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Canon 1D C vs Nikon D3S

The Canon EOS-1D C and the Nikon D3S are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2012 and October 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 12.1 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Headline Specifications
Canon 1D C   Nikon D3S
Canon 1D C Nikon D3S
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
17.9 MP, Full Frame Sensor 12.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor
4K/24p Video 720/24p Video
ISO 100-51200 (50-204800) ISO 200-12800 (100-102400)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.2" LCD, 1040k dots 3.0" LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
14 shutter flaps per second 11 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
1120 shots per battery charge4200 shots per battery charge
158 x 164 x 83 mm, 1545 g 160 x 157 x 88 mm, 1240 g

Body comparison: Canon 1D C vs Nikon D3S

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 1D C and the Nikon D3S. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Compare Canon 1D C and Nikon D3S
Compare 1DC versus D3S top
Compare 1DC or D3S rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3S is somewhat smaller (3 percent) than the Canon 1D C. Moreover, the D3S is markedly lighter (20 percent) than the 1DC. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Yet, since both cameras are based around a full frame sensor, their respective lenses will tend to have similar dimensions and heft. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1DC) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3S).

Concerning battery life, the 1DC gets 1120 shots out of its LP-E4N battery, while the D3S can take 4200 images on a single charge of its EN-EL4a power pack. As can be seen in the images above, both cameras have a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Canon 1D C» 6.2 in 6.5 in 3.3 in 54.5 oz 1120 Y Apr 2012 14,999- i Canon 1D C
 
Nikon D3S« 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 43.7 oz 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
 
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
 
Canon 70D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
 
Canon 5D Mark III« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 Y Mar 2012 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 6D« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i Canon 6D
 
Canon 1D X« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.7 oz 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799- i Canon 1D X
 
Canon 5D Mark II« » 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III« » 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark III
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 42.9 oz 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark II
 
Canon 1Ds« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 44.6 oz 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999- i Canon 1Ds
 
Nikon D5« » 6.3 in 6.3 in 3.6 in 49.9 oz 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499 i i Nikon D5
 
Nikon D4« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999- i Nikon D4
 
Nikon D3X« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 44.4 oz 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999- i Nikon D3X
 
Nikon D700« » 5.8 in 4.8 in 3.0 in 37.9 oz 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999- i Nikon D700
 
Nikon D3« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 45.9 oz 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999- i Nikon D3

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D3S was launched at a markedly lower price (by 65 percent) than the 1DC, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 1D C vs Nikon D3S

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Canon 1D C and Nikon D3S sensor measures

With 17.9MP, the 1DC offers a higher resolution than the D3S (12.1MP), but the 1DC has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.95μm versus 8.43μm for the D3S). However, the 1DC is a somewhat more recent model (by 2 years and 5 months) than the D3S, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The Canon EOS-1D C has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-204800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3S are ISO 200 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-102400..

1DC versus D3S MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Canon 1D C» Full Frame 17.9 5184 34564K/24p----Canon 1D C
 
Nikon D3S« Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382Nikon D3S
 
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788Canon 1D X Mark II
 
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668Canon 70D
 
Canon 5D Mark III« » Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 6D« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082Canon 6D
 
Canon 1D X« » Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682Canon 1D X
 
Canon 5D Mark II« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744-24.012.0166380Canon 1Ds Mark III
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328-23.311.3148074Canon 1Ds Mark II
 
Canon 1Ds« » Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704-21.811.095463Canon 1Ds
 
Nikon D5« » Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388Nikon D5
 
Nikon D4« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589Nikon D4
 
Nikon D3X« » Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-24.713.7199288Nikon D3X
 
Nikon D700« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2230380Nikon D700
 
Nikon D3« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2229081Nikon D3

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the 1DC provides a higher video resolution than the D3S. It can shoot video footage at 4K/24p, while the Nikon is limited to 720/24p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 1D C vs Nikon D3S

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1DC and the D3S are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the 1DC has a higher magnification than the one of the D3S (0.76x vs 0.70x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 1D C and Nikon D3S along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Canon 1D C»optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n Canon 1D C
 
Nikon D3S«optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n Nikon D3S
 
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0 n n Canon 1D X Mark II
 
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n Canon 70D
 
Canon 5D Mark III« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 n n Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 6D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 n n Canon 6D
 
Canon 1D X« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n Canon 1D X
 
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 3.9 n n Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n Canon 1Ds Mark III
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n Canon 1Ds Mark II
 
Canon 1Ds« »optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n Canon 1Ds
 
Nikon D5« »optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0 n n Nikon D5
 
Nikon D4« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n Nikon D4
 
Nikon D3X« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n Nikon D3X
 
Nikon D700« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n Nikon D700
 
Nikon D3« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n Nikon D3

The Nikon D3S has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 1DC and the D3S write their files to Compact Flash cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

 

Connectivity comparison: Canon 1D C vs Nikon D3S

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS-1D C and Nikon D3S and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Canon 1D C»YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Canon 1D C
 
Nikon D3S«Ystereo---mini2.0---Nikon D3S
 
Canon 1D X Mark II« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Canon 1D X Mark II
 
Canon 70D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 70D
 
Canon 5D Mark III« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 6D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 6D
 
Canon 1D X« »Ymono-Y-mini2.0---Canon 1D X
 
Canon 5D Mark II« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »Y-----2.0---Canon 1Ds Mark III
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »Y-----2.0---Canon 1Ds Mark II
 
Canon 1Ds« »Y-----FW---Canon 1Ds
 
Nikon D5« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Nikon D5
 
Nikon D4« »Ymonomono--micro2.0---Nikon D4
 
Nikon D3X« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon D3X
 
Nikon D700« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon D700
 
Nikon D3« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon D3

It is notable that the 1DC has a microphone port, which is missing on the D3S. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the 1DC and the D3S have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3S was replaced by the Nikon D4, while the 1DC does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras, as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.


Review summary: Canon 1D C vs Nikon D3S

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 1D C better than the Nikon D3S or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS-1D C:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 12.1MP) with a 22% higher linear resolution.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/24p vs 720/24p).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.76x vs 0.70x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 921k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 11 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 5 months of technical progress since the D3S launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3S:

  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 305g or 20 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (4200 versus 1120) out of a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (65 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in October 2009).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 1DC is the clear winner of the match-up (9 : 5 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

1DC 09:05 D3S

Do the specifications of the Canon 1D C and the Nikon D3S place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing.

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 1DC and the D3S in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews: Canon 1D C vs Nikon D3S

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Canon 1D C»----- Apr 2012 14,999- i Canon 1D C
 
Nikon D3S«-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
 
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
 
Canon 70D« »++83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i Canon 70D
 
Canon 5D Mark III« »++82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark III
 
Canon 6D« »++83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i Canon 6D
 
Canon 1D X« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799- i Canon 1D X
 
Canon 5D Mark II« »91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark II
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »-++4.5/5-- Aug 2007 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark III
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »-++--- Sep 2004 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark II
 
Canon 1Ds« »-++--- Sep 2002 8,999- i Canon 1Ds
 
Nikon D5« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499 i i Nikon D5
 
Nikon D4« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999- i Nikon D4
 
Nikon D3X« »-86/1004/55/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999- i Nikon D3X
 
Nikon D700« »89/100++4.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999- i Nikon D700
 
Nikon D3« »-++5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999- i Nikon D3
Notes: ++) highly recommended; +) recommended; o) reviewed; -) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon 1D C:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D3S:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon 1D C vs Nikon D3S

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 1D C Nikon D3S
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date April 2012 October 2009
    Launch Price USD 14999 USD 5199
    Sensor Specs Canon 1D C Nikon D3S
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 36.0 x 23.9 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 860.4 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 17.9 Megapixels 12.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3456 pixels 4256 x 2832 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.95 μm 8.43 μm
    Pixel Density 2.07 MP/cm2 1.40 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 4K/24p Video 720/24p Video
    ISO Setting 100-51200 ISO 200-12800 ISO
    ISO Boost 50-204800 ISO 100-102400 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 5+ (Dual) EXPEED
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 82
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 23.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 12.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 3253
    Screen Specs Canon 1D C Nikon D3S
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.76x 0.70x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.2 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 1D C Nikon D3S
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 14 shutter flaps/s 11 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon 1D C Nikon D3S
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Headphone Socket Headphone port no Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 1D C Nikon D3S
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type LP-E4N power pack EN-EL4a power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)1120 shots per charge4200 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 158 x 164 x 83 mm
    (6.2 x 6.5 x 3.3 in)
    160 x 157 x 88 mm
    (6.3 x 6.2 x 3.5 in)
    Camera Weight 1545 g (54.5 oz) 1240 g (43.7 oz)

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