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Canon SX400 vs Nikon D3500

The Canon PowerShot SX400 IS and the Nikon D3500 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2014 and August 2018. The SX400 is a fixed lens compact, while the D3500 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (SX400) and an APS-C (D3500) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.9 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon SX400 versus Nikon D3500
Canon SX400 Nikon D3500
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 Nikon F mount lenses
15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor 24 MP, APS-C Sensor
720/30p Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 100-25,600
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
0.8 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
190 shots per battery charge1550 shots per battery charge
104 x 69 x 80 mm, 313 g 124 x 97 x 70 mm, 365 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot SX400 IS and the Nikon D3500? 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 SX400 and the Nikon D3500 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon SX400 vs Nikon D3500
Compare SX400 versus D3500 top
Comparison SX400 or D3500 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3500 is considerably larger (68 percent) than the Canon SX400. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SX400 nor the D3500 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX400 has a lens built in, whereas the D3500 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 D3500 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the SX400 gets 190 shots out of its NB-11LH battery, while the D3500 can take 1550 images on a single charge of its EN-EL14a power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras 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 SX400 104 mm 69 mm 80 mm 313 g 190 n Jul 2014 249i
2.
 
Nikon D3500 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 365 g 1550 n Aug 2018 429 i
3.
 
Canon M100 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 302 g 295 n Aug 2017 499i
4.
 
Canon SX420 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 195 n Jan 2016 299i
5.
 
Canon SX410 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 185 n Feb 2015 279i
6.
 
Canon SX530 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 210 n Jan 2015 429i
7.
 
Canon SX610 105 mm 61 mm 27 mm 191 g 270 n Jan 2015 249i
8.
 
Canon SX710 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 230 n Jan 2015 349i
9.
 
Canon SX700 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 250 n Feb 2014 349i
10.
 
Canon SX600 104 mm 61 mm 26 mm 188 g 290 n Jan 2014 249i
11.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549i
12.
 
Canon SX510 104 mm 70 mm 80 mm 349 g 250 n Aug 2013 249i
13.
 
Fujifilm X-A7 119 mm 68 mm 41 mm 320 g 440 n Sep 2019 499 i
14.
 
Fujifilm X-E3 121 mm 74 mm 43 mm 337 g 350 n Sep 2017 899 i
15.
 
Nikon D3400 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 n Aug 2016 499i
16.
 
Nikon L840 113 mm 78 mm 96 mm 538 g 590 n Feb 2015 299i
17.
 
Nikon D3300 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 430 g 700 n Jan 2014 499i
Notes: 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 SX400 was launched at a lower price than the D3500, despite having a lens built in. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.

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Sensor comparison

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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 SX400 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Nikon D3500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D3500 is 1211 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.5. The sensor in the SX400 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D3500 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Canon SX400 and Nikon D3500 sensor measures

With 24MP, the D3500 offers a higher resolution than the SX400 (15.9MP), but the D3500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 1.33μm for the SX400) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D3500 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 1 month) than the SX400, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3500 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon SX400 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon PowerShot SX400 IS has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3500 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).

SX400 versus D3500 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-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 SX400 1/2.3 15.9 4608 3456720/30p........
2.
 
Nikon D3500 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p........
3.
 
Canon M100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.512.9127278
4.
 
Canon SX420 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p........
5.
 
Canon SX410 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/30p........
6.
 
Canon SX530 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
7.
 
Canon SX610 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/30p........
8.
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
9.
 
Canon SX700 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p........
10.
 
Canon SX600 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
11.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
12.
 
Canon SX510 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/24p........
13.
 
Fujifilm X-A7 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p........
14.
 
Fujifilm X-E3 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p........
15.
 
Nikon D3400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
16.
 
Nikon L840 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60i........
17.
 
Nikon D3300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the D3500 provides a better video resolution than the SX400. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 720/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the D3500 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the SX400 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon SX400 and Nikon D3500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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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 SX400none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/1600s 0.8 Y Y
2.
 
Nikon D3500optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon M100none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.1 Y n
4.
 
Canon SX420none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
5.
 
Canon SX410none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
6.
 
Canon SX530none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6 Y Y
7.
 
Canon SX610none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/2000s 2.5 Y Y
8.
 
Canon SX710none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0 Y Y
9.
 
Canon SX700none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 8.5 Y Y
10.
 
Canon SX600none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/2000s 3.9 Y Y
11.
 
Canon SX60922 n 3.0 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4 Y Y
12.
 
Canon SX510none n 3.0 461 fixed n 1/1600s 3.8 Y Y
13.
 
Fujifilm X-A7none n 3.5 2760 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
14.
 
Fujifilm X-E32360 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 8.0 n n
15.
 
Nikon D3400optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
16.
 
Nikon L840none n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/4000s 7.4 Y Y
17.
 
Nikon D3300optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SX400 and the D3500 write their files to SDXC cards. The D3500 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the SX400 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.

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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 SX400 IS and Nikon D3500 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 SX400-stereomono---2.0---
2.
 
Nikon D3500Ymonomono--mini2.0--Y
3.
 
Canon M100-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
4.
 
Canon SX420-monomono---2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon SX410-stereomono---2.0---
6.
 
Canon SX530-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon SX610-----micro2.0YY-
8.
 
Canon SX710-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
9.
 
Canon SX700-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
10.
 
Canon SX600-monomono--micro2.0YY-
11.
 
Canon SX60YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
12.
 
Canon SX510-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
13.
 
Fujifilm X-A7YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y-Y
14.
 
Fujifilm X-E3YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y-Y
15.
 
Nikon D3400Ymonomono--mini2.0--Y
16.
 
Nikon L840-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
17.
 
Nikon D3300YmonomonoY-mini2.0---

It is notable that the D3500 has a hotshoe, which makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun. The SX400 does not feature such an accessory-socket.

The D3500 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the SX400 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the SX400 was succeeded by the Canon SX410. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon SX400 better than the Nikon D3500 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX400 IS:

  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D3500 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (104x69mm vs 124x97mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D3500).
  • 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 available for much longer (launched in July 2014).

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3500:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 15.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 25%.
  • Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced 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.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/60p vs 720/30p).
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/1600s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 0.8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1550 versus 190) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 1 month of technical progress since the SX400 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3500 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 6 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 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.

SX400 06:16 D3500

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SX400 and the Nikon D3500 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SX400 or the D3500 perform in practice. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. 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 SX400..+...... Jul 2014 249i
2.
 
Nikon D3500....75/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2018 429 i
3.
 
Canon M1003/5+..4/53.5/5 Aug 2017 499i
4.
 
Canon SX420........3/5 Jan 2016 299i
5.
 
Canon SX410..o...... Feb 2015 279i
6.
 
Canon SX530..+ +..4/54/5 Jan 2015 429i
7.
 
Canon SX610......4/54/5 Jan 2015 249i
8.
 
Canon SX710..+..4/53.5/5 Jan 2015 349i
9.
 
Canon SX700..+ +..4/54/5 Feb 2014 349i
10.
 
Canon SX600..+..4/54/5 Jan 2014 249i
11.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549i
12.
 
Canon SX510..+ +..4.5/54/5 Aug 2013 249i
13.
 
Fujifilm X-A73/5..81/1004/53.5/5 Sep 2019 499 i
14.
 
Fujifilm X-E34.5/5+84/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2017 899 i
15.
 
Nikon D34004/5+76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499i
16.
 
Nikon L840..+ +..3.5/54/5 Feb 2015 299i
17.
 
Nikon D33003/5+77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon SX400:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D3500:
Check Amazon price

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 SX400 vs Nikon D3500

    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 SX400 Nikon D3500
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 24-720mm f/3.4-5.8 Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date July 2014 August 2018
    Launch Price USD 249 USD 429
    Sensor Specs Canon SX400 Nikon D3500
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format 1/2.3" Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 6.17 x 4.55 mm 23.5 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 28.0735 mm2 366.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 7.7 mm 28.2 mm
    Crop Factor 5.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 15.9 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3456 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 1.33 μm 3.91 μm
    Pixel Density 56.73 MP/cm2 6.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 720/30p Video 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 4+ EXPEED 4
    Screen Specs Canon SX400 Nikon D3500
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.57x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon SX400 Nikon D3500
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 0.8 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Canon SX400 Nikon D3500
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Bluetooth Support no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Canon SX400 Nikon D3500
    Battery Type NB-11LH EN-EL14a
    Battery Life (CIPA)190 shots per charge1550 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 104 x 69 x 80 mm
    (4.1 x 2.7 x 3.1 in)
    124 x 97 x 70 mm
    (4.9 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
    Camera Weight 313 g (11.0 oz) 365 g (12.9 oz)

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