Nikon Macro Lens Help?

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Chris_VE.
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Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by Chris_VE. » August 21st, 2011, 3:47 pm

Hiya all!

I have a Nikon D40, and have been very happy with it. But I have the HARDEST time getting decent close-ups with my lens... Every once in a while... I get lucky, but I feel like I want a macro lens. Right now it has the standard 18-55 lens that they all come with and that is it.

Now when it comes to macro lenses... I have no idea what I should be looking for... So help would be appreciated! I was thinking about the AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G from NIkons website for $280. Mainly because it is Nikons cheapest macro lens. Would this be a bad buy? What would be a good buy? What should I be looking for so I can get the most out of my macro photography? I am on a bit of a budget! The lower the price... The better! But I do understand the fact that some things in life... You have to put more money into them. Thanks!

And Just for the heck of it... Here are a few pictures I have gotten lucky on with my lens! Or so I feel.
Baja California Tree Frog
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Juvenile California Striped Racer
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Random Plant
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Can Top
Image



-Chris

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MHollanders
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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by MHollanders » August 21st, 2011, 4:21 pm

I would go for the 105mm, but that may be slightly out of your budget. I always end up recommending this lens because it seems like the best all-around lens for herps. It's telephoto enough to get great close-ups, but wide enough to allow full body shots of most North American snakes. It's one of the sharpest lenses in Nikon's line-up. A cheaper lens but probably equally high in quality is the 60mm macro (get the older, AF-D, version), but that's very close to the 18-55mm in focal length. Look through your viewfinder at 55mm to see what kind of focal length you'll be shooting with.

Sample shots of 105mm; first close up (at or close to minimum focus distance), then full-body.

Image

Image

Image

Image

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by ksuglennj » August 22nd, 2011, 7:34 am

I'm wondering a little about the 40mm macro since it is new.

You've already been given great advice. I've got both a 105 and 60. Both serve a purpose. I've got an older 105 that is only manual focus. It is for larger snakes (especially venomous). The 60 works better for animals I want within an arms length to help manipulate. Both these lenses are of excellent quality. I'm now shooting the newer version of the 60, but shot the version before. The glass seemed equal to the the newer version, just the newer version has faster auto focus. Never hesitate to look for quality used glass to save a buck.

Glenn

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by chrish » August 22nd, 2011, 12:33 pm

Actually, looking at your shots, the problem isn't that you lens isn't good, you just aren't using it properly.

In the first shot, the focus is on the frog's back, not its eye. The depth of field is to shallow and it looks like you used too slow a shutter speed.
In the racer shot, the autofocus sensor obviously focused on the snake's coils, not the head. More depth of field would have helped as well.
The other shots are fine. Why? Because the sensor autofocused on the correct spot and the Depth of field is adequate for what you are trying to show.

Before you go spend money on a lens, I honestly think you can get a lot more out of the lens you have. I've seen some really nice shots taken with that Nikon kit lens. Do a little reading on using depth of field, adjusting your shutter speed, using flash, etc. in macro photography. Just reviewing some of the posts on the Image Lab here would help you with most of it.

That said, if you are ready for a dedicated macro lens.....

That Nikon 40mm does seem like a bargain for the price, but with a minimum focusing distance of 6.4 inches it may not be practical for herps at 1.1 magnification. For comparison, the Tamron 90 can take the same shot at 11.4 inches away. Those extra inches can make a difference.
That's why most herp photographers like a longer macro lens in the 60/70/90/100/105 mm range.

Don't overlook the 3rd party lenses. 3rd party macro lenses test out as sharp as (or even sharper than) the camera manufacturers lenses at a lower price.
A good herp macro lens will cost you under $500 new.

Tamron 90 macro = $409 after rebate = great lens, a forum favorite and my go-to herp lens for years
Tamron 60 macro = $399 after rebate
Tokina 100 macro = $449
Sigma 70mm macro = $499

With any of the above lenses, you would never find yourself saying "Damn, I wish I had paid more for the Nikkor version".
If you want image stabilization, you will have to pay more....or buy a different brand of camera :lol:

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by RobertH » August 22nd, 2011, 3:06 pm

Chris is right, Chris (whoa, that sounds weird :crazyeyes: ).

Get the most out of the lens you have first.

The major problem seems to be the autofocus. Stop using it for macro shots and go manual. That's the main reason Nicholas will soon upgrade to a mirrorless DSLR - the AF of his Nikon P&S is simply no good for macro work (and manual button-operated manual focus option is way too slow).

Use a flash for all (or most) macro shots. That will allow you to shoot with a smaller aperture (8 or smaller), which will give you more depth of field, i.e., more three-dimensional sharpness. The flash will also bring out more colors. The frog pic, for example, was taken against the sunlight, so you got white reflections on the dorsum instead of a rich, green color. Here, for example, is a picture of a very similar frog taken (by Nick) with flash:

Image

Notice, though, how the eyes are out of focus. That's the AF problem I mentioned. Plus, the auto shooting mode chose a 3.5 aperture, way too wide open and hence too little depth of field. He should have manually picked a higher ISO (400 or higher), which would have allowed him to choose a smaller aperture (because more sensitivity means more light and more light means you can shoot with a smaller aperture) and thus achieve better depth of field.

Chrish is also right about the focal length. If you do get a macro lens, you'll want at least 60mm, and probably more. The Tamron 90mm, for example, gets excellent reviews.

Having said that, Nicholas may end up with just 60mm, but that's mostly because of his small size. He wouldn't be able to handle herps with 90mm or more. Plus a heavier lens is harder to hold still (for anyone), which translates into a greater number of shots coming out blurred (everything else being equal). Since you are both much taller and stronger, this should not be a problem for you, though.

I know, this pretty much just restates what chrisH already told you, but I thought I'd elaborate a bit. :)

Robert

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by chrish » August 22nd, 2011, 8:39 pm

RobertH wrote:Having said that, Nicholas may end up with just 60mm, but that's mostly because of his small size. He wouldn't be able to handle herps with 90mm or more. Plus a heavier lens is harder to hold still (for anyone), which translates into a greater number of shots coming out blurred (everything else being equal). Since you are both much taller and stronger, this should not be a problem for you, though.
Nikkor 60mm Macro lens = 440g
Tamron 90mm Macro lens = 405g

The Tamron is very light, but that damn lens is practically indescructible. Mine has been out in the field and abused for somewhere near 8 years and probably been on my camera(s) for around 30,000 shots. I'm not kind to gear either.

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by Robert Hansen » August 22nd, 2011, 9:06 pm

You've received lots of good advice here, but in case I missed it, here's one more point. Your D40 uses a smaller (DX) sensor, and thus has a crop factor of 1.5. This means that a 60mm lens is the equivalent of a 90mm lens, and therefore is very close to perfect for use with your current camera. Someday if you take the plunge into a full-frame (FX) camera, the 105mm lens (or third party analogues) will be your best bet. But for now, putting a 105 on your D40 will give you a 157mm lens, a bit much for macro work. As Chris suggested, regardless of lens choice, refine your technique and you'll see marked improvement in your pics. Good luck!

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by chrish » August 23rd, 2011, 4:55 pm

Robert makes a good point, except I might point out that almost everyone on here who likes the 90/100/105 focal length has a camera that has a 1.5 (or even 1.6) crop factor.

I think the 90mm on a 1.5x crop sensor is a great lens for herps.

FWIW, I also own a 180mm and a 50mm macro and I leave those at home and use the 90mm.

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by MHollanders » August 23rd, 2011, 7:27 pm

Although the crop factor wasn't previously mentioned, he still shoots with an 18-55 and thus should have a pretty good feel for what a 60mm macro looks like.

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by ChrisNM » August 24th, 2011, 9:34 am

the 18-55mm that came with the D40 is a DX lens, thus it is "true" to its focal range so when at 18mm he's shooting 18...same for 55mm. Non-DX lenses are the only ones that should technically experience the crop factor magnification.

The only thing I've heard about the tamron 90 is you get a good lens or a crappy one. Seems many get good more often than not. Back in 2004 it was recommended to me do go with the Nikon 60mm micro to couple with my D70, I did and that lens is on my D70/D300 about 95% of the time. I paid $400 for it back in Dec 04 and I absolutely love the lens.

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by MHollanders » August 24th, 2011, 1:58 pm

Chris, I don't think what you're saying is true? I think the focal length still has to be converted on a DX lens...

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by Kevin Price » August 24th, 2011, 3:37 pm

MHollanders is correct. A 18-55 is the same whether it is on a DX body or an FX body. What does change is the apparent focal length of the lens being used. A Lens designed for full frame cameras (FX) is made so the image is exposed across the entire sensor. That same lens on a crop camera (DX) will also expose across the entire face of the sensor, but because the sensor is smaller than the full frame only the center portion of the image is recorded. If two images were taken of an identical subject at the same focal length with both a full frame (FX) camera and a crop camera (DX) using the same lens and then printed out, the subject would be larger in the crop camera print than in than the full frame print. The focal length of the lens did not change, only how the camera recorded it. The camera only recorded the center most portion of the image due to the crop factor.

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by Daniel D Dye » August 24th, 2011, 7:06 pm

I have read some excellent advise from many in this thread, you fortunate to have all this knowledge at your fingertips.

Now for my 2 cents worth. :)

Back when I used a Nikon F4 (film), one of my favorite lenses was the Tamron 90mm macro. It’s one of the sharpest lenses I’ve ever used. I would also use the Nikon 60mm micro on occasion. When I started shooting digital with a Nikon D50, I found myself using the 60mm more and more. The focal length of the 60mm on the D40, D50, D70 and D90 is 90mm because of the 1.5 crop factor. Which, by the way is the same focal length as the Tamron 90mm on my F4 film camera...go figure. I mention all these models because I use them all from time to time. I use the D90 most though.

When I’m in the field I may go from photographing snakes to ¼ inch long spiders, so I need a lens that will be able to handle those extremes without making me struggle to get the shot. The macro/micro lenses like the Tamron 90mm, Nikon 85mm, Tokina 100mm (a personal favorite) and the Nikon 105mm are all wonderful lenses, however the 1.5 crop factor forces me to backup further than I care to fill the frame. I like to be up close… within reason of course.

All of the lenses discussed in this thread will do a great job for you once you learn how to use your camera and the lenses you choose. By the way, the 18-55mm kit lens that came with your D40 is an excellent lens and will do some outstanding close-ups. Learn how to use your aperture and shutter speed to get the most out of your camera and you’ll be well on your way.

Daniel

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by ChrisNM » August 24th, 2011, 9:13 pm

Sorry guys, but one of us is misunderstood and I don't think it's me.

DX lenses came about due to the crop factor of the DX sensor.

A Nikon 18-55mm DX lens will give a focal length of 18-55mm on a DX sensored camera. An 18-55mm NON-DX lens will yield a 27-82.5mm focal length.

Kevin you are accurate in describing how the sensor interpets what the lens translates to it, thus the crop factor. However, that crop factor goes both ways. Place an 18-55mm DX lens on an FX body and the FX camera (D700) will actually, if not in DX mode, show black corners where the DX lens circle of center fails to cover the FX sensor. This also reduces the IQ from a standpoint of pixels as a result. I believe the D700 drops to something around 5MP with a DX lens mounted to it.

To keep the math simple, a 100mm non-DX lens on a DX camera will give an equivalent view of what a 150mm would be on 35mm film or FX format.

My D70 kit lens is 18-70 and is DX, thus its true focal range is 18-70mm. If it were non-DX and placed on a 35mm it would still be 18-70.

The DX lenses were brought about from Nikon due to their digital SLRs utilizing the DX sensor; they are speifically designed to no have a crop factor when coupled with a DX sensored camera. The only time you get crop factor is utilizing a non-DX lens (pre-DX lenses or current FX lenses) on a DX sensored camera.

EDIT:

Through some more reading, I think I get where Matthijs and Kevin are coming from. Regardless of sensor type, and for sake of example a 100m lens is, a 100m lens is, a 100m lens. The focal length doesn't change. What changes when a non-DX lens is placed on a DX sensored camera is the angle of view or field of view. A 100mm NON-DX lens will capture the same field of view as a 150mm lens on a 35mm or FX format camera. However, that does not change with a DX lens on a DX camera. The DX lenses are designed to accomodate the smaller field of view of the DX sensor and thus any lens with the designation of DX will not be subject to the 1.5 crop factor.

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by El Bufo Grande » August 24th, 2011, 11:45 pm

ChrisNM wrote:Sorry guys, but one of us is misunderstood and I don't think it's me.

DX lenses came about due to the crop factor of the DX sensor.

A Nikon 18-55mm DX lens will give a focal length of 18-55mm on a DX sensored camera. An 18-55mm NON-DX lens will yield a 27-82.5mm focal length.

Kevin you are accurate in describing how the sensor interpets what the lens translates to it, thus the crop factor. However, that crop factor goes both ways. Place an 18-55mm DX lens on an FX body and the FX camera (D700) will actually, if not in DX mode, show black corners where the DX lens circle of center fails to cover the FX sensor. This also reduces the IQ from a standpoint of pixels as a result. I believe the D700 drops to something around 5MP with a DX lens mounted to it.

To keep the math simple, a 100mm non-DX lens on a DX camera will give an equivalent view of what a 150mm would be on 35mm film or FX format.

My D70 kit lens is 18-70 and is DX, thus its true focal range is 18-70mm. If it were non-DX and placed on a 35mm it would still be 18-70.

The DX lenses were brought about from Nikon due to their digital SLRs utilizing the DX sensor; they are speifically designed to no have a crop factor when coupled with a DX sensored camera. The only time you get crop factor is utilizing a non-DX lens (pre-DX lenses or current FX lenses) on a DX sensored camera.

EDIT:

Through some more reading, I think I get where Matthijs and Kevin are coming from. Regardless of sensor type, and for sake of example a 100m lens is, a 100m lens is, a 100m lens. The focal length doesn't change. What changes when a non-DX lens is placed on a DX sensored camera is the angle of view or field of view. A 100mm NON-DX lens will capture the same field of view as a 150mm lens on a 35mm or FX format camera. However, that does not change with a DX lens on a DX camera. The DX lenses are designed to accomodate the smaller field of view of the DX sensor and thus any lens with the designation of DX will not be subject to the 1.5 crop factor.
Dude, you're all over the place here. Focal length doesn't change based on how big the sensor is. Your statement "A Nikon 18-55mm DX lens will give a focal length of 18-55mm on a DX sensored camera. An 18-55mm NON-DX lens will yield a 27-82.5mm focal length." is wrong. Both DX and FX lenses of the same focal length will yield the same image on a DX sensored camera. The only reason for the DX lenses is that they're easier to make because they don't need to project as wide of an image circle on the smaller sensor.

Back to the original post- I have to agree with chrish on this. Also, shooting in 'A' mode where you set the aperature tends to work best. If there's not enough light, bump up the ISO and/or use the flash. The only think I could add to that maybe investing in a shoe mounted flash and diffuser for instances like on the frog where slow shutter speed caused motion blur could also be a plus.

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by Chris_VE. » August 25th, 2011, 3:08 pm

Well... There is definitely a LOT of useful information here! I am going to be quite honest... I do not know enough about photography and you guys lost me every once in a while... BUT! I am going to be doing a lot of research on this myself because now I am thoroughly curious! I don't know why.. But I am not sure why I didn't think of other brand lenses as well.... Much cheaper! ^_^

It is true that I probably need to do more with the lens I have... But I just have been a little frustrated recently because what I see on here is INCREDIBLE! And you all know how people are? We don't like to accept it is us... So I blamed the lens. :lol: But at the same time as realizing my lens is probably fine... It is frustrating having to have the lens give the herp a kiss... So a higher focal distance would still be nice... I didn't even consider how close I would have to be with a 40mm... I do NOT want to to that... The Tamron 90mm sounds like what I am going to be heading toward... And it sounds like everyone has all of these extra macro lenses lying around, sooo... I take donations!! ;) Just kidding! (Only because I doubt anyone actually will.... I mean hey, if you want to give a donation... I will not say no!)

It sounds like I need to do a lot more research still though until I just jump in like I was going to. Although I was wondering what you guys all mean by this 1:1 scale and 1.5... Explanation appreciated!

Thanks for all the responses so far! Extremely helpful!

-Chris

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by MHollanders » August 25th, 2011, 4:19 pm

Chris,

I understood what you're saying, but as Bufo pointed out, it's incorrect. The 18-55mm DX will only work on a DX camera, which you know, but remains to have a "true" focal length of 27-83mm.

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by chrish » August 26th, 2011, 8:02 am

Chris_VE. wrote:It sounds like I need to do a lot more research still though until I just jump in like I was going to. Although I was wondering what you guys all mean by this 1:1 scale and 1.5... Explanation appreciated!
These numbers are the magnification ratios that the lens is capable of achieving. What they represent is the size of the sensor or film frame relative to the size of the object that fills that frame . I think it is easiest to understand by example:

Your Nikon D40 has a sensor (the thing that capture the actual image) that is 23.7 x 15.5 mm, so let's round roughly to 24mm wide, which is just under an inch.

If you were to take a photo of an object that was 24mm (~ 1 inch) wide and it completely filled the frame of your photo from edge to edge, you would have captured that image at a magnification of 1:1, since the 24mm subject fills up your 24mm sensor. This is sometimes known as life size. Most good macro lenses are capable of this.

Some "macro" lenses are only capable of lower total magnifications, such as 1:2. In this case, the smallest object you can fill the frame with is something that is twice the size of the sensor. So the minimum object you could fill the frame with would be something that is approximately 48mm (~2 inches) in size.

A lens that is capable of magnifications of 1:5 can only fill the frame with an object that is 5 x 23.7mm (or roughly 4.7 inches) across.

For herp photography with a digital camera like yours (APS-C sensor sized), you generally don't need a lens that gives magnifications much higher than 1:2 because if you can make in image that only captures 2 inches of view, you can clearly capture even the smallest herps. This cricket frog was photographed somewhere near 1:2 magnification. I don't think more magnification would really make any difference and I certainly didn't find myself wishing I could get more.

Image

You can go beyond 1:1 (2:1, 3:1, etc) so that you are filling the frame with an object that is actually smaller than the frame, but that requires some specialized equipment and isn't really practical or that useful for herps.

Also, don't forget you can also achieve some level of magnication by cropping judiciously from a good photo. This shot is probably higher than 1:1 (maybe 2:1), but I didn't need a special lens to get it. I got in as close as my 1:1 macro would allow, then I cropped the image to give me the effect of higher magnification.

Image

Chris

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by kit fox » November 1st, 2011, 8:58 am

I realize this is an older thread, but it was worth adding a great explanation I found.

http://mansurovs.com/equivalent-focal-l ... ld-of-view

Equivalent Focal Length

Let’s now move on to the term “equivalent focal length”, which like I stated in the beginning, is a term that many photographers misunderstand. The word “equivalent” is typically in relation to 35mm film. You see, back in the 35mm film days, the focal length of the lens was always whatever the lens said on the label. With the invention of digital SLRs, the camera sensor (the device that captures images) is often much smaller than the 35mm film, primarily because of high cost. This reduction in size of the sensor results in cutting of the image corners, the process that photographers call “cropping”. The interesting thing, is that the image is actually not cut by the sensor or the camera – parts of the image are simply ignored. Take a look at the following illustration (red arrows represent light entering the camera):


The Crop Factor

By now you understand what “equivalent focal length” truly stands for and how the smaller sensors ignore the larger circle area. Let’s now talk about the crop factor – the term that manufacturers and photographers often use to describe camera sensors and to calculate the “equivalent focal length”. You might have heard people say something like “Nikon D90 camera has a 1.5x crop factor” or “Canon 60D has a 1.6x crop factor”. The term “crop factor” came up after smaller sensors were invented to make it easier for people to understand how much narrower the angle of view gets when a lens is used on a camera with a small sensor. Manufacturers had to somehow explain how an image on a smaller sensor camera looks enlarged or “zoomed in” compared to 35mm film.

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by chrish » November 1st, 2011, 8:14 pm

Interesting link with a pretty good explanation.

BTW - this crop factor issue with lenses "not looking like their correct focal length" isn't a new issue that appeared with APS-C sized digital sensors.
Large frame film cameras have been dealing with this for decades. The effective field of view of a lens is dependent on the focal length and the size of the sensor/film receiving the image.
Since 35mm was the "standard" film size for SLRs, people just learned those lens views like they were always true. But Ansel Adams and other large format photographers knew different. They just learned what the effective field of view was on their cameras and ignored the labels the 35mm people used.

But when digital SLRs came out, I guess the camera makers felt we were too stupid to be able to adjust to the new "standard" and starting talking about 35mm equivalents and crop factors.
(To be fair, different DSLRs have different sized sensors , e.g. Canon sensors are smaller than Sony/Nikon sensors, so the equivalent thing has value. Then there are the DSLRs with 35mm sensors)

So while a 28mm lens is considered a wide-angle lens in old 35mm parlance, for a camera with an APS-C sized sensor (most DSLRs) you would need an ~18mm lens for the same view.
For a 4x5 film camera, you would use a something like a 90mm lens to give you the same wide angle perspective.

A 90mm lens is still a 90mm lens on a 4x5 camera, it just has a wide angle field of view.
An 18mm lens is an 18mm lens on an APS-C sized DSLR for the same reason.

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Re: Nikon Macro Lens Help?

Post by jbartron » December 28th, 2011, 8:23 am

For what it's worth i took this picture with the nikon 18-55 mm lens that came with my d3000 so i do agree and that good pictured can be produced from standard lenses :thumb:

Image

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