Photography / Features

Why I Switched from Nikon to Sony: Matt Kloskowski

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When it comes to choosing photography gear, brand loyalty is not what it used to be. While the choice of a camera brand is generally considered one of a photographer’s most fundamental decisions, a collision of factors has shaken up the status quo in recent years, influencing many users to reconsider their allegiances and switch to new products.

At the end of the day, gear is simply a tool to get the job done, and the best choice is the one that feels right for what you're doing.In the weeks to come, we’ll investigate the many stories and myriad reasons that prompted users to switch brands—to offer you new insights for your future buying choices. The following views expressed are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent that of B&H Photo.

All Images © Matt Kloskowski

Tampa, Florida-based photo educator, digital image editing and post-processing coach Matt Kloskowski specializes in outdoor, landscape, and nature photography. After a short stint shooting with a Canon 10D, his system of choice from 2000 to 2015 was Nikon, most recently a Nikon D810. “Most of the people I shot with were Nikon users, and it was easier to do the same, so we could swap lenses and gear and settings,” he says.

Fall color in the Great Smoky Mountains; Camera: Sony a7R II; Aperture: f/16; Shutter Speed: 8 seconds; ISO: 100

While his career as an educator gives him the chance to try out many different cameras and brands, Kloskowski notes, “Over the years I really felt that my Nikon was the strongest gear out there, so I would always find myself going right back to my Nikon cameras.”

Making the Switch

As mirrorless technology arrived on the scene, Kloskowski was impressed by the Sony cameras he tested; however, making the switch took him the better part of two to three years.

Sunset Along the Bay; Camera: Sony a7R II; Aperture: f/5.6; Shutter Speed: 1/100; ISO: 400

He found the image quality of Sony cameras to be on par with Nikon early on, so his most important considerations became the camera settings and, “all the little things that make up our shooting habits.”

Brand equity was another determining factor. “The brand perception of Sony has always been huge for me, all the way back to the Sony Walkman I had as a kid,” Kloskowski says. “The Sony brand has always had a certain degree of fun to it, a certain degree of reliability, and a certain degree of prestige.”

Wildflowers on Mount Rainier; Camera: Sony a7R II; Aperture: f/8; Shutter Speed: 1/200; ISO: 100

In 2014, he took a Sony a7R on a week-long trip to Mount Rainier. While he loved the experience, “the camera wasn’t quite there yet,” he points out. “But finally, when the Sony a7R II came out, I realized that it actually met and surpassed the camera I had been shooting with,” he adds.

Sony Alpha a7R II Mirrorless Digital Camera

While Kloskowski wasn’t displeased with any of his Nikon’s technical attributes—resolution, pixel count, image sharpness, noise, dynamic range, color, and so on, “at the same time I’m extremely pleased with my Sony’s performance when it comes to all those things. It’s at least on par if not better in those areas, and it’s also got the scores to back it up,” he says.

These scores come from DxO Mark, a trusted industry standard for image quality measurements and camera and lens ratings, which rates the Sony a7R II on top compared to the other cameras in its class. “So it’s not just a perceived thing for me, it actually performs well in those scores,” he says.

The last, but not least, of the factors influencing his decision to switch is unique to Kloskowski’s career as an educator. “Part of being an educator is support. And for me, Sony added support to the package,” he says. “Not only is Sony incredibly innovative on the camera and technological side of things, they are innovative with education—to help people get better photos. As an educator, I needed somebody to care as much as I do about helping people take better photos. The AlphaUniverse.com website is a perfect example of how Sony is really engaging with their audience by inspiring and educating at the same time.”

Favorite Sony Feature: The Electronic Viewfinder

Kloskowski’s favorite aspect of his Sony camera—and a distinguishing factor from his Nikon—is the electronic viewfinder. While this wasn’t initially on his radar as a reason to switch, “it’s become very integral to my work, because I can see the picture as it really exists,” he explains. A traditional viewfinder doesn’t do that. It basically shows you a look into the real world in front of you, where the electronic viewfinder actually shows you a digital image based on the camera settings you’re looking at.”

Fiery Water Along the Iceland Coast; Camera: Sony a7R II; Aperture: f/22; Shutter Speed: 1/10; ISO: 100

This becomes especially beneficial with portraits. “I can see the photo onscreen as soon as I take it, so I’m able to keep my eye on the camera, but I can also check for sharpness, and to confirm details of my subject’s expression,” says Kloskowski. “I’m actually seeing details rather than chimping on the back of my camera, taking my focus off the subject while I very uncomfortably review the photos to see if they’re any good. It helps the interaction with my subjects.”

Additionally, as an outdoor shooter, the electronic viewfinder allows him to avoid the glare of composing a scene directly on his LCD, because the photo also shows up in the viewfinder.

Another advantage to the Sony system for landscapes is the fact that he can set focus points very close to the edges of his frame. “I focus on the foreground a lot and this helps tremendously,” he says.

Lenses, Filters, and Downloadable Apps

After his switch, Kloskowski replaced his three most essential Nikon lenses with the Sony Vario-Tessar T FE 16-35mm, f/4; the Sony Vario-Tessar T FE 24-70mm, f/4; and the Sony FE 70-200mm, f/4 G OSS zooms, complete with Zeiss glass. “These are some of the best made and smoothest lenses you’ll ever hold,” he says.

Morning Glow; Camera: Sony a7R II; Aperture: f/16; Shutter Speed: .8-second; ISO: 100

As a landscape shooter, Kloskowski depends on neutral density and polarizing filters for a lot of his work. While he reinvested in smaller filters for his new lenses, Sony’s innovative ecosystem extends to more than 30 downloadable apps that can be installed in its cameras. “This had nothing to do with why I wanted to switch, but these apps have become something I don’t know that I could give up,” he explains.

Kloskowski’s favorites include Smooth Reflection, which simulates a neutral density filter, and Sky HDR, simulating a graduated neutral density filter. He notes, “the best part about both of these is the fact that you get a raw file in the end.”

Challenges to the Sony System

The only minor challenges to Kloskowski’s new Sony gear involve the smaller-sized controls, which can lead one to inadvertently hit the wrong button; and the battery life. “I'd love a little joystick in place of the small wheel selector on the back of the camera. I think it would help me be more accurate when changing settings since that wheel is pretty small and sensitive,” he explains.

The Iceland Coast; Camera: Sony a7R II; Aperture: f/16; Shutter Speed: 1/10; ISO: 50

As for battery life—a pretty common complaint among mirrorless users—Kloskowski says "I definitely did get more with my Nikon. I could often shoot for two days without a new battery. That said, I wasn't using Live View as often. With the Sony EVF, and the fact that it’s almost always on and helping in some way, if I'm shooting a lot I usually find myself going through two batteries a day. It’s not a huge deal,” he adds. “I just make sure to carry a few extras, and charge my batteries every day".

Perks of the Nikon He Misses

One detail he really misses from his Nikon is not having a little LCD readout on top of the camera for changing shutter speed, aperture, white balance, ISO, and other camera settings. “That always helped a lot, because I could simply look down to see the information as I made adjustments, where everything on the Sony is at the back of the camera,” Kloskowski notes.

Chicago Twilight; Camera: Sony A6300; Aperture: F/8; Shutter Speed: 1/10; ISO: 100

While Sony a7-series cameras are equipped with a fully articulating LCD that tilts more than 90 degrees upward, for ease in composing from a low angle, a proximity sensor triggers the LCD to shut down in favor of the EVF when an object (such as a photographer’s face) comes near. “If you maneuver your hand down to change settings with the screen pointed up, you can trip the EVF, which shuts off the screen,” says Kloskowski. “With the traditional readout on top of the camera, none of that happened.”

A Reason Not to Switch

According to Kloskowski, the most important aspect to great pictures is to get your camera into the right place at the right time with the right group of settings. “That can be done with any camera out there,” he says.

Costa Rica Morning; Camera: Sony a7R II; Aperture: F/5.6; Shutter Speed: 1/8; ISO: 200

The one caveat to this involves specialty lenses. “If you use certain tilt shift or zoom lenses, or other specialty lenses that don’t exist in the Sony world, that might be a reason to remain with your existing brand,” he points out.

“While there are adapters or additional ways to make other manufacturer’s lenses fit with Sony’s gear, I would recommend waiting until the gear you need comes out, rather than trying to mix systems together. Those adapters do work, but they do introduce a bit of clunkiness into the system.”

Final Thoughts

“I’m the last person to tell anybody they should switch brands or camera models,” Kloskowski says. “While I think the switch was right for me and that it improves my photography experience, I don’t feel it’s going to apply to everybody out there. I loved my Nikon D810, it’s an incredible camera,” he adds. “But one of the things I’ve loved about my Nikon is the image quality. You may or may not know that much of the sensor technology in the Nikon comes from Sony. So it makes sense that as soon as I saw those raw files, I was hooked, because they had the same image quality that I loved about the Nikon. For me, getting used to a raw file is much like getting used to a particular film. You start to understand where you can push and pull certain sliders, and you develop a style based on that. Plus, like I mentioned earlier, I just like where Sony is going, and it’s something I wanted to invest in now, rather than wait any longer and make further investments in DSLR gear.”

Logan's Pass Sunset; Camera: Sony a7r II; Aperture: f/11; Shutter Speed: 1/40; ISO: 100

For more on Matt Kloskowski and his gear, visit the gear page on his Website.

To read the other stories in our series, Why I Switched, click here https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/p/why-i-switched.

Do you have a story or some insights to share about switching brands? If so, please add your voice to the Comments section, below.

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I switched from Nikon to Sony recently.  My reasons due to my wrists.  I would be in pain after i have done a 6 hour photoshoot.  Now with the Sony A7Rii and a Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA Lens as my main lens for landscape setup and a Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM as my primary setup for portraits and commercial work.  I do not feel as bad and i can still keep on going. 

What got me was the innovative EVF technology in the Sony A7Rii.  It seems that Sony is really pushing technological advances in photography.  Canon and Nikon need to catch up.  Love the Eye AF which follows the eye as i even move my camera or even when the person moves.  I was surprised at how spot on the focus on the eyes were.  I love Zeiss lenses (rented them often) and when they partnered with Sony, I knew the lenses were going to be spectacular in color rendering and contrast.  So, that is another reason why i switched.

If you are fully vested in a lot of lenses already with your current system, it would not be cost effective to switch.  When i had my D810, i only had two lenses the Nikon 35mm f/1.4G and the 24-70mm f/2.8G.  I would rent the rest based on need for a specific project or client.

Thanks for sharing your switching story Albert. I can definitely sympathize with your comment about wrist pain when working with heavy gear during a long photo shoot. Here's wishing you continued ease of use with your new camera and lenses, and many great pictures in your photographic future. Thanks again for reading Explora!

Hi Jill, I have been a Nikon photographer since the early 90's. Both film and digital. However I have used and owned other brands, always looking for the system that takes the best photos, landscapes, wildlife, and street photography, with the minimum weight, and best menus. I was an early adopter of mirrorless with the early Sonys, but the lenses and the menus  were mediocre at best and I sold all of it. I never sold all my Nikon equipment, however, and continue to use it today, when the conditions get tough. However for street photography I find that my M 4/3 cameras, both Olympus and Panasonic are best because people don't pay attention to you and you can get wonderful candid shots. In summary, I still use my Nikon D810 and lenses for wildlife, and tough situations, night photography, and when the shot cannot be missed, and I use M4/3 when a small camera, and light weight are important, and I will have good light. To me this is the beauty of having so many choices.

Thanks so much for sharing your insights Mesal. I totally agree, there is real power to be had with gear that lets you stay under the radar to get great candid shots. Having choices can be a wonderful thing, and using various types of cameras can really help give one's vision a workout. Sometimes I like to mix things up and photograph the same subject simultaneously with two different systems, which often leads me to new discoveries. Happy shooting, and thanks for reading the Explora blog!

Maybe someone can help here with advice. If I was shooting only landscape I would make the switch to Sony, maybe I am wrong here. However, I capture bike and running races where focusing very fast is key using the BFB. Too I shoot wedding commercial events, and a few portraits and video. I know Sony is capable of these, but not at the speed that I can accomplish with the Canon 5D3. I understand that the Canon 5D4 DR is now comparable to Nikon and Sony. So why make the switch when I have all with Canon. Too I have big hands and those tiny buttons do not make for fast work when one finger covers two buttons. The battery life would be a real problem for me unless I bought an external battery pack and then the weight goes right back up. As far as total weight goes, I have read that when using the G master E lens, the weight of the total system is equal to a DSLR. Correct me if I am wrong. I know Sony is a great system I just wish the buttons were bigger and the batteries lasted a lot longer. Thanks for the good review.

Hi Tom, thanks so much for writing in. I thought I would share your question with Matt, to see if we were in agreement on feedback (which it appears to be the case). You seem to really love your Canon system, so why mess with a beautiful thing? Please find Matt's advice below. It's great to hear that you liked Matt's story ... please stay tuned for more episodes of our Why I Switched series in the weeks' ahead. Thanks for reading!

Honestly, it almost sounds like you've answered your own question. Just reading this, I honestly can't see why you'd make a switch. If you were just landscape, then I'd say you could probably consider it more. Everything I've seen from people who've tried the 5D4 didn't seem to show much improvement in the DR. But it probably has everything you need for the multitude of things you're shooting. So my advice would be to stick with what you have and upgrade the body if you need it. But, again, reading your comment it almost seems like you know the answer and are looking for someone to push you over to Sony - and I don't think that would be the right thing to do right now. Thanks! :-) Matt K.

I switched this past January to a Nikon full-frame, the D750, after using an APS-C camera from another system for just over 7 years.  My photography took a turn toward wanting to capture a lot more action and so I could no longer tolerate missed shots due to mediocre AF.  The other system struggled with auto-focus (AF) and was inconsistent even in good lighting whereas the D750 coupled with a lens like the 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR II is remarkable in nearly all lighting conditions.

I was not ready to consider mirrorless in making the switch - despite their considerably less size and weight - because full-frame cameras like the Sony a7R II are still much more than I'm willing to pay for them, plus their AF - so I've read - is not quite at the level of cameras like the D750 when it comes to action and/or low light.

Hi Dave, congratulations on your switch to a Nikon D750! I'm currently in the midst of writing a new switcher story about a photographer who switched to the D750 from a Canon DSLR, so please check back in a couple of weeks to read all about it on Explora. Here's hoping that you continue to nail all your action shots, and thanks for reading the blog!

Jill,

It may be a bit off topic, but I bought a Canon EOS DSLR, 5D III, in 2013. My wife had been wanting to move me from film to digital, but I continue to shoot with my Canon SLRs, A-1 (bought new in 1980), and New F-1 (bought used in 2013). I enjoy photography and film versus digital, it doesn't make any difference. I enjoy the autofocus, but using manual focus keeps my skills sharp; plus, I have had to switch from AF to MF due either to the lack of light or distracting foreground objects. Now onlyy if my 5D had a split-image/microprism screen...

Hi Ralph, thanks so much for posting this comment. As someone who also enjoys shooting with both analog and digital systems, I really appreciate your point of view. Rather than making a switch, what you describe is all about embracing a wide spectrum of available image making tools, which is definitely beneficial to keeping your skills sharp (here's to manual controls!) as well as to honing your vision. 

Do you have a preferred subject for your analog shooting (or digital for that matter), or do you use both types of cameras for the full range of subject matter? 

Thanks for reading and writing in, and stay tuned for more of the Why I Switched series in the coming weeks!

When I retired from my photography business, I unloaded my pro Canon gear & switched to using the Panasonic Lumix GX85 mirrorless system for it's light weight gear. The body is well built but not weather sealed. I love the dual stabilization feature. Got reasonably sharp inages while carefully handholding a 1/4 sec shutter speed. The image quality is good, even in low light/high ISO situations. The system supports a good selection of lenses. Hiking with this lightweight camera, along with a lightweight tripod, is making landscape pleasurable for my old body. 😊

Thanks so much for your comment Fred, it's great to hear that your camera switch has allowed you to rediscover joy in making pictures again. In addition to the important perk of a lighter load (in your case), changing things up offers the benefit of reinvigorating one's work habits, which can lead to exciting discoveries and breaking new ground. Happy shooting and thanks so much for reading Explora!

I have just purchased a Sony6300, I am going to Belize in Dec.  I had to find something with less weight and easier to pack and carry on than my Nikons (which I still have and love)  I looked at Olympus, but felt the Sony was better made and although more expensive, was more progressive as far as technology goes.  so far I am very pleassed with the results.  The only thing I have to add down the line is a good macro lens.  Oh well maybe SS will get a raise.

Hi Ward, congratulations on your new Sony purchase! Your upcoming trip sounds like the perfect opportunity to switch to a system that will be more compact and lighter to carry. Do you have a Nikon macro lens? If so, perhaps you should try it out with a lens adapter. While this isn't especially recommended by Matt, other photographers we've spoken with have not had issues using adapters with their legacy lenses. Bon voyage, happy shooting, and thanks for reading Explora!

Excellent article. One area that is seldom addressed and I find is in my top five reasons for sticking with my Nikon system is durability. I'm a landscape photographer and relish shooting in all sorts of adverse conditions. As a result, my Nikons have taken a lot of abuse. I am constantly amazed at how little affect sub-zero temps and gale force winds and high humidity etc. have on the performance of my Nikons. Love them.

Hi Robert, thanks so much for your insightful comment, there is no better circumstance for making great pictures than adverse weather conditions! As I mentioned in another comment below, we're currently working on a couple of stories about photographers who have switched to Nikon, and the durability angle will definitely get covered in those pieces. I think you'll enjoy them, so please check back on Explora later this month and in early December. In the meantime, happy shooting and thanks again for reading the blog!

I made the switch from a Canon to the Sony SLT A-65 a few years ago. I am a beginner and recently started playing around with shutter speed and trying to figure it all out. I would like to ask your advice on purchasing a great lens for shooting indoor high school basketball and volleyball games.The lighting is not great in the gyms. I currently have the 4.5-5.6/75-300 Macro lens and I love using it at the high school soccer games because I can capture great shots from a pretty good distance. Using the same lens inside the gym is just not as easy as using it outside on the field. Any recommendation is appreciated. Thanks!

Congratulations on your switch Laura, and kudos for you for playing around with your camera settings to figure out how everything works.

About your question: sports photography is a particularly challenging subject, especially with the combination of setting and lens you describe. While there's a certain comfort level to be gained from capturing the action at a distance, this definitely makes it harder to get sharp pictures, especially in low light. One really great lens option for this type of situation that would fit your camera is this: Sony 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss T* Telephoto Prime Lens, https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/463924-REG/Sony_SAL135F18Z_SAL_135F18Z_135mm_f_1_8_Carl.html. The 1.8 aperture makes it a very fast lens, letting in more than 3 times the amount of light of your zoom when wide open. While the 135mm focal length would require you to get a bit closer to the action, this is a much sharper lens than your current zoom and, since it's a prime, it will allow you to be much more deliberate in your compositions.

Here's hoping that you find this helpful and many thanks for reading the blog!

I've never owned a camera before, I've been using my sister's 600D which has served me well. That is until just recently, I bought a7sii. The only reason I switched from 600D to a7sii is, the 600D can't keep up with my needs in terms of video. a7sii has more features that I will be using such as 4K, and s-log profiles.

Hi Daniel, congratulations on your switch to Sony to handle all of your video needs. Borrowing your sister's camera as a way to gauge your interests and get a handle on your own imagemaking preferences and style is a really smart move. Sony cameras are great options for video, and we're definitely planning to cover this topic in future switcher stories. Here's hoping that you're loving your new gear and making some great work. Thanks so much for reading Explora!

Although I was a diehard fan of Nikon, their service office innTorrance threw out my check list of issues with a camera 3 times, even when I hand delivered the camera to them with a write up. I switched to Canon and until the latest 360 degree action camera I haven't taken notice of them. I am sure things have improved in the last 10+ years. 

My bigger change and unfinished in finding an alternative is my GoPro camera I use for various recordings. It was the perfect compliment to my DSLR for specific uses, especially for size and the tethering capabilities. I use the CamRanger with my DSLR, but GoPro had a full solution with the GoPro Hero 4 Black. I upgraded specifically for the tethering from a hero 2+(?).

I love how GoPro continues to promote their cameras being used in theses beautiful and remote places. GoPro updated their remote app for controlling the camera with a new app called Capture. GoPro requires a login that they claim only needs entered every 30 days. Unfortunately, if the app updates in the background on your smart phone or you are logged out, you can't use the App to tether to the camera from your phone. Forget to login before your trip, you won't be able to use the App. There is no bypass when there is no internet. 

I bought my GoPro specifically for the tethering capabilities. I owned previous models, but tethering was a significant reason to upgrade. 

Why is this significant? Nick Woodman says this about product upgrades.

"Our approach is to envision a "total solution" rather than think about each new GoPro as a "product". Products are standalone things. We want to build solutions that help solve problems for people. So, when deciding which features to included in a new GoPro, Karma, or any new software we think about the total solution and experience we're creating for our customers and not as much about the individual product itself." --Nick Woodman (Reddit)

I specifically bought my GoPro to use my smart phone as a tether almost a year ago, worked until the new app.

GoPro didn't respond to support requests for over a week, when they did it was a scripted, rushed, and inadequate. GoPro's support community forums are moderated with scripted generic responses. Phone support is better, they at least seem frustrated and knowledgeable to a large number of people complaining about the required login. 

Check the App Store, Facebook comments, user forums, and product reviews. GoPro has alienated their customer base with the new App.

In the month since, I haven't held back trying to have a dialog with GoPro. The moderators on The GoPro community forums provided this statement.

"GoPro made the decision to require the login as it will help us better gauge how our customers use our products, and allow us to identify pain points customers may have so we can improve our future products." 

Here's a pain point. Users can't use the tether capabilities if they forget to login or have a login issue. As further response, Customer Service said "Capture isn't the only app that exists that requires login."

Why is this an issue for me?

I was out capturing the fall color in the Eastern Sierras of California a month ago. I was planning on filming using my go pro mounted on the hood. Before pulling into traffic I went to enable the camera and realized my GoPro App had disappeared. Thankfully I had internet, so I discovered the App changed names. The app came up in my search and when I opened the app, it looked all nice and new, but there was something new, a login. I wasn't sure what to enter but my general GoPro username/password from the website logged me in with no issues and I was good to go. I figured this was a one time login, but the the nightmare comes later...

I used the App for a couple days, returned home before heading out for the next leg of my fall color trip. Without my knowledge, the App updated again and logged me out. So 6 days later when I reached my second destination and prepared my GoPro to use my smart phone as a remote tether on my 28' photomast, I discovered the login screen returned. I spent the next hour troubleshooting and looking all through the settings, clicking on all the words in the app, everything I could think of to bypass the login. My shot was missed, I had to pack up with no footage. The next day I had to drive back towards civilization to find a cellular connection to login once again. For the remainder of the trip the GoPro worked fine.

What do I want?

I want GoPro to remove the login to the Capture App or provide the old App for existing customers who bought into Nick Woodman's full package deal a year ago. It is a matter of principal, I shouldn't have to remember to login to an App to use a tool on in the field. Imagine if you will, bringing survival tools on an expedition to find you can't use it because what ever the tool you brought doesn't work as it requires a login. If I could get internet access, I'd have access to help. It makes no sense.

I created this petition in the last week to gather some followers...[AS PER B&H POLICY, EXTERNAL LINK REMOVED.]

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Thanks for sharing your GoPro story Jeffrey. I hope you get positive results from the petition, although as per B&H policy we are not allowed to share the link (however I'm sure interested readers will be able to find it in a quick Google search). Keep on shooting in spite of the roadblocks, and many thanks for reading the Explora blog.

Great. Thank you

Thanks for your comment Manolis! Stay tuned for other stories in our "Why I Switched" series in the coming weeks. Thanks again for reading the Explora blog!

Learned a lot from you and RC and the crew back in the Kelby days.  I wish you all the best in your future endeavours and your Sony system.  All my life I'v lusted after Nikon gear (I'm 66 years old) and now that I can finally afford it, I'm loving my Nikon system and have no plans to change. Love your landscapes and you Lightroom videos.  Thanks.

Hi Kurt, thanks so much for posting a comment, and congratulations on your Nikon system. We're going to be featuring a couple of photographers who have switched to Nikon in upcoming articles, so please check back to read their stories. Hope you'll enjoy them, and many thanks for reading the blog! 

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