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Leica M10-R vs S3

The Leica M10-R and the Leica S3 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2020 and September 2018. The M10-R is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless camera, while the S3 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a full frame (M10-R) and a medium format (S3) sensor. The M10-R has a resolution of 40.9 megapixels, whereas the S3 provides 64 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Leica M10-R
versus
Leica S3
Leica M10-R   Leica S3
Rangefinder camera Digital single lens reflex
Leica M mount lenses Leica S mount lenses
40.9 MP, Full Frame Sensor 64 MP, Medium Format Sensor
no Video 4K/24p Video
ISO 100-50,000 ISO 100-50,000
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 1037k dots 3.0 LCD, 922k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
4.5 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
139 x 80 x 39 mm, 660 g 160 x 120 x 80 mm, 1260 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica M10-R and the Leica S3? 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica M10-R and the Leica S3 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The M10-R can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the S3 is only available in black.

Size Leica M10-R vs Leica S3
Compare M10-R versus S3 top
Comparison M10-R or S3 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica S3 is considerably larger (73 percent) than the Leica M10-R. Moreover, the S3 is substantially heavier (91 percent) than the M10-R. 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. 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.

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.
 
Leica M10-R 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jul 2020 8,295 i
2.
 
Leica S3 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2018 18,995 i
3.
 
Hasselblad X1D II 148 mm 97 mm 70 mm 766 g .. Y Jun 2019 5,750 i
4.
 
Hasselblad X1D 150 mm 98 mm 71 mm 725 g .. Y Jun 2016 8,995i
5.
 
Leica Q2 130 mm 80 mm 92 mm 718 g 370 Y Mar 2019 4,995 i
6.
 
Leica M-E Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Jun 2019 3,999 i
7.
 
Leica M10-P 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Aug 2018 7,995 i
8.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
9.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113 140 mm 79 mm 88 mm 635 g 450 Y Jan 2016 2,950i
10.
 
Leica M Typ 262 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Nov 2015 5,195i
11.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2014 16,900i
12.
 
Leica S Typ 007 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2014 24,490i
13.
 
Leica M Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Sep 2012 6,950i
14.
 
Leica S Typ 006 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2012 21,950i
15.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
16.
 
Leica S2 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1410 g .. Y Sep 2008 22,995i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The M10-R was launched at a markedly lower price (by 56 percent) than the S3, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.

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 Leica M10-R features a full frame sensor and the Leica S3 a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the S3 is 58 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 0.8. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica M10-R and Leica S3 sensor measures

With 64MP, the S3 offers a higher resolution than the M10-R (40.9MP), but the S3 nevertheless has marginally larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.59μm versus 4.57μm for the M10-R) due to its larger sensor. However, the M10-R is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 9 months) than the S3, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that 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 Leica S3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 49 x 32.7 inches or 124.5 x 83 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 39.2 x 26.1 inches or 99.6 x 66.4 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 32.7 x 21.8 inches or 83 x 55.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica M10-R are 39.3 x 26 inches or 99.9 x 66 cm for good quality, 31.5 x 20.8 inches or 79.9 x 52.8 cm for very good quality, and 26.2 x 17.3 inches or 66.6 x 44 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Leica M10-R has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 50000. The Leica S3 offers exactly the same ISO settings.

M10-R versus S3 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). 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.
 
Leica M10-R Full Frame 40.9 7864 5200none25.314.3292495
2.
 
Leica S3 Medium Format 64.0 9800 65334K/24p25.614.4314398
3.
 
Hasselblad X1D II Medium Format 51.3 8272 6200none25.714.5323499
4.
 
Hasselblad X1D Medium Format 51.3 8272 62001080/25p26.214.84489102
5.
 
Leica Q2 Full Frame 46.7 8368 55844K/30p26.413.5249196
6.
 
Leica M-E Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p25.214.2282194
7.
 
Leica M10-P Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none25.114.1273993
8.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
9.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.813.0161480
10.
 
Leica M Typ 262 Full Frame 23.7 5952 3976none24.813.7247890
11.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none25.113.7276393
12.
 
Leica S Typ 007 Medium Format 37.5 7500 50004K/24p25.113.7276393
13.
 
Leica M Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
14.
 
Leica S Typ 006 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none23.912.282476
15.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
16.
 
Leica S2 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none23.912.5222482
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 also of capturing video footage. The S3 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M10-R does not. The highest resolution format that the S3 can use is 4K/24p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The M10-R and the S3 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 viewfinder in the M10-R offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the S3 (98%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the S3 has a higher magnification (0.87x vs 0.73x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica M10-R and Leica S3 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.
 
Leica M10-Roptical n3.0 / 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.5 n n
2.
 
Leica S3optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
3.
 
Hasselblad X1D II3690 n3.6 / 2360 fixed Y 1/2000s 2.7 n n
4.
 
Hasselblad X1D2360 n3.0 / 920 fixed Y 1/2000s 2.3 n n
5.
 
Leica Q23680 n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 20.0 n Y
6.
 
Leica M-E Typ 240optical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
7.
 
Leica M10-Poptical n3.0 / 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 n n
8.
 
Leica M10optical n3.0 / 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
9.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
10.
 
Leica M Typ 262optical n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
11.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
12.
 
Leica S Typ 007optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 n n
13.
 
Leica M Typ 240optical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
14.
 
Leica S Typ 006optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
15.
 
Leica M9optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
16.
 
Leica S2optical Y3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The M10-R has a touchscreen, while the S3 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The Leica M10-R has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

The M10-R writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the S3 uses Compact Flash or SDXC cards. The S3 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the M10-R only has one slot. The S3 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the M10-R can use UHS-I cards (up to 104 MB/s).

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 Leica M10-R and Leica S3 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.
 
Leica M10-RY- / -----Y--
2.
 
Leica S3Ystereo / monoYYmini3.0Y--
3.
 
Hasselblad X1D IIYstereo / monoYY-3.0Y--
4.
 
Hasselblad X1DYstereo / monoYYmini3.0Y--
5.
 
Leica Q2Ystereo / mono----Y-Y
6.
 
Leica M-E Typ 240Ymono / ----2.0---
7.
 
Leica M10-PY- / -----Y--
8.
 
Leica M10Y- / -----Y--
9.
 
Leica X-U Typ 113Ystereo / mono---2.0---
10.
 
Leica M Typ 262Y- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006Y- / ---mini2.0---
12.
 
Leica S Typ 007Ystereo / monoYYmini3.0Y--
13.
 
Leica M Typ 240Ystereo / mono---2.0---
14.
 
Leica S Typ 006Y- / ---mini2.0---
15.
 
Leica M9Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Leica S2Y- / ---mini2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Leica S3 (unlike the M10-R) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the S3 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.

Both the M10-R and the S3 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The S3 replaced the earlier Leica S Typ 007, while the M10-R does not have a direct predecessor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica website.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica M10-R and the Leica S3? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Advantages of the Leica M10-R:

  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 98%).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 922k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 160x120mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 600g or 48 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (56 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 9 months after the S3).


Arguments in favor of the Leica S3:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (64 vs 40.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 25%.
  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/24p video.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.87x vs 0.73x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2018).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S3 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 9 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 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.

M10-R 09:13 S3

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the M10-R and the S3 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

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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.
 
Leica M10-R4.5/5..4/5....4/5 Jul 2020 8,295 i
2.
 
Leica S3............ Sep 2018 18,995 i
3.
 
Hasselblad X1D II....4/5..4/54/5 Jun 2019 5,750 i
4.
 
Hasselblad X1D..o..81/100..4/5 Jun 2016 8,995i
5.
 
Leica Q2......84/1004.5/54/5 Mar 2019 4,995 i
6.
 
Leica M-E Typ 240............ Jun 2019 3,999 i
7.
 
Leica M10-P....3/5....4/5 Aug 2018 7,995 i
8.
 
Leica M104.5/5......4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
9.
 
Leica X-U Typ 1133.5/5........3.5/5 Jan 2016 2,950i
10.
 
Leica M Typ 262............ Nov 2015 5,195i
11.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006............ Sep 2014 16,900i
12.
 
Leica S Typ 0074/5.......... Sep 2014 24,490i
13.
 
Leica M Typ 2404/5......4/5.. Sep 2012 6,950i
14.
 
Leica S Typ 006............ Sep 2012 21,950i
15.
 
Leica M9........4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
16.
 
Leica S2............ Sep 2008 22,995i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Leica M10-R:
Check Amazon price
Leica S3:
Check Amazon price

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: Leica M10-R vs Leica S3

    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 Leica M10-R Leica S3
    Camera Type Rangefinder camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Leica M mount lenses Leica S mount lenses
    Launch Date July 2020 September 2018
    Launch Price USD 8,295 USD 18,995
    Sensor Specs Leica M10-R Leica S3
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Medium Format Sensor
    Sensor Size 35.8 x 23.9 mm 45.0 x 30.0 mm
    Sensor Area 855.62 mm2 1350 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43 mm 54.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 0.8x
    Sensor Resolution 40.9 Megapixels 64 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 7864 x 5200 pixels 9800 x 6533 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.57 μm 4.59 μm
    Pixel Density 4.78 MP/cm2 4.74 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video 4K/24p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 50,000 ISO 100 - 50,000 ISO
    Image Processor Maestro II Maestro II
    Screen Specs Leica M10-R Leica S3
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 98%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.73x 0.87x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1037k dots 922k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Leica M10-R Leica S3
    Focus System Manual Focus Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 4.5 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inno Intervalometer
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    UHS card support UHS-I UHS-II
    Connectivity Specs Leica M10-R Leica S3
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash no PC Sync PC Sync socket
    USB Connector no USB USB 3.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Headphone Socket no Headphone port Headphone port
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in Wifi built-in
    Geotagging no internal GPS GPS built-in
    Body Specs Leica M10-R Leica S3
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-SCL5 BP-PRO1
    Body Dimensions 139 x 80 x 39 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    160 x 120 x 80 mm
    (6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 660 g (23.3 oz) 1260 g (44.4 oz)

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