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  #1  
Old November 3rd, 2013, 06:47 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Default First look at the Sony A7 full frame camera.

I've been hanging around the Century City Apple Store to get my hands on the new Sony A7 super-compact A7 24MP camera. The model I have played with is a pre-production unit with the SD slot altered to eject any cards. Must have been designed by some knight, as it reminds me of a chastity belt, no one can really get fulfillment here, just look around on the outside. The camera feels solid and even for it's small size, has a block like heft, as if manufactured in an advanced machine shop, not a production facility with plastic parts. I've copied some key highlights from Sony's website.


Smallest and Lightest

"Meet the world's smallest lightest and interchangeable lens full-frame camera*. Sony's Exmor® image sensor takes full advantage of the Full-frame format, but in a camera body less than half the size and weight of a full-frame DSLR."

Full Frame Brilliance

"Enter a whole new world of high-quality images thanks to the 24.3MP effective 35mm full-frame sensor, a normal sensor range of ISO 100 – 25600, and a sophisticated balance of high resolving power, gradation and low noise. Never miss a shot as the BIONZ® X image processor enables up to 5 fps high-speed continuous shooting and 14-bit RAW image data recording."

New BIONZ X Image Processing Engine

"Sony proudly introduces the new BIONZ® X image processing engine, which faithfully reproduces textures and details in real time, as seen by the naked eye, via extra high-speed processing capabilities. Together with front-end LSI (large scale integration) that accelerates processing in the earliest stages, it enables more natural details, more realistic images, richer tonal gradations and lower noise whether you shoot still images or movies."

DSLR-like Focusing Speed

"Enhanced Fast Hybrid auto focus combines speedy phase-detection AF with highly accurate contrast-detection AF, which has been accelerated through a new Spatial Object Detection algorithm, to achieve among the fastest autofocusing performance of any full-frame camera. First, phase-detection AF with 117 densely placed phase-detection AF points swiftly and efficiently moves the lens to bring the subject nearly into focus. Then contrast-detection AF with wide AF coverage fine-tunes the focusing in the blink of an eye."

Lightning Quick Autofocus

"Get ultra high-speed AF despite the use of a full-frame sensor via an advanced image processing engine and improved algorithms that combine and optimize image sensor read-out speed."

Eye Catching

"Capture subjects partially turned away from the camera in a shallow depth of field with no problem thanks to Eye AF. Simply focus on a face, and a green frame appears over the prioritized eye to confirm the proper subject is locked. Its extremely accurate eye detection can even prioritize a single pupil. Eye AF can be used when the function is assigned to a customizable button, allowing users to instantly activate it depending on the scene."



The camera snaps to focus and the capture is immediate and sharp. Unlike using a NEX APS-C camera, there is no significant wait time while the image appears on the LCD display between shots. I used the kit zoom lens which seems fair and gives apparently sharp images, but not intended to be anywhere in the class of the Zeiss full frame newly designed FE lenses for this full frame mount. I'm interested especially in the 35mm and 55mm primes which are said to be stellar in every respect.

I was really immersed with having separate logical controls for ISO, shutter speed and f stop, so one does not have to hunt through menus. The interface is improved considerably over the NEX menus we've come to know. The camera with its built in grip, fits well into the hand and does not feel like the tiny camera it actually is. I believe it's now the smallest full frame interchangeable lens camera on the market.

Still, would I give up my Canon system for this? Well, I just bought a Canon 6D which simply blows one's mind at the immediate grab of sharp focus and the ability to shoot multiple bracketed frames, (so far I've tried 5 brackets), and it's impressive. So for my current use, with a good complement of fine Canon lenses, Canon cannot be replaced. The great lenses from Zeiss for the Sony FE mount will be just the two primes, 35 and 55 and long afterwards, there will be much more. Of course, one can use a Sony Alpha DSLR to FE dedicated adapter, but that seems awkward coma red to using the 6D with existing Canon lenses.

So for me, the temptation is to get the new tiny sony A7R, 35MP, with the 55 mm Zeiss lens as my street camera alongside my even inner Ricoh GR at 28mm and 21mm. The beauty is that these cameras do not call attention to themselves. My Canon system will likely be left for the studio and assignments needing the 24mm TSE, the 50 1.2 L or else the 70-200 2.8 L IS II. The 6D will be great for the next several years. Well before then, there should be very high quality and more compact lens offerings native to the Sony A7 and A7R FE full frame mount.

With this remarkable opening of a new phase in photography, I do can easily imagine a major shift coming. Enthusiasts, prosumers and some pros looking for more compact forms, could turn their backs on their once venerable DSLR's. This new pair of cameras, the 24MP A7 and the 36MP A7R are well made instruments. The A7 is just 487 gm! or 14.67 oz! That's under 1lb! The Canon 5DII weighs in at 600gm. Also for the Nikon 800 admirers, they can get their Sony sensor "fix" in a much more compact body, (487gm v. 900 gm) and at a still reasonable price.

What's your take on this new form of camera?


Asher
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  #2  
Old November 4th, 2013, 09:10 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
The A7 is just 487 gm! or 14.67 oz!
Strange how things go. In 2002, the Canon EOS Rebel Ti / EOS 300V / EOS Kiss 5 weighted 365 g (12.9 oz) and everybody was longing for the Canon EOS 1v, 1380 g (48.7 oz) with grip.

Now: is the A7/A7r likely to be a good camera? Probably, and of particular interest appears to be the 35mm f/2.8. Is it likely to be a better choice than the NEX7 / NEX6? I am less sure: "full frame" has only two main advantages: the viewfinder is better (for SLRs, because of the ground glass size) and one gets better depth of field control. Not so with the A7/A7r: the viewfinder is exactly the same and Sony did not announce really fast lenses for it.

But today as in 2002, buying a new camera has never been a rational choice. So: why not?
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  #3  
Old November 4th, 2013, 09:34 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
Strange how things go. In 2002, the Canon EOS Rebel Ti / EOS 300V / EOS Kiss 5 weighted 365 g (12.9 oz) and everybody was longing for the Canon EOS 1v, 1380 g (48.7 oz) with grip.

Now: is the A7/A7r likely to be a good camera? Probably, and of particular interest appears to be the 35mm f/2.8. Is it likely to be a better choice than the NEX7 / NEX6? I am less sure: "full frame" has only two main advantages: the viewfinder is better (for SLRs, because of the ground glass size) and one gets better depth of field control. Not so with the A7/A7r: the viewfinder is exactly the same and Sony did not announce really fast lenses for it.

But today as in 2002, buying a new camera has never been a rational choice. So: why not?
I have the same thoughts Jerome. Why would one choose A7 above NEX6/7? On the other hand. A7R brings along a top notch sensor and 36 MP, that may be a reason in itself.
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  #4  
Old November 4th, 2013, 09:46 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
A7R brings along a top notch sensor and 36 MP, that may be a reason in itself.
Except that actually getting 36 MP worth of data out of that camera will be hard work: top lens, a tripod and perfect focus. And then, it is not such a small and light device any more.

I should say it: I am tempted to buy one myself. It appears to be the ultimate pixel peeper tool, at least in 24x36 format. Fun: yes. Reasonable? No.
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  #5  
Old November 4th, 2013, 09:57 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
Strange how things go. In 2002, the Canon EOS Rebel Ti / EOS 300V / EOS Kiss 5 weighted 365 g (12.9 oz) and everybody was longing for the Canon EOS 1v, 1380 g (48.7 oz) with grip.

Now: is the A7/A7r likely to be a good camera? Probably, and of particular interest appears to be the 35mm f/2.8. Is it likely to be a better choice than the NEX7 / NEX6? I am less sure: "full frame" has only two main advantages: the viewfinder is better (for SLRs, because of the ground glass size) and one gets better depth of field control. Not so with the A7/A7r: the viewfinder is exactly the same and Sony did not announce really fast lenses for it.

But today as in 2002, buying a new camera has never been a rational choice. So: why not?
Jerome,

There's no question that an optical viewfinder is by far clearer. However, in practical terms, I was able to see well through the A7 viewfinder, albeit small screen.

I was recently shooting in NY using the 50 1.2L and the Canon 5D Mark II. The weight was (3.1 lb, (1401 gm) and after 3 hours, my back and arms ached! The Zeiss A7 with its 35mm 2.8, it's just 1.18 lb (536 gm), a reduction of over 60%. That for an all day shoot would be fabulous!

............but then "tachyphylaxis" sets in: one would simply takes along with another lens and flash, "as it was so light"!

Asher
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  #6  
Old November 4th, 2013, 10:27 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
There's no question that an optical viewfinder is by far clearer. However, in practical terms, I was able to see well through the A7 viewfinder, albeit small screen.
Having used the NEX-7, I came to positively hate these electronic viewfinders. I warn you: they look more usable in a shop than under the sun or in dark places.

I'll grant that they are better than no viewfinder at all and peeking at a screen.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
I was recently shooting in NY using the 50 1.2L and the Canon 5D Mark II. The weight was (3.1 lb, (1401 gm) and after 3 hours, my back and arms ached!
Of course, you are the physician here. But if your back and arms ached from carrying that camera and lens for 3 hours, I worry about your health. But maybe you also had a bag full of lenses, a flash and a tripod on your other shoulder?

BTW: if you are going to be content with a f/2.8 lens, the Canon 50mm f/1.8 is a lot lighter than the f/1.2 and quite good nevertheless. There is also a Canon 35mm f/2.0 (two actually, one with stab).
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  #7  
Old November 4th, 2013, 10:40 AM
Ben Rubinstein Ben Rubinstein is offline
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IQ is also a factor with FF that cannot be discounted. Other than shadow DR there is no way in which a NEX 7 (which I spent a long time investigating) can compare to my 5D3, hardly the best of the current FF cameras.
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  #8  
Old November 4th, 2013, 11:09 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
IQ is also a factor with FF that cannot be discounted. Other than shadow DR there is no way in which a NEX 7 (which I spent a long time investigating) can compare to my 5D3, hardly the best of the current FF cameras.
Now I find that surprising. It did not occur to me that the NEX 7 was so bad.
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  #9  
Old November 4th, 2013, 05:36 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
Having used the NEX-7, I came to positively hate these electronic viewfinders. I warn you: they look more usable in a shop than under the sun or in dark places.

I'll grant that they are better than no viewfinder at all and peeking at a screen.
I compared the NEX with the A7 viewfinder and no doubt the A7 is an improvement, but nothing, so far, matches the clarity of through the lens optics!

[QUOTE=Jerome Marot;147426]Of course, you are the physician here. But if your back and arms ached from carrying that camera and lens for 3 hours, I worry about your health. Actually, I had a bag with other lenses and this was for 8 hours or more, by the end of shooting 3 models!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
BTW: if you are going to be content with a f/2.8 lens, the Canon 50mm f/1.8 is a lot lighter than the f/1.2 and quite good nevertheless. There is also a Canon 35mm f/2.0 (two actually, one with stab).
What interests me is the reported quality of the 55mm Zeiss! I see it as a good camera for travel and street photography to accompany the Ricoh 28mm and 21mm.

I can see the 6D will remain with me for some time as that's the way to access my longer lenses. The Canon 1.2L suffers CA at 1.2 and perhaps it's corrected automatically on the 6D in camera. I'll check that out.

Asher
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  #10  
Old November 5th, 2013, 10:52 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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Actually, I had a bag with other lenses and this was for 8 hours or more, by the end of shooting 3 models!
Then, the A7 is not going to solve your back aches. Dropping the extra bag will.
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  #11  
Old November 5th, 2013, 11:45 AM
Ben Rubinstein Ben Rubinstein is offline
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Now I find that surprising. It did not occur to me that the NEX 7 was so bad.
It isn't. I just find the current crop of FF cameras to have incredible IQ. The nex 7 was about on par with my 5Dc but without quite the tonality. Much better DR, noise a bit worse. But the 5D3 is a whole different ball game IMO. Ditto the D800e.
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  #12  
Old November 5th, 2013, 03:14 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
Then, the A7 is not going to solve your back aches. Dropping the extra bag will.

Well, for me, going from 3lb to 1lb is fantastic! A lot of folk are going to like that!

Asher
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  #13  
Old November 5th, 2013, 03:36 PM
Michael Nagel Michael Nagel is offline
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I do not have any experience in using the NEX-7 viewfinder - I just peeked through once and did not see much to complain - at daylight.

The one of the Olympus E-M5 is not too bad when you take into account the behaviour under different light situations.
The only thing that disturbes sometimes is some lag after shooting, but there are probably things to adjust I did not discover yet. For me it is good enough to get along in most situations and also for occasional action shoots.

I still prefer the optical viewfinder, but the EVF has also its merits. It also helps to spot issues with the settings (like wrong, manual WB for me sometimes).

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  #14  
Old November 5th, 2013, 03:57 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Nagel;
....NEX viewfinder.......
The only thing that disturbes sometimes is some lag after shooting, but there are probably things to adjust I did not discover yet. For me it is good enough to get along in most situations and also for occasional action shoots.

I still prefer the optical viewfinder, but the EVF has also its merits. It also helps to spot issues with the settings (like wrong, manual WB for me sometimes).


Michael,

I too noticed that delay with the NEX viewfinder, but with the new Sony A7 it's much less. Still, the experience of the optical viewfinder is far more satisfying, as there,a no obvious delay in seeing the subject.

Asher
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  #15  
Old November 6th, 2013, 01:31 AM
Bart_van_der_Wolf Bart_van_der_Wolf is offline
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To add some more first impressions, here are two blog entries by Frank Doorhof:
http://www.frankdoorhof.com/site/2013/11/sony-a7r-part-i/
http://www.frankdoorhof.com/site/2013/11/sony-a7r-review-part-ii-small-flash-and-more/

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  #16  
Old November 6th, 2013, 10:42 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Originally Posted by Bart_van_der_Wolf View Post

Bart,

Frank Doorhoff's articles are wonderful and confirm other reports that this new set of cameras, the A7 and A7r will be game changers for those wanting FF high dynamic range in a small form that can be used as the base mount for almost any fine lens one has.

I like the idea that one can travel light, yet in the studio or event, use one's existing high quality lenses with an adapter. It's surprising that tethered shooting is not yet officially supported. Why they didn't get this done immediately is puzzling.

Also, the switch from EVF to the back LCD panel being awkward, I have to check out myself.

Asher
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  #17  
Old November 6th, 2013, 11:00 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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Excuse me for being a cynic, but with each new camera for the past two years, we have had a bunch of seemingly self-motivated experts who published dithyrambic reviews on their blogs stating that this particular new camera was the best thing since sliced bread. And, at the same time, in forums less civil but more active than this one, a crowed of seemingly identically educated members who were prompted to mock every critic about the new camera with personal attacks against the critic for not understanding what progress meant.

I've been told that this is called "web 2.0", but I may be mistaken. I'm not sure I understand what progress means.
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  #18  
Old November 6th, 2013, 11:05 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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I fully agree with Jerome. With all due respect to Frank, I wasn't very impressed by his review. Also, the sample images he posted lack sharpness and clarity. Of course having used the D800, I can well imagine how the A7R will perform (since it has the same sensor).
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  #19  
Old November 6th, 2013, 11:11 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
Excuse me for being a cynic, but with each new camera for the past two years, we have had a bunch of seemingly self-motivated experts who published dithyrambic reviews on their blogs stating that this particular new camera was the best thing since sliced bread. And, at the same time, in forums less civil but more active than this one, a crowed of seemingly identically educated members who were prompted to mock every critic about the new camera with personal attacks against the critic for not understanding what progress meant.

I've been told that this is called "web 2.0", but I may be mistaken. I'm not sure I understand what progress means.

Jerome,

Great points. The advertising is always in superlatives and we get seduced! I'm as vulnerable as everyone else, well on first blush! So it's important for us to keep these truths in mind and not be carried away with the latest "Good News". Still, dynamic range, detail and small form factor are important issues in much travel and street photography. In truth, once we had the 3MP Canon D30, pros felt so richly blessed, they put aside, forever, valuable and reliable film cameras that served as well for so long. The new digital camera was compact by the standards of the year 2000. However, the light sensitivity and noise control was less advanced. Since then we've become used to 3-5 lb lens camera combinations that seem to be able to handle everything. Digicams served the mass markets for small pocketable cameras.

With the advent of capable phone cameras, the digicam market has been under pressure. Sony has decided to go ahead of the others, focussing on high quality, small form factor for the prosumer and pro-market. They gave us the NEX line, a full frame fixed lens compact, and now with interchangeable lenses, all with the best sensors, ability to shoot in very low light and fit into a small form. I find this move so attractive.

Nevertheless, I could make and an argument that for fashion or portrait photography in the studio, the Sigma DP Merrill trio, might be far better "task-matched choice", for those who seek clarity, detail, rich color, great transitions and 3D impressiveness. A focal length of ~ 75 mm is great for portraits and 45mm is fine for whole body. All possible if one can find or provide the light, as one shots at preferably ISO 100! The cost of each is under $1,000!

Asher
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Old November 6th, 2013, 02:17 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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Yes, the digicam market has been under pressure from phone cameras. Sony's camera division and Nikon are actually in dire straights, because they used to sell something like a zillion compact cameras and now they can barely convince the last person in patagonia who does not have a cell phone to buy a cybershot. Their earnings are down something like 12 billions yens to 2 kopecks.

But this does not explain why web 2.0. It is not only photo forums who seem to be populated by an army of clones. Maybe it is the NSA at work, they have big computers.
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  #21  
Old November 8th, 2013, 02:06 AM
Bart_van_der_Wolf Bart_van_der_Wolf is offline
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Hi,

Interesting information for users of Canon TS-E lenses.

Original Dutch publication.
English Google translation

Apparently even the TS-E 17mm lens can be used without issues, despite the narrower lens mount of the Sony. I have not tested it myself, but the above magazine has a good reputation and is targeted at professional photographers.

Only drawback of the Metabones Smart adapter III is the lack of autofocus for lenses that do offer it. The TS-E lenses are manual focus anyway, so that's not a real drawback.

Maybe the limited tethering support of the A7r will remain a hurdle for the use in a studio environment. We'll have to see how that works out once tethering is fully implemented in actual production models. Also implementing a wireless flash setup for the Sony will require jumping through some hoops, the Phottix Odin and some flash-shoe adapter seem to do the trick.

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Old November 8th, 2013, 10:21 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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My order for the A7R was cancelled by destiny. They discovered the price of $1600 was to low, even for amazon.com. So They just gave me a $100 credit as a consolation. Meanwhile, I'm getting so much shear joy out of my new 6D I purchased as a stop-gap after my youngest son "needed" my 5D Mrk II. The 6D, with the lenses I have is a blessing. It's lighter and grabs focus faster. I've not tried it tethered as yet as the immediacy of shooting a model anywhere, is just so comfortable!

Still, I imagine the A7R is in my future, but I might rent one for a weekend first!

Asher
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Old November 22nd, 2013, 10:24 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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DPReview has a very interesting test result of the Sony A7 and A7R using their new test chart.

(I miss so much the blue clock face on the old one!!!)

Have a look here and post your impressions.

How does it compare with the Nikon cameras shown?

Asher
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