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Pentax K-500 vs K-S1

The Pentax K-500 and the Pentax K-S1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2013 and August 2014. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The K-500 has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the K-S1 provides 20 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Pentax K-500
versus
Pentax K-S1
Pentax K-500   Pentax K-S1
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Pentax K mount lenses Pentax K mount lenses
16.1 MP – APS-C sensor 20 MP – APS-C sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-51,200 ISO 100-51,200
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD – 921k dots 3.0" LCD – 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6 shutter flaps per second 5.4 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
710 shots per battery charge410 shots per battery charge
130 x 97 x 71 mm, 646 g 121 x 93 x 70 mm, 558 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Pentax K-500 and the Pentax K-S1? 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 Pentax K-500 and the Pentax K-S1. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The K-S1 can be obtained in four different colors (black, grey, orange, white), while the K-500 is only available in black.

Size Pentax K-500 vs Pentax K-S1
Compare K-500 versus K-S1 top
Comparison K-500 or K-S1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-S1 is notably smaller (11 percent) than the Pentax K-500. Moreover, the K-S1 is markedly lighter (14 percent) than the K-500. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the K-500 nor the K-S1 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.

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, 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.
 
Pentax K-500 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 646 g 710 n Jun 2013 549ebay.com
2.
 
Pentax K-S1 121 mm 93 mm 70 mm 558 g 410 n Aug 2014 749ebay.com
3.
 
Nikon D5300 125 mm 98 mm 76 mm 480 g 600 n Oct 2013 799ebay.com
4.
 
Olympus E-M10 II 120 mm 83 mm 47 mm 390 g 320 n Aug 2015 649ebay.com
5.
 
Olympus E-M10 119 mm 82 mm 46 mm 396 g 320 n Jan 2014 699ebay.com
6.
 
Olympus E-PL7 115 mm 67 mm 38 mm 357 g 350 n Aug 2014 599ebay.com
7.
 
Olympus E-PL5 111 mm 64 mm 38 mm 325 g 360 n Sep 2012 599ebay.com
8.
 
Olympus E-PM2 110 mm 64 mm 34 mm 269 g 360 n Sep 2012 499ebay.com
9.
 
Pentax K-S2 123 mm 91 mm 73 mm 678 g 410 Y Feb 2015 749ebay.com
10.
 
Pentax K-50 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 650 g 410 Y Jun 2013 599ebay.com
11.
 
Pentax K-3 131 mm 100 mm 77 mm 800 g 560 Y Oct 2013 1,299ebay.com
12.
 
Pentax K-30 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 650 g 410 Y May 2012 849ebay.com
13.
 
Pentax K-5 II 131 mm 97 mm 73 mm 760 g 740 Y Sep 2012 1,099ebay.com
14.
 
Pentax K-5 131 mm 97 mm 73 mm 760 g 740 Y Sep 2010 1,099ebay.com
15.
 
Sony A68 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 610 g 540 n Nov 2015 699ebay.com
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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The K-500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 27 percent) than the K-S1, 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. 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 have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, the K-S1 uses a more advanced image processing engine (PRIME MII) than the K-500 (PRIME M), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Pentax K-500 and Pentax K-S1 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the K-S1 offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixels, compared with 16.1 MP of the K-500. This megapixels advantage translates into a 11 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the K-S1 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.28μm versus 4.77μm for the K-500). However, it should be noted that the K-S1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 2 months) than the K-500, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the K-S1 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Pentax K-S1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the K-S1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Pentax K-500 are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Pentax K-500 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200. The Pentax K-S1 offers exactly the same ISO settings.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

K-500 versus K-S1 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-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.
 
Pentax K-500 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.1108779
2.
 
Pentax K-S1 APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.513.0106178
3.
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883
4.
 
Olympus E-M10 II Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p23.112.584273
5.
 
Olympus E-M10 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388472
6.
 
Olympus E-PL7 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.487372
7.
 
Olympus E-PL5 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388972
8.
 
Olympus E-PM2 Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.712.293272
9.
 
Pentax K-S2 APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.612.9151479
10.
 
Pentax K-50 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.0112079
11.
 
Pentax K-3 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.713.4121680
12.
 
Pentax K-30 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.0112979
13.
 
Pentax K-5 II APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/25p23.814.1123582
14.
 
Pentax K-5 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/25p23.714.1116282
15.
 
Sony A68 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.570179
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The K-500 and the K-S1 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 (100%), but the viewfinder of the K-S1 has a higher magnification than the one of the K-500 (0.63x vs 0.61x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Pentax K-500 and Pentax K-S1 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
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Pentax K-500optical n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0/s Y Y
2.
 
Pentax K-S1optical n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/6000s 5.4/s Y Y
3.
 
Nikon D5300optical n3.2 / 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
4.
 
Olympus E-M10 II2360 n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0/s Y Y
5.
 
Olympus E-M101440 n3.0 / 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0/s Y Y
6.
 
Olympus E-PL7optional n3.0 / 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0/s n Y
7.
 
Olympus E-PL5optional n3.0 / 460 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0/s n Y
8.
 
Olympus E-PM2optional n3.0 / 460 fixed Y 1/4000s 8.0/s n Y
9.
 
Pentax K-S2optical n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/6000s 5.4/s Y Y
10.
 
Pentax K-50optical n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0/s Y Y
11.
 
Pentax K-3optical Y3.2 / 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3/s Y Y
12.
 
Pentax K-30optical n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0/s Y Y
13.
 
Pentax K-5 IIoptical Y3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0/s Y Y
14.
 
Pentax K-5optical Y3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0/s Y Y
15.
 
Sony A681440 Y2.7 / 460 tilting n 1/4000s 8.0/s Y Y
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

The Pentax K-500 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 K-500 and the K-S1 write their files to SDXC cards. The K-S1 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the K-500 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 Pentax K-500 and Pentax K-S1 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.
 
Pentax K-500Ymono / mono---2.0---
2.
 
Pentax K-S1Ystereo / mono--micro2.0---
3.
 
Nikon D5300Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0Y--
4.
 
Olympus E-M10 IIYstereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
5.
 
Olympus E-M10Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
6.
 
Olympus E-PL7Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
7.
 
Olympus E-PL5Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Olympus E-PM2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Pentax K-S2Ymono / monoY-micro2.0YY-
10.
 
Pentax K-50Ymono / mono--micro2.0---
11.
 
Pentax K-3Ymono / monoYYmini3.0---
12.
 
Pentax K-30Ymono / mono---2.0---
13.
 
Pentax K-5 IIYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
14.
 
Pentax K-5Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0---
15.
 
Sony A68Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0---

Both the K-500 and the K-S1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The K-S1 was replaced by the Pentax K-S2, while the K-500 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the features and operation of the K-500 and K-S1 can be found, respectively, in the Pentax K-500 Manual (free pdf) or the online Pentax K-S1 Manual.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Pentax K-500 and the Pentax K-S1? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Pentax K-500:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (710 versus 410) on a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (27 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2013).


Advantages of the Pentax K-S1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 16.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 11%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (PRIME MII vs PRIME M).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.61x).
  • More compact: Is smaller (121x93mm vs 130x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 88g or 14 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 2 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the K-S1 emerges as the winner of the match-up (8 : 5 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

K-500 05:08 K-S1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Pentax K-500 and the Pentax K-S1 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 K-500 or the K-S1. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.
 
Pentax K-500........4.5/54.5/5 Jun 2013 549ebay.com
2.
 
Pentax K-S14/5......4.5/54/5 Aug 2014 749ebay.com
3.
 
Nikon D53004/5+ +..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799ebay.com
4.
 
Olympus E-M10 II4.5/5+ +..80/1005/55/5 Aug 2015 649ebay.com
5.
 
Olympus E-M104/5....80/1005/55/5 Jan 2014 699ebay.com
6.
 
Olympus E-PL74/5+....5/54/5 Aug 2014 599ebay.com
7.
 
Olympus E-PL53/5+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599ebay.com
8.
 
Olympus E-PM23/5....77/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2012 499ebay.com
9.
 
Pentax K-S24.5/5......5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749ebay.com
10.
 
Pentax K-505/5......5/54.5/5 Jun 2013 599ebay.com
11.
 
Pentax K-34/5....83/1005/55/5 Oct 2013 1,299ebay.com
12.
 
Pentax K-304/5....78/1004.5/54.5/5 May 2012 849ebay.com
13.
 
Pentax K-5 II5/5....80/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2012 1,099ebay.com
14.
 
Pentax K-54/5....83/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,099ebay.com
15.
 
Sony A683/5......4/54/5 Nov 2015 699ebay.com
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. 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

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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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Pentax K-500 vs Pentax K-S1

    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 Pentax K-500 Pentax K-S1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Pentax K mount lenses Pentax K mount lenses
    Launch Date June 2013 August 2014
    Launch Price USD 549 USD 749
    Sensor Specs Pentax K-500 Pentax K-S1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.5 x 15.6 mm 23.5 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 366.6 mm2 366.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.2 mm 28.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 16.1 Megapixels 20 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3264 pixels 5472 x 3648 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.77 μm 4.28 μm
    Pixel Density 4.39 MP/cm2 5.45 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 51,200 ISO 100 - 51,200 ISO
    Image Processor PRIME M PRIME MII
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 79 78
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.7 23.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 13.1 13.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1087 1061
    Screen Specs Pentax K-500 Pentax K-S1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.61x 0.63x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 921k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Pentax K-500 Pentax K-S1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/6000s 1/6000s
    Continuous Shooting 6 shutter flaps/s 5.4 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inno Intervalometer
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Single or Dual Card Slots Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Pentax K-500 Pentax K-S1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Pentax K-500 Pentax K-S1
    Battery Type 4xAA D-LI109
    Battery Life (CIPA)710 shots per charge410 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 130 x 97 x 71 mm
    (5.1 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
    121 x 93 x 70 mm
    (4.8 x 3.7 x 2.8 in)
    Camera Weight 646 g (22.8 oz) 558 g (19.7 oz)
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