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Thread: Equipment & location question...

  1. #1
    Senior Member vieri's Avatar
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    Question Equipment & location question...

    Hello guys,

    I will be in the US in July for a month or so, so divided:
    - 1 week in NYC;
    - 3 weeks driving between Arizona, Nevada, California.

    I started thinking about what kind of equipment to bring along for the trip, which will be probably something like once-in-a-lifetime or close to that; so far, I came down with the following:
    - one film Leica (M2), with 28 f2, 50 f1, 90 f2.8, loaded with Plus-X;
    - one Panasonic GF1 with 20 f1.7 & Leica M adapter (and, if I can find it, a 7-14);
    this setup will do for street stuff, people, details, whatever, in a small & portable package.

    Now, I need to add a digital MF setup (mostly for landscaper, but not only); I am stuck between the two options below, and would love to hear from you guys about it:
    - Phase One DF, P65+, 28 mm, 80 mm, 150 mm (or possibly 210 f4 instead);
    - Technical camera with the P65+, 28 Rodenstock HR, 47 Schneider, 90 Schneider.
    in both cases, Gitzo 3541 & The Cube.

    Bringing the Phase will add the flexibility of being able to shoot handheld, some more reach, AF; bringing the technical camera, smaller & lighter package better for hiking (camera & lenses are smaller, no need for the DF body & batteries), better glass, all kind of movements (tilt, shift, etc), possibility of using filters also on the 28 Rodenstock (vs no filters on the 28 Phase) but less reach & no hand-holdability. The tech camera is also slower in operation, of course, but this wouldn't be much of a problem for landscapes

    Also, I will very likely bring a Holga 120 & an Holga pinhole panoramic, they both weight close to nothing and I have a lot of fun with them, and I might also bring an Hassy X-Pan loaded with Velvia if I choose to pack the tech camera - but very unlikely in case of choosing the Phase One due to not being willing to lug around too much weight just for the fun of using the X-Pan.

    I would love to hear from those of you familiar with the landscape in that area of the US what they think would be the best package and the best configuration to have with you for such a trip, all things considered...

    Thank you very much in advance for your help!
    Vieri Bottazzini
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    Senior Member vieri's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    Ok, so maybe I have to reword my question: to photograph the big US outdoor of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, California, is it:

    - better having the longer lenses that the Phase will allow me

    or

    - better have the movements that the technical camera will allow me (together with slightly better quality glass, probably)?

    As far as packing, I am ok with trekking with weight, so it would be equal for me to bring my Phase kit along even if slightly heavier.

    Any opinion welcome, especially from those of you guys that have been there... thanks!
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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    My experience with western US destinations is that the wide end is considerably more useful than the long end.
    I can think of maybe three occasions when I wished I had packed my 300 when I didn't, but I will bring out the 28mm a few times per day.
    So My Phase Travel kit is the :
    28mm
    45mm
    75-150 zoom
    and that is that.
    I have a technical camera that I occasionally carry, but too often it is just not that helpful.
    Just my opinion,
    -bob

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    Senior Member vieri's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    My experience with western US destinations is that the wide end is considerably more useful than the long end.
    I can think of maybe three occasions when I wished I had packed my 300 when I didn't, but I will bring out the 28mm a few times per day.
    So My Phase Travel kit is the :
    28mm
    45mm
    75-150 zoom
    and that is that.
    I have a technical camera that I occasionally carry, but too often it is just not that helpful.
    Just my opinion,
    -bob
    Hey Bob, thank you for chiming in and for sharing your experience - so, you'd say that 150 mm is plenty long? As well, I was wondering why you find a tech cam not helpful - is it a question of practicality and ease of use?

    Thanks again!
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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    Vieri,

    I tend to agree with Bob – wide will likely be more important than long in the western U.S. That said, one can find opportunities for longer lenses (including stitching, etc).

    For landscape in the West, I tend to shoot MF 35mm to 150mm. I don't have a tech camera and often wish I had the benefit of movements on many landscape images, but one can find alternative workarounds. Your trip is rather varied (as many of us experience) so compromise is likely in order. If I were traveling only for landscape imagery I'd likely take the tech camera, but for mixed tasks I'd prefer the DF kit. Traveling so distant, it seems like the DF kit may be a safer choice and more versatile, but that depends upon one's preferences and shooting style.

    You may get more focussed replies if you also include the destination points you plan to visit.

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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    Quote Originally Posted by vieri View Post
    Hey Bob, thank you for chiming in and for sharing your experience - so, you'd say that 150 mm is plenty long? As well, I was wondering why you find a tech cam not helpful - is it a question of practicality and ease of use?

    Thanks again!
    I love shooting with the tech cam, but it is a slow and deliberate pace. Much of what you will be shooting will work fine, however, without it.
    Some folks shoot with a tech cam exclusively, so you could do that if it suits you, however, there are times, when the speed and auto focus of the df style body will be needed. If I were to travel light, then the tech camera stays home. When I bring it, it seems to get limited use since the vast majority of shots do not require it and it is a bit more fiddly to get right.
    My thinking is that if you are in a situation where you may not have the chance to re-shoot the image due to something like a focusing issue or perhaps inadvertent lens flare, then shoot with the dslr style. OTOH, if that is what you love, then by all means bring it along.
    -bob

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    Senior Member vieri's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dale Allyn View Post
    Vieri,

    I tend to agree with Bob wide will likely be more important than long in the western U.S. That said, one can find opportunities for longer lenses (including stitching, etc).

    For landscape in the West, I tend to shoot MF 35mm to 150mm. I don't have a tech camera and often wish I had the benefit of movements on many landscape images, but one can find alternative workarounds. Your trip is rather varied (as many of us experience) so compromise is likely in order. If I were traveling only for landscape imagery I'd likely take the tech camera, but for mixed tasks I'd prefer the DF kit. Traveling so distant, it seems like the DF kit may be a safer choice and more versatile, but that depends upon one's preferences and shooting style.

    You may get more focussed replies if you also include the destination points you plan to visit.
    Hey Dale, thank you very much for your reply, much appreciated. Indeed my trip will be varied, and to get more specific it will go as follows:

    - Flying to Vegas, renting a car;
    - Moving south-east towards Arizona, then up north to Utah, back into Nevada, crossing west to California heading for S. Francisco, then back south-east through Death Valley and back to Vegas.
    - On the trip, I would like to be able to see, if possible: Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Zion, Arches, Yosemite, Death Valley. Probably it would not be possible to include Yellowstone (too far north).
    - Flying to NYC, staying about a week;
    - Flying back home.

    For casual shooting, for people, for NYC I will use:
    - Panasonic GF1, 20mm f1.7, 7-14mm f4;
    - Leica M2, Plus-X, 28mm, Noctilux, 90 f2.8;
    (this will all fit in a small bag for city walking, etc - plus, even if I will decide in favor of the Phase kit, I wouldn't want to lug it around NYC...)

    For landscape, I will either use
    - the Phase DF w/P65+, 28mm, 80mm, 150mm;
    - my Silvestri kit w/P65+, 28mm Rodenstock, 47 Schneider, 90 Schneider;
    always on tripod and taking my time.

    I plan also on bringing along a Holga 120 and maybe the X-Pan loaded with Velvia or Ilford Pan-F, to be used both for landscape and for city stuff.

    All the "Landscape kit" will fit easily in a medium-sized backpack, while the "City kit" will fit easily in a messenger-style bag, or even in my Think Tank Urban Disguise 20.

    So basically the MF kit will be used only for landscape...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    I love shooting with the tech cam, but it is a slow and deliberate pace. Much of what you will be shooting will work fine, however, without it.
    Some folks shoot with a tech cam exclusively, so you could do that if it suits you, however, there are times, when the speed and auto focus of the df style body will be needed. If I were to travel light, then the tech camera stays home. When I bring it, it seems to get limited use since the vast majority of shots do not require it and it is a bit more fiddly to get right.
    My thinking is that if you are in a situation where you may not have the chance to re-shoot the image due to something like a focusing issue or perhaps inadvertent lens flare, then shoot with the dslr style. OTOH, if that is what you love, then by all means bring it along.
    -bob
    Hello Bob, thank you for expanding on tech vs dslr style cameras. I don't shoot tech only, but I enjoy - as you perfectly put - the slower & more deliberate pace it forces one to stick to.

    So far, the jury is still out, but your opinions are helping me very much to shape a (hopefully) good decision

    So far it seems that:
    - wide angles to 150mm at most will be all I need for the US western landscape;

    Plus:

    - In my last trips, though to very different locations, I found I rarely did use longer than 80mm on MF anyway;

    Maybe the tech camera, with less bits and pieces, less battery, less bulk will be good enough even ending at 90mm and without AF then, leaving the GF1+M2 for the rest and freeing some space/weight for the X-Pan (would love to experiment with panoramic on the Western landscape)...

    Keep'em coming!
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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    I use everything I have pretty much with the Phase gear. I actually use the 150mm and 200mm apo quite a bit. But primary is usually the 28, 45 and 150 than the others when needed
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    Basically what has been said -- I would echo the 28, 45 and 75-150 zoom for a landscape trio. In fact, I just returned from the PODAS workshop in Glacier National Park, and while I carried my 28, 45, 80 LS, 120 macro and 75-150 zoom, I only ever used the 28, 45 and 75-150.

    If you want only primes, I could probably shoot 95% of everything landscape using the 45, 80 and 120 macro -- and in fact, that is the trio I carry when I want to go light. For wider than the 45 covers, I'd simply stitch with the 45 or 80. I'll be posting some stitch/panos over the next few days.

    Re tech camera. While they are awesome tools with outstanding optics available, they are much slower to work with. Moreover, the P65+/DF body combo allows for very easy hand-held, low light shooting using the 45 or 80 with sensor+ at ISO 1600. That combo provides outstanding 15MP images that rival the best 22-25MP DSLR captures.

    Final two cents: Frankly, you could leave the entire M2 kit at home so as not to even deal with the hassles of traveling with film; the GF1 will be more than adequate for your small camera needs and keep your total kit a lot simpler, especially if you add the 7-14 for uber wide.
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    Senior Member vieri's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    I use everything I have pretty much with the Phase gear. I actually use the 150mm and 200mm apo quite a bit. But primary is usually the 28, 45 and 150 than the
    others when needed
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Basically what has been said -- I would echo the 28, 45 and 75-150 zoom for a landscape trio. In fact, I just returned from the PODAS workshop in Glacier National Park, and while I carried my 28, 45, 80 LS, 120 macro and 75-150 zoom, I only ever used the 28, 45 and 75-150.

    If you want only primes, I could probably shoot 95% of everything landscape using the 45, 80 and 120 macro -- and in fact, that is the trio I carry when I want to go light. For wider than the 45 covers, I'd simply stitch with the 45 or 80. I'll be posting some stitch/panos over the next few days.

    Re tech camera. While they are awesome tools with outstanding optics available, they are much slower to work with. Moreover, the P65+/DF body combo allows for very easy hand-held, low light shooting using the 45 or 80 with sensor+ at ISO 1600. That combo provides outstanding 15MP images that rival the best 22-25MP DSLR captures.
    Hey guys, I was hoping you'd both chime in, your experience both in general and particularly with this area of the US is invaluable IMHO and your suggestions are a great help for me to help me decide.

    So, let's split things...

    Optics: as Bob & Dale suggested, it seems that you both agree that 28 to 90-120 is about enough to cover most of my needs except for a few occasions where longer lenses might be needed;

    Flexibility of the kit: seeing that I will bring the m4/3 (GF1) & the Leica gear along anyway, let's see if this makes any sense:
    - the GF1 with M adapter and the Elmarit 90 f2.8 will bring me to 180 mm (35mm equiv.), but of course nowhere near MF quality as far as files go, though not that bad;
    - film & the GF1 will give me good ISO 400 to 800, not maybe as good as Sensor+ but way more portable for handheld low light stuff;

    Pace: this will be a photo-trip, so I plan to take my time while shooting;

    Weight: tech camera & 3 lenses weight less and take less space overall than the DF & 3 lenses;

    One more question:
    - what is the collective wisdom on using a fill-flash for that kind of landscape? I tend to always have a SB-800 with me for that, but end up not using it much if at all.

    Thank you all, most appreciated!
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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    ...

    Final two cents: Frankly, you could leave the entire M2 kit at home so as not to even deal with the hassles of traveling with film; the GF1 will be more than adequate for your small camera needs and keep your total kit a lot simpler, especially if you add the 7-14 for uber wide.
    Missed this on my previous reply: thank you Jack, I know your advice makes a lot of sense, however for people & urban stuff I'd feel naked without a film M

    Plus, I considered that I'd bring the Nocti & the 90 f2.8 anyway to use with the GF1, so adding the M2 body will not be too much difference in weight and bulk...

    Truth to be told, I just love the look of film and shooting film in general, I keep finding excuses not to drop it...
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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    No worries, being an ex-M shooter myself, I totally understand that feeling and need!

    As for a longer optic for when needed, I should mention I also carry an older manual-focus 300mm f5.6 ED Mamiya lens. This one is cheap at around $300 for a good used copy, and is compact enough to fit nose-down in my ThinkTank Antidote. However, since I carry my GF1 IR with me at all times, I don't have a free slot in the small ThinkTank unless I remove one of the other lenses first. This lens is usually wrapped in a lens-wrap and stowed in my regular luggage for when needed. I only mention this because while the 90 M on the GF1 will give you the same net focal length, the 300 on the P65+ is a lot better file, especially if you need to reach out there for a landscape; longer lenses do tend to cut through haze a bit, and often just enough to make the difference in a long-distance landscape.
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    Senior Member vieri's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    No worries, being an ex-M shooter myself, I totally understand that feeling and need!

    As for a longer optic for when needed, I should mention I also carry an older manual-focus 300mm f5.6 ED Mamiya lens. This one is cheap at around $300 for a good used copy, and is compact enough to fit nose-down in my ThinkTank Antidote. However, since I carry my GF1 IR with me at all times, I don't have a free slot in the small ThinkTank unless I remove one of the other lenses first. This lens is usually wrapped in a lens-wrap and stowed in my regular luggage for when needed. I only mention this because while the 90 M on the GF1 will give you the same net focal length, the 300 on the P65+ is a lot better file, especially if you need to reach out there for a landscape; longer lenses do tend to cut through haze a bit, and often just enough to make the difference in a long-distance landscape.
    Jack, very good point re: long lenses & haze. I like to use medium-long glass for landscapes when I need to get that little compression & haze cut; as much as I like the perspective that WA lenses give. Thus my original question, not knowing the location(s) I was (still am) a bit at lost deciding what to bring along as far as FL, so thank you once more for sharing your experience!
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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    You didn't mention Bryce Canyon. It is not too far from Zion and it is worth the trip.

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    Senior Member vieri's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Cindy Flood View Post
    You didn't mention Bryce Canyon. It is not too far from Zion and it is worth the trip.
    Definitely! Thanks for the reminder Cindy
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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    Hi Vieri - thought I'd jump in and add my 2.

    I shoot landscape with a Cambo WRS & P45+ along with a trio of Schneider lenses (35 mm, 72 mm and 120mm) and specialize in the southwest. I used to have a 28mm but soon found it too wide for my taste seeing as how using the great ability of flat stitching I could get the same result with the 35mm.

    I used to shoot with a Phase One AFD and very close to the same lenses lineup as yours however shortly after going to the technical camera I sold everything that wasn't for the technical and never looked back.

    The two previous paragraphs are a lead-in for my suggestions/recommendation. Take the technical camera - bet you didn't see that coming! I'd also take the X-Pan as well; that setup is very close to what I do now with my P45+ and M9.

    Bob is spot on when he wrote about the technical camera being a slow and deliberate pace. I take twice as long getting setup as Sandy does with her 1DsIII however while I'm setting up I'm also going through what I want to capture and how. I still get a tingly feeling whenever I use my Cambo - old school meets new. How many great photographers before me stood where I am using a technical camera and film to capture what I'm attempting to do with digital.

    Regarding your literary -

    Utah - Bryce Canyon and Zion you might also want to check out Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Might be a stretch but look into Moab as well (Canyonlands National Park with its 4-districts as well as Arches National Park and Dead Horse State Park).

    AZ - Grand Canyon (don't forget North Rim!), Monument Valley and Sedona area for the red rocks.

    CA - Death Valley, Mono Lake, Yosemite.

    There's more but it would mean much more time and driving.

    Speaking of driving. See about renting a 4x4 instead of a regular rental. You'll be going into a lot of places that are marked "Primitive Road" and the extra clearance will be nice.

    That's all I can think of for the moment. Have a great trip!

    Don

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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    I thought of this as I was adding my reply and while it isn't photographic related I do want to add it nevertheless.

    July in the southwest can be very unpredictable. We should start our monsoon season shortly which means rain - lots and lot of rain - for a short period of time. If you hear the weatherman call for thunderstorms in your area be very careful where you shoot that day especially if you're in any type of slot canyon. If you hear what sounds like a huge locomotive coming its too late.

    Also expect temps in the low to mid 100's and higher in Death Valley. Make certain you have plenty of water to drink (figure 1 gal per day). If you find yourself thirsty is just might be too late. There's a saying here in the southwest - "Hydrate or die".

    There - that's off my chest.

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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    WATER

    You can't have enough. Listen to Don
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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    Also a very old state law in Arizona. NO one can refuse you water even a place like Circle K or 7 Eleven connivence stores . They all have special cups for FREE water
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Senior Member vieri's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Libby View Post
    Hi Vieri - thought I'd jump in and add my 2.

    I shoot landscape with a Cambo WRS & P45+ along with a trio of Schneider lenses (35 mm, 72 mm and 120mm) and specialize in the southwest. I used to have a 28mm but soon found it too wide for my taste seeing as how using the great ability of flat stitching I could get the same result with the 35mm.

    I used to shoot with a Phase One AFD and very close to the same lenses lineup as yours however shortly after going to the technical camera I sold everything that wasn't for the technical and never looked back.

    The two previous paragraphs are a lead-in for my suggestions/recommendation. Take the technical camera - bet you didn't see that coming! I'd also take the X-Pan as well; that setup is very close to what I do now with my P45+ and M9.

    Bob is spot on when he wrote about the technical camera being a slow and deliberate pace. I take twice as long getting setup as Sandy does with her 1DsIII however while I'm setting up I'm also going through what I want to capture and how. I still get a tingly feeling whenever I use my Cambo - old school meets new. How many great photographers before me stood where I am using a technical camera and film to capture what I'm attempting to do with digital.

    Regarding your literary -

    Utah - Bryce Canyon and Zion you might also want to check out Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Might be a stretch but look into Moab as well (Canyonlands National Park with its 4-districts as well as Arches National Park and Dead Horse State Park).

    AZ - Grand Canyon (don't forget North Rim!), Monument Valley and Sedona area for the red rocks.

    CA - Death Valley, Mono Lake, Yosemite.

    There's more but it would mean much more time and driving.

    Speaking of driving. See about renting a 4x4 instead of a regular rental. You'll be going into a lot of places that are marked "Primitive Road" and the extra clearance will be nice.

    That's all I can think of for the moment. Have a great trip!

    Don
    Hey Don, thank you very much for sharing your experience, much appreciated - including the tech camera recommendation, I was hoping for some tech-loving guy to step in!

    My setup is a step shorter than yours (28, 47, 90) but that should probably do anyway...

    Thank you also for the 4x4 advice, I thought about it but wasn't sure I needed it, so that's that - one more problem solved thanks to the great people on the forum!
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    Senior Member vieri's Avatar
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    Re: Equipment & location question...

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Libby View Post
    I thought of this as I was adding my reply and while it isn't photographic related I do want to add it nevertheless.

    July in the southwest can be very unpredictable. We should start our monsoon season shortly which means rain - lots and lot of rain - for a short period of time. If you hear the weatherman call for thunderstorms in your area be very careful where you shoot that day especially if you're in any type of slot canyon. If you hear what sounds like a huge locomotive coming its too late.

    Also expect temps in the low to mid 100's and higher in Death Valley. Make certain you have plenty of water to drink (figure 1 gal per day). If you find yourself thirsty is just might be too late. There's a saying here in the southwest - "Hydrate or die".

    There - that's off my chest.

    Don
    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    WATER

    You can't have enough. Listen to Don
    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Also a very old state law in Arizona. NO one can refuse you water even a place like Circle K or 7 Eleven connivence stores . They all have special cups for FREE water
    Thank you for the advice - will try and have always an extra gallon or two in the car then (I am an heavy water-drinker, I drink about 2-3 lt per day normally, so I guess a gallon per day min will be necessary over there); thank you Guy for the input on the old Arizona law, there is no way I could have known that otherwise!
    Vieri Bottazzini
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