Nikon D600 vs Olympus E-5
The Nikon D600 and the Olympus E-5 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2012 and September 2010. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (D600) and a Four Thirds (E-5) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24.2 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D600 and the Olympus E-5? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Nikon D600 and the Olympus E-5 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-5 is somewhat larger (4 percent) than the Nikon D600. Moreover, the E-5 is slightly heavier (3 percent) than the D600. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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 (D600) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-5).
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, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|2.||Olympus E-5||142 mm||117 mm||75 mm||873 g||750||Y||Sep 2010||1,699|
|3.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|4.||Nikon D780||144 mm||116 mm||76 mm||840 g||2260||Y||Jan 2020||2,299|
|5.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|6.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|7.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|8.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|9.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|10.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|11.||Nikon D800||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999|
|12.||Nikon D800E||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299|
|13.||Olympus E-30||142 mm||108 mm||75 mm||701 g||750||n||Nov 2008||1,299|
|14.||Olympus E-520||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||535 g||750||n||May 2008||699|
|15.||Olympus E-3||142 mm||116 mm||75 mm||876 g||750||Y||Oct 2007||1,699|
|16.||Olympus E-510||136 mm||92 mm||68 mm||538 g||750||n||Mar 2007||799|
|17.||Olympus E-1||141 mm||104 mm||81 mm||738 g||750||Y||Jun 2003||1,699|
|Note: 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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-5 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 19 percent) than the D600, 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.
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. 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D600 features a full frame sensor and the Olympus E-5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-5 is 74 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.0. The sensor in the D600 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-5 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 24.2MP, the D600 offers a higher resolution than the E-5 (12.2MP), but the D600 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.97μm versus 4.29μm for the E-5) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D600 is a much more recent model (by 2 years) than the E-5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D600 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D600 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.1 x 20.1 inches or 76.4 x 51 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.1 x 16.1 inches or 61.1 x 40.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.1 x 13.4 inches or 50.9 x 34 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-5 are 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm for good quality, 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D600 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 50-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-5 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
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"). Of the two cameras under review, the D600 provides substantially higher image quality than the E-5, with an overall score that is 38 points higher. This advantage is based on 3.5 bits higher color depth, 3.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|1.||Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|2.||Olympus E-5||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.6||10.5||519||56|
|3.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|4.||Nikon D780||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||2877||95|
|5.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|7.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|9.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|10.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|11.||Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|12.||Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
|13.||Olympus E-30||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|14.||Olympus E-520||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.4||10.4||548||55|
|15.||Olympus E-3||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.6||10.5||571||56|
|16.||Olympus E-510||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.2||10.0||442||52|
|17.||Olympus E-1||Four Thirds||4.9||2560||1920||none||20.0||9.7||-145||44|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the D600 provides a higher video resolution than the E-5. It can shoot video footage at 1080/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 720/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D600 and the E-5 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 (100%), but the viewfinder of the D600 has a higher magnification than the one of the E-5 (0.70x vs 0.58x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D600 and Olympus E-5 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Nikon D600||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||Y||n|
|2.||Olympus E-5||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon 6D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5/s||n||n|
|4.||Nikon D780||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||12.0/s||n||n|
|5.||Nikon D5||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||fixed||Y||1/8000s||14.0/s||n||n|
|6.||Nikon D500||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|7.||Nikon D750||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D7100||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon Df||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||n|
|10.||Nikon D610||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D800||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D800E||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Olympus E-30||optical||Y||2.7 / 230||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-520||optical||n||2.7 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Olympus E-3||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|16.||Olympus E-510||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|17.||Olympus E-1||optical||Y||1.8 / 134||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that differentiates the E-5 and the D600 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-5 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the D600 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.The E-5 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 D600 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Nikon D600 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 D600 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the E-5 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
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 D600 and Olympus E-5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D600||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Olympus E-5||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 6D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Nikon D780||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Nikon D5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Nikon D500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Nikon D750||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D7100||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon Df||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D610||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D800||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D800E||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-30||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-520||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Olympus E-3||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Olympus E-510||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Olympus E-1||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the D600 has a microphone port, which is missing on the E-5. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-5 (unlike the D600) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D600 and the E-5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D600 was replaced by the Nikon D610, while the E-5 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 Nikon and Olympus websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D600 and the Olympus E-5? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D600:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24.2 vs 12.2MP) with a 44% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (38 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (3.5 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (3.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (2.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/30p vs 720/30p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.58x).
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (900 versus 750) on a single battery charge.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 2 years after the E-5).
Advantages of the Olympus E-5:
- 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 shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (19 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2010).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D600 is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 7 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D600 and the Olympus E-5 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D600 or the E-5. 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.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera 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.
|1.||Nikon D600||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|2.||Olympus E-5||4/5||..||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,699|
|3.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|4.||Nikon D780||5/5||..||5/5||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2020||2,299|
|5.||Nikon D5||..||..||4/5||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|6.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||4.7/5||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|7.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||4/5||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|8.||Nikon D7100||5/5||+ +||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|9.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|10.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|11.||Nikon D800||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999|
|12.||Nikon D800E||..||..||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299|
|13.||Olympus E-30||..||..||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2008||1,299|
|14.||Olympus E-520||..||87/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2008||699|
|15.||Olympus E-3||..||88/100||..||+ +||o||4/5||Oct 2007||1,699|
|16.||Olympus E-510||..||89/100||..||+ +||3.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799|
|17.||Olympus E-1||..||..||..||+||o||..||Jun 2003||1,699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon G7 X Mark II vs Nikon D600
- Canon SL2 vs Nikon D600
- Canon SX410 vs Nikon D600
- Canon T3i vs Olympus E-5
- Canon T6 vs Olympus E-5
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- Nikon D600 vs Samsung NX500
- Nikon D600 vs Sony A7 II
- Nikon D700 vs Olympus E-5
- Olympus E-450 vs Olympus E-5
- Olympus E-5 vs Sony A6300
- Olympus E-5 vs Sony RX100 III
Specifications: Nikon D600 vs Olympus E-5
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 Model||Nikon D600||Olympus E-5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2012||September 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 2,099||USD 1,699|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D600||Olympus E-5|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||861.6 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24.2 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6016 x 4016 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.97 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.80 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 3||TruePic V+|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||94||56|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.1||21.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.2||10.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2980||519|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D600||Olympus E-5|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D600||Olympus E-5|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5.5 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or XD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D600||Olympus E-5|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D600||Olympus E-5|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||900 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
141 x 113 x 82 mm
(5.6 x 4.4 x 3.2 in)
142 x 117 x 75 mm
(5.6 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||850 g (30.0 oz)||873 g (30.8 oz)|
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