How long should a camera last?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by neal_shields, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. "Parts no longer available"
    How long do most of you expect to keep a camera system?
    For the second time this year Nikon has told me they no longer stock parts to service (underwater) or repair my equipment.
    This time is was a much loved 105 micro that had something come loose inside the lens. We are not professionals so our equipment can get quite old with very little use. This lens was probably about 15 years old. Although it was purchased for use with an F4, we are currently using it with a D-700. I thought that was what the "Nikon System" was supposed to be all about. I.E. A system that could grow with you, not one that became obsolete periodically.
    I suspect this is a generational thing. I was sitting drinking coffee the other day at my club (doesn't that sound pretentious?) and a young man at the next table asked me if my lap top was one of those "old Thinkpads". It was still under the factory warranty but to him it might as well have been a Model A.
    All in all, if I pay several hundred dollars for a piece of photo equipment, I expect to be using it for the rest of my life. (The now obsolete underwater camera system was in the $9000 range 10 years ago and this lens was in the $500 range from about the same time.)
    It strikes me as odd that the generation that talks so much about environmentalism, doesn't have any trouble with use it for a couple of years and toss it technology.
  2. I expect to be using it for the rest of my life​
    I think you have to lower your expectations. It is unreasonable to expect a company to make parts for every single item they have ever made for a person's lifetime. And if they did, you should take your several hundred dollars for a piece of photo equipment and multiply by a hundredfold to pay for it.
    Interesting that you chose a Model A as an example. Ford doesn't supply parts for those either.
  3. "How long should a camera last" and "how long should a company sell parts for a camera" are two different questions. I have cameras much older than I am, and no expectations that the original manufacturer can supply parts.
  4. Just because Nikon no longer services this lens doesn't mean it can't be serviced. A quick google search would probably turn up several repair shops that you can send it to. It's a fact of life that things break. I would think that if this is the first time you've had a problem with this lens in 15 years, that's a pretty good track record. Personally, have 3 AI lenses that, judging by the serial numbers, are all at roughly 30 years old and still going strong.
  5. I recently had a Nikon F3HP repaired (camera is 25 years old), and a couple of years ago I had a Nikon F2A body (30 years old) repaired. Parts can still be scavenged, as my repair people will tell you.
    I wouldn't think highly electronic digital cameras will fare as well.
  6. Try an independent camera repair company. Nikon may not have the parts, but that does not mean the camera or lens cannot be repaired. Parts are "out there" even if Nikon no longer stocks them.
    Do some careful research and you will probably find a good repair repair service. Photonet is a good place to start. If you are in the U.S. also check the firm out with the Better Business Bureau.
    Two cases in point.
    Several years ago, the light meter on my Nikon FTn stopped working. Nikon and the local Nikon authorized repair service simply said, "Sorry, no parts." I did a little research on the Web and found a fellow in Utah who repaired them. A little more research on the Web found very satisified customers. I called him, and then packed up the finder with a check for $85 and shipped it off. A few weeks later I had it back, functioning perfectly and recalibrated to use Siver Oxide batteries rather than the Mercury batteries that are no longer available.
    Second case. the first good camera I owned - a Zeiss Contaflex IV - need a thorough CLA. The local camera repair shop did a great job - for a price higher than I originally paid for the camera, but I want it fixed. Parts for that camera had not been made for about 40 years.
    How long should a camera last? My Contaflex IV is over 50-years old and still running. The FTn was about 40-years old and, until it was stolen, worked well with its repaired meter.
  7. Honestly, I expect to be able to repair the lens myself when I get it back. I am just getting lazy and old. (I have rebuilt a Zeiss Contarex Distigon so I bet I can fix this one.) Besides that with the amount of money I have spent (I won't say invested) on Nikon equipment why should I have to search for some indendent repair company to fix what is a minor problem. The screw holding the depth of field label came lose and got into the works.
    Having been in the manufacturing business for a LONG time, I am familuar with the concept of a final lifetime buy before you take the tools out of service. Being out of parts for a 10 year old lens ( and a 10 year old camera) tells me that they just don't care a lot about customer service or that they are using a LOT more parts than would be expected if their cameras are as reliable as they say.
    In the case of my TWO Nikonos RS cameras, none of the independent facilities have any of the "O" rings that must be replaced periodically as an "annual" service and because these are not available, they don't dare take a camera apart to try to repair something because once disturbed they may not seat again. Body only, these cameras retailed for $3500 about 10 years ago!!!
    I started out with an F, then an FTn, and have now transitioned to an F2 ( my wife is the one that uses battery dependent auto focus cameras.) I consider the F2 to be one of the finest 35mm reflex cameras ever built. (I LOVE my M6 but it has a real shutter.) You can't break an F2, so replacement parts aren't an issue. I have about 5 F2s and one was in military service for about 30 years. Just like the energizer buney it just keeps going and going.
    It just seems to me that with every new Nikon model, reliability goes down dramatically and service goes down even faster.
    I couldn't help but note that when you call them one digital camera is so un-realiable that it has it's own "press 3 for service".
    To me the irony is that Nikon warns people not to buy grey market cameras because they won't service them and 4 out of 5 times I have tried to get service from Nikon, I get this kind of response.
    They did fix my wife's F4 after she ran about 30 rolls of fill through it but it was 30 days over a year old when the shutter blew up and we had to pay several hundred dollars to fix it. We were told we didn't know how to load film!!! My first 35mm camera was a "brick" (Argus C3) and I was able to load it without the shutter blowing up.
    I guess my big problem is I feel betrayed. After growing up on Fs with verticle cloth shutters that REALLY did go 250,000 cycles, the new attitude and the fragile as glass horizional running shutters just disapoint me greatly. I feel like I have lost an old and valuable friend.
  8. My 70 year old Contax is in for repair right now. I am hoping that it will outlive me and give my children some pleasure also.
  9. Neal,
    In your last post you state that "After growing up on Fs with verticle cloth shutters that REALLY did go 250,000 cycles, the new attitude and the fragile as glass horizional running shutters just disapoint me greatly." This is a little confusing. If I remember my F history a small number of Nikon F cameras was made with cloth shutters but they were horizontally running. The cloth material was replaced with titanium foil, which proved to be very durable in use. I say in use because if you accidentally poked any titanium foil shutter curtains you could run into a big problem but just cycling the shutter it could work for a long time. The F2 and F3 also have horizontally running titanium foil shutters. The titanium material is used in my Canon F-1, F-1n and F-1N cameras as well.
    Nikon F cameras did not switch to vertically running shutters until the F4. The blades were made of a composite material. This layout continued through the F6. The vertical layout allowed a higher maximum shutter speed and also a higher flash synch speed. Olympus was one of the few companies to make a shutter with a top speed of 1/2000 which ran horizontally and which had cloth curtains. My first good camera was a Konica Autoreflex T2. It had a vertical metal bladed shutter. The blades did not need to be made of any exotic materials because the top shutter speed was only 1/1000. As speed increases past 1/1000 you not only need a strong material, you also need a light material. This is because braking the shutter also becomes an issue. I used to think that only shutters with metal blades or curtains could be durable. By collecting and using many different cameras I now know that a number of different shutter designs can be durable. It's interesting that from 1965 when the Nikkormat FT came out until the last two models, the FT3 and the ELW (or later Nikon EL2) all had vertical metal bladed shutters. In 1981 Minolta took what many people considered a step backward when it went from the vertical shutter XD-11 to the cloth horizontal shutter X-700. I don't consider the shutter of the X-700 to be as durable as that of a Nikkormat FTN but the X-700 has many other useful features and its shutter can be serviced easily enough.
    When I went on vacation last month I took a Canon F-1 and a Canon FTbN. Both worked perfectly. My F2 needs some work but with numerous Nikkormats, 2 FEs, an FE2 and 2 N2020s I can also have fun with Nikon equipment. I use the N2020s with manual focus lenses mostly for macro work.
  10. Here I got my first Nikon F back in 1962 as a used camera; it has never had a CLA yet.
    The very first Nikon F2's were a disaster; the shutters had a tearing issue; this was resolved and fixed in a short order. Most folks have never used these; thus they equate all F2's being great.
    The Nikon F has a horizontal shutter' and is metal. Only a super few in prototype came with a cloth shutter.
    If you have a Nikon F with a vertical cloth shutter; you have some obscure prototype probably worth 10 to 50 k to collectors; or probably did not own a Nikon F.
    A horizontal cloth shutter Nikon F is as rare as snow in Miami; about nowbody has even seen them accept collectors
  11. My 2c.
    At the end of the day, you may be able to source independent repairers but labour cost may outwegigh some cameras, therefore it's a personal decision if you carry out the work or toss it or kept it a s non functioning museum piece at home.
    Just look at both film and digital cameras how cheap some of them are now.....
    If you are skilled enough to fix it yourself, like the manual focus bodies that can help but not everyone is capable in that regard.
    Then again, most people really just want modern stuff after the next. We have the D3s and we have not seen the last of it - not even remotely. In some years the D3s could be bought for song. I know I bought a D2h for 10% of its original price.
  12. If you sell your broken cameras as "for parts" you're helping other be able to get their cameras fixed :)
  13. Hmmm. My 1937 Voigtlander Bessa is in terrific shape and chugging right along at nearly 75 years old. My 1915 Kodak Autographic Special No. 1 is also in good condition and currently having a CLA done. I expect it will be performing just as it did 95 years ago when it was made. Meanwhile, my D80 is falling apart and the battery cover is being held on by a Sponge Bob band-aid.
    Kent in SD
  14. My bad. I said vertical when I meant horizional. As near as I can tell, Nikon went to the fragile shutters so they would have bragging rights for the fastest focal plane shutter. In all my years I have never needed an 1/8000 of a second shutter but I have needed a shutter that works everytime. We took 30 rolls of underwater film on our last vacation with something stuck in the blades. None came out. After I realized the blades were stuck and Nikon said they didn't service them anymore I gave it a gentle tap while the shutter was triggered and It works fine now.
    For me, it will be F2s and the M6 for 35mm as long as they make film and Sinar 8x10 as long as I can coat my own. I will never go to cameras that sacrafice reliability and durability for convenience.
  15. I have a Nikonos II that works like a champ. It is 3rd hand so who knows how it was treated before I got it.
    I have a 1967 Nikon F that has never had a CLA and still works just fine. I have two 1980's F3's that I used professionally. They went to Nikon once a year for CLA's I ran a average of ten rolls of film through each one a week. They both still have there original shutters.
    I have a D300 with over 90K actuations on the shutter and I use 1/8000 of a second often enough to be glad I have it.
    The only shutter issues I have had with Nikon equipment was on a old FM that I loaned to my folks when they went on a cruise. Some one put there finger through the shutter. They brought it back to me and said it was like that when I lent it to them. My camera tech was able to repair the shutter with out having to replace it.
    In my experience I would have to say that the shutter design of Nikon cameras is very robust.
    Seems my experience working as a pro since 1980 with Nikon equipment is much different then yours
  16. I recently talked to a person at the Nikon UK repair centre, and in conversation, he told me Nikon look to provide parts for their pro lenses for a period of around 10 years after the lens is no longer available new.
    Many expensive pro lenses end up in the second hand market after years of service, and find their way into enthusiast's hands. Nikon also seem to be upgrading these lenses regularly in recent years. For example the 300mm f2.8 has been available in three versions over the last half dozen years. I find it worrying that these still expensive lenses could then end up as very expensive paper weights, if they go wrong only a short while after changing hands! Perhaps second-hand Nikon glass isn't such a good investment after all?
  17. Things are simply built to be more disposable these days than they used to be. Nothing you can do about that. Stuff is so computerized, and stuff becomes newer/better/faster so quick... Welcome to the 21st century.
    I wouldn't think highly electronic digital cameras will fare as well.​
    Nope. I bet they won't. D1s... dustbin of history.
  18. SCL


    I've still got my Leica M4 which I bought new in 1967, I finally sold a Ricoh 519 which I bought new in 1958 - both working fine, although the Leica did need a little repair last year when the wind knocked it off my car (stupid me for putting it there in the first place). Today's cameras, in particular, are designed with a different product life cycle than in earlier times, just like many other household appliances. Yeah a clothes washer may last 30 years, but I bet it wouldn't last 60 years like my grandmother's; ditto electric fans, toasters, etc. It's a different world with different expectations...we can either adjust or get frustrated. There is some good news in this...for instance in the field of cardiology, stents and artificial valves last a lot longer than earlier ones!
  19. My fathers Nikon F is in the shop for the first time ever, since it was purchased new in 1969. I sent a parts meter (in good working order) to the tech to use as a donor. Parts are always available, you just have to know where to find them. Yes, Nikon does indeed stop stocking parts for their cameras after a certain number of years pass. A friend of mine had a technician who repaired at a Nikon repair facility for a few years, and told of the day that Nikon sent out the order to destroy all remaining parts for the Nikon F2, as they would no longer support that camera. He spoke of using a hammer to smash meter assemblies, covers, everything they had. It was bizarre, but it was business. This was in the mid-late 1980s or early 1990s.
  20. ... the generation that talks so much about environmentalism, doesn't have any trouble with use it for a couple of years and toss it technology​
    I've observed this too and it troubles me. This generation riots to save the planet and yet they give in to buying ipods, laptops, and cell phones that are replaced yearly by newer models as they toss and trash their older. This trend is also now becoming evident with photography, as newer cameras are being released at faster paces. It's a lot of plastic that ends up in landfills. Back when things were actually made of quality metals it was because they expected for parts to last a lifetime. I guess it doesn't matter now that everything is made in China.
  21. I expect support for the rest of my life but I am 74.
    The Browning auto-5 shotgun was in production 1903-1998. John M Browning of Morgan Utah was a genius and designed most of the firearms you have ever heard of.
  22. I fully expect my old F801s and my Olympus Trip 35 and DC 35 to outlast me. Not so with my digital cameras.
    I had my Nikon f801s serviced by Nikon last year and while they gave a warning about not having replacement parts if something went wrong, they serviced it anyway, and did a great job. It works like new!
  23. Today's cameras, in particular, are designed with a different product life cycle than in earlier times, just like many other household appliances.​
    This is probably true, but household appliances are now available for throw away money. I would agree that this also applies to consumer camera equipment, but it should not apply to pro bodies and lenses that cost many thousands of dollars/pounds. I would expect parts for them to be available for a lot longer than 10 years.
    ...a technician who repaired at a Nikon repair facility for a few years, and told of the day that Nikon sent out the order to destroy all remaining parts for the Nikon F2​
    That is shocking to hear, but the F2 hasn't been produced for 30 years, so it's nice to think Nikon won't start destroying parts for the D3 anytime soon! I am more concerned with the life of lenses, as we usually keep them, even after upgrading camera bodies many times.
  24. Environmentalists voted for tossing technology indirectly.
    Whale oil lubricants say from Nye are what some of use used in cameras and fine items. I bought my last stuff in the late 1970's; it is head oil from whales; the Nye blend was about 130 years old and is/was super.
    Like many items in life; the better politically correct replacement is not as good. It really did not matter that in the last the decade that damn dead beached whales were used as a source. Why do you think a 1980's lens has more lube issues than older ones? Now their are some synthetics from Nye that some think are as good; under some environments
    Today many items are chucked versus repaired because of liability. Folks want this. Post Camille many buildings were hosed out; re sheet rocked. Post Katrina the stance is to not repair; one speck of mold the size of a BB mean liability; an insurance company and bank get scared; thus buildings get bulldozed that in the past just got fixed up.
    Today in the USA manufacturing is no longer a good thing; like the 1950's and 1960's; super high health care costs due to lawsuits means much manufacturing goes to China.
    In California all the manufacturing I worked with in the 1980's got transfered overseas due to environmental laws; where overseas is laxer.
    Getting parts for the stuff I sell today is costly and difficult; most stuff is from overseas. You have a customer and the item breaks; and it takes 2 to 5 months to get the parts from India or China. Then I get a new variation; and it does not fit.
    Folks voted to move manufacturing overseas by environmental laws and absurd lawsuits and absurd health care costs.
    Most consumer stuff is not recycled; it just goes into a landfill.
    Most cameras today die due to being dropped or getting wet; or abuse; or sometimes bad luck. Often stuff is not worth repairing; many items have no parts in the USA even
  25. I am waiting for a Leica IIIa to come back after an overhaul. It was made in 1937 and is 13 years older than me: and I have no doubt that it will outlast me. Nikons are as well made as Leicas and are younger than many. What is important is that the repair person, Oleg Khalyavin of Russia, fabricated a part that goes under the slow speed dial. In India, people of my age grew up with ancient motor vehicles that were kept in service by resourceful mechanics.
  26. 5-6 years sounds reasonable.
  27. After hearing about Nikon destroying the F2 parts it almost sounds like they are deliberately trying to force people into new models. You could say that you didn't have enough space to store them but why not sell them?
    This seems like a business model that is more and more dividing businesses into two groups: those who concentrate on building long lasting relationships and those who concentrate on the profitablitabillity of individule transactions. I think Nikon has transitioned to the latter.
    In my case it may work. We may replace my wife's lens with the new model with image stabilization, although the micro function is said to be difficult to focus.
    The new lens is $110 cheaper as a grey market model, ($779 vs $889) but I will lose the ability to send it back to Nikon USA for service. How long do you think I am going to wrestle with that delemma?
    I figure if I buy grey market, that by the time I Nikon refused to fix something that is broken, I will have saved enough money to cover the difference between what it would have cost to service and what it will cost to replace it.
    Still I don't like consigning a $700 lens to paperweight duty when a $20 part and $100 of labor would have fixed it.
    Why would I ever buy another Nikon product? For those of you younger than I, this should be a lesson. Camera systems are like the old "Roach Motel" comercial. Once you check in, you can never check out. To sell all my Nikon equipment and convert would break most third world countries.
    To those of you that have never had a Nikon shutter failure, you must have better Joss than I do. Of 5 battery dependent Nikons that we have purchased new (8008, F4, Nikonos V, Nikonos RS, and a D-700) two have had catistrophic shutter failures. That is a 40% failure rate. If you take the 6 months old D-700 out of the calculation that is a 50% failure rate and that does not include 3 lens failures. The first two lens failures occured shortly after the warranty period and we were able to pay to get them fixed.
    The only explaination I have is that we both work full time, vacation once a year, and have extensive other camera systems, (large and medium format) plus two Fuji E-900 knock around cameras. I suspect that maybe the fact that our cameras sit months at a time with no use may be part of the problem. Maybe the grease hardens and causes the failure.
    However, I just saw an ad for the new D-7000 and one of the main things that they tout is a shutter that is: "tested for 150,000 cycles in severe conditions to prove precision and durability".
    You couldn't prove it by me,but it helps justify my attitude that when I buy one I should expect it to work for many years in amateur use.
  28. How long should a camera last?
    If I beat the hell out of it: 1 year or less.
    Film camera: 50-75 years minimum.
    Digital camera: 18 months.
  29. Well I have Nikon F2's dating back to 1973 and they are still going strong. A Nikon F4 from 1992 and it is still going strong. But these cameras were manufactured when the prevailing philosophy was not oriented toward planned obsolescence and people upgrading cameras as frequently as they change socks. Most of my Nikkor lenses are 1980's vintage AIS.
    I got a Nikon D700 about a year and a half ago and I plan on using it until it stops working.
  30. I have a Rolleiflex from 1949 that still works perfectly.
  31. I have heard the distroying parts saga about the 1964/5/6 Mustang; the Speed Graphic; The Leica M3; the Nikon F,F2, F3; the Canon FD series; about washing machines; about watches; about the Kodak Retina IIIc too.
    Post WW2 the saga was there was this giant hole they through all those speed graphic and Kodak 35's and buried them; along with all those 50 dollar jeeps too.
    ***I think what happens is there is an air of truth about stuff being destroyed and it is not too.****
    The USA is anti business compared to overseas; the tax man wants to tax companies in the USA on old tooling and old inventory; thus it is "gotten off the books" to cut taxes.
    Thus offically parts are crushed as a display to please the bean counters; but often a lot of old parts get given away under the table to old retired guys in the repair business; or sold off as wad with other stuff; ie it is that extra wad of crap on the pallet at an auction.
    Thus the offical part line is the old parts are "off the books" to cut taxes; but the parts resurface in an undocumented way.
    I personally have gone to a scrap metal yard and bought old crushed stuff and bought the crap by the pound; and found 1/3 to 1/2 was not really crushed.
    Stuff like AF lenses are not going to last as long as old manual focus stuff. I have LTM Nikkors from the 1940's and 1950's that work perfectly.
    In construction work I use a 10 year old set of Olympus D360L's; 1.3 megapixel digitals. One rolled and fell off the roof and now requires duct tape to hold the battery chamber shut; but it still works well.
    How long stuff lasts depends no the user; some folks are just abusive and force stuff.
    Most cameras die due to being dropped and dunked.
    It is not that cameras are designed to be obsolete; it is todays buyer WANTS a light weight low cost camera; that is what sells today. Todays cameras and lenses cost less than in prior eras; folks want lighter lenses and cameras. The whole chasing megapixel dream means cameras drop in worth quicker.
    Today most folks are quite abrasive towards repair; it is a field where the peanut gallery has zero respect for. Folks are stupider compared to past eras; and are in a massive hurry. Parts are harder to get; they often are bundled in assemblies too. One cannot buy just the broken do dad; one has to buy the entire assembly. If you buy a junker on Ebay; or as a core charge; it will have the same part broken too. Here I have some items which I sell that still are waiting repair parts from China; Japan and India. To the lay public; you are an ahole because you do not stock a zillion parts; or they cannot shoot them out of a cannon from China to the USA. The same folks are probably glad if taxes are increaesed on inventory.
    Many items need some regular usage to stay in shape; to keep oils and greases; to keep capacitors formed.
    HOW LONG A product remains serviceable depends on how many were produced. There were zillions of Model T's and A's' thus a huge set of parts and folks who know how to work on them.
    Today folks do not want to pay 100 buck extra on a 600 buck camera to have it more repairable; or to have easier access to spare parts. They know it will be worth 200 on ebay in two years; and it will be 120 for a minor repair. Thus makers today have to deal with the other guys disposable comparable cameras to meet their prices.
  32. I expect my My Nikon F(s) and F2(s) and my Canon F-1(s) to outlive God. Anything electronic is a member of the lightbulb species as far as I am concerned. Eventually it will burn out. I drive a small Nissan 1996 pickup truck with 180,000 miles on it. Back when I got my first drivers license in 1954, cars would wear out or rust out before they reached 70,000 miles.
  33. Folks voted to move manufacturing overseas by environmental laws and absurd lawsuits and absurd health care costs.​
    Kelly, Couldn't it be that environmental laws might be a sound idea on the whole, with some that went too far; health care needed reform long ago but folks like billionaire Sen. Bill Frist (R), heir to his family's HMO, don't want any change in the status quo they've profited from so grandly, and well, yeah, you might be right about the lawyers;), and that the real reason manufacturing was moved to China was because these manufacturing companies wanted to pollute at will, exploit workers, all with the help of the complicit non-democratic Chinese government? Then, the ceo's of these manufacturing companies can further justify their greedy compensation ambitions by showing how their sheer genius led to more bucks flowing to the bottom line? I respectfully tend to think that this is the much more likely scenario : ).
  34. Neil, I agree pretty much 100% with the gist of what you've said, and you have my sympathies. Just went through an ordeal with Nikon Tech. about a re-furb. scanner. Twelve phone calls and numerous emails- two weeks of headaches. And they still want me to pay the shipping. I love my "classic" film gear, much of it Nikon, but unless some professional work pans out and I'm forced to have a new camera, this, and your story, are some of the reasons that will make me seek to resist buying another product from them again, or any digital camera, especially. Modern films are absolutely great, too. It seems like they've done their best to try to turn photography into a hyper technology race, and it's sad that this seems to be their desired route to profitability.
    It strikes me as odd that the generation that talks so much about environmentalism, doesn't have any trouble with use it for a couple of years and toss it technology.​
    I think that that is a great point that you made. And the utmost irony is that the great majority of these throw-away products are made in a land that shares no Western sentiments towards environment, that is until its health-care costs become such a large % of GDP that it can't be ignored any longer. Did they even take note of the air at the Bejing Olympics?
  35. It strikes me as odd that the generation that talks so much about environmentalism, doesn't have any trouble with use it for a couple of years and toss it technology.​
    Not wanting to start a debate on geopolitical environmental issues, I am one of the generation described above. Frankly, I do not recognise myself in this sentiment. First of all, my generation is the first that looks at the environmental impact before goods are produced. Second, we are far more aware of the shortage of natural resources than the generations that came before us. More and more goods are now produced in such a way that they are meant to be recycled. An effort made possible by several generations.
    But that is really not important. All this generations nonsense. As long as we think that greed is a healthy business principle, instead of prosperity, people will find a way to pollute the environment which they claim to be theirs.
    Now back to photography please.

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