Peter Forsgård: Panasonic 10-25mm F1.7 – [FASTEST Wide-Angle Zoom] – video – Commentary

Panasonic 10-25mm F1.7 is the fastest Wide-Angle Zoom for MFT bodies…. Panasonic 10-25mm f1.7 lens was introduced in Photokina 2018. It was not until May 2019 when it was officially launched. It [is] the fastest wide-angle zoom for MFT.

Correction: This unique lens is better described as the fastest wide-to-standard zoom lens.

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Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric wide to standard zoom lens. Image courtesy of Panasonic Australia.

The recent publication by 4/3 Rumors of Peter Forsgård’s intro video about the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric reminded me that I had yet to try one out myself or even simply clap eyes on one in our ever diminishing local camera stores.

Time, I thought, to look deeper into this intriguing lens to determine if I should place it on my documentary stills and video hardware wishlist, or forgo it in favour of that other uniquely fast zoom lens, the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art lens.

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Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 with Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric wide to standard zoom lens. I would love to try out this combination in the field for documentary stills and video storytelling. Some say that the lens somehow works better with the G9 than with the GH5 or GH5S. Image courtesy of Panasonic Australia.
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The Olympus M.Zuiko Pro professional prime and zoom lens collection as of late 2017, all with manual clutch focus, invaluable for fast, accurate and repeatable manual focusing as well as linear focus-by-wire and autofocus. Image courtesy of Olympus Australia.

Peter Forsgård has yet to produce a more in-depth video about the lens and his results with it, and there is the fact that he is using it on Olympus OM-D cameras rather the more videocentric Lumix GH5, GH5S  and G9 hybrid cameras from Panasonic for which the lens was clearly designed.

Its clickless aperture ring only works on Panasonic Lumix cameras but clickless is of more use for moviemaking than stills photography and Olympus seems to have fallen well behind Panasonic in the video half of the hybrid camera equation.

Australian/American Director of Photography and Olympus Visionary John Brawley is one of the few I have encountered who shoots serious video with that brand’s hybrid cameras but I can better understand his love of Olympus lenses, especially the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro professional-quality collection with the lenses’ manual clutch focus via retractable ring and hard stops at each end of the focusing scale.

I spotted the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric zoom lens at SMPTE’s Metexpo in July 2019 but could not borrow it for a quick tryout at the show. Pity, as I still have some unanswered questions about it.
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Will Panasonic’s DFD autofocus approach the speed of PDAF autofocus camera systems some day? Fujinon XF 50mm f/1.0 R WR on Fujifilm X-Pro3. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

The Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric is Panasonic’s very first manual clutch focus lens and not before time.

Focus-by-wire only lenses can be problematic for moviemaking with some more unusable than others although they can work acceptably for stills photography especially when relying on back-button focus in manual focus aka MF mode.

I have not done much video using autofocus on any camera and lens combination, partly because I only had manual focus during the analog era and became comfortable with it, and more to the point because autofocus on video and hybrid cameras was unreliable up until recently.

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Has the S5 improved Panasonic’s DFD autofocus enough yet? Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 with Panasonic Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens. Image courtesy of Panasonic Australia.

I still set my cameras to manual focus by default when prepping for a project, and the unpredictability of documentary photography and moviemaking means I often need to snap into manual focus in an instant, easily done by rapidly retracting the focusing ring.

Hard stops in manual focusing mean I can train myself in approximating the right focus point fast without looking at the focusing scale, then refine focus through the viewfinder or monitor.

The Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric, on the other hand, allows its focusing ring to travel beyond extreme left or right of the focusing scale, and I remain unsure as to the usefulness of this behaviour.

A question only firsthand experience can answer.

Gerald Undone: Panasonic 10-25mm f/1.7 Lens Review (vs Sigma 18-35 + Speed Booster)

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Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art EF-mount fast zoom lens can be adapted for a range of Super 35/APS-C cameras or for cameras with larger sensors that can be set to Super 35/APS-C. Image courtesy of Sigma Australia.

Mr Undone is currently the first and sometimes only YouTube reviewer I watch these days and his in-depth, fast-talking rundowns amply reward the effort.

The highly adaptable Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art EF-mount fast zoom lens is high up on my wishlist for use with several camera systems and sensor sizes, but the lure of one lens with a focal range from 10mm through 14mm, 17mm, 20mm and 25mm is strong.

In 35mm sensor terms that equates to 20mm, 28mm, 35mm, 40mm and 50mm, only lacking my longer favourite focal lengths of 75mm and 105mm.

The lens’ image quality at each of those focal lengths is reportedly almost as good as that of pro-quality premium-priced lenses such as Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro 17mm, 25mm and 45mm primes, a feat only matched by Fujifilm’s shorter Red Badge zooms.

I will keep looking for reviews and videos about Panasonic’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7, but I found Gerald Undone’s comparison with Sigma’s 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens the most useful so far.

There are pros and cons to both lenses and the choice depends on these currently unanswered questions about the 10-25mm:

  • Exactly how much curvature is there at its wide end of lens? I find too much curvature irritating especially when the frame contains horizontal parallels and I am following a figure walking through it.
  • How much vignetting is there at all focal lengths but most especially at the wide end?
  • How well is skin rendered by it given not all lenses are equal in doing this?
  • Does the lens have that classic warm and three-dimensional Leica lens micro-contrast and resolution?
  • I love the idea of an emotive wide-angle closeup on a face and upper body using a wide aperture to throw figure and background into stark contrast, but how well does the lens render this look?
  • Why did we not have a choice between clicked and clickless aperture ring given de-clicked works best for video while clicked is best for stills?
  • Is Panasonic working on the perfect companion for the 10-25mm, a similarly-designed 25-50+mm f/1.7 zoom lens?
  • I am accustomed to hard stops at each end of the focusing scale on manual clutch focus lenses, but how useful or not are the 10-25mm’s software stops?
  • Although I still rely heavily on manual focus for video and back-button focus for stills, great autofocus in both modes certainly has its uses. Will Panasonic’s reliance on DFD aka depth-from-defocus instead of PDAF aka phase-detection autofocus continue to be its Achilles’ Heel?

Questions remain about the viability of the Micro Four Thirds system given Olympus’ recent sale of its camera and lens division to JIP and Panasonic’s big investment in 35mm SLR-style cameras.

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The Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 Aspheric prime lens is well-balanced on the GX8. Image courtesy of Panasonic Australia.

Panasonic staffers say that work continues on the company’s M43 cameras and lenses, but where is the much-requested pro-quality successor to the GX8 rangefinder-style hybrid workhorse, and when can we expect the GH6?

With the Lumix DC-S5, Panasonic has demonstrated it can make 35mm sensor cameras smaller than its M43 cameras.

If Panasonic follows the same path with the successors to its other two first generation S-Series cameras, the S1R and the S1H, will there be less incentive to stick with M43?

Right now I love the choice between the GH-series and G-series M43 cameras’ Super 16 and 35mm film handling and aesthetics, and those of the S-Series cameras’ Super 35 and 120 roll-film look and feel.

But DxO’s PhotoLab raw editing software and Topaz Labs’ Gigapixel AI image enlargement application radically reduce the need for larger sensors to produce better image quality.

Likewise, I wonder how much difference is really noticeable onscreen between Super 16 4K and Super 35 4K.

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Sigma 50-100mm F1.8 DC HSM | Art APS-C zoom lens.

Panasonic’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 may be an amazing M43-only lens with an incredibly useful focal range for documentary stills and video, but Sigma’s 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens is adaptable to a range of Super 35/APS-C and Super 16/M43 cameras, helping future-proof one’s investment in lens and adapters.

Furthermore, the 18-35mm already has a longer companion lens in the form of Sigma’s 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom, though there is no obvious companion lens on the wide end though there is that gap between 35mm and 50mm.

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David Thorpe: A Look At The Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro Zoom for Micro Four Thirds Cameras – Commentary

I bought this lens some time after it came out so never thought to reviews [sic] it. Quote a few photographers have taken me to task about that so here, at last, is my take on it. There’s no shortage of standard zooms for Micro Four Thirds but the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Constant Aperture Pro zoom should be towards the top of any buyer’s list.

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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom lens.

Former Fleet Street newspaper photographer David Thorpe remains one of the very best digital camera and lens reviewers on YouTube and I thoroughly recommend him for those interested in the Micro Four Thirds format. 

He has to buy the gear that he reviews so he makes somewhat infrequent appearances on his YouTube channel and limits his coverage to the Olympus and Panasonic cameras and lenses that he uses for his own freelance work.

Likewise, Panasonic Australia seems to have fallen off in it support for local reviewers while Olympus Australia has never been interested in helping out with review units, so my current coverage of both company’s hardware and firmware is limited to items that I already own, or based on articles by others.

Thank goodness, then, for reviewers like David Thorpe and others too numerous to list here!

Other M43 lenses that David Thorpe uses and recommends

I own two of the six lenses that receive high recommendations from David Thorpe, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom and the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric near-pancake sized collapsible standard zoom.

Both have their joys and their workarounds, but both are firmly established as my default zoom lenses for different reasons and different subjects and applications.

Foremost amongst their differences is that the M.Zuiko Pro 12-40mm f/2.8 can be purchased standalone or bundled with a high-end Olympus camera while the 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 can only be purchased bundled with a lower-end Panasonic camera.

I managed to find my 12-32mm zoom lens online at eBay Australia, bought it for a good price, and have been very happy with it ever since.

It is not a lens for all seasons though, lacking a manual focusing ring and an aperture ring, and with a 37mm filter diameter so narrow that it necessitates stacking step-up rings to get it to industry-standard 77mm or 82mm or investing in a set of smaller diameter fixed and variable neutral density filters.

For those reasons I have yet to create videos with my 12-32mm lens, relying instead on the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 with its 62mm filter diameter, excellent manual clutch focusing, solid build, beautiful optics, and great weather and dust resistance.

Despite the effectiveness of Panasonic Lumix cameras’ back button focus, I have often resorted to retracting my 12-40mm’s manual clutch focus ring to quickly zero in on a key detail, and the usefulness of fast and accurate manual focusing when shooting video cannot be disputed.

The one thing that stops the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro from being the perfect standard zoom lens for stills and video is its lack of an aperture ring.

Aperture rings are one of the major areas where Micro Four Thirds consortium partners Olympus and Panasonic appear to have begged to differ, with Olympus lenses have them not at all and Panasonic building them into some and not all of their lenses.

One of the most intriguing Panasonic lenses with a form of manual clutch focus is the company’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric wide-to-normal zoom lens.

I had the chance to briefly try one out at the last SMPTE in Sydney and while the lens’ range from 20mm to 50mm equivalent is impressive and incredibly useful for documentary photography and video, I was a little nonplussed by the lens’ lack of hard stops at each end of the focusing scale.

Hard stops aid in easier, faster focusing when your eyes are glued to the camera’s EVF or LCD monitor, as I quickly discovered after investing in my 12-40mm f/2.8, but if I was buying into Micro Four Thirds video nowadays then Panasonic’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric would be the first and possibly only lens I would buy alongside a Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5,  DC-GH5S or the coming DC-GH6.

If I had the funds and the need for more M43 lenses with manual clutch focus and autofocus capabilities, though, then I would certainly invest them in Olympus’ excellent though aperture-ringless M.Zuiko Pro primes and zooms, so impressive is their optics and performance.

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The Olympus M.Zuiko Pro professional prime and zoom lens collection as of late 2017, all with manual clutch focus, invaluable for fast, accurate and repeatable manual focusing as well as linear focus-by-wire and autofocus.

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Matt Seuss: Goodbye Sony! It wasn’t you, it was Olympus. Why I Switched, Part 1

https://mattsuess.com/goodbye-sony-wasnt-you-was-olympus-why-i-switched-part-1

…So I’ve been shooting with full-frame cameras for 17 years now and here we are in 2019, when full-frame cameras are taking over the popularity contest and Sony in particular has been killing it in well earned reviews, why would I even consider switching to micro four-thirds – a sensor size that is tiny compared to a full-frame sensor? Why would I leave the Sony a7R3 with it’s 42MP (and just announced Sony a7R4 60MP camera) and switch to the Olympus OM-D E-M1X and it’s tiny 20MP sensor?…

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Olympus OM-D E-M1X Micro Four Thirds mirrorless digital camera with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens, equivalent in the 35mm sensor format to 80mm to 30mm.

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And so it begins – my switch from Sony full-frame to @getolympus micro four-thirds – with the arrival yesterday of just the beginning of my Olympus collection. First up – the awesome OM-D E-M1X camera and M.Zuiko 12-100mm f4 Pro lens. In addition to the great features and image quality of this camera, the ergonomics and feel of this camera body are the best I’ve seen in many, many years – probably going way back to the film days with my Nikon F4. It is a far better feel than any digital camera I’ve used or owned, and there are lot of cameras on that list since I switched to digital full-time back in 1999! A lot of people have been asking me why I’m switching, and I’ll be going into depth on that in blog posts coming later this month so stay tuned! But in the meantime scroll through my Facebook posts through the beginning of April to get an idea 😉. #getolympus #omdem1x #micro43 #micro43rds #micro43photography  #m43 #bozemanphotographer #mzuiko12100mm #mzuiko12100mmf4ispro

A post shared by Matt Suess Photography (@mattsuessphoto) on

Commentary

The Micro Four Thirds sensor system co-founded by Olympus and Panasonic over a decade ago is particularly well-suited to documentary photography and moviemaking as well as to the wildlife photography practised by Matt Seuss.

Recent M43 cameras like the Olympus OM-D E-M1X and Panasonic’s DMC-G9 with their multi-exposure high-resolution modes have become attractive to landscape photographers needing to produce big, really big, prints and I look forward to high res evolving rapidly so it is more applicable to in-studio and on-location portraiture as well.

Meanwhile I applaud Mr Seuss’ choice to invest in Olympus’ excellent M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lenses for M43 cameras including those made by Olympus and Panasonic as well as Blackmagic Design on its Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K.

Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro lenses are excellent for stills and video, especially due to their manual clutch focus mechanism with hard stops at each end, a feature I wish to see on all lenses for cameras in all sensor formats from now on.

It has been good to see Panasonic finally get the memo on manual clutch focus with their first M43 attempt at including it as a key feature on the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric zoom, a lens I have been hoping would eventually appear ever since I invested in the Micro Four Thirds system.

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Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric wide to standard zoom lens.

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DPReview: CP+ 2019: Sigma interview – ‘Optical design is always a battle with the design constraints’

https://www.dpreview.com/interviews/7487852065/cp-2019-sigma-interview-optical-design-is-always-a-battle-with-the-design-constraints

Last month at the CP+ show in Yokohama we spoke to executives from several major manufacturers, including Sigma. In our conversation with CEO Kazuto Yamaki we discussed his plans for future L-mount lenses (and cameras) and some of the challenges of supporting multiple mounts.

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Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM | Art prime lens with L-mount. A brilliant portrait focal length but no equivalent lens currently exists for Micro Four Thirds or Fujifilm APS-C cameras.

Commentary

I am looking forward to seeing and trying Sigma’s Art collection L-mount prime lenses scheduled for release sometime this year and that are adapted from the company’s current DSLR Art collection offerings.

One major bugbear of new mirrorless launches such as those of Fujifilm APS-C and medium cameras, Panasonic’s Lumix S1 and S1R 35mm cameras, and Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras is the relative paucity of lenses.

Canon took 30 years to come up with its near-complete DSLR lens collection and it may well take Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic almost as long to flesh out the many gaps in their lens collections.

Professional photographers and cinematographers rely on the availability of large lens collections for their cameras in a way that amateurs and enthusiasts tend not to, especially when relying on prime lenses for their optimum optical and mechanical quality.

I would love to see Sigma creating lenses for Fujifilm X-mount APS-C cameras given there are so many glaring holes in Fujifilm’s lens lineup, and the same desire applies to professional-quality lenses for use on Blackmagic Design, Olympus and Panasonic M43 cameras.

Panasonic and its L-Mount Alliance partners Leica and Sigma have done well to aim at releasing enough lenses to satisfy those contemplating investing in the L-mount camera system, and it is pleasing to read that Sigma will be working on smaller and more affordable L-mount lenses in due course.

Meanwhile those of use needing focal lengths that Fujifilm does not offer for its X-mount and G-mount cameras may need to bite the bullet and rely on adapted EF-mount lenses instead of the much-preferred native X-mount and G-mount alternatives that simply do not exist yet.

I am still hoping for a professional-quality alternative to Fujifilm’s too-quirky, too-slow Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R prime lens with its 35mm sensor equivalent focal length of 28mm, a staple optic for many documentary photographers and photojournalists, me included.

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David Thorpe: A Look At Three Wide Aperture Sigma Lenses For Micro Four Thirds

“At a time when Olympus and Panasonic lens prices are going through the roof, Sigma offers these three f/1.4 ‘Contemporary’ lenses at sensible prices. Do they sacrifice sharpness, focus speed or build quality to price? Having owned, used and reviewed – many Sigma lenses over the years, I didn’t anticipate any nasty surprises and I didn’t find any. There were some nice surprises, though….”

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Sigma DC DN Contemporary prime lens roadmap for Sony E-mount and Micro Four Thirds mount.

Sigma 16mm f/1.4, 30mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary prime lenses for E-mount and M43-mount cameras

Commentary

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Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary fast prime lens in M43-mount and E-Mount on Sony and Olympus cameras.

Former Fleet Street press photographer David Thorpe is one of the least-known yet most-respected YouTube reviewers with a speciality in Micro Four Thirds system cameras and lenses, though I suspect he will be bending that speciality soon with coming reviews of Panasonic’s Lumix S-Series S1 and S1R 35mm sensor format cameras and lenses.

I have no hands-on experience of Sigma lenses whether prime or zoom, though I was lucky enough to inspect Paul Leeming’s Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens with Canon EF-mount that he has adapted for his Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and was impressed enough with its optics and construction that I am hoping to buy one of my own some time soon.

Clearly Sigma has something good going for it with its membership of the L-Mount alliance alongside Panasonic and Leica, and Mr Thorpe’s review of these three Sigma Contemporary collection prime lenses supports that impression.

With their 35mm sensor format equivalent focal lengths of 32mm, 60mm and 112mm, and fast, wide maximum apertures of f/1.4, and very reasonable pricing, these three lenses look well worth considering for use in stills photography.

I am now looking for some hard-core technical reviews of them for consideration as video lenses too.

My current impression of Sigma’s Contemporary lenses is that they are designed to work in connection with in-camera and image editing raw processing software for correction of any possible optical distortion, whereas Sigma’s Art lens collection that includes the 18-35mm f/1.8 zoom is reportedly designed to the finest of optical standards to obviate the need for correction in software.

That aside, I have been looking for a medium telephoto portrait lens for Micro Four Thirds for some time now, and Sigma’s 56mm f/1.4 DC DN C may well fill the bill.

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Nikon Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 manual focus, manual exposure macro lens.

I originally got into portrait photography with Nikon’s Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4.0 lens and focal lengths closer to 105mm in the 35mm sensor format are my first choice for work in the genre, so the 112mm equivalent of the 56mm lens is not a bad approximation.

The Sigma 56mm offers the advantage of a wide aperture to blur distracting backgrounds if necessary.

Similarly, I discovered long ago that my preferred main focal length for immersive documentary and photojournalism work is 28mm in the 35mm sensor format, and Sigma’s 16mm f/1.4 DC DN C with its 32mm equivalent focal length is not too far from that.

I like to be able to use my lenses for cinematography and photography, and prefer lenses that perform well in both applications given raw processing can correct optical distortions in still images but non-linear editing software cannot do the same for video.

My favourite raw processing software for raw files shot on Panasonic cameras is DxO PhotoLab so I am hoping that DxO has added camera-and-lens profiles for all three of these Sigma lenses for recent and current Lumix cameras to its database.

Off to DxOMark and time to drop into some camera stores to touch, try and shoot some sample pix with these three lenses so I can crack some raw files open in DxO PhotoLab, DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint.

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Daniel J. Cox: Micro Four Thirds Triad-Part 1 and Part 2

“Moving to the smaller, lighter, less expensive​ Panasonic Lumix Micro Four Thirds cameras has made my photography travel life much more enjoyable. Gone are the days of carrying around 12 pound lenses. Getting the most from the smaller systems I’ve started following what I call the Micro Four Thirds Triad. This first video, of my two-part series, explains the cameras and lenses needed to follow the Micro Four Thirds Triad. Watch this video to find out how you can downsize and still get the most possible out of these smaller cameras that save you cash and physical pain. Part two will be released shortly that explains the last part of the triad which is software. Software that solves most problems we have with the smaller cameras so you can produce images that compete beautifully with the larger full frame​ systems….”

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Panasonic DC-G9 with DMW-BGG9 battery grip and Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens.

Commentary

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The now sadly discontinued Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 with Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 Aspheric prime lens, still going strong as a Micro Four Thirds professional-quality hybrid stills and video camera.

It is timely that wildlife photographer and Panasonic Lumix Ambassador Daniel J. Cox has released his two video about the Micro Four Thirds triad – cameras, lenses and raw image processing – when Panasonic’s Lumix S-Series 35mm sensor format cameras have been announced and are now showing up in touch-and-try events at camera stores around the world.

There is plenty of life left still in the M43 sensor format for photography and video, and many M43 users will doubtless be resisting the temptation to swap over to the larger 35mm sensor format, also misleadingly known as “full frame” and “full format”, and its consequently larger, heavier and costlier cameras and lenses.

I have yet to experience the pleasure of touching and trying Panasonic’s Lumix S1 and S1R cameras and lenses, and am looking forward to several touch-and-try events in Sydney CBD camera stores next week.

Right now I do have some years of experience using Panasonic’s excellent little M43 camera and lenses, as well as Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro professional-quality lenses, for photography and video, and can attest to the high image quality that can obtained from the M43 sensor format.

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The Olympus M.Zuiko Pro professional prime and zoom lens collection as of late 2017, all with manual clutch focus, invaluable for fast, accurate and repeatable manual focusing as well as linear focus-by-wire and autofocus.

When I first tried out M43 cameras and lenses, I was struck at how well-suited they are to documentary photography and photojournalism due to their small size and oftentimes innocuous appearance quite unlike that of the big and heavy DSLR cameras and three-zoom-lens kits of which my former magazine and newspaper colleagues still seem to be fond.

There is nothing wrong with larger cameras, as I amply proved every day during my editorial photography career when I would rely on 4″x5″ sheet film, 120 roll film and 35mm rangefinder cameras far more than I did on the regulation 35mm analog film SLRs of the day.

The Panasonic Lumix S1R with its almost-50 megapixels of resolution, for example, is an intriguing proposition for shooting portraits to be printed extra large for exhibiting in gallery shows.

But meanwhile Daniel J. Cox is sharing some good advice in these videos on how to produce image files large and detailed enough to print up to 24″ x 36″ for exhibition and sale to collectors.

I can attest to the quality and speed of using Mr Cox’s number one raw processing software choice, DxO PhotoLab, as well as the utility value of ON1, Inc.’s ON1 Resize 2018 software which is also available as a component of ON1 Photo Raw.

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Big, heavy and expensive 35mm sensor format DSLRs and their zoom lenses remain the gear of choice for local newspaper photographers, if their necks and backs can take the strain.

I note that he lists Phase One’s Capture One Pro as his second choice for raw image processing and image editing, and can attest that it makes a great choice when processing Fujifilm X-Trans image files which are, sadly, not supported by DxO PhotoLab.

I often carry a Panasonic M43 camera alongside a Fujifilm APS-C camera, most often my X-Pro2 along with my Lumix GX8, for their distinctly different ways of seeing and recording the world, and it can be difficult to tell which picture was shot with what camera when processing both in Capture One Pro, especially when applying film simulation styles from any of 1stylespro’s three collections – Portrait Styles, Film Styles or Film Styles Extended.

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DPReview: EXCLUSIVE: Hands-on with upcoming Fujifilm XF and GF lenses [Including Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom lens] – UPDATED

https://www.dpreview.com/articles/9472614833/exclusive-hands-on-with-upcoming-fujifilm-xf-and-gf-lenses

“…We’re in Dubai, where Fujifilm is showing off pre-production and prototype samples of three upcoming lenses – the GF 50mm F3.5 – a compact, lightweight standard lens for medium format – the XF 16mm F2.8, and the XF 16-80mm F4 – both of which [were] designed for the company’s range of APS-C format X-series cameras.

Click through for an exclusive first look at all three, including detailed specifications….”

Staffers at the Amazon-owned photography hardware review site DPReview got their hands on three upcoming lenses for Fujifilm’s G and X series cameras at Gulf Photo Plus aka GPP’s GPP Photo Week 2019 in Dubai. Here is the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom lens.

Commentary

As time is inching towards the release sometime in the first half of 2019 of Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 “travel” zoom lens it is terrific to get some idea of its size and features and other it may provide a solution for own needs as a documentary photographer and videographer.

I am self-funded, only able to carry a small amount of hardware on each project, and must work within ongoing limitations – thanks for nothing, Australian banksters, for blowing our refinancing out of the water after you were found out for your crimes by the Royal Commission into banking.

I must be able to get the most out of the hardware I carry and it must be able to help me create good enough movies and videos without the benefit of cases full of equipment, assistants and crews, and the big budgets that I never had anyway when working as a magazine editorial and corporate photographer during the analog era.

Gaps in their offerings

As two relatively new camera and lens systems, Fujifilm’s APS-C sensor format X system and medium format G system  still have gaps in their offerings, especially for documentary types like me who prefer to rely on fast prime lenses with all the manual controls that can be had.

Not to say that I do not appreciate zoom lenses now that their optical, mechanical and image quality are so good nowadays.

I also use and love Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras and Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro lenses, with my most-used lens being the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens and, had it been released at the time I bought my first Panasonic camera, I may well have chosen the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 OIS Pro zoom lens instead.

Slower zoom lenses are fine so long as you supplement them with moderately wide and moderately long fast aperture prime lenses for available darkness documentary work and portraiture, and Olympus offers three of  them in its M.Zuiko Pro range at the moment, with more to come I hope.

Going fast to begin with

At the time I bought my first interchangeable lens Fujifilm camera, the company did not offer a standard zoom lens like those above made by Olympus or their Panasonic equivalents, so I invested in a Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R and Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R, well answering my fast aperture moderate long and wide needs.

Another longstanding need has been for a professional quality 18mm prime lens equivalent to 28mm in the 35mm sensor format and 14mm in the Macro Four Thirds sensor format.

With little sign of Fujifilm offering such a lens any time soon, I have had to consider other possibilities including adapting an EF-mount Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens to X-mount, but this solution is best suited to DSLR-style cameras like the X-T3 rather than the rangefinder-style X-Pro2 that is much more effective for hardcore immersive documentary photography.

Interest piqued

My interest in the coming  Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS zoom was piqued when I borrowed a Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 kit zoom lens for my first tryout of the X-T3.

I loved its 18mm widest focal length, rarely used the lens at 23mm and 55mm as I was also carrying my X-Pro2 equipped with either of those two lenses, and would have loved access to longer focal lengths than 56mm for those times I could not get close enough.

DPReview’s hands-on with the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom provides a reasonably reliable impression of the lens in its shipping form and confirms it has a marked, clicking aperture ring and weather resistance, though no manual clutch focus or, probably, no clickless option.

The X-T3’s firmware offers the ability to switch focus-by-wire from non-linear to linear so I will be giving that feature a tryout during my current X-T3 loan period over the coming days.

Two out of three

Two out of three ain’t bad for the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom.

As I am not a fan of the neither fish-nor-fowl 16mm focal length, equivalent to 24mm in the 35mm sensor format, the Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR “Fujicron” lens is not on my wishlist which is topped by the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R annual clutch focus prime lens to tackle the ultra wide end of things and has a 58mm filter diameter, meaning I can easily add a knurled brass Breakthrough Photography step-up ring for my neutral density filters when shooting video.

Although I would prefer to have a set of wide-aperture manual-clutch-focus primes for all my documentary moviemaking and photography, the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom would provide a range of my most-needed focal lengths – 18mm, 23mm, 27mm, 56mm and 70mm.

In 35mm sensor format terms, that is 28mm, 35mm, 40mm, 85mm and 105mm, and a limit of 120mm at the long end will account for those rare times my feet are unable to do the zooming.

Postscript

Fuji Rumors has republished images and information about the northern hemisphere fall aka autumn 2019 (southern hemisphere spring 2019) release of the XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR including these from Japanese website capa.getnavi.

Many thanks to Fuji Rumors for the slide translation:

Fujinon XF 10-24mm R OIS, Samyang 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS X-Mount, Fujinon XF 14mm R and Venus Optics Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D for architecture and documentary

I have a longterm project coming up where I need to document the construction of a house from greenfield to completion, and I need to expand my stills photography kit for that and a number of other upcoming stills and video projects.

Right now I have no idea what my budget will be, given the economy-wrecking predations of the Australian banks and real estate agencies over the past couple of years, but there are at least two options.

Minimalist:

  • Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R with Fujifilm VF-X21 external optical viewfinder for my X-Pro2.

Maximalist:

  • Fujifilm X-T3
  • Fujifilm MHG-XT3 Metal Hand Grip
  • Fujifilm VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip
  • Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS
  • Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR
  • Breakthrough Photography 72-82mm knurled brass step-up ring x 2
  • Breakthrough Photography lens cap, 82mm x 2
  • Breakthrough Photography X4 UV filter x 2
  • Fixed or variable neutral density filters, 82mm diameter

There are other lenses available that receive good reviews and are suitable for architectural photography though they are too ultra-wide for documentary photography, the Samyang 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS X-Mount at 18mm equivalence and Venus Optics Laowa 9mm f/2.8 Zero-D at 13.5mm equivalence in the 35mm sensor format.

If only one lens it is to be, then the minimalist option makes sense as I rather like the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R’s 21mm equivalence for figures in landscapes, emotive close-up documentary shots, and architectural and cityscape work.

This lens will need Fujifilm’s VF-X21 viewfinder sitting on top of my X-Pro2 as a 14mm field of view falls outside the X-Pro2’s 18-56mm optical viewfinder bright frames and the X-Pro2’s EVF is not what I would like it to be.

Will the X-Pro3 improve upon that and other weak points?

If there is budget enough, then of course I would prefer the maximalist option camera and lens plus upgrading my ageing post-production facility.

The X-T3 plus grips and two zoom lenses, with the addition of my three current 23mm, 27mm and 56mm Fujinon prime lenses, makes a good Super 35mm video set-up combined with Fujifilm’s X-Trans 120-rollfilm quality stills.

The Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS is an ageing lens design, however, and lacks weather resistance and appears to be at its best optically speaking from f/8.0 rather than closer to f/4.0.

I want to see Fujifilm bring it up to current standards with a Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom that will make a great match with the coming Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom lens, giving the equivalent of 15mm through to 120mm in the 35mm sensor format.

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  • Breakthrough PhotographyB&H
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  • FUJIFILM X-T3 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • FUJIFILM MHG-XT3 Metal Hand GripB&H
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DPReview: Open letter to Panasonic: Innovations in manual focus could make Lumix S a winner for cinematographers

https://www.dpreview.com/opinion/3202272540/open-letter-to-panasonic-long-overdue-innovations-in-manual-focus

“Jack Lam is a cinematographer based in Beijing and Hong Kong. His body of work includes TV commercials, seasonal TV drama series and theatrical feature films. His commercial clients include Cathay Pacific, Lenovo, Airbnb, Alibaba, and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. He also works with DJI as a design consultant for their cinema products….

… As a working cinematographer, I am super excited by Panasonic’s announcement of the Lumix S mirrorless camera system. The Panasonic GH5 is so well-designed, it has become a reliable workhorse for many video shooters. I have no doubt a full-frame version of it will be amazing, and everything I read about the S1/S1R confirms that.

However, Lumix S has the potential to become much greater that what we see in this product launch. With this brand new camera system, Panasonic has a unique opportunity to create the perfect small camera system for professional cinematographers. But doing so requires Panasonic to address a long-standing problem that is overlooked by all other camera makers, as well as some rethinking of conventional ideas on camera design.

This missing feature – one that can become a potential killer feature for Panasonic – is good manual focus control for video….

… I want MF control that is simple, accurate, reliable, repeatable, predictable, measurable and ergonomically sound. It should also be wireless-capable and highly integrated as part of the camera (so that we can keep the camera small and don’t need to add six other accessories just to pull focus). Do you know of any small (DSLR/mirrorless) camera in the market that fulfills all of the above requirements? I have found none.”

panasonic_lumix_dc-s1_01_1024px
Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 35mm sensor mirrorless camera with Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS standard zoom lens.

Commentary

olympus_m.zuiko_primes_square_17_25_45_1024px_60%
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro professional prime lenses with manual clutch focusing, brilliant for shooting video or stills where accurate focus is absolutely critical.

Please note that Jack Lam’s open letter was written late 2018 before the official launch of the Panasonic S1 and S1R cameras and lenses, before detailed specifications were released.

The elephant in the room of mirrorless and DSLR hybrid cameras is manual focusing, and it is pleasing that Mr Lam has addressed it in depth.

The autofocus capabilities of modern mirrorless cameras have been steadily improving for use in stills photography, but I often find myself flipping over into manual focus whenever starting off with autofocus when shooting video, no matter how much innovation has gone into each camera’s video autofocus functions.

The problem of manual focusing limitations in cameras is further compounded by the manual focusing and focus pulling limitations of the lenses that are made for them, with their reliance on non-linear focusing control rings or lack of focusing rings altogether.

Whenever possible I invest in lenses that have manual clutch focus mechanisms and hard stops at each end of the focussing scale, but these lenses can be far and few between in any camera system.

fujifiom_fujinon_xf_14mm_f2.8_r_01_1024px_80pc
Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R prime lens with manual clutch focus, equivalent to 21mm in the 35mm sensor format.

Lenses manually focused via control rings are more common, whether the option of switching from non-linear to linear operation is offered in cameras’ firmware or not.

Given a choice, I will always select a manual clutch focus lens over autofocus-only or control ring-only lenses, but then there is another factor, the all-too-common lack of an aperture ring.

The ideal lens for me has both, with a switch for clickless and clicked operation of the aperture ring being the best option for riding exposure in variable light.

I write about this stuff as often as I can but I am nobody and no camera manufacturer pays attention to what I have to say.

It may be a different matter for Jack Lam.

I hope that Panasonic is not the only camera and lens maker that may read Mr Lam’s open letter.

I want Blackmagic Design, Fujifilm and Olympus to read it and act positively upon it too.

olympus_om-d_e-m1x_20_1024px
Olympus O-MD E-M1X camera with fully-articulated LCD monitor. I relish having fully-articulated monitors on my Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras and use them constantly for photography and video. I am not so enamoured of the two-way, three-way and non-articulating monitors that have been appearing on recent cameras by other manufacturers including Fujifilm, Sony and now Panasonic in its S Series cameras. Full articulation, please, camera makers. 

Manual focus and focus-pulling for video with mirrorless hybrid camera should not have to suck.

I am beyond tired of it sucking on the cameras that I try out and consider for purchase.

I am tired of having to mention it all the time in my articles in the hopes of things changing for the better.

I am sure that my contacts at the camera and lens companies are tired of me and reportedly many others asking them to lift their game.

Mr Lam makes a number of other excellent suggestions on page two of his article as published by DPReview, or you may wish to read it at source, at Mr Lam’s The Right Lens web log below.

For good measure, here is his list of other necessary features, all of which I agree with:

Other Good-to-have Features

While we are at it, here are some good-to-have features that I’d like to see in the Lumix-S system. But they are not nearly as important as a good focus control system.

– GH5-style Flip-out Screen. It is already so good. Don’t change it.

– High-bright Screen. Make it viewable under sunlight. I know it eats battery and heats up quick. But it really is super useful outdoor.

– Internal ND

– 4K 10-bit Log 60fps

– Build-in Video Transmitter or make it an add-on module that is highly integrated with the camera. Monitoring thru WiFi isn’t reliable enough. (I know I am getting greedy…)

– Sturdy, Positive-locking Lens Mount. For the time when we do use a cinema lens. (Just like the mount upgrade option on the Canon C300 MK2)

– Ergonomics. For the video-centric pro model, please, don’t make it too large, otherwise the whole talk about small cameras getting good focus control becomes moot. At least give us one video-centric model with DSLR-like form factor. And please, for god’s sake, don’t make it shaped like the Canon C100 / C300. They have the worst ergonomics.

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OlympusEuropePhoto: #olympusLIVE | PART 1 | Olympus OM-D E-M1X Press Release Conference Hamburg 24.01.2019

“Brought to you live from Hamburg: The newest Olympus camera in professional photography! Watch here the playlist of the full show of the OM-D E-M1X release event. This clip summarizes the official Press Release Conference on January 23rd, 2019, with guests from Olympus Tokyo….”

olympus_om-d_e-m1x_square_1024px_01
Olympus OM-S E-M1X Micro Four Thirds camera with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro lens.

Commentary

For me, the Micro Four Thirds sensor format occupies the place that 35mm inhabited during the analog era and so it is well-suited to the photographic genres that were dominated by 35mm cameras such as sports, wildlife, photojournalism, some subgenres of documentary and specific approaches to fashion photography.

Other sensor formats occupy places once owned by larger analog formats, for example Fujifilm’s X-Trans APS-C has taken the place of some 120 roll film formats while Fujifilm’s G-Series Bayer sensor-equipped medium format cameras have taken the place of 4″x5″ sheet film and the company’s coming GFX 100 will likely match if not surpass the image quality of 8″x10″ sheet film cameras.

Similar analogies apply to other sensor formats such as 35mm where 20+ megapixels sensors amply match if not surpass the quality once obtained by medium format roll film and circa 50 megapixels sensors are inching on the door of sheet film’s house.

Complaints that MFT camera sensors may not be as sensitive as those of larger formats are silly given the mobility, weather resistance and smaller lenses with stellar performance the smaller format affords.

If you need larger sensor cameras, invest in them and let MFT be what it excels at just as one should allow cameras of other sensor formats and body types to be what they were designed to be.

Pretending otherwise is silly.

I am rather fond of the Micro Four Thirds format as it gave me access to the pro-quality video capabilities I could not afford at the time and its cameras proved to be rather good for documentary stills photography and photojournalism too.

If I were working for newspapers and magazines as I used to, MFT cameras and lenses would constitute my core daily working kit, supplemented by equipment in other sensor formats as projects demanded.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1X would be in contention as would the excellent Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses.

The Micro Four Thirds sensor format is perfectly adequate for those genres and applications.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X with lenses and accessories

The Olympus Lens Roadmap, February 2019

olympus_lens_roadmap_2019-02-13_1920px
Olympus lens roadmap as of February, 2019.

Olympus has been doing a great job of fleshing out its professional-quality M.Zuiko Pro lens collection but gaps remain in its prime and zoom lens offerings and rumours of new lenses, particularly new fast prime lenses, have appeared over the last couple of years without results.

I am rather fond of the M.Zuiko Pro lens series, with my most-used being the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom, and I have been hoping that Olympus will add more prime lenses.

I chose the 12-40mm f/2.8 over what might have been the more logical choice given I use Panasonic cameras, Panasonic’s Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens, for several reasons:

  • Manual clutch focus – essential in my opinion for achieving fast, accurate, repeatable focus especially when shooting documentary video.
  • Longer focal length range – 24mm to 80mm in 35mm sensor equivalents, extending the long end into the realm of ideal focal lengths for portraiture.
  • Excellent optical performance – all throughout the lens’ focal length range.
  • Excellent mechanical and optical design and manufacturing. 
olympus_m-zuiko_primes_square_17_25_45_1024px_02_60
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro professional prime lenses with manual clutch focusing, brilliant for shooting video or stills where accurate focus is absolutely critical.

Olympus’ release of its first three fast M.Zuiko Pro prime lenses was very pleasing, but I have long been hoping for the addition of 10.5mm and 14mm prime lenses, equivalent in 35mm terms to 21mm and 28mm, both of which are essentials for documentary photography and video.

While 10.5mm is available wit in the M.Zuiko Pro 7-14mm f/2.8 zoom, that lens requires the use of large, unwieldy and costly adapters for attaching neutral density filters when shooting video.

A 10.5mm M.Zuiko Pro prime lens is a much better choice and it does not need to be as fast as its M.Zuiko Pro siblings with their f/1.2 maximum aperture.

The same applies to an M.Zuiko Pro 14mm prime lens.

Both lenses would be perfectly fine with maximum apertures of from, say, f/1.8 through to f/2.8, though faster is always appreciated in available darkness.

One of Olympus’ new items in its February 2019 lens roadmap, “Bright Prime Lenses”, is encouraging and it appears to be placed somewhere between 10mm and 60mm.

I would love to see wide aperture prime lenses added in popular focal lengths such as the following, in their M43 and 35mm sensor equivalents:

  • 10.5mm – 21mm
  • 14mm – 28mm
  • 37.5mm – 75mm
  • 52.5mm – 105mm

Two other new items in the lens roadmap have me intrigued, “Wide Zoom Lens” and “Standard Zoom Lens”.

I would like to see Olympus take on Panasonic over the latter’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 fast zoom lens that was announced with scant details back in late 2018.

This lens may well be the one I had been looking for when I first bought into Micro Four Thirds, containing most of the focal lengths I need on a daily basis for documentary stills and video, and something similar coming from Olympus for its M.Zuiko Pro lens collection can only be a good thing.

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  • Olympus LensesB&H
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