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Canon 1Ds vs Contax N Digital

The Canon EOS-1Ds and the Contax N Digital are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2002 and February 2002. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 11 megapixels, whereas the Contax provides 6.1 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 1Ds
versus
Contax N Digital
Canon 1Ds   Contax N Digital
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Contax N mount lenses
11 MP – Full Frame sensor 6.1 MP – Full Frame sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,250 ISO 50-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0" LCD – 120k dots 2.0" LCD – 200k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
600 shots per battery charge100 shots per battery charge
156 x 158 x 80 mm, 1265 g 152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1Ds and the Contax N Digital? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 1Ds and the Contax N Digital is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 1Ds vs Contax N Digital
Compare 1Ds versus N Digital top
Comparison 1Ds or N Digital rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Contax N Digital is notably smaller (15 percent) than the Canon 1Ds. Moreover, the N Digital is markedly lighter (22 percent) than the 1Ds. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 1Ds is splash and dust resistant, while the N Digital does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 1Ds 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1265 g 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999ebay.com
2.
 
Contax N Digital 152 mm 138 mm 80 mm 990 g 100 n Feb 2002 7,399ebay.com
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999ebay.com
4.
 
Canon 1D C 158 mm 164 mm 83 mm 1545 g 1120 Y Apr 2012 14,999ebay.com
5.
 
Canon 1D Mark IV 156 mm 157 mm 80 mm 1230 g 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999ebay.com
6.
 
Canon 1D Mark III 156 mm 157 mm 80 mm 1155 g 2200 Y Feb 2007 4,499ebay.com
7.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III 150 mm 160 mm 80 mm 1385 g 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999ebay.com
8.
 
Canon 1D Mark II N 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1565 g 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999ebay.com
9.
 
Canon 5D 152 mm 113 mm 75 mm 895 g 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299ebay.com
10.
 
Canon 1D Mark II 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1535 g 1200 Y Jan 2004 4,499ebay.com
11.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1215 g 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999ebay.com
12.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999ebay.com
13.
 
Canon 300D 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899ebay.com
14.
 
Canon D60 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 855 g 620 n Feb 2002 2,999ebay.com
15.
 
Nikon D2Xs 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699ebay.com
16.
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999ebay.com
17.
 
Nikon D1X 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999ebay.com
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The N Digital was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 18 percent) than the 1Ds, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the N Digital is 1 percent bigger. 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.

Canon 1Ds and Contax N Digital sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the Canon 1Ds offers a higher resolution of 11 megapixels, compared with 6.1 MP of the Contax N Digital. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 8.83μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the 1Ds is a somewhat more recent model (by 6 months) than the N Digital, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.

The resolution advantage of the Canon 1Ds implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 1Ds for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20.3 x 13.5 inches or 51.6 x 34.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16.3 x 10.8 inches or 41.3 x 27.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.5 x 9 inches or 34.4 x 22.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Contax N Digital are 15.2 x 10 inches or 38.6 x 25.5 cm for good quality, 12.2 x 8 inches or 30.9 x 20.4 cm for very good quality, and 10.1 x 6.7 inches or 25.7 x 17 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS-1Ds has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1250, which can be extended to ISO 50-1250. The corresponding ISO settings for the Contax N Digital are ISO 50 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

In terms of underlying technology, the 1Ds is build around a CMOS sensor, while the N Digital uses a CCD imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

1Ds versus N Digital MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon 1Ds Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704none21.811.095463
2.
 
Contax N Digital Full Frame 6.1 3040 2008none21.510.5128359
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
4.
 
Canon 1D C Full Frame 17.9 5184 34564K/24p24.313.0215585
5.
 
Canon 1D Mark IV APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074
6.
 
Canon 1D Mark III APS-H 10.1 3888 2592none22.711.7107871
7.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744none24.012.0166380
8.
 
Canon 1D Mark II N APS-H 8.2 3504 2336none22.311.297566
9.
 
Canon 5D Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912none22.911.1136871
10.
 
Canon 1D Mark II APS-H 8.2 3504 2336none22.311.1100366
11.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328none23.311.3148074
12.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
13.
 
Canon 300D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
14.
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none20.39.830147
15.
 
Nikon D2Xs APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.210.948959
16.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.49.939448
17.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
Neither the 1Ds nor the N Digital offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1Ds and the N Digital 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 viewfinder in the 1Ds offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the N Digital (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the N Digital has a higher magnification (0.73x 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 1Ds and Contax N Digital along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon 1Dsoptical Y2.0 / 120 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s n n
2.
 
Contax N Digitaloptical Y2.0 / 200 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0/s n n
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIoptical Y3.2 / 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0/s n n
4.
 
Canon 1D Coptical Y3.2 / 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0/s n n
5.
 
Canon 1D Mark IVoptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0/s n n
6.
 
Canon 1D Mark IIIoptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0/s n n
7.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIoptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s n n
8.
 
Canon 1D Mark II Noptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 8.5/s n n
9.
 
Canon 5Doptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s n n
10.
 
Canon 1D Mark IIoptical Y2.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3/s n n
11.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIoptical Y2.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0/s n n
12.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
13.
 
Canon 300Doptical n1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
14.
 
Canon D60optical Y1.8 / 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
15.
 
Nikon D2Xsoptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s n n
16.
 
Nikon D100optical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
17.
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y2.0 / 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0/s n n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 1Ds and the N Digital write their files to Compact Flash cards.

Connectivity comparison

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-1Ds and Contax N Digital and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon 1DsY- / ----FW---
2.
 
Contax N DigitalY- / ----FW---
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIYmono / monoYYmini3.0---
4.
 
Canon 1D CYmono / monoYYmini2.0---
5.
 
Canon 1D Mark IVYstereo / -Y-mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon 1D Mark IIIY- / ----2.0---
7.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIYmono / ----2.0---
8.
 
Canon 1D Mark II NY- / ----1.1---
9.
 
Canon 5DY- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Canon 1D Mark IIY- / ----1.1---
11.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIY- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Canon 10DY- / ----1.1---
13.
 
Canon 300DY- / ----1.1---
14.
 
Canon D60Y- / ----1.1---
15.
 
Nikon D2XsY- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Nikon D100Y- / ----1.1---
17.
 
Nikon D1XY- / ----FW---

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

Both the 1Ds and the N Digital have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The 1Ds was replaced by the Canon 1Ds Mark II, while the N Digital does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Contax websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 1Ds and the Contax N Digital? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS-1Ds:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (11 vs 6.1MP) with a 34% higher linear resolution.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (600 versus 100) on a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 6 months after the N Digital).

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Arguments in favor of the Contax N Digital:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.70x).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (200k vs 120k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (152x138mm vs 156x158mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 275g or 22 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (18 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2002).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the N Digital emerges as the winner of the match-up (7 : 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. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

1Ds 05:07 N Digital

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 1Ds and the Contax N Digital place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 1Ds and the N Digital in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 1Ds......+ +.... Sep 2002 8,999ebay.com
2.
 
Contax N Digital............ Feb 2002 7,399ebay.com
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II....4.5/589/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999ebay.com
4.
 
Canon 1D C............ Apr 2012 14,999ebay.com
5.
 
Canon 1D Mark IV5/5....89/100.... Oct 2009 4,999ebay.com
6.
 
Canon 1D Mark III............ Feb 2007 4,499ebay.com
7.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III......+ +4.5/5.. Aug 2007 7,999ebay.com
8.
 
Canon 1D Mark II N............ Aug 2005 3,999ebay.com
9.
 
Canon 5D..88/100..+ +o.. Aug 2005 3,299ebay.com
10.
 
Canon 1D Mark II......+ +.... Jan 2004 4,499ebay.com
11.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II......+ +.... Sep 2004 7,999ebay.com
12.
 
Canon 10D......+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999ebay.com
13.
 
Canon 300D......+ +.... Aug 2003 899ebay.com
14.
 
Canon D60......+ +o.. Feb 2002 2,999ebay.com
15.
 
Nikon D2Xs............ Jun 2006 4,699ebay.com
16.
 
Nikon D100......+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999ebay.com
17.
 
Nikon D1X......+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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.

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Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon 1Ds vs Contax N Digital

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 1Ds Contax N Digital
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Contax N mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2002 February 2002
    Launch Price USD 8,999 USD 7,399
    Sensor Specs Canon 1Ds Contax N Digital
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 23.8 mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 856.8 mm2 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.2 mm 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 11 Megapixels 6.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4064 x 2704 pixels 3040 x 2008 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 8.83 μm 11.90 μm
    Pixel Density 1.28 MP/cm2 0.71 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,250 ISO 50 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 1,250 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 63 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.8 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.0 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 954 ..
    Screen Specs Canon 1Ds Contax N Digital
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.70x 0.73x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 2.0inch
    LCD Resolution 120k dots 200k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 1Ds Contax N Digital
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF cards
    Single or Dual Card Slots Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 1Ds Contax N Digital
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector Firewire Firewire
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 1Ds Contax N Digital
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type NP-E3 4xAA
    Battery Life (CIPA)600 shots per charge100 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 156 x 158 x 80 mm
    (6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
    152 x 138 x 80 mm
    (6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 1265 g (44.6 oz) 990 g (34.9 oz)
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