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All posts tagged "micro four thirds"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Olympus Announces E-PL5 and E-PM2 PEN Cameras, X-Z2 Compact, and Two Micro Four Thirds Lenses

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 11:41 AM

Olympus has announced a number of new products. First up are the PEN E-PL5 (pictured above) and E-PM2 cameras. The main new feature is the 16 megapixel sensor that is the same the OM-D EM-5's, which is truly excellent, being a Sony sensor. Other new features include the AF system from the E-M5, and a new 3" touchscreen HVGA LCD. In the E-PL5's case, the screen can be tilted up to 170 degrees, making it possible for self-portraits. BOth cameras offer 1080p video at 30 FPS as well. The main difference between the two cameras is in that tilting LCD screen, and a mode dial with a few extra buttons for the E-PL5. Both cameras still do not offer a built-in flash, instead they will be packaged with a small external flash like their predecessors. Ships in October for US$700 for the E-PL5 with the 14-42 lens, or US$600 for the E-PM2 with the same 14-42 lens.

Next up, the Olympus XZ-2. The original XZ-1 was something unique, as it offered a 28-112mm equivalent f/1.8 - 2.5 lens that was still pretty bright across the entire range. Now in 2012, the same lens is a little less competitive, given that both Panasonic and Samsung have similar cameras that feature a f/1.4 lens at the wide side, which are also wider at 24mm equivalent. The main upgrades are in the new 12 megapixel CMOS sensor, a tilting 3" VGA LCD screen, and a new detachable grip like the E-PL5 above. 1080p video at 30 FPS is present. Ships in November for US$600.

Finally, the lenses. The two lenses are the weather-sealed 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens that does 1:1, and the "body cap" fixed-focus lens of a 15mm f/8, which is only 9mm thick. The former will be available for US$500 in October. No word on the body cap lens, though the Europe price is just 70 Euros. Oh, well, there is the re-release of the 12mm f/2 in black at an eye-watering price of US$1100, though this time around, it comes with a lens hood. There is also a "development announcement" (or what I call the "please-don't-go-we-have-something-up-our-sleeve" announcemnt) of a 17mm f/1.8, which should be perfect for street shooters, but only available in 2013. More photos and details at the following links: Olympus Pen E-PL5 and E-PM2 Olympus XZ-2 Olympus Micro Four Thirds Lenses

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Panasonic Announces DMC-G5 and G Vario 45-150mm f/4-5.6 OIS Lens

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:03 AM

Well, it's Panasonic's big day today! First up, we have a new Micro Four Thirds camera, the DMC-G5. It's a nice improvement over the G3, if you ask me. Let's start with the technical specs: The G5 has a new 16 megapixel sensor, which Panasonic calls it "digital" (their marketing speak, not mine), as it shunts even more processing onto the sensor itself. The claim is that this will improve noise, so we shall see how it performs once it arrives. Also new is the 3" VGA LCD touchscreen, up from the previous HVGA screens, so now images should be nice and crisp. One big improvement is in the video department: The G5 now features full 1080p video at 60 FPS in AVCHD, at a bit rate of 28 Mbps. This equals that of many high-end video cameras. As those who used the GH1 can remember, 17 Mbps is not much to shout about. That said, with the data stream now doubling with 60FPS progressive mode, one wonders if 28 Mbps is sufficient. The continuous stills shooting is now at 6 FPS, up from 4 FPS in the G3.

The controls and design have gotten a rework. The camera is now more curvy, and the handgrip looks far more effective than the shallow one in the G3. The rear command dial is now facing more to the right, and there's a lever just behind the shutter release. By default, it controls the zoom on the power zoom lenses, but can be set to control exposure settings, making the G5 the closest thing Panasonic has to a two-dial camera in their Micro Four Thirds line up (Olympus's flagships have always been two-dial cameras). All-in-all, it looks like a solid upgrade to the G3. As with Panasonic's usual practice, price and availability will only be released once the camera is almost ready to the market. More links, and information on the new lens after the break.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Olympus Announces M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 Lens

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 01:00 PM

Micro Four Thirds shooters, there is yet more good news for you! After Panasonic's 12-35/2.8 lens, Olympus has announced a 75mm f/1.8 lens, which translates to a 150mm lens on a 35mm camera. I actually managed to spend some time with a pre-production version of the lens, and I was very impressed with it. Due to the pre-production status of the lens, along with the pre-production OM-D E-M5 it was on, I did not get any images from it, but reviewing the results on the rear OLED screen showed promise. Get ready your wallets, for this lens ships in Summer 2012 for US$900. DPReview has a hands-on at the read link.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Reviewed by Digital Photography Review

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 12:00 PM has a review of the latest Micro Four Thirds camera, the E-M5. I'll spoil it a little: It's the best rated one yet. I have spent some time with the E-M5 and I have been quite impressed with many aspects of it, though the up-close and personal experience with what Olympus fans call the "Olympus Colour" did not leave me quite as impressed. It consists mainly of a very aggressive tone curve that pulls the upper-midtones and overall increases contrast to deliver a very punchy yet natural look. I think I prefer to process my raw files and their colours myself, thank you. The rest of the camera, including its low-light high-ISO noise, its AF speed, the user interface, were really good. My only quibble was with the rear command wheel, which being placed closer to the viewfinder meant I had to stretch my right thumb more than normal compared to the Lumix Micro Four Thirds cameras or Nikon DSLRs. Overall, a great performance. Now Panasonic, where is that GH3?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Panasonic Announces Lumix DMC-GF5 Mirrorless Camera

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:00 PM

I hope you all were not expecting anything big from this announcement; the GF5 is a small refinement over the GF3. The sensor is an improved version of the 12 megapixel one in the G3, while the other main upgrade is a new VGA touch screen. There is no word on what type it is, so hopefully Panasonic has decided to use a capacitive touchscreen instead of its current use resistive touchscreens (yuck). There is also a new processing engine, so hopefully the JPGs will be better as well. The rest of the camera remains pretty much the same, including the 1080 video capability. DPReview has a hands-on, so hit the read link for more. The camera will retail for US$750 for the kit that comes with the 14-42 power zoom, or US$600 for the kit with the much bigger 14-42 zoom (which also defeats the purpose of a small camera). Panasonic needs to find a way to cut down the price of that power zoom!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Olympus Announces OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds Camera

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:46 AM

The big news of the past 24 hours is Olympus's E-M5 camera, which is part of the OM-D line. For the uninitiated, Olympus used to make small and very well-made film SLRs back in the day, under the OM moniker. I myself started photography using dad's OM-1 almost two decades ago. Ah, the memories!

Well, while Olympus is trying to stir feelings of nostalgia, I can say that the OM-1 and this E-M5 are quite different beasts once you get past the superficial. The E-M5 is a digital camera through and through, with the controls pretty much geared towards an electronically-controlled lens mount, unlike say, the Fuji X100. Still, it does look good, and the accessory battery grip is really retro; I have not seen something like that since the old motor winders back in the days of manual focus SLRs.

The camera itself is made from the best Micro Four Thirds has to offer. Highlights include a sensor that is the 16 megapixel Live MOS affair that goes from ISO 200 to 25,600 (presumably from Panasonic; about time Olympus ditched that old 12 megapixel sensor), a contrast-detect system that Olympus promises to be world's fastest (challenging cameras like the mighty Nikon D3S and Canon EOS 1DIV), an improved sensor-shift stabilisation system that promises to keep track and correct movement in five different axis, 1080i video at up to 60 FPS, continuous shooting at 9 FPS with single AF, 4.2 with continuous AF, 3" tilting VGA (presumably using a Pentile arrangement) OLED screen, a great SVGA EVF and a weather-proofed body that offers complete weather-proof capabilities when used with the right lenses. Despite that faux pentaprism hump (it is its successor, the EVF hump), there is no built-in flash, just like the old OM cameras.

Other niceties include things like a Live Bulb mode, so you can keep track of the exposure when it is progress. Ever shot in bulb and have no idea how long to open the shutter for, especially in conditions where the light level is rapidly changing? This is the crutch. There is also a tone curve overlay for finer control over how the camera handles shadows and highlights, though I suspect that is more for JPEG shooters.

All that nice stuff does not come cheap. The camera will ship in April for US$1000 for just the body, $1100 with a 14-42mm kit lens, and $1300 with the new 12-50 powerzoom lens (which is weather-proof). Along with the camera, Olympus also announced a 75mm f/1.8 lens, a 60mm f/2.8 macro, and a new flash with an LED for video work, the FL-600R. The FL-600R will ship in April for US$300, while pricing information for the lenses are not available.

More details and photos at the link, along with a preview! Be sure to see the grip, it just so old school!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Olympus Announces M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 11:30 AM

"Olympus has announced a new 12 - 50 mm Micro Four Thirds lens with some interesting features."

Interesting barely describes it for me. Bizarre is more apt for me. A lens that has pro features like weathersealing (which something the PEN series lacks; perhaps Olympus will have a higher grade PEN camera in the near-future?), coupled with decidedly consumer features like a power zoom and a rather small aperture that becomes even smaller rather quickly at the longer end of the zoom. While the power zoom mechanism can be disabled, I am still wondering why it is even there in the first place. It makes sense on the compact lenses like the Panasonic 14-42 zoom which is aimed at the compact camera upgrader, but this, I am left a little befuddled. Ships in January for US$500. More details at the read link.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Panasonic Announces the Lumix DMC-GX1 Micro Four Thirds Camera

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 11:36 AM

Panasonic today announced their latest camera, and for those of you who wanted a proper follow-up to the GF1, here it is! The main upgrades here are in the form of a 16 megapixel sensor with a top ISO rating of 12,800 borrowed from the G3, an enlarged and rubberised grip, improved AF that promises 0.09 seconds focusing time, an electronic level for those of us who cannot place horizons straight, 1080i videos at 60 FPS in MP4 or AVCHD compression, and a new accessory connector that allows a much higher resolution EVF to be attached, at 1.44 million subpixels (probably SVGA resolution). The 3" HVGA LCD is now a touchscreen as well, which in addition to allowing touch-to-focus, also sports two of the four custom function "buttons". For those that need handholding Panasonic promises the Intelligent Auto (iA) function will handle even more parameters automatically. One thing I noticed is the loss of the drive mode lever; its functionality is now replaced by a button on the rear of the camera. Shame.

Personally, the GX1 is an incremental upgrade from the GF1. I was sort of hoping for something more different from Panasonic. Maybe the GX2 next year? I would love to see something with the EVF built-in. After all, Sony has shown that it can be done, with the NEX-7.

The GX1 will cost US$700 for the camera alone, US$800 with the old 14-42/3.5-5.6 kit, or US$950 with the new pancake 14-42/3.5-5.6 lens. Expected availability will be in December. PR and an image of the camera's rear after the break. Preview Preview


Monday, September 12, 2011

Engadget Takes on the Olympus PEN E-P3

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:30 PM

"Olympus' PEN line has been a beautiful one from the start, but one that found itself out of consideration for many due to the poor value proposition. Even the newest PEN E-P3 isn't a bargain; at $900 with a somewhat versatile 14-42mm lens, it's well north of most entry-level DSLRs, and on-par with many mid-rangers. So, is it really worth splurging on a slightly more compact frame, devilishly good looks and "the world's fastest autofocus system?" Read on for our take."

As a Panasonic GF-1 owner, I've found myself peering over the fence and looking at the Olympus micro 4/3rds cameras lately. I've been looking for an upgrade to my GF-1, but the direction that Panasonic is going with the GF series isn't very appealing to me. I like the manual controls and buttons; I don't want just a point and shoot camera with a better sensor. One thing's for sure though: the above image showing a small body camera with a large lens is the kind of thing I want to avoid.

I'd actually be happy to give up the ability to change lenses entirely if I could get a camera like the GF-1 that had a slender 18mm to 55mm focal range (or thereabouts). Yeah, I know, I should just buy a Nikon P7100 or a Canon G12...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Panasonic Announces Two X-series Lenses for Micro Four Thirds; Makes Sony NEX Lenses Fat in Comparison

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:59 AM

"Anyone who's used Panasonic's 14-42mm Micro Four Thirds zoom lens has probably noticed its relatively bulky design, especially when compared to Olympus's counterpart. Today, the company announced a new lens that offers the same zoom and f/3.5-5.6 aperture range in a housing less than half the size when closed, and still noticeably smaller when extended."

I think the above photo says it all. The new 14-42 X-series lens is something Sony should have done with their NEX cameras to avoid the silly "small camera, huge lens(es)" problem. Both lenses have the exact same specification, that being zoom lenses with 14-42mm focal lengths, and maximum apertures of f/3.5-5.6. The differences come in the handling: The X-series 14-42 has no focus ring, and zooming is motorised, handled by a lever on the left side of the lens. The other difference is the price: The cost of the new lens is US$400, twice that of the larger lens's US$200. The lens will be available in October, and can be purchased as part of a new GF3 kit, called the GF3X, for US$800.

The other lens is a smaller telephoto zoom, the 45-170mm f/4-5.6. Like the 14-42, there is a lever to control the zoom, but there is also a power zoom ring (think Minolta's ill-fated experiments in the early 1990's), as well as a focusing ring. The 45-170mm will cost US$450 and will ship in September. Personally I prefer the older 45-200 at US$350. It might be a bit bigger, but once you reach beyond a certain size, any space savings seems a bit futile. Photos of the 45-170mm and the 14-42mm at the source.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lifehacker's Guide to Choosing Cameras

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:00 AM

"Choosing a digital camera used to be a simple process that was heavily dictated by the amount of money in your pocket. Now the same money can buy you different benefits and compromises, making the decision much more complex. Here's a look at your camera-buying options, the pros and cons of each, and some specific suggestions to help you pick the perfect camera for your needs."

Lifehacker has a long article on how to choose a camera (and it even includes a guide on cameras in phones), but I recommended not going through the recommended picks just because they are there. Seriously, a Sony NEX-3?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Panasonic Lumix G3 Reviewed by Digital Photography Review

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:30 AM

"The G3 heralds the start of Panasonic's third generation of mirrorless cameras. In some respects it's a refinement of previous models; its electronic viewfinder and hinged rear display screen are identical to the G1 and G2, for example. However, behind the aluminium front panel of its slimmed-down, externally-simplified body lies a completely new 16.7MP sensor. This makes it the first mass-market Micro Four Thirds model to move beyond Panasonic's 12MP chip."

This is one of those good news and bad news cameras, if you ask me. The image quaility is good, but the decrease in external controls and reduced grip means a lot of Panasonic's own lenses are harder to use. Still the price is not too bad (it is cheaper than the G2) and the improved image quality means it can hold its own against entry-level DSLRs, while providing a user interface that is more accessible to casual users. I am now waiting to see what Panasonic does with the GH3. Will they dumb it down like the G and GF series, or will they bump it up a spec to compete with the 60Ds and D7000s?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Olympus Announces PEN E-P3 Camera

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 04:17 AM

It is a big day for Olympus here, as they launch a total of THREE new Micro Four Thirds cameras. The first is the leading PEN camera, the E-P3. This is a bigger overhaul than the "upgrade" that the E-P2 was. There is a new 12 megapixel sensor (with the by-now usual Olympus sensor-shift stabilsation), an upgraded AF engine with 35 points that is touted to be even faster than the phase detect systems used in SLRs, a very nice 3 inch OLED touchscreen with 614k dots (I still am not certain of the resolution yet), 1080i60 movie mode with manual controls, a popup flash handy for daytime fill flash, and a removeable grip when you want the camera to look sleeker. has a review up, so go check it out. I think it is looking very promising, and might even be an upgrade for GF1 users or photographers looking for something like the GF1. Ships in August at US$899 for the camera and a kit lens, with a choice of either the 17/2.8 pancake or the 14-42/3.5-5.6 zoom.

More Coverage:

Olympus Announces PEN E-PL3 and E-PM1 Cameras

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 04:16 AM

Next up are the smaller versions of the E-P3. In a way they are Olympus's answer to Sony's tiny NEX cameras; this time the E-PL3 has been given a diet, and is made smaller and lighter. As a result, it loses the nice handgrip found on the E-PL2, along with the built-in flash. That is now an external accessory, like the NEX cameras, but at least it uses a standard hotshoe. That said, it gains a flip LCD, which is a nice bonus. The LCD itself is a standard 3" HVGA affair, so it is not quite as nice as the one on the the E-P3. The rest of the camera reads pretty much like the E-P3 specifications-wise, with the same revamped 12 megapixel sensor, the same fast 35 points AF engine, and the added bonus of having a faster continuous shooting speed of 5.5 FPS compared to the E-P3's 3 FPS. I think Olympus has come up with a nice compromise in both the E-P3 and E-PL3 that satisfies the enthusiasts while attempting to capture the market Sony is going for with the NEX. Price and availability is unknown.

The E-PM1, dubbed the "Mini", is essentially the E-PL3 with fewer buttons and a fixed LCD to get the size down even more. Without having seen either camera in the flesh, I wonder if the sacrifices are worth the space savings, not to mention the need to market and sell another product in the lineup. Again, price and availability are unknown. Photo of the E-PM1 after the break, and check out the link for full specs and more photos!

More coverage:


Monday, June 13, 2011

Panasonic Discusses Future of Lumix GF and GH Micro Four Thirds Cameras.

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 07:13 PM

"Panasonic intends to release a Lumix GF camera aimed at advanced photographers, the company has confirmed to our colleagues at PhotoRadar. Speaking exclusively to PhotoRadar, Panasonic's Director of DSC Business unit Ichiro Kitao said that although he was unable to confirm a date for such a camera, Panasonic plans to split the GF series into two lines and release a GF camera aimed at experienced photographers."

After the rather disappointing (to me anyway) GF3, there is some good news that Panasonic does intend to follow up on the GF1 rather than just having the simpler cameras to carry the GF line. Also interesting news is that the GH3 is going to be important for the company. Being a GH1 user myself, I am interested to see what Panasonic can do to the GH line to make it more appealing to the enthusiast crowd.

Panasonic Announces Lumix DMC-GF3

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 12:30 PM

Panasonic has announced the Lumix DMC-GF3, which continues Panasonic's strategy of making the Micro Four Thirds cameras more accessible for compact camera users, with even more features being cut from the the already shrunken- down GF2. Gone is the hotshoe along with the rear thumb-operated command dial, accessory jack and stereo microphone. There is now a combination directional pad and dial, but those are generally inferior to a dedicated command dial. All-in-all, Panasonic is gunning for the crowd targeted by Sony's NEX line (the GF3 is smaller than the NEX-5), but it means for now, there is no real successor to the GF1; a compact interchangeable lens camera for photography enthusiasts. Personally I am not impressed; the GF-series is no longer something I would buy to use.

The rest of the camera remains the same as the GF2; same 12 megapixel sensor with the ability to churn out 1080p videos in AVCHD at 30 or 25 FPS (depending on your region) and a 3" touchscreen LCD. What is new is yet another battery (I can hear the groans at having to buy yet another expensive Panasonic battery), along with more built-in effects. The camera is available with the cheaper 14-42/3.5-5.6 OIS lens for US$599 in late August, and the 14/2.5 pancake lens for US$699 in July. Press release after the break.

More Coverage: Preview Preview


Panasonic Announces Leica Summilux DG 25mm f/1.4 for Micro Four Thirds

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 12:30 PM

Along with the GF3, Panasonic also announced the Leica co-branded Summilux 25mm f/1.4. For fans of overpriced stuff, this offers a fast f/1.4 aperture at a normal focal length. The lens features a new coating dubbed "Nano Surface Coating", which no doubt means the price is going to be really high (see Nikon charging as much as twice the price for the same lens with their Nano Crystal Coating). Availability in August, with pricing information to be out in July. Press release after the break.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Panasonic Announces Lumix DMC-G3

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 12:55 PM

"Panasonic today announced the Lumix DMC-G3, a Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens camera. As you might have guessed, this is the follow-up to the DMC-G2. The most significant changes here are a new sensor and an even smaller body."

That was fast. The G2 was announced in March 2010, so it has been just 14 months between the two cameras. That is an incredibly short time for a new product, and I think Panasonic is likely to be re-aligning their Micro Four Thirds line. The G3's most noteworthy new features are an all-new 16 megapixel sensor, along with a more compact, aluminium front (the previous G cameras were entirely plastic with a rubberised coating). Other improvements include a fast AF system from the GH2, 1080p videos at 30 FPS in a 60i container, the touchscreen interface from GF2. Continuous shooting speed is increased to 4 FPS. Not everything is improved though; to make the body smaller and reduce cost, the G3 has less buttons, dials and knobs than the G2. Also missing is the infrared sensor which allows for automatic switching between the EVF and reard LCD display. Other minor things changing for the worse include the loss of microphone input, simpler strap lugs, and the smaller battery used by the GF2.

I suspect Panasonic is trying to aim the Lumix G lineup at a broader market, like how Sony captured so many users with their NEX line. Both the GF2 and G3 are smaller and simpler than their predecessors; I only hope that the GH series remains intact as the flagship of the line.

The G3 will be available in black, white, red and brown in June, with the 14-42/3.5-5.6 lens for about US$700. More coverage at the below links, and more photos of the camera with the press release after the break.

Preview (with samples) of Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 by

Q&A session with Panasonic representatives


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Samyang Announces Prototype 7mm Fish Eye for Micro Four Thirds

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:30 AM

According to DPReview, Samyang has unveiled a prototype 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens designed specifically for Micro Four Thirds. A native design has the advantage of smaller lenses, as shown above. Having said that... Why another fish-eye? There's the Panasonic already! First manufacturer to get a good 8/9/10mm f/2.8 out gets my money.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Olympus E-PL2 Reviewed

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:30 AM

"The Olympus E-PL2 ($599 with lens) is a consumer-friendly interchangeable lens camera that uses the Micro Four Thirds standard. It's the successor the to E-PL1, and has a fairly modest list of improvements. They include a more ergonomic design, a larger/sharper LCD, refinements to the user interface, and a new kit lens. The E-PL2 retains the same sensor, image processor, movie mode, and overall design of the E-PL1."

Digital Camera Resource Page has a review of the Olympus E-PL2, and it is mostly a competent little camera. The most interesting thing about the E-PL2 to me is the Bluetooth PENPAL accessory, and there is a paragraph or two talking about it. The functionality is rather basic as all it does it transfer the image over, so it still does not quite bridge the ease of use and easy sharing of photos that make camera phones so popular nowadays. I am not sure if another stand-alone app to help achieve that functionality is needed though; perhaps a bridging app of some kind?

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