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Nikon D3000 vs D5100

The Nikon D3000 and the Nikon D5100 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2009 and April 2011. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The D3000 has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the D5100 provides 16.1 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D3000 VS Nikon D5100
Nikon D3000 Nikon D5100
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
10 MP, APS-C Sensor 16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-1600 (100-3200) ISO 100-6400 (100-25600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD, 230k dots 3.0" LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
500 shots per battery charge660 shots per battery charge
126 x 97 x 64 mm, 536 g 128 x 97 x 79 mm, 560 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3000 and the Nikon D5100? 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 Nikon D3000 and the Nikon D5100 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 Nikon D3000 vs Nikon D5100
Compare D3000 versus D5100 top
Comparison D3000 or D5100 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D5100 is somewhat larger (2 percent) than the Nikon D3000. Moreover, the D5100 is slightly heavier (4 percent) than the D3000. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D3000 nor the D5100 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the D3000 gets 500 shots out of its EN-EL9a battery, while the D5100 can take 660 images on a single charge of its EN-EL14 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 D3000» 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 18.9 oz 500 n Jul 2009 599iNikon D3000
 
Nikon D5100« 5.0 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.8 oz 660 n Apr 2011 749iNikon D5100
 
Fujifilm X100« » 5.0 in 3.0 in 2.1 in 15.7 oz 300 n Sep 2010 1,199iFujifilm X100
 
Nikon D5600« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 16.4 oz 970 n Nov 2016 699 iNikon D5600
 
Nikon D5300« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 16.9 oz 600 n Oct 2013 799iNikon D5300
 
Nikon D3200« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 540 n Apr 2012 599iNikon D3200
 
Nikon D5200« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 500 n Nov 2012 749iNikon D5200
 
Nikon D3100« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 550 n Aug 2010 599iNikon D3100
 
Nikon D5000« » 5.0 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 20.8 oz 510 n Apr 2009 749iNikon D5000
 
Nikon D60« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 500 n Jan 2008 629iNikon D60
 
Nikon D90« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 24.8 oz 850 n Aug 2008 1,299iNikon D90
 
Nikon D40X« » 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 520 n Mar 2007 729iNikon D40X
 
Nikon D40« » 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 470 n Nov 2006 499iNikon D40
 
Olympus E-450« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 n Mar 2009 499iOlympus E-450
 
Olympus E-420« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 n Mar 2008 599iOlympus E-420
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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D3000 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the D5100, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

 

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. 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.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D5100 is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, the D5100 uses a more advanced image processing engine (EXPEED 2) than the D3000 (EXPEED), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Nikon D3000 and Nikon D5100 sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the D5100 offers a higher resolution of 16.1 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the D3000. 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 4.80μm versus 6.11μm for the D3000). However, it should be noted that the D5100 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 8 months) than the D3000, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D5100 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D5100 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inch or 62.6 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inch or 50.1 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inch or 41.7 x 27.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3000 are 19.4 x 13 inch or 49.2 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.5 x 10.4 inch or 39.3 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 12.9 x 8.6 inch or 32.8 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D3000 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D5100 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.

D3000 versus D5100 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D5100 offers substantially better image quality than the D3000 (overall score 18 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.2 bits higher color depth, 2.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar 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
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362Nikon D3000
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380Nikon D5100
 
Fujifilm X100 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/30p22.912.4100173Fujifilm X100
 
Nikon D5600 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684Nikon D5600
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883Nikon D5300
 
Nikon D3200 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/30p24.113.2113181Nikon D3200
 
Nikon D5200 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.213.9128484Nikon D5200
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265Nikon D60
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773Nikon D90
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663Nikon D40X
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156Nikon D40
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.551256Olympus E-450
 
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.452756Olympus E-420

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D5100 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D3000 does not. The highest resolution format that the D5100 can use is 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D3000 and the D5100 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 D3000 has a higher magnification than the one of the D5100 (0.53x vs 0.51x), 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 Nikon D3000 and Nikon D5100 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar 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 D3000optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D3000
 
Nikon D5100optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Nikon D5100
 
Fujifilm X1001440 n 2.8 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Fujifilm X100
 
Nikon D5600optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Nikon D5600
 
Nikon D5300optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Nikon D5300
 
Nikon D3200optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Nikon D3200
 
Nikon D5200optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Nikon D5200
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D60optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D60
 
Nikon D90optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 Y n Nikon D90
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n Nikon D40X
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Nikon D40
 
Olympus E-450optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n Olympus E-450
 
Olympus E-420optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n Olympus E-420
The D5100 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 D3000 does not have a selfie-screen.

The Nikon D5100 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

The D3000 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the D5100 uses SDXC cards. The D5100 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D3000 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 D3000 and Nikon D5100 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 D3000Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D3000
 
Nikon D5100YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D5100
 
Fujifilm X100Ystereonone--mini2.0---Fujifilm X100
 
Nikon D5600YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYNikon D5600
 
Nikon D5300YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Nikon D5300
 
Nikon D3200YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D3200
 
Nikon D5200YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D5200
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D3100
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D5000
 
Nikon D60Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D60
 
Nikon D90Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D90
 
Nikon D40XYnonenone--none2.0---Nikon D40X
 
Nikon D40Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D40
 
Olympus E-450Ynonenone--none2.0---Olympus E-450
 
Olympus E-420Ynonenone--none2.0---Olympus E-420

Both the D3000 and the D5100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3000 was replaced by the Nikon D3100, while the D5100 was followed by the Nikon D5200. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D3000 better than the Nikon D5100 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Advantages of the Nikon D3000:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.53x vs 0.51x).
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in July 2009).


Reasons to prefer the Nikon D5100:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (16.1 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 27%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (18 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.2 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.5 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.1 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (EXPEED 2 vs EXPEED).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 230k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (660 versus 500) out of a single battery charge.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 8 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D5100 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 3 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.

D3000 03:15 D5100

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D3000 and the Nikon D5100 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D3000 or the D5100. 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 D3000+72/1004/53.5/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599iNikon D3000
 
Nikon D5100+ +76/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749iNikon D5100
 
Fujifilm X100..75/1004/54/55/5 Sep 2010 1,199iFujifilm X100
 
Nikon D5600..79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 iNikon D5600
 
Nikon D5300+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799iNikon D5300
 
Nikon D3200+ +73/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 599iNikon D3200
 
Nikon D5200+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2012 749iNikon D5200
 
Nikon D3100+ +72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599iNikon D3100
 
Nikon D5000+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749iNikon D5000
 
Nikon D6080/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Jan 2008 629iNikon D60
 
Nikon D90+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299iNikon D90
 
Nikon D40X79/100+ +4/5o4/5 Mar 2007 729iNikon D40X
 
Nikon D4081/100+ +o5/54.5/5 Nov 2006 499iNikon D40
 
Olympus E-450....4/5..4/5 Mar 2009 499iOlympus E-450
 
Olympus E-42085/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Mar 2008 599iOlympus E-420
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, 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.

Nikon D3000:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D5100:
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Nikon D3000 vs Nikon D5100

    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 D3000 Nikon D5100
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date July 2009 April 2011
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 749
    Sensor Specs Nikon D3000 Nikon D5100
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.6 x 15.8 mm 23.6 x 15.7 mm
    Sensor Area 372.88 mm2 370.52 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 28.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 10 Megapixels 16.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3872 x 2592 pixels 4928 x 3264 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.11 μm 4.80 μm
    Pixel Density 2.69 MP/cm2 4.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100-1600 ISO 100-6400 ISO
    ISO Boost 100-3200 ISO 100-25600 ISO
    Image Processor EXPEED EXPEED 2
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 62 80
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.3 23.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.1 13.6
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 563 1183
    Screen Specs Nikon D3000 Nikon D5100
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x 0.51x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D3000 Nikon D5100
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D3000 Nikon D5100
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 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 Nikon D3000 Nikon D5100
    Battery Type EN-EL9a EN-EL14
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge660 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 126 x 97 x 64 mm
    (5.0 x 3.8 x 2.5 in)
    128 x 97 x 79 mm
    (5.0 x 3.8 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 536 g (18.9 oz) 560 g (19.8 oz)

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