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[en] Phase contrast imaging is used to observe Bose-Einstein condensates at finite temperature in situ. The imaging technique is used to accurately derive the absolute phase shift of a probe laser beam due to both the condensate and the thermal cloud. The accuracy of the method is enhanced by using the periodicity of the intensity signal as a function of the accumulated phase. The measured density profiles can be described using a two-relevant-parameter fit, in which only the chemical potential and the temperature are to be determined. This allows us to directly compare the measured density profiles to different mean-field models in which the interaction between the condensed and the thermal atoms is taken into account to various degrees.