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Canon T3i vs Contax N Digital

The Canon EOS Rebel T3i (called Canon 600D in some regions) and the Contax N Digital are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2011 and February 2002. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (T3i) and a full frame (N Digital) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Contax provides 6.1 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon T3i
versus
Contax N Digital
Canon T3i   Contax N Digital
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Contax N mount lenses
17.9 MP, APS-C Sensor 6.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/30p Video no Video
ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 12,800) ISO 50-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 1040k dots 2.0 LCD, 200k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3.7 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
440 shots per battery charge100 shots per battery charge
133 x 100 x 80 mm, 570 g 152 x 138 x 80 mm, 990 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Rebel T3i and the Contax N Digital? 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 T3i and the Contax N Digital. 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 T3i vs Contax N Digital
Compare T3i versus N Digital top
Comparison T3i or N Digital rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Contax N Digital is considerably larger (58 percent) than the Canon T3i. Moreover, the N Digital is substantially heavier (74 percent) than the T3i. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the T3i nor the N Digital 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

As can be seen in the images above, the N Digital 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 T3i, Canon provides the BG-E8 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 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 T3i 133 mm 100 mm 80 mm 570 g 440 n Feb 2011 599i
2.
 
Contax N Digital 152 mm 138 mm 80 mm 990 g 100 n Feb 2002 7,399i
3.
 
Canon SL2 122 mm 93 mm 70 mm 453 g 650 n Jun 2017 549i
4.
 
Canon T6s 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 565 g 440 n Feb 2015 649i
5.
 
Canon T5 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 480 g 500 n Feb 2014 449i
6.
 
Canon SL1 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 n Mar 2013 549i
7.
 
Canon T5i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649i
8.
 
Canon M 109 mm 66 mm 32 mm 298 g 230 n Jul 2012 599i
9.
 
Canon T4i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
10.
 
Canon T3 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
11.
 
Canon T2i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699i
12.
 
Canon T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
13.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
14.
 
Canon 300D 142 mm 99 mm 72 mm 649 g 400 n Aug 2003 899i
15.
 
Canon D60 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 855 g 620 n Feb 2002 2,999i
16.
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
17.
 
Nikon D1X 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999i
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 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 T3i was launched at a markedly lower price (by 92 percent) than the N Digital, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

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. 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 T3i features an APS-C sensor and the Contax N Digital a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the N Digital is 160 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon T3i and Contax N Digital sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon T3i offers a higher resolution of 17.9 megapixels, compared with 6.1 MP of the Contax N Digital. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 11.90μm for the N Digital). However, it should be noted that the T3i is much more recent (by 8 years and 11 months) than the N Digital, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

The resolution advantage of the Canon T3i implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the T3i for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Contax N Digital are 15.2 x 10 inches or 38.6 x 25.5 cm for good quality, 12.2 x 8 inches or 30.9 x 20.4 cm for very good quality, and 10.1 x 6.7 inches or 25.7 x 17 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS Rebel T3i 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 Contax N Digital are ISO 50 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

T3i versus N Digital 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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 T3i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.579365
2.
 
Contax N Digital Full Frame 6.1 3040 2008none21.510.5128359
3.
 
Canon SL2 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.4104179
4.
 
Canon T6s APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
5.
 
Canon T5 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.911.372463
6.
 
Canon SL1 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363
7.
 
Canon T5i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
8.
 
Canon M APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.282765
9.
 
Canon T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
10.
 
Canon T3 APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
11.
 
Canon T2i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
12.
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
13.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
14.
 
Canon 300D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
15.
 
Canon D60 APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none20.39.830147
16.
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.49.939448
17.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The T3i indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the N Digital does not. The highest resolution format that the T3i can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The T3i and the N Digital 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 N Digital has a higher magnification than the one of the T3i (0.73x vs 0.53x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon T3i, the Contax N Digital, and comparable cameras.

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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 T3ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
2.
 
Contax N Digitaloptical Y2.0 / 200 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
3.
 
Canon SL2optical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon T6soptical Y3.0 / 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 SL1optical n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.9 Y n
7.
 
Canon T5ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
8.
 
Canon Mnone n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.3 n n
9.
 
Canon T4ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
10.
 
Canon T3optical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
11.
 
Canon T2ioptical n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
12.
 
Canon T1ioptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
13.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Canon 300Doptical n1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
15.
 
Canon D60optical Y1.8 / 114 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
16.
 
Nikon D100optical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
17.
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y2.0 / 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The T3i has one, while the N Digital does not. While the built-in flash of the T3i is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The T3i has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the N Digital does not have a selfie-screen.

The T3i writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the N Digital uses Compact Flash 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 T3i and Contax N Digital 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 T3iYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
2.
 
Contax N DigitalY- / ----FW---
3.
 
Canon SL2Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YYY
4.
 
Canon T6sYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon T5Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon SL1Ymono / monoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon T5iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon MYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon T4iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon T3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Canon T2iYstereo / -Y-mini2.0---
12.
 
Canon T1iYmono / mono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Canon 10DY- / ----1.1---
14.
 
Canon 300DY- / ----1.1---
15.
 
Canon D60Y- / ----1.1---
16.
 
Nikon D100Y- / ----1.1---
17.
 
Nikon D1XY- / ----FW---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Contax N Digital (unlike the T3i) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the T3i and the N Digital have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The T3i was replaced by the Canon T4i, while the N Digital does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Contax websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon T3i or the Contax N Digital – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel T3i:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 6.1MP) with a 71% higher linear resolution.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 200k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • More compact: Is smaller (133x100mm vs 152x138mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 420g or 42 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (440 versus 100) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (92 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 8 years and 11 months of technical progress since the N Digital launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Contax N Digital:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.53x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2002).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the T3i is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 6 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. 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.

T3i 12:06 N Digital

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon T3i and the Contax N Digital 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 remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the T3i or the N Digital. 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 expert reviews 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 T3i3/5o..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2011 599i
2.
 
Contax N Digital............ Feb 2002 7,399i
3.
 
Canon SL24/5+ +4/578/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2017 549i
4.
 
Canon T6s5/5+..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
5.
 
Canon T53/5+....4/54.5/5 Feb 2014 449i
6.
 
Canon SL14/5+..78/1004/54/5 Mar 2013 549i
7.
 
Canon T5i......76/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649i
8.
 
Canon M3/5+....4/54/5 Jul 2012 599i
9.
 
Canon T4i4/5+ +..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
10.
 
Canon T3..80/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
11.
 
Canon T2i..+ +..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
12.
 
Canon T1i..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
13.
 
Canon 10D......+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
14.
 
Canon 300D......+ +.... Aug 2003 899i
15.
 
Canon D60......+ +o.. Feb 2002 2,999i
16.
 
Nikon D100......+ +o.. Feb 2002 1,999i
17.
 
Nikon D1X......+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon T3i:
Check Ebay offers
Contax N Digital:
Check Ebay offers

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

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    Specifications: Canon T3i vs Contax N Digital

    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 T3i Contax N Digital
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Contax N mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2011 February 2002
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 7,399
    Sensor Specs Canon T3i Contax N Digital
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 17.9 Megapixels 6.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3456 pixels 3040 x 2008 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.31 μm 11.90 μm
    Pixel Density 5.39 MP/cm2 0.71 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 6,400 ISO 50 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 12,800 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 65 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.5 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 793 ..
    Screen Specs Canon T3i Contax N Digital
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x 0.73x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 200k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon T3i Contax N Digital
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3.7 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon T3i Contax N Digital
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash no PC Sync PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 Firewire
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon T3i Contax N Digital
    Battery Type LP-E8 4xAA
    Battery Life (CIPA)440 shots per charge100 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 133 x 100 x 80 mm
    (5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
    152 x 138 x 80 mm
    (6.0 x 5.4 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 570 g (20.1 oz) 990 g (34.9 oz)

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