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Canon 5D Mark III vs 1D Mark II

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Canon EOS-1D Mark II are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2012 and January 2004. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (5D Mark III) and an APS-H (1D Mark II) sensor. The 5D Mark III has a resolution of 22.1 megapixels, whereas the 1D Mark II provides 8.2 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 5D Mark III   Canon 1D Mark II
Canon 5D Mark III Canon 1D Mark II
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
22.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor 8.2 MP, APS-H Sensor
1080/30p Video no Video
ISO 100-25600 (50-102400) ISO 100-1600 (50-3200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.2" LCD, 1040k dots 2.0" LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6 shutter flaps per second 8.3 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
950 shots per battery charge1200 shots per battery charge
152 x 116 x 76 mm, 950 g 156 x 158 x 80 mm, 1535 g

Body comparison: Canon 5D Mark III vs 1D Mark II

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon 1D Mark II is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Compare Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 1D Mark II
Compare 5D Mark III versus 1D Mark II top
Compare 5D Mark III or 1D Mark II rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 1D Mark II is notably larger (40 percent) than the Canon 5D Mark III. Moreover, the 1D Mark II is substantially heavier (62 percent) than the 5D Mark III. 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. A larger imaging sensor (as in the 5D Mark III) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (1D Mark II). You can compare the optics available in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the 5D Mark III gets 950 shots out of its LP-E6 battery, while the 1D Mark II can take 1200 images on a single charge of its NP-E3 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the 1D Mark II 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 5D Mark III, Canon provides the BG-E11 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons 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 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 1D Mark II« 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 54.1 oz 1200 Y Jan 2004 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« » 5.9 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 31.4 oz 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
Canon 5DS R« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
Canon 6D« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i Canon 6D
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 1D Mark II N« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.2 oz 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999- i Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 5D« » 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
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 1D« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.9 oz 500 Y Sep 2001 6,499- i Canon 1D
Nikon D610« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610
Nikon D600« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Sep 2012 2,099- i Nikon D600
Nikon D800« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz 900 Y Feb 2012 2,999- i Nikon D800
Nikon D800E« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz 900 Y Feb 2012 3,299- i Nikon D800E

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The 5D Mark III was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 22 percent) than the 1D Mark II, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon 5D Mark III vs 1D Mark II

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 5D Mark III features a full frame sensor and the Canon 1D Mark II an APS-H sensor. The sensor area in the 1D Mark II is 37 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.3. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

In terms of chip-set technology, the 5D Mark III uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 5+) than the 1D Mark II (DIGIC II), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 1D Mark II sensor measures

With 22.1MP, the 5D Mark III offers a higher resolution than the 1D Mark II (8.2MP), but the 5D Mark III has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.25μm versus 8.17μm for the 1D Mark II). However, the 5D Mark III is a somewhat more recent model (by 8 years and 1 month) than the 1D Mark II, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS-1D Mark II are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-3200..

5D Mark III versus 1D Mark II MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the 5D Mark III provides substantially higher image quality than the 1D Mark II, with an overall score that is 15 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.7 bits higher color depth, 0.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.2 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.

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 5D Mark III» Full Frame 22.1 5760 38401080/30p24.011.7229381Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 1D Mark II« APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.1100366Canon 1D Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« » Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.712.4238187Canon 5DS
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886Canon 5DS R
Canon 6D« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082Canon 6D
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 1D Mark II N« » APS-H 8.2 3504 2336-22.311.297566Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 5D« » Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912-22.911.1136871Canon 5D
Canon 1Ds Mark II« » Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328-23.311.3148074Canon 1Ds Mark II
Canon 1D« » APS-H 4.1 2496 1662-----Canon 1D
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594Nikon D610
Nikon D600« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.2298094Nikon D600
Nikon D800« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.314.4285395Nikon D800
Nikon D800E« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.614.3297996Nikon D800E

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The 5D Mark III indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the 1D Mark II does not. The highest resolution format that the 5D Mark III can use is 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Canon 5D Mark III vs 1D Mark II

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 5D Mark III and the 1D Mark II 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 5D Mark III, the Canon 1D Mark II, and comparable cameras.

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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon 5D Mark III»optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 6.0 n n Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 1D Mark II«optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 8000 8.3 n n Canon 1D Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 7.0 n n Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS R
Canon 6D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 4.5 n n Canon 6D
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 1D Mark II N« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 8.5 n n Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 5D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 3.0 n n Canon 5D
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »optical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 8000 4.0 n n Canon 1Ds Mark II
Canon 1D« »optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 16000 8.0 n n Canon 1D
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 6.0 Y n Nikon D610
Nikon D600« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 Y n Nikon D600
Nikon D800« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 4.0 Y n Nikon D800
Nikon D800E« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 4.0 Y n Nikon D800E

The 5D Mark III writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the 1D Mark II uses Compact Flash or SD cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

 

Connectivity comparison: Canon 5D Mark III vs 1D Mark II

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 5D Mark III and Canon EOS-1D Mark II 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 5D Mark III»YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 1D Mark II«Y-----1.1---Canon 1D Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0YY-Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS« »YmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS
Canon 5DS R« »YmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS R
Canon 6D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0Y--Canon 6D
Canon 5D Mark II« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »Y-----2.0---Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 1D Mark II N« »Y-----1.1---Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 5D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 5D
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »Y-----2.0---Canon 1Ds Mark II
Canon 1D« »Y-----FW---Canon 1D
Nikon D610« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D610
Nikon D600« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D600
Nikon D800« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Nikon D800
Nikon D800E« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Nikon D800E

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

Both the 5D Mark III and the 1D Mark II have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1D Mark II was replaced by the Canon 1D Mark II N, while the 5D Mark III was followed by the Canon 5D Mark IV.


Review summary: Canon 5D Mark III vs 1D Mark II

So what is the bottom line? Is the Canon 5D Mark III better than the Canon 1D Mark II or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5D Mark III:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (22.1 vs 8.2MP) with a 64% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (15 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.7 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.2 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 5+ vs DIGIC II).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (152x116mm vs 156x158mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 585g or 38 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (22 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 8 years and 1 month of technical progress since the 1D Mark II launch.


Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1D Mark II:

  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8.3 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1200 versus 950) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in January 2004).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 5D Mark III is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 4 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.

5D Mark III 14:04 1D Mark II

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 5D Mark III and the 1D Mark II 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: Canon 5D Mark III vs 1D Mark II

This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

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 5D Mark III»HiRec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2012 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 1D Mark II«-HiRec-rev- Jan 2004 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark II
Canon 5D Mark IV« »HiRec87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon 5DS« »Rec83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
Canon 5DS R« »Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
Canon 6D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i Canon 6D
Canon 5D Mark II« »91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 1Ds Mark III« »-HiRec4.5/5-- Aug 2007 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark III
Canon 1D Mark II N« »----- Aug 2005 3,999- i Canon 1D Mark II N
Canon 5D« »88/100HiRecrevrev- Aug 2005 3,299- i Canon 5D
Canon 1Ds Mark II« »-HiRec--- Sep 2004 7,999- i Canon 1Ds Mark II
Canon 1D« »-HiRec--- Sep 2001 6,499- i Canon 1D
Nikon D610« »HiRec87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610
Nikon D600« »HiRec87/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099- i Nikon D600
Nikon D800« »HiRec82/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2012 2,999- i Nikon D800
Nikon D800E« »-84/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2012 3,299- i Nikon D800E

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon 5D Mark III:
Check Ebay offers
Canon 1D Mark II:
Check Ebay offers

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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Canon 5D Mark III vs Canon 1D Mark II

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 5D Mark III Canon 1D Mark II
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date March 2012 January 2004
    Launch Price USD 3499 USD 4499
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor APS-H Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 28.7 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 548.17 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 34.5 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.3x
    Sensor Resolution 22.1 Megapixels 8.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5760 x 3840 pixels 3504 x 2336 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.25 μm 8.17 μm
    Pixel Density 2.56 MP/cm2 1.49 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100-25600 ISO 100-1600 ISO
    ISO Boost 50-102400 ISO 50-3200 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 5+ DIGIC II
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 81 66
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 24.0 22.3
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.7 11.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 2293 1003
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.71x 0.55x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View n/a
    Rear LCD Size 3.2 inch 2.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/8000s 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 6 shutter flaps/s 8.3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or SD cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 1.1
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Headphone Socket Headphone port no Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type LP-E6 power pack NP-E3 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)950 shots per charge1200 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 152 x 116 x 76 mm
    (6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
    156 x 158 x 80 mm
    (6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 950 g (33.5 oz) 1535 g (54.1 oz)

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