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Pentax K-S1 vs Sony A68

The Pentax K-S1 and the Sony Alpha SLT-A68 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2014 and November 2015. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Pentax has a resolution of 20 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Pentax K-S1 versus Sony A68
Pentax K-S1 Sony A68
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Pentax K mount lenses Sony A mount lenses
20 MP, APS-C Sensor 24 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 100-51,200 ISO 100-25,600
Optical viewfinder Electronic viewfinder (1440k dots)
3.0 LCD, 921k dots 2.7 LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)
5.4 shutter flaps per second 8 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
410 shots per battery charge540 shots per battery charge
121 x 93 x 70 mm, 558 g 143 x 104 x 81 mm, 610 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Pentax K-S1 and the Sony Alpha SLT-A68? 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 Pentax K-S1 and the Sony A68 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The K-S1 can be obtained in four different colors (black, grey, orange, white), while the A68 is only available in black.

Size Pentax K-S1 vs Sony A68
Compare K-S1 versus A68 top
Comparison K-S1 or A68 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A68 is notably larger (32 percent) than the Pentax K-S1. Moreover, the A68 is markedly heavier (9 percent) than the K-S1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the K-S1 nor the A68 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.

Concerning battery life, the K-S1 gets 410 shots out of its D-LI109 battery, while the A68 can take 540 images on a single charge of its NP-FM500H power pack.

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.
 
Pentax K-S1 121 mm 93 mm 70 mm 558 g 410 n Aug 2014 749i
2.
 
Sony A68 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 610 g 540 n Nov 2015 699i
3.
 
Canon 750D 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 555 g 440 n Feb 2015 749i
4.
 
Canon 760D 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 565 g 440 n Feb 2015 649i
5.
 
Nikon D5300 125 mm 98 mm 76 mm 480 g 600 n Oct 2013 799i
6.
 
Pentax K-S2 123 mm 91 mm 73 mm 678 g 410 Y Feb 2015 749 i
7.
 
Pentax K-3 II 131 mm 100 mm 77 mm 800 g 720 Y Apr 2015 1,099 i
8.
 
Pentax K-50 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 650 g 410 Y Jun 2013 599i
9.
 
Pentax K-500 130 mm 97 mm 71 mm 646 g 710 n Jun 2013 549i
10.
 
Pentax K-3 131 mm 100 mm 77 mm 800 g 560 Y Oct 2013 1,299i
11.
 
Sony A7 II 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 599 g 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999i
12.
 
Sony A77 II 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 647 g 480 Y May 2014 1,199 i
13.
 
Sony A58 129 mm 95 mm 78 mm 492 g 690 n Feb 2013 599i
14.
 
Sony A77 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 732 g 470 Y Aug 2011 1,399i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The A68 was somewhat cheaper (by 7 percent) than the K-S1 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.

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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 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. 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.

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.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Pentax K-S1 and Sony A68 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the A68 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 20 MP of the K-S1. This megapixels advantage translates into a 10 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the A68 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 4.28μm for the K-S1). However, it should be noted that the A68 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 2 months) than the K-S1, 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 Sony A68 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A68 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Pentax K-S1 are 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm for good quality, 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm for very good quality, and 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Pentax K-S1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha SLT-A68 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).

K-S1 versus A68 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. 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.
 
Pentax K-S1 APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.513.0106178
2.
 
Sony A68 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.570179
3.
 
Canon 750D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
4.
 
Canon 760D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
5.
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883
6.
 
Pentax K-S2 APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p........
7.
 
Pentax K-3 II APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.613.6110680
8.
 
Pentax K-50 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.0112079
9.
 
Pentax K-500 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.713.1108779
10.
 
Pentax K-3 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.713.4121680
11.
 
Sony A7 II Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990
12.
 
Sony A77 II APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p........
13.
 
Sony A58 APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.312.575374
14.
 
Sony A77 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.280178

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, but the A68 provides a faster frame rate than the K-S1. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A68 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), while the K-S1 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. 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 A68 (0.63x vs 0.57x), 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-S1 and Sony A68 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
1.
 
Pentax K-S1optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 5.4 Y Y
2.
 
Sony A681440 Y 2.7 460 tilting n 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
3.
 
Canon 750Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon 760Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Nikon D5300optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
6.
 
Pentax K-S2optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 1/6000s 5.4 Y Y
7.
 
Pentax K-3 IIoptical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 n Y
8.
 
Pentax K-50optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
9.
 
Pentax K-500optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/6000s 6.0 Y Y
10.
 
Pentax K-3optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 Y Y
11.
 
Sony A7 II2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y
12.
 
Sony A77 II2359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 Y Y
13.
 
Sony A581440 n 2.7 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.0 Y Y
14.
 
Sony A772359 Y 3.0 921 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 Y Y

One feature that is present on the A68, but is missing on the K-S1 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The K-S1 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A68 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.

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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 Pentax K-S1 and Sony Alpha SLT-A68 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
1.
 
Pentax K-S1Ystereomono--micro2.0---
2.
 
Sony A68YstereomonoY-micro2.0---
3.
 
Canon 750DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon 760DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Nikon D5300YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
6.
 
Pentax K-S2YmonomonoY-micro2.0YY-
7.
 
Pentax K-3 IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
8.
 
Pentax K-50Ymonomono--micro2.0---
9.
 
Pentax K-500Ymonomono---2.0---
10.
 
Pentax K-3YmonomonoYYmini3.0---
11.
 
Sony A7 IIYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-
12.
 
Sony A77 IIYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
13.
 
Sony A58YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
14.
 
Sony A77YstereomonoY-mini2.0---

It is notable that the A68 has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The K-S1 does not feature such a mic input.

Both the K-S1 and the A68 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The K-S1 was replaced by the Pentax K-S2, while the A68 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Pentax and Sony websites.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Pentax K-S1 or the Sony A68 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Pentax K-S1:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.57x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 460k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/6000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • More compact: Is smaller (121x93mm vs 143x104mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2014).

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha SLT-A68:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 20MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 5.4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (540 versus 410) out of a single battery charge.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 2 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A68 comes out slightly ahead of the K-S1 (10 : 9 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 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.

K-S1 09:10 A68

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Pentax K-S1 and the Sony A68 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 comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the K-S1 or the A68. 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 following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Pentax K-S14/5....4.5/54/5 Aug 2014 749i
2.
 
Sony A683/5....4/54/5 Nov 2015 699i
3.
 
Canon 750D5/5..75/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749i
4.
 
Canon 760D5/5+77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
5.
 
Nikon D53004/5+ +79/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799i
6.
 
Pentax K-S24.5/5....5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749 i
7.
 
Pentax K-3 II4.5/5....5/55/5 Apr 2015 1,099 i
8.
 
Pentax K-505/5....5/54.5/5 Jun 2013 599i
9.
 
Pentax K-500......4.5/54.5/5 Jun 2013 549i
10.
 
Pentax K-34/5..83/1005/55/5 Oct 2013 1,299i
11.
 
Sony A7 II5/5+82/1004.5/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999i
12.
 
Sony A77 II4/5..80/1004.5/55/5 May 2014 1,199 i
13.
 
Sony A583/5....4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2013 599i
14.
 
Sony A775/591/10081/100..5/5 Aug 2011 1,399i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Pentax K-S1:
Check Ebay offers
Sony A68:
Check Ebay offers

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. 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-S1 vs Sony A68

    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-S1 Sony A68
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Pentax K mount lenses Sony A mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2014 November 2015
    Launch Price USD 749 USD 699
    Sensor Specs Pentax K-S1 Sony A68
    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 20 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5472 x 3648 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.28 μm 3.91 μm
    Pixel Density 5.45 MP/cm2 6.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 51,200 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    Image Processor PRIME MII BIONZ X
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 78 79
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.5 24.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 13.0 13.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1061 701
    Screen Specs Pentax K-S1 Sony A68
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.63x 0.57x
    Viewfinder Resolution 1440k dots
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.7inch
    LCD Resolution 921k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Pentax K-S1 Sony A68
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/6000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 5.4 shutter flaps/s 8 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Pentax K-S1 Sony A68
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI micro HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Pentax K-S1 Sony A68
    Battery Type D-LI109 NP-FM500H
    Battery Life (CIPA)410 shots per charge540 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 121 x 93 x 70 mm
    (4.8 x 3.7 x 2.8 in)
    143 x 104 x 81 mm
    (5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
    Camera Weight 558 g (19.7 oz) 610 g (21.5 oz)

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