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Thread: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    I'm starting to use the A900 more often these days, and I'm totally impressed with image quality and film-like colors it produces. I'm also starting to realize that one has to consider it as an ISO 100-400 camera, otherwise disappointemnt will be inevitable. I used it the other day at ISO 400 as the light was getting low and I had no tripod. There is so much noise in the darker areas of the image. At 1600-3200, the noise is impossible to remove even with dedicated noise reduction software without killing all fine detail. One characteristic which seems odd to me is some chroma noise which looks like multicolored large dots, really large like 5-10 pixel diameter one dot can cover some important detail in a shot like an eye or a nose in a group shot.

    I would certainly use this camera at higher ISO for personal use, but for paid jobs I would not go above ISO 400. I have to say though that at ISO 100-200, the colors this camera gives me is so satisfyingly rich and deep that this alone makes me forgive the abysmal high-ISO. I have always done paid jobs on a tripod and lowest possible ISO anyway.

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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    A few things. Firstly, this camera tends do underexpose. Search "uniwb" on the dpreview Sony DSLR Forum, and that'll show you how to get a proper histogram in camera. Also, don't shoot in jpeg, and don't use Adobe or Sony IDC. C1, RAW Therapee, RPP, and Aperture are much better at higher ISO, and the A900 will be similar to the competition at ISO 800 with these raw converters. If I remember correctly, I read that you're using IDC, which is about the worst thing out there.

    Also, if you use one of the better converters like raw therapee, you can try not shooting over ISO 400, and then boosting exposure in post. Many are finding this brings better results.

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    Senior Member deepdiver's Avatar
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Yes, never shoot JPG for high iso on A900.
    it's really bad.
    To be honest i never use JPG when I'm shooting with it
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    HI Edward
    Duncan took the words out of my mouth . . . only he put it better than I could.

    I have setting three on:

    auto-iso
    auto-wb
    +1 stop exposure

    Then I use Aperture to process raw files - 3200 is still useable, although of course it isn't in the same league as the D3/D700. On the other hand, if your subject isn't dashing about, the in body IS makes up a bit more ground

    The exposure is the critical thing though - on the D3 I used to underexpose by 1/3 in good light and leave it even in poor. on the A900 I leave it even in good light, then up to a stop overexposure as the light gets worse.

    And ACR is dreadful with it (so bad that one wonders whether someone has persuaded Adobe to do it badly!).

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Thanks for your very helpful replies.

    In fact, I only shoot raw, never jpg. I have tried so far ACR and C1 but found the overall look to be better with IDC. That's why I'm willing to put up with its slowness until I find something better. I tried today Bibble 5 but it doesn't work on my machine. It seems RPP is the best A900 converter on the market, but it works only with Mac

    Anyway, if I understand it correctly, the approach of Sony is really commendable and is similar somewhat to the MFDB approach with better color filters on the sensors leading to better color separation and depth, and inevitably more noise, while other manufacturers are going for lighter filters and better high Iso performance on the expense of color quality. Being basically a low ISO shooter, I much prefer the A900 approach, and I have to say that I like A900 colors much more than with previous brands.

    Btw, how would you rate raw therapee?
    Last edited by edwardkaraa; 10th February 2009 at 02:57.

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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Quote Originally Posted by edwardkaraa View Post

    Anyway, if I understand it correctly, the approach of Sony is really commendable and is similar somewhat to the MFDB approach with better color filters on the sensors leading to better color separation and depth, and inevitably more noise, while other manufacturers are going for lighter filters and better high Iso performance on the expense of color quality. Being basically a low ISO shooter, I much prefer the A900 approach, and I have to say that I like A900 colors much more than with previous brands.
    Ah - so it isn't just my subjective feeling - I love the colour, I've only had a couple of cameras before with colour anything like as good . . . Olympus E1 and Kodak 14/n, and of course, both of those were subject to noise.

    Every time I open an A900 file it gives me a little buzz all over again, they're just so . . . erm . . NICE!

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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Quote Originally Posted by edwardkaraa View Post
    Anyway, if I understand it correctly, the approach of Sony is really commendable and is similar somewhat to the MFDB approach with better color filters on the sensors leading to better color separation and depth, and inevitably more noise, while other manufacturers are going for lighter filters and better high Iso performance on the expense of color quality. Being basically a low ISO shooter, I much prefer the A900 approach, and I have to say that I like A900 colors much more than with previous brands.
    That's a very interesting comment... How do the sensor color filters differ on MF, more narrow spectrum?
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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    I'm no expert on the matter, but from reading several threads about this, it seems that recent models of the most popular manufacturers have lighter more transparent RGB filters which reduce the noise considerably, but with the disadvantage of reduced color separation and depth. It is the by-product of high-ISO race of who can produce the camera with the highest noisefree ISO. MFDB are designed for studio work and thus color quality is very important so the RGB filters are not tampered with. Sony has knowingly or unknowingly followed the same path with the A900. However, it might not be the same with future models because high-ISO is so important for many buyers.

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Ah - so it isn't just my subjective feeling - I love the colour, I've only had a couple of cameras before with colour anything like as good . . . Olympus E1 and Kodak 14/n, and of course, both of those were subject to noise.

    Every time I open an A900 file it gives me a little buzz all over again, they're just so . . . erm . . NICE!
    Exactly my feeling

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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Quote Originally Posted by edwardkaraa View Post
    I'm no expert on the matter, but from reading several threads about this, it seems that recent models of the most popular manufacturers have lighter more transparent RGB filters which reduce the noise considerably, but with the disadvantage of reduced color separation and depth. It is the by-product of high-ISO race of who can produce the camera with the highest noisefree ISO. MFDB are designed for studio work and thus color quality is very important so the RGB filters are not tampered with. Sony has knowingly or unknowingly followed the same path with the A900. However, it might not be the same with future models because high-ISO is so important for many buyers.
    In which case isn't it lucky that they've made such a blindingly good camera this time around. I honestly can't see any good reason why I would want a different dSLR for a long time to come (now then, where have I heard that before!).

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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    ...I honestly can't see any good reason why I would want a different dSLR for a long time to come (now then, where have I heard that before!).
    Yeah, right....

    When is the new Leica released???

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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Quentin_Bargate View Post
    Yeah, right....

    When is the new Leica released???

    Quentin (not that I'm any better, mind)
    Go Back To Russia mate

    Mind you - it's YOU that is the obvious victim of the S2, not me (too heavy not enough zooms, too expensive).

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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Go Back To Russia mate

    Mind you - it's YOU that is the obvious victim of the S2, not me (too heavy not enough zooms, too expensive).
    Now now, behave, or this might be you (shot on Sigma DP1 in Red Square)



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  14. #14
    kelvin
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    Unhappy Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    I just downloaded Aperture 2, it won't open my Sony A900 RAW file. Did I do something wrong? Help.

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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Quote Originally Posted by kelvin View Post
    I just downloaded Aperture 2, it won't open my Sony A900 RAW file. Did I do something wrong? Help.
    Hi there
    the RAW support is in the operating system - have you done all the updates?
    Alternatively you can download the Adobe DNG converter, convert to dng and use those in Aperture.

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    Senior Member Eoin's Avatar
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Quote Originally Posted by kelvin View Post
    I just downloaded Aperture 2, it won't open my Sony A900 RAW file. Did I do something wrong? Help.
    Need a little more information to help, I presume your using Leopard (v10.5) but what I suggest you do is connect to the net then do a full software update (apple logo in your top menu bar, software update) allow the computer to do this a few times as some updates then require another update once they are installed. You'll eventually get the message your software is up to date.

    AFAIK the support for the A900 is included in the digital camera raw update, I haven't been following in which release of the update it was included, but as a matter of course I install all the updates as they are available and the A900 works fine for me on Aperture v2.1.2

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    Senior Member Eoin's Avatar
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Beat me to it Jono! LOL

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    Senior Member deepdiver's Avatar
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Took this pic at my room, using A900 + Zeiss 135 + F58
    Iso 250



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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Andree!
    Are you getting ready for ebay?

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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Quentin_Bargate View Post
    Now now, behave, or this might be you (shot on Sigma DP1 in Red Square)



    Quentin
    Quite honestly that looks warmer than it is here right now!

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    kelvin
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Thank you Jono and Eoin, I updated Aperture and it worked! Now I have to get busy and learn how to use the software.

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    Senior Member Eoin's Avatar
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    best place to start, is the Aperture tutorials on apple's web site. Make a coffee sit back, relax and enjoy !

    http://www.apple.com/aperture/tutorials/

    Then when you've mastered all this, start looking at the plugin's available, they take apertures abilities to a whole new level.

    Also seriously explore the edit with external editor function, another power tool to harness the power of (insert your favorite pixel editor here) within aperture.

    Enjoy!

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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Quote Originally Posted by kelvin View Post
    Thank you Jono and Eoin, I updated Aperture and it worked! Now I have to get busy and learn how to use the software.
    As Eoin said (this time he beat me to it!)

    I reckon that the NIK software plugins are the best of the bunch, and Viveza (for colour) and Silver efex pro (for black and white) Really do do the business.

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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Here's my take on the A900 and ISO performance.

    I'm in agreement that this is more like any high meg camera ... except my previous Canon 1DsMKIII wasn't much better ... in that it smeared detail above ISO 1000, and IMO was a decent ISO 100 to 800 camera.

    Here's the difference that I see ... the nature of the A900 noise is that it's cleaner ... more like film grain ... but more importantly it looks worse on screen than in a print ... where the Canon looked better on screen, but looked plastic in print. Since I sell prints that was a VERY important discovery.


    I use the A900 @ 640 and 800 all the time (for paying work). I like the look of it a lot ... but then, I've been searching for the Holy Grail ... a digital camera with files that look more film like. If exposed correctly, I've not seen bad grain at all ... because it reminds me so much of what scanned film looks like when printed. I've even had to lift underexposed 800 shots where my flash had not powered back up enough, and I got better results than from my other high meg cameras. But, again, I don't want plastic digital look that's so popular with many folks. If I want smooth, I shoot MFD at ISO 50.

    I use a D3/D700 for obvious low ambient light shots, and would no more use the A900 for that than I would a MF digital camera.

    Different strokes for different folks.

    Here's one of the ISO 800 wedding shots where the flash underfired, and I had to lift it by at least 1.5 stops ... it's a picture I wanted to save because of the letch subject matter : -) Shot with the A900 and Zeiss 24-70/2.8 @ 70mm.

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    Senior Member viablex1's Avatar
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    ^^ lol, really gives man mammals a bad name!!! nice color though!!

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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Now that I have a uniWB set for the camera, I've been pretty amazed how much more red and blue channel exposure latitude has been available in my shooting. I agree with fotografz that the noise in the A900 files is very pleasing.

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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Quote Originally Posted by douglasf13 View Post
    Now that I have a uniWB set for the camera, I've been pretty amazed how much more red and blue channel exposure latitude has been available in my shooting. I agree with fotografz that the noise in the A900 files is very pleasing.
    Yeah, the A900 really responds to getting the WB correct. The color right out of the camera was really a pleasant surprise.

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    Senior Member douglasf13's Avatar
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    I think we may be talking about different things. UniWB is the native WB of the sensor, and all shots come out green until adjusted in the raw converter. The advantage being that your camera histogram is accurate, and it usually shows the green channel being much more saturated than red or blue.

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Hi Marc,

    Nice to see you here after the Contax info forums It seems Contax people are finding the new Sony/Zeiss system quite attractive.

    In the picture you show, and it is a very nice "moment" to say the least there is pleanty of blotchy chroma noise visible even at this very small size. You can look at the girl's hair in the middle and above the 2 lamps on the wooden wall. I'm sure it's easily removable but I find impressive that I can actually see it at this size. Anyway, I shoot mostly at ISO 100, one stop below the native sensitivity, because it seems to produce the cleanest files and not so much loss in DR. Between 100-400 the colors of this camera are simply amazing.

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Here's my take on the A900 and ISO performance.

    I'm in agreement that this is more like any high meg camera ... except my previous Canon 1DsMKIII wasn't much better ... in that it smeared detail above ISO 1000, and IMO was a decent ISO 100 to 800 camera.

    Here's the difference that I see ... the nature of the A900 noise is that it's cleaner ... more like film grain ... but more importantly it looks worse on screen than in a print ... where the Canon looked better on screen, but looked plastic in print. Since I sell prints that was a VERY important discovery.


    I use the A900 @ 640 and 800 all the time (for paying work). I like the look of it a lot ... but then, I've been searching for the Holy Grail ... a digital camera with files that look more film like. If exposed correctly, I've not seen bad grain at all ... because it reminds me so much of what scanned film looks like when printed. I've even had to lift underexposed 800 shots where my flash had not powered back up enough, and I got better results than from my other high meg cameras. But, again, I don't want plastic digital look that's so popular with many folks. If I want smooth, I shoot MFD at ISO 50.

    I use a D3/D700 for obvious low ambient light shots, and would no more use the A900 for that than I would a MF digital camera.

    Different strokes for different folks.

    Here's one of the ISO 800 wedding shots where the flash underfired, and I had to lift it by at least 1.5 stops ... it's a picture I wanted to save because of the letch subject matter : -) Shot with the A900 and Zeiss 24-70/2.8 @ 70mm.

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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Quote Originally Posted by edwardkaraa View Post
    Hi Marc,

    Nice to see you here after the Contax info forums It seems Contax people are finding the new Sony/Zeiss system quite attractive.

    In the picture you show, and it is a very nice "moment" to say the least there is pleanty of blotchy chroma noise visible even at this very small size. You can look at the girl's hair in the middle and above the 2 lamps on the wooden wall. I'm sure it's easily removable but I find impressive that I can actually see it at this size. Anyway, I shoot mostly at ISO 100, one stop below the native sensitivity, because it seems to produce the cleanest files and not so much loss in DR. Between 100-400 the colors of this camera are simply amazing.
    I agree, this is the closest thing to the ND so far. Remember Irakly from the Contax forum? He said the same thing the minute he picked up my A900. As far as noise, you are more of a Pixel Peeper than I am This camera is fine for my applications up to ISO 800, and even 1250 if the exposure is good. The example I showed was a torture test of being able to recover a badly underexposed ISO 800 shot ... the location was lit with all kinds of mixed colored lighting like blue green overheads washing the room accented with magenta and red spot lights.

    I've done a few shots in the studio using strobes, and at ISO 100 it's quite amazing. So far, I have 2 non-Zeiss lenses and have been pleasantly surprised. The 50/1.4 is better than the Zeiss N50/1.4 which exhibited horrible Bokeh, and the Sony 70-200/2.8G APO is every bit the campanion to the Zeiss 24-70/2.8 ... easily the best zoom in this focal range I've ever used.

  31. #31
    gtmerideth
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Douglas, might you discuss the UniWB? As per the manual, it's establishing a custom WB. Did you use daylight as the light source? Then, how do you adjust the settings?

    I know it's a hijack but this technique is very important.

    thanks,
    gary

  32. #32
    Member Quino Terceño's Avatar
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    I am with Gary. Please Douglas, tell us.

    Thanks.

    Quino

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Yes, I have to admit that I suffer from a serious case of pixel peeping

    I did get some horrible noise at underexposed ISO 800 as well. But I guess for well exposed photos, one can go as high as 1600.

    I do remember Irakly, I recall that he had an outstanding portrait portfolio.

    Cheers,
    Edward

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    I agree, this is the closest thing to the ND so far. Remember Irakly from the Contax forum? He said the same thing the minute he picked up my A900. As far as noise, you are more of a Pixel Peeper than I am This camera is fine for my applications up to ISO 800, and even 1250 if the exposure is good. The example I showed was a torture test of being able to recover a badly underexposed ISO 800 shot ... the location was lit with all kinds of mixed colored lighting like blue green overheads washing the room accented with magenta and red spot lights.

    I've done a few shots in the studio using strobes, and at ISO 100 it's quite amazing. So far, I have 2 non-Zeiss lenses and have been pleasantly surprised. The 50/1.4 is better than the Zeiss N50/1.4 which exhibited horrible Bokeh, and the Sony 70-200/2.8G APO is every bit the campanion to the Zeiss 24-70/2.8 ... easily the best zoom in this focal range I've ever used.

  34. #34
    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    I have to revise what I said earlier about the A900 being a 100 to 400 iso camera only. I took today a few snapshots at iso 1600, making sure they are correctly exposed, and not only noise looks excellent (NR OFF) but I have never seen such detail in a 1600 iso file from my 1Ds2. More and more, I am starting to appreciate Sony's approach and hope they won't get influenced by the hype over high iso.

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    85mm ZA 1/45 f/2 iso 1600 NR Off

    sharpened for the web.

    Attachment 12853
    Last edited by edwardkaraa; 30th August 2009 at 10:28.

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    Senior Member edwardkaraa's Avatar
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    Re: A900: An ISO 100-400 camera

    Sorry to revive this thread, but I was wondering recently why do my raw files open in IDC with auto high iso noise reduction ON while the setting in the camera is off. I shot the same shot at iso 1600 in raw and JPG NR off. I processed the raw in IDC with the NR setting on auto and another on off. The result is the camera jpg has noise reduction even though the setting is NR off. It seems to have strong luminace NR and weak chrominance NR. Second best is IDC on auto, quite similar to the jpg but with more chrominance NR applied and less luminance NR. It is slightly sharper. The best result come from IDC NR off, it seems to be truly off and produces very sharp results and film like grain. I usually leave the luminance noise and reduce the chrominance a bit but not completely as to not to lose saturation. Very interesting that NR is on even when specifically selected on off. I didn't try any shots with NR on but I assume they would be even worse.
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