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Thread: 4/3 and full frame

  1. #1

    4/3 and full frame

    Hello, I just found this nice site, tutorials and forums, looks very well done.

    My first question is about 4/3s cameras and full frame cameras.

    First, some background: I have an aging Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ10. It is just 4 mp but has done very well by me for quite some time. I got it from the reviews I was reading in a popular digital camera review website. Lumix glass with true 12x zoom and stabilized. Much of my photography has been taken while traveling, on the highways or four wheel driving way out in the remote deserts and mountains. Therefore a value I am aware of is the cost of a really nice camera and lens kit limited by being afraid of having it stolen pr damaged. If you wouldn't think of living with the camera as you go walking about then it probably would not work for me. I did notice that both Olympus and Pentax had extremely well constructed and sealed bodies. I presume this rugged construction isn't really available on a Canon or Nikon till you hit the top top models? And you certainly wouldn't want to get into rain or mud ore any circumstance less that perfect for the cameras body and lens. Therefore one of my first values is that the camera has to be well built enough that I am unafraid to have it with me because most really good shots occur when there is not time to run and get a camera.

    I suppose what I am really asking is about the differences between full frame and 4/3s sensors. Both are larger than "normal" digital sensors with full frame being a good deal larger than 4/3s. If the benefits of a full frame sensor are:
    larger actual sensors in the sensor chip allowing for more light
    larger area for light to strike and be processed allowing for more detail
    And the costs are:
    More expensive lenses required to get the image edge to edge on the sensor
    SLower processing time for the added data
    More expensive camera body to purchase.
    Limited depth of field apparently although my brother has a 5D and he says he hasn't noticed DOF as a problem.

    Now, 4/3s: I already like Panasonic and OLY looks/feels very well built. Both have reputations for excellent glass apparently. But to what degree will a 4/3s camera have the benefits of the full frame camera? I suppose we are really comparing a Panasonic Lumix GF1 with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II here (not sure of the lenses).

    WIth the Panasonic/Oly cameras, 4/3s have a way of halving the required lens length. So I could buy a 150 zoom in 4/3 and it would be as if I had a 300 zoom in full frame. Definite cost savings there. I also like what is good enough, not limiting my art and detail of the full etc, without sacrificing the usability and yes, the inherent destruction of a well applied tool. One hopes it will never come to a camera being actually destroyed but I did find myself hiking in the desert once and caught in a real flash flood. I threw the Panasonic to the far shore while I fended off the flood. It was in it's bag (was over my shoulder). Got wet all over and pretty muddy (my shins were pretty bloody and I escaped with my life). And it still works great.

    I guess the question is, is a 4/3s better than most digitalis other than full frames? Do the same principles apply as I outlined for the full frames albeit at smaller ratios? IF a full frame is truly better then I will find a way to make that happen. Why I am asking this rather long question (sorry) is to get some feel for what benefits or probs of a full frame camera also are with a 4/3s camera?

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    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    Well, this is not going to answer your question, but is what I do. I don't carry a digital when I'm out fishing, hunting or in the muck. I carry an older film camera with a reasonable zoom on it, chosen for cost of loss.

    My present boondocking camera kit is a Nikon FG-20 with the Nikkor 35-80 lens on it. That works for me.

    Pops

  3. #3

    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    I appreciate the talk of general use outdoor cameras. Some of my criterion is having something that is solid, captures quality images, and is relatively light to carry.

    I am so far, being relatively new to digital photography, enjoying having a capacity to zoom so as to break into scenes without literally breaking into the scene (physically).

    Since 4/3s seems to promise higher multipliers for lenses, allowing for a smaller footprint of camera to carry for non obtrusive size and carry weight, I suppose what I really an asking is, is 4/3 comparable at all to full size, relative to al cameras that are not full sized such as the Nikon D90 etc. I am assuming here (and asking to understand better) that 4/3 is a larger sensor size so 4/3 anything would be better than a less than full sized anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by PopsPhotos View Post
    Well, this is not going to answer your question, but is what I do. I don't carry a digital when I'm out fishing, hunting or in the muck. I carry an older film camera with a reasonable zoom on it, chosen for cost of loss.

    My present boondocking camera kit is a Nikon FG-20 with the Nikkor 35-80 lens on it. That works for me.

    Pops

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    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    Quote Originally Posted by levelbest View Post
    If the benefits of a full frame sensor are:
    larger actual sensors in the sensor chip allowing for more light
    Hi "level"

    Kind of the opposite actually. Depth of Field (with all other things equal) is controlled by aperture, but with a Full Frame ("FF") camera, depth of filed is inherantly about 1 stop tighter than with a 1.6x crop-factor camera. So - if for example - you were taking a group portrait outside with a 1.6x crop-factor camera and needed F5.6 to ensure everyone was sharp then you'd need to use F8 on a full frame camera to ensure the same DoF. And of course to get the same exposure you'd either have to accept only 1/2 speed the shutterspeed - use a higher (and potentially noisier ISO) - or come up with lighting that's twice as bright.

    Many people like to promote FF as being superior to crop-factor formats, but the reality is that FF can work for you, against you. or make no difference what-so-ever.

    With regards to weatherproofing / sealing ... I know that there are some point and shoot cameras that are totally waterproof (you can even use them a few meters underwater). In terms of DSLRs though, there's weather sealing and then theres weather sealing. I shoot with a Canon 1Ds3 which is fully weather sealed and (along with weather sealed lenses) I can pretty much use it with impunity in any conditions. There is a degree of weather sealing with other less expensive models, but no manufacturer will put in writing just what you can get away with, so despite anecdotal stories like 'I've got a canon 300D and I take it SCUBA diving with me all the time and have never had a problem", my suggestion is to just be sensible about it. Just because my car may have airbags, pre-tensioning seatbelts and forward crumple zones doesn't mean I can drive with impunity.

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    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    PS: You might find this interesting.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Thirds_system

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    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    Hi there levelbest, (a first name would be handy )

    I just had a quick read of the FZ10, looks like it was a very good choice at the time, although no doubt it came 'at a price'.

    The Wikipedia article is a pretty good summary comparison.

    Other things to consider;
    I don't know how you have found the EVF on the FZ10, but VF display lag with the Micro 4/3s (compared to a DSLR's optical VF) could be an issue, I strongly recommend you "try before you buy" to avoid an unpleasant revelation later.
    Top quality 'glass' for 4/3 will probably cost more than DX lenses for 1.5/1.6 cf cameras, but may equal FF, due to lower sales volumes. Choice for micro 4/3 maybe limited.

    That said, it does sound like 4/3 may well suit you, mainly for the small size/potability, as long as you can live with the typical issues of higher noise, a lower "highest ISO" and too much Depth of Field (by 2 stops) in some circumstances. All these compared to FF.

    Filesize comparison is irrelevant since 12MP 4/3 and 12MP FF are the same amount of data and (all things being equal) will result in the same size file and same processing time in camera - in practice, the latter is solely a camera design issue; some will be quicker than others. Reading about the FZ10, this was something Panasonic put some considerable effort into getting right, so again, do "try before you buy" to avoid a disappointment after purchase.

    Hoppe that helps,

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    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    I'm getting in this thread a little late - I just found this forum. It really has some great information.

    Regarding 4/3 or m4/3 versus full frame: I'm also going through the process of choosing a new camera. I've got a Panasonic FZ30, which has served me well. I have captured some great action shots of windsurfers with it, as well as macro shots of flowers. The reason I'm looking for another camera is because of the noise level of the sensor - anything over 100 ISO is just too noisy. (I'm a former user of Accutane and black & white film of about ASA 10, as well as the original Kodachrome - ASA 8.) So I've been educating myself on such things as diffraction, MTF, and other digital items. However, I keep coming back to the issue that led me to buy an FZ30 in the first place - weight! I lugged a pack with a couple of film Nikons, and three f2.8 zoom lenses around long enough to convince me that a smaller, lighter package would get used more often. (When I was using film, I kept thinking a 4x5 view would be the way to go until I picked one up.)

    To cut to the bottom line: I believe that the m4/3 systems will be the direction I'm going to go. There are more and more lenses coming out, and they include some pretty fast ones, as well as wide-angles that truly are wide-angle. The weight seems to be down considerably from the full-frame DSLRs, not to mention the weight of the lenses. (I am playing with the prospect of hanging onto my 80-200 f2.8 Nikkor and using an adapter. A f2.8 400mm equivalent with the 4/3 is not to be lightly dismissed!) The one issue that I keep running into is the diffraction problems that seem to appear below f8 with the smaller sensors. Has someone seen a marked difference with this issue between the full-frame and APS-C sensors?

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    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    (When I was using film, I kept thinking a 4x5 view would be the way to go until I picked one up.)
    I shot for several years in Northern Alaska with a 4x5 Speed Grafic. 40 pounds of camera gear and 40 pounds of survival gear. You were smarter than I, I think. You didn't go that route.

    I'm still in the "several Nikons and lenses" stage. One of these days I might learn.

    Pops

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    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    Quote Originally Posted by TerryB View Post
    I'm getting in this thread a little late - I just found this forum. It really has some great information.

    ~

    To cut to the bottom line: I believe that the m4/3 systems will be the direction I'm going to go. There are more and more lenses coming out, and they include some pretty fast ones, as well as wide-angles that truly are wide-angle. The weight seems to be down considerably from the full-frame DSLRs, not to mention the weight of the lenses. (I am playing with the prospect of hanging onto my 80-200 f2.8 Nikkor and using an adapter. A f2.8 400mm equivalent with the 4/3 is not to be lightly dismissed!) The one issue that I keep running into is the diffraction problems that seem to appear below f8 with the smaller sensors. Has someone seen a marked difference with this issue between the full-frame and APS-C sensors?
    Hi Terry,

    Welcome to the CiC forums, I was doing this just last April/May

    While you will see an improvement in noise with m4/3 from the FZ30, it won't be as marked as with a recent generation APS-C sized sensor, all other things being equal.

    It depends what you value higher; small size or noise?
    m4/3 could be a good compromise for you, or, if the noise proves unacceptable, it might just be a stepping stone to yet another brand and format.

    You can tell I personally went past 4/3 to APS-C from my viewpoint, can't you?

    Am I biassed - very probably, I don't regret APS-C on noise or size, sure I'd like the lengthening effect of 4/3 format on some lenses and if you're into macro, then the extra DoF of 4/3 over APS-C will help.

    Cheers,

  10. #10

    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    All I can add at this point is that, a) yes the FZ10 was a very nice camera at the time. I purchased it after reading some good reviews on dpreview about it, lumix glass, good image results, etc. b) I am embarrassed to confess it (but not ashamed so here it is ..) I don’t know very much about photography (yet). I have dabbled in and enjoyed photography since I was small. I joined a hobby club and gained B&W development access for a time. Photos were taken with a Pentax K1000. But all that involved was purchasing the correct ASA for the type of light expected where I would be shooting, Other than that I never really picked up any deep understanding of what I call the mathematical side of photography. That is, understanding depth of field, ratios, etc.

    I am not lacking in mental faculties, now that I know I have the knack for taking nice shots, I am willing to learn more. But as yet, I really don’t have much knowledge. My old FZ10 has allowed me to really enjoy shooting pictures. I seem to have a natural eye for a scene and am usually quite lucky to find the circumstance that reveals a beautiful moment - often for just an instant. The FZ10 has been more than enough, more than point and shoot and yet, good results.

    Now that I know what I have of course (talent? Cough cough) it will be good to take my skills to another level. But here is there really big idea ... I am concerned that this is like using a Mac vs a PC. I am a Mac person. I can use a PC but I much prefer a Mac. It‘s a left brain - right brain thing probably. Meaning, I can study all about aperture and DOF, but it will make far better sense to me when I see actual results from different settings in my hands.

    I can't see myself spending long moments setting up a shot. But I do want6 to learn what happens with light and how I can become a better user of photographic light and technique.

    And I suppose that is a rather long winded way of saying, again, 4:3s is going to be “enough”, compared to what I have now? Or, is full frame really going to have much much more room to grow?

    David
    Last edited by levelbest; 21st April 2010 at 01:48 PM.

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    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    Quote Originally Posted by levelbest View Post
    ~ And I suppose that is a rather long winded way of saying, again, 4:4s is going to be “ehough”, compared to what I have now? Or, is full frame really going to have much much more room to grow?
    Hi David,

    It really depends on which direction you go with photography; if erring towards predominantly macro, and if only wanting to produce good quality web published (rather than printed) shots of say flowers/jewelery the small sensor bridge camera with manual modes and RAW capability is a far quicker and far, far cheaper way to go than a DSLR.

    However, for anything "outdoorsy" and "artistic", a DSLR will win on quality, I would say (and others may disagree) that the more creative you want to be with DoF, the bigger the sensor format you should go for.

    A rule of thumb I have developed is that each step moving sensor size up this hierarchy of four levels from compact/bridge camera, to 4/3, to APS-C, to FF, will give;
    > One stop less DoF (or 1 stop more Bokeh) at say, "f8"
    > One stop better iso noise performance (for same MP count)
    > The crop factor's worth more angle of view
    > The crop factor's worth less magnification of distant small objects

    This relies on a lot of other things being equal, which generally they are - if you're pragmatic and don't compare to the n'th degree

    You can also draw your conclusions as to what isn't mentioned in there as not being particularly relevant to format choice, or undefinable in a simple way - RAW capture is essential and then good PP techniques can make up a lot of those 'other' differences, even the noise once past bridge cameras.
    The other factors are; depth of pocket (budget) and the lens range available and the prices of budget -vs- decent -vs- professional quality glass (which is format AND camera body manufacturer dependent).

    That may illicit a few comments,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 21st April 2010 at 07:06 AM.

  12. #12

    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    I appreciate the comments. Can you elaborate on one of the terms you used? What is; “APS-C“?

    I do intend to be able to produce prints. Just now I am setting up a Zenfollio account to sell some of my photos. As I shoot only 4 MP, none can really go much lager than 8x10. I assume that ANY modern MP camera would make for larger prints. I am not worried too much about that. As far as MPs goes, Nikon held back at 6 MPs for quite a long time if I remember correctly. The argument was that 6 is really more than enough for most print use. I have read elsewhere that the “more is better” MP race to have the greatest “amount” of MP sensors is a bit of a red herring - a spurious argument. A more valid point to argue would be of the size of the sensors as in, FF.

    I understand RAW is a given. My old FZ10 is limited to JPEG. I have purchased: Lightroom, Lightzone, Bibble Pro, Pixelemator, and PhotoMechanic to process and manage my photo workflow. I still have not settled on one particular program but within those apps really should be all I would ever need.

    With that said, my FZ10 did provide several advantages.
    1) It was relatively inexpensive compared to Full DSLR.
    2) Did not have to purchase extra expensive lenses
    3) Came with a great little Lumix 12x lens
    4) Has anti shake which allowed me to have full photographic range of motion without needing a tripod
    5) Was relatively small and light and so was easy to keep available when doing almost anything.
    6) Was inexpensive (relative to a full on DSLR and lens kit) therefore was carried around actively without (too great) fear of accidental damage by dropping it or theft by leaving it on a car seat.

    It had limitations as well, or to word it differently, some advantages a “real” DSLR might offer;
    1) Much better use of low light for dusk and dawn shots. Also moonlight, star light and indoors.
    2) Sometimes better lenses would be nice to swap in and out.
    3) FF sensor apparently gives a fuller, richer capture of light

    Some concerns about the “real” DSLR experience would be;
    1) Starting financial outlay for $2500-ish FF plus a good lens (or two), batteries, etc could easily be over $5,000 USD, probably 7 - 10 range realistically.
    2) Build quality and portability. Many shots have come to me because I Was unafraid to pack my camera on a weekend motorcycle trip, driving deep in the desert, or just keeping the camera in the camera bag for most of a trip and not feeling weighed down by the rig when that one shot suddenly appears.
    3) Fast startup time. Since the FZ10 is all one piece I just pull it out of the bag, pop off the lens cap, click it on and focus/shoot.
    Last edited by levelbest; 21st April 2010 at 02:19 PM.

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    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    Quote Originally Posted by levelbest View Post
    I appreciate the comments. Can you elaborate on one of the terms you used? What is; “APS-C“?
    See here for a good discussion:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_sensor_format

    Which sensor size to get? Select a camera with the smallest sensor that will provide the required image quality.

    There's nothing magical about FF; you can get formats much larger and they will provide even better image quality. But who wants to carry a 20" x 24" view camera? In film days FF (35mm) may have been the most popular size for enthusiasts and pros but not because it provided the best image quality - it happened to be the best compromise between image quality and equipment size/cost/weight.

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    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    Quote Originally Posted by levelbest View Post
    Can you elaborate on one of the terms you used? What is; “APS-C“?
    Most DSLRs have APS-C size sensors, by which I mean compared to full frame, they have a crop factor of 1.5 or 1.6, the former for Nikon, Sony and Pentax and the latter for Canon.

    Here's the CiC tutorial technical version of the answer.
    Digital Camera Sensor Sizes: How Do These Influence Photography?

    It is well worth having a look at that page as it contains this diagram;

    4/3 and full frame

    Looking at that diagram, most bridge cameras use one of the three central small sizes (yellow, magenta or cyan), so you can see how vastly larger APS-C (red and blue) and FF (white) are, with 4/3 (green) in between.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 21st April 2010 at 03:28 PM. Reason: corrected my error with Ben's link (thanks)

  15. #15

    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    The visuals help greatly, much thanks. I have been having intermittent internet problems and I am still unable to follow the WIWKI link.

    Given your diagram above, how can I read the labels as it were (the spec sheets) for cameras to know if they are then of the rations of the red, blue or white? Rather obviously the Canon 5D and Nikon 700 and Sony 900 are FF. I know of CMOS etc, but what tells me if it is APS-C or not?

    Also, you suggest bridge cameras as a group, but what do you mean by bridge in this instance? Prosumer cameras like the Lumix would be bridge, as would the Rebel line. But that is my own guess. 4/3 seems nearly as large as the APS-C images, not so different as I was thinking.

    ADDED: Here is an article that seems to go into comparisons APS-C vs FF fairly deeply. I would summarize by saying the full frame is better IF you use good lenses. Otherwise APS-c may serve nearly as well as FF.

    http://www.bobatkins.com/photography...s_aps-c_2.html

    Thanks
    David
    Last edited by levelbest; 21st April 2010 at 04:04 PM.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    Quote Originally Posted by levelbest View Post
    ~ but what do you mean by bridge in this instance? Prosumer cameras like the Lumix would be bridge, as would the Rebel line. But that is my own guess. 4/3 seems nearly as large as the APS-C images, not so different as I was thinking.
    Hi David,

    "Bridge camera" is a term used for fixed lens cameras that generally tend to look like DSLRs, but are not. They usually have many DSLR features, PASM modes, RAW capability, etc. However, while their sensors are small, but bigger than little point and shoot compact cameras. See the Wikipedia link when you can, it has a table. It also has this diagram, which has additional info and shows relative sizes. Ignore the big one at the top, we're not considering that here.

    4/3 and full frame

    The practical differences between format levels of bridge (cf = 4.5), 4/3 (cf = 2), APS-C (cf = 1.5) or FF (cf = 1) is what I started out with above in post #11.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 21st April 2010 at 09:48 PM.

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    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    Another good tutorial; but the tutorials not easy to find or is it just me. So should I go for a 50D or 5D, I like the idea that I can read distance markings but so many pixels means I can just stand back and a 50D is cheaper. Experience proves just standing back isn't really the same but lenses are not so good at the edges.
    Things are a bit strange nowadays though since a cheapish (not cheap) lens can outperform an L type, I would go for the 5D at the moment.

  18. #18

    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    I appreciate the discussion, thank you. One ting I have to do is go through this site and all the tutorials. I don’t want to tax anyones time too much without making a good faith effort to understand.

    Even so, one comment I want to make about this 4/3 format that I do find of interest, it apparently does something that doubles normal lens distance measurement. OK, there I go saying silly things about lenses, apologies. I am sure I did not say that exactly correctly but if you can consider my basic point which is, a 4/3 camera would take a 150 lens and it would reach the same area as a Nikon with a 300 lens. If I understand all of that correctly, that is a good economic reason to consider 4/3s. Of course as ahas already been mentioned, there are still not that many lenses out for 4/3s systems. But apparently what there is, would go quite a long way.

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    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    Quote Originally Posted by levelbest View Post
    I appreciate the discussion, thank you. One ting I have to do is go through this site and all the tutorials. I don’t want to tax anyones time too much without making a good faith effort to understand.

    Even so, one comment I want to make about this 4/3 format that I do find of interest, it apparently does something that doubles normal lens distance measurement. OK, there I go saying silly things about lenses, apologies. I am sure I did not say that exactly correctly but if you can consider my basic point which is, a 4/3 camera would take a 150 lens and it would reach the same area as a Nikon with a 300 lens. If I understand all of that correctly, that is a good economic reason to consider 4/3s. Of course as ahas already been mentioned, there are still not that many lenses out for 4/3s systems. But apparently what there is, would go quite a long way.
    Hi David,

    Ah no, see there I go, assuming you knew what crop factor was

    It's not quite as you surmise, but close.

    On a FF camera, if you have ever used a proper 35mm film camera, you'll know what I mean, a 300mm lens gives a certain angle of view, or magnification, if you like. (Similar to looking through "6 x 25" binoculars) This will be true on Nikon or Canon FF bodies; e.g. Nikon D3 or Canon 1Ds3.

    If you put that same (or any) 300mm focal length lens on an APS-C sensor camera, it will give the effect of being a 450mm lens, because you multiply the 300 by the 1.5 crop factor figure. Typical cameras are Nikon D90 or D5000, or Canon 550D. Although it'll actually be closer to 480mm on the Canon (300 x 1.6).

    If you put a 300mm focal length lens on a 4/3 camera, which has a crop factor of 2, that becomes 300 x 2 = 600mm, so you get much bigger magnification of say, small birds with 4/3 over full frame.

    It's all explained in that CiC tutorial link I put above.

    Cheers,

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    Re: 4/3 and full frame

    It's probably 2 years since I last posted on CiC (SHAME!!) and,lurking around, I chanced upon this elderly thread.
    It would be very interesting to hear how many posters moved into 4/3 or M4/3, and whether this was a temporary or a permanent move.
    Having recently bought an Oly with a couple of prime lenses, I decided to sell my 5DII and 'L' lenses. This move, in part, was determined by rapidly advancing years. Significantly, camera club members have been highly complimentary about 12x16 prints, unaware that they were taken with M4/3, not full frame.
    Happy Christmas to all!

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