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Canon T1i vs Sony NEX-3N

The Canon EOS Rebel T1i (called Canon 500D in some regions) and the Sony Alpha NEX-3N are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2009 and February 2013. The T1i is a DSLR, while the NEX-3N is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 16 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon T1i
versus
Sony NEX-3N
Canon T1i   Sony NEX-3N
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Canon EF mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
15.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 16 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/20p Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 12,800) ISO 200-16,000
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
3.0 LCD, 920k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.4 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
400 shots per battery charge480 shots per battery charge
129 x 98 x 62 mm, 520 g 110 x 62 x 35 mm, 269 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Rebel T1i and the Sony Alpha NEX-3N? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon T1i and the Sony NEX-3N. 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 NEX-3N can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the T1i is only available in black.

Size Canon T1i vs Sony NEX-3N
Compare T1i versus NEX-3N top
Comparison T1i or NEX-3N rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-3N is considerably smaller (46 percent) than the Canon T1i. Moreover, the NEX-3N is substantially lighter (48 percent) than the T1i. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the T1i nor the NEX-3N 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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (T1i) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-3N). Mirrorless cameras, such as the NEX-3N, 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.

Concerning battery life, the T1i gets 400 shots out of its LP-E5 battery, while the NEX-3N can take 480 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack.

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.

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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 T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
2.
 
Sony NEX-3N 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 n Feb 2013 499i
3.
 
Canon T100 129 mm 102 mm 77 mm 436 g 500 n Feb 2018 399 i
4.
 
Canon T6i 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 555 g 440 n Feb 2015 749i
5.
 
Canon T5 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449i
6.
 
Canon T5i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649i
7.
 
Canon T4i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
8.
 
Canon T3i 133 mm 100 mm 80 mm 570 g 440 n Feb 2011 599i
9.
 
Canon T2i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699i
10.
 
Canon XSi 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799i
11.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
12.
 
Canon XT 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899i
13.
 
Sony A5000 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 269 g 420 n Jan 2014 449i
14.
 
Sony A5100 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 283 g 400 n Aug 2014 549 i
15.
 
Sony NEX-F3 117 mm 67 mm 42 mm 314 g 470 n May 2012 599i
16.
 
Sony NEX-3 117 mm 62 mm 33 mm 297 g 330 n May 2010 599i
17.
 
Sony NEX-5 111 mm 59 mm 38 mm 287 g 330 n May 2010 699i
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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The NEX-3N was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the T1i, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the NEX-3N is 10 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (T1i) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Canon T1i and Sony NEX-3N sensor measures

With 16MP, the NEX-3N offers a higher resolution than the T1i (15.1MP), but the NEX-3N nevertheless has marginally larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 4.69μm for the T1i) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the NEX-3N is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 10 months) than the T1i, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The Canon EOS Rebel T1i 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 Sony Alpha NEX-3N are ISO 200 to ISO 16000 (no boost).

T1i versus NEX-3N MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the NEX-3N offers substantially better image quality than the T1i (overall score 11 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.1 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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 T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
2.
 
Sony NEX-3N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774
3.
 
Canon T100 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.469563
4.
 
Canon T6i APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
5.
 
Canon T5 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
6.
 
Canon T5i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
7.
 
Canon T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
8.
 
Canon T3i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.579365
9.
 
Canon T2i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
10.
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
11.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
12.
 
Canon XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
13.
 
Sony A5000 APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.813.0108979
14.
 
Sony A5100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780
15.
 
Sony NEX-F3 APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.712.3111473
16.
 
Sony NEX-3 APS-C 14.0 4592 3056720/30p22.112.083068
17.
 
Sony NEX-5 APS-C 14.0 4592 30561080/60i22.212.279669

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the NEX-3N provides a faster frame rate than the T1i. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Canon is limited to 1080/20p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the T1i has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-3N relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-3N can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-SV1. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon T1i and Sony NEX-3N 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
Specifications
(inch/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 T1ioptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
2.
 
Sony NEX-3Noptional n3.0 / 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon T100optical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon T6ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon T5optical n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon T5ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
7.
 
Canon T4ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
8.
 
Canon T3ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
9.
 
Canon T2ioptical n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
10.
 
Canon XSioptical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
11.
 
Canon XTioptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Canon XToptical n1.8 / 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Sony A5000none n3.0 / 461 tilting n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
14.
 
Sony A5100none n3.0 / 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
15.
 
Sony NEX-F3optional n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 Y n
16.
 
Sony NEX-3optional n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n
17.
 
Sony NEX-5optional n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n
The NEX-3N 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 T1i does not have a selfie-screen.

The T1i writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the NEX-3N uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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 EOS Rebel T1i and Sony Alpha NEX-3N 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon T1iYmono / mono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Sony NEX-3N-stereo / mono--micro2.0---
3.
 
Canon T100Ymono / mono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon T6iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon T5Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon T5iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon T4iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon T3iYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon T2iYstereo / -Y-mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon XSiY- / ---mini2.0---
11.
 
Canon XTiY- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Canon XTY- / ----2.0---
13.
 
Sony A5000-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
14.
 
Sony A5100-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
15.
 
Sony NEX-F3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Sony NEX-3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Sony NEX-5Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---

It is notable that the T1i has a hotshoe, while the NEX-3N does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.

Both the T1i and the NEX-3N have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The T1i was replaced by the Canon T2i, while the NEX-3N was followed by the Sony A5000. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Sony websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon T1i better than the Sony NEX-3N or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS Rebel T1i:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 460k dots).
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2009).

ilogo

Advantages of the Sony Alpha NEX-3N:

  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/20p).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3.4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (110x62mm vs 129x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 251g or 48 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (480 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 10 months of technical progress since the T1i launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-3N is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 4 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 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.

T1i 04:14 NEX-3N

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon T1i and the Sony NEX-3N 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 comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the T1i or the NEX-3N. 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], 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon T1i..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
2.
 
Sony NEX-3N3/5......4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499i
3.
 
Canon T100..o3/5..3.5/53.5/5 Feb 2018 399 i
4.
 
Canon T6i5/5....75/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749i
5.
 
Canon T53/5+....4/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449i
6.
 
Canon T5i......76/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649i
7.
 
Canon T4i4/5+ +..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
8.
 
Canon T3i3/5o..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2011 599i
9.
 
Canon T2i..+ +..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
10.
 
Canon XSi..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
11.
 
Canon XTi..+ +..+ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
12.
 
Canon XT..80/100..+ +o.. Feb 2005 899i
13.
 
Sony A50003/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 449i
14.
 
Sony A51004.5/5+....4.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i
15.
 
Sony NEX-F34/5....74/1004.5/54.5/5 May 2012 599i
16.
 
Sony NEX-3......70/1004.5/54/5 May 2010 599i
17.
 
Sony NEX-53/5+ +..71/1004.5/54/5 May 2010 699i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon T1i:
Check Ebay offers
Sony NEX-3N:
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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon T1i vs Sony NEX-3N

    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 T1i Sony NEX-3N
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Sony E mount lenses
    Launch Date March 2009 February 2013
    Launch Price USD 799 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Canon T1i Sony NEX-3N
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 23.4 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 365.04 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 28.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 15.1 Megapixels 16 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4752 x 3168 pixels 4912 x 3264 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.69 μm 4.78 μm
    Pixel Density 4.53 MP/cm2 4.39 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/20p Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 6,400 ISO 200 - 16,000 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 12,800 ISO no Enhancement
    Image Processor DIGIC 4 BIONZ
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 63 74
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.7 22.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.5 12.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 663 1067
    Screen Specs Canon T1i Sony NEX-3N
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.54x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Canon T1i Sony NEX-3N
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 3.4 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon T1i Sony NEX-3N
    External Flash Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon T1i Sony NEX-3N
    Battery Type LP-E5 NP-FW50
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge480 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 129 x 98 x 62 mm
    (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
    110 x 62 x 35 mm
    (4.3 x 2.4 x 1.4 in)
    Camera Weight 520 g (18.3 oz) 269 g (9.5 oz)

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