Canon 30D vs Olympus E-M5
The Canon EOS 30D and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2006 and February 2012. The 30D is a DSLR, while the E-M5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (30D) and a Four Thirds (E-M5) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8.2 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 15.9 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 30D and the Olympus OM-D E-M5? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Canon 30D and the Olympus E-M5 are illustrated 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-M5 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the 30D is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-M5 is notably smaller (29 percent) than the Canon 30D. Moreover, the E-M5 is substantially lighter (46 percent) than the 30D. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-M5 is splash and dust-proof, while the 30D 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (30D) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-M5). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-M5, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.
|1.||Canon 30D||144 mm||106 mm||74 mm||785 g||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon XT||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 20D||144 mm||106 mm||72 mm||770 g||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon 10D||150 mm||107 mm||75 mm||850 g||500||n||Feb 2003||1,999||ebay.com|
|12.||Canon Rebel||142 mm||99 mm||72 mm||649 g||400||n||Aug 2003||899||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199||ebay.com|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099||ebay.com|
|15.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399||ebay.com|
|16.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic GX7||123 mm||71 mm||55 mm||402 g||350||n||Aug 2013||999||ebay.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 obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-M5 was somewhat cheaper (by 7 percent) than the 30D at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.
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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 30D features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-M5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M5 is 33 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 2.0. The sensor in the 30D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-M5 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-M5 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 8.2 MP of the 30D. 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 3.76μm versus 6.42μm for the 30D). However, it should be noted that the E-M5 is much more recent (by 5 years and 11 months) than the 30D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-M5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-M5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 30D 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 30D 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 Olympus OM-D E-M5 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
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.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the E-M5 offers substantially better image quality than the 30D (overall score 12 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.3 bits higher color depth, 1.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|2.||Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|15.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|16.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|17.||Panasonic GX7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The E-M5 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 30D does not. The highest resolution format that the E-M5 can use is 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the E-M5 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), while the 30D has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the E-M5 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 30D (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the E-M5 has a higher magnification (0.58x 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 30D and Olympus E-M5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon 30D||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||1440||n||3.0 / 610||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0/s||n||Y|
|3.||Canon 70D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon 60D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.3/s||Y||n|
|5.||Canon 7D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Canon 50D||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.3/s||Y||n|
|7.||Canon 40D||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.5/s||Y||n|
|8.||Canon XTi||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Canon XT||optical||n||1.8 / 115||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Canon 20D||optical||Y||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Canon 10D||optical||Y||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Canon Rebel||optical||n||1.8 / 118||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|15.||Olympus E-M1||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|16.||Olympus E-P5||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0/s||Y||Y|
|17.||Panasonic GX7||2760||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||Y|
|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 30D has one, while the E-M5 does not. While the built-in flash of the 30D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The 30D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-M5 uses SDXC cards.
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 30D and Olympus OM-D E-M5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 30D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 70D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Canon 60D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 7D||Y||mono / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon 50D||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 40D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon XTi||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon XT||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 20D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 10D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon Rebel||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|15.||Olympus E-M1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|16.||Olympus E-P5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic GX7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 30D (unlike the E-M5) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 30D and the E-M5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The 30D was replaced by the Canon 40D, while the E-M5 was followed by the Olympus E-M5 II. Further information on the features and operation of the 30D and E-M5 can be found, respectively, in the Canon 30D Manual (free pdf) or the online Olympus E-M5 Manual.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 30D or the Olympus E-M5 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 30D:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 360) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2006).
Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M5:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.9 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 37%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (12 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.5 EV of extra DR).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- 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 (0.58x vs 0.56x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (610k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (122x89mm vs 144x106mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 360g or 46 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 11 months of technical progress since the 30D launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-M5 is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 30D and the Olympus E-M5 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 30D or the E-M5 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why expert reviews 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.
|1.||Canon 30D||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2006||1,399||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon 60D||5/5||+||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon 50D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 40D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon XT||..||80/100||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 20D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2004||1,499||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon 10D||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2003||1,999||ebay.com|
|12.||Canon Rebel||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2003||899||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199||ebay.com|
|14.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||4.5/5||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099||ebay.com|
|15.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399||ebay.com|
|16.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic GX7||4/5||+||..||79/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999||ebay.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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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.
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 make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Canon 30D
- Canon 30D vs Canon 5DS
- Canon 30D vs Nikon D300
- Canon 30D vs Nikon D70
- Canon 30D vs Nikon D90
- Canon 30D vs Sony A850
- Fujifilm X-A1 vs Olympus E-M5
- Hasselblad X1D vs Olympus E-M5
- Leica M9 vs Olympus E-M5
- Nikon W150 vs Olympus E-M5
- Olympus E-500 vs Olympus E-M5
- Olympus E-M5 vs Samsung NX1
Specifications: Canon 30D vs Olympus E-M5
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 Model||Canon 30D||Olympus E-M5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2006||February 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 1,399||USD 1,299|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 30D||Olympus E-M5|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.5 x 15.0 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||337.5 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||8.2 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3504 x 2336 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.42 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.43 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 3,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 2||TruePic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||59||71|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.5||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.8||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||736||826|
|Screen Specs||Canon 30D||Olympus E-M5|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||610k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 30D||Olympus E-M5|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||9 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 30D||Olympus E-M5|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 30D||Olympus E-M5|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||360 shots per charge|
144 x 106 x 74 mm
(5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in)
122 x 89 x 43 mm
(4.8 x 3.5 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||785 g (27.7 oz)||425 g (15.0 oz)|
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