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Author: Subject: I Need *more* Digital Camera Advice

Ultimate Peach





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  posted on 8/19/2008 at 08:02 AM
I need advice on buying a new point & shot digital camera. Iíve had a Cannon Powershot for about 5 years and it has performed well, but Iím looking for something a little nicer and a little smaller. When I purchased it, I needed to go with a bulkier model to have a better lens. Is that still the case? I liked that it had some manual settings and even though it was only 3.2, it took a nice picture. What I didnít like was its size and that I could not get a wider shot without having to use the panorama function and piece together picts.

I like to keep the price under $200.00. Iím not opposed to used or refurbished. Can you recommend some models and websites? Any thoughts on the following two:

http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/Fujifilm-FinePix-S700-7-1-Megapixel-Digital- Camera-Black-FINEPIXS700BK/sem/rpsm/oid/174772/catOid/-16941/rpem/ccd/produ ctDetail.do

http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/Samsung-L200-10-2-Megapixel-Digital-Camera-S ilver-L200SILVER/sem/rpsm/oid/205991/catOid/-16941/rpem/ccd/productDetail.d o


Thanks!!!


[Edited on 8/26/2008 by dancingrhonda]

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/19/2008 at 08:05 AM
Check out

http://www.bhphotovideo.com

I've bought my last 2 cameras and a lens from them. They also have a good selection of used and open box specials.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/19/2008 at 08:41 AM
Nikon Coolpix are great. I use the hell out of mine (oops, sorry, heck, I use the heck) out of mine to document historical projects Im working on. Not only does it do a good overall picture taking job, but it has the ability to shoot fairly good video as well. Grab a 2GB card with it and you will get almost 3 hours of video and hundreds of pictures. It might run you a little over $100.

Now, if you really want to get an incredible camera, my buddy at work uses a Kodak V1273(?). This thing takes beautiful pictures at 12mp and shoots HD video. Its around $200.

 

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  posted on 8/19/2008 at 09:20 AM
The Fuji isn't exactly a small camera. I don't know how small your requirement is, but that's not going to be pocketsized. The Samsung is probably closer in that regard, but will probably have another issue: going wide enough. Real wide angle stuff isn't the strong point of most digital point-and-shoots. And depending upon just how wide you define "wide" you might still have to do the multi-shot thing and stitch them together.

Check out these sites for more info -

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/

http://1001noisycameras.blogspot.com/

There's lots of other good photo resource sites with equipment reviews.

One last thing - if you want a "fast" camera - one that will take the best possible photo in the lowest light condition without flash - find a Fuji F30 or F31. They don't make these anymore, and they are only 3 mp. But they were and still are the low-light leader, and highly prized because of that.

 

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Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 8/19/2008 at 10:13 AM
AFter some research, the Pansonic Lumix lines seems to be quite good. Has decent wider shots and nice quality. I don't know much about Panasonic for cameras, any thoughts on this brand?

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/19/2008 at 07:02 PM
quote:
I need advice on buying a new point & shot digital camera. Iíve had a Cannon Powershot for about 5 years and it has performed well, but Iím looking for something a little nicer and a little smaller. When I purchased it, I needed to go with a bulkier model to have a better lens. Is that still the case? I liked that it had some manual settings and even though it was only 3.2, it took a nice picture. What I didnít like was its size and that I could not get a wider shot without having to use the panorama function and piece together picts.

I like to keep the price under $200.00. Iím not opposed to used or refurbished. Can you recommend some models and websites? Any thoughts on the following two:

http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/Fujifilm-FinePix-S700-7-1-Megapixel-Digital- Camera-Black-FINEPIXS700BK/sem/rpsm/oid/174772/catOid/-16941/rpem/ccd/produ ctDetail.do

http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/Samsung-L200-10-2-Megapixel-Digital-Camera-S ilver-L200SILVER/sem/rpsm/oid/205991/catOid/-16941/rpem/ccd/productDetail.d o


Thanks!!!



"Ya go to B & H" in New York City!

 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 8/19/2008 at 07:24 PM
Well, Panasonic puts their name on quite a few cameras, so the first question would be which one(s) are you interested in. It looks like some of their latest models that have the wider field of view are all above the $200 price range you mentioned.

If you're opening up the price range, you might have more to look at. Overall, you can't really go wrong with the Canon. They probably sell more small digital cameras than anyone, doing a consistently good job.

Here's a few other sites that do a good job with reviewing cameras -

http://www.dpreview.com/

http://www.steves-digicams.com/hardware_reviews.html

http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM


One thing I'll warn against is getting caught up in the megapixel hype. More is not necessarily better! Many other factors come into play; lens quality, speed (ASA capabilities), in-camera image processing, post-camera image processing, noise generation, color rendition, and others.

Unless you're planning on doing poster-size blow ups, a good camera with a 6 mp sensor can easily beat out a so-so camera with a 14 mp sensor in image-quality on 8x10 or 11x14 enlargements.

Here's a little demonstration -

First is a picture I took a few weeks ago of Knopfler in Chicago. This was taken with a Fuji f30; a 3 mp point-and-shoot camera, with no flash, under stage lighting, at a distance of about 20 feet. Anyone whose tried to take pictures at shows knows how problematic it can be unless your using pro gear (which this camera is certainly not!).




Next, here's a small segment of that same shot -




It's not perfect, but this is only a 3 mp camera. You can clearly read the headstock, see detail in his fingers, and make out everything pretty clearly. Not bad for 3 mp.

The point is: don't lose yourself in the megapixel wars. It probably won't show up in the resulting images. And there's a big difference between a 10 mp digital SLR with a full sized chip, versus a 10 mp point-and-shoot using a much small sensor chip. The megapixels might be the same, but the overall chip size has a huge influence over what's possible with the image.

Finally, you might want to hold on a little bit. Photokina is coming up in just a month. Lot's of new camera announcements always come out of this show.

 

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Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 8/20/2008 at 11:16 AM
I got the Fuji Finepix S700. So far, so good. These photos were taken in basic point and shoot mode - no editing done.

You can see the Washington Monument at the top of the landscape, left side


Shot from same spot, just zoomed in.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/20/2008 at 11:22 AM
Nice pics, rhonda!
 

Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 8/20/2008 at 11:41 AM
quote:
Nice pics, rhonda!


Thanks. I'm hoping that once I get to know the camera and a little editing, I can get some great shots at Red Rocks.

 

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  posted on 8/20/2008 at 12:48 PM
OK Fuj and Dancing H...it looks like you know what you're doing. Question on zoom. What's good? DH what length zoom on yours?

 

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Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 8/20/2008 at 12:54 PM
quote:
OK Fuj and Dancing H...it looks like you know what you're doing. Question on zoom. What's good? DH what length zoom on yours?


I know how to point and shot well . Fuji is your guy for advice. My camera's specs say the lens is: Fujinon 10x optical zoom lens F3.5

I don't know what that means, but I'm sure Rich does.

 

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  posted on 8/20/2008 at 01:52 PM
quote:
OK Fuj and Dancing H...it looks like you know what you're doing. Question on zoom. What's good? DH what length zoom on yours?

It's not so simple to answer without asking "what do you want to do?"

If you're main need is general happy snaps of friends and groups and landscapes, under good lighting conditions, with an occassional desire to get in really close - then I'd say what Rhonda did with a 8x or 10x or 12x zoom will serve most of your purposes.

But the real key here is lighting conditions. Lot's of folks on this site want to bring a camera to concert and go home with a few decent shots. That puts them under very difficult (read: low) lighting conditions. None of the point-and-shot digitals with longer zooms handle low light well. By longer zoom, I mean anything above 3-4x. And even most of those with shorter ranges do not do all that well.

One of the key issues in the longer zooms is that they force the aperture to close down some when zoomed at longer lengths. That means the f-stop goes up and less light is permitted through the lens. Even many of the shorter zoom cameras do this. Here's the specs for the new Nikon Coolpix P6000, which has only a 4x zoom: 28-112mm, f/2.7-5.9. What that means is that at it's least zoom (28mm) the maximum the aperture opening is F2.7, but at full zoom (112mm) it's maximum opening is f5.9. Since the intensity of light falls off geometrically, it all means that at full zoom you get 4 times less light to the sensor. That's not important on a sunny day, but under low light its a huge difference.

This is common of all point-and-shoot cameras. Its part of the compromises that need to be made to have all those capabilities in such small packages. It's also the reason that a pro with $1,800 lens can do things the point-and-shoot will never be able to do.

But those low light conditions are rare, unless that's something really important to you. For most average stuff, you'll do just fine with any of the Canon's or Nikon's, or most of the stuff out there.

I mentioned in an earlier post about not getting caught up in the megapixel hype. In a similar fashion, some of the point-and-shoots that brag about higher and higher mp count do so at some expense to speed. You'll never see it unless you're trying for that low light shot, but it's something to keep in mind.

And while we're on the low-light subject, I'll show you the other end of the spectrum. Below is a picture I took of Robin Trower a few months back. He was in a club in SC, and the lighting was attrocious. A birthday cake with more than 10 candles would have double the available light. But fortunately I was able to bring my pro gear in that night: a Nikon D3 with a 70-200mm, f2.8 VR (vibration reduction) lens. Even in awful conditions, I ws able to get this:

Full frame -




Cropped & enlarged -




This is the kind of stuff you'll never get with a point-and-shoot.


Finally, like every consumer product, there always have to be new things introduced from time to time to keep the sales healthy. The latest in the photo world seems to be something called the new "Micro Four Thirds" standard. This will be a new format, ushering in a new group of equipment. From what little I've heard, the features are larger sensors (with perhaps better low light performance), smaller bodies than current digital SLR's, and interchangable lenses. So it sounds like higher level performance and options in a smaller package. We'll see...





[Edited on 8/20/2008 by Fujirich]

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 8/20/2008 at 02:18 PM
Loving this thread! I've been wanting to get a digital camera (currently have a Canon 35mm zoom something) and the information here is great for making some decisions! Thanks!

 

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  posted on 8/20/2008 at 02:23 PM
Thanks Fuj, interesting stuff. I'm not knowledgeable enough to get too fancy. I like Rhonda's camera. Reasonable price @ $!59 and gets a nice shot in the distance. I like to zoom in from a distance to get a more natural picture instead of a posed pic.

Can you come to Atlanta and teach a class? I don't want to be a pro, I just want to have more info and knowledge so I can take better pictures. Now, if I win the lottery I'll buy a big time camera and find someone to show me how to use it!

 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 8/20/2008 at 03:25 PM
You don't need me to teach a class - I'm not much of a photgrapher even if I understand the equipment and get a few good shots from time to time.

But here's a great little article, filled with really good advice about buying photo gear -

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/notcamera.htm

This is from Ken Rockwell's photo blog. Some phototgraphers like him, some don't. I like his no-nonsense writing style and blunt opinions. Here's a bunch of other things he's written -

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech.htm

 

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  posted on 8/20/2008 at 03:45 PM
quote:
That's impressive as hell. But you say you're using the good stuff for that, eh?

Yeah, this could not have been created by *normal* consumer-type equipment, given that I was about 25' away, and under awful lighting. The Nikon D3 has been available for about a year or so, and has really grabbed hold on the pro sports and news shooters. It's low-light capabilities blow everything that came before out of the water. That shot is at ASA 6400. Most cameras can't even go that fast, and when they do the noise is awful. The D3 does stuff that just wasn't possible before.

But Nikon just announced a D700 with the same sensor and speed characteristics for about half the price of the D3. Still very expensive, but give it time. In a few years this sort of thing will be possible for a few hundred bucks.

quote:
So did you manually adjust the f-stop on the Fuji pictures? Seriously - I'm blown away with those shots. I'd assume the F-30 is the $250 camera?
Actually, I adjusted the parameters on some of the options, but essentially left the aperture and shutter to auto. The Trower shot with the D3 allowed me much more control than the Knopfler shot with the Fuji, but both were no flash, more or less auto mode.

The f30/f31 from Fuji are cameras that are no longer made. You see one from time to time on eBay, and they go for about twice now of what they were when new. Neither Fuji, nor anyone else has made one since that had its low-light capability. Here's one -

http://cgi.ebay.com/BRAND-NEW-Fujifilm-FinePix-F31fd-6-3-Megapixel-fuji-f31 _W0QQitemZ280257997270QQihZ018QQcategoryZ31388QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZ ViewItem

 

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  posted on 8/20/2008 at 03:56 PM
Rich,
I seem to be able to go into fully manual mode. To shoot low light shots, such as yours at a show, what settings should I strive for? Don't worry, I don't think for a moment that mine will ever look lke yours.

Deb and others considering a new camera - I really like it - Fuji S700. It also has a very good movie mode with sound. So far seems like a lot of bang for the buck. I took some exceptional closeups, from reviews this is a strong point. I'll post a few later.

 

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  posted on 8/20/2008 at 04:05 PM
To get close to those pics, you'll need to crank your iso as high as you can. You don't need great depth of field, use a smallish number like 5.6. If you shoot aperature priority, the camera will set the shutter speed based on your iso and fstop to get the best exposure. Your white balance will vary depending on the type of lighting. I usually shoot concerts on "full sun" and adjust from there.

 

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  posted on 8/20/2008 at 04:19 PM
quote:
quote:
To get close to those pics, you'll need to crank your iso as high as you can. You don't need great depth of field, use a smallish number like 5.6. If you shoot aperature priority, the camera will set the shutter speed based on your iso and fstop to get the best exposure. Your white balance will vary depending on the type of lighting. I usually shoot concerts on "full sun" and adjust from there.


Geek.


Only on this subject.




Eff Otie.

 

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  posted on 8/20/2008 at 08:55 PM
I just got a new one myself. My main feature when making a decision was being able to adjust my ISO settings. I do not think the video part is all that great, but I do not use that feature much. SO far so good. It had some good reviews on all the sites I found it on.......

http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/products/Digital_Point_Shoot/productdeta il.aspx?c=us&l=en&cs=19&sku=A1472869

 

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  posted on 8/21/2008 at 01:24 AM
quote:
Rich,
I seem to be able to go into fully manual mode. To shoot low light shots, such as yours at a show, what settings should I strive for?

With the context of this discussion being concert photos, all I can tell you is what I do with the f30. I typically leave it in full auto mode, but I also force the flash to stay off. There's usually a mode or setting that permits this. That will force all the things Ron mentioned, like highest possible ASA (speed of the sensor), most open lens aperture, and usually a slower shutter. All those things will allow the most light possible to hit the sensor and give you the best chance of capturing an image under low light.

I'm sure there's some manual mode setup you could also make, and I'd recommend the smallest aperture number, a shutter speed of no slower than 1/30th (probably 1/60th would be better), and an ASA of 1600.

I never use a flash at a show. It's disrespectful to others in the audience, very disrespectul to the band, and in my opinion it looses one of the things that are cool about good concert photos: dramatic lighting.

One thing I noticed Rhonda; I think your S700 does not have any sort of stabilization. That's of little to no importance for daylight or flash shooting, but it makes some potential difference for low light, no flash type stuff. If the conditions are such that a very slow shutter speed is used (1/60th is on the border, 1/30 or 1/15th for sure) then any movement of the camera in your hands will show up in the photos. It's worse the more you zoom in. Just something to be on guard for.

Lastly, I'll just mention what I look for at a show. Of course, being close is a great advantage. The closer the better for most things. Beyond that, I pay attention to the stage lighting early in the show to try and gauge what it looks like when it's brighter versus when it's more subdued. I usually wait for the brighter conditions to try for a shot. And it's just a personal thing, but I hate mic stands. I try not to snap away when someone is singing, unless I'm at a fairly strong off-angle to them. I hate having someone's face being a quarter or more covered by a microphone and the stand. I try to wait till a guitarist takes a solo and is away from the mic to take a shot. It's all common sense stuff.

There are also times when I walk into a show in a venue that is new to me, and can tell instantly it won't be condusive to getting good shots. The band is set up too far back on the stage. My seats are too far away, etc. I just don't even bother under those conditions, and enjoy the show instead.

But when I shot, I also find that I struggle with that balance of being completely into the music, letting yourself go for that, versus keeping your mind on getting a few decent photos. The two are not compatible - at least not for me - as I have to think carefully about waiting for the right moment, composing the picture, steadiness of my position, and other things before I hit the shutter. I loose a little of the "enjoyment-in-the-moment" thing when I shoot versus when I don't. I guess that will vary by individual, but in the long run I like having something to remember from the event if I think it's possible to get decent shots.

 

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  posted on 8/21/2008 at 08:56 AM
Nice tips and shots Rich. I totally agree about not using your flash. I have shot with the flash on and off. Most of the pictures are much more colorful without the flash. But I shoot when the stage lights are at their brightest. The more you practice the better you will get. Shoot the same shot at different settings, write down what the setting were for each shot. You will eventually get a feel for it...........I have been shooting pictures since 1970 and I still learn something new every time I shoot.

 

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  posted on 8/21/2008 at 09:18 AM
Here is another site that may interest you.


http://www.keh.com/onlinestore/home.aspx

 

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  posted on 8/21/2008 at 09:47 AM
quote:
quote:
Rich,
I seem to be able to go into fully manual mode. To shoot low light shots, such as yours at a show, what settings should I strive for?

With the context of this discussion being concert photos, all I can tell you is what I do with the f30. I typically leave it in full auto mode, but I also force the flash to stay off. There's usually a mode or setting that permits this. That will force all the things Ron mentioned, like highest possible ASA (speed of the sensor), most open lens aperture, and usually a slower shutter. All those things will allow the most light possible to hit the sensor and give you the best chance of capturing an image under low light.

I'm sure there's some manual mode setup you could also make, and I'd recommend the smallest aperture number, a shutter speed of no slower than 1/30th (probably 1/60th would be better), and an ASA of 1600.

I never use a flash at a show. It's disrespectful to others in the audience, very disrespectul to the band, and in my opinion it looses one of the things that are cool about good concert photos: dramatic lighting.

One thing I noticed Rhonda; I think your S700 does not have any sort of stabilization. That's of little to no importance for daylight or flash shooting, but it makes some potential difference for low light, no flash type stuff. If the conditions are such that a very slow shutter speed is used (1/60th is on the border, 1/30 or 1/15th for sure) then any movement of the camera in your hands will show up in the photos. It's worse the more you zoom in. Just something to be on guard for.

Lastly, I'll just mention what I look for at a show. Of course, being close is a great advantage. The closer the better for most things. Beyond that, I pay attention to the stage lighting early in the show to try and gauge what it looks like when it's brighter versus when it's more subdued. I usually wait for the brighter conditions to try for a shot. And it's just a personal thing, but I hate mic stands. I try not to snap away when someone is singing, unless I'm at a fairly strong off-angle to them. I hate having someone's face being a quarter or more covered by a microphone and the stand. I try to wait till a guitarist takes a solo and is away from the mic to take a shot. It's all common sense stuff.

There are also times when I walk into a show in a venue that is new to me, and can tell instantly it won't be condusive to getting good shots. The band is set up too far back on the stage. My seats are too far away, etc. I just don't even bother under those conditions, and enjoy the show instead.

But when I shot, I also find that I struggle with that balance of being completely into the music, letting yourself go for that, versus keeping your mind on getting a few decent photos. The two are not compatible - at least not for me - as I have to think carefully about waiting for the right moment, composing the picture, steadiness of my position, and other things before I hit the shutter. I loose a little of the "enjoyment-in-the-moment" thing when I shoot versus when I don't. I guess that will vary by individual, but in the long run I like having something to remember from the event if I think it's possible to get decent shots.





You got to be rock steady shooting low level lighting at 1/30th or 1/60th. The lowest shutter speed I can shoot is 1/60th and I got to be exhale still when I snap. If I shoot a lower shutter speed I try to prop the camera against something, or use one of those little gorilla tripods. But your subject must be low action. You will get a lot of blur if your subject is dancing around the stage. Do remember when using a higher aperture, more forward and rear subjects will be sharper or more in focus (depth of field). Lower apertures make your focal point subject sharp with backgrounds out of focus. Like I said in a earlier post, experiment with your settings and compare the shots. You will see the differences.

Photography can be very fun. It is an art. I went to a photography tech school for a year after high school (1977 pre digital). Most students transferred to Eastman Kodak School, after their 1st year.
That was my ambition, but fell in love, moved home, got married. We did everything in lab. Made our own film, printing paper, and shot a hell of a lot of pictures, which I can not locate at the present time. Like the above post said, grab all your pictures before you leave.

One major thing to remember when shooting pictures. Most photographers, including myself shoot a hell of a lot of bad shots. Not all of the shots are good. That is why you got to shoot a lot of shots. Ask a sports photographer how many good shots he gets each time he goes in to the field. He will probably say, just a couple. That is whats nice about this digital stuff. You can review it after you shoot. I use to have to run back to the house and develop myself. It took a few hours before I knew what I had.

 

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