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Author Topic: State of 4K monitors for photo editing  (Read 41247 times)

feppe

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State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« on: February 03, 2014, 05:17:42 pm »

Last week I received my Dell UP2414Q monitor. It is a 24-inch 4K monitor, which is video geek speak for Ultra HD resolution of 3840 x 2160, four times the pixels of Full HD, aka 1080p. There is also a 32" and 28" 4K monitor from Dell, with differing specs.

The 24" I bought has a rather impressive 184ppi, near some of the highest-resolution tablets out there. Other features include portrait mode, DP and HDMI inputs, USB ports and card reader. In addition, it covers 99% of AdobeRGB, comes factory calibrated (mine was close to or below 1 deltaE), and supports hardware calibration with i1Display Pro.

I've done some testing over the weekend on the monitor, and thought I'd share brief experiences with Lightroom and Photoshop CC versions running on Windows 7, and Gimp on Linux Mint 16. I don't have my i1Display, and haven't done thorough tweaking of the programs, yet. The only change to settings was to drop Brightness to 27, as the default 50 is way too bright for my rather dark workspace.

Full disclosure and disclaimer: I work for Dell, but this post is purely my personal views, and does not represent my employer's views. I bought the monitor myself.


First, some notes on hardware. Current HDMI spec doesn't have the bandwidth for 60Hz at 4K, so you're stuck with 30Hz if HDMI is the only output you have. Upcoming HDMI update will support 60Hz. The monitor comes with DisplayPort cable, which does go up to 60Hz if your GPU supports DP 1.2. I'm using MSI GTX760, an nVidia GPU, and 60Hz works with it. Driver and OS support for MST (DP 1.2 at 60Hz) is spotty at the moment, though, and you have to power cycle the monitor sometimes to fix the image. SST (DP 1.2 off) at 30Hz works flawlessly on both Win7 and Mint, though.

The monitor supports 10-bit output via AFRC. On Windows you need a Quadro card to get 10-bit output, though. Apparently nVidia's Linux drivers allow 10-bit output even on consumer-grade GPUs, but I haven't looked into that, yet. If that is true, this would mean that nVidia's Windows drivers are purposefully crippled, just like X-Rite's ColorMunki vs i1Display Pro (same hardware, 5x faster calibration).

In any case, since Photoshop is pretty much the only software out there that supports 10 bits, and its benefits are very likely marginal, I'm not in much hurry to research this further.

I've set Windows 7 UI scaling at 150%, which is the max. Win8.1 allows it to be set to 200%, I believe, but 150% is perfectly fine for my needs. I've set Mint at 150%, although it goes to 200%, maybe higher. The extremely high ppi makes text readable at much smaller pitches than at 1080p or 2160p resolutions. And the monitor is beautifully sharp, making text extremely crisp.


Off to software. Lightroom scales extremely well. It consistently honors the UI scaling set in Win7, and the tools are easy to use. There is a lot of real estate left over for the image even when you open up both side tabs, and the widescreen high-ppi monitor really comes to life and is a joy to use with LR.

Photoshop is a different story. Menus and popups scale as expected, but none of the icons do. For example, the standard selection, eyedropper and draw tool icons are about quarter the size of an average pinky nail. No exaggeration here. I can kinda tell which one is which from normal viewing distance, partly because I know their order already. But I can see it becoming a very frustrating and eye-straining experience with any serious editing job requiring more than a passing visit to PS. Hitting the right icon with an Intuos tablet or mouse is difficult.

Finally, GIMP. I haven't used GIMP much, and won't until they come with 16-bit support. This is promised in version 2.10, which hopefully, perhaps, maybe arrives this decade. 16-bit editing has been promised for years and years, but this is another topic.

GIMP has similar issues as Photoshop, but not as bad. UI scales well with larger fonts, but icons do not. Fortunately GIMP's icons are larger than PS's, so they are a bit easier to discern and hit.


Bottom line is that all three photo editing softwares work. LR works well. Very well, in fact. But both PS and GIMP will be painful to use, I'm afraid literally after an hour or two. Adobe forums threads going back to last fall about the subject point to a blame game between Adobe and nVidia/AMD, so it's hard to say who can and will fix it, or when.

Images on the monitor look stunning, beautiful, and other superlatives. When I first saw the 32" version of the screen in our showroom, I spent a good half an hour on my website just admiring my photos, seen in entirely new light. Just like seeing 1080p for the first time 10+ years ago, that trip became quite expensive, as I just needed to upgrade to 4K - it really is that good!

And that brings to a related topic. As 4K becomes more popular, people will start demanding higher-resolution images. I upgraded my travel photography website to high def last year, but now I need to go even higher to cater to the increasing number of visitors with 4K monitors.

Full-resolution screenshots follow to give an idea of what to expect. Below Lightroom 5 CC Library module.

addendum: to pre-empt the inevitable "who needs 4K", here a handy screen resolution chart I've been using for years. It's for projectors, but the principle is the same. For my viewing distance of 50-60cm, I'm at or near the "full benefit" from 4K. There are more detailed calculators available which take into account visual acuity, but for most people's monitor use, 4K will bring a real and visible improvement over lower-resolution alternatives. 8K is another discussion...
« Last Edit: February 03, 2014, 06:02:12 pm by feppe »
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feppe

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2014, 05:18:07 pm »

Lightroom 5 CC Develop module
« Last Edit: February 03, 2014, 05:23:31 pm by feppe »
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feppe

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2014, 05:20:10 pm »

Photoshop CC. Note that the 21.7 megapixel image fits comfortably on screen at only 50% zoom!
« Last Edit: February 03, 2014, 05:46:42 pm by feppe »
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feppe

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2014, 05:20:48 pm »

Windows 7 UI, font scaling set at 150%.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2014, 05:47:41 pm by feppe »
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feppe

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2014, 05:21:16 pm »

GIMP (screenshot did a roundtrip from .png to .jpg)
« Last Edit: February 03, 2014, 05:22:55 pm by feppe »
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feppe

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2014, 05:21:41 pm »

reserved

jduncan

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2014, 05:34:26 pm »

Last week I received my Dell UP2414Q monitor. It is a 24-inch 4K monitor, which is video geek speak for Ultra HD resolution of 3840 x 2160, four times the pixels of Full HD, aka 1080p. There is also a 32" and 28" 4K monitor from Dell, with differing specs.

The 24" I bought has a rather impressive 184ppi, near some of the highest-resolution tablets out there. Other features include portrait mode, DP and HDMI inputs, USB ports and card reader. In addition, it covers 99% of AdobeRGB, comes factory calibrated (mine was close to or below 1 deltaE), and supports hardware calibration with i1Display Pro.

I've done some testing over the weekend on the monitor, and thought I'd share brief experiences with Lightroom and Photoshop CC versions running on Windows 7, and Gimp on Linux Mint 16. I don't have my i1Display, and haven't done thorough tweaking of the programs, yet. The only change to settings was to drop Brightness to 27, as the default 50 is way too bright for my rather dark workspace.

Full disclosure and disclaimer: I work for Dell, but this post is purely my personal views, and does not represent my employer's views. I bought the monitor myself.

First, some notes on hardware. Current HDMI spec doesn't allow 60Hz inputs, so you're stuck with 30Hz if HDMI is the only output you have. Upcoming HDMI update will support 60Hz. The monitor comes with DisplayPort cable, which does go up to 60Hz if your GPU supports DP 1.2. I'm using MSI's GTX760, an nVidia GPU, and 60Hz works with it. Driver and OS support for MST (DP 1.2 at 60Hz) is spotty, though, and you have to power cycle the monitor sometimes to fix the image.

The monitor supports 10-bit output via AFRC. On Windows you need a Quadro card to get 10-bit output, though. Apparently nVidia's Linux drivers allow 10-bit output even on consumer-grade GPUs, but I haven't looked into that, yet. If that is true, this would mean that nVidia's Windows drivers are purposefully crippled, just like X-Rite's ColorMunki vs i1Display Pro (same hardware, 5x faster calibration).

In any case, since Photoshop is pretty much the only software out there that supports 10 bits, and its benefits are very likely marginal, I'm not in much hurry to research this further.

I've set Windows 7 UI scaling at 150%, which is the max. Win8.1 allows it to be set to 200%, I believe, but 150% is perfectly fine for my needs. I've set Mint at 150%, although it goes to 200%, mayb higher. The extremely high ppi makes text readable at much smaller pitches than at 1080p or 2160p resolutions. And the monitor is beautifully sharp, making text extremely crisp.

Off to software. Lightroom scales extremely well. It consistently honors the UI scaling set in Win7, and the tools are easy to use. There is a lot of real estate left over for the image even when you open up both side tabs.

Photoshop is a different story. Menus and popups scale as expected, but none of the icons do. For example, the standard selection, eyedropper and draw tool icons are about quarter the size of an average pinky nail. No exaggeration here. I can kinda tell which one is which from normal viewing distance, partly because I know their order already. But I can see it becoming a very frustrating and eye-straining experience with any serious editing job requiring more than a passing visit to PS.

Finally, GIMP. I haven't used GIMP much, and won't be until they come with 16-bit support. This is promised in 2.10, which hopefully, perhaps, maybe arrives this decade. 16-bit editing has been promised for years and years, but this is another topic.

GIMP has similar issues as Photoshop, but not as bad. UI scales well with larger fonts, but icons do not. Fortunately GIMP's icons are larger than PS's, so they are a bit easier to discern and hit.


Bottom line is that all three photo editing softwares work. LR works well, but both PS and GIMP will be painful to use, I'm afraid literally after an hour or two. Adobe forums threads about the subject point to a blame game between Adobe and nVidia/AMD, so it's hard to say who can and will fix it.

Images on the monitor look stunning, beautiful, and other superlatives. When I first saw the 32" version of the screen in our showroom, I spent a good half an hour on my website just admiring my photos, seen in entirely new light. Just like seeing 1080p for the first time 10+ years ago, that trip became quite expensive, as I just needed to upgrade to 4K - it really is that good.

And that brings to a related topic. As 4K becomes more popular, people will start demanding higher-resolution images. I upgraded my travel photography website to high def last year, but now I need to go even higher to cater to the increasing number of visitors with 4K monitors.

Full-resolution screenshots follow to give an idea of what to expect. Below Lightroom 5 CC Library module.

Hi thanks for sharing.
The guys at mac format found uniformity issues with the monitor.
What they did was  fill the screen with a black image and with the light of observe the screen for light leaking.

Could you perform that test and share your findings?

Best regards,

J. duncan
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feppe

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2014, 05:41:13 pm »

Hi thanks for sharing.
The guys at mac format found uniformity issues with the monitor.
What they did was  fill the screen with a black image and with the light of observe the screen for light leaking.

Could you perform that test and share your findings?

I did notice it when booting up and the screen is black. Bottom corners are slightly lighter than rest of the screen.

I haven't noticed it in daily use, and I don't know if this is similar in scope to the glow experienced in many IPS screens. While I do quite a bit of nighttime photography, I still don't spend much time watching black screens, so shouldn't be an issue :P

I can post measurements when my i1Display arrives, as I believe it includes a facility to test screen uniformity. I'm not going to bother calibrating with my current Spyder, as it's getting pretty old and doesn't support hardware calibration with the monitor.

edit: there is an OSD option for uniformity compensation. It comes factory calibrated, but it was off by default, showing improvement when turned on. I'll report back on this after I'm done calibrating the monitor.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 05:16:08 am by feppe »
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george2787

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2014, 07:05:14 pm »

I might be getting old but I'll pass until prices go way down and everything is polished and smooth to work with... for me that should be the second generation 4k imac with whatever NEC/eizo/maybe DELL has to offer at 28-32"

Aside from that I find your impressions very interesting and I'm curious to know how much hit has taken the graphics card having 4 times the resolution for everyday things (I expect none), or if you have noticed any strange thing in PS with OpenCL.

Also, if you got spare time I would love to see if capture one (heavy GPU processing for imports-exports) is any slower at 4K than with a 1080-1440 monitor.

Nice toy you have! ;)
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feppe

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2014, 07:55:17 pm »

I might be getting old but I'll pass until prices go way down and everything is polished and smooth to work with... for me that should be the second generation 4k imac with whatever NEC/eizo/maybe DELL has to offer at 28-32"

Maybe this is more for you, then: the 28" P2815Q retails for $699 in the US. Note that it's an sRGB monitor with a TN panel, compared to ARGB of the 24" model with an IPS panel.

Quote
Aside from that I find your impressions very interesting and I'm curious to know how much hit has taken the graphics card having 4 times the resolution for everyday things (I expect none), or if you have noticed any strange thing in PS with OpenCL.

You are right: it doesn't make a difference. nVidia's 600- and 700-series cards can do 4k res with one GPU, and normal browsing and image editing doesn't require much from a card. Don't know about video as I don't do video.

4K gaming is a whole another matter. It looks like that even the people with really deep pockets are forgoing 4K gaming until faster GPUs in dual/triple/quad setups are available. Fortunately the 4K res means it can scale down 4:1 to 1080p for very sharp results comparable or equal to a native 1080p monitor, and much higher fps than at 4K.

Quote
Also, if you got spare time I would love to see if capture one (heavy GPU processing for imports-exports) is any slower at 4K than with a 1080-1440 monitor.

I've never used C1. I'm not sure what it offloads to the GPU, but resolution shouldn't matter for imports or exports. The whole file has to be processed no matter what res your screen is running at, so it's not the monitor resolution which impacts it, but file resolution.

It might matter if C1 uses GPU acceleration for displaying images, zooming, filters, etc., though.

Quote
Nice toy you have! ;)

The reason I was looking for a new monitor were some pretty nasty color shifts on prints, shifts which were not visible on my crappy old sRGB monitor. They were a major PITA to clean up, as I was essentially running blind. The choice was between a "low" res ARGB panel at a similar or higher price. Much of my editing is on rather large drum scanned large format captures, so I figured this is a perfect time to move to 4K.

But yes, it is a nice toy as well. Checking out some of the handful of 4K videos on youtube is a treat in itself.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2014, 08:07:37 pm by feppe »
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george2787

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2014, 07:05:45 am »

Maybe this is more for you, then: the 28" P2815Q retails for $699 in the US. Note that it's an sRGB monitor with a TN panel, compared to ARGB of the 24" model with an IPS panel.

The kind of monitor I will be looking at will be the replacement/4K version my current NEC PA 2712, hopefully in that price range and color accuracy once the price drops and stabilizes... until then happy to read but unwilling to buy


I've never used C1. I'm not sure what it offloads to the GPU, but resolution shouldn't matter for imports or exports. The whole file has to be processed no matter what res your screen is running at, so it's not the monitor resolution which impacts it, but file resolution.

It might matter if C1 uses GPU acceleration for displaying images, zooming, filters, etc., though.

That's what I wanted to know... how much memory or power is used to drive let's say 2 4k monitors and how it impacts performance in software that can use GPU, i suppose is just a matter of time to get some benchmarks and first hand experiences :)
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Alan Klein

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2014, 09:04:55 am »

How do you use 4K for viewing internet and word documents?  Aren't they too small to read?

feppe

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2014, 09:17:43 am »

How do you use 4K for viewing internet and word documents?  Aren't they too small to read?

They certainly would be at default font sizes. That's where font scaling comes into play. The 150% font scaling means that all fonts are scaled to 1.5x normal size. This is what I use, as higher scalings are too large for my taste. Win7 goes to 150%, Linux Mint goes at least to 200% as does Win 8.1. I believe 200% is plenty for almost everyone using a 24" 4K monitor.

Also, Firefox and Chrome - and probably other browsers - have their own font scaling, or you can set the default and/or minimum font sizes in settings. This can mess up some websites a bit, though.

Alan Klein

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2014, 10:03:44 am »

I suppose I can keep my existing monitor and use that for other things beside photo editing.  The desk is going to get a little crowded though.

WombatHorror

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2014, 02:18:07 am »

How do you use 4K for viewing internet and word documents?  Aren't they too small to read?

No, you set Windows to 200% mode and then it keeps the text on the web and in word and so on the same physical size as it was before BUT now it is rendered with 4x as many pixels! So instead of a blearly looking, digital-looking mess you get crisp text that looks like it was printed in a book! So web-browsing and editing text is so much nicer!
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hjulenissen

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2014, 08:12:05 am »

No, you set Windows to 200% mode and then it keeps the text on the web and in word and so on the same physical size as it was before BUT now it is rendered with 4x as many pixels! So instead of a blearly looking, digital-looking mess you get crisp text that looks like it was printed in a book! So web-browsing and editing text is so much nicer!
And what about applications that use graphical elements that does not scale well with the 200% mode?

I am all for "retina" type displays. I think it will make things a lot easier (think of the display as "paper" instead of a digital grid). But I do believe that early adopters will have some obstacles (we always do).

Watch out for "hacks" for getting 4k@60fps across links that was not designed for this. 30fps is really annoying, and obvious screen splits with tearing is no fun either.

I am running MATLAB on a retina macbook pro. Due to a bug in the Java runtime, the application is blurry on the brink of being unusable. I fail to see how this got through their QA testing.

-h
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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2014, 01:26:11 pm »

Screengrabs when opened at full res fill both my 26" screens. Looks very nice, but I wouldn't move to 4k until all the software I use works properly on it.
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feppe

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2014, 03:07:31 pm »

And what about applications that use graphical elements that does not scale well with the 200% mode?

This is indeed a problem. I provided screencaps which give an idea of the limitations.

The main issue I have with browsers are small JPEGs which are too small to begin with, as they are quarter the size most people are used to (using a 1080p monitor) or even smaller. Hopefully there will be a pixel-doubling/quadrupling feature in Firefox soon.

Also, some websites render poorly with large fonts. LL is good, but BBC News isn't, for example.

Quote
Watch out for "hacks" for getting 4k@60fps across links that was not designed for this. 30fps is really annoying, and obvious screen splits with tearing is no fun either.

Do you mean frames per second, or Hz (refresh rate)? If latter, the display is already capable of 60Hz and it works very well in Windows 7 and 8, not so well in Linux due to poor nVidia drivers. nVidia's spotty 60Hz support with 4K monitors in Linux is a known issue, related to MST implementation and randr.

But you do need DisplayPort since HDMI doesn't have enough bandwidth for 4k@60Hz, as described in OP. Limitation of current HDMI spec, not the display itself. I run the display at 30Hz on Linux for browsing and everyday usage, and it's fine.

If you're talking about fps, that's not dependent upon the display.

In other news, my i1Display is on its way, so should be able to get some calibration results soon!
« Last Edit: March 01, 2014, 03:21:49 pm by feppe »
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hjulenissen

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2014, 03:42:09 pm »

Do you mean frames per second, or Hz (refresh rate)?
Saying that a display/link is running at 60Hz is equivalent to saying that it is running at 60 fps.
Quote
If latter, the display is already capable of 60Hz and it works very well in Windows 7 and 8, not so well in Linux due to poor nVidia drivers. nVidia's spotty 60Hz support with 4K monitors in Linux is a known issue, related to MST implementation and randr.

But you do need DisplayPort since HDMI doesn't have enough bandwidth for 4k@60Hz, as described in OP. Limitation of current HDMI spec, not the display itself. I run the display at 30Hz on Linux for browsing and everyday usage, and it's fine.
I believe that other 4k monitors supports only 30Hz/fps.

I do believe that 4k is the future.

-h
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WombatHorror

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Re: State of 4K monitors for photo editing
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2014, 07:49:29 pm »

And what about applications that use graphical elements that does not scale well with the 200% mode?

The OS tends just tends to interpolate lots of stuff up by 2x, but yeah not all, photoshop icons are left micro-sized. And in some cases part of the UI don't scale and stuff drawn on them does and then you can get some issues. But the benefits are so awesome that I'm more than willing to put up.

Quote
I am all for "retina" type displays. I think it will make things a lot easier (think of the display as "paper" instead of a digital grid). But I do believe that early adopters will have some obstacles (we always do).
Watch out for "hacks" for getting 4k@60fps across links that was not designed for this. 30fps is really annoying, and obvious screen splits with tearing is no fun either.

Screens splits have only happened a few times and simply flicking monitor off and on has always fixed it, mostly when messing around with all sorts of changes.


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