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Twitch1977 Feb 11, 2006 11:08 AM

I hope I'm not cluttering up your forum but I'm currently wrestling with a decision between getting an entry level dSLR camera or a higher end point and shoot.

My question is, once I buy a dSLR camera how much extra is going to need to be spent on lenses. For instance a lot of the higher end point and shoots offer zooms up to 10x-12x, how much will it cost to get a dSLR lens to do the same?

I see lenses like:

Nikon AF 70-300mm f4-5.6G Black
[*] Lightweight 4.3X telephoto zoom lens for SLR's that set aperture from Command Dial

[/*][*] Ideal lens for candids, travel and sports photography

[/*][*] D-Type design provides precise distance information for flash and ambient light exposure process[/*]
Selling for only a couple hundred bucks Canadian but is a lens like this servicable or is it going to be complete crap? I would be using zoom pretty much exclusively outdoors and I don't need the greatest lens money can buy but I would want something that is going to turn out nice pictures.. that is the point of having a nice camera after all.

In the end if I were to get a camera like a d50 I would want to be able to get nice macro shots as well as have a lens that can do a nice zoom. I don't mind spending a bit of money on these lenses but I feel that if I need to spend a significant amount on lenses I'm probably going to be better off getting a camera like the Fujis s9000, or Pana fz30 that already has the functionality that I'm after.

Also I remember reading that certain camera functions are only available with certain lenses, how can I tell what lens will offer what functionality? (If this is true.)

This site has been a great help to me and if you can offer me any advice on this it will certainly make my decision on what type of camera to buy a lot easier.


rjseeney Feb 11, 2006 11:35 AM

First of all, forget the meaningless "x" designations. 10x, 12x etc are marketing terms that don't tell the whole story. What really matters is focal length. DSLR lenses are named by focal length..for example the two kit lenses for the D50 are the 18-55mm and 55-200. The higher the number , the narrower the field of view, or in other words, the closer the lens gets you to your subject. In terms of "x" this setup gives you over 10x. The "x" factor is simply the longest focal length divided by the shortest. The D50 with these two lenses runs around $900 and should cover any shooting situation that you may encounter. You won't get true macro with these lenses (true macro is 1:1, that is the subject appears life sized) but will be able to do some closeup shots. A dedicated macro lens is somewhat pricey, at least $400+ used. In terms of functionality, just make sure you buy AF lenses...Ai or manual lenses will not meter on the D50 body.

Twitch1977 Feb 12, 2006 10:48 AM

Just a question regarding a dSLR focal length multiplier. Looking at the Nikon d50 it has a focal length multiplier of 1.5x so does this mean using a 55-200mm lens I'll be, in effect, using a 82.5-300mm lens?

And if I want to get good macro shots what do I need to budget for a lens?

I spent a lot of time comparing pictures from various P&S cameras to the d50 and it's immediately apparent that the quality of the pictures from the d50 is in an entirely different class from P&S's.

I've been back and forth on this about 100x now, one day I'm leaning towards the panasonic FZ30 and the next day towards the d50. I think once I can figure out what kind of budget I'll need to spend on d50 lenses to get the rough equivalent of funcitonality that the FZ30 offers I'll be able to make my decision.

Thanks much for helping me clarify this,

rjseeney Feb 12, 2006 1:46 PM

Twitch1977 wrote:

Just a question regarding a dSLR focal length multiplier. Looking at the Nikon d50 it has a focal length multiplier of 1.5x so does this mean using a 55-200mm lens I'll be, in effect, using a 82.5-300mm lens?
Yes, that is correct....the crop factor is great for people who need extra reach, not so good for wide angle shooters.

If you want a true macro lens, the cheapest option would be the Sigma 55mm runs about $300. The best choice would be the Nikkon 105mm f/ can be found used on KEH for about $500. The 105 gives you extra working distance for lighting and subjects that may be skittish, like insects.

melt1109 Feb 13, 2006 4:45 AM

(Sorry in advance for such a long post. And, for any erroneous assumptions I made from your post along the way. I'm just trying to help, even as a newbie.)


I read with interest and pleasure your posts and rjseeney's responses. IMO no, you are indeed not cluttering up the board (bah! I take the longest length of space to say nothing of anyone I've read here - not to mention asking newbie'd/dumb bunny questions) Your post/questions were quite well put and I thought you posed an interesting topic especially since you had narrowed down the choices (therefore posting directly to the Nikon portion of the board). I am new around here, but you might have even gotten more responses if you had posted in the 'what camera should I buy' section though I respect you trying to narrow the focus. I have seen similar questions about the mega zoom vs dSLR question, as well as which dSLR between x and y or which mega zoom between x and y yield some good suggestions that might not otherwise have been considered. However, since you refer to going back and forth 100x times, that may have been the reason for your choice of sub-forum here at Steve's.

Rjseeney gave you some great info on your purchase. I preface all my posts by saying that I am a sub-amateur, etc., so please just ignore me if I say something boneheaded. I just had a few thoughts about some info not included in your post that I have frequently seen asked in order to give more complete answers or 'recommendations'. I gathered from Your post that you'll be purchasing from Canada. You did not indicate if you will consider purchasing online. You did not mention whether you were interested in following rjseeney's advice on the 2 lens kit. Aside from macros, do you know or suspect other shooting situations? Do you expect substantial travel to be involved? If so frequently, or just once in a blue moon? You also don't mention your level of experience with photography including any film dSLR or p&s from the digital age. Likewise, you don't mention what your experience level with camera/photography software is - be it freeware or purchased - such as Photoshop (CS2), Elements or other post processing software options. You don't mention if you will be printing or taking the prints to be done and what your most likely size to print will be. Normally, I see this question in respect to megapixels, but I have also seen it discussed when noise comes up, file format to give to your photo processor.

As to your original post:

quote: My question is, once I buy a dSLR camera how much extra is going to need to be spent on lenses.

-I'm shocked no one answered as a joke, 'how much do you have?'. Of course, you qualify this question by referring to the megazooms range, which rjseeney handled in his first post. But of course, you can spend an unlimited amount of money on good glass for a dSLR which I am, of course, sure is not what you were asking. I just couldn't resist trying to be funny.

Quote - D-Type design provides precise distance information for flash and ambient light exposure process Selling for only a couple hundred bucks Canadian but is a lens like this servicable or is it going to be complete crap? I would be using zoom pretty much exclusively outdoors and I don't need the greatest lens money can buy but I would want something that is going to turn out nice pictures.. that is the point of having a nice camera after all.

(Comment) See link in #7 below where in Steve's forum a user lists from the Nikon website that includes 'all' or what appears to be most of the alpha characters stand for in lens designations. Also, and I swear I don't mean this to sound smart alecky, so please, no offense because none is intended but: "exclusively outdoors' might not mean 'exclusively bright sun'. Don't know how that helps, but I think that shooting with available light increases the challenges to a newbie like me - even knowing that it can be compensated for with ISO, shutter speed, (gah! I think I'm on the right track). Of course, set to automatic, the camera will make those adjustments. And as to flash in that situation, I've seen posts cautioning that flash is helpful to the extent that you are within the range of the flash. (Y'all please correct me if I am passing on bad info.)

quote - In the end if I were to get a camera like a d50 I would want to be able to get nice macro shots as well as have a lens that can do a nice zoom. I don't mind spending a bit of money on these lenses but I feel that if I need to spend a significant amount on lenses I'm probably going to be better off getting a camera like the Fujis s9000, or Pana fz30 that already has the functionality that I'm after.

- IMO the comparison between a dSLR and either of the cameras you mention (or others in that class) is more than money spent and more than interchangeable lenses versus fixed lens. Likewise, even achieving equivalent 'zoom' there is just additional 'reach' and 'potential' that a simple focal length number can't begin to measure. Again, IMO. This comment plus $50US will get you a bad cup of coffee. I have seen posts of great pictures (mtclimber comes to mind if I remember correctly about those models) taken with these and other cameras in the price range. Just before I bought the D50, I was just a fraction away from buying the S2 IS. I guess I have several things to say on the subject: 1) Is portability a consideration? I don't think that the s9000, etc. nor the D50 are 'pocket-able'. But would some difference in the weight or compactness make a difference to you not to mention the additional room needed by extra lenses (and flash, etc.if applicable). 2) Along that line also, how much equipment do you want to carry? This question, may be moot, and I am sure you know much more than I do about photography and cameras in general and I don't know how complex the learning curve is on the FujiS9000/Pana fz30 versus the D50 (or dSLR) to bring out its features to your satisfaction. So, if there is a difference in the learning, how much do you want to 'learn' or already know about photography (including features of an SLR, or whatever class of camera)? I have no idea what settings are available on the D50 or any dSLR versus the fixed length models you mentioned. So this question may be moot. But, at a minimum, learning which lens is best for which situation is in your future with a dSLR. Yes, the basics are pretty obvious, lol, even for me so not trying to imply that I know much or that it is difficult, but if you are going to spend the money, I would want to know the lenses and their capability inside and out. 4) Also, I haven't seen here the info that talks about the (size of the) sensor and processor in the fixed length models you mentioned versus a dSLR (or particularly the D50). Again, I may once again be showing my stupidity, but I would have thought that discussion would have come into play. Though you did not get into the 'do I need more megapixels' question which many ask, that megapixel count is a consideration in relationship to the size of the sensor (hey, I think I remember that from a reading here). 5) Likewise, you did not ask the 'speed' question that comes up when talking about digicam versus dSLR where I think maybe dSLR wins in almost all cases, but I could be wrong. This question goes back to what kind of pictures you will be taking (action shots of the 'kids at soccer, dog bounding across the yard, etc.) 6) Also, though you don't mention considering doing so in your post, no one has discussed the use of the add-on tele-converter, etc. accessories to the non-dSLR model. I usually read results about the inherent limitations of these 'tele-converters'. 7) I found the following on Steve's. Thought it might help you and some of the basic questions such as what do all the letters stand for, what can be used with what (I think).;forum_id=66 (Steves Forums > Digital SLR Cameras > Nikon Lenses > Whats the differance between a "G" and an "ED&;) 8) Lastly, this goes along with the next paragraph's assumptions about not minding 'spending the money' and makes the assumption that the ''extra's" don't factor significantly into your budget. Also, (and since it hasn't come up), I will assume that the fact that the camera and lenses being only the beginning of the 'necessary' and quasi-necessary purchases has already been taken into consideration - camera bag/backpack/case, SD memory card(s), back-up battery, tripod, SB-600 or 800 flash, not to mention the remote control, etc. options should you feel a need/desire for it. Though compared to the prices of the camera and lenses, these items might be considered insignificant. Depending on your needs and wants at the time though, a large number of these items can begin to add up. 9) As I said above, you never responded as to whether you were keen on rjseeney's idea of the 2 lens kit. Thought I'd post this info in case it might prove helpful. P/N 9988 Two lens kit: Nikon D50 Two lens kit (the Nikkor glass) (18-55mm and 55-200mm, etc.) - mentioned by rjseeney. My 2 lens kit, Manufacturer Part# 09988, includes battery (EN-EL3), battery (quick) charger (MH-18a) with AC power cord, strap, body cap, eyepiece cap, rubber eyecup, USB cable, video cable, accessory shoe cover, instruction manual, quick start guide, warranty and registration card, trial version (30 days) for Nikon Capture Software), and PictureProject (tm) cd. Not mentioned but included in mine with one of the lenses was a soft lens bag.

Kit software - Please note other posts on Steve's that talk about the included/trial version software. IMO (as well as that of some others), PictureProject is, well, er, awful. I have not started my Nikon Capture software trial but I understand from the others that it is quite good. Another user suggested "Nikon View" to replace the Nikon PictureProject. It was a 'free download' from the Nikon site. My equipment was registered and I think it was required to 'log-in' (which appears to reference the registration info) so I would go with the assumption that you have to have registered your equipment with Nikon to get it. Nikon View was an improvement over PictureProject though I am sure I would chuck it if I had Nikon Capture. I specifically had problems with my HP 2610 (AIO) when printing from PictureProject. Some peculiar line running through the phote and the picture was not centered and created an awful (even crooked) border. Printing from my HP software, none of this is a problem. I have done limited printing from Nikon View, but the line has disappeared, but some small (though even) border is still present. (While I'm on the subject, other software is referred to on Steve's board. However, pertaining to the questions I have asked, Photoshop CS2 and/or Photoshop Elements have been recommended. Other posts include reference to other software, much of it free.

I know you said that you don't mind 'spending the money' on the extra lens so any tips I had planned to offer on the 'purchasing' end of it seems unnecessary. But just in case you might become a continental US buyer, interested in purchasing online, interested in the 2 lens kit and want some input on the 'purchasing' side of your transaction, please post your interest and I will post my tome. (Hey, I had to do something with my Sunday afternoon didn't I?) I just wrote up something that deals only with examples of reputable vendors and discounts, some tips that you probably already have. Though my tips involved examples of the 2 lens kit, it would still apply to other kits or body only. I'm sure you already know the meager (though not brief) info I had drafted and that others here could provide and post better info. But when I re-read your post about not minding spending the money and Canada dollars, I realized it was probably too basic for the money you would spend and that you are probably quite savvy in the area.

I own the D50 2 lens kit and got mine for $850. One offer I saw included free shipping and an additional 5% discount bringing the price to $800 (granted this was going to take 1-2 weeks to ship and expires 2/13 but probably at midnight). Guess I just wanted to refine rjseeney's 900ish figure in case a savings of $100-$75 made a difference in your decision.

I agree with rjseeney's advice that the 2 lens kit would cover a wide variety of shooting situations. The kit lenses are reputed to be and are good quality. I think the advice I would give to supplement rjseeney's is that though those 2 lenses cover the reasonable spectrum for a more than reasonable price, I already know that I want a couple of primes for instance - not in lieu of the 2 kit lenses but for those things I am also wanting to focus on. Having no idea what your 'budget' or top dollar to spend on this project is I have no idea if you are thinking of spending $800, $1,500, or wouldn't hesitate to spend $3,000. For me, stretching for the 2 lens kit plus an SD card was a hardship - worth it - but hard.

I hope you go with the D50 as it is a great camera and I love mine. Since I had had to give up painting, my purpose was to take up something that would fulfill some artistic urges and give me a good hobby. It sounds like you already know what you want to shoot/situations you want to shoot, so you are way ahead of the game. You have and will get great advice here.

Good luck,


Twitch1977 Feb 13, 2006 10:06 AM

Thank you all muchly for taking the time to type up such well thought out responses. I'll try and address everything you mentioned. :)

The two lens kit is definetely something I'll consider, unfortunately from my searching around at Canadian sites I've really only found the D50 sold in two forms, body only and body+18-55mm.

I had posted in 'What Camera Should I Buy' and with their comments I was able to narrow my decision down to two choices, the D50 and the Panasonic FZ30. Both seem to be great cameras.

I don't have a lot of experience, photography is something I'm interested in and hope to take a course soon to learn a bit of the more technical side. But at the point I am right now if I had to take a camera and set the right settings on it for a picture I wouldn't have any more than a vague idea of where to start.

The camera will mostly be used outdoors, usually in good light but of course there will be some days when I want to take evening pictures, or other low light pictures. The camera would certainly need to be able to function on auto settings, from what I read the d50 can do this, so my wife will still be able to turn it on, focus and take the picture without having to get into the depth of the settings. Portability is not a huge concern for me, I don't mind carrying a camera and an additional lens while I'm walking around outside and even a tripod wouldn't bother me greatly if I knew it would be required for certain shots.

I have the software necessary to do post-picture fine tuning, I do photo retouching/restoration on the side and have a copy of PS CS2. I personally don't print photos, for the most part I'm fine viewing them on the computer, my wife prints 4x6's at wal-mart and the occasional 8x10 but I certainly won't be printing in poster size.

Initially I have a budget of around $900CDN will a little flexibility if it came to that, I would probably end up buying the d50 and an SD card (I've already ordered one) then look at extra lenses as a future purchase.

In the end the draw of the D50 is that I hope to eventually learn photography to the point where I'm at least semi-competant and don't want to buy a new camera and then find out that I'm limited because of it. The image clarity of the dSLR's is heads and tails above the non dSLR's and that is also something that is weighing heavily on my mind, in the end no matter what camera you're using the ultimate goal is to take good pictures. Also the fact that if I do invest in additional lenses I can carry them forward to future cameras I may purchase if I decide to change bodies to a newer model.

What I like about the non-dSLR camera is the fact that once I buy it, aside from a supplemental macro lens I don't think there is really anything I would have to buy. The camera would provide ease of use for my wife but also retains much of the manual functionality of the dSLR's all for a cost significantly cheaper then buying a dSLR and outfitting it with comparable lenses. The biggest prohibitive factor for me in buying a non SLR camera is the image clarity. When I sat down on Steves and really started comparing the fine details in the images between the d50 and the FZ30 it was clear the d50 was far ahead.

Anyhow I didn't want to turn this into a What Camera To Buy post, just trying to price out what the end cost of a D50 is so I can compare that to my hurting pocket book. Thanks for taking the time to reply everyone. :)


cameranserai Feb 13, 2006 10:31 AM

Let's face it - giving advice on lenses is difficult! I posted recentlya photo taken with the old 75/300 which works fine still on a digital camera and which must be worth about south of zero now since it is 15 years old but - hey - it still autofocuses and takes good shots. Of course in the same range you can go for the 70/200 for megabucks too. That is just one comparison. Incidentally, reviews and comparisons of the new 70/300 compared to my old metal lens show it in a poor light; better to go for a good second hand old 'un it seems. That isn't my advice but Ken Rockwell's and others.

Me? If I was starting out in DSLR land I'd try and buy the Nikon 18/200 lens today. I've seen enough photos now to convince me that if there is such a thing as "one size fits all" this is about as close as we are going to get; wide angle to portrait to telephoto all in one. I know, someone is going to talk about wide apertures and so on but you know for years the 24/120 travelled the world - literally - with me on my old film cameras and it was a great compromise. We could go on for hours about all the various lenses and their specific purposes, but this one lens will cope with most situations while being absolutely perfect for not too many.

Moving on, with a DSLR you press the shutter and - bingo! - you've taken a shot. Try that with a point and press and you can wait a second or two until all the gizmos in the camera have got themselves worked out. There is no comparison between "consumer" cameras and a DSLR. Yes I carry a Canon S60 in the glove box all the time but it ain't the same as a good DSLR.

Best of luck in your decision, but for me that would be it. I have already ordered my 18/200 which will be permanently on the D70 while the pro lenses get swapped around on the D2X.

melt1109 Feb 15, 2006 7:47 AM


I'm sorry I missed your post in 'which camera to buy' and that I misunderstood that you were still considering the non dSLR.

Sounds like everything is in order for you and theadvice on lenses will help you add to the 18-55. As to setting it to auto and taking a shot by your wife, I can say that my husband uses that setting while we are out and takes some great shots. I have taken a few candids of sleeping beauty (the rotten german shepard mix) indoors under low light with the flash and they came out cute (good).

You've made an excellent choice in the D50 and have the post processing software to boot. The battery will take 2-ish hours to charge out of the box and then after popping the SD card in and formatting it you'll be ready to go.

If you can't use the garbled references to the posts I mentioned on deciphering the letters on the lenses, I'll repost. I find it helpful as I browse the inventories at Adorama, B&H and KEH. If you purchase online I also recommend using some of the sites I mentioned that are on the board for reseller ratings.

You're way ahead of me in you knowledge, skills and abilities, so I"m sorry if I mentioned the obvious (and garbled it in the process). The folks here at Steve's are great - knowledgeable and kind.

As far as a camera case, you may be eligible for the soft case that holds the 18-55. You could buy an extra hard case for your macro lens when you get it. If you are going to have more gear, I just purchased the Lowepro Micro Trekker 200 (backpack) at B&H and am pleased with it, though its kind of empty at this point with only the 2nd lens and charger.

Happy shooting and good luck! Post a pic as soon as you can so we can enjoy your success.


melt1109 Feb 15, 2006 9:31 PM


I agree that I have probably put a bunch of which camera to buy stuff in your lens post and I apologize to you and to the others. Someone move this or tell me to and I will. But, just a few more things. I know you said you bought an SD card but you didn't say you had bought the camera (and/or the lenses). If you have, please post so I will leave you alone. LOL, you have been very kind wading through my off-topic response to your lens question which as it turns out was mostly unnecessary since you had already 'been there and done that' elsewhere. But, here goes.

In case you are considering buying online, the website I mentioned that many around here have recommended to check out reputability is

but I have no idea if it helps with buying Canadian.

Also, back to the lens question and you not having the option for the 2 lens kit, I did ask a local store (from whom I wanted to buy) whether the value of that kit lens was worth it, he said that it was a good value. I didn't research that at that time and I'm not sure it would have changed my mind about buying kit (1 or 2) but I darn sure thought I'd gotten a lot more 'bang' for kit buck.Here's what I found (US) upon looking. Body only from reputable US source appears to be in the $500US range and the kit with the 18-55 appears to be in the $650US range. The 18-55mm lens appears to be in the $160US range if purchased separately. Therefore, if you were buying US I would see you saving $10US if you bought body only then later decided you wanted the 18-55mm. Things may be very different in Canada of course.I just looked at this in case you know you are going to buy some lens but aren't sure about the kit lens, you might not lose a lot by buying it separately if you have a vendor like B&H or even Amazon for Canada purchases. Just for the record the price (confirming rjseeney's prices for the 2 lens kit which is not an option for you in Canada is $800-$830US not counting shipping. (I couldn't resist checking on the 2nd lens of the 2 lens kit and it appears to range $200-$235US, so to purchase the parts for the 2 lens kit, using the low numbers it would be $500 + $160 + $200 + $860US. Sure $30US is nothing to sneeze at but I no longer feel like the 'kit' represents any significant savings. Next,if the lowest price quoted above for a suitable macro ($300US) were acceptable and darn it if you don't just have to have that 50mm f/1.8 prime (LOL) around $75-$100US (used/new), then even if you picked the2 lens kit lens separately and added the macro you'd be at ($650 +200 +300 = $1,150US plus the prime $1,225US no shipping or taxes included. Plus the SD card which you already bought, plus a bag. The SB600 flash runs around $170US but it doesn't sound like you'll be needing it. So the one lens kit plus the $300 macro puts you at $950US range. (No clue about what that is Canadian or if you can meet or beat these prices in Canada.) Of course, my babbling would not be complete if I didn't throw out the 18-200 VRII running around $750US (out of stock). So of course, there's always that body only plus this lens plus the macro to put you at $500US + $750US + $300US = $1,550US pretty much blowing the $900Canadian budget even with some flexibility. Plus there are caveats about a lens that tries to do that much of a range, but it is from all reports a wonderful lens plus the VRII is nothing to sneeze at. Other users have found and recommended non-Nikkor glass (Sigma, etc.) for the D50 in other threads. (None of these prices include shippingor taxes nor am I recommending any vendors.)

Ok, so I just threw out (maybe threw up as in sick stomach) a whole bunch more probably uselessinfo that you didn't ask for,but I was just thinking about your project...and one thing led to another.

Just a thought. Again, you are so savy and thorough, I'm probably just cluttering up the board with info you already know or don't need.

Also, setting the camera on auto for your wife, I think will still result in delightful, quality pictures. Gonna try to resize a that picture of 'rotten' and post for you.

Just tryin' to be a 'hepper'. I'm just excited about you joining the Nikon and D50 family!



Twitch1977 Feb 15, 2006 10:07 PM

I greatly appreciate you taking so much time and putting so much thought into your posts trying to help me out.

I've bought an SD card but no camera as of yet. Both the cameras I'm looking at take SD and I saw a good deal so I jumped at it. Plus I can always just return it if I go another way altogether.

Your outlining of prices is very similar to what I've arrived at when pricing things out, and it's definetely a budget buster, the saving grace is I don't really need to buy everything all at once. Also when I go to upgrade the camera I can carry over the lenses which is a nice plus as well.

I found a site that did lens reviews, the non-nikon lenses never seemed to score very well so I am very leary of trying them. I'd hate to pay a premium for a camera setup and then still not get the sharp pictures I'm after. The real downside is the place I live has no real camera stores around so I have no opportunity at all to try out any of this equipment or see just how much a $200 lens differs from a $500 lens.

Unfortunately I'm not really any closer to making a decision now than I was a week ago, if I got the nikon now I would almost certainly just get the kit and use that lens then try to add on a macro and zoom lens down the road as well as the 55mm. Luckily I'm not really in any huge rush to make a decision if it takes two months to figure out that's not a big deal but I'd really like to have a working setup by the time spring/summer gets going in full swing.

For now I'll probably just keep reading, learning and trying to figure out what's going to work best for me, I've learned a lot over the last few weeks reading this forum and others and I'm confident that when I'm finally ready to make my purchase I'll make the right one.

Thanks for all the advice,

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