Canon 550D vs Olympus E-500
The Canon EOS 550D (called Canon T2i in some regions) and the Olympus Evolt E-500 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2010 and September 2005. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (550D) and a Four Thirds (E-500) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 8 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Canon 550D||Olympus E-500|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|17.9 MP, APS-C Sensor||8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO 100-6400 (100-12800)||ISO 100-400 (100-1600)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 1040k dots||2.5" LCD, 215k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|3.7 shutter flaps per second||2.5 shutter flaps per second|
|440 shots per battery charge||750 shots per battery charge|
|129 x 98 x 62 mm, 530 g||130 x 95 x 66 mm, 479 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 550D and the Olympus Evolt E-500? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 550D and the Olympus E-500. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-500 is somewhat smaller (2 percent) than the Canon 550D. Moreover, the E-500 is markedly lighter (10 percent) than the 550D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 550D nor the E-500 are weather-sealed.
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 (550D) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-500).
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, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Canon 550D»||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.7 oz||440||n||Feb 2010||699||-||Canon 550D|
|Olympus E-500«||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.6 in||16.9 oz||750||n||Sep 2005||599||-||Olympus E-500|
|Canon 4000D« »||5.1 in||4.0 in||3.0 in||15.4 oz||500||n||Feb 2018||399||Canon 4000D|
|Canon 750D« »||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||749||-||Canon 750D|
|Canon 760D« »||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.9 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||649||-||Canon 760D|
|Canon 1200D« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||16.9 oz||500||n||Feb 2014||449||-||Canon 1200D|
|Canon 700D« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.5 oz||440||n||Mar 2013||649||-||Canon 700D|
|Canon 650D« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.3 oz||440||n||Jun 2012||849||-||Canon 650D|
|Canon 600D« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.1 oz||440||n||Feb 2011||599||-||Canon 600D|
|Canon 1100D« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||17.5 oz||700||n||Feb 2011||449||-||Canon 1100D|
|Canon 500D« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.3 oz||400||n||Mar 2009||799||-||Canon 500D|
|Nikon D5100« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.8 oz||660||n||Apr 2011||749||-||Nikon D5100|
|Olympus E-410« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.3 oz||500||n||Mar 2007||699||-||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-510« »||5.4 in||3.6 in||2.7 in||19.0 oz||750||n||Mar 2007||799||-||Olympus E-510|
|Olympus E-330« »||5.5 in||3.4 in||2.8 in||22.5 oz||750||n||Jan 2006||999||-||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-400« »||5.1 in||3.6 in||2.1 in||15.3 oz||500||n||Sep 2006||699||-||Olympus E-400|
|Olympus E-300« »||5.8 in||3.3 in||2.5 in||22.0 oz||750||n||Sep 2004||799||-||Olympus E-300|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as 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 E-500 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 14 percent) than the 550D, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 550D features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-500 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-500 is 32 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 550D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-500 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 17.9MP, the 550D offers a higher resolution than the E-500 (8MP), but the 550D has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 5.30μm for the E-500). However, the 550D is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 4 months) than the E-500, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Canon 550D implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 550D for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 17.3 inch or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 13.8 inch or 52.7 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 11.5 inch or 43.9 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-500 are 16.3 x 12.2 inch or 41.5 x 31.1 cm for good quality, 13.1 x 9.8 inch or 33.2 x 24.9 cm for very good quality, and 10.9 x 8.2 inch or 27.6 x 20.7 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 550D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus Evolt E-500 are ISO 100 to ISO 400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-1600.
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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Canon 550D»||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||784||66||Canon 550D|
|Olympus E-500«||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||-||-||-||-||-||Olympus E-500|
|Canon 4000D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.9||11.4||695||63||Canon 4000D|
|Canon 750D« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||22.7||12.0||919||71||Canon 750D|
|Canon 760D« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/30p||22.6||12.0||915||70||Canon 760D|
|Canon 1200D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.9||11.3||724||63||Canon 1200D|
|Canon 700D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||681||61||Canon 700D|
|Canon 650D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||722||62||Canon 650D|
|Canon 600D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||793||65||Canon 600D|
|Canon 1100D« »||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||720/30p||21.9||11.0||755||62||Canon 1100D|
|Canon 500D« »||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||1080/20p||21.7||11.5||663||63||Canon 500D|
|Nikon D5100« »||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||23.5||13.6||1183||80||Nikon D5100|
|Olympus E-410« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.1||10.0||494||51||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-510« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||21.2||10.0||442||52||Olympus E-510|
|Olympus E-330« »||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||-||-||-||-||-||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-400« »||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||-||-||-||-||-||Olympus E-400|
|Olympus E-300« »||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||-||-||-||-||-||Olympus E-300|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The 550D indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the E-500 does not. The highest resolution format that the 550D can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 550D and the E-500 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 (95%), but the viewfinder of the 550D has a higher magnification than the one of the E-500 (0.54x vs 0.45x), 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 550D and Olympus E-500 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Canon 550D»||optical||n||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon 550D|
|Olympus E-500«||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n||Olympus E-500|
|Canon 4000D« »||optical||n||2.7||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon 4000D|
|Canon 750D« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon 750D|
|Canon 760D« »||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon 760D|
|Canon 1200D« »||optical||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon 1200D|
|Canon 700D« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon 700D|
|Canon 650D« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon 650D|
|Canon 600D« »||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon 600D|
|Canon 1100D« »||optical||n||2.7||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon 1100D|
|Canon 500D« »||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4||Y||n||Canon 500D|
|Nikon D5100« »||optical||n||3.0||921||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D5100|
|Olympus E-410« »||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-510« »||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||Y||Olympus E-510|
|Olympus E-330« »||optical||n||2.5||215||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-400« »||optical||n||2.5||215||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Olympus E-400|
|Olympus E-300« »||optical||n||1.8||134||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n||Olympus E-300|
The 550D writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the E-500 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-500 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 550D only has one slot.
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 550D and Olympus Evolt E-500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon 550D»||Y||stereo||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 550D|
|Olympus E-500«||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-500|
|Canon 4000D« »||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon 4000D|
|Canon 750D« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon 750D|
|Canon 760D« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon 760D|
|Canon 1200D« »||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1200D|
|Canon 700D« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 700D|
|Canon 650D« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 650D|
|Canon 600D« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 600D|
|Canon 1100D« »||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1100D|
|Canon 500D« »||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 500D|
|Nikon D5100« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5100|
|Olympus E-410« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-510« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-510|
|Olympus E-330« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-400« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-400|
|Olympus E-300« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Olympus E-300|
Both the 550D and the E-500 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-500 was replaced by the Olympus E-510, while the 550D was followed by the Canon 600D. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Olympus websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon 550D better than the Olympus E-500 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 550D:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 8MP) with a 53% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.54x vs 0.45x).
- 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 (1040k vs 215k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3.7 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 4 months of technical progress since the E-500 launch.
Advantages of the Olympus Evolt E-500:
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (750 versus 440) out of a single battery charge.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (14 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2005).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 550D is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 4 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 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 550D and the Olympus E-500 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 550D and the E-500 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.
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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Canon 550D»||+ +||77/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699||-||Canon 550D|
|Olympus E-500«||76/100||+ +||-||-||-||Sep 2005||599||-||Olympus E-500|
|Canon 4000D« »||o||-||3.5/5||-||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399||Canon 4000D|
|Canon 750D« »||-||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749||-||Canon 750D|
|Canon 760D« »||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649||-||Canon 760D|
|Canon 1200D« »||+||-||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449||-||Canon 1200D|
|Canon 700D« »||-||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649||-||Canon 700D|
|Canon 650D« »||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849||-||Canon 650D|
|Canon 600D« »||o||77/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599||-||Canon 600D|
|Canon 1100D« »||80/100||69/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449||-||Canon 1100D|
|Canon 500D« »||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799||-||Canon 500D|
|Nikon D5100« »||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749||-||Nikon D5100|
|Olympus E-410« »||86/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2007||699||-||Olympus E-410|
|Olympus E-510« »||89/100||+ +||3.5/5||o||4.5/5||Mar 2007||799||-||Olympus E-510|
|Olympus E-330« »||-||+||o||3.5/5||-||Jan 2006||999||-||Olympus E-330|
|Olympus E-400« »||85/100||-||4/5||-||4/5||Sep 2006||699||-||Olympus E-400|
|Olympus E-300« »||-||+||o||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799||-||Olympus E-300|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1D X vs Canon 550D
- Canon 550D vs Canon 5D
- Canon 550D vs Leica SL
- Canon 550D vs Nikon D1
- Canon 550D vs Nikon D2H
- Canon 550D vs Nikon D40
- Canon 550D vs Nikon D7500
- Canon 550D vs Panasonic FZ1000 II
- Canon 550D vs Sony NEX-6
- Canon G5 X Mark II vs Olympus E-500
- Canon M50 vs Olympus E-500
- Olympus E-3 vs Olympus E-500
Specifications: Canon 550D vs Olympus E-500
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 550D||Olympus E-500|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2010||September 2005|
|Launch Price||USD 699||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 550D||Olympus E-500|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||3264 x 2448 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||5.30 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||3.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100-6400 ISO||100-400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-12800 ISO||100-1600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||TruePic|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||784||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon 550D||Olympus E-500|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||2.5 inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||215k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 550D||Olympus E-500|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.7 shutter flaps/s||2.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or XD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 550D||Olympus E-500|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 550D||Olympus E-500|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||440 shots per charge||750 shots per charge|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
130 x 95 x 66 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 2.6 in)
|Camera Weight||530 g (18.7 oz)||479 g (16.9 oz)|
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