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Thread: Utter Confusion

  1. #1
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    Utter Confusion

    I have been reading the forum for the last 2 days... My wife and I have been looking at getting a DSLR camera for a few months now for school events for our children and some astronomy pics for me. My old point and shoot (kodak dx6490) died and soon I wont be able to find film for my old nikon... Most of our pics wont be rapid succession shot so buffer size is lower priority... and my old nikon had no autofocus so I am used to on the fly correction so that is low on my list. Mainly want something that wont break the bank, has a nice picture and can handle the low light conditions fairly well. We had a manual shutter cable on our last camera for the low light exposures (nothing to write home about but want to begin improving on this lol) The wife was looking at the prices and was having puppies. I was looking at a used camera with a friend suggesting a cannon rebel xt that he has but I cant find too many entry level cameras with reasonable prices that explain all the features. Sensor quality and size seems to be the #1 concern. So what would you suggest for under $350 (used or refurb is 100% ok). The local camera shop was less help then best buy he said go with high mega pixel size as my guide to quality but when I asked about sensors and buffer size and told me stick with a point and shoot unless I was a "pro" which made me refuse to visit him again. Can you help?

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Utter Confusion

    Hello and welcome to CiC. I hope this might be the first of many posts you make on the forum.

    I wonder if, given where you are in your thinking right now, and also thinking about the budget you're working with whether looking at the range of bridge cameras, rather than a DSLR might be the way to go. A number of people on here use bridge cameras and they will produce high quality images once you learn how to use them properly.

    The problem with the DSLR is that you need the camera body, but then you also need the lens(es) to go with the body. And for teh sort of photography you're talking about, you're going to need long lenses; i.e. telephoto. The problem is that to get the sort of lenses you might be wanting is going to take you above your current budget (and that's before you get the camera body).

    Something like the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 (referred to by Richard (rpcrowe) in a recent post here), even though that is still above your present budget, would be worth considering. There are many other cameras in that category (bridge).

    I'm assuming you are in the USA, given you quoted your budget as $350. If that is so, why not click on this link to one of the country's leading retailers and have a look at the various cameras in this class. This might give you some ideas

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Utter Confusion

    The problem is your budget. At under $350 you are well outside of the DSLR price range, and that is for a bottom of the line body. I personally would not get too hung up on either the sensor or buffer size, as any camera you are looking at will be more than adequate. Sensor size, rather than MP is a far more important measure, and there are simply loads of options here. The point and shoots and cross-overs tend to have tiny sensors, and low light performance is held back by that feature. These cameras also all shoot video, whether you want the feature or not. The common sensors for higher end cameras are micro four-thirds; generally found on the Panasonics and Olympus cameras, APS-C are a bit larger and these are about 1/2 the size of 35mm film, and these are found on consumer level DSLRs and full-frame which have sensors about the size of 35mm film are found on high-end amateur and pro cameras, and here you are looking at least $2000+ for a camera body, without a lens.

    There are a lot more options than just a DSLR to think about; there are the point & shoot cameras, cross-over / super zoom cameras with fixed lenses, mirrorless cameras with interchangable lenses (Olympus and Panasonic went that way years ago and Canon and Nikon have now entered that field) and of course DSLRs. All of these cameras have gone to autofocus, and your low-light talents with a manual focus DSLR are going to be a bit wasted as the manufacturers have changed their focusing screens so work with the newer technology. You should be able to use your old Nikon lenses on a Nikon DSLR, but I'm not sure how you will enjoy the focusing experience.

    I'm not sure if I've helped or muddied the waters more.

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    Re: Utter Confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by maciver View Post
    The local camera shop was less help then best buy he said go with high mega pixel size as my guide to quality but when I asked about sensors and buffer size and told me stick with a point and shoot unless I was a "pro" which made me refuse to visit him again. Can you help?
    As has already been pointed out, the problem is your budget. I suspect that is why your local shop was so scathing in their judgement. It would mark you as a 'time waster' so they wrote you off. Not good for business but that's their loss.

    Meanwhile... If you really are serious about DSLR on a tight budget then your only option will be used. Donald has already give you a link to B&H but here's another one, to a used
    Canon RebelXTil. The only reason I've picked this out is because I own the UK version, known as the 400D. You might be able to add a used basic telephoto zoom, something like say a Tamrom 55-200 and stay just within your budget.

    Ken

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    Re: Utter Confusion

    I have found the people at this shop to be very helpful in answering questions for me an "just out of the box beginner". They also have a list of used equipment. http://www.prophotosupply.com/ Good luck and welcome, I have only been on this site a short while and you have chosen a good place for information and support, at least I have.

  6. #6
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    Re: Utter Confusion

    As Donald states, I did mention the Panasonic FZ200 which is one camera I would definitely consider if I were looking for a camera for your basic needs. However, I personally have no experience with that camera and am just mentioning it because of some of the parameters the Panasonic includes.

    I have been doing a bit of research on this type of camera because my son-in-law is interested in buying a camera and I am interested in getting my Canon 30D with 28-135mm IS lens back (I loaned it to him years ago). I would like to keep the XT in my car for any "breaking news" pictures if I just happen to pass a neat shot. My son-in-law lives overlooking the Pacific Ocean and wants a camera with a longer focal length lens to shoot images of the wildlife he spots from his back yard. The 135mm of the lens he is working with right now is no where long enough for that type of use.

    IMO, one of the important bells and whistles of the Panasonic camera is that the lens has a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout its focal range. I also like this camera because it has an eye-level viewfinder. I would not consider a camera that does not have an eye level viewfinder because I consider shooting with the LCD as your only viewfinder as very inefficient. I realize that many people like this way of viewing but, it is definitely not my bag.

    Secondly, the FZ200 includes a hotshoe mount on which you can mount a flash. That is another definite requirement for any camera which I would buy. Of course, a separate flash would cost some more money but, it would definitely add to the capability of the camera. Bouncing a flash is a great way to shoot indoors and beats the pants of either shooting with built-in flash or trying for available light shots using a P&S or bridge camera.

    However, I realize that the FZ200 is over your price range: $499 from Adorama in NYC http://www.adorama.com/searchsite/de...anasonic+FZ200)

    Another camera that I might consider would be the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. This camera also has an eye level viewfinder and a hotshoe flash mount. It is also pretty well within your price range at around $399 from Adorama http://www.adorama.com/ICASX50.html

    BTW: There is free shipping from Adorama and you may not have to pay state sales tax (depending on where you live).

    The SX50 has a exceptionally long focal length lens but, the f/stop is variable and you are shooting at a rather small f/stop when you have the lens extended to its longest focal length.

    The more that I am researching bridge cameras, the more I am thinking that for the non-photographer who uses his or her camera to shoot pictures of the kids and Rover, the dog, to email to the grandparents and probably will not print larger that 4x6inches at the local discount store; the bridge camera just might be the best middle ground between weight, price, capability and quality...

    There is certainly no way to get a lens of these focal lengths (600mm equivalent for the Panasonic and an enormous 1200mm equivalent for the Canon) without paying the cost both in price and in size and weight. As an example, a 400mm f/2.8 Canon lens for a DSLR (640mm equivalent on a 1.6x camera) would cost over $1,100 (USD) and weigh over 3.5 kilograms or about 8.5 pounds...

    I "played" with the Canon SX50 at my local COSTCO discount store and it seemed like a nice camera. The zoom was unbelievable and the stabilization was pretty darn good. Of course, I was not able to determine the image quality. The camera costs $399 at COSTCO and I believe that they double the manufacturers warranty.

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    Re: Utter Confusion

    Hello Mac and welcome,

    Excellent advice above.

    I note that you have an "old Nikon" which I assume is an SLR? You might therefore consider a second-hand Nikon DSLR such as a D50 or a D70 that you could use your exist lenses on, assuming F-mount. I have a D50 (excellent 6MP camera) and was appalled recently at what they're selling for these days. You could probably get a body and the modern 18-55mm "kit" lens for way under your budget price.

    If you decide on a point-and-shoot, bearing in mind Manfred's comment on sensor size, you might want to look at a class of such cameras called "four thirds" and "micro four thirds" which both have the same size sensor, BTW. "Micro" refers to thinner cameras, basically. Here's a pic showing the sensor size compared to others:

    Utter Confusion

    . . and you can read all about four thirds here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Thirds_system and micro four thirds here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro_Four_Thirds_system

    I have no experience myself with this class of camera but the concept of a large-ish sensor, interchangeable lenses, in a small body is quite intriguing.

    Good luck! Let us know what you decide and do ask any further questions you may have.

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    Re: Utter Confusion

    Mac is fine lol, the Cannon offered to me was a Rebel XT with the EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 Lens for $220 with 2 batteries it just needed a case and memory cards.

    The nikon is an old one I bought in the mid 1980's I have to dig it out to see what lenses it has. Will they work on newer nikons in general? I was thinking it was so old they were incompatible.

    The local camera shop never asked what my budget was, I walked in looking around to see current prices and asked about the sensor and buffer at that point he looked disgusted and was a "donkey". I was looking at several of the used shops in Austin Tx and they have some 2-4 year old DSLR models for 200-500 for body and most with a general lens.

    With my budget I was looking at just the body over time I can get lenses from all over. That was why I was looking more at used then new as 1000+ for a camera is just excessive for my needs lol. I am now looking at the bridge units as suggested too now.

    As for the cannon XT my friend couldnt remember if it was an 8 or 10 MP but it took some good pictures.

  9. #9
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Utter Confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by maciver View Post
    The nikon is an old one I bought in the mid 1980's I have to dig it out to see what lenses it has. Will they work on newer nikons in general? I was thinking it was so old they were incompatible.
    Nikon's lens mount has not changed since 1959, although there have been some minor tweaking on how some of the camera body to lens interfaces worked. My guess is that there is a very good chance that your existing lenses will work on a modern Nikon DSLR.

    Any modern camera takes "good pictures"; regardless of brand. I personally would not get hung up on Canon versus Nikon versus Sony, etc. A lot of the brands we knew in the film days have left the camera market (Kodak, Konica -Minolta (which was integrated into Sony) and have been replaced by new entrants out of the consumer electronics industry (Sony, Panasonic, Samsung). Buy something that meets your needs and if you are not planning to get seriously into photography, then any brand will do. If you are thinking of getting into things more seriously, then Canon and Nikon would be worth considering as these two companies divide up the majority of the market between them.

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    Re: Utter Confusion

    I agree with the advice above that suggests you buy a used DSLR with an APS sensor - a Nikon if you have lenses that fit, otherwise the manufacturer doesn't really matter. A DSLR size sensor should cope better in low light than will the tiny ones in superzoom or bridge cameras. For your family shots, the kit lens (i.e. the one supplied with the camera, usually an 18-55mm zoom) will more than suffice. For shots at school events, e.g. on the sports field, you might consider a Tamron 70-300mm zoom - although this is cheap, it gets a reasonably good review on the photozone.de website. This starting setup might also be able to cope with some basic astronomy shots although, sorry - I admit to knowing nothing about astrophotography. Regarding megapixels - perhaps something in the range of 12 to 18 Mp might be useful, so that you could fudge more magnification by cropping a part of the image, if you need only regular prints (6x4in or 7x5in) or small-screen views (i.e. tablet or laptop).

    Cheers.
    Philip

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    Re: Utter Confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by maciver View Post
    As for the cannon XT my friend couldnt remember if it was an 8 or 10 MP but it took some good pictures.
    And it will continue to. I can think of a few members on this forum who shoot Canon, and for one reason, or another have upgraded their bodies, but have kept Rebels around as backups (myself included). The older XT-XSi range is a reliable entry-level camera that has proven to take some excellent images. And, as you say, if you save some money now, you may choose to buy some different lenses in the future - which is an excellent route to pursue - then as time passes, if you choose to upgrade the body, you have a nice selection of lenses already at your disposal.

    I think this is still a viable option for you.

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    Re: Utter Confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by maciver View Post
    Mac is fine lol . .

    Hi Mac,

    The nikon is an old one I bought in the mid 1980's I have to dig it out to see what lenses it has. Will they work on newer nikons in general? I was thinking it was so old they were incompatible.
    I had a look in my Nikon D50 manual. All your lenses should fit. "CPU" lenses should auto-focus and the metering should work. Type AF-S, AF-I and AI-P are quoted. "Non-CPU" lenses leave you with no exposure metering and manual focus/aperture only (look at the watch, you are going back in time . . .). If you tell us what Nikon lenses you have, we could advise you further . .

    Had a few days' stay at a B&B near New Braunfels this past summer. Love that Hill country.
    Last edited by xpatUSA; 16th December 2012 at 03:57 AM. Reason: ignored the spellchecker como siempre

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    Re: Utter Confusion

    $350 will get you a M4/3 camera and kit lens and with an adaptor collar will enable you to use your existing lenses with a x 2 magnifiaction so the 50mm will give a 100mm angle of view [ similar to if you had a 100mm lens for your old Nikon ] Its sensor is smaller than the usual APS-C camera but considerably larger than the typical P&S, with resulting freedom to use higher ISO, for low light situations and to compensate somewhat for the slowness of the lenses f/4<f/5.6 is common with the kit lens and other zooms for this kind of camera. In view of the possibility that you have a range of lenses for the old Nikon I would suggest an Olympus which comes with IBIS [ In body image stabilisation ] which works with any lens added to the body.

    Here is a link to a new E-PL1 for $289 with the kit lens.
    http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-E-PL1-...mpus+pen+e-pl1
    And $25 gets you the adaptor for you Nikon F lens
    http://www.amazon.com/Fotodiox-Mount...on+F+to+M4%2F3
    Plus P&P of course You will also need a storage card for the camera and hopefully you will take this seriously and invest in a good editing programme like Paint Shop Pro, an older version will be perfectly AOK, I got v13* for $15 back in September ... or else Adobe Elements v10, not quite as good IMO
    *v13 was called PSPhoto Pro x3 .. you can see the x stands for ten I wanted a copy for my notebook. Using x14 on my desktop.

    M4/3 is a considerable step up from a P&S or bridge camera and the only advantage the bridge has is the super-zoom. If you are stuck with a small sensor then a constant f/2.8 lens is a big PLUS .. except M4/3 has become established these days and has the bigger sensor for image quality approaching that of the APS-C DSLR. I was an enthusiastic bridge user, and still use my Panasonics, but only as 'the camera in the car' and if I wanted to use my telephoto adaptor which got me this moon shot awhile back.
    Utter Confusion
    My Pany's only have x12 zoom and are several years old. This is the full frame with my Raynox x2.2 telephoto adaptor ...exposed and focused for the foliage, I have other frames at the similar time exposed for the moon itself ... you would not get a similar shot with the x24 zoomed FZ200 which is unfortunately a couple hundred above your budget. If you look at Canon and Nikon there are cameras with x35< x41 zooms which would do similar or a little better but these days the super zooms start from a wide 28mm Angle of view whereas my FZ50 starts from 35mm AoV which means I get similar to the Canikons with a total of 950mm AoV. the Nikon is 1000mm AoV I think.

    Hope this gives you a viable alternative to a older s/h DSLR which will be rather clunky compared to the E-PL1 with limited ISO and not much more IQ. M4/3 is 60% of APS-C. For most purposes you will not notice the difference.
    Last edited by jcuknz; 16th December 2012 at 07:55 AM.

  14. #14
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Utter Confusion

    Hi Mac,

    It would help us help you if we knew which state you are in whenever we reply - if you Edit your Profile, there is a Location field where you can enter "Austin, TX" if that's where you are (as close as matters for mail order purchasing advice). Also, in the Real Name field, if we could have "Mac", or you first name, that will help too.

    Quote Originally Posted by maciver View Post
    With my budget I was looking at just the body over time I can get lenses from all over. That was why I was looking more at used then new as 1000+ for a camera is just excessive for my needs lol. I am now looking at the bridge units as suggested too now.

    As for the cannon XT my friend couldnt remember if it was an 8 or 10 MP but it took some good pictures.
    In general; older DSLR sensors like the XT won't be as good in low light as ones on more recent cameras, that said, they'll be better than your old P&S. Given the tight budget, we need to limit our advice to improving your lot, rather than suggesting the ultimate in quality.

    NB I have made some undocumented assumptions below (in the interests of not writing too much).

    To summarise all the posts above, I believe your options are;
    a) buy your friends Canon Rebel XT with the EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 Lens for $220 with 2 batteries, plus buy 2 memory cards and a case (get one big enough for another lens and/or flash, or you'll end up buying again quite soon).
    The downsides are; that lens has a fairly limited zoom range and I doubt you can use the old Nikon lenses (but read on).
    It does get you shooting under budget, assuming the camera is in good working order, but you'll probably need that leftover cash to get a s/h telephoto zoom lens.

    b) Buy an older Nikon model DSLR body - you can use your old lenses, but ...
    The downsides are; your old non-chipped, unmotored Nikon lenses will not AF or meter, this in turn means you will be forced toi use Manual mode (no Aperture Priority, etc.) and focus manually. This will result in you missing shots and/or getting incorrectly exposed/focused shots at school events while those around you with modern (AF) P&S get better pictures, very frustrating - so I personally would definitely advise against this option - unless you get a modern "AF-S" kit lens, but then you're no better off than option a) and you've probably spent more.

    c) Buy a bridge camera, from spec alone, not experience; given you haven't asked for a long focal length, the FZ200 would be my best suggestion. The small sensor size is a problem for artistic control of DoF. Compared to a modern DSLR sensor, it may be a bit worse for low light performance, but compared to the XT, a modern bridge camera sensor may be similar.

    d) For a better all round photographic benefit, a 4/3 or micro 4/3 camera has a lot to offer, but I seriously doubt you find anything in budget and s/h lens choice is limited, but if you use an adaptor, although options open up, you may again be limited to manual focus and/or exposure setting.


    If course, you could always raise the budget by selling your wife's (metaphorical) puppies
    (Groan)

    Welcome to the CiC forums from ....
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 16th December 2012 at 10:13 AM.

  15. #15
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Utter Confusion

    I would suggest that the price of using your existing Nikon lenses on a mFT should be treated with a bit of caution. I shoot with Nikon as a still camera and a Panasonic mFT video camera that uses interchangble lenses. A good (Novoflex) Nikon to mFT adaptor cost me around $200. There are a lot of horror stories regarding the cheap ones.

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    Re: Utter Confusion

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Given the tight budget, we need to limit our advice to improving your lot, rather than suggesting the ultimate in quality.

    To summarise all the posts above, I believe your options are;

    a) buy your friends Canon Rebel XT

    b) Buy an older Nikon model DSLR body

    c) Buy a bridge camera

    d) For a better all round photographic benefit, a 4/3 or micro 4/3 camera
    Reading Dave's well-reasoned post, I am inclined to withdraw my suggest of a used D50, D70, etc. Based also on jcuknz's pricing and information, a 4/3 or a micro 4/3 camera are very good choices - with your friend's XT as next in line.

  17. #17

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    Re: Utter Confusion

    The point of getting the M4/3 camera with its kit lens is that it is likely that one will use the kit lens [28<84mm AoV] for most of your photography but there is the opportunity of using your old lenses if you wish. I suggested a M4/3 camera well within your budget, I bought a 2/h body only from KEH awhile back [US$190] even though it is not my prefered camera I am using it quite often with a 50mm legacy lens from film days. It is easier to use any legacy lens with an adaptor on any M4/3 camera than to use them with an APS-C camera where mostly one has to stay with the manufacturers product. You have Nikon lenses so people suggest Nikon cameras. Given the opportunity to use automatic or manual my inclination is to use the first and would only consider legacy lenses if there was a marked advantage or if I hadn't been able to afford the modern lens.

    edit ...I am normally using my E-PL1 in aperture priority [ A mode] by adjusting the aperture ring instead of telling the camera to work at a given aperture and the automatics select the shutter speed for me, I do have to focus manually of course ... and I use the A-M switch so I focus wide open and close down for the shot the way the lens did on my film camera. The EVF/LCD adjusts for brightness so there is none of the 'darkness' of the SLR/DSLR when using small apertures ... one of the boons of the electronic viewfinder
    Last edited by jcuknz; 16th December 2012 at 07:50 PM.

  18. #18
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    Re: Utter Confusion

    ok for now I have purchased the used cannon because my nikon lenses are all old manual style. I intend on still looking at a newer body and choosing one brand to work with. The Rebel XT is a quick way to get a feel for the modern cameras. I really thank you all for the help and I will continue to read the forums and contribute when I can. Thanks again!!!

  19. #19
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    Re: Utter Confusion

    Ok, just so you know, if the Nikon lenses are old and manual enough to have aperture rings on them, you can use them on the XT with a simple adapter ring, and you don't need to blow $200 on a Novoflex adapter. The fit and tolerances may be less than ideal, but chances are good you will still be able to achieve focus to infinity.

    Here are the following roadblocks:

    1. You have to set the aperture on the lens, and you won't have wide-open metering when you do so. Because there is no electronic communication between the lens and the camera body, the camera cannot control the aperture. So, stop-down metering is used, and the only modes you can shoot in are M and Av (generally not a big deal to someone who shot with an old manual film SLR). Metering will still be accurate.

    2. Your EXIF will not have any lens information. Again, probably not a dealkiller, but could be an inconvenience as you try and remember which lens you used five years from now. You can get a chipped adapter ring to fake the EXIF information and possibly store the aperture setting used (I use the ebay seller, big_is, for my rings because the chip they use does this, but it's not necessary.

    3. Manually focusing is harder with a dSLR than with a film SLR because you don't have the split circle or prism collar, the viewfinder's smaller (crop body) and darker (AF sensors get some light diverted their way through the mirror), and the default matte screen that the XT come with is a) not interchangeable, and b) not completely accurate at displaying DoF when the lens you use is very fast (> f/2.8).

    But. They're usable. Here's the Nikkor 55mm S f/1.2 (pre-AI version) sitting on my Canon XT with a Fotodiox ring I got from Adorama.

    Utter Confusion

    Utter Confusion
    Canon XT, + Fotodiox adpapter ring + Nikkor 55mm S f/1.2 (pre-AI).
    iso 100, f/1.2-ish?, 1/4000s.

  20. #20
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    Re: Utter Confusion

    I will definitely look into that closely. Thank you!

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