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Nikon D3000 vs Olympus E-P2

The Nikon D3000 and the Olympus PEN E-P2 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2009 and November 2009. The D3000 is a DSLR, while the E-P2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D3000) and a Four Thirds (E-P2) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 12.2 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D3000
versus
Olympus E-P2
Nikon D3000   Olympus E-P2
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Nikon F mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
10 MP, APS-C Sensor 12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video 720/30p Video
ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200) ISO 100-6,400
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
3.0 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Lens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
500 shots per battery charge300 shots per battery charge
126 x 97 x 64 mm, 536 g 121 x 70 x 36 mm, 355 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3000 and the Olympus PEN E-P2? 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 Olympus E-P2 is provided 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 E-P2 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the D3000 is only available in black.

Size Nikon D3000 vs Olympus E-P2
Compare D3000 versus E-P2 top
Comparison D3000 or E-P2 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-P2 is considerably smaller (31 percent) than the Nikon D3000. Moreover, the E-P2 is markedly lighter (34 percent) than the D3000. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D3000 nor the E-P2 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3000) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-P2). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-P2, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.

Concerning battery life, the D3000 gets 500 shots out of its EN-EL9a battery, while the E-P2 can take 300 images on a single charge of its BLS-1 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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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.
 
Nikon D3000 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599i
2.
 
Olympus E-P2 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Nov 2009 799i
3.
 
Nikon D5600 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 465 g 970 n Nov 2016 699 i
4.
 
Nikon D3400 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 n Aug 2016 499i
5.
 
Nikon D3100 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 n Aug 2010 599i
6.
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749i
7.
 
Nikon D60 126 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 500 n Jan 2008 629i
8.
 
Nikon D90 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299i
9.
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729i
10.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499i
11.
 
Olympus E-P3 122 mm 69 mm 34 mm 369 g 330 n Jun 2011 799i
12.
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599i
13.
 
Olympus E-450 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2009 499i
14.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699i
15.
 
Olympus E-P1 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Jun 2009 799i
16.
 
Olympus E-420 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2008 599i
17.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699i
Notes: 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 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 25 percent) than the E-P2, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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 Nikon D3000 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-P2 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-P2 is 40 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 D3000 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-P2 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Nikon D3000 and Olympus E-P2 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-P2 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 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 4.29μm versus 6.11μm for the D3000). However, it should be noted that the E-P2 is a somewhat more recent model (by 3 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 Olympus E-P2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-P2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3000 are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.2 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.5 x 10.4 inches or 39.3 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 12.9 x 8.6 inches 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 Olympus PEN E-P2 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

D3000 versus E-P2 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the D3000 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-P2 (overall score 6 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 0.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 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.

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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.
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362
2.
 
Olympus E-P2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556
3.
 
Nikon D5600 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684
4.
 
Nikon D3400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
5.
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967
6.
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
7.
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265
8.
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
9.
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
10.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
11.
 
Olympus E-P3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651
12.
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
13.
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.551256
14.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
15.
 
Olympus E-P1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655
16.
 
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.452756
17.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-P2 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D3000 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-P2 can use is 720/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D3000 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-P2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-P2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D3000 and Olympus E-P2 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
Specifications
(inch/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.
 
Nikon D3000optical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-P2optional n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y
3.
 
Nikon D5600optical n3.2 / 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
4.
 
Nikon D3400optical n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Nikon D3100optical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
6.
 
Nikon D5000optical n2.7 / 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
7.
 
Nikon D60optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
8.
 
Nikon D90optical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 Y n
9.
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Nikon D40optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
11.
 
Olympus E-P3optional n3.0 / 614 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
12.
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y Y
13.
 
Olympus E-450optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
14.
 
Olympus E-620optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-P1none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y
16.
 
Olympus E-420optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
17.
 
Olympus E-520optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y Y

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D3000 has one, while the E-P2 does not. While the built-in flash of the D3000 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the D3000 and the E-P2 write their files to 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 Nikon D3000 and Olympus PEN E-P2 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.
 
Nikon D3000Y- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-P2Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
3.
 
Nikon D5600Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YYY
4.
 
Nikon D3400Ymono / mono--mini2.0--Y
5.
 
Nikon D3100Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
6.
 
Nikon D5000Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Nikon D60Y- / ----2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D90Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D40XY- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D40Y- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Olympus E-P3Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
12.
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-450Y- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-620Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-P1Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-420Y- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Olympus E-520Y- / ----2.0---

Both the D3000 and the E-P2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3000 was replaced by the Nikon D3100, while the E-P2 was followed by the Olympus E-P3. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Olympus websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D3000 better than the Olympus E-P2 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Nikon D3000:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in July 2009).

ilogo

Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-P2:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 8%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/30p video.
  • More compact: Is smaller (121x70mm vs 126x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 181g or 34 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (3 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (7 points each). 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.

D3000 07:07 E-P2

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D3000 and the Olympus E-P2 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D3000 and the E-P2 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. 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.
 
Nikon D3000..+..72/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599i
2.
 
Olympus E-P23/5+..69/1004/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799i
3.
 
Nikon D56004/5..4/579/1004.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i
4.
 
Nikon D34004/5+4/576/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499i
5.
 
Nikon D31005/5+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599i
6.
 
Nikon D5000..+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
7.
 
Nikon D60..80/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 629i
8.
 
Nikon D90..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
9.
 
Nikon D40X..79/100..+ +4/54/5 Mar 2007 729i
10.
 
Nikon D40..81/100..+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
11.
 
Olympus E-P3..83/100..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799i
12.
 
Olympus E-PL1..86/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599i
13.
 
Olympus E-450........4/54/5 Mar 2009 499i
14.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/100..72/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699i
15.
 
Olympus E-P1..+..66/1004/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799i
16.
 
Olympus E-420..85/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2008 599i
17.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100..+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Nikon D3000:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-P2:
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 your choice using the following search menu. 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 D3000 vs Olympus E-P2

    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 Olympus E-P2
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date July 2009 November 2009
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Nikon D3000 Olympus E-P2
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.6 x 15.8 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 372.88 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 10 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3872 x 2592 pixels 4032 x 3024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.11 μm 4.29 μm
    Pixel Density 2.69 MP/cm2 5.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 3,200 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor EXPEED TruePic V
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 62 56
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.3 21.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.1 10.4
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 563 505
    Screen Specs Nikon D3000 Olympus E-P2
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D3000 Olympus E-P2
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationLens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D3000 Olympus E-P2
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D3000 Olympus E-P2
    Battery Type EN-EL9a BLS-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge300 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 126 x 97 x 64 mm
    (5.0 x 3.8 x 2.5 in)
    121 x 70 x 36 mm
    (4.8 x 2.8 x 1.4 in)
    Camera Weight 536 g (18.9 oz) 355 g (12.5 oz)

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