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Canon 20D vs Nikon D2X

The Canon EOS 20D and the Nikon D2X are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2004 and September 2004. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8.2 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 12.2 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon 20D
versus
Nikon D2X
Canon 20D   Nikon D2X
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
8.2 MP – APS-C sensor 12.2 MP – APS-C sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200) ISO 100-800 (100 - 3,200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
1.8" LCD – 118k dots 2.5" LCD – 235k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
700 shots per battery charge3800 shots per battery charge
144 x 106 x 72 mm, 770 g 158 x 150 x 86 mm, 1252 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 20D and the Nikon D2X? 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

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 20D and the Nikon D2X. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 20D vs Nikon D2X
Compare 20D versus D2X top
Comparison 20D or D2X rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D2X is considerably larger (55 percent) than the Canon 20D. Moreover, the D2X is substantially heavier (63 percent) than the 20D. It is noteworthy in this context that the D2X is splash and dust-proof, while the 20D 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. Yet, since both cameras are based around an APS-C 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 (20D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D2X).

Concerning battery life, the 20D gets 700 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the D2X can take 3800 images on a single charge of its EN-EL4a power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D2X has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the 20D, Canon provides the BG-E2N vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on ebay).

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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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 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499ebay.com
2.
 
Nikon D2X 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999ebay.com
3.
 
Canon 7D II 149 mm 112 mm 78 mm 910 g 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799ebay.com
4.
 
Canon 60D 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399ebay.com
5.
 
Canon 7D 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699ebay.com
6.
 
Canon 50D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299ebay.com
7.
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299ebay.com
8.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399ebay.com
9.
 
Canon 350D 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899ebay.com
10.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999ebay.com
11.
 
Canon 300D 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon D3S 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1240 g 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199ebay.com
13.
 
Nikon D3 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1300 g 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999ebay.com
14.
 
Nikon D2Xs 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699ebay.com
15.
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699ebay.com
16.
 
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.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 20D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 70 percent) than the D2X, 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D2X is 10 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (20D) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 20D and Nikon D2X sensor measures

With 12.2MP, the D2X offers a higher resolution than the 20D (8.2MP), but the D2X has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.52μm versus 6.42μm for the 20D). It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D2X implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D2X for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 20D are 17.5 x 11.7 inches or 44.5 x 29.7 cm for good quality, 14 x 9.3 inches or 35.6 x 23.7 cm for very good quality, and 11.7 x 7.8 inches or 29.7 x 19.8 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 20D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D2X are ISO 100 to ISO 800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

20D versus D2X MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. 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 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
2.
 
Nikon D2X APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.110.947659
3.
 
Canon 7D II APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270
4.
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
5.
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
6.
 
Canon 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663
7.
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
8.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
9.
 
Canon 350D APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
10.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
11.
 
Canon 300D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
12.
 
Nikon D3S Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
13.
 
Nikon D3 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2229081
14.
 
Nikon D2Xs APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.210.948959
15.
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
16.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
Neither the 20D nor the D2X 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

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 20D and the D2X 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 D2X offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 20D (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D2X has a higher magnification (0.57x vs 0.56x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 20D and Nikon D2X in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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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 20Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y n
2.
 
Nikon D2Xoptical Y2.5 / 235 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s n n
3.
 
Canon 7D IIoptical Y3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0/s Y n
4.
 
Canon 60Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3/s Y n
5.
 
Canon 7Doptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0/s Y n
6.
 
Canon 50Doptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3/s Y n
7.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5/s Y n
8.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y n
9.
 
Canon 350Doptical n1.8 / 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
10.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
11.
 
Canon 300Doptical n1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
12.
 
Nikon D3Soptical Y3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0/s n n
13.
 
Nikon D3optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0/s n n
14.
 
Nikon D2Xsoptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s n n
15.
 
Nikon D200optical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y n
16.
 
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.

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 20D has one, while the D2X does not. While the built-in flash of the 20D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 20D and the D2X 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 20D and Nikon D2X 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 20DY- / ----1.1---
2.
 
Nikon D2XY- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon 7D IIYstereo / monoYYmini3.0---
4.
 
Canon 60DYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Canon 7DYmono / -Y-mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon 50DY- / ---mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon 40DY- / ----2.0---
8.
 
Canon 30DY- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Canon 350DY- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Canon 10DY- / ----1.1---
11.
 
Canon 300DY- / ----1.1---
12.
 
Nikon D3SYstereo / ---mini2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D3Y- / ---mini2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D2XsY- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D200Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Nikon D1XY- / ----FW---

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

Both the 20D and the D2X have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The 20D was replaced by the Canon 30D, while the D2X was followed by the Nikon D2Xs. Further information on the features and operation of the 20D and D2X can be found, respectively, in the Canon 20D Manual (free pdf) or the online Nikon D2X Manual.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Canon 20D better than the Nikon D2X or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 20D:

  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • More compact: Is smaller (144x106mm vs 158x150mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 482g or 38 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (70 percent cheaper at launch).

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Advantages of the Nikon D2X:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 22%.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.57x vs 0.56x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.5" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (235k vs 118k dots).
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (3800 versus 700) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D2X is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 5 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

20D 05:09 D2X

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 20D and the Nikon D2X 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 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 20D and the D2X 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

This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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 20D......+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499ebay.com
2.
 
Nikon D2X......+ +.... Sep 2004 4,999ebay.com
3.
 
Canon 7D II4.5/5+3.5/584/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799ebay.com
4.
 
Canon 60D5/5+..79/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399ebay.com
5.
 
Canon 7D5/5+ +..84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699ebay.com
6.
 
Canon 50D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299ebay.com
7.
 
Canon 40D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299ebay.com
8.
 
Canon 30D..+ +..+ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399ebay.com
9.
 
Canon 350D..80/100..+ +o.. Feb 2005 899ebay.com
10.
 
Canon 10D......+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999ebay.com
11.
 
Canon 300D......+ +.... Aug 2003 899ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon D3S5/5....89/1004.5/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199ebay.com
13.
 
Nikon D3......+ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999ebay.com
14.
 
Nikon D2Xs............ Jun 2006 4,699ebay.com
15.
 
Nikon D200..+ +..+ +o.. Nov 2005 1,699ebay.com
16.
 
Nikon D1X......+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

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Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, 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 20D vs Nikon D2X

    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 20D Nikon D2X
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2004 September 2004
    Launch Price USD 1,499 USD 4,999
    Sensor Specs Canon 20D Nikon D2X
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.5 x 15.0 mm 23.7 x 15.7 mm
    Sensor Area 337.5 mm2 372.09 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 27 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 8.2 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3504 x 2336 pixels 4288 x 2848 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.42 μm 5.52 μm
    Pixel Density 2.43 MP/cm2 3.28 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 800 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 62 59
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.9 22.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.0 10.9
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 721 476
    Screen Specs Canon 20D Nikon D2X
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.56x 0.57x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    Rear LCD Size 1.8inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 118k dots 235k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 20D Nikon D2X
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy50 000 actuations150 000 actuations
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 20D Nikon D2X
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 1.1 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 20D Nikon D2X
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-511A EN-EL4a
    Battery Life (CIPA)700 shots per charge3800 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 144 x 106 x 72 mm
    (5.7 x 4.2 x 2.8 in)
    158 x 150 x 86 mm
    (6.2 x 5.9 x 3.4 in)
    Camera Weight 770 g (27.2 oz) 1252 g (44.2 oz)
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    Check D2X offers at
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