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Nikon D70 vs Olympus E-PL2

The Nikon D70 and the Olympus PEN E-PL2 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2004 and January 2011. The D70 is a DSLR, while the E-PL2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D70) and a Four Thirds (E-PL2) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 12.2 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D70 versus Olympus E-PL2
Nikon D70 Olympus E-PL2
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Nikon F mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
6 MP, APS-C Sensor 12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video 720/30p Video
ISO 200-1,600 ISO 200-6,400
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
1.8 LCD, 130k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Lens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
400 shots per battery charge280 shots per battery charge
140 x 111 x 78 mm, 679 g 114 x 72 x 42 mm, 362 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D70 and the Olympus PEN E-PL2? 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 Nikon D70 and the Olympus E-PL2 are illustrated 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The E-PL2 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the D70 is only available in black.

Size Nikon D70 vs Olympus E-PL2
Compare D70 versus E-PL2 top
Comparison D70 or E-PL2 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PL2 is considerably smaller (47 percent) than the Nikon D70. Moreover, the E-PL2 is substantially lighter (47 percent) than the D70. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D70 nor the E-PL2 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D70) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PL2). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-PL2, 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 D70 gets 400 shots out of its EN-EL3 battery, while the E-PL2 can take 280 images on a single charge of its BLS-5 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D70 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 400 n Jan 2004 999i
 
Olympus E-PL2 4.5 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 12.8 oz 280 n Jan 2011 599i
 
Canon Rebel 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899i
 
Nikon D5100 5.0 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.8 oz 660 n Apr 2011 749i
 
Nikon D5000 5.0 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 20.8 oz 510 n Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D90 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 24.8 oz 850 n Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Nikon D40 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 470 n Nov 2006 499i
 
Nikon D80 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 999i
 
Nikon D50 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.0 in 21.9 oz 400 n Apr 2005 749i
 
Nikon D70s 5.5 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 24.0 oz 500 n Apr 2005 899i
 
Nikon D2X 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999i
 
Nikon D100 5.7 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 27.5 oz 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
 
Olympus E-P3 4.8 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.0 oz 330 n Jun 2011 799i
 
Olympus E-PL3 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.0 oz 300 n Jun 2011 599i
 
Olympus E-PL1 4.5 in 2.8 in 1.7 in 11.8 oz 290 n Feb 2010 599i
 
Olympus E-P2 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Nov 2009 799i
 
Panasonic G10 4.9 in 3.3 in 2.9 in 13.7 oz 380 n Mar 2010 499i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

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 E-PL2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the D70, 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.

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Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D70 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-PL2 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL2 is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the D70 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PL2 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Nikon D70 and Olympus E-PL2 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the E-PL2 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the D70. 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 4.29μm versus 7.85μm for the D70). However, it should be noted that the E-PL2 is much more recent (by 6 years and 11 months) than the D70, 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 Olympus E-PL2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-PL2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D70 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D70 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL2 are ISO 200 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

D70 versus E-PL2 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the E-PL2 has a markedly higher DXO score than the D70 (overall score 5 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV of lower dynamic range, and 0.1 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
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
 
Nikon D2X APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.110.947659
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
 
Olympus E-P3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
 
Olympus E-P2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The E-PL2 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D70 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PL2 can use is 720/30p.

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D70 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D70 and Olympus E-PL2 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar 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
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
 
Olympus E-PL2optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Nikon D5100optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D90optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 Y n
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D50optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D2Xoptical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Nikon D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Olympus E-P3optional n 3.0 614 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-P2optional n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n Y
 
Panasonic G10202 n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6 Y n

One feature that differentiates the E-PL2 and the D70 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The E-PL2 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the D70 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.

The D70 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-PL2 uses SDHC 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 Nikon D70 and Olympus PEN E-PL2 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
 
Nikon D70Y-----1.0---
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Canon RebelY-----1.1---
 
Nikon D5100YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D90Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D40Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D50Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D70sY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D2XY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D100Y-----1.1---
 
Olympus E-P3Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-P2Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Panasonic G10Ymono---mini2.0---

Both the D70 and the E-PL2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D70 was replaced by the Nikon D70s, while the E-PL2 was followed by the Olympus E-PL3. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Olympus websites.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D70 better than the Olympus E-PL2 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D70:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 280) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2004).

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Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PL2:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 40%.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/30p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 130k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (114x72mm vs 140x111mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 317g or 47 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.0).
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years and 11 months of technical progress since the D70 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PL2 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

D70 04:12 E-PL2

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D70 and the Olympus E-PL2 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 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 D70 or the E-PL2 perform in practice. 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 expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D70..+ +..o.. Jan 2004 999i
 
Olympus E-PL283/10071/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599i
 
Canon Rebel..+ +..o.. Aug 2003 899i
 
Nikon D5100+ +76/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749i
 
Nikon D5000+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D90+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Nikon D4081/100+ +o5/54.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
 
Nikon D80++ +o4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
 
Nikon D5078/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Apr 2005 749i
 
Nikon D70s......o5/5 Apr 2005 899i
 
Nikon D2X..+ +..o.. Sep 2004 4,999i
 
Nikon D100..+ +oo.. Feb 2002 1,999i
 
Olympus E-P383/10074/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799i
 
Olympus E-PL3+ +72/1004.5/5..4/5 Jun 2011 599i
 
Olympus E-PL186/10069/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599i
 
Olympus E-P2+69/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799i
 
Panasonic G10..70/1004/5..4/5 Mar 2010 499i
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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Nikon D70:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-PL2:
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Nikon D70 vs Olympus E-PL2

    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 Nikon D70 Olympus E-PL2
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date January 2004 January 2011
    Launch Price USD 999 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Nikon D70 Olympus E-PL2
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 4032 x 3024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 4.29 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 5.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 200 - 6,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 50 55
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 20.4 21.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.3 10.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 529 573
    Screen Specs Nikon D70 Olympus E-PL2
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.50x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 1.8inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 130k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D70 Olympus E-PL2
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationLens stabilization onlyIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D70 Olympus E-PL2
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 1.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D70 Olympus E-PL2
    Battery Type EN-EL3 BLS-5
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge280 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 140 x 111 x 78 mm
    (5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
    114 x 72 x 42 mm
    (4.5 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
    Camera Weight 679 g (24.0 oz) 362 g (12.8 oz)

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