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Olympus E-PM1 vs Panasonic G1

The Olympus PEN E-PM1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2011 and September 2008. Both the E-PM1 and the G1 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Olympus has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-PM1 versus Panasonic G1
Olympus E-PM1 Panasonic G1
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 12 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/60i Video no Video
ISO 100-12,800 ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200)
Viewfinder optional Electronic viewfinder (1440k dots)
3.0 LCD, 460k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
5.5 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationLens stabilization only
330 shots per battery charge410 shots per battery charge
110 x 64 x 34 mm, 265 g 124 x 84 x 45 mm, 360 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-PM1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1? 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 Olympus E-PM1 and the Panasonic G1 are illustrated 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-PM1 can be obtained in six different colors (black, silver, brown, pink, purple, white), while the G1 is only available in black.

Size Olympus E-PM1 vs Panasonic G1
Compare E-PM1 versus G1 top
Comparison E-PM1 or G1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic G1 is considerably larger (48 percent) than the Olympus E-PM1. Moreover, the G1 is substantially heavier (36 percent) than the E-PM1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PM1 nor the G1 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 Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog. Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.

Concerning battery life, the E-PM1 gets 330 shots out of its BLS-5 battery, while the G1 can take 410 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLB13 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.

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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.
 
Olympus E-PM1 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 265 g 330 n Jun 2011 499i
2.
 
Panasonic G1 124 mm 84 mm 45 mm 360 g 410 n Sep 2008 599i
3.
 
Olympus E-PM2 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 269 g 360 n Sep 2012 499i
4.
 
Olympus XZ-2 113 mm 65 mm 48 mm 346 g 340 n Sep 2012 599i
5.
 
Olympus E-P3 122 mm 69 mm 34 mm 369 g 330 n Jun 2011 799i
6.
 
Olympus E-PL2 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 n Jan 2011 599i
7.
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599i
8.
 
Olympus XZ-1 111 mm 65 mm 42 mm 275 g 320 n Jan 2011 499i
9.
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599i
10.
 
Panasonic GF5 108 mm 67 mm 37 mm 267 g 360 n Apr 2012 499i
11.
 
Panasonic GF3 108 mm 67 mm 32 mm 264 g 300 n Jun 2011 549i
12.
 
Panasonic G10 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 388 g 380 n Mar 2010 499i
13.
 
Panasonic G2 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 428 g 360 n Mar 2010 599i
14.
 
Panasonic GF2 113 mm 68 mm 33 mm 310 g 300 n Nov 2010 549i
15.
 
Panasonic GF1 119 mm 71 mm 36 mm 385 g 380 n Sep 2009 749i
16.
 
Panasonic GH1 124 mm 90 mm 45 mm 385 g 300 n Mar 2009 899i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-PM1 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 17 percent) than the G1, 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 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 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. 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.

Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

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

Olympus E-PM1 and Panasonic G1 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-PM1 offers a slightly higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the G1. This megapixels advantage translates into a 0.8 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-PM1 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 4.33μm for the G1). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the E-PM1 is much more recent (by 2 years and 9 months) than the G1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.

The Olympus PEN E-PM1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.

E-PM1 versus G1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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.
 
Olympus E-PM1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952
2.
 
Panasonic G1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000none21.110.346353
3.
 
Olympus E-PM2 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.293272
4.
 
Olympus XZ-2 1/1.7 11.8 3968 29761080/30p20.411.321649
5.
 
Olympus E-P3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651
6.
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
7.
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
8.
 
Olympus XZ-1 1/1.7 10.1 3664 2752720/30p18.810.411734
9.
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
10.
 
Panasonic GF5 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.411.661861
11.
 
Panasonic GF3 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i20.610.045849
12.
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152
13.
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353
14.
 
Panasonic GF2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.210.350654
15.
 
Panasonic GF1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.351354
16.
 
Panasonic GH1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/24p21.611.677264

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The E-PM1 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the G1 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PM1 can use is 1080/60i.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the G1 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PM1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PM1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Olympus E-PM1 and Panasonic G1 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
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.
 
Olympus E-PM1optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
2.
 
Panasonic G11440 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
3.
 
Olympus E-PM2optional n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y
4.
 
Olympus XZ-2optional n 3.0 920 tilting Y 1/2000s 5.0 Y Y
5.
 
Olympus E-P3optional n 3.0 614 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
6.
 
Olympus E-PL2optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
7.
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
8.
 
Olympus XZ-1optional n 3.0 614 fixed n 1/2000s 2.0 Y Y
9.
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y Y
10.
 
Panasonic GF5none n 3.0 920 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
11.
 
Panasonic GF3none n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.2 Y n
12.
 
Panasonic G10202 n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
13.
 
Panasonic G21440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
14.
 
Panasonic GF2optional n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
15.
 
Panasonic GF1optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
16.
 
Panasonic GH11440 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

One feature that differentiates the E-PM1 and the G1 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-PM1 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the G1 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.

The G1 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 E-PM1 does not have a selfie-screen.

The E-PM1 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the G1 uses SDHC cards.

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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 Olympus PEN E-PM1 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 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.
 
Olympus E-PM1Ystereomono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Panasonic G1Y----mini2.0---
3.
 
Olympus E-PM2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
4.
 
Olympus XZ-2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
5.
 
Olympus E-P3Ystereo---mini2.0---
6.
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo---mini2.0---
7.
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo---mini2.0---
8.
 
Olympus XZ-1Ymono---mini2.0---
9.
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo---mini2.0---
10.
 
Panasonic GF5-stereomono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Panasonic GF3-stereomono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Panasonic G10Ymono---mini2.0---
13.
 
Panasonic G2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic GF2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic GF1Ymonomono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic GH1Ystereo-Y-mini2.0---

Both the E-PM1 and the G1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The G1 was replaced by the Panasonic G2, while the E-PM1 was followed by the Olympus E-PM2. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus and Panasonic websites.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-PM1 and the Panasonic G1? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PM1:

  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60i movies.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 124x84mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 95g or 26 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (17 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 9 months of technical progress since the G1 launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1:

  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • 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.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (410 versus 330) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2008).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PM1 comes out slightly ahead of the G1 (7 : 6 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.

E-PM1 07:06 G1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-PM1 and the Panasonic G1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the E-PM1 or the G1 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 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], 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.
 
Olympus E-PM1..86/10071/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 499i
2.
 
Panasonic G1..+ +70/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2008 599i
3.
 
Olympus E-PM23/5..77/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499i
4.
 
Olympus XZ-24/5+..4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599i
5.
 
Olympus E-P3..83/10074/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799i
6.
 
Olympus E-PL23/583/10071/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599i
7.
 
Olympus E-PL33/5+ +72/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
8.
 
Olympus XZ-14/5..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 499i
9.
 
Olympus E-PL1..86/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599i
10.
 
Panasonic GF53/5....4.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 499i
11.
 
Panasonic GF33/582/10071/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 549i
12.
 
Panasonic G103/5..70/1004/54/5 Mar 2010 499i
13.
 
Panasonic G2....72/1004/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599i
14.
 
Panasonic GF23/582/10070/1004.5/54.5/5 Nov 2010 549i
15.
 
Panasonic GF1..85/10069/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 749i
16.
 
Panasonic GH1..+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 899i
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. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Olympus E-PM1:
Check Ebay offers
Panasonic G1:
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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Olympus E-PM1 vs Panasonic G1

    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 Olympus E-PM1 Panasonic G1
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date June 2011 September 2008
    Launch Price USD 499 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-PM1 Panasonic G1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 224.9 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4032 x 3024 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.29 μm 4.33 μm
    Pixel Density 5.42 MP/cm2 5.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60i Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 3,200 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic VI Venus HD
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 52 53
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.0 21.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.3 10.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 499 463
    Screen Specs Olympus E-PM1 Panasonic G1
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.70x
    Viewfinder Resolution 1440k dots
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 460k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-PM1 Panasonic G1
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5.5 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationLens stabilization only
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Olympus E-PM1 Panasonic G1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Olympus E-PM1 Panasonic G1
    Battery Type BLS-5 DMW-BLB13
    Battery Life (CIPA)330 shots per charge410 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 110 x 64 x 34 mm
    (4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
    124 x 84 x 45 mm
    (4.9 x 3.3 x 1.8 in)
    Camera Weight 265 g (9.3 oz) 360 g (12.7 oz)

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