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Archive 2009 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread
  
 
Samuli Vahonen
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p.116 #1 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


sebboh, your aperture series tells exactly why there is no point of evaluating lens bokeh from flower shots; all is blur and there is no difference between apertures. If lens has bad quality bokeh on that kind of circumstances it most likely is useless for any shots involving bokeh...

wfrank, most likely you used f/2.8 on that Mercedes shot, hard to imagine cafe behind would be that sharp if shoot with f/2.0 - also vignetting (lack of it) indicates f/2.8. I would believe even f/4, but for f/5.6 bokeh is too thin. Even shot closed down the Mercedes appears pretty "real" in my screen - thou I have never seen connection between shallow DOF and "3D" (except too shallow DOF most often kills it for me).


Thanks for the aperture discussion sebboh, wfrank. I started to evaluate my own photos from 2012 to better understand the behaviour of the lens wide open vs. closed down. Last year I made conclusions too fast from the images I shoot - sure some of the wide open shots have one of the most ugliest bokehs I have seen from Zeiss lens (e.g. this).

Based on these initial (and partially wrong) conclusion I have mainly used the lens at f/2.0-2.8 for bokeh shots and shooting landscapes with f/5.6. If I correctly interpret the last year sample images:
- ugly bokeh can come if circumstances are suitable (until closed down to f/3.2-4 depending on distance), it's mostly caused by bright edge bokeh circles, closing down will make the bokeh circles smaller but there still is quality issue in them
- bokeh magenta/green issues on contrast edges are bad at f/1.4, but depending on subject they may not be at all visible (e.g. my typical summer photos of green mossy forest with random brownish and reddish colors will never bring it up) - these issues improve a lot already closing down to f/2
- can't see similar behaviour as with planars (all of them, including 2/100 MP) that closing down would increase contrast at target - with planars, specially 1.4/50 the subject stands out MORE with f/2.5 than it does f/1.4 due to increased contrast on subject (but not on bokeh)

So my brand new guideline for myself for 2013:
- bokeh shots: shoot f/1.4, if bokeh issues, go closer and/or close aperture to f/3.2-4 depending shooting distance - if vignetting or magenta/green issues close f/2.0-2.8 depending shooting distance
- landscapes: keep shooting f/5.6

Getting used to hotspotting...eh...vignetting may be quite challenge for me. I rarely want vignetting from artistic point of view.

Some images, which hopefully show what I concluded. I placed these to temporarily folder so they won't be available forever, most likely I'll clean them at some point during 2013.


Closing down to f/2.5 (1 and 2/3 stop down!!!) didn't cure the bokeh highlight issues, just made bokeh highlight smaller size - also f/2.5 apparent bokeh contrast is much higher [handhold and branches swinging in front of the sun, so don't evaluate on focus area, just bokeh]





Closing down f/2.2 (1 and 1/3 stop down) removed magenta glow from white fence





Strong vignetting wide open, lots of bokeh highlight issues - closing down to f/3.2 (2 and 1/3 stop down) cured most of them but few give still hint of sharp edge





With correct scenario there is nothing to lose using f/1.4 - only thing gained seems to be less hotspotting/vignetting. With both apertures bokeh is very smooth.




Samuli



Apr 02, 2013 at 05:05 PM
sebboh
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p.116 #2 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


Samuli Vahonen wrote:
sebboh, your aperture series tells exactly why there is no point of evaluating lens bokeh from flower shots; all is blur and there is no difference between apertures. If lens has bad quality bokeh on that kind of circumstances it most likely is useless for any shots involving bokeh...
Samuli


actually, i find them quite useful for evaluating bokeh for other flowershots.

i disagree with your second statement as well. i've encountered a number of lenses that have quite poor bokeh up close that improves dramatically at longer distance. a few people on fm have suggested the zeiss 50/1.4 that you use is one of those, i've not played with it enough to know

very interesting series by the way. i think you would be disappointed by the c/y compared to your Z* for your type of shooting as the contax has much worse bokeh in the corners. i suspect most of the extra size in the new version comes from trying to even things out towards the edges. the new version has less "impact" in the center and (slightly harsher bokeh there too), but more resolution and softer bokeh towards the edges from what i've seen.



Apr 02, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Samuli Vahonen
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p.116 #3 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


sebboh wrote:
actually, i find them quite useful for evaluating bokeh for other flowershots.

Good point - for flower shots it give some indication However I have never seen lens, which gives bad bokeh on that kind of ratio between focus plane and background, that was my point - when focus is at 30cm and background at 300cm, there hardly can be bad bokeh expect bokeh highlight shape and light concentration issues.

sebboh wrote:
i disagree with your second statement as well. i've encountered a number of lenses that have quite poor bokeh up close that improves dramatically at longer distance. a few people on fm have suggested the zeiss 50/1.4 that you use is one of those, i've not played with it enough to know

On my experience most bad bokeh, is mostly caused by mechanical vignetting. Most lenses, which don't have inner focusing, extend during close up-focusing making effective focal length shorter and decreasing vignetting. Of course there could be other issues behind bad bokeh as well, e.g. bokeh highlight shape and light concentration, which may or may not "live" as function of focus distance.

I have quite little experience shooting 50 planar wide open close up - tried few frames years ago and that's it. The focal plane stuff shoot f/1.4 close-up is so rubbish that I mostly close down to f/2.8-4 when doing close-ups. And at those apertures I have not detected any bokeh issues, quite the opposite. I know shooting it wide open close-ups can create swirly bokeh, but I rarely manage to make it happen (at least if I want that effect it won't happen...) - it may also create bad bokeh, so I have heard (maybe I should test that too, I have just made my own rules of not shooting f/1.4 close-up years ago and I doubt I have shoot more than 10 images at f/1.4 in past 3 years, and none of them close-up with the 50).

sebboh wrote:
very interesting series by the way. i think you would be disappointed by the c/y compared to your Z* for your type of shooting as the contax has much worse bokeh in the corners. i suspect most of the extra size in the new version comes from trying to even things out towards the edges. the new version has less "impact" in the center and (slightly harsher bokeh there too), but more resolution and softer bokeh towards the edges from what i've seen.

Very good point about the size - the increase in size is quite big. One dislike for me is the size and weight of 1.4/35ZE, it takes huge space from camera bag. Interesting to see what comes from Zeiss after 1.4/55 (which is gigantic size), if it's wide angle e.g. 1.4/28, most likely also gigantic size, but most interesting will be will these new ones have anymore any "impact" compared to old Zeiss designs.

Samuli



Apr 02, 2013 at 05:40 PM
sebboh
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p.116 #4 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


Samuli Vahonen wrote:
Good point - for flower shots it give some indication However I have never seen lens, which gives bad bokeh on that kind of ratio between focus plane and background, that was my point - when focus is at 30cm and background at 300cm, there hardly can be bad bokeh expect bokeh highlight shape and light concentration issues.


oh, there are a ton of lenses that will produce bad bokeh in such a situation. in this case it's ~60mm subject 200mm background. here is the same shot with the 35 lux pre-asph, which is noticeably worse, and i've seen a lot of lenses that are much worse.

Samuli Vahonen wrote:
On my experience most bad bokeh, is mostly caused by mechanical vignetting. Most lenses, which don't have inner focusing, extend during close up-focusing making effective focal length shorter and decreasing vignetting. Of course there could be other issues behind bad bokeh as well, e.g. bokeh highlight shape and light concentration, which may or may not "live" as function of focus distance.

Samuli


sounds like we may be sensitive for different things in bokeh, but what typically bothers me the most is bright high contrast outlines in bokeh highlights. i've used a number of lenses that have these at some focus distances not others. usually they will be better at short than long distances, but not always. the the rokkor 28/2 for instance has large bright rings at short distances but smooths out nicely at longer distances (though corners still have some issues).



Apr 02, 2013 at 06:43 PM
wfrank
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p.116 #5 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


Interesting Samuli, thanks for the walk-through and images. You're probably right about F/2.8 aperture, looking at EXIF shutter time it looks two steps stopped down as I remember bordering on the 1/8000 5D2 limit with ISO100 in that light.

Talking about bokeh including the linked digger example - I agree, not very nice. But do you mask that area while downsizing? I always mask bokeh/OOF areas. If not bokeh have a lot of potential turning worse than it is. Sometimes it doesnt matter though, very much depending on distance, size and amount of contrast in the OOF areas.

I also have to ask, why only F/5.6 on landscapes? With 5D2 I want at least F/8 or F/11. Diffraction cant be an issue, right? On a crop sensor F/5.6 is fine, in my case a 16MP Nex 5N.

On the issue of vignetting, too bad lenses provide so little of it . I usually add more. I wouldnt necessarily call it artistic - simply a way of highlighting the subject in question. Or actually the exact opposite, reducing the impact of the rest.

CA/Fringing, I often fail to spot it. I had to look for some time before finding it in the white fence, and only by enlarging the image. But I've seen here others notice it immediately, so I have a lack of fidelity for that.



Apr 02, 2013 at 07:22 PM
Samuli Vahonen
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p.116 #6 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


wfrank wrote:
Talking about bokeh including the linked digger example - I agree, not very nice. But do you mask that area while downsizing? I always mask bokeh/OOF areas. If not bokeh have a lot of potential turning worse than it is. Sometimes it doesnt matter though, very much depending on distance, size and amount of contrast in the OOF areas.

I don't do masking or other photo processing. I do if photo is important somehow and it needs to be rescued for reason or another. After doing x+1 weddings and other stuff it causes strong negative feeling even just knowing I need to do that kind of work - to me the photo processing is the disgusting side of doing photography. If I have longer holiday it's quite typical for me that I don't even process all the photos - I still haven't even seen all photos I took in Scotland last summer, or from 2009 summer holiday from Norway and Lapland...

I have optimized all my workflows so that I spend 5-20 seconds active work time for each image I publish here or my website. Typical photo I post in this forum I have done nothing, sometimes I touch black level and WB. The extreme processing is that I need to touch other sliders in Apple Aperture, which is very rare and quite often I mention that when posting photo that image has been processed unlike my normal images. Thou in past few years I have learned more to use "highlights" slider instead of throwing image to trash bin if highlights are blown - but I loose my nerves if I start to tweak with it all the time.

One of the reasons to use almost exclusive Zeiss lenses is that I don't need to do post processing. Naturally in my workflow it's very important to do everything right already when shooting the photo - if I expose more than 1/3 stop incorrectly it's game over (or I'm forced to tweak the photo many more seconds, even minutes, and it will never have same purity of colors and tones what it could had if exposed correctly - so why bother...).

HDRs and panoramas are exception, for reason or another I find it interesting to tweak them.


wfrank wrote:
I also have to ask, why only F/5.6 on landscapes? With 5D2 I want at least F/8 or F/11. Diffraction cant be an issue, right? On a crop sensor F/5.6 is fine, in my case a 16MP Nex 5N.

Diffraction caused contrast loss - shooting f/8 requires extra work to restore same brilliance as comes natural when shooting f/5.6. If shooting f/11 it's impossible (for me at least) to restore it anymore no matter what I do and with what tools - sure image is still "ok" sometimes, but it lacks something. If DOF is really needed I shoot smaller aperture; on last week Friday I took many wide angle shots @ f/11 and background still wasn't sharp enough...

wfrank wrote:
CA/Fringing, I often fail to spot it. I had to look for some time before finding it in the white fence, and only by enlarging the image. But I've seen here others notice it immediately, so I have a lack of fidelity for that.

It's also hard for me - in this image it was quite easy to see due to the effect of it caused to the white (or whitish...) fence causing it to have incorrect white. Hard to see the individual pixels on the edges, those I fail to see many times, but if it influences to generic colour of something then it's easy to spot (and difficult to remove via software).

Samuli



Apr 02, 2013 at 08:29 PM
wfrank
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p.116 #7 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


Samuli Vahonen wrote:
I don't do masking or other photo processing. I do if photo is important somehow and it needs to be rescued for reason or another. After doing x+1 weddings and other stuff it causes strong negative feeling even just knowing I need to do that kind of work - to me the photo processing is the disgusting side of doing photography.
...
Samuli


Either we disagree or you misunderstood the point. Downsizing for web with sharpening in each step will induce artificial sharpness. With that I mean you will extrapolate sharpness from something sometimes lacking that ability [to become sharp]. This applies to short DOF scenes, not necessarily just wide-open F/1.4 shots but anything with a bad-character OOF background.

From your image with the digger it probably applies to the faint trees in the background, in my image stitch with two cars it would e.g. apply to the mast wires in the background. These are blurry, and supposed to be blurry. And if not covered in downsizing you're introducing something artificial. At least according to me.

You shouldnt think "I need to soften the background". It's the other way around. You want the digger to look sharp when downsized. Then make it sharp, but dont apply that sharpening to the rest. The surrounding wont cope with your downsizing schemes. The preservation of a wanted soft background is an integral part of the beauty with 20+ MP FF-sensors and fast lenses.

As for time, I usually spend say 10-20 seconds masking. The downsizing script I use introduces three layers with increasing sharpness ready to mask. The mask can be created with a single black brushstroke if you like [5 secs]. But I tend to do a little more. To me it's not manipulating it's more like preserving the qualities fast lenses have.

If you do a strong fill light in ACR, you are in many ways introducing more progressive postprocessing than a simple masking to preserve a soft background if you ask me :-)




Apr 02, 2013 at 09:43 PM
Samuli Vahonen
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p.116 #8 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


wfrank wrote:
Either we disagree or you misunderstood the point. Downsizing for web with sharpening in each step will induce artificial sharpness. With that I mean you will extrapolate sharpness from something sometimes lacking that ability [to become sharp]. This applies to short DOF scenes, not necessarily just wide-open F/1.4 shots but anything with a bad-character OOF background.


There might have been misunderstanding on both sides. To clarify I hate the post processing just for it being disgusting to perform for me, not because artifacts. I hope this is not common problem for photographers (it's very limiting), but for me it's real issue - I really enjoy being outdoors and photographing, but I have lost interest of processing ordinary single exposure images. Thou there are always exceptions e.g. "The how-would-you-process-my-image thread" has been quite interesting to see other camera RAW files and try to process them.

The resizing methods I use (Lanczos interpolation [currently >99% of images] or step sharpening [remaining <1% of images]) do not artificially "extrapolate sharpness from something lacking ability to become sharp". Both methods I use have been selected for their abilities to maintain detail in subject and transition from focus to bokeh as naturally as it can be represented in web size (or atleast I have not found better methods). The traditional "resize to final size and then add sharpening" will do just exactly what you describe, due to which I won't use those methods.

For example if bokeh highlights have light concentration so that the edges of bokeh balls are bright, that is "real" detail saved to film (they were very visible on slides projected to few meters wide) or sensor - unfortunately.

wfrank wrote:
You shouldnt think "I need to soften the background". It's the other way around. You want the digger to look sharp when downsized. Then make it sharp, but dont apply that sharpening to the rest. The surrounding wont cope with your downsizing schemes. The preservation of a wanted soft background is an integral part of the beauty with 20+ MP FF-sensors and fast lenses.


Only sharpening I apply is the final size minor edge enhancement, which is done by the Adobe PS droplet in gamma 1.0 colorspace. In the "The how-would-you-process-my-image thread" you can see my total process explained (thou due to underexposure image required tons of tweaking to restore colours and tonality) and if you open the final image without and with final size minor edge enhancement to two different tabs for comparison you can see that if I would mask in this step it would have ultra small effect to bokeh issues. Lanczos cannot be masked since it's resizing method (similar to bicubic what PhotoShop uses).

So I would either have to do the step sharpening in Photo Shop (and drawing the masks=no longer possible to script the whole post processing but I actually need to do something in PS) instead of Image Magick OR soften background with mask (could be done in Apple Aperture). Both methods tend to also cause minor colour and tonality differences. And mask can sometimes take hours to draw if they need to include smoothing mask to cover the transition from focus to bokeh. I did this quite often 10 years ago before when I was still shooting with Canon lenses. And I really don't want to go back there.

wfrank wrote:
As for time, I usually spend say 10-20 seconds masking. The downsizing script I use introduces three layers with increasing sharpness ready to mask. The mask can be created with a single black brushstroke if you like [5 secs]. But I tend to do a little more. To me it's not manipulating it's more like preserving the qualities fast lenses have.

Hmmm, so you can add masks in LightRoom and your step sharpening script in PhotoShop is able to use those masks? Or you actually have to go in PhotoShop and draw the mask there?

My normal workflow doesn't involve any active usage of PhotoShop, all I do in PhotoShop happens via droplets (actions saved to files into which one can drop files and action is performed). All actions I'm actually doing something happen in Apple Aperture. After that there are just Linux scripts running and files dropped to Adobe PS droplets. Then finally I review the JPGs created and if standard script didn't work as I wanted I run manually different subscripts (all intermediate steps are still saved on different folders as TIFF-files) - of 1000 single exposure files I need to process <5 manually in Photo Shop.

And please don't understand wrong - I don't see anything wrong what you are doing - If you have the motivation and time to do what you do it's great for you and your photography.

Samuli



Apr 03, 2013 at 05:26 AM
Makten
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p.116 #9 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


Samuli Vahonen wrote:
I have quite little experience shooting 50 planar wide open close up - tried few frames years ago and that's it.


Try it! The Planar is really a "double nature" in that it gives very harsh bokeh close up, but is instead very smooth for distant shots (+2-3 meters or so). Personally, I don't understand why one would want smooth bokeh when the background is totally blurred out. I want chaos! Hence 95% of all "bokeh tests" are totally irrelevant for me since they usually are carried out near MFD.

I think you should try some medium format, if you can afford it. I have only used 6x6 and 6x7 film because of cost, but many of the lenses have characteristics that I'm sure you would love, because they don't have to be faster than ~f/2.8 to give a really blurred background. Especially the humble Hasselblad Zeiss 80/2.8 Planar behaves very much the same as the Z* 50/1.4, but it is of course much sharper at the same DOF.



Apr 03, 2013 at 07:55 PM
Paul Yi
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p.116 #10 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


Just to confirm that I bought the lens again because of this thread....




















Apr 03, 2013 at 08:08 PM
 

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Makten
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p.116 #11 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


Paul Yi wrote:
Just to confirm that I bought the lens again because of this thread....


As usual I'm wondering what "the" lens is, because the C/Y or Rollei, and the ZF/ZE don't share the same optical design.



Apr 03, 2013 at 08:25 PM
Paul Yi
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p.116 #12 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


They were taken with C/Y MMJ version....




Apr 03, 2013 at 08:28 PM
wfrank
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p.116 #13 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


Interesting, I did not know they were very different [optically]. But yes, I've read opinions about 3D advantage CY/Rollei vs ZE/ZF, better sharpness ZE/ZF vs the older, color talk and so on but I honestly cant tell the difference. Lack of fidelity perhaps.

The only one with characteristics that sticks out is the Rollei with the triangular bokeh which you may or may not like. Other than that I'd be very easy too fool with any of the versions. Got a CY (MMJ) myself.






Apr 03, 2013 at 08:43 PM
Makten
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p.116 #14 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


wfrank wrote:
Interesting, I did not know they were very different [optically]. But yes, I've read opinions about 3D advantage CY/Rollei vs ZE/ZF, better sharpness ZE/ZF vs the older, color talk and so on but I honestly cant tell the difference. Lack of fidelity perhaps.

The only one with characteristics that sticks out is the Rollei with the triangular bokeh which you may or may not like. Other than that I'd be very easy too fool with any of the versions. Got a CY (MMJ) myself.


I haven't tried the C/Y or Rollei but I own the ZF, and from what I've seen, there is not much in common between them. The older lens gives much smoother bokeh in the middle at medium short distances, but is also very "nervous" towards the corners. The new one is more uniform across the frame and maintains a relatively good bokeh at large distances (like the Planars), with a low contrast background.

So, I'm a bit annoyed with people posting images without telling what lens they used. I mean, this thread is about pure gear freakery, so let's get there. Otherwise we could also have a thread named "The official Zeiss 50 mm thread". As you might know, there are like 10 lenses that fits, which are all different.



Apr 03, 2013 at 08:59 PM
wfrank
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p.116 #15 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


Thanks Samuli for the detailed answer.

I'll investigate Lanczos sometime to see what it can do for me.

I can only say that if PP wasnt there I would not be in this hobby. Straight out of cam can be good. But even in a perfect exposure there are some basic things I want to do or check. All depends on the lighting conditions. For me any exposure diverge from the scene I saw. So a big part of my hobby is developing something true to the scenery.



Apr 03, 2013 at 09:02 PM
wfrank
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p.116 #16 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


Makten wrote:
So, I'm a bit annoyed with people posting images without telling what lens they used. I mean, this thread is about pure gear freakery, so let's get there. Otherwise we could also have a thread named "The official Zeiss 50 mm thread". As you might know, there are like 10 lenses that fits, which are all different.


Right. I'd like to know too though I am easy to fool. Cam is interesting too, 5D2 for me.



Apr 03, 2013 at 09:07 PM
carstenw
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p.116 #17 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


Makten wrote:
Otherwise we could also have a thread named "The official Zeiss 50 mm thread". As you might know, there are like 10 lenses that fits, which are all different.


I am quite sure that there is way more than 10! I can think of 4-5 medium format lenses right off the bat, and there are old ones too.



Apr 03, 2013 at 09:09 PM
wfrank
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p.116 #18 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


People should do like you two guys, brag with their gear in their profile ;-)


Apr 03, 2013 at 09:12 PM
Makten
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p.116 #19 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


wfrank wrote:
People should do like you two guys, brag with their gear in their profile ;-)


If people think it's about bragging I will remove the list at once, as I hate bragging. I use the profile for remembering what lenses I've owned or used for an extended period.

Anyhow, I thought it was obvious that the C/Y and Z* were completely different designs.



Apr 03, 2013 at 09:20 PM
Mescalamba
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p.116 #20 · The official Zeiss 35/1.4 thread


Paul Yi wrote:
They were taken with C/Y MMJ version....



Thought so, my favorite, at least based on look. How much did it cost you?



Apr 03, 2013 at 09:28 PM
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