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Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

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90% of reviewers $2,086.79
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.31
8.66
9.1
ef100_400l_1_

Specifications:
L-series super telephoto zoom lens equipped with an Image Stabilizer. The fluorite and Super UD-glass elements largely eliminate secondary spectrum. The floating system also ensures high picture quality at all focal lengths. The Image Stabilizer has two modes and it is compatible with Extenders 1.4x II and 2x II.


 


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mrogers
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Registered: Sep 28, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 1263
Review Date: Oct 9, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Good Sharp Shots in the lower mm range
Cons:
at 300-400 it is not a hand held lens question the push/pull lots of air movement and not even the "L" construction keeps the dust out if you're use the zoom in dusty enviroments Lens Hood another weak point

I would be very gentle with zooming this lens, unless you like cleaning your sensor

Oct 9, 2004
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CyberDyne
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Registered: Oct 7, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 1274
Review Date: Sep 20, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Lightweight, flexible, IS, well built, and easy to use. A Super Sharp Zoom!
Cons:
AF Performance lags behind some other "L" Zooms.

I added this lens to my collection as a portable alternative to the 500mm prime I usually lug around.

My first day out with this lens I was nothing short of stunned! It is so lightweight and easy to hand hold. It's sharpness is stunning.. coming very close to "L-Prime" territory.

EASE OF USE:I find this zoom very easy to use. The push pull turns out to be a very fast advantage over rotating zooms (I hated it for the first few hours) ...once you get used to it.

I wish Canon had looked closer at this lenses design when making the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS. On the 100-400mm the switches for AF, IS and focus limit etc.. are all well recessed into the body. They rarely get "turned off" On the 70-200mm for some reason Canon changed this and these switches are constantly being knocked into the wrong position.

This lens is very light. Lighter than the "Bigma" 50-500mm by a large margin, and lighter than the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS.

Focus Performance Here is the 100-40mm weak point. Yes,. as an "L" it is no slouch. But compared to other "L" zooms and Primes it is pretty slow. It is by far the worst L I have used when it comes to tracking a moving object on all three bodies I use regularly (1D MkII, 10D, and now 20D)

IMAGE QUALITY (See samples below) Simply stunning. I have a host of images from this lens now that I would easily confuse for images taken with the 500mm prime. If you have enough distance between your subject and a contrasting background you can acheive a sweet "fast prime" looking bokeh at f/5.6

CONCLUSION All in all a fantastic and supremely versatile lens. If you are interested in any out door long range shooting,. this should be the first Zoom you consider. Period.

Images taken on MkII
http://cyberdynesystemsimaging.fotopic.net/p5106868.html
http://cyberdynesystemsimaging.fotopic.net/p6907575.html
http://cyberdynesystemsimaging.fotopic.net/p5106867.html
http://cyberdynesystemsimaging.fotopic.net/p6907573.html
http://cyberdynesystemsimaging.fotopic.net/p5879490.html
http://newfoundland.fotopic.net/p10870982.html
http://newfoundland.fotopic.net/p10870979.html
http://newfoundland.fotopic.net/p10870978.html
http://newfoundland.fotopic.net/p9447012.html


Images taken on 10D
http://cyberdynesystemsimaging.fotopic.net/p6586577.html
http://cyberdynesystemsimaging.fotopic.net/p6586641.html


Coming soon Images taken on 20D


Sep 20, 2004
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Location: United States
Review Date: Sep 9, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Great Canon "L" build-quality, no question. Cost factor is so-so; versatility more than makes up for that, IMO1. Ya pays yer quarter, ya takes yer chances. The IS is the deciding factor, IMO2. Looks pretty darned good so far, but ... despite the impressive IS feature, I'm not confident of hand-holding it too much.
Cons:
Heavy. It's BIG and it's WHITE! Attracts a LOT of attention. It was a camera store demo so I didn't get to really "wring it out". Felt unbalanced with a Rebel Digital ("Kiss")body. Sure that all changes with my 10D and the "Big Ed' (BG-ED3) grip.

I want something for shooting F1 races longer than my 70-200mm f/4 so ....
Using a camera store "el cheapo" monopod, this lens, MY flash card and a Rebel Digital body - for all of about 15 or 20 shots (under not ideal conditions) - I have to say this lens really piques my interest. I think I was too excited and nervous because some of the shots - at identical focal lengths - came out fantastic, others were "El Deleto's" on the spot.
Then ... I FLIPPED THE IS SWITCH ON! Wow! What a difference with even a pencil-thin monopod!!! Wow, part 2! The clerk could have knocked me over with a feather. First experience with an "IS" lens and it was a life-altering experience.
Not in THIS month's budget but it's "on the list".
Is it my imagination or is the IS really THAT good?


Sep 9, 2004
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David W.
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Registered: Feb 19, 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 8
Review Date: Sep 7, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: "L" glass, long zoom range, high quality, takes Canon extenders 1.4X and 2X. Push-pull zoom. (I don't mind this.)
Cons:
Light colour draws attention. Large size at 400mm. Would like a built-in sliding lens hood.

I exchanged a 70-300 DO IS zoom for this one. Although the 70-300 DO is a good lens, I feel that for $400.00 more Canadian dollars I have better value and quality with the 100-400 L IS. I use a Canon 10D and Elan 7e.

Sep 7, 2004
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nutek
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Registered: Sep 7, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 672
Review Date: Sep 5, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,270.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: excellent range (100-400mm) good optical qualities - nice contrast and sharpness when stopped down 1 stop from wide-open
Cons:
push-pull zoom - harder to control than a ring zoom. heavy...

I bought this lens to try out some nature photography. Together with the Canon 500D diopter lens, I have been able to get very pleasing (at least to me :D) closeup shots of butterflies, dragonflies and other insects. Magnification at 400mm is 0.93x, which is almost life-size. The Image Stabilizer works like a champ and is very useful even when shooting handheld at such (relatively) high magnifications. It is also a very good lens for zoo photography - 400mm is extremely useful for portraits of the larger zoo animals.

I was torn between the 300 F4 IS and the 100-400 IS initially. I figured that while the 300 F4 is optically superior, it is a prime and thus less flexible than a zoom. If you know what you're going to shoot and want the best optical quality, I would suggest the 300F4 and couple it with the 1.4x extender if necessary, but if you *need* the flexibility of a zoom and don't mind sacrificing a little for the image quality, then go for the 100-400 instead.

Sample photos with the 100-400 IS lens:
At 400mm:
http://www.galant-ho.com/summer04/sg_zoo/crw_7462.htm

At 150mm with 500D:
http://www.galant-ho.com/summer04/mog/crw_7968.htm

At 400mm with 500D (0.93x magnification):
http://www.galant-ho.com/summer04/singapore/crw_8044.htm


Sep 5, 2004
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W6jhb
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Registered: Mar 15, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 3
Review Date: Aug 17, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Optical sharpness, wide zoom range, 77mm filter size. Quick AF.
Cons:
Price. It be heavy!

I've had this lens for a tad over a month and so far I love it. While spending $1,400 for "yet another lens..." makes for some domestic tension, I wlll say that my wife has been very impressed with the photos I've produced with it. I have several other L series lenses and the 77mm filters I bought fit 'em all - that's nice. Yes, it is heavy, and not something you'll want on the camera ALL the time, unless you've got muscles like our CA governator. But, after all, it does have a wide zoom range and the IS works very well. Further, my experience has been that the AF is quite fast when using the lens on my 10D.

Two weekends ago we went camping up the CA coast at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. We ran into several groups (herds?) of Roosevelt Elk and I was able to grab some very, very nice shots of them using it hand-held at 400mm on an overcast/foggy day - you don't want to approach those animals too close. We're heading up to Lassen Volcanic National Park this weekend and most definately will be taking this lens up to the top of Lassen Peak with me.

Bottom line - is it as good as several primes? Maybe, maybe not - but I have neither the money for them nor the room in my camera bag for them, so yes, I would recommend this lens.



Aug 17, 2004
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Review Date: Aug 13, 2004 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,800.00 | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: compact, good IS, good sharpness
Cons:
very lousy mecanics and optical performance at 300-400 mm



Aug 13, 2004
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Location: United States
Review Date: Aug 7, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Excellent sharpness, image stabilization, fast autofocus, built like a tank
Cons:
maybe price, but then again it's a Mercedes and not a Chevy

My main photographic interest is shooting outdoors stuff, ie. wildlife, wildflowers, etc. I was getting tired of losing a lot of shots because of camera shake at moderate to long zooms. Most of my shooting is from the hip, since birds and other wildlife don't care to hang around while you set up a tripod or monopod. This would force me to use a very high ISO under lower light conditions, early dawn or dusk or overcast days. This would lead to undesirablly high noise levels which would again lead to not so hot photos.

I was in the market for getting some better glass anyway. So I saw this lens and decided to track one down so I could see it in action before I bought it (It's a pretty sizable chunk of change). Once I had it in my hands and was able see the IS in action Ihad to have the lens (drove another hour to a partner store to pick it up).

I have used it for a couple of weekends now. All I can say is GREAT, maybe wow, no, GREAT. The IS has proven itself. I have found that I can max out ISO @400 instead of 800 or 1600 as before. I have taken shots handheld at 1/60 and as low as 1/30 @ FULL zoom. Results are maybe a 60/40 proposition at these settings, which is a damn site better than 0/100 as before.

I found the clarity of this lens to be excellent. I can routinely apply a "2X zoom" in software, and still have excellent detail. Depending on the subject matter I can even go a little beyond that, but then I start to reach the pixel limitaions of the camera.

I have read reviews here where people complain about the sliding tube zoom. I actually find this a plus when using manual focus. Sometimes when photographing small birds in a bush or tree, there is enough close foreground clutter and background clutter that makes autofocus confused as to what the subject is, and I need to go to manual focus. It is a simple slide and twist to focus an image, as opposed to twisting one ring to zoom, then find the other ring to focus. Ooops, where did the bird go?

I am so impressed with this lens that I find my self doing whatever I can to get shots in at the 100 zoom. (that is until I can afford to get myself some better short glass).

All in all, I highly recommend this lens, especially if your like me and the hands aren't as steady as they used to be.


Aug 7, 2004
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Tom_W
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Registered: Jan 20, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 5379
Review Date: Jun 25, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very sharp, fast focus, Image Stabilization, light for its range.
Cons:
Nothing to speak of.

This lens amazes me - its a little slow aperture-wise, but it can be shot wide open and still provide very crisp, contrasty, clean images. It focuses in a breeze, and I even acheived autofocus with my 10D pointing this lens at Jupiter in the night sky (setting up for some introductory astrophotography).

As for color abberation, there seems to be none - the deep sky images I took with this lens show no fringing and display the stars very cleanly - not as perfect as the Astro-Physics Telescope I had it piggybacked on, but still quite excellent.

In its more usual earthly use, the lens has proven to be a great tool for shooting birds and such, but it has also been quite useful for photographing flowers and insect activity as it has allowed me to get closeup shots without disturbing the insect's activities.

The Image Stabilization system works very well - I managed to get a well-detailed image of the last quarter of the moon early one morning handheld at 1/60 second while leaning against a post on my front porch.

If you want a zoom that provides great images, focuses fast and accurately, has image stabilization, and is reasonably light, this is a very good choice.


Jun 25, 2004
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dacop
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Registered: Jun 23, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 589
Review Date: Jun 23, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,299.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Absolutely excellent photo quility; Sharp images even at 400mm; Very strong build...too many to list!
Cons:
None

I purchased this lens about a month ago and finally got to seriously use it at an NHRA drag racing event. Until then, I was just taking some sample photos here and there. I didn't know what to expect and I was afraid that some of the negative postings I have seen here would come up, but that was not the case. To sum it up, this lens performed excellently...period. I got sharp quality images even when fully extended. Yes it is heavy, but that is because it is built to last and of quality. If it were light and made of plastic, people would have listed that as a negative. And yes the push/pull zoom takes some getting used to, but that was not a big deal to me. It is expensive but so is everything that offers this type of performance. I use this lens on a Canon Digital Rebel and it is the perfect match. I am sure it will be just as great on any other Canon camera. When I got home from the event, I was amazed at the results I saw on my monitor. My fellow employees did not believe I took these pictures. All I can say to sum this up is buy this lens, you will not be disappointed!

Here are the photos I took that day.
http://www.pbase.com/daxop/nhra



Jun 23, 2004
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Vettesight
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Registered: Apr 8, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 93
Review Date: May 27, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,395.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Great flexibility due to the zoom range. IS is outstanding. Build quality is also outstanding.
Cons:
Can't use IS on tripod

I shoot wildlife and find its versitility and IS to be just what I need. I carry the camera with this lens in my car where ever I travel. Contrary to what some others think, I like the push pull design. I find it fast. I also find this lens to be sharp. The zoom lock/tension ring is very helpful. This is the lens that is on my 10D 90% of the time. I have sold many images of flowers at the closest focus so the BG is blurred. Anyone who wants a sharp lens with outstanding versitility and the benefits of IS this lens sould be on your list.

May 27, 2004
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Johnny Bravo
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Registered: May 2, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 8864
Review Date: May 10, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Flexibility--outstanding zoom range on a 10D, IS is excellent. Sharp optics at all focal lengths.
Cons:
A bit heavy, but not bad.

My most used lens. Excellent in all respects. I'd like to find out where the 'dust' thing started...I wonder if that is more of an 'it might' rather than 'it does'. Worst case I'll get it cleaned if it ever becomes a problem and I'll STILL love this lens.

May 10, 2004
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TwoBoy
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Registered: Jan 10, 2004
Location: South Africa
Posts: 25
Review Date: May 4, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: IS, sharpness, flexibility 100~400mm - 160~640mm with a 10D/20D, ease of use. I like the push/pull zoom. Came with lens hood and decent case, tremendous ability in low light conditions - maybe the IS is worth between 1 and 2 f-stops, good feel in the hand, 77mm filter size is convenient. Easy on batteries. Price effective.
Cons:
No AF with 1.4x II tele-convertor.

I rate it the BEST LENS currently made for photographing wildlife from a car or 4x4 in AFRICA'S GAME PARKS where leaving a vehicle is not permitted.

Incredibly good when hand held even at 640mm equivelent with Canon 10D or 20D. Sharp, clear images with true colour. By changing ISO rating I can use this lens in the very worst of light. I don't believe people who say the push/pull zoom is an issue or that dust is a problem - it might be if you do not look after your gear but assuming you do I don't see any problem. The lens is heavy but does not give a heavy feel when using it - on the contrary it feels lighter than it is and well balanced on a 10D or 20D with extra battery grip. This lens is particularly suited to people who lack a bit of steadiness like myself (injury) or plain old age.

The flexibility required makes using primes under these conditions a no-no unless you have lots of bodies (there is too much dust and you get no time to change lenses when photographing wildlife), not to mention lots of money also.

If I only had one lens this would be it. I cannot recommend it highly enough, GET YOURS NOW before Canon decide the price is too low!!!! Having tested this lens from a vehicle and on foot there is really no need for the tripod mount - mine has been removed permanently and stored away. This lens seems to be an oddity in the L range - very reasonably priced. SUPERB LENS - MY BEST BUY RATING - IT'S SO GOOD IT IS ALMOST UNBELIEVEABLE. It also works very well with my 1.4x II tele-convertor with bird shots with no apparent loss of sharpness.

Took lens to Kruger Park - used on birds and game. I have now decided to use this lens with the 1.4x II converter and this makes it an effective 224~896 lens with a 10D or 20D. A 2nd camera with a 28~300L IS lens (see my review) gives an effective total range from 44-896 on just 2 bodies with 2 lenses which means you never need miss a shot, keeps the dust out of lens changing and you then have the best of everything.

Wildlife does not pose and is difficult at best so this combination should prove ideal. The only improvement I would like would be to have AF with the 1.4x II tele-converter when used with this lens. Canon should change this. There is a way to overcome this by taping contacts, I will not do this.

PEOPLE moan about WEIGHT, and also say its not as sharp as PRIMES but FLEXIBILITY is what is needed for WILDLIFE and GOOD SHARP ZOOMS are the ONLY SOLUTION. Just remember to switch your vehicles engine OFF before you shoot. The IS does not like it RUNNING.


May 4, 2004
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Location: South Africa
Review Date: Apr 30, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: size, versatility, ease of use
Cons:
AF can be slow at times, dust from push-pull, 4.5 - 5.6 f

I'm an amateur photographer. I use this lens for sports, primarily track meets and crew regattas. I like the versatility the zoom gives me. I can position myself to capture the finish of a race and still get a few shots of, e.g., the high jumpers or pole vaulters while I'm waiting for the race to finish. I'd often like a longer lens but the size of this one is hard to beat. It's not nearly as conspicuous as the 500s or 600s and it's easy to lug around so I can easily run from one event to another, which is often necessary at a high school or college track meet. (OK, maybe not but it's not bc of the lens. Wink

For crew, I usually need a longer lens for the event but this lens is very good for capturing the before and after race socializing. I was surprised that I use this lens for the latter almost as much as the 35-350 but I can stay further away with this lens which has turned out to be a bigger factor than I'd anticipated when shooting high school crew.

It's also useful for getting photos of my pets or the feral cats I feed. A longer lens would probably be better, esp with the ferals, but this lens is so easy to carry and I can sit in my car and barely roll down the window to get the shot, which does not scare the cats. With my pets, I can snap a quick photo before they run to me. I wouldn't be able to get the shot if I had to set up a tripod, even if I were very quick.

The push-pull design does suck dust but it's easy to use, which is important in track when I need to adjust the focal length quickly. OTOH, it's autofocus can be slow when I do that. Sometimes it's fast enough, other times it's not. As others have pointed out, I knew it was push-pull and had a high f when I bought it. The only time the high f is a problem is in the evening. By the end of the track meet, I need to switch to a faster lens but I have captured 90% of most meets by then so, overall, this has been an excellent and very useful lens for me.


Apr 30, 2004
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glideslope
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Registered: Mar 15, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 785
Review Date: Apr 27, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Build quality, optics, IS, versatility, relatively small size.
Cons:
IS slows AF IMO.


I have grown to respect this lens in the 8 weeks I have owned it. I use it in all my wildlife shots. The weight is not too great IMO. I feel it can be a little soft at 400mm. Very sharp below that. Not on par with a prime L, but with much greated versatility IMO. I find the AF spot on, but IMO it seems a little slower than my non-IS lenses. Anyway, it's really not an issue for me. The optics in my copy are fine. Works very well with the 1.4x. The push-pull zoom is easy to adapt to.

Overall a superb value. Great quality, sharp images, IS, and versatility.

Life is Good.


Apr 27, 2004
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uz2work
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Registered: Mar 3, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 11682
Review Date: Mar 3, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: relatively small compared to most Canon prime lenses, relatively inexpensive compared to other L lenses IS
Cons:
none noted

It seems that people either love or hate this lens. I do nature photography, especially birds. I have a 500mm f4 IS, also, While that
lens gives great results, it is not exactly what I would call a "walking
around" lens. With my 100-400, I can handle it and hand hold it all
day long. I have manueverability, and I have the flexibility, if I need to
to shorten the lens. It has been the perfect lens for capturing eagles in flight at less than about 300 feet. Perhaps I just got a good one, but
I have found that my autofocus is relatively fast and razor sharp. The
autofocus does an excellent job of following a moving object. When I've taken bursts of 7or 8 pictures of the same bird, I've often gotten
6-8 razor sharp images. I find that I use the 500 mm only when I absolutely need the extra length and when I can use a tripod. With the
100-400, also, if I need just a bit more length, I've found that, by taping the contacts, I can use a 1.4x converter and still get the autofocus to
work quite well. On my lens, the IS works flawlessly. I would not consider using a lens of this size without the IS. It is the lens that is on my camera more than any
other, and I highly recommend it.


Mar 3, 2004
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Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
263 637570 Jun 16, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
90% of reviewers $2,086.79
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.31
8.66
9.1
ef100_400l_1_


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