Equipment Reviews the Canon 5D Mark IV

Published September 29, 2016

Announced in the light of Photokina, came the continuation of the Canon 5d series with the latest from Canon, with the Canon 5d Mark IV. The announcement was met with mixed opinions, but like all camera announcements, there is no telling how great the system is until someone you trust gets their hands on the camera for themselves. Hopefully, here at, we’ve developed that relationship, and we’re here to test, and give a comprehensive review on the new flagship system from Canon – the Canon 5d Mark IV.


And before we get into the review, I want to mention that this review is broken into two pieces – photo and video. Since the release of the Canon 5d Mark II, Canon has been adding more and more video functionalities into the 5D series. The Canon 5D Mark IV is no exception, allowing for 4K video to be shot at 30fps. However, I specialize in photo far more than video, so I’ve gotten colleague and video tech for – Ryan Hill – to write a video portion of the review. These reviews are written independently, as not to skew each other’s opinions, and then welded together through the power of proofreading. So if there are any repeating mentions of features, be patient with us, as we’re just trying to get you the best opinion available on the new system.

Photo Review

As a photographer, the simple announcement of the Canon 5D Mark IV got me excited. This camera has been speculated for years and the Canon 5d Mark III, released in March 2012, was overdue for an update. With a new sensor, new autofocusing system, and something called Dual Pixel RAW, Canon has seemed to refresh their favorite line with a bunch of nice upgrades for the working photographer. So let’s just right into the features.



The new camera comes with an extensive list of features that are new when compared to the Mark III. Most important is the 30mp sensor that is powered by a Digic 6+ processor, allowing for up to 7fps of shooting in both normal and silent mode. Additionally, the Canon 5D Mark IV has built-in GPS and Wifi, allowing you to geotag your images with precision, and enable you to wirelessly transfer the images to a computer, tablet or phone, to post while on the go. When testing the Wifi, I found that it worked great at an event, allowing for small jpeg previews to be sent to an iPad at pretty rapid pacing. While the tech isn’t quite there, I imagine tethering wirelessly on commercial shoots is only a few years away.


It also sports a new autofocus system, which is compared to the Canon 1DX Mark II’s system, which I found to be incredible. My experiences with the system weren’t as elaborate as tracking fast moving objects, though I have no doubts that the camera would handle it with ease. Perhaps this itself is the biggest improvement over the Canon 5d Mark III. With each new system, Canon has managed to improve the focusing system, and this focus system might be the best in camera systems today. With an autofocus system that works exceptionally at tracking for both photo and video, it’s hard to believe that in a few years, this system will likely be obsolete. Like all new innovative technologies – I can’t see how this can be improved, but perhaps that is why I’m a consumer and not an engineer.

And the biggest announcement in the features came in the form of Dual Pixel RAW, which allows you to micro focus your images after the fact. In practicality, it’s brilliant. How often have you found that one winner in your frames, only to see that you have some slight back focusing? That said, it’s all theory now, as Adobe and Capture One have not added the feature into their RAW software, so the feature isn’t enabled unless you’re using Canon’s gaudy software. So while I wasn’t able to test this feature (yet), I’m looking forward to seeing how it works when it becomes more readily available.

However, I really think the biggest improvements come in the unspoken features – that may not be revolutionary, but allow for some neat little tricks that help you shoot faster, and more efficiently. Here are a few of my favorites.


The Unspoken Features

Much to my surprise, the Canon 5D Mark IV comes with a bunch of additional features that have been overshadowed by the announcement of the focusing system and Dual Pixel RAW. And sure, I get it, focusing is more important – but the little features are what made me fall in love with the camera. What are those features, let us just go down a list —

1. The focus-feature button
It allows you to switch focusing types quickly (from single point to cross point, etc, etc.).

2. Hybrid-ish Viewfinder
The viewfinder allows you to add various pieces of information, from things as useless as battery power, to as useful as an electronic level built into the viewfinder.

3. An Actual Useful Touch Screen
The touchscreen allows for a bunch of new controls, allowing you to focus, select images, zoom, and more. Up until now, Canon’s touchscreens on DSLRs have been pretty functionless by most people’s standards.
4. Quieter operation
If you’re coming from the Mark III, you’ll find the 5D Mark IV to be quite a bit more quiet, with it’s new(er) mirror box design


However, there are some downfalls with the system as well. Most notably, is the lack of CFast card slot on the system – extending the life of the Compact Flash slot for another generation. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to switch to new memory cards either, but CFast is exceptionally better than Compact Flash at its current state. While Compact Flash is (currently) limited to around 100MB/sec (averaged), CFast achieves speeds five times as fast. While that may not be important to a camera that shoots 7fps, it can be a huge advantage to those who need to upload images to their computers quickly…and can really speed up the workflow for those in fast pace environments.


Video Review

I took a support call a couple of weeks ago that came to mind a few times while I was testing the 5D Mark IV. A relatively inexperienced customer (late high school or early college if I had to guess) called in for help putting together a 5D Mark III package. He was shooting a short film and needed a viewfinder, a top handle, and an XLR adapter. After getting the 5D Mark III in his cart, I recommended a Zacuto Z-Finder, a Wooden Quick Kit (just the top section), and Beachtek DXA-SLR Pro. He was ready to place the order before I interjected. “You know, you’ve created a Canon C100 here. If you’re willing to switch cameras, you’ll have a simpler setup, dual pixel autofocus, better battery life, and two card slots. Plus, it’ll be cheaper.” He’d never considered a dedicated video camera because his teachers had all told him that the only affordable way to shoot high-quality video with a cinematic look on a budget was to use a DSLR. Seven years ago, they would’ve been right. The 5D Mark II revolutionized the video market in ways that are still being felt today. Whole companies (including Lensrentals) sprang up to support amateur filmmakers who, all of a sudden, had a way to capture video with shallow depth of field and high dynamic range without pawning all their worldly possessions.

Now, though, we have a few more options. You no longer have to cobble together a Frankenstein’s monster of third-party accessories just to make a DSLR usable. Cameras like the Canon C100, Sony PXW-FS5, and Panasonic AF100, will give you video at least as good as what you can get from a DSLR (better in most cases), plus XLR inputs, physical audio controls, viewfinders, unlimited clip length, etc. In short, they’re designed with video in mind from the outset, rather than it being a feature tacked-on to a camera intended for stills. As a videographer, this leaves me wondering where exactly the 5D Mark IV fits in my workflow. Given the specs, under what circumstances would I reach for this particular camera over the myriad other options available?

About those specs: first of all, yes, you can shoot 4K (8-bit 4:2:2) with the 5D Mark IV. However, you’re limited to 30p or below. 1080 will give you up to 60p, and, frustratingly, 120p is limited to 720 resolution. Also frustrating is the total lack of 4K output over HDMI. 4K recording is limited to a 1.74 crop which, in addition to making reframing necessary when switching from stills to 4K video, introduces some very noticeable rolling shutter issues. Without scientific testing, I’d say the rolling shutter is nearly as bad as it is on the A7S, which is the camera I use in the office when I’m demonstrating what a bad rolling shutter looks like. The 5D IV also lacks some major features I’d expect out of any modern video camera: No peaking, no zebras, no focus magnification while recording, and no log profile. Hopefully, some of this can be fixed through firmware updates or by the good people at Magic Lantern, but your $3,500 camera shouldn’t have to be improved by volunteers accepting bitcoin donations. Finally, regarding usability, the menu structure just isn’t designed for video. As always, audio controls are too hidden, but there are smaller annoyances that snuck up on me. For instance, you initiate 120p recording by selecting an “Enable” button in the “Recording Settings” menu. You end high-speed recording by navigating to the same menu and selecting “Disable.” After disabling 120p, does the 5D return you to the recording setting you were using, say 4K 24p? Nope. It goes back to the default (1080, 60i) every time, necessitating another dive into the menu structure to change back to your chosen settings. This had me cursing under my breath multiple times while surrounded by children and Knights of Columbus at a fair.

There are things to like here, though or at least a thing. The autofocus performance, as in the C300 Mark II, is awesome, and I mean that in a literal sense. It inspires awe. The touch screen, rather than being the useless gimmick I was expecting, became my tool of choice for controlling focus. Accurate face tracking allowed me to just point at the person or thing (it seemed to work just as well on dachshund faces) I wanted to keep in focus, and then just re-frame as needed. It almost never hunted or lost track of subjects. The only downside I could find is that it doesn’t work during high-speed recording.

So, back to the initial question, under what circumstances would I choose this camera over everything else in the Lensrentals inventory? To answer that, I have to first admit that a lot of my criticism above is unfair. I can’t very well complain about a lack of good video features because this isn’t a video camera. Both the millions of other amateur filmmakers and I brought up on the 5D Mark II need to remember that. Video cameras have things like XLR inputs, internal ND filters, and menu structures designed for video work. What it is is a still photography camera and a fantastic one at that. I do almost all of my still photography on a 5D Mark III, and that’s where the 5D Mark IV will fit for me. If something comes up while I’m shooting stills that I think I’d like to take a quick video clip of, then I’ll be happy I can do it in 4K. If video functionality is a priority in any way, I will go with a camera designed for video, and I’d recommend you do the same.

Below is some sample footage I shot with the Mark IV this weekend. Since C-Log is, unfortunately, absent, I shot everything with Technicolor’s Cinestyle Profile, which is available for free here. Everything was left ungraded, including stuff I exposed imperfectly. Unless otherwise noted, the day footage was shot at 400 ISO, and the night footage was shot at 800 ISO. If you have any questions, feel free to let me know in the comments.


Build Quality

If you haven’t looked at it yet, look at Roger’s teardown of the Canon 5d Mark IV system. As shown by him, the weather sealing has been improved, and subtle changes have made the Canon 5D Mark IV and upgrade from the previous models. When holding, the system feels very similar to the Mark III, giving you a robust build in a comfortable form factor.


The Canon 5D Mark IV is available for purchase at $3,500, and available for rental for about $125 for a weekend rental. This price is what we’ve come to expect from a pro-level DSLR body of this caliber.

Does it Meet Expectations?

Heads up, here comes a short rant. Upon the announcement of this camera, it was instantly met with some harsh critics on the feature list of the system. People want a camera that can shoot medium format quality images, with the speed of a Canon 1DX Mark II, and the video functionalities of a RED Weapon – and they want the price to sit under $3,000. Sure, this camera doesn’t have anything and may not have pushed the bounds of the industry, but the Canon 5D series has never been about being revolutionary in features, but being revolutionary in practicality. The 5D Mark II came with video functionality, which set it apart from the competition – but it wasn’t perfect. You were limited to manual focus, and here even further limited to framerates and resolution. The Mark III introduced an useable focusing system (I kid, I kid), but improved on everything the Mark II had to offer, without overreaching with unusual or groundbreaking features. The Mark IV has taken every feature of the Mark III and improved it a little bit. It may not be completely cutting-edge, but they made an incredibly loved and capable camera even better on every single metric. People need to stop expecting the industry to evolve faster than it can. It’s already moving fast, and the Canon 5D Mark IV keeps pace with every single competitor in the DSLR field. It’s feature-full and practical – maybe not as revolutionary as the Sony a7 was to the mirrorless world, but it will certainly be the most used camera in the industry within a years time.

 What We Liked –

  • Dual Pixel RAW Looks to be an Incredible Feature
  • Lighting Fast Autofocusing for both Photo and Video
  • Wifi and GPS work great and have a lot of functionality
  • Image quality is great, and the additional resolution is a nice touch

What Could Be Improved –

  • It’s still a photo camera with video functionality
  • 4K is cropped to a 1.7x sensor
  • Still missing key features found on 3rd parties (in body stabilization for one)
  • No CFast slot (Compact Flash & SD Slots Only)


So is the Canon 5D Mark IV a worthy upgrade? Yes….yes it is. Canon managed to combine what we loved about the Canon 5d Mark III, and improved on it in every metric. The autofocus is better, the camera is faster, the video functionality has improved, the lowlight has been improved, and there are plenty of additional features to set it apart. The Canon 5d Mark IV is an exceptional camera and fixes a lot of practical issues I’ve had with previous models.



Zach Sutton & Ryan Hill

Author: Zach Sutton

I’m Zach and I’m the editor and a frequent writer here at I’m also a commercial beauty photographer in Los Angeles, CA, and offer educational workshops on photography and lighting all over North America.

Posted in Equipment
  • Doug Laurent

    Like many photographers you haven’t realized how many of the so called “video functions” are useful for photo, too – probably because you never tried it. It starts with an EVF for reviewing material in bright sunlight, and ends with focus peaking for manual lenses, who like the Zeiss ones are usually delivering the best quality.

    Another returning phenomen I see in your comment is “I don’t need a feature (like IS), so it should also not be important to anybody else, and your request is not valid”. That’s very narrow minded. Stabilization in lenses and especially on sensors is the big thing right now and will be in the future – because it helps in 90% of all shooting scenarios.

    If you like at an A7R2 and A99II, an A9 fusion out of both cameras is not to far away, and you would have a nearly perfect camera for stills and video at the same time. If we had the year 2007, I would have agreed with the theory that stills and photo definitely need dedicated specialized cameras – but not in 2016.

    The only one who is dancing around a topic is clearly Canon, who are releasing cameras like the 5D4 with several brilliant video features, while leaving others out on purpose. It’s as if they were saying: “Hey, please spend a 1000 bucks more for the 5D4 and buy it, as it has cool 4K and great video autofocus now – but PLEASE don’t really use the 5D4 for video in the real world, it wasn’t meant for that!” That’s the most extreme half-hearted concept of a company I have seen.

    And Canon is missing the big media trend of this decade. Editors, Pros and amateurs are Photographers and Filmmakers at the same time, in the same location. Nobody wants to carry around 2 devices, when everything easily could have achieved with 1 device. Only for Canon it’s better to sell 2 devices instead of 1. This is why it’s justified to put pressure on Canon.

  • Jesse Lee

    I actually shoot mostly primes without any stabilizing (last I checked, my 85 f/1.2 didn’t have IS) so nice try. I mentioned all that, and all you could come back with is stabilized lenses? Good grief, if you’re going to make a long list, at least be prepared to back it up. An articulate screen and your other points are mostly video-oriented (as I said and you obviously didn’t read). Most of your points have absolutely NO use for still shooters.

    When I shoot video, I prefer to use cameras designed for that purpose, like the A7S2, but I wouldn’t take pictures with it because it’s not strong in that area. At the same time, anyone who buys a 5D4 for video purposes is just asking for trouble. Yes I shoot video on my 5D3, but for really tough jobs, you can’t beat a video-oriented DSLR. But keep dancing around the topic.

  • Juha Bly

    Indeed, I crolled, for the comments were going nowhere after the list and first reactions to it. The train of thought had to be derailed, so trolling the dice and improvising on keywords were needed.

  • Keith Reeder

    “People rant…”

    Because they’re whiny malcontents with First World problems, that really need to get a fecking grip of themselves…

  • Doug Laurent

    You are writing quite confusing stuff here.
    The background is: you obviously wanted to make a forum user look incompetent by going after a completely irrelevant fact (which short form of approximately is correct), probably because you feel that I have personally insulted your family member “Canon” by writing facts about missing modern features.
    That lame attempt did deserve an equally stupid answer.

  • Juha Bly

    I have no apprenticeship experience so far, but I am happy to see you want to see the world burn. I wish I could vote – a face off between the oligarch and a less succesful challenger would create an interesting global dynamic. Even more interesting than the brand wars. I trust you’ll do the right thing.

  • Doug Laurent

    Of course not “approximately”. The only possible context anyone could read or understand in the sentence “app. 32 megapixel” is the short form of “The Apprentice” with Donald Trump.

  • Juha Bly

    You are using the word ‘app’ wrong. Were you trying to abbreviate ‘approximately’?

  • Carl Eberhart

    Likewise, move on…

  • Carl Eberhart

    I don’t recall making such a comment. I simply feel it is a let-down. Canon still refuses to put forth the effort to bring their image sensors up to the performance of Exmor. And to top it off, they dialed in too much noise reduction within the RAW processing, and placed an AA filter in front of it that is too strong. Not saying that once prices come down below $3000, that it won’t be worth buying, for those heavily invested in the Canon system. But it definitely does not step up the performance enough to be a 4-year generational upgrade. And again, the dual pixel RAW feature is an abysmal failure and a gimmick. Nobody is going to use this feature very much. It makes the files too big, yet the files are still only 30 MP. Anyone who knows anything at all about properly dialing in AFMA, does not need the “correct their focus in post”. And with such a puny buffer and ancient standard CF card storage…it is shooting itself in the foot before it even gets started shooting 70 MB files that are inherently useless to pro’s.

  • Marcel van Leeuwen

    No i did not. Learn to read first. but foremost be nice. You act like a spoiled child.

  • Doug Laurent

    1) The statistics come from common sense. If in theory each person on this planet would spend MORE than 1% of their awake lifetime at live sports events, that would be 7+ billion people who spend more than 90 minutes time as spectators in a stadium every week. Pretty unlikely, right? At the same time it is obvious people could spend 3-30% of their lifetime taking pictures of food.

    2) Print – or in this case also PDF brochures – give consumers a subjective impression about the state of a brand. Regarding a system overview, the result in this niche is Sony = very good, Canon = very bad as not existing.

    3) I try to convince Canon. They will not listen to single emails. But they do read forums, and there are hundreds of readers who might see it the same way and express it – plus act with their purses. So it’s much more efficient to complain in public.

  • keynut5

    Where do you get these statistics from? And when did printed brochures make a difference to anything in 2106? And with regared to Canon’s or Sony’s or whatevermanufarcturer’s innovation rate, who are you trying to convince but yourself? If you have an issue with Canon, you got their address. Customer feedback that may improve sales is always welcome with most manufacturers. But this discussion is getting too weird. You are right that life is short and precious. I don’t have time for this. Have a good day 🙂

  • Doug Laurent

    Not even 1% in a lifetime a human eye sees a sports event, and if it’s a relevant sports event, amateurs wouldn’t even be allowed to bring a pro Canon camera with dedicated lenses.

    To cut a long story short: Compared to the competition, Canon today has way less technical edges than the other way around, which are useful in much fewer situations. Canon’s speed of innovation is much slower. The presentations are much weaker (Sony had a brilliant system brochure in mutliple languages at Photokina, Canon doesnt have it printed and not event as pdf). The stories you hear from shop owners or local employees are not positive. If a Canon user shouldn’t be alarmed right now, I ask when? Lifetime is short and precious, so there is a difference if photographers and filmmakers can work with near-perfect tools in 2017 (when Sony manages to mix the A99II and A7RII) or 2024, when the 5D6 comes out.

  • keynut5

    None whatsoever. Feel free if you have the time for it 🙂 I am sure that you are right about Sony sales digging into Canon’a market share; I bought a Sony A7R2 myself when Metabones adapters became somewhat stable performance vice. But I did not see a lot of Sonys among the press photographers in the Rio Olympics, or at any sports event that I attend, for that matter. There are different markets segments, and whilst Sony no doubt excel in some of them, the “sturdy tools” segment is dominated by other manufacturers. Besides tech features, there is so much more to a press camera.

  • Doug Laurent

    Canon’s sales figures are much worse than some years ago. There’s also no doubt that Sony and others took away sales from Canon. And it doesn’t help any Canon shooter in the field who is missing one of the many features that only other brands offer, that Canon has the best marketshare in that second. That’s only helpful for a Wallstreet Journal analyst. Putting pressure on Canon regarding prices and features is good for anyone who buys future products. Or which negative impact can it have?

  • Doug Laurent

    All points of forum users are valid, except the ones of those that say “I don’t need a feature in that camera, so Canon does a good job in not including this feature, no matter how many others would like to have it”. Unfortunately there are a lot of such comments.

  • Carl Eberhart

    Because you are avoiding my points. You do not provide your own test shot comparisons, either. DPReview and others, have. Get over yourself.

  • Carl Eberhart

    So what? If you work in a camera rental store, then you are shipping cameras out most of the time. What does that prove? Your point above was that if a person invests “in a system”, as in ONE system, comparing with another system is a non-issue. You are contradicting yourself.

  • Carl Eberhart

    Thanks for the lecture, but it’s not necessary. You may not be the authority that you see yourself fulfilling. I make valid points, you are blowing in the wind a bit…

  • keynut5

    Well, that is an opinion, and just like other people, you are free to have yours. I cannot talk for the majority of people, since I have not asked them anything, but based on Canon’s sales figures, it seems like they are doing something right in relation to many people’s preferences. Personally, I do not care about all the bells and whistles. I shoot RAW files using manual shutter speeds and aperture, and sometimes auto ISO. That’s it. I am considering 5D mk4 because of the improved focus system, as I miss having more points for tracking at f8 long glass, but that’s about it. Craftmanship makes up for the rest, just like I can produce wooden marvels with a knife, an axe and a pair of chissels of good quality (sturdy and with good steel) – I would not need power tools. Well, that’s me. Some people require auto everything and guidance by digital wizards. If they want that, let them have it, but that does not change the importance of having – boringly predictable, perhaps, but very functional – sturdy tools for the job. Just look at how the unchanged physical interface of Canon’s pro series are selling points in their own respect. A seasoned pro can ditch his 1D mk3 or whatever, pick up a brand new 1Dx mk2, shoot and deliver within minutes. Sort of the same thing with the 5D series; the features that make these cameras boring to some people are highly appreciated qualities to others. It is the logic of branded goods: Know what to expect, and get it. Want bells and whistles? Buy Sony. Want sturdy tools? Buy Canon or Nikon. Simple as that 🙂

  • Doug Laurent

    I do the same. It just would be cool if Canon – which would be the favorite brand for the majority of people – would be a bit faster in coming up with modern features and surprise with more that you can expect, instead of just releasing the minimum that people expect, at the latest possible point.

  • keynut5

    You have never been shooring sports, have you? Obviously not. If you had, you would know that IS is pretty much irrelevant because of the fast shutter speeds and all the movement going on with the motive. Sports photographers turn IS off when shooting such fast paced situations. A6500 may very well be a nice camera, but hardly a replacement for a pro grade Nikon or Canon DSLR any day soon, due to many reasons, some of which I have already mentioned. And regardless of IS or not, shooting Canon glass on Sony E with a Metabones adapter is still slow and does not take advantage of all the advanced Sony AF features.

  • Marcel van Leeuwen

    again you presume too much. I also work at a camera rental store, so i use about every system out there which i can lay my hands on. And i have shot with virtually any camera that matters. I’m not heavily invested in anything.

  • Marcel van Leeuwen

    which i have not done? How do you know that?

  • Doug Laurent

    As you can see with today’s A6500 release – that by the way turns ALL non-stabilized Canon lenses into 5-axis stabilized lenses if you like – Sony is a lot faster in everything they do. You can expect they will release the missing E-mount lenses sooner, than Canon or Nikon will have an answer to the Sony mirrorless cameras – who by the way only would be attractive if they keep EF and F-mounts.

  • keynut5

    Lots of emotions and feelings here 😉 but joke aside: 70-200 or up to 400 with a converter is not good enough for long distance shooting at sports arenas or motorsports. And the A7 series houses do not have the relevant ergonomics for fast paced work (or work at all e.g. with gloves in the winter time) and cannot take all the physical beatings a pro grade reportage/sports camera can. Cameras are tools to me, and even if I wished – and wanted; I really tried to like them – Sony A7 series just is not a proper tool for demanding reportage/sports. I don’t care about brands; I also own and shoot with Fuji, Panasonic and Sony (A-6300), and I am generally happy with all of them in the use cases they are intended and suitable for. The A7 series are great cameras, just not suitable tools for demanding reportage/sports in arenas and demanding weather and climate conditions. A camera with the A7R II dynamic range, focus features and IBS and Canon ergonomics, robustness and glass would be great. But as for now, that does not excist. So in real world terms, working under real world conditons, I opt for the right tool in the tool box for any given assigmnent.

  • Rick Murray

    Agreed – I use both systems, too.

  • Scott

    I have one – and I can tell you the images are not soft or blurred, or lacking contrast in any way. It could be DPReview’s test shots, but this body creates stunning detail.

    Resampled down to 1920px on the long edge:

  • Doug Laurent

    The E-mount lens lineup now consists of a very good and fast focusing 24-70/2.8, 70-200/2.8 and an extender that makes it a decent 140-400/5.6. There is a set of very good Zeiss primes that – unlike on a Canon camera – are stabilized at least through the sensor, and have autofocus. Soon there will be a 16-35/2.8 and 135/2, so most problems are solved.

    The wish list with Sony is long as well, but not as long as the Canon list. The main issue is that with Sony you have the feeling they always release the best they can AND add more than you except to keep up with Canon, which was already visible at Photokinas 2010, 2012 and 2014.

    With Canon the feeling is the opposite – you know they are able to do much better, have the features and technology already and can achieve more – but they only hand it out step by step. This why someone who loves the brand also can hate the brand.

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