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ChristyB

XQD card and External Hard Drive recommendations

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Hi Brian,

I'm looking for another XQD card and an external hard drive for backups.

I have an ~2- year-old Sony 120GB XQD card that's been fast and reliable - knock on wood! I'm nervous about having only one. I have a 2nd SD slot in my camera but with the XQD I haven't needed it.
Those things are expensive. Sony seems to be the go-to card and I've been happy with mine. Do you have a recommended XQD card?

I have an older external hard drive. It was a gift - WD My Passport Ultra. I hate having only one back-up location. My photos are also on my 2nd internal hard drive (1TB D:\ drive), but at some point I want to move my older photos off the internal drive. (I have a custom-built desktop that I bought in 2019. A lot less expensive than out-of-the-box computers for the power I wanted. Also a lot less expensive than today's prices!) B&H has several options. Do you have a recommendation for an external hard drive for back-ups?

Amazon and others have a lot of options, but I save on sales tax with B&H or Adorama :)

Thanks!

Edited by ChristyB

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I'm very happy with my Sony XQD G-Series Cards and they are rock-solid. I have both 64GB and 128/120GB versions for my "Wedding Kit" and "Landscape Travel Kit." Right now, as I type this, the 64GB cards are $98, which is cheap. The 120GB version is $168, which isn't bad as they are closer to $200 or so. For me the Sony XQD G Series Cards are the Gold Standard and the ones other companies try to emulate / beat. So the next XQD cards I'm buying will be Sony. Those are the ones on my Amazon Wish List.

I also like Sandisk Extreme Pro Line of cards, for my CF and SD media. My Nikon D850 has a SD slot and my D4s has a CF Slot. So I use a Sony XQD / Sandisk Extreme Pro combos in all of my cameras. If I were to upgrade to a newer body in the future, it's probably be a Nikon D6 or Z9, in which case I would probably go ahead and get more Sony XQD cards. (Unless I switch to CFExpress Type B, who knows...I will jump off that bridge when I get to it. I have other stuff to buy / save-up for.)

I also don't F*ck around when it comes to my data drives. My externals are Enterprise Grade G-Drives, which are on the expensive side. I'm not one to recommend a $99 special from a big-box store. Since you only have a 1TB External, I'm thinking your next purchase might be a little larger, but not too crazy. I'd recommend getting this External 4TB G-Drive. Of course, you could always go larger, like a 12TB model, but that boils down to your budget. Since you are on a Windows machine, you really don't need a Thunderbolt 3 option and can live with a USB 3.0 port, which saves money. (My EHDs are closer to the $700 price-point, due to Thunderbolt 3).

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I've been off line for a couple of days. Thank you so much for all of the great information! Glad the Sony XQD card is as reliable as it seemed. I'll get another one. The bad news is that the $168 price is back to $199. Bummer. Oh well.  I've been using the Sandisk Extreme Pro cards for the SD slot, but should probably pick up another just because. My Sandisks are older and they will fail. I have a D850 and I sometimes bring my D7200 as a back-up camera.

I really appreciate your guidance on getting a good, reliable EHD. The Thunderbolt 3 = $700??? Ouch! Fortunately, I don't need that one. I think the 4TB will be more than I need at this point. I have no idea if my current EHD is reliable. So far it's holding but I don't want to test it. Thank you for the links!

If you have a minute, may I pick your brain on a couple of other items?

What is your opinion on Nikon speedlights? I do very little indoor photography, but I dragged out my old SB-600 recently. It still works and did ok, but I have to re-learn how to use it. I think the last time I used it was 6 years ago at my nephew's wedding. I was a family member taking some personal photos, not their hired pro photog. My family liked my photos enough to use some. I'm looking on line at the newer models and I think the mid-range SB-700 would work, although they're not readily available right now. They're probably in a shipping crate off LA Harbor, on its docks or in a backlogged warehouse. Good thing I'm not in a hurry for this. This is a future wish list item.

And - I think I need to start looking at graduated ND filters for landscapes. I'm tired of struggling with balancing exposure between bright sky and darker land. I used graduated ND filters when I shot film in the 90s and I don't have recent experience with them. What graduated ND filters to you like?

The Z9 is on your wish list? I haven't been interested in mirrorless until the Z9 popped up. It's intriguing. Maybe someday? Then I'd have to get mirrorless lenses. Cha-ching!!! I'll keep watching. I have so much invested in my DSLR equipment. My mantra = I don't need a mirrorless, I don't need a mirrorless, I don't need a mirrorless... 😉 But when you get yours I'd love to hear all about it!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, ChristyB said:

The Thunderbolt 3 = $700???

Well, here is my EHD. It's a little cheaper than $700 @ $630.

 

4 hours ago, ChristyB said:

but should probably pick up another just because.

Tip: When you buy new cards, write the Month-Year when they were first used. This makes it easier to rotate things out when it comes time. Otherwise, it's a guessing game when you start acquiring lots of cards.

4 hours ago, ChristyB said:

What is your opinion on Nikon speedlights? I do very little indoor photography, but I dragged out my old SB-600 recently. It still works and did ok, but I have to re-learn how to use it

I have a SB-910 and a SB-5000. Of course, I shoot weddings so I need flashes like those. I can say the Nikon SB-700 is the flash you are looking at. It's way easier to use than a SB-600. That would be the one to get for your situation. Also, I use these AA batteries, Panasonic Eneloop with Charger. Of course, I have a fancy charger that does 8 batteries at a time, but that will get you started. Eneloop Batteries are awesome. They hold their charge for a year if they are unused, and I have complete confidence in them. So much that everything in my house, like remotes and such have Eneloop Batteries.

4 hours ago, ChristyB said:

And - I think I need to start looking at graduated ND filters for landscapes. I'm tired of struggling with balancing exposure between bright sky and darker land.

You have a Nikon D850. Let me introduce you to the wonderful land of Bracketing. I usually hold down my BKT button on the left side, rotate the rear dial once so I see +1.0 and 3 Frames on the top LCD. That is a 1-stop difference and three photos with every shutter click. So I pick my Aperture and it will take a shot that is metered, then one under-exposed, and then one over-exposed by one stop via the Shutter Speed. (1/250 --> 1/500 --> 1/125) The trick is to use AF-C (Continuous Focusing) and have the camera fire at the fastest rate, 7fps. (So CH on the dial). You could bump it up to 5 exposures at 1 stop each. Normally, I take 2 out of the three to make a pseudo-HDR; basically cheating since I don't have my ND filters with me.

Well, that's not true. I do have them with me, but for the last couple of years, my Wife and I have been taking Bus Trips to various National Parks. Just a few weeks ago, we hit all 5 National Parks in Utah within a week. The truth is, I'm always using my Circular Polarizer, but just don't have the time to sit and fiddle with my Tripod and ND Grad Filters and such. The waiting around for an hour or so for that cloud to move, me tweaking the filters and then "CLICK!!" just doesn't happen. My Wife will tell me, we have 18 minutes here and we need to be on the Bus at 18 Minutes. So get shooting. So I'm forced to Bracket since I just don't have the time, nor have the opportunity to return to that location easily.

Again, I'm in Full Manual with my D850 in CH mode (7FPS). ISO sometimes floats with Auto-ISO, but I usually keep that the same. I pick the Aperture and Set the Bracketing to do three or five exposures, at 1-Stop Difference each. (3F - 1.0 on the top display.) Metered-Under-Over in the menus. I can't remember which menu but it should be labeled "Bracketing Order," or something like that. Set it to MTR > Under > Over.  I brace my elbows against my chest and exhale before hitting the shutter release. Again, Continuous Focusing Mode. AF-C in the viewfinder, Single Point AF.

Click...OneTwoThree...OneTwoThree.

I will often take 2-3 brackets to help cut-down on camera shake. The Middle set is often the one that makes the cut. You really need to be steady with this technique and VR really helps. Just by moving an inch or so, especially wide focal lengths, can throw off your images and LR / ACR won't create the HDR. It will come back with an error saying it can't combine the photos. Here is a photo that has a 6-stop difference between the lights and darks. I took 5 bracketed shots and then combined them in ACR. I then tweaked the image. 

 

LND_0602-HDR-Edit.thumb.jpg.d55a5ef8f4b5e21423d66561a9182188.jpg

 

That photo probably won't make it to Social Media, but it shows you how much detail in the shadows I was able to recover and highlights. The only filter I had mounted at the time was my Circular Polarizer Filter. Some of the photos I lost a chunk of detail. Oh! One more thing, you lose about 2/3rd of a stop of light when using the Nikon CP. I just bump up my ISO a little to compensate. No big deal.

OK, now to answer your question, :D  I own this Circular Polarizer II Filter (Slim) and own and like B+W ND Filters. I have 2-Stop and 3-Stop, and a B+W Graduated ND filter. I also bought a Filter Wrench Set to sometimes get things unstuck. I hate when my 70-200 holds onto filters. I have toyed around with the idea to get a set of Lee Square Filters and all the mounting hardware, but like I said...lately I just don't have the time to lug around all of my toys. I have 15 minutes to get the shot, then three minutes walking to get back on the bus and seated by the 18 minute mark. 

4 hours ago, ChristyB said:

The Z9 is on your wish list?

The Z9 is interesting. Chances are I will get the Z9 Mark II or Z9s, or whatever they are going to call it. Honestly? I just don't feel like blowing another $15,000+ in gear. The Z9, another 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200. Sure, I know there is the adapter, but in reality, if you want to take FULL ADVANTAGE of what the Z9 has to offer, you are using the Mirrorless Lenses that are designed for it. I have other shit to buy / save-up for at this point. My D4s & D850 work fine for my needs and have a lot of life in them.

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33 minutes ago, Brian said:

You have a Nikon D850. Let me introduce you to the wonderful land of Bracketing. I usually hold down my BKT button on the left side, rotate the rear dial once so I see +1.0 and 3 Frames on the top LCD. That is a 1-stop difference and three photos with every shutter click. So I pick my Aperture and it will take a shot that is metered, then one under-exposed, and then one over-exposed by one stop via the Shutter Speed. (1/250 --> 1/500 --> 1/125) The trick is to use AF-C (Continuous Focusing) and have the camera fire at the fastest rate, 7fps. (So CH on the dial). You could bump it up to 5 exposures at 1 stop each. Normally, I take 2 out of the three to make a pseudo-HDR; basically cheating since I don't have my ND filters with me.


Well, that's not true. I do have them with me, but for the last couple of years, my Wife and I have been taking Bus Trips to various National Parks. Just a few weeks ago, we hit all 5 National Parks in Utah within a week. The truth is, I'm always using my Circular Polarizer, but just don't have the time to sit and fiddle with my Tripod and ND Grad Filters and such. The waiting around for an hour or so for that cloud to move, me tweaking the filters and then "CLICK!!" just doesn't happen. My Wife will tell me, we have 18 minutes here and we need to be on the Bus at 18 Minutes. So get shooting. So I'm forced to Bracket since I just don't have the time, nor have the opportunity to return to that location easily.

Again, I'm in Full Manual with my D850 in CH mode (7FPS). ISO sometimes floats with Auto-ISO, but I usually keep that the same. I pick the Aperture and Set the Bracketing to do three or five exposures, at 1-Stop Difference each. (3F - 1.0 on the top display.) Metered-Under-Over in the menus. I can't remember which menu though. I can look if you need me to. I brace my elbows against my chest and exhale before hitting the shutter release. Again, Continuous Focusing Mode. AF-C in the viewfinder, Single Point AF.

Click...OneTwoThree...OneTwoThree.

I will often take 2-3 brackets to help cut-down on camera shake. The Middle set is often the one that makes the cut. You really need to be steady with this technique and VR really helps. Just by moving an inch or so, especially wide focal lengths, can throw off your images and LR / ACR won't create the HDR. It will come back with an error saying it can't combine the photos. Here is a photo that has a 6-stop difference between the lights and darks. I took 5 bracketed shots and then combined them in ACR. I then tweaked the image. 

 

LND_0602-HDR-Edit.thumb.jpg.d55a5ef8f4b5e21423d66561a9182188.jpg

 

That photo probably won't make it to Social Media, but it shows you how much detail in the shadows I was able to recover and highlights. The only filter I had mounted at the time was my Circular Polarizer Filter. Some of the photos I lost a chunk of detail. Oh! One more thing, you lose about 2/3rd of a stop of light when using the Nikon CP. I just bump up my ISO a little to compensate. No big deal.

I want to reply to more than this section, but I need to run off. Thank you for the bracketing suggestion and instructions :) I used to bracket with film 100 years ago, but never combined the photos. I just picked the best one. I will read this in more detail, but you mentioned that you combine them in ACR? I've never done that but I'm excited to give this a try! I'll reply more later. Thank you!!

Edited by ChristyB

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Here is a demonstration of the process. LR also has similar steps. Now, I open things in sRGB and don't bother with 32-bit editing, like the Video goes into. I just wanted to show you the basic idea of merging multiple photos in ACR.

 

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You might want to check out my Instagram. I have a lot of Pseudo-HDR photos. Here is another. Notice the contrast swing between the two areas and I was even able to capture the moon.

 

 

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Thank you so much! This is really exciting! 

Glad ACR does it and I don't have to use LR 😁

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1 minute ago, Brian said:

You might want to check out my Instagram. I have a lot of Pseudo-HDR photos. Here is another. Notice the contrast swing between the two areas and I was even able to capture the moon.

 

 

(I'm looking at this on my phone right now.) Shooting those extremes is crazy. Your photos are stunning!

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Oh, one more thing...14-bit RAW, uncompressed. There is a reason I use 120GB XQD cards in my D850 with my Landscapes.

 

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11 minutes ago, Brian said:

Oh, one more thing...14-bit RAW, uncompressed. There is a reason I use 120GB XQD cards in my D850 with my Landscapes.

 

Wow! My files are 50MB so not fully uncompressed.

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I’m closer to 100mb. Each. 

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On 11/8/2021 at 5:50 PM, Brian said:

Well, here is my EHD. It's a little cheaper than $700 @ $630.

 

Tip: When you buy new cards, write the Month-Year when they were first used. This makes it easier to rotate things out when it comes time. Otherwise, it's a guessing game when you start acquiring lots of cards.

I have a SB-910 and a SB-5000. Of course, I shoot weddings so I need flashes like those. I can say the Nikon SB-700 is the flash you are looking at. It's way easier to use than a SB-600. That would be the one to get for your situation. Also, I use these AA batteries, Panasonic Eneloop with Charger. Of course, I have a fancy charger that does 8 batteries at a time, but that will get you started. Eneloop Batteries are awesome. They hold their charge for a year if they are unused, and I have complete confidence in them. So much that everything in my house, like remotes and such have Eneloop Batteries.

You have a Nikon D850. Let me introduce you to the wonderful land of Bracketing. I usually hold down my BKT button on the left side, rotate the rear dial once so I see +1.0 and 3 Frames on the top LCD. That is a 1-stop difference and three photos with every shutter click. So I pick my Aperture and it will take a shot that is metered, then one under-exposed, and then one over-exposed by one stop via the Shutter Speed. (1/250 --> 1/500 --> 1/125) The trick is to use AF-C (Continuous Focusing) and have the camera fire at the fastest rate, 7fps. (So CH on the dial). You could bump it up to 5 exposures at 1 stop each. Normally, I take 2 out of the three to make a pseudo-HDR; basically cheating since I don't have my ND filters with me.

Well, that's not true. I do have them with me, but for the last couple of years, my Wife and I have been taking Bus Trips to various National Parks. Just a few weeks ago, we hit all 5 National Parks in Utah within a week. The truth is, I'm always using my Circular Polarizer, but just don't have the time to sit and fiddle with my Tripod and ND Grad Filters and such. The waiting around for an hour or so for that cloud to move, me tweaking the filters and then "CLICK!!" just doesn't happen. My Wife will tell me, we have 18 minutes here and we need to be on the Bus at 18 Minutes. So get shooting. So I'm forced to Bracket since I just don't have the time, nor have the opportunity to return to that location easily.

Again, I'm in Full Manual with my D850 in CH mode (7FPS). ISO sometimes floats with Auto-ISO, but I usually keep that the same. I pick the Aperture and Set the Bracketing to do three or five exposures, at 1-Stop Difference each. (3F - 1.0 on the top display.) Metered-Under-Over in the menus. I can't remember which menu but it should be labeled "Bracketing Order," or something like that. Set it to MTR > Under > Over.  I brace my elbows against my chest and exhale before hitting the shutter release. Again, Continuous Focusing Mode. AF-C in the viewfinder, Single Point AF.

Click...OneTwoThree...OneTwoThree.

I will often take 2-3 brackets to help cut-down on camera shake. The Middle set is often the one that makes the cut. You really need to be steady with this technique and VR really helps. Just by moving an inch or so, especially wide focal lengths, can throw off your images and LR / ACR won't create the HDR. It will come back with an error saying it can't combine the photos. Here is a photo that has a 6-stop difference between the lights and darks. I took 5 bracketed shots and then combined them in ACR. I then tweaked the image. 

 

LND_0602-HDR-Edit.thumb.jpg.d55a5ef8f4b5e21423d66561a9182188.jpg

 

That photo probably won't make it to Social Media, but it shows you how much detail in the shadows I was able to recover and highlights. The only filter I had mounted at the time was my Circular Polarizer Filter. Some of the photos I lost a chunk of detail. Oh! One more thing, you lose about 2/3rd of a stop of light when using the Nikon CP. I just bump up my ISO a little to compensate. No big deal.

OK, now to answer your question, :D  I own this Circular Polarizer II Filter (Slim) and own and like B+W ND Filters. I have 2-Stop and 3-Stop, and a B+W Graduated ND filter. I also bought a Filter Wrench Set to sometimes get things unstuck. I hate when my 70-200 holds onto filters. I have toyed around with the idea to get a set of Lee Square Filters and all the mounting hardware, but like I said...lately I just don't have the time to lug around all of my toys. I have 15 minutes to get the shot, then three minutes walking to get back on the bus and seated by the 18 minute mark. 

The Z9 is interesting. Chances are I will get the Z9 Mark II or Z9s, or whatever they are going to call it. Honestly? I just don't feel like blowing another $15,000+ in gear. The Z9, another 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200. Sure, I know there is the adapter, but in reality, if you want to take FULL ADVANTAGE of what the Z9 has to offer, you are using the Mirrorless Lenses that are designed for it. I have other shit to buy / save-up for at this point. My D4s & D850 work fine for my needs and have a lot of life in them.

Sorry for the delay. Life happened...

I can see why you do bracketing as opposed to ND filters, and your results are beautiful! I will definitely try that next time I shoot. I also use the same Nikon Circular Polarizer you use.

The ND filters you provided look very similar to what I used in the film days. They seem to have been lost in the move when we moved up here 9+ years ago. They have to be buried somewhere. I can't believe I would get rid of them. Thank you for the links. If I can't find my old ones I'll have your links when I'm ready to spend more $$ on new ones.

Good to know the SB-700 is easier to use than my old SB-600. I've started to use my old flash for now until the SB-700 becomes available. I'm getting there on the learning curve. I'll look for the Enloop batteries and charger. I can't find my old battery charger either, but if I do it'll be interesting to see if it still works. Probably not to be trusted.

Thanks again for your time, for answering my questions AND for giving me so much more info!

 

  • Like 1

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I just set up my D850 for bracketing. Your instructions made it so simple! And, as I was rereading that section, I saw this:

"One more thing, you lose about 2/3rd of a stop of light when using the Nikon CP. I just bump up my ISO a little to compensate. No big deal."

I hadn't remembered that but I was finding myself having to boost the ISO a little. That explains it. Thank you again!

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Just remember, when Bracketing with the D850 and it's 45.7MP...steady hands. Elbows to your chest, take a breath than exhale and then squeeze the shutter button. ClickClickClick!!

Or use a tripod if you have one. :)

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Thanks! A tripod would be the smart way to go, wouldn't it? I have one. I went out today for some quick practice shots to see if I could do it. It was windy, I knew that wasn't working for me. I braced myself against the car for some shots and found a fence post to rest my camera on for some others.

I can't get to them for a couple of days. When I do I'll let you know how it goes. Get my practice in and find where I need to improve for when I need it. This will be fun! 🙂

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Just remember to turn off VR (If your lens has it) when shooting on a Tripod. Once you get the hang of it, the technique is pretty straightforward.

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Thanks for the VR reminder. A couple have VR, some don't. I'm looking forward to learning this shooting skill.

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Hi Brian, lots of family stuff and I've had to be off line.

I have a dumb question about the EHD you suggested above. It says that it's formatted for a Mac. I have a custom-built Windows 10 desktop. It has to be reformated.

I haven't formatted a drive since the Olden Days. Dos C:\ Format D:\      Are you sure? Y/N

Seriously! Lol. 

How is it done these days? With that large of a drive do I need to partition it? It can't be as easy as plug and play. I could run it down to Geek Squad, but that sounds like a waste if $$.

Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

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On 11/26/2021 at 10:30 PM, ChristyB said:

How is it done these days? With that large of a drive do I need to partition it? It can't be as easy as plug and play. I could run it down to Geek Squad, but that sounds like a waste if $$.

DO NOT RUN DOWN TO GEEK SQUAD!!!

Please, have a little faith in me, this isn't my first Rodeo. ;)

It will take you a total of 5 minutes to accomplish. Seriously. If you want to throw money away, I take Donations. I will put the money to good use. :D

Anyway, to answer your question, it is done via the Disk Management Tool in Windows and I can walk you through it. Hard Drives do not care what platform that you use, it just has to be in a format/partition that they recognize. Macs have "Disk Utilities," Windows Computers have "Disk Management." It's all the same.

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Buy the EHD
  2. Attach it to your Windows Computer
  3. Open Disk Management (Right-click on the Start Button and you will see it in the list)
  4. Delete the existing Partition on the G-Drive.
  5. Convert the Drive to a GPT Disk (This part is critical, as MBR Disks only go up to 2TB. Anything larger requires GPT. I will cover this, no worries.)
  6. Create a new single NTFS Partition via the Wizard. (Lot's of Next-Next-Give it a Name-Next Next will be going on in this step.)
  7. Quick Format it.
  8. Create a Folder Structure that makes sense
  9. Move your Data Files / Images to the appropriate folder.

Seriously, that's the gist of things. I can go into more specifics when you get the drive. Just let me know.

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THANK YOU!!! I'm not a Geek Squad fan. If I have any serious computer issues I have a computer guy I call who I've used for years, but he's a bit of a drive. I was hoping formatting a drive wasn't rocket science these days. 

I'll place my orders before the Black Friday weekend sales are gone. I don't think the EHD is on sale but the XQD is.

Thanks again!

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