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Usefulness of 21 in Europe
Old 07-04-2014   #1
ktmrider
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Usefulness of 21 in Europe

I am getting my Leica M gear ready for a 90 day trip to Europe and North Africa. Part of the trip includes 100 mile hikes in the Highlands and Camino de Santiago so weight and space are factors.

I just ordered a small 35 to carry in place of the Nokton f1.2. Now the kit is M9 with 21/35/90 but I would not mind leaving the 21 at home. The 21 is a Skopar so super small. So how useful is it? Is the 35 wide enough for the streets of Europe. In some ways, I am tempted with a 35/50/90 combo. Minimum kit will be M9 with 35/90.
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Old 07-04-2014   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktmrider View Post
Is the 35 wide enough for the streets of Europe.
Is it possible to be less specific?
As I'm sure you know a 21mm just produces a different kind of image than a 35mm. You will know in any given situation which lens is right. The skopar won't break your back even if you don't use it in the whole trip.
Just take it, and you will surely end up using it.
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Old 07-04-2014   #3
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With a M9 it is easy to stitch image together ; I find I use my 21mm less often than I did with film.
Stitching works well even hand-held for wide panoramas - but less so when you have to scan on two axes for large interiors or monumental scale buildings ( the M9 buffer is also a big let down in this situation )
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Old 07-04-2014   #4
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Just bring it. A 21 and some imagination is all you need.
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Old 07-04-2014   #5
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I would take it. In some older cities it can be tight in small streets.
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Old 07-04-2014   #6
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Its soooo small , compact, and renders quite lovely...
You might miss her 'look'
Though sometimes a 35 is ALL one needs and a 35/90 sounds Sublime
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Old 07-04-2014   #7
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Originally Posted by helenhill_HH View Post
Though sometimes a 35 is ALL one needs
I have often gone places in Europe and elsewhere with only a 35mm or a 50mm, and I rarely have felt I was missing anything.
I only had a 35mm in Morocco however, and did feel like I was backing up against a wall a lot to fit everything in. I would definitely bring the 21mm if I had it.
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Old 07-04-2014   #8
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35 and 90 is all you'll need. The less gear, the more fun. If it were me, I'd just go with a 50, as I have many times.
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Old 07-04-2014   #9
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I can see that this is the kind of question where if you ask five photographers you will get five answers, maybe six! So let me add mine. My European travel has been mostly in France, both Paris and Provence; also in Finland (Helsinki), and in London. A 35mm was very useful in all those places. It's an essential focal length. And I found a 25mm or 28mm no less essential. All three of these were small CV LTM lenses. A lens wider than 35 can be essential in the small narrow streets. I typically had either the 25 or the 28mm on one IIIc, and the 35mm on the other IIIc. I did very little lens changing that way. But I don't think it matters exactly which wide-angle focal length you bring. Any ultrawide will have its uses, as long as you like the look it gives. I could have brought just the 35 and the 25 and been OK; ditto the 35 and the 28. I didn't need both the 25 and 28, I just brought them because I had them. If I'd had a screw-mount 21mm rather than a 25mm, I would have brought it. Personally I think a 25mm is plenty wide enough for the job, but that's just me. I your case you have a 21, and I would surely not leave it home! I will just add that I hardly used the 50mm I brought; I didn't bring a 90 at all, and didn't miss it. Again, that's just me.

Have a great trip. We will expect pictures!
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Old 07-04-2014   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktmrider View Post
Is the 35 wide enough for the streets of Europe.
Is the "travel" subforum of RFF stunning enough so that we can read such things ?

Hey - when Jean-Loup Sieff (you know who he was ?) decided to go to Rome for an extensive street and fashion photos session there, he decided to take the 21 only. Once arrived, he took pictures with what he had. Before leaving Paris, he had no idea of what he'd find once arrived, because he had never been in Rome before - but what he knew was this : he had one lens with him, and it was the 21.

Why did he take the 21 ? Simple : the 21 was his own favorite focal length.

Guess what ? Probably the most beautiful pictures of Rome ever were done by him during this trip.

Guess why ? Because he was an exceptional photographer.

The proof ? Well, several years later he went to Death Valley. Guess who made the most iconic photos of that place ? And with which focal length ?

The rest... is literature, my friend.

Do you like the 21 enough ? If yes, take it. If not, don't.
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Old 07-04-2014   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktmrider View Post
I am getting my Leica M gear ready for a 90 day trip to Europe and North Africa. Part of the trip includes 100 mile hikes in the Highlands and Camino de Santiago so weight and space are factors.

I just ordered a small 35 to carry in place of the Nokton f1.2. Now the kit is M9 with 21/35/90 but I would not mind leaving the 21 at home. The 21 is a Skopar so super small. So how useful is it? Is the 35 wide enough for the streets of Europe. In some ways, I am tempted with a 35/50/90 combo. Minimum kit will be M9 with 35/90.
On the last couple of trips to the UK, I've carried 35/50/90 and 24/50/90. I missed having the ultra wide on the trip I didn't have it, even if I didn't use it all that much.

21/35/90 is an excellent kit that covers all the bases well. The Color Skopar 21 is tiny and does not get in the way even if you don't use it.

G
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Old 07-04-2014   #12
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I would never leave the house without my 35 and 50, everything else is optional.
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Old 07-04-2014   #13
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Your 21mm lens will be as important to your photography and your style in Europe or Africa just as it is in North America or any other continent. No more, no less.

Some cannot live without a 21mm lens. Others find it less useful. It only depends on which you are, not which continent you are on.
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Old 07-04-2014   #14
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Originally Posted by Bob Michaels View Post
Your 21mm lens will be as important to your photography and your style in Europe or Africa just as it is in North America or any other continent. No more, no less.
Haha. Thanks, Bob.
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Old 07-04-2014   #15
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Gotta agree with Ms. Helen, 35/90 is light and a most excellent small kit.

For ease of use, pick up an iPod Touch (current generation) and use it for panoramic shots. Yes, it's not as anything as your M9, but it slips in your pocket and you can use it when you find WiFi to check your email.

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Old 07-04-2014   #16
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I'd take it, it's not like it's a big lens. But yes, 'streets of Europe' is like saying 'Homes in North America'. Even being as specific as one city, in one country (Brussels), you've got tiny little alleys and huge, grand squares. It depends where you like to hang out, really.
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Old 07-04-2014   #17
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I love 21mm, so of course my advice is to include it. For my travel photography I find 21/28/50 to be very useful, with some use of 90 too, though it's my least used of the four. I'm one of those who can't imagine bringing only one lens. Having more in the bag doesn't mean you have to always use them, so long as it's manageable. A three lens Leica M kit isn't much of a burden.
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Old 07-04-2014   #18
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Europe's a continent. So probably no general rules?
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Old 07-04-2014   #19
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Take with you what you are most familiar with and most likely to use during the trip.
In my last trip, I used a 35mm lens on the M9 and a 45mm lens (on a M4/3, making it a 90mm lens).

35-90 worked for me.
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Old 07-04-2014   #20
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For travel, I always take a 21/35 combination - usually add a 50. In my luggage there is usually a 90 o f some kind - but it rarely gets used. The 21 is a bit of an image saver when streets are narrow and interior spaces cramped. The 35 becomes the "standard" lens. Obviously weight is a consideration - the 21f4 Skopar is about as small as it gets anyway - though you need the finder too.
When walking long distances - what weighs nothing in the morning - becomes a mill-stone by afternoon! I would leave the 90 - unless you are planning to do portraits. The 50 is nice - but the 35 can substitute for in most cases.
Have a great trip anyway.
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Old 07-04-2014   #21
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Hey guys, the point of the thread is about traveling with limited space and weight due to 200 miles of hiking. If I was home, I would not only have access to five lenses for the M but a couple SLR's and a medium format kit. When I travel around the US, it is usually by car and thus I am not limited by the amount of gear I can haul.

If I really wanted to go super light, I would take the X100 and leave everything else at home. So I can't take the kitchen sink but I can take more then the X100. Am trying to figure out the best compromise without killing myself by taking the kitchen sink. I used to carry a couple Nikon F's with 24/85 and 200 hiking in the mountains of Colorado and Alaska. That was when I was 24 and a captain in the Marines. Now, I am 62 and not quite as gung ho as I used to be (perhaps more sense comes with age.)

I know everyone shoots differently and everyone varies in the amount and type of equipment they are willing to travel with. People have already advised me to leave the M9 at home because it is too heavy or expensive. Well, I did not buy it to have it sit on my desk. I use the 21 somewhat but am not sure I use it enough to justify carrying it on a 3 month trip, hence the question.

We will be in cities in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Malta and Morocco. Old European cities seem to have narrow and restricted streets to me thus the 35 not the 50. Is the 35 wide enough or will I miss a shorter focal length? If I want a 28 or 24, then I would have to take the R6.2 as I have nothing in the M kit between 21 and 35 and really don't see myself buying another focal length.

For years, my standard kit with any M was a 35 and 90 combo. I just returned from motorcycling for a month in Laos and my kit was M9 with 21/50/90 and probably used the 50 for most of the shooting. Honestly, it comes down to a flip of the coin between which I like better, the 35 or 50 so I am not worried about which of those to take. And the 90 does not get used much but is always used on every trip. Can't say the same thing for the 21.
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Old 07-04-2014   #22
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I'm visiting France at the end of summer and plan to pack the 35mm MS Optical Super Perar and a CV 15mm, both are fairly tiny. Last time I was in Europe, I never went wider than a 50mm, but that's my preference. I could take only 35 or only 50mm and be happy. I'd be more inclined to do 21 and 50 in your shoes, but that's me.

It might help to slap on a 21mm and find some cramped quarters, I don't know El Paso very well, but take it into a supermarket and shoot the aisles if that's as narrow as it gets. See if it's useful in general. Get a feel for the focal length and how it works for you before deciding.

But I think your 35/90mm minimum kit is what you'll end up taking as it seems to fit you and your needs best.
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Old 07-04-2014   #23
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For street shooting in old cities, I find 28mm to be just right, but given that M9 has some nice resolution, take the 21mm and you can crop later. I normally go out with a 28/50 set of lenses.
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Old 07-05-2014   #24
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It depends.... not only is a ultra wide useful in tight spaces, it also gives a distinctive look, I like that look, you may not.
When you write cities in Spain, Portugal and Morocco I think old Moorish cities, when you write Italian cities I think renaissance cities and Malta, well, medieval. A 21mm would surely be useful. It probably would be the lens I use the most in those circumstances. And I wouldn't use a 35, but 50mm, but that's just me.

Anyway, bring your 21mm, there for sure will be circumstances where it would be useful. Consider leaving the 90mm at home.
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Old 07-05-2014   #25
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Oh c'moan "going to Europe"="narrow streets of old cities" its obvious.

Take it, definitely.
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Old 07-05-2014   #26
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Quote:
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This echoes my all time favorite thread title, found some years ago on the photo.net Leica forum, "Going to Cracow, what film should I take?" 'Nuff said?
Mitch, for going to Cracow back in the time of Pope John-Paul II, you had to take holy film.
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Old 07-05-2014   #27
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I went to Cuba with just a 35. I missed having a 50 occasionally. I didn't miss anything wider particularly. Even trekking in the Canadian Rockies I rarely reached for the 21. My 21 is the SEM so is larger and heavier than your Voigt. I'd be tempted to take it, but I wouldn't expect to reach for it. In Paris, Rome and Venice, I rarely used my 24.
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Old 07-05-2014   #28
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It will be useful, not just for narrow streets but for architecture, views from vantage points, interiors etc etc. I find a 21mm invaluable in many places, not just Europe.
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Old 07-05-2014   #29
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Even trekking in the Canadian Rockies I rarely reached for the 21.
Why would you say "even"? I find that often a longer lens is better suited for that kind environment. This, however, is about European and North African cities, where, IMHO, a 21mm is very useful.
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Old 07-05-2014   #30
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Old 07-05-2014   #31
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Why would you say "even"? I find that often a longer lens is better suited for that kind environment. This, however, is about European and North African cities, where, IMHO, a 21mm is very useful.
In my mind I was thinking trying to fit vast vistas and high peaks into the frame, for example Peyto Lake from the top of the pass. I didn't feel I needed to use the 21mm.
It's obvious that some photographers are very at home with 24/21mm. I confess that I'm not one of those people. I don't know how to use the 21 to it's full advantage. All too often I end up with too much sky, too much foreground, or too much detail crammed in. I look at the work of the Turkish photographer Ara Guler, who I believe used a 21mm super angulon, and it all looks so easy. I've yet to master it.
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Old 07-05-2014   #32
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I can only offer my own limited experience, but my standard kit is 35/50/90 and I found it worked reasonably well in tight European city back streets as well as more open areas. I know many people feel the 35 and 50 are close enough to be an either/or choice, but I'm not one of those. I'm comfortable with the kit I normally use, and I was able to make it work effectively in those conditions; there were times I wished for something else (wider or longer), but if you don't have it in the bag you don't spend much time worrying about it. If you work well with a 35/90 or 50/90 combo, why not just go with that and keep it simple?
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Old 07-05-2014   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malland View Post
This echoes my all time favorite thread title, found some years ago on the photo.net Leica forum, "Going to Cracow, what film should I take?" 'Nuff said?

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That's what I've been thinking all the time reading this thread

Everybody has his own answer on this kind of questions, just do what you feel is right and you can't go wrong.

(Btw, I live in Europe, visited a lot of cities and always carry a 21 or even wider)

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Old 07-05-2014   #34
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If it's so super small, just bring it. You can carry it in a pocket, what's the big deal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ktmrider View Post
I am getting my Leica M gear ready for a 90 day trip to Europe and North Africa. Part of the trip includes 100 mile hikes in the Highlands and Camino de Santiago so weight and space are factors.

I just ordered a small 35 to carry in place of the Nokton f1.2. Now the kit is M9 with 21/35/90 but I would not mind leaving the 21 at home. The 21 is a Skopar so super small. So how useful is it? Is the 35 wide enough for the streets of Europe. In some ways, I am tempted with a 35/50/90 combo. Minimum kit will be M9 with 35/90.
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Old 07-05-2014   #35
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Keep in mind that most European countries have now adopted the metric system. Will a 21mm lens frame the same way as it does on those pesky Anglo-Saxon soils ?
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Old 07-05-2014   #36
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Keep in mind that most European countries have now adopted the metric system. Will a 21mm lens frame the same way as it does on those pesky Anglo-Saxon soils ?
... there is often a larger circle of confusion here in the UK ... and I'm not even sure they work in Europe
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Old 07-05-2014   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktmrider View Post
Hey guys, the point of the thread is about traveling with limited space and weight due to 200 miles of hiking. ...

I use the 21 somewhat but am not sure I use it enough to justify carrying it on a 3 month trip, hence the question.

We will be in cities in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Malta and Morocco. Old European cities seem to have narrow and restricted streets to me thus the 35 not the 50. Is the 35 wide enough or will I miss a shorter focal length? ...

For years, my standard kit with any M was a 35 and 90 combo. I just returned from motorcycling for a month in Laos and my kit was M9 with 21/50/90 and probably used the 50 for most of the shooting. Honestly, it comes down to a flip of the coin between which I like better, the 35 or 50 so I am not worried about which of those to take. And the 90 does not get used much but is always used on every trip. Can't say the same thing for the 21.
Given all you've said, and all that everyone else has said, the only person who is going to be able to decide this is you.

Adding the 21mm to what you carry will amount to a 2x2 inch cylindrical package and ~6 oz weight. If you feel that it isn't worth carrying that just in case you might want it, done.

If I were contemplating a trip like yours, I would. I'd leave something else behind... :-)

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Old 07-05-2014   #38
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I'm italian so I know how streets are here. Some large or medium sized and others narrow. 28 is enough in narrow streets. So, to me the lighter combo woul be 28/50. But you don't have 28. The lightest solution would be only the 35, fast if possible, for interiors. How many photos lost without a 28 or wider? Few, very few. How many in the indecision of taking with one or another focal lenght? Surely more. If your mind concentrates in only one field of view, will take more and more good shots (at least this is my opinion). 50 mm (apparently too near to 35) would be useful in many portraits(it is not a medium tele, but nice anyway for portraits and smaller than a 90) and has the advantage that is more universal than 90 so can be leaved on your M9. If M Leicas would have a 40 mm frame and would exist a 40 1,4 leica lens I think this would be the lightest and most balanced solution in Europe too. But this is another matter...
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Old 07-05-2014   #39
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If M Leicas would have a 40 mm frame and would exist a 40 1,4 leica lens I think this would be the lightest and most balanced solution in Europe too. But this is another matter...
Such a lens does exist. It just doesn't come from Leica. It's the 40/1.4 Cosina Voigtlander. It's ideally suited, almost a perfect match, for the slightly undersized 35mm frameline of the M6/M7/MP. I have used this lens on my M7 in Europe, and found it more useful there than the 50.

Shortstop and I are on tHe same page in finding the 28mm (and I would include 24 or 25mm in this) as being adequate for the narrow streets. But since the OP apparently does not have a 28, but does have a 21, he should bring it. It won't go to waste!
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Old 07-05-2014   #40
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