Nikon Z50 vs Sony A7R II
The Nikon Z50 and the Sony Alpha A7R II are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2019 and June 2015. Both the Z50 and the A7R II are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on an APS-C (Z50) and a full frame (A7R II) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 20.7 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 42.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon Z50 and the Sony Alpha A7R II? 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon Z50 and the Sony A7R II. 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7R II is somewhat larger (2 percent) than the Nikon Z50. Moreover, the A7R II is substantially heavier (39 percent) than the Z50. 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.
Concerning battery life, the Z50 gets 320 shots out of its EN-EL25 battery, while the A7R II can take 290 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, which can be very convenient when travelling.
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.
|1.||Nikon Z50||127 mm||94 mm||60 mm||450 g||320||Y||Oct 2019||859|
|2.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|3.||Canon M50||116 mm||88 mm||59 mm||390 g||235||n||Feb 2018||779|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T30||118 mm||83 mm||47 mm||383 g||380||n||Feb 2019||899|
|5.||Fujifilm X-T3||133 mm||93 mm||59 mm||539 g||390||Y||Sep 2018||1,499|
|6.||Nikon Z fc||135 mm||94 mm||44 mm||445 g||300||n||Jun 2021||959|
|7.||Nikon D3500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||415 g||1550||n||Aug 2018||429|
|8.||Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||470 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|9.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|10.||Sony A1||129 mm||97 mm||81 mm||737 g||530||Y||Jan 2021||6,499|
|11.||Sony A7S III||127 mm||97 mm||81 mm||699 g||600||Y||Jul 2020||3,499|
|12.||Sony A6400||120 mm||67 mm||50 mm||403 g||410||Y||Jan 2019||899|
|13.||Sony A7R IV||129 mm||96 mm||78 mm||665 g||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499|
|14.||Sony A6100||120 mm||67 mm||59 mm||396 g||420||n||Aug 2019||749|
|15.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|16.||Sony A6300||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||Y||Feb 2016||999|
|17.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Note: 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 Z50 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 73 percent) than the A7R II, 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.
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. 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 Nikon Z50 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A7R II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7R II is 134 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 42.2MP, the A7R II offers a higher resolution than the Z50 (20.7MP), but the A7R II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 4.22μm for the Z50) due to its larger sensor. However, the Z50 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 4 months) than the A7R II, and its sensor will 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 Sony A7R II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A7R II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 39.8 x 26.5 inches or 101 x 67.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 31.8 x 21.2 inches or 80.8 x 53.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 26.5 x 17.7 inches or 67.3 x 44.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon Z50 are 27.8 x 18.6 inches or 70.7 x 47.1 cm for good quality, 22.3 x 14.8 inches or 56.6 x 37.7 cm for very good quality, and 18.6 x 12.4 inches or 47.1 x 31.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon Z50 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 100-204800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A7R II are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-102400.
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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|2.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|6.||Nikon Z fc||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.2||13.8||2131||85|
|10.||Sony A1||Full Frame||49.8||8640||5760||8k/30p||25.9||14.5||3163||98|
|11.||Sony A7S III||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/120p||23.7||13.9||2520||86|
|13.||Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||26.0||14.8||3344||99|
|15.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|17.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|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. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the A7R II offers a slightly higher resolution than the one in the Z50 (2400k vs 2360k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon Z50 and Sony A7R II along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Nikon Z50||2360||n||3.2 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||Y|
|3.||Canon M50||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T30||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Fujifilm X-T3||3690||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|6.||Nikon Z fc||2360||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|7.||Nikon D3500||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D5500||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D5300||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Sony A1||9437||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|11.||Sony A7S III||9440||n||3.0 / 1440||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|12.||Sony A6400||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A6100||1440||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A6300||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/4000s||11.0/s||Y||n|
|17.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The Z50 has one, while the A7R II does not. While the built-in flash of the Z50 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The Z50 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 A7R II does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, both cameras under consideration feature an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Nikon Z50 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 Z50 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A7R II uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The Z50 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the A7R II can use UHS-I cards (up to 104 MB/s).
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 Z50 and Sony Alpha A7R II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon Z50||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|2.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|3.||Canon M50||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T30||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Fujifilm X-T3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Nikon Z fc||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|7.||Nikon D3500||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y|
|8.||Nikon D5500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D5300||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|10.||Sony A1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|11.||Sony A7S III||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|12.||Sony A6400||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|13.||Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A6100||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A6300||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7R II has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The Z50 lacks such a headphone port.
The Z50 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the A7R II has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7R II was succeeded by the Sony Alpha A7R III. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Sony websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon Z50 and the Sony A7R II? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Nikon Z50:
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 175g or 28 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (320 versus 290) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (73 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 4 months of technical progress since the A7R II launch.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A7R II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (42.2 vs 20.7MP), which boosts linear resolution by 43%.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.68x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1040k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 2015).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the Z50 is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 8 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon Z50 and the Sony A7R II place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the Z50 and the A7R II 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.
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.
|1.||Nikon Z50||5/5||..||5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2019||859|
|2.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||5/5||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|3.||Canon M50||..||+||4/5||79/100||..||3.5/5||Feb 2018||779|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T30||5/5||+ +||5/5||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||899|
|5.||Fujifilm X-T3||5/5||+ +||4.5/5||88/100||5/5||5/5||Sep 2018||1,499|
|6.||Nikon Z fc||4/5||..||4.5/5||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2021||959|
|7.||Nikon D3500||..||..||4/5||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||429|
|8.||Nikon D5500||5/5||+||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|9.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|10.||Sony A1||5/5||o||4.5/5||93/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2021||6,499|
|11.||Sony A7S III||..||+ +||5/5||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||3,499|
|12.||Sony A6400||4/5||+||4/5||85/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2019||899|
|13.||Sony A7R IV||5/5||+||4.5/5||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2019||3,499|
|14.||Sony A6100||..||..||4/5||82/100||4/5||5/5||Aug 2019||749|
|15.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||4/5||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|16.||Sony A6300||4.5/5||+||..||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||999|
|17.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|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 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.
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.
- Fujifilm X-E2 vs Nikon Z50
- Fujifilm X-Pro1 vs Nikon Z50
- Fujifilm X100S vs Sony A7R II
- Leica S Typ 006 vs Sony A7R II
- Nikon D3500 vs Sony A7R II
- Nikon D80 vs Sony A7R II
- Nikon Z50 vs Olympus E-PL6
- Nikon Z50 vs Panasonic LX10
- Nikon Z50 vs Panasonic TZ90
- Nikon Z50 vs Sony RX10 II
- Panasonic GX800 vs Sony A7R II
- Sony A7R II vs Sony A99
Specifications: Nikon Z50 vs Sony A7R II
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 Model||Nikon Z50||Sony A7R II|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2019||June 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 859||USD 3,199|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon Z50||Sony A7R II|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.7 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||368.95 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.7 Megapixels||42.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5568 x 3712 pixels||7952 x 5304 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.22 μm||4.52 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.60 MP/cm2||4.90 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 204,800 ISO||50 - 102,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 6||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||98|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||26.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.9|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||3434|
|Screen Specs||Nikon Z50||Sony A7R II|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots||2400k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon Z50||Sony A7R II|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||11 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/4000s||YES|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon Z50||Sony A7R II|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Nikon Z50||Sony A7R II|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||320 shots per charge||290 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
127 x 94 x 60 mm
(5.0 x 3.7 x 2.4 in)
127 x 96 x 60 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4 in)
|Camera Weight||450 g (15.9 oz)||625 g (22.0 oz)|
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