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Old September 4th, 2010, 03:18 AM   #61
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Here is honestly what I think.

DSLRs derived from film SLRs. And they derived in such a way as to emulate the way film cameras worked. Using ISOs, using interchangeable lenses, using optical viewfinders (then digital), using motor drives, etc. Every advance prior to video had been to make pro DSLRs operate more like pro film cameras.

Then video came. And the heavens opened.

But what you are left with is a small, digital film camera that operates NOTHING like what "video camera" users were used to. In film cameras, if you wanted ND, you put it on the lens. If you wanted gain, you changed the ISO, if you wanted sound, you brought an audio recorder. This is why I constantly say that what we have in our hands is not a mini-video camera. It is a mini digital film camera. And the two are VERY different beasts.

Canon can continue to develop these cameras as digital film cameras and not lose their core base of digital STILL shooters. However, every concession they make to VIDEO camera shooters, weakens the camera for it's original intent. The LAST thing a stills shooter wants to see is a dang zebra pattern in the frame when he's trying to take a still picture. Or a bunch of wires running all over the place while trying to take a photograph. Might as well go back to film and cut the tether.

So my solution is simple. Instead of trying to get these cameras to bend over backwards trying to shoot them like video cameras, go with the flow and shoot them like the digital film cameras they are. Embrace what they ARE instead of fighting it. Pretend it's a mini Arri 35 and shoot. The technology will come along with these cameras just like it did in movie cameras. Arri pushed, Aaton pushed, Mitchell pushed... But in the mean time, you didn't see people standing around on every street corner in Hollywood complaining about the cameras. People went and shot films!

Look at the very expensive 35mm modern film cameras. Hollywood, Bollywood, and other areas produce over 1000 films a year on REAL film. With cameras that have interchangeable lenses, no autofocus, no auto-iris, no histograms, no peaking, no sound in the camera, no IS, a rolling shutter, a 10 minute time limit, no magnification while shooting.... They do it day, after day, after day. They make it work. VERY well. And here we are with 1/10000 the budget they have, and complain about our cameras holding us back from making REALLY good films.

I don't have a lot of vintage glass. I've sold two sets of glass as I was coming up as a photographer. Now, I am buying it all over again for video purposes. And I am happy to be doing so. The feel of modern still lenses is garbage. The movement on a late 60s Nikon or Pentax absolutely SHAMES the $1500 luxury lenses of today. The Fujinon lens I got in the mail today focuses like it has ball bearings with just the right amount of drag. I haven't felt that in any lens since the late 80s.

So my recommendation is this:

Use the tool in your hands as it is. Yes, they will get better over time. I don't think it will come from the DSLRs. They are not suited to the ultimate purpose. But neither are traditional video cameras. The REAL target should be to emulate today's very expensive digital cinema cameras in a package the size of an EX3 or similar. The Alexa, the Aaton Penelope, and the Scarlet are all moving in that direction. Good for them. Other than Sony, none of the video camera manufacturers have anything at all in that market. So maybe they'll wake up and give the folks something similar.

When I attach a vintage lens to my DSLR, I get a light box. It does what I ask it to do. It does not second guess my choices. It allows me to make mistakes in exposure, shutter choices, etc. It is demanding. But it rewards knowledge, skill, and craft. And ultimately, that is what I want from my camera. Record the light passing through the lens, and leave me alone. I see cinematographers talking about it all the time. How nice it is to untether and just shoot. Meanwhile, the video guys have 1000 cables running everywhere with monitors all over the place. BAH! No, I don't worry about what's coming down the pike. Full Frame 35mm lenses are going to be around for quite some time. So my Nikon glass, and my Pentax (m42) glass and other purchases will move seamlessly from Nikon, to Canon, to Pentax, to wherever. I don't worry about losing autofocus because I don't use it. I don't worry about IS because I don't use it. My lenses have aperture rings so *I* control my aperture, not the camera. I control my focus, not the camera.

That's why I bought another film camera this spring. No LCD, no nothing. It won't even meter for me when I attach vintage lenses. Perfect!
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Old September 4th, 2010, 04:26 AM   #62
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I was one of the first guys to buy a Nikon D90, purely for video work. The video results have never been that good, but as a still camera it is excellent. I also have a Canon 7D on loan together with a few lenses - I am not that impressed, although I have seen some excellent footage. I guess I have been spoilt with first using the Canon XL1s, XHa1 and now the EX3

As far as HDSLR are concerned, they are here to stay and will introduce many people to the exciting world of movie capture, this can only be good news for us as technology will improve and become cheaper. The downside is that there will be more competition for those few jobs that still require a videographer, but hey, it keeps us on our toes and hopefully one step ahead of any new competition.

I was also one of the very early adopters of digital cameras, I was using them whilst everyone was still running to the E6 labs to get their film processed. Today, anyone with a digital SLR camera calls themselves a photographer. The same will be true for video, anyone with a HDSLR camera will call themselves a film producer/ filmaker etc.

Just my two-pence worth
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Old September 4th, 2010, 10:13 AM   #63
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And very correct Vincent. Sadly.
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Old September 4th, 2010, 10:53 AM   #64
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Lower point of entry certainly means a flooded field but it also means lower overhead for a business. Skills don't change with low point of entry. A good DP is still a good DP. The customers that want it will pay for it. The customers that don't . . . get the newbie with the gear.

It's the lower overhead that is the caution here and is at least part of the root of this very thread regarding "smart move . . . get a DSLR."

The market is demanding more video like features in DSLR and Sony, Panasonic, Canon are ALL responding to that demand. People in this thread are judging whether camera bodies or firmware will be updated to incorporate those features. We are judging whether the glass will be transportable to the new bodies.

The response from the manufacturers is escalating exponentially. While the lifecycle of video cameras have shrunk, the lifecycle of DSLR AS VIDEO CAMERAS, FOR THE TIME BEING may be EVEN SHORTER.

Canon Expo showed how much their focus is on video for DSLR. My guess is you will see new bodies by NAB in early 2011. We know Sony and Panasonic are entering the market with different approaches as well.

Perrone, for Canon it WILL come from DSLR. That's why their "concept" camera is a hybrid. They are thinking video in DSLR body. I'd bet they'll have a body with live monitoring at least with histogram and a record time that goes beyond 12 minutes. They're looking at 4K. They'll address the downsampling issue.

Sony will have interchangeability with their Alpha camera lenses. Panasonic has Lumix. And there's Canon. Each will probably come up with proprietary features for lens camera interaction yet will likely have some compatibility outside the "family."

Yes, people have good reason to be concerned when invest in a kit including lenses from any one manufacturer and inside of a few months see another manufacturer with a breakthrough best taken advantage of with a purchase within its "family." Things are going to move VERY FAST in the next 6 months, I predict.
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Old September 4th, 2010, 11:05 AM   #65
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I agree with what you say Perrone but I think you are over exaggerating the auto functions in cameras... you say you dial in your on settings as if we didn't... nobody shoots auto here. Many like IS because it helps a lot if you don't have an good rig, but that's it. Maybe the Full Auto button on my EX1 doesn't work and I don't know it.

And I totally agree with your thoughts with having a little bit better camera that doesn't try to be a video camera. Screw audio, screw long recordings, screw 1000 buttons. But please give me an optional histogram, zebra, peaking and recording expanded focus. It would be a shame to held back the advances of technology.

Even though I say I will keep my EX1... I still mess my pants and cry whenever I see my T2i footage. I pretty much feel like a 15 year old teenager, having no idea what to do.

I will take a look at those vintage lenses threads...
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Old September 4th, 2010, 11:28 AM   #66
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Originally Posted by Craig Seeman View Post
Perrone, for Canon it WILL come from DSLR. That's why their "concept" camera is a hybrid. They are thinking video in DSLR body. I'd bet they'll have a body with live monitoring at least with histogram and a record time that goes beyond 12 minutes. They're looking at 4K. They'll address the downsampling issue.
I think their DSLR product has to diverge then. Because at some point the tools serving video, are not the tools serving stills.

I am very curious where the market is going. I've already staked my position with the EX1 and T2i. I'd be willing to make one more jump into a RED type product provided I could use my current glass, I got at least 2k, I could control it fully manually, and it gave me decent recording options.

Beyond that, I really have all I need to do what I want to do.
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Old September 4th, 2010, 11:40 AM   #67
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Originally Posted by Ivan Gomez Villafane View Post
I agree with what you say Perrone but I think you are over exaggerating the auto functions in cameras... you say you dial in your on settings as if we didn't... nobody shoots auto here. Many like IS because it helps a lot if you don't have an good rig, but that's it. Maybe the Full Auto button on my EX1 doesn't work and I don't know it.
I disagree, I see people discussing shooting auto functions all the time. I certainly shoot auto-iris when I am on my stabilizer.

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And I totally agree with your thoughts with having a little bit better camera that doesn't try to be a video camera. Screw audio, screw long recordings, screw 1000 buttons. But please give me an optional histogram, zebra, peaking and recording expanded focus. It would be a shame to held back the advances of technology.
Again, this comment references the video camera market. And there's nothing wrong with that. You, like the great majority of buyers of these cameras, want a "video camera". I am saying for me personally, I don't really care to have that with these small cameras. I don't mind that in the larger bodied cameras with XLR inputs, and all the other stuff.

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Even though I say I will keep my EX1... I still mess my pants and cry whenever I see my T2i footage. I pretty much feel like a 15 year old teenager, having no idea what to do.
My EX1 gets plenty of use. It does a lot of things better than my T2i. One of those things is continuous recording. But where it's just image that I care about, the T2i is usually going to be my goto camera. At least for now.

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I will take a look at those vintage lenses threads...
It's EASY to get overwhelmed with the vintage lenses. I find it best to just stick to 1 or 2 mounts. I chose the Nikon F mount and the m42 screw mount. Both have inexpensive adapters available, both have (had) long production runs, and both have a very wide variety of lenses available.

The Advantage of the Nikons for me, is that they also work on Nikon cameras. And the look of Nikons has been pretty consistent for a very long time. So I don't worry about switching from a 24mm to a 50mm and having a totally different color or look to the frame. That is HUGE when you are filming a movie.

The advantage of the screw-mount is that adapters are easy and cheap. You'll be able to adapt those lenses to just about any mount you can think of for not much money. And they were made in a time when people saw lens-making as art. Everyone was trying to make the best product they could, rather than modern lenses being made to a low price. It shows in the workmanship and materials. There isn't a single piece of plastic on the lenses I am buying other than the caps. They'll be here long after I am gone. And boy do they feel sweet in the hand! :)
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Old September 4th, 2010, 12:37 PM   #68
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But where it's just image that I care about, the T2i is usually going to be my goto camera. At least for now.
But there are problems with image quality and I believe they will be addressed just as Canon addressed 30fps vs 29.97 and added 23.98fps and 25fps. There is a loss of resolution and aliasing due to line skipping on the downconvert to 1080. I don't think adding improved chip sampling would make the camera would somehow make it less fit for DSLR stills shooting. If they can't change that in firmware it will be in a new body. Look at the video features they've included in their DSLRs since the 5.

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I think their DSLR product has to diverge then. Because at some point the tools serving video, are not the tools serving stills.
Live LCD out is something they can address. Histogram is easy since that's already there for still photographers. Note Canon has added movable LCD too now. I believe this can all be done with the DSLR form factor. Certainly XLR inputs wont happen in DSLR form as that would be a major ergonomic change. But the rest doesn't conflict at all with technology within a DSLR body.

Their concept camera showed the potential divergence but that may yet be a different line of cameras. It's 2/3" chip hybrid body, 4K video and frame rate above 60fps. These might cause even more heating problems in a DSLR body. It had no recording media and no audio inputs. It was a fixed lens. The concept shows the potential exemplifies they already have the technology to head in that direction. Imagine a 2/3" chip, 4K camera capable of overcrank over 60fps in a size no bigger than an EX1r.

The above portends the divergence. That does not preclude improving DSLR for video use which I believe will happen.

At least with T2i, it's inexpensive relative to video dedicated lower end professional cameras. When they do come out with improved functions on a new DSLR body, the lenses will travel.
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Old September 4th, 2010, 01:04 PM   #69
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But there are problems with image quality and I believe they will be addressed just as Canon addressed 30fps vs 29.97 and added 23.98fps and 25fps. There is a loss of resolution and aliasing due to line skipping on the downconvert to 1080. I don't think adding improved chip sampling would make the camera would somehow make it less fit for DSLR stills shooting. If they can't change that in firmware it will be in a new body. Look at the video features they've included in their DSLRs since the 5.
I think the image quality is just fine. Certainly, it can be improved. Just like anything else. I think people tend to forget where we've come from in only a short time. You think the T2i has image quality problems? I shot on VHS cameras. THAT was an image quality problem. But at the time, it was heralded as a break-through. What is constantly changing is our expectations.

And no, I don't think improving the chip technology would hamper the stills crowd. They'd welcome it as much as we would. As long as it didn't cause any inconvenience to them.


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Live LCD out is something they can address. Histogram is easy since that's already there for still photographers. Note Canon has added movable LCD too now. I believe this can all be done with the DSLR form factor. Certainly XLR inputs wont happen in DSLR form as that would be a major ergonomic change. But the rest doesn't conflict at all with technology within a DSLR body.
Completely agree.

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Their concept camera showed the potential divergence but that may yet be a different line of cameras. It's 2/3" chip hybrid body, 4K video and frame rate above 60fps. These might cause even more heating problems in a DSLR body. It had no recording media and no audio inputs. It was a fixed lens. The concept shows the potential exemplifies they already have the technology to head in that direction. Imagine a 2/3" chip, 4K camera capable of overcrank over 60fps in a size no bigger than an EX1r.
Imagine.... a Scarlet. :)

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The above portends the divergence. That does not preclude improving DSLR for video use which I believe will happen.
Agree on both counts.

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At least with T2i, it's inexpensive relative to video dedicated lower end professional cameras. When they do come out with improved functions on a new DSLR body, the lenses will travel.
And that, is the point. People are dumping incredible amounts of money into these incomplete bodies. And pouring tons more money into proprietary glass technology. And what happens when Canon changes the mount? And all that expensive glass becomes a doorstop?

The last few movies I've done, I think the only prime on set was a 50. And it was an AF 50 trying to be used in manual mode. Every try fitting a focus ring on a nifty fifty? And yet, I see recommendations for that lens left and right for filmmakers, when they could be buying a far more suitable piece of fast glass for even less money. I got so frustrated on the set of my last set, that I decided to just start buying fast primes to avoid the incredibly frustrating concessions one has to make to accommodate the AF zooms.

I think as filmmakers, we've slipped terribly. We are all trying to speed up production and that's costing us quality. Zooms are faster to use on set for pros because you don't have to remove the mattebox, and do all the other gyrations. But at the indie level, I think they've taken away a lot of the discipline required to shoot with a set of 6 primes or so. When you've got a 24, 28, 35, 50, 85, and 105, you need to make some real framing choices and some movement choices. I think every beginning filmmaker should have to learn to make movies with 3 primes. A 24 (or equivalent), a normal, and an 85. Frame the entire movie with those lenses and learn about visual continuity.

Anyway, we've moved off the topic somewhat, though I think camera choice and lensing is paramount to the idea of shooting on a DSLR. So maybe someone will read all these long posts and make some sound decisions based on them.
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Old September 4th, 2010, 02:35 PM   #70
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Well to keep on topic and face one key dilemma that you allude to, there's image quality. That's why I mention the DSLR down convert issues. I'd think intercutting a very high resolution EX shot with a lower resolution DSLR shot might be a problem. If the shots are unrelated it may not be as obvious but if they're in the same scene I foresee problems.

As filmmakers or, more broadly story tellers, we're faced with dropping budgets, whether our own or for clients, hence the push to speed things up. We are always faced with smaller, more portable (faster mobility) kits in which fewer components are put into use to server more purposes . . . like using a DSLR for video rather than buying REDs which in itself is a lower budget solution for the six figure priced cameras. This is the push that got us to the point where we use $900-$2500 DSLR for shallow DOF . . . which is less expensive than the cheapest EX camera.

So we end up with two cameras, an EX camera which is low cost and high resolution with chips bigger than 1/3" and a DSLR which is even lower cost, lower resolution but great DOF and we are trying to use the two together when the recordings don't look at all similar even when each "covers" our express purposes.

So now we look at a real total cost of both cameras and each with separate support gear and you could be in $15,000 - $20,000 range when you include lenses, and shoulder mount and steady devices for the very different weights and ergonomics.

So to cut costs further we want that "one kit to rule them all" otherwise find away to get the two to work more closely together on a single production. Sigh!
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Old September 4th, 2010, 02:36 PM   #71
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It's hard to add to Perrone's comments since I agree with everything he is saying. When it comes to using these DSLR's for video, it helps to have several decades of experience using the old 35mm film cameras that were manual everything. Zebras? Screw that. Give me a spot meter and an 18% grey card (for example). Heck, having live view is "cheating" IMO. Go back to film where you didn't know if you nailed exposure until you processed the film and printed proof sheets, LOL! Fortunately, all of these skills we had to learn 25-30 years ago in order to be successful photographers still apply today.

Ivan, the old manual glass is not necessarily expensive if you look in the right places. Lucky for me, my dad kept his Pentax LX system he was using when I was a kid and now I'm using his glass (and used his LX a few months ago for a family photo shoot with amazing results using Kodak Portra VC160). And there is no comparison to today's junk. 30 years ago, the lenses were made for manual focus because that's all we had. Today, no one knows how to pull focus by the seat of their pants @ 1.4, so the lenses are designed to operate primarily in autofocus mode.

Craig, there's nothing wrong with the images these cameras produce IF you restrict their use to favorable conditions. For example, I would NOT lock these DSLRs off on sticks for static, wide shots. That's just not going to give you a pleasing image - more like a moire fest. Use your EX1 for that and it will be perfection. Stick to beauty shots with these DSLRs where the absence of absolute resolution will not be apparent, and you will be rewarded beyond belief. That's why people are saying to use them IN CONJUNCTION WITH your EX1s because both cameras will compliment each other.

Perrone, a perfect example of the bokeh you're referring to is the Pentax M 135/3.5. Dirt cheap lens because it's so slow and probably pretty commonly found. Great for full frame, but not so much 1.6x APS-C because the crop forces you to back away from your subject for framing, which negates the distance factor for obtaining shallow DOF - you really need f2 and under with 1.6x and the moderate tele lenses (105 and >).

Another beauty is the 85/1.8 - arguably the best portrait lens ever made by anyone! I LOVE using all of this vintage glass today! They feel SO familiar.

I'll edit this to add: You'd be surprised how much you can do with a 50/1.4 on a 1.6x DSLR. That's about $100 of mint glass, 550D body for $800, battery grip for $60, a $150 Velbon PH368 head w/sticks, $500 for Blackbird stabilizer, and $600 for RR Deluxe ShoulderMount. Total = $2,200 for absolutely sick results under the right circumstances.
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Old September 4th, 2010, 03:20 PM   #72
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I'll edit this to add: You'd be surprised how much you can do with a 50/1.4 on a 1.6x DSLR. That's about $100 of mint glass, 550D body for $800, battery grip for $60, a $150 Velbon PH368 head w/sticks, $500 for Blackbird stabilizer, and $600 for RR Deluxe ShoulderMount. Total = $2,200 for absolutely sick results under the right circumstances.
Heh, why do you think I just paid $100 for a MINT Nikkor-S 50mm/f1.4? That's right, it's not even coated! $100 to get better lens flare than I could EVER get in any $1k plug-in suite. And it takes a right nice picture too!
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Old September 5th, 2010, 01:38 AM   #73
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A few years back I tried to sell all my old Nikkor lenses, ranging from 20 to 500mm (16 lenses in all) The money I was offered was a sham, e.g. I wasn't going to part with a 85mm 1.8 lens for just £25, so I kept the lot. Now, with Mike Tapas and Steve Schovlars Nikon to EX adaptors I get fantastic results with the old lenses on my EX3. Sure, I get a 5x magnification with the lenses, maybe I can now find a new job as a peeping Tom paperazzi video man (just kidding).

btw. my gut feeling is that this SDOF will be a short lived phase, once the novelty has worn off and the viewer gets fed up of seeing the same type of image. Remember the early days of digital manipulation when every animal had a zebra skin applied YAWN.
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Old September 5th, 2010, 01:51 AM   #74
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btw. my gut feeling is that this SDOF will be a short lived phase, once the novelty has worn off and the viewer gets fed up of seeing the same type of image.
Lensing is a lot easier than lighting. And as long as that's the case, we'll continue to see shallow DOF. There are just a number of shots that are DARN hard to pull off on small indie money. The deep focus night for night shot is one of them. It takes some real effort and money to pull an F8 or F11 at night.

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Remember the early days of digital manipulation when every animal had a zebra skin applied YAWN.
Must have been a UK thing.
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Old September 5th, 2010, 02:56 AM   #75
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I didn't have night shots in mind, its the overuse of shallow depth of field that is so common place in most TV productions. I think you would be one of the first to say don't use f8 or f11 on a video camera. ;-)

Maybe a Zebra skin on an Elephant or Lion was a UK thing. The point I was making was that effects are being used for the sake of effects rather than making a statement etc. "Look how clever I am", springs to mind
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