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Canon G12 vs Panasonic G3

The Canon PowerShot G12 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2010 and May 2011. The G12 is a fixed lens compact, while the G3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/1.7-inch (G12) and a Four Thirds (G3) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 15.8 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon G12
versus
Panasonic G3
Canon G12   Panasonic G3
Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
28-140mm f/2.8-4.5 Micro Four Thirds lenses
10 MP, 1/1.7" Sensor 15.8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
720/24p Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 80-3,200 (80 - 12,800) ISO 160-6,400
Optical viewfinder Electronic viewfinder (1440k dots)
2.8 LCD, 461k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel touchscreen
1.1 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
370 shots per battery charge270 shots per battery charge
112 x 76 x 48 mm, 401 g 115 x 84 x 47 mm, 336 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot G12 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3? 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 physical size and weight of the Canon G12 and the Panasonic G3 are illustrated 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The G3 can be obtained in four different colors (black, brown, red, white), while the G12 is only available in black.

Size Canon G12 vs Panasonic G3
Compare G12 versus G3 top
Comparison G12 or G3 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic G3 is notably larger (13 percent) than the Canon G12. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the G12 nor the G3 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the G12 has a lens built in, whereas the G3 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the G3 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the G12 gets 370 shots out of its NB-7L battery, while the G3 can take 270 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLD10 power pack.

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 G12 112 mm 76 mm 48 mm 401 g 370 n Sep 2010 499 i
2.
 
Panasonic G3 115 mm 84 mm 47 mm 336 g 270 n May 2011 599 i
3.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
4.
 
Canon G15 107 mm 76 mm 40 mm 352 g 350 n Sep 2012 499 i
5.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429 i
6.
 
Fujifilm X10 117 mm 70 mm 57 mm 350 g 270 n Sep 2011 599 i
7.
 
Nikon P7800 119 mm 78 mm 50 mm 399 g 350 n Sep 2013 549 i
8.
 
Olympus E-450 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2009 499 i
9.
 
Panasonic G6 122 mm 85 mm 71 mm 390 g 340 n Apr 2013 599 i
10.
 
Panasonic G5 120 mm 83 mm 71 mm 396 g 320 n Jul 2012 599 i
11.
 
Panasonic FZ150 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 528 g 410 n Aug 2011 499 i
12.
 
Panasonic GX1 116 mm 68 mm 39 mm 318 g 320 n Nov 2011 699 i
13.
 
Panasonic G10 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 388 g 380 n Mar 2010 499 i
14.
 
Panasonic G2 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 428 g 360 n Mar 2010 599 i
15.
 
Panasonic GH2 124 mm 90 mm 76 mm 442 g 330 n Sep 2010 899 i
16.
 
Panasonic LX5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Jul 2010 499 i
Notes: 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 G12 was launched at a lower price than the G3, despite having a lens built in. 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 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon G12 features a 1/1.7-inch sensor and the Panasonic G3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the G3 is 423 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.6 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Canon G12 and Panasonic G3 sensor measures

With 15.8MP, the G3 offers a higher resolution than the G12 (10MP), but the G3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.77μm versus 2.07μm for the G12) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the G3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 months) than the G12, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The resolution advantage of the Panasonic G3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the G3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.2 inches or 58.3 x 43.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.7 x 35 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.3 x 11.5 inches or 38.9 x 29.2 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon G12 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon PowerShot G12 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 80-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 are ISO 160 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

G12 versus G3 MP

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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the G3 has a markedly higher DXO score than the G12 (overall score 9 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 0.6 EV of lower dynamic range, and 2.1 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.

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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 G12 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/24p20.411.2161 47
2.
 
Panasonic G3 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i21.010.6667 56
3.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.7230 54
4.
 
Canon G15 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/24p19.911.5165 46
5.
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.2179 47
6.
 
Fujifilm X10 2/3 12.0 4000 30001080/30p20.511.3245 50
7.
 
Nikon P7800 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/30p21.211.7200 54
8.
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.5512 56
9.
 
Panasonic G6 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.5639 61
10.
 
Panasonic G5 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p...... ..
11.
 
Panasonic FZ150 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.410.9132 40
12.
 
Panasonic GX1 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p20.810.6703 55
13.
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.1411 52
14.
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.3493 53
15.
 
Panasonic GH2 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60i21.211.3655 60
16.
 
Panasonic LX5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.610.8132 41

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the G3 provides a better video resolution than the G12. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Canon is limited to 720/24p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the G3 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), while the G12 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon G12, the Panasonic G3, and comparable cameras.

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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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon G12optical n 2.8 461 swivel n 1/4000s 1.1 Y Y
2.
 
Panasonic G31440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon G16optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y
4.
 
Canon G15optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.1 Y Y
5.
 
Canon SX50202 n 3.0 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2 Y Y
6.
 
Fujifilm X10optical n 2.8 460 fixed n 1/4000s 10.0 Y Y
7.
 
Nikon P7800921 n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
8.
 
Olympus E-450optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
9.
 
Panasonic G61440 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 1/4000s 7.0 Y n
10.
 
Panasonic G51440 n 3.0 920 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
11.
 
Panasonic FZ150202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0 Y Y
12.
 
Panasonic GX1optional n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.2 Y n
13.
 
Panasonic G10202 n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
14.
 
Panasonic G21440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6 Y n
15.
 
Panasonic GH21534 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
16.
 
Panasonic LX5optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y Y

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The G3 has a touchscreen, while the G12 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The G3 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the G12 does not have a selfie-screen.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the G12 and the G3 write their files to SDXC 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 PowerShot G12 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 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
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon G12Ystereomono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Panasonic G3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon G16Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
4.
 
Canon G15Ystereomono--mini2.0---
5.
 
Canon SX50Ystereomono--mini2.0---
6.
 
Fujifilm X10Ystereomono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Nikon P7800YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
8.
 
Olympus E-450Y-----2.0---
9.
 
Panasonic G6YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
10.
 
Panasonic G5Ystereomono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Panasonic FZ150Ystereo---mini2.0---
12.
 
Panasonic GX1Ystereomono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Panasonic G10Ymono---mini2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic G2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic GH2YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic LX5Ymonomono--mini2.0---

Both the G12 and the G3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The G12 was replaced by the Canon G15, while the G3 was followed by the Panasonic G5. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Panasonic websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon G12 and the Panasonic G3? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon PowerShot G12:

  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the G3 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (112x76mm vs 115x84mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (370 versus 270) on a single battery charge.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2010).

ilogo

Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (15.8 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 26%.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (9 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.1 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60i vs 720/24p).
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.8") for image review and settings control.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 1.1 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (7 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the G3 emerges as the winner of the match-up (11 : 8 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

G12 08:11 G3

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon G12 and the Panasonic G3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the G12 and the G3 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon G124/5+73/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2010 499 i
2.
 
Panasonic G33/5+ +75/1004.5/55/5 May 2011 599 i
3.
 
Canon G164/5+..4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
4.
 
Canon G154/5+76/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499 i
5.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429 i
6.
 
Fujifilm X10....76/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2011 599 i
7.
 
Nikon P78003/5....4/54.5/5 Sep 2013 549 i
8.
 
Olympus E-450......4/54/5 Mar 2009 499 i
9.
 
Panasonic G64/5+ +..5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 599 i
10.
 
Panasonic G53/5+ +..4.5/54.5/5 Jul 2012 599 i
11.
 
Panasonic FZ1503/5+ +76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2011 499 i
12.
 
Panasonic GX13/5+77/1004.5/54.5/5 Nov 2011 699 i
13.
 
Panasonic G103/5..70/1004/54/5 Mar 2010 499 i
14.
 
Panasonic G2....72/1004/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599 i
15.
 
Panasonic GH25/5+ +79/1004.5/55/5 Sep 2010 899 i
16.
 
Panasonic LX54/5+73/1004.5/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499 i
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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon G12:
Check Ebay offers
Panasonic G3:
Check Ebay offers

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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon G12 vs Panasonic G3

    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 G12 Panasonic G3
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens 28-140mm f/2.8-4.5 Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2010 May 2011
    Launch Price USD 499 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Canon G12 Panasonic G3
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/1.7" Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 7.6 x 5.7 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 43.32 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 9.5 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 4.6x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 10 Megapixels 15.8 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3648 x 2736 pixels 4592 x 3448 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 2.07 μm 3.77 μm
    Pixel Density 23.04 MP/cm2 7.04 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/24p Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 3,200 ISO 160 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost 80 - 12,800 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 Venus FHD
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 47 56
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.4 21.0
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.2 10.6
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 161 667
    Screen Specs Canon G12 Panasonic G3
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.70x
    Viewfinder Resolution 1440k dots
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.8inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 461k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Swivel screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon G12 Panasonic G3
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1.1 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon G12 Panasonic G3
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon G12 Panasonic G3
    Battery Type NB-7L DMW-BLD10
    Battery Life (CIPA)370 shots per charge270 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 112 x 76 x 48 mm
    (4.4 x 3.0 x 1.9 in)
    115 x 84 x 47 mm
    (4.5 x 3.3 x 1.9 in)
    Camera Weight 401 g (14.1 oz) 336 g (11.9 oz)

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