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Olympus E-PL5 vs E-PL9

The Olympus PEN E-PL5 and the Olympus PEN E-PL9 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2012 and February 2018. Both the E-PL5 and the E-PL9 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 15.9 megapixels.

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

Headline Specifications
Olympus E-PL5   Olympus E-PL9
Olympus E-PL5 Olympus E-PL9
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
15.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 15.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/30p Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 200-25600 ISO 200-6400 (100-25600)
Viewfinder optional No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0" LCD, 460k dots 3.0" LCD, 1040k dots
Tilting touchscreen Tilting touchscreen
8 shutter flaps per second 8.6 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
360 shots per battery charge350 shots per battery charge
111 x 64 x 38 mm, 325 g 117 x 68 x 39 mm, 380 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Olympus PEN E-PL5 and the Olympus PEN E-PL9? 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: Olympus E-PL5 vs E-PL9

The physical size and weight of the Olympus E-PL5 and the Olympus E-PL9 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The E-PL5 can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, white), while the E-PL9 is available in four color-versions (black, brown, blue, white).

Size Olympus E-PL5 vs Olympus E-PL9
Compare E-PL5 versus E-PL9 top
Comparison E-PL5 or E-PL9 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PL9 is notably larger (12 percent) than the Olympus E-PL5. Moreover, the E-PL9 is markedly heavier (17 percent) than the E-PL5. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the E-PL5 nor the E-PL9 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog. Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.

Concerning battery life, the E-PL5 gets 360 shots out of its BLS-5 battery, while the E-PL9 can take 350 images on a single charge of its BLS-50 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Olympus E-PL5» 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.5 oz 360 n Sep 2012 599- i Olympus E-PL5
 
Olympus E-PL9« 4.6 in 2.7 in 1.5 in 13.4 oz 350 n Feb 2018 549 i i Olympus E-PL9
 
Olympus E-M10 III« » 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.0 in 14.5 oz 330 n Aug 2017 649 i i Olympus E-M10 III
 
Olympus E-PL8« » 4.5 in 2.6 in 1.5 in 12.6 oz 350 n Sep 2016 549- i Olympus E-PL8
 
Olympus E-M10 II« » 4.7 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 13.8 oz 320 n Aug 2015 649- i Olympus E-M10 II
 
Olympus E-M10« » 4.7 in 3.2 in 1.8 in 14.0 oz 320 n Jan 2014 699- i Olympus E-M10
 
Olympus E-PL7« » 4.5 in 2.6 in 1.5 in 12.6 oz 350 n Aug 2014 599- i Olympus E-PL7
 
Olympus E-P5« » 4.8 in 2.7 in 1.5 in 14.8 oz 330 n May 2013 999- i Olympus E-P5
 
Olympus E-PL6« » 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.5 oz 360 n May 2013 599- i Olympus E-PL6
 
Olympus E-PM2« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.3 in 9.5 oz 360 n Sep 2012 499- i Olympus E-PM2
 
Olympus E-PL3« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.5 in 11.0 oz 300 n Jun 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL3
 
Panasonic G6« » 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.8 in 13.8 oz 340 n Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-PL9 was somewhat cheaper (by 8 percent) than the E-PL5 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Olympus E-PL5 vs E-PL9

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Technology-wise, the E-PL9 uses a more advanced image processing engine (TruePic VIII) than the E-PL5 (TruePic VI), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Olympus E-PL5 and Olympus E-PL9 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 15.9 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the E-PL5 and the E-PL9 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the E-PL9 is much more recent (by 5 years and 4 months) than the E-PL5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

The Olympus PEN E-PL5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL9 are ISO 200 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.

E-PL5 versus E-PL9 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Olympus E-PL5» Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388972Olympus E-PL5
 
Olympus E-PL9« Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p----Olympus E-PL9
 
Olympus E-M10 III« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p----Olympus E-M10 III
 
Olympus E-PL8« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p----Olympus E-PL8
 
Olympus E-M10 II« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.112.584273Olympus E-M10 II
 
Olympus E-M10« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388472Olympus E-M10
 
Olympus E-PL7« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.487372Olympus E-PL7
 
Olympus E-P5« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.489572Olympus E-P5
 
Olympus E-PL6« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p----Olympus E-PL6
 
Olympus E-PM2« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.293272Olympus E-PM2
 
Olympus E-PL3« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952Olympus E-PL3
 
Panasonic G6« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961Panasonic G6

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the E-PL9 provides a better video resolution than the E-PL5. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the E-PL5 is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Olympus E-PL5 vs E-PL9

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The E-PL5 and the E-PL9 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. That said, the E-PL5 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-3. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Olympus E-PL5, the Olympus E-PL9, and comparable cameras.

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
Camera
Model
 
Olympus E-PL5»- n 3.0 460 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y Olympus E-PL5
 
Olympus E-PL9«- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.6 Y Y Olympus E-PL9
 
Olympus E-M10 III« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.6 Y Y Olympus E-M10 III
 
Olympus E-PL8« »- n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y Olympus E-PL8
 
Olympus E-M10 II« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y Olympus E-M10 II
 
Olympus E-M10« »1440 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y Olympus E-M10
 
Olympus E-PL7« »- n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y Olympus E-PL7
 
Olympus E-P5« »- n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/8000s 9.0 Y Y Olympus E-P5
 
Olympus E-PL6« »- n 3.0 460 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y Olympus E-PL6
 
Olympus E-PM2« »- n 3.0 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 8.0 n Y Olympus E-PM2
 
Olympus E-PL3« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 n Y Olympus E-PL3
 
Panasonic G6« »1440 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 1/4000s 7.0 Y n Panasonic G6

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-PL9 has one, while the E-PL5 does not. While the built-in flash of the E-PL9 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.

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, the E-PL9 is one of those camera that have an additional 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 Olympus E-PL9 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.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the E-PL5 and the E-PL9 write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.

 

Connectivity comparison: Olympus E-PL5 vs E-PL9

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 Olympus PEN E-PL5 and Olympus PEN E-PL9 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Olympus E-PL5»Ystereomono--mini2.0---Olympus E-PL5
 
Olympus E-PL9«Ystereomono--micro2.0Y-YOlympus E-PL9
 
Olympus E-M10 III« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M10 III
 
Olympus E-PL8« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-PL8
 
Olympus E-M10 II« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M10 II
 
Olympus E-M10« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-M10
 
Olympus E-PL7« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-PL7
 
Olympus E-P5« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus E-P5
 
Olympus E-PL6« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Olympus E-PL6
 
Olympus E-PM2« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Olympus E-PM2
 
Olympus E-PL3« »Ystereo---mini2.0---Olympus E-PL3
 
Panasonic G6« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Panasonic G6

It is notable that the E-PL9 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the E-PL5 does not offer wifi capability.

The E-PL9 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Olympus. In contrast, the E-PL5 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-PL5 was succeeded by the Olympus E-PL6. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Olympus website.


Review summary: Olympus E-PL5 vs E-PL9

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Olympus E-PL5 and the Olympus E-PL9? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PL5:

  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • More compact: Is smaller (111x64mm vs 117x68mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 55g or 14 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2012).


Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN E-PL9:

  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (TruePic VIII vs TruePic VI).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 460k dots).
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 4 months of technical progress since the E-PL5 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-PL9 is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 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.

E-PL5 04:09 E-PL9

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Olympus E-PL5 and the Olympus E-PL9 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 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 E-PL5 or the E-PL9 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: Olympus E-PL5 vs E-PL9

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 (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.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Olympus E-PL5»+ +-4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599- i Olympus E-PL5
 
Olympus E-PL9«+-4.5/5-4/5 Feb 2018 549 i i Olympus E-PL9
 
Olympus E-M10 III« »+80/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Aug 2017 649 i i Olympus E-M10 III
 
Olympus E-PL8« »--4.5/5-4/5 Sep 2016 549- i Olympus E-PL8
 
Olympus E-M10 II« »+ +80/1005/55/55/5 Aug 2015 649- i Olympus E-M10 II
 
Olympus E-M10« »-80/1005/54.5/55/5 Jan 2014 699- i Olympus E-M10
 
Olympus E-PL7« »+-5/54.5/54/5 Aug 2014 599- i Olympus E-PL7
 
Olympus E-P5« »+ +78/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2013 999- i Olympus E-P5
 
Olympus E-PL6« »----- May 2013 599- i Olympus E-PL6
 
Olympus E-PM2« »-77/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499- i Olympus E-PM2
 
Olympus E-PL3« »+ +72/1004.5/5-4/5 Jun 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL3
 
Panasonic G6« »+ +-5/5-4.5/5 Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Olympus E-PL5:
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Olympus E-PL9:
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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 your choice using the following search menu. 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: Olympus E-PL5 vs Olympus E-PL9

    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 Olympus E-PL5 Olympus E-PL9
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Micro Four Thirds lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2012 February 2018
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 549
    Sensor Specs Olympus E-PL5 Olympus E-PL9
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 224.9 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 15.9 Megapixels 15.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3456 pixels 4608 x 3456 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.76 μm 3.76 μm
    Pixel Density 7.08 MP/cm2 7.08 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 200-25600 ISO 200-6400 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100-25600 ISO
    Image Processor TruePic VI TruePic VIII
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 72 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.8 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.3 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 889 ..
    Screen Specs Olympus E-PL5 Olympus E-PL9
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional No viewfinder
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 460k dots 1040k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen Tilting screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Olympus E-PL5 Olympus E-PL9
    Autofocus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidNo Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000/s 1/4000/s
    Continuous Shooting 8 shutter flaps/s 8.6 shutter flaps/s
    Electronic Shutterno E-Shutterup to 1/16000s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Olympus E-PL5 Olympus E-PL9
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Bluetooth Support no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Olympus E-PL5 Olympus E-PL9
    Battery Type BLS-5 power pack BLS-50 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)360 shots per charge350 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 111 x 64 x 38 mm
    (4.4 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
    117 x 68 x 39 mm
    (4.6 x 2.7 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 325 g (11.5 oz) 380 g (13.4 oz)

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