Comparison Test: Fuji 18-55mm F2.8-4 R Lens Vs. XF 18mm F2.0 R Lens


Fuji XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R Lens Vs. Fuji XF 18mm F2.0 R Lens:

The new Fuji XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R lens is a great lens, and for the most part, it’s been well received.  It performs well optically, it’s easy to use, it’s small, and it focuses pretty quick.  With the release of this new zoom, I’m pretty sure many of you are wondering if you even need the Fuji primes.  Well, maybe I wouldn’t go that far since I love primes :).  But who knows, maybe you’re starting out, and you want to get the most out of your money or if you’re like me, you just want to lighten your bag a bit.

Whatever the reason, my question is, can the zoom really replace the excellent Fuji primes?  Specifically for this test, can the zoom at the 18mm focal length replace the XF 18mm prime?  Again, I love the primes but ever since I bought the zoom, I honestly don’t carry my primes much anymore (with the exception of the XF 35mm F1.4).  I’m not saying the primes are bad; I’m saying the zoom is really that good.  For me, image quality from the zoom is comparable to the primes, and I’m happy enough with the zoom that I’d rather have a lighter bag.  Plus, the zoom is very quiet, and it focuses faster.


↑ The compact XF 18mm F2.0 R lens.

While I say the zoom is comparable in image quality to the primes, I never really did a flat out test to confirm this.  For me, how I know if I like a lens is I play with it to test everything from the form factor, how it functions in the field, to how good the optical quality is.  For instance, I’m willing to sacrifice a little sharpness for ease of use.  I just want to make sure that overall, I can live with the lens, I love using it, and it does what it’s suppose to do, which is produce awesome photos.  So, this is my first lens comparison, and I decided to include more factors than just overall image quality.  I wanted to include factors that most people would consider when buying a lens because let’s be honest; we demand a lot from a lens other than just really sharp photos.  So, let’s get started.


↑ The new XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R lens.

Size, Weight, And Feel of These Two Fuji Lenses:

If portability, discreetness, and lightness are what you’re looking for, then buy the XF 18mm F2.0 R lens.  I can’t even tell you that you won’t notice much of a difference between these two lenses in terms of size because look at the photos :).  The XF 18mm is not only a lot smaller than the zoom; it’s also a lot lighter.  However, I personally like the added heft in the zoom.  I find the XF 18mm a bit light, and hollow feeling for my taste.  Plus, the XF 18-55mm is just built better, and feels more solid.


↑ A side by side comparison between the XF 18-55mm and the XF 18mm.


↑ A side by side comparison between the XF 18-55mm and the XF 18mm with their hoods.

But there is no denying how discreet you’ll be with such a small lens on something like the X-E1.  Until the pancake lens comes out in the future, this is the smallest Fuji XF series lens.  In my opinion, if you want that true Leica feel in terms of portability, and compactness, get the X-E1, XF 18mm, and a nice wrist strap.  You won’t even need to carry your bag around with you.


↑ The beautiful Fuji X-E1 with the XF 18mm.


↑ The X-E1 with the zoom.

Here are some specs for these two Fuji lenses, to give you an even better understanding of what I mentioned:


XF 18mm 116g vs. XF 18-55mm 310g

External Dimensions:

XF 18mm 64.5mm x 40.6mm vs. XF 18-55mm 65.0mm x 70.4mm/97.9mm

Filter Size:

XF 18mm 52mm vs. XF18-55mm 58mm

Focusing Speed And Accuracy Between These Two Fuji Lenses:

I’ve had both of these lenses since their release, and in my opinion, I find the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R lens is both more accurate and faster in terms of focusing than the XF 18mm.  Even when I was taking photos for this comparison, I found this to be true.  I live near water here in Brooklyn, and I was taking photos of the cargo ships with both lenses, and there was a little focus hunting going on with the XF 18mm in a couple of photos where the zoom had no problems whatsoever.  This is in broad daylight as well.  By the way, just in case some of you ask, I didn’t end up using the photos here in this comparison because I found that there were too many variables I had to account for.

If you’re use to the primes, the zoom is also quieter, and near silent.  The zoom is even a lot faster in macro mode than the XF 18mm.  So, if most of these factors are important for you, then maybe you should consider the zoom over the XF 18mm.

Overall Image Quality of These Two Fuji Lenses:

This topic is probably what most of you want to know most about these two lenses.  You all can see on the web the size, the weight, and how the focusing is between these two lenses but how do these two lenses compare in terms of image quality?  To compare these two lenses, I attached them to my Fuji X-E1, and placed it on my tripod.  I took several scenarios to try to give you all the best test possible. I didn’t shoot an image with the same lens, and settings just once.  I know from taking all of those crazy science courses back in the day that it’s better to shoot several images with the same lens, and at the same setting.  I then go back to my computer, and check the images to obtain the best one out of all of them.  I did that for both lenses. Lastly, since there’s a debate on whether to use CS6 or Capture One, I decided to show you all the out of camera jpegs.  These photos are directly from the camera in Velvia mode.  So lets see what we got:

The First Set of Photos Comparing Overall Image Quality:


↑ I shot this overall image with both lenses at F5.6.  This image above was shot with the XF 18-55mm.


↑ Here are two crops from the center of the images.  To my eyes, it’s hard to tell which lens is actually better or sharper.  


↑ These two crops are from the right side of the images.  As you can see, the zoom actually retains a bit more detail than the XF 18mm.  

The Second Set of Photos Comparing Overall Image Quality:


↑ Here is another example taken at F5.6 with both lenses.  This image above was taken with the zoom.


↑ Here are crops from the center of the images.  To my eyes, the XF 18-55mm looks a bit sharper than the XF 18mm.  I’m looking straight at the sprinkler head.  I shot three images with the XF 18mm, and produced generally the same result, which to my eyes, are slightly less detailed than the zoom.


↑ These crops are from the left side of the images.  As you can see, the zoom clearly retains more detail than the XF 18mm.

The Third Set of Photos Comparing Overall Image Quality:


↑ Here is another comparison that I did but this time with closeup photos of a clock at F5.6.  This example here was shot with the zoom.


↑ In terms of center sharpness, I think the zoom still beats the prime but only by a very little.  Contrast seems to be better on the zoom too, and I noticed this on a lot of the other example photos.  


↑ Here are crops from the right side of the photos.  You can clearly see that the prime actually loses a bit of image quality, while the zoom retains it’s overall sharpness much better near the edges.

After testing these two lenses, I find the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R lens produces an overall better image quality than the XF 18mm.  Sharpness and contrast overall seem better on the zoom but where it really makes a difference is on the edges of the photos.  The zoom retains much more detail off center than the prime.  In real world use, I generally find that the zoom produces more pleasing images than the XF 18mm, which is why my 18mm usually stays at home now.  I really like the zoom, and unfortunately, I can’t really post real world images from both in a comparison test because there would be variables that I wouldn’t be able to control.  In a true test, I have to make sure all of the variables are the same except for one, which in this case, is having two different lenses.

Bokeh Comparison Between These Two Fuji Lenses:

I thought a shallow depth of field test would be nice to add to this comparison because I’m betting that there are some people who are wondering if that one stop difference between these two lenses is really significant in terms of creating bokeh.  Overall, the XF 18mm F2.0 R lens will produce a shallower depth of field than the zoom at the 18mm focal length because it’s one stop faster.  But how much of a difference is it?  Is it really worth it to buy the prime for the purpose of that one stop?  Will you really get that much of a shallower depth of field from that one stop, especially from an 18mm lens?

These are questions I asked myself a few times.  There is only one way to find out, and that’s to take some photos wide open from both of these lenses.  But before I show you the photos, I just want to mention one thing.  One stop can make a difference sometimes when the purpose of it is to allow more light into your photograph.  But the reason why I say “can” is because while the XF 18mm is one stop faster, the zoom has image stabilization equivalent to four stops.  Combine the image stabilization with the Fuji X-Series’ amazing ISO capabilities, and I wonder how important that one stop really is.  This has nothing to do with the bokeh of the two lenses.  I just thought it was important to mention, especially if you’re considering purchasing one these two lenses.  Anyway, off to the bokeh pics!:

The First Set of Bokeh Photos:


↑ This photo was shot with the zoom at F2.8.  While the depth of field is not as shallow as the XF 18mm, it is still very smooth looking.  In general, I find the bokeh from all of the XF Series lenses to be very smooth.


↑ This photo was shot with the XF 18mm at F2.0.  The depth of field is shallower but to my eyes, not by much.  

The Second Set of Bokeh Photos:


↑ This photo was taken with the XF 18-55mm, and again, the shallow depth of field is nice and smooth.


↑ Here is a shot taken with the XF 18mm, and while the depth of field is definitely shallower at F2.0, to my eyes, there’s not a huge difference between this photo, and the photo shot with the zoom at F2.8.

The Third Set of Bokeh Photos:


↑ Here’s another shallow depth of field shot taken with the XF 18-55mm.


↑ Here’s the same basic shot taken with the XF 18mm.

To my eyes, the XF 18mm does produce an image with a shallower depth of field but I don’t believe it’s by much.  The extra bokeh produced by the XF 18mm is not significant enough for me to forgo the other great qualities of the zoom.

Macro Capability of These Two Fuji Lenses:

This is my last test, and while probably not the most important, I thought it would be nice for some who are curious.  According to Fuji, the XF 18mm F2.0 R lens can shoot as close as 18cm while the closest the zoom will shoot is 30cm at the 18mm focal length.  I don’t do much macro photography but I thought this would be a good test.  I wanted to see how these two performed when shooting a close subject.  You might not need to use a wide angle for macro work but even I found it convenient in certain situations that these lenses can shoot close up.  Let’s take a look at what we got:

XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R lens (left) and XF 18mm F2.0 R lens (right) at their largest apertures:


↑ Here is a shot taken at F2.8, which is the zoom’s largest aperture.


↑ As you can see, you can get a lot closer with the XF 18mm than you can with the zoom.  This shot was taken at F2.0.

XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R lens (left) and XF 18mm F2.0 R lens (right) at F5.6:


↑ This photo was shot with the zoom at F5.6.


↑ This shot was taken with the XF 18m at F5.6.

Wow, so there is clearly a difference here.  You can really fill the frame with the XF 18mm, where as the zoom just won’t let you get all the way in.  The zoom still takes a decent close up photo though but it just won’t give you the closeness of the XF 18mm.

Which Fuji Lens is Right For You?:

I hope my first ever lens comparison helps those who are wondering which lens to buy.  If you ask me which Fuji lens to buy, I would say to you: that’s a question that only you can answer :).  In general, I really like the zoom.  It’s built better than the prime, if focuses faster, and optically, the zoom does produce better images than the XF 18mm.  But I still haven’t sold my XF 18mm F2.0 R lens, which says to me that there’s something about the XF 18mm that I don’t think the zoom can replace.  For me, that something is the small size of the XF 18mm, which I find very appealing.  I honestly believe that you can get away with so much more on the street because no matter how small the zoom is, it’s still a lot longer than the XF 18mm.  With the XF 18mm on my X-E1, it’s about the same size as the Fuji X100S, which is mighty appealing.  In my opinion it also feels better balanced in my hand than the X100.  So, for me, it is tough to choose between these two lenses but no matter what you choose in the end, you’ll be rewarded with some fantastic shots because both of these lenses can deliver the goods.

That’s it for this comparison test.  Comments are always welcomed.  If any of you want more info on the Fuji X-Series products, please check out all of my reviews.  Thanks for taking the time to read my comparison.  Next up will probably be a comparison between the zoom, and the XF 60mm Macro.  I’m also planning on doing a possible multi-part comparison test between the Fuji X-E1 and the OM-D.  I will also have the kit zooms for both, and the 50mm F1.4 equivalents!  It should be a fun comparison!  Take care!

36 comments… add one
  • Why did you have to say that there’s something about the prime that you can’t let it go yet!?! I was gonna order the zoom until the last part of the comparison haha! I went with the prime because of the size and also I promised my self to not buy anymore zooms for any platform. But zooms are so versatile and convenient but since i have the 35mm already I think I’m better off with the trio primes, 18, 35, 50 or 85.

    • Patrick

      Hi Dane,

      Haha because I’m trying to be somewhat unbiased. The zoom is awesome but again, you can’t beat the size of the 18mm. I might get rid of my XF 60mm though after I do a comparison test with it. I don’t use that focal length much. plus I find if I ever do need that reach, I’m ok with the zoom. Also…the 56mm F1.4 is coming out soon, so who knows :).

  • cyberprimate

    Thanks and bravo for the accuracy. That’s exactly the comparison I needed.

    • Patrick

      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you enjoyed it! Take care!

  • Bemused

    Thanks for the review. I already have (and love) the kit zoom, but I’m going to get the 18mm as well so I can fit the whole camera into my jacket when I’m out with friends. Goodbye cameraphone!

    • Patrick

      Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Great idea, I always loved the 18mm for its size, and that combo should beat any cameraphone lol.

  • It is what it does to your head. A prime makes you think visually. It is like going down a road on a motorbike vs in a car. On the bike you are moving through the scene. In a car the scene is passing the window.

    Sound crazy?

    I just enjoy using primes. With zooms I find I produce more cliched images and end up feeling that there is no point to it all. Primes are like working with what is rather than constructing fantasy.

    If I were taking pictures for other people I’d use zooms but I am taking pictures for me so I use primes.

    Wow – quite a rant – what brought that on…

    Thanks for the post – interesting.

    • Patrick

      Sorry for the late reply. I was a way for a bit. No, don’t worry about it, nothing sounds too crazy here :). I appreciate your input, and welcome it. I prefer primes myself.

  • Neil Pritchard

    A really great review, the right amount of technical stuff supported by superb pictorial evidence, this is how all reviews should be. will be purchasing the zoom as soon as funds allow.



    • Patrick

      Hi Neil,

      Thanks for your kind words! It means a lot! I’m really glad that you enjoyed it, and I hope it helped you out. Have fun with the zoom when you get it! It should serve you well. I definitely get a lot of use out of mine.

      Take care!


  • Hi All,

    A little late to the dicsussion here but I have just bought an X-E1 with the 18-55 lens so this article is very relevant and current for me. Extremely well writen and put together so thank you for that. I was torn between a X-Pro1 with 18mm and 35mm and the X-E1 with 18-55mm and 35mm but opted (and already regretting it and it has not even arrived yet) for the X-E1. This camera/lens is what I describe as my hobby camera, I have a Nikon V1 for shooting the kids due to it’s ridiculous focusing ability. My thoughts were 18-55mm more versatile (which it is) 18mm a little limited (it isn’t) so now I am already looking to sell the 18-55mm to fund an 18mm and if I even need a zoom pick up the cheap (but quite good) 16-50mm. Anyway I am sharing my thoughts and dilema for no other reason than I had to 🙂 Thank you for the review/comparison, real useful as I found a bunch of the other articles, keep up the good work

    Regards (form the UK)

    • Patrick

      Hey Leon,

      Thank you for your kind words and for checking out my site! When you get the 18-55, try it out before you sell it. Who knows, if you like it, you won’t have to go through the trouble of selling it. The autofocus is quiet and fast although you do have the V1 for that. I had the XF 18mm but sold it a while ago when I bought the X-E1 kit. Honestly, both lenses are great, so you can’t go wrong although sometimes I miss the XF 18mm because of it’s size. It’s great when attached to the X-E1 because I can fit both in my jacket pocket. You’re idea about purchasing the XF 18mm and the XC 16-50 is a great thought as well; the XC 16-50 zoom is a sharp lens. Thanks for leaving a comment, and feel free to share your thoughts anytime :). You have a fantastic website btw,

      All the best!


  • David Kirkpatrick

    Spot on. I have them both and can’t decide between them for the same reasons.A very good and useful review.

    • Patrick

      Hi David,

      Thanks for checking out my review! Both definitely have their strengths. For instance, who doesn’t a lens that’s as compact as the XF 18mm? Again, thanks for stopping by,

      All the best,


  • Gerald

    Good article. I am torn between 18mm & 18-55mm. I already have the 35mm on my XP1, looking for something wide. Considered the 16-50mm too but the lack of the aperture ring put me off. It is really tough choice to make, either go for the size of 18mm or the versatility of the zoom.


    • Patrick

      Hi Gerald,

      Sorry for the late reply (just got back from a fishing trip), and thank you! It’s definitely a tough choice…both lenses are great. The autofocus is better with the zoom but if you’re looking for something compact, you can’t beat the XF 18mm. With the XF 18mm, the XP1 feels great…it becomes a nice, compact unit (something I definitely miss after selling the XF 18mm). You mentioned the 16-50mm, so if you’re looking for something wider, the Zeiss 12mm is pretty good…it actually turned into my most used lens on the Fuji. Let me know what you end up deciding on,

      All the best!


  • Gerald

    Hi Patrick, just a follow up from my previous post. I ended up with the 18mm, got one used unit with a great price. I am pretty happy with the IQ as I mainly only shoot in JPEG and I believed the xp1 did some auto correction with the photos to compensate the short comings of the lens.
    The only down side for me is the 18mm isn’t wide enough for some of the scenery shoot. The 14mm definitely in my wish list now but the price is hard to justify for that extra 4mm wide 🙂


    • Patrick

      Hi Gerald,

      It’s great to hear from you again. Congratulations on your new lens purchase. The 18mm definitely fits the X-Pro1 well; I love how compact it is. The 14mm is nice but you might also want to consider the Zeiss 12mm, since the price has been reduced. If it’s hard to justify for that extra 4mm (which I totally agree with you on 🙂 ), the Zeiss is an extra 6mm wider.

      Feel free to share any photos from your XF 18mm!

      All the best!


  • wksoh

    Great Review comparing the lenses at different angles with great information and photo examples! Exactly what I needed to search for. I shot film SLR since 14 years old,… I’ve been moving to smaller gears and pancake lenses over the years. The smallish size of the 18mm F2 is the main attraction. Thank you 🙂

    • Patrick

      Hi wksoh,

      Thanks a lot and I definitely appreciate you taking the time out to read it! I certainly know what you mean, especially since a lot of gear seems to be growing in size these days :). It’s definitely hard to beat how compact the XF 18mm is. I could actually fit my X-E1 and this lens in my coat pocket! If you end up getting the XF 18mm, let me know how you like it!

      Best regards,


  • Great article. You saved me from selling my xf 18mm:)

    I bought my XPro 1 with the 18mm and then decided to get the XE 1 with the 18-55mm as a second body. As soon as I used the new zoom, I began to regret being stuck with the 18mm and wished I got the 35mm instead (due to the more favorable reviews of the 35), but your review revived by enthusiasm for the small prime. I never tested the lenses side by side as you have done, but the 18mm does focus quite close… closer and with amazing bokeh which gives it an edge in my book. I do a lot of product photography and the unusual qualities of the 18mm makes it a welcome tool in my bag of tricks!

    How does the 18mm compare to the 35mm in close focus situations?

    • Patrick

      Hi Atom,

      Thanks for taking the time out to read my comparison! I really appreciate it. I know what you mean; there were many great reviews for the XF 35mm, and while it definitely deserves all of those praises, it kind of over shadowed the XF 18mm. The XF 18mm is a great little lens, and most importantly, it’s hard to beat in terms of its size, especially since it’s also an F2.0 lens. I used to walk around with just that lens because I could hide my camera under my coat so easily.

      The XF 35mm does focus pretty closely as well, and I think it performs quite nicely doing close ups. It doesn’t have as much perspective error as a 28mm lens would, and the F1.4 aperture, especially in close focusing situations, works great to isolate your subject. I bought the XF 18mm, the XF 35mm, and the XF 60mm when I bought my X-Pro1, and for my needs, I actually used the XF 35mm more for close up stuff than either of those two lenses mentioned (even though the XF 60mm is a macro lens). But I should also mention that I don’t do much macro, so the XF 60mm would probably serve a person interested in that type of photography better.

      I hope this helps! Great blog you have btw!

      Take care,


  • Max

    I never owned a zoom, except for a 11-16mm uwa 😉 , but I am tempted with the 18-55. I just bought a used XE-1 along with the 35mm and was about to buy a used 18mm because of it’s size and angle of view.

    But my problem is that a used 18mm cost as much as a used 18-55mm, if I consider this comparison; same IQ, better built Q, is vs f2, more range.
    Is the small size really worth the price?

    Any of you used the zoom for streets, what is your experience with it?

    • Patrick

      Hi Max,

      Sorry for the late reply! I was away and internet service wasn’t that great.

      Well, it depends on how much you really need the range from that zoom. It’s actually a great lens. I own the zoom now but there are many instances where I regret selling the XF 18mm. The reason is because on the street, I actually use the 18mm focal length a lot (I rarely use the zoom feature), and coming from a rangefinder background, I just don’t feel comfortable with a long lens like the zoom. I prefer a more compact feel but this is just me, of course. Others may vary.

      Best regards,


  • Congratulations on the comparison helped me a lot in choosing. I’ll buy the x-e2 zoom. Thank you!

    • Patrick

      Hi Fernando,

      I’m so sorry for the late reply! I was away and the internet service wasn’t that great. I definitely appreciate you taking the time to read my comparison, and I’m really glad it helped you out! I hope you enjoy the zoom, and let me know what you think of it!

      Best regards,


  • Great review on the 18 2.0 vs 18-55. I own the zoom, and have been considering the 18 prime for low profile, pocketability and potentially lower DOF effect. Your tests prove that there is no appreciable gain in IQ, which is actually surprising, and no major difference in DOF wide open.
    You saved me a few hundred, so thanks.

    What I wish Fuji would make is a 16 1.8 pancake, as that is not duplicated in their line, and could be the ultimate wide prime on my XPro-1 and X-T1.

    • Patrick

      Hi David,

      Thanks for taking the time to read it! I’m glad it helped. I originally owned the XF 18mm but bought the zoom in the X-E1 kit because of the price. I was also surprised about the minimal difference in DOF. I ended up keeping the zoom and selling the XF 18mm. Sometimes I miss the size of the XF 18mm but other than that, I’ve been completely happy with the zoom.

      If Fuji made a 16 1.8 I would buy it in a heartbeat!

      Happy Holidays,


  • Oh, forgot to mention that I use a 62mm Nikon 5T diopter filter and step-up on my 18-55 XF, and it makes it a competent carry-around macro. Of course, one is limited to focal range with it attached, but so worth it.

    • Patrick

      Wow, that’s really cool! Btw, I checked out your site: awesome photos! I love “The Temple of Borobudur, Java photo you took.

  • Great review. I ordered the X-T1 and 18-55mm direct from Fuji and they accidentally sent me the 18-135mm. I almost sent it back because I don’t own ANY Lens slower than f4, but with the extra range and weatherproofness, I kept it. I always wondered if the 18mm prime was worth getting, but from your review I guess not. I’m surprised it’s not as good as the 18-55mm. I also have the 10-24mm, which is super sharp, and gives me 18mm (and 10mm, 12mm, 14mm, and 23mm). Fixed f4 and internal focusing. Great companion to the 18-55mm, and you have another 18mm lens!

    • Patrick

      Hi Nathan,

      Thanks and lovely photos on your website! The 18-55mm lens is an excellent zoom. The optics are fantastic, and there’s really not much to complain about. The price is good to, especially if you buy it in a kit. I owned the XF 18mm first but there was really no reason to keep it once I bought the zoom with my X-E1. However, I do miss my XF 18mm from time to time because you really can’t beat the size. With the XF 18mm attached, I can hide my camera right inside my jacket and no one would be the wiser. I have not had the chance to use the 10-24mm yet but I’ve heard it’s great. I definitely would love to try that one day since I am a big fan of ultra wides.

      Best regards,


  • Nathan,
    I’m wondering why you didn’t make distortion comparison test, which is by far the most relevant issue here!

    • Patrick

      Hi Nathan,

      Maybe next time if I do another comparison!

      Best regards,


  • Thanks for sharing, just jumped into the Fuji world and have been contemplating what lenses to start with. I picked up an x-t1 and found a great deal on a used x-e1 with the 18-55. Next I’m thinking about rounding out the spectrum with the 55-200 and then deciding if I need any specialty primes after that.

    • Patrick

      Hi Jeremy,

      Sorry for the late reply and thanks for taking the time to read my article! I hope you’re enjoying your new system! It’s a great system. Not only does Fuji continuously release new products, they also keep on improving older ones. For example, I bought the XF 35mm when it was first released, and sold it a while ago for something else. I re-bought it a month ago, and it’s vastly improved in terms of focusing.

      The XF 18-55mm is a fantastic lens. It’s super handy, image quality is great, and best of all, it’s also compact. Have fun with your new setup and I hope to hear from you again!

      Best regards,


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