujifilm X100F
 
Fujifilm X70 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p........Fujifilm X70
 
Nikon B600 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........Nikon B600
 
Nikon D5600 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684Nikon D5600
 
Nikon B700 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p........Nikon B700
 
Nikon P900 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p........Nikon P900
 
Nikon L840 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60i........Nikon L840
 
Panasonic FZ82 1/2.3 18.0 4896 36724K/30p........Panasonic FZ82
 
Sony HX80 1/2.3 18.0 4896 36721080/60p........Sony HX80
 
Sony A5000 APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.813.0108979Sony A5000
 
Sony A5100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780Sony A5100
 
Sony H200 1/2.3 15.2 5184 2930720/30p........Sony H200
 
Sony NEX-5R APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.191078Sony NEX-5R
 
Sony NEX-F3 APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.712.3111473Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony NEX-3 APS-C 14.0 4592 3056720/30p22.112.083068Sony NEX-3

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60i).

 

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The B500 and the NEX-3N are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. That said, the NEX-3N can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-SV1. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon B500, the Sony NEX-3N, 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
 
Nikon B500none n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/4000s 7.4 Y Y Nikon B500
 
Sony NEX-3Noptional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Sony NEX-3N
 
Fujifilm X100F2360 n 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 8.0 Y n Fujifilm X100F
 
Fujifilm X70optional n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y n Fujifilm X70
 
Nikon B600none n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 7.4 Y Y Nikon B600
 
Nikon D5600optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Nikon D5600
 
Nikon B700921 n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y Y Nikon B700
 
Nikon P900921 n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 7.0 Y Y Nikon P900
 
Nikon L840none n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/4000s 7.4 Y Y Nikon L840
 
Panasonic FZ821166 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y Panasonic FZ82
 
Sony HX80638 n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y Sony HX80
 
Sony A5000none n 3.0 461 tilting n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n Sony A5000
 
Sony A5100none n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n Sony A5100
 
Sony H200none n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/1500s 0.8 Y Y Sony H200
 
Sony NEX-5Roptional n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n Sony NEX-5R
 
Sony NEX-F3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 Y n Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony NEX-3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n Sony NEX-3
The NEX-3N has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the B500 does not have a selfie-screen.

The B500 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-3N uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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 Nikon Coolpix B500 and Sony Alpha NEX-3N 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
 
Nikon B500-stereomono--micro2.0YYYNikon B500
 
Sony NEX-3N-stereomono--micro2.0---Sony NEX-3N
 
Fujifilm X100FYstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Fujifilm X100F
 
Fujifilm X70YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Fujifilm X70
 
Nikon B600-stereomono--micro2.0Y-YNikon B600
 
Nikon D5600YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYNikon D5600
 
Nikon B700-stereomono--micro2.0YYYNikon B700
 
Nikon P900-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Nikon P900
 
Nikon L840-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Nikon L840
 
Panasonic FZ82Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Panasonic FZ82
 
Sony HX80-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony HX80
 
Sony A5000-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony A5000
 
Sony A5100-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony A5100
 
Sony H200-monomono--none2.0---Sony H200
 
Sony NEX-5RYstereomono--mini2.0Y--Sony NEX-5R
 
Sony NEX-F3Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony NEX-3Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-3

It is notable that the B500 offers wifi support, while the NEX-3N does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Both the B500 and the NEX-3N have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The NEX-3N was replaced by the Sony A5000, while the B500 was followed by the Nikon B600. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Sony websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Nikon B500 better than the Sony NEX-3N or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon Coolpix B500:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 460k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7.4 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the NEX-3N requires a separate lens.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (600 versus 480) on a single battery charge.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 11 months of technical progress since the NEX-3N launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha NEX-3N:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • More compact: Is smaller (110x62mm vs 114x78mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2013).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the B500 comes out slightly ahead of the NEX-3N (11 : 10 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 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.

B500 11:10 NEX-3N

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon B500 and the Sony NEX-3N place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens 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 B500 or the NEX-3N 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
 
Nikon B500+..4/5..3.5/5 Jan 2016 299iNikon B500
 
Sony NEX-3N....4.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499iSony NEX-3N
 
Fujifilm X100F+83/1004.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2017 1,299iFujifilm X100F
 
Fujifilm X70..76/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Jan 2016 799iFujifilm X70
 
Nikon B600+..3.5/5..3/5 Jan 2019 349 iNikon B600
 
Nikon D5600..79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 iNikon D5600
 
Nikon B700+..4/5..4/5 Feb 2016 499 iNikon B700
 
Nikon P900..77/1004/54.5/54/5 Mar 2015 599iNikon P900
 
Nikon L840+ +..3.5/5..4/5 Feb 2015 299iNikon L840
 
Panasonic FZ82+ +..4.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2017 399 iPanasonic FZ82
 
Sony HX80.......... Mar 2016 349 iSony HX80
 
Sony A5000+..4.5/5o4.5/5 Jan 2014 449iSony A5000
 
Sony A5100+..4.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 iSony A5100
 
Sony H200....3.5/5..3.5/5 Jan 2013 249 iSony H200
 
Sony NEX-5R....4.5/5..4.5/5 Aug 2012 749iSony NEX-5R
 
Sony NEX-F3..74/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 May 2012 599iSony NEX-F3
 
Sony NEX-3..70/1004.5/55/54/5 May 2010 599iSony NEX-3
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. 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.

Nikon B500:
Check Ebay offers
Sony NEX-3N:
Check Ebay offers

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. 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: Nikon B500 vs Sony NEX-3N

    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 Nikon B500 Sony NEX-3N
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens 22.5-900mm f/3-6.5 Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date January 2016 February 2013
    Launch Price USD 299 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Nikon B500 Sony NEX-3N
    Sensor Technology BSI-CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 23.4 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 365.04 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 28.1 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 15.9 Megapixels 16 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3456 pixels 4912 x 3264 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.33 μm 4.78 μm
    Pixel Density 56.73 MP/cm2 4.39 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60i Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 80-6400 ISO 200-16000 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 74
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 22.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 12.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 1067
    Screen Specs Nikon B500 Sony NEX-3N
    Viewfinder Type No viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 921k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon B500 Sony NEX-3N
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidNo Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000/s 1/4000/s
    Continuous Shooting 7.4 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Nikon B500 Sony NEX-3N
    External Flash no Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in no NFC
    Bluetooth Support Bluetooth built-in no Bluetooth
    Body Specs Nikon B500 Sony NEX-3N
    Battery Type 4xAA NP-FW50
    Battery Life (CIPA)600 shots per charge480 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 114 x 78 x 95 mm
    (4.5 x 3.1 x 3.7 in)
    110 x 62 x 35 mm
    (4.3 x 2.4 x 1.4 in)
    Camera Weight 541 g (19.1 oz) 269 g (9.5 oz)

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