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Nikon D3100 vs Olympus E-300

The Nikon D3100 and the Olympus Evolt E-300 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2010 and September 2004. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D3100) and a Four Thirds (E-300) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 14.2 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 8 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D3100 versus Olympus E-300
Nikon D3100 Olympus E-300
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
14.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/24p Video no Video
ISO 100-3,200 (100 - 12,800) ISO 100-400 (100 - 1,600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 230k dots 1.8 LCD, 134k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 2.5 shutter flaps per second
550 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
124 x 96 x 75 mm, 505 g 147 x 85 x 64 mm, 624 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3100 and the Olympus Evolt E-300? 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 D3100 and the Olympus E-300 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The D3100 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the E-300 is only available in black.

Size Nikon D3100 vs Olympus E-300
Compare D3100 versus E-300 top
Comparison D3100 or E-300 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-300 is somewhat larger (5 percent) than the Nikon D3100. Moreover, the E-300 is markedly heavier (24 percent) than the D3100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D3100 nor the E-300 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 (D3100) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-300).

Concerning battery life, the D3100 gets 550 shots out of its EN-EL14 battery, while the E-300 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-1 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 D3100 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 n Aug 2010 599 i
2.
 
Olympus E-300 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 n Sep 2004 799 i
3.
 
Leica Digilux 3 146 mm 87 mm 77 mm 606 g 750 n Sep 2006 1,499 i
4.
 
Nikon D3200 125 mm 96 mm 77 mm 505 g 540 n Apr 2012 599 i
5.
 
Nikon D5100 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 n Apr 2011 749 i
6.
 
Nikon D7000 132 mm 105 mm 77 mm 780 g 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499 i
7.
 
Nikon D3000 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599 i
8.
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749 i
9.
 
Nikon D60 126 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 500 n Jan 2008 629 i
10.
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729 i
11.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499 i
12.
 
Olympus E-330 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999 i
13.
 
Olympus E-400 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Sep 2006 699 i
14.
 
Olympus E-500 130 mm 95 mm 66 mm 479 g 750 n Sep 2005 599 i
15.
 
Olympus E-1 141 mm 104 mm 81 mm 738 g 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699 i
16.
 
Sony NEX-5N 111 mm 59 mm 38 mm 269 g 460 n Aug 2011 699 i
17.
 
Sony NEX-C3 110 mm 60 mm 33 mm 225 g 400 n Jun 2011 599 i
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 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 D3100 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 25 percent) than the E-300, 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 D3100 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-300 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-300 is 37 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 D3100 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-300 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Nikon D3100 and Olympus E-300 sensor measures

With 14.2MP, the D3100 offers a higher resolution than the E-300 (8MP), but the D3100 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.01μm versus 5.30μm for the E-300). However, the D3100 is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 10 months) than the E-300, 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 Nikon D3100 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3100 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 15.4 inches or 58.5 x 39 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 12.3 inches or 46.8 x 31.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 10.2 inches or 39 x 26 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-300 are 16.3 x 12.2 inches or 41.5 x 31.1 cm for good quality, 13.1 x 9.8 inches or 33.2 x 24.9 cm for very good quality, and 10.9 x 8.2 inches or 27.6 x 20.7 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D3100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus Evolt E-300 are ISO 100 to ISO 400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-1600.

D3100 versus E-300 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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-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 D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.3919 67
2.
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none...... ..
3.
 
Leica Digilux 3 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none...... ..
4.
 
Nikon D3200 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/30p24.113.21131 81
5.
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.61183 80
6.
 
Nikon D7000 APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.91167 80
7.
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.1563 62
8.
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.5868 72
9.
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.4562 65
10.
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.4516 63
11.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.0561 56
12.
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none...... ..
13.
 
Olympus E-400 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none...... ..
14.
 
Olympus E-500 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none...... ..
15.
 
Olympus E-1 Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920none...... ..
16.
 
Sony NEX-5N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.612.71079 77
17.
 
Sony NEX-C3 APS-C 16.0 4912 3264720/30p22.712.21083 73

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D3100 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-300 does not. The highest resolution format that the D3100 can use is 1080/24p.

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D3100 and the E-300 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 D3100 has a higher magnification than the one of the E-300 (0.53x vs 0.5x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D3100, the Olympus E-300, and comparable 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.
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-300optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
3.
 
Leica Digilux 3optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
4.
 
Nikon D3200optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
5.
 
Nikon D5100optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
6.
 
Nikon D7000optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
7.
 
Nikon D3000optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
8.
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
9.
 
Nikon D60optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
11.
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
12.
 
Olympus E-330optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Olympus E-400optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Olympus E-500optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
15.
 
Olympus E-1optical Y 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
16.
 
Sony NEX-5Noptional n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0 n n
17.
 
Sony NEX-C3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n n

The D3100 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the E-300 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-300 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D3100 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 Nikon D3100 and Olympus Evolt E-300 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.
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-300Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Leica Digilux 3Ystereomono---2.0---
4.
 
Nikon D3200YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Nikon D5100YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
6.
 
Nikon D7000YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Nikon D3000Y-----2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D60Y-----2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D40XY-----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D40Y-----2.0---
12.
 
Olympus E-330Y-----2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-400Y-----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-500Y-----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-1Y-----2.0---
16.
 
Sony NEX-5NYstereomono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Sony NEX-C3Ystereomono--mini2.0---

Both the D3100 and the E-300 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-300 was replaced by the Olympus E-330, while the D3100 was followed by the Nikon D3200. 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.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D3100 better than the Olympus E-300 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3100:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (14.2 vs 8MP) with a 36% 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 1080/24p movies.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.53x vs 0.5x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (230k vs 134k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 119g or 19 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (25 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 10 months of technical progress since the E-300 launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Olympus Evolt E-300:

  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 550) out of a single battery charge.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2004).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D3100 is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 3 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 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.

D3100 13:03 E-300

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D3100 and the Olympus E-300 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 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 D3100 or the E-300 perform in practice. 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 hands-on reviews by experts 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], 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.
 
Nikon D31005/5+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599 i
2.
 
Olympus E-300....+o4.5/5 Sep 2004 799 i
3.
 
Leica Digilux 3.......... Sep 2006 1,499 i
4.
 
Nikon D32005/5+ +73/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 599 i
5.
 
Nikon D51005/5+ +76/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749 i
6.
 
Nikon D70004/5..80/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499 i
7.
 
Nikon D3000..+72/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599 i
8.
 
Nikon D5000..+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749 i
9.
 
Nikon D60..80/100+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 629 i
10.
 
Nikon D40X..79/100+ +4/54/5 Mar 2007 729 i
11.
 
Nikon D40..81/100+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499 i
12.
 
Olympus E-330....+o.. Jan 2006 999 i
13.
 
Olympus E-400..85/100..4/54/5 Sep 2006 699 i
14.
 
Olympus E-500..76/100+ +.... Sep 2005 599 i
15.
 
Olympus E-1....+o.. Jun 2003 1,699 i
16.
 
Sony NEX-5N3/5+ +79/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2011 699 i
17.
 
Sony NEX-C33/5+ +74/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Nikon D3100:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-300:
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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Nikon D3100 vs Olympus E-300

    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 D3100 Olympus E-300
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date August 2010 September 2004
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Nikon D3100 Olympus E-300
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.1 x 15.4 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 355.74 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 27.8 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 14.2 Megapixels 8 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3072 pixels 3264 x 2448 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.01 μm 5.30 μm
    Pixel Density 3.98 MP/cm2 3.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/24p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 400 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    Image Processor EXPEED 2 TruePic
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 67 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.5 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.3 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 919 ..
    Screen Specs Nikon D3100 Olympus E-300
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x 0.5x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 1.8inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 134k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D3100 Olympus E-300
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 2.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D3100 Olympus E-300
    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 Nikon D3100 Olympus E-300
    Battery Type EN-EL14 BLM-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)550 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 124 x 96 x 75 mm
    (4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
    147 x 85 x 64 mm
    (5.8 x 3.3 x 2.5 in)
    Camera Weight 505 g (17.8 oz) 624 g (22.0 oz)

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