Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 vs. Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8: An In-Depth Battle of Macro Marvels

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Are you struggling to decide between the Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 for your macro photography needs? With numerous features to consider and varying priorities for different photographers, choosing the perfect lens can be a daunting task. Fear not, as this article offers an in-depth comparison between these two popular macro lenses, guiding you towards a well-informed decision.

What should you expect from this comparison? We will delve into the essential aspects of these lenses, including build quality, focusing mechanisms, optical stabilization, image sharpness, bokeh, and more. By highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each lens, we aim to help you determine which lens best aligns with your specific requirements and preferences.

Will the more budget-friendly Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8, with its impressive sharpness and versatile focusing system, be the right choice for you? Or will the Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8, with its superior build quality and pleasing bokeh, steal the show? Read on to discover the key benefits of each lens and unlock the secret to elevating your macro photography game.

Are you ready to embark on this journey towards finding the perfect macro lens? Let’s dive in and uncover the hidden gems that the Nikon and Sigma have to offer!


Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm F2.8G IF-ED VRSigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Nikon F (FX)
Max ApertureF2.8F2.8
Aperture TypeFixedFixed
Focal Range (mm)105105
Mount TypeNikon F (FX)Nikon F (FX)

The Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 are both fixed aperture lenses with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a focal range of 105mm, designed for the Nikon F (FX) mount. As both lenses have the same focal range and maximum aperture, their low light performance, depth of field, and image quality should be fairly similar. However, some differences in their optical design and build quality may result in slight variations in their overall performance.

A larger aperture, like f/2.8, is particularly helpful for telephoto lenses, as it allows more light to enter the camera, enabling better low light performance, shallower depth of field for subject isolation, and improved autofocus performance.

However, larger apertures can also lead to bigger, heavier, and more expensive lenses. Both of these lenses are fixed aperture lenses, which generally offer better low light performance, consistent image quality across the zoom range, and a more robust build quality compared to variable aperture lenses, but at a higher price.

Design and Ease of Use

Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm F2.8G IF-ED VRSigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Nikon F (FX)
Diameter x Length (mm)⌀83×116mm⌀78×127mm
Weight (gr)790450
Filter Thread (mm)6262
Weather SealingNoNo
Distance ScaleYesYes
DoF ScaleNoNo
Hood SuppliedYesYes

The Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 are both telephoto lenses designed for macro photography. When comparing their physical characteristics, the Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 measures ⌀83×116mm and weighs 790 grams, while the Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 measures ⌀78×127mm and weighs significantly less at 450 grams.

Dimensions and weight play an important role in photography, affecting factors such as portability, balance, discreetness, storage, and lens swapping. The lighter Sigma macro lens offers greater portability and ease of handling, making it less tiring to carry around and easier to swap when needed.

On the other hand, the Nikon macro lens, being heavier and slightly wider, may provide a more robust and sturdy feel but can potentially make the camera setup front-heavy and more difficult to handle during longer shoots.

In conclusion, the Sigma macro lens appears to be the superior lens in terms of portability and handling due to its lighter weight and slightly smaller diameter. However, other factors such as optical performance, build quality, and personal preferences should also be considered when choosing the best lens for your needs.

Lens Mount and Barrel

The Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 macro lenses differ in their lens mount and barrel construction.

The Nikon lens mount is made of metal and features a rubber weather sealing gasket for added protection. In contrast, the Sigma lens mount is also made of metal, but it lacks a weather sealing gasket.

Regarding the lens barrel, the Nikon macro lens boasts a solid alloy construction, giving it a weighty yet manageable feel. This lens is built like a tank compared to the earlier 105mm AF Micro version. On the other hand, the Sigma macro lens barrel is made of plastic, which offers a sturdy, smart, and solidly built exterior.

Lens mounts made of metal alloys, like those on both the Nikon and Sigma lenses, offer durability and can withstand repeated use without becoming damaged or deformed. The added weather sealing gasket on the Nikon lens mount provides an extra layer of protection against the elements.

In conclusion, the Nikon macro lens has a superior lens mount and barrel due to its metal alloy construction and weather sealing gasket. However, if portability and affordability are your top priorities, the Sigma macro lens with its plastic lens barrel could be a more suitable choice.

Weather Sealing

The Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 macro lenses differ in their weather sealing features.

The Nikon lens has a rubber weather sealing gasket around the lens mount, providing some protection against dust and moisture. However, the lens itself is not fully weather sealed.

In contrast, the Sigma lens does not have any weather sealing gasket at the lens mount or internal seals at the rings, switches, and front of the barrel, requiring extra precautions in situations with moisture risks.

Weather sealing is important for protecting lenses from dust, moisture, and light water splashes, ensuring their durability and performance in various conditions.

Fully weather-sealed lenses offer better protection, durability, and performance in adverse conditions compared to non-sealed lenses. However, they can also be more expensive due to the additional engineering and materials required for sealing.

In conclusion, the Nikon macro lens offers superior weather sealing compared to the Sigma, as it has a rubber gasket around the lens mount. While not fully weather sealed, the Nikon lens provides better protection against dust and moisture than the Sigma lens.


The Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 lenses both have well-designed focus rings, but they differ in some aspects.

The Nikon lens has a broad, rubberized focus ring in the middle of the lens barrel with an ergonomic bevel. It operates smoothly, offering about 170 degrees of rotation from infinity to MFD, which is beneficial for manual focusing. The lens also includes a windowed distance scale that displays shooting distances in meters, feet, and magnification.

On the other hand, the Sigma lens features a wide, rubberized focus ring with deep ribs located just behind the front of the lens. It provides a secure grip and smooth rotation, with about 200 degrees of rotation for precise control in macro work.

The manual focus adjustments can be quick and touchy at longer focus distances. The Sigma lens employs a Dual Focus mechanism for switching between auto and manual focus by pushing the ring forward for AF or pulling it backward for MF. There is a windowed distance scale showing measurements in feet and meters, as well as reproduction ratios. However, the Sigma lens lacks depth-of-field indicators or an infrared index marker on the focus ring.

In terms of ring design, both lenses offer comfortable grip and precise control. The Nikon lens has a slightly shorter focus throw, which may allow for quicker focusing, while the Sigma lens has a longer focus throw, providing finer control over focus adjustments. The Dual Focus mechanism on the Sigma lens adds versatility, making it easy to switch between auto and manual focus modes.

In conclusion, it’s challenging to declare a definitive winner between the two lenses, as the choice largely depends on personal preferences and specific needs.

The Nikon macro lens offers a well-designed focus ring with an ergonomic bevel and smooth rotation. In contrast, the Sigma macro lens provides more precise control for macro work and a versatile Dual Focus mechanism.


The Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 lenses both feature 3 switches/buttons on the side, but their functions and designs differ slightly.

For the Nikon macro lens, the top switch controls the autofocus (AF) and manual focus (MF) modes, labeled as M/A to indicate the ability to override autofocus manually. The middle switch is a focus limiter, which can signal the lens to focus throughout its range or avoid autofocusing on anything closer than 0.5 meters/1.6 feet away. This feature helps prevent hunting and speeds up autofocus for non-macro subjects. The bottom switch simply turns vibration reduction (VR) on or off, although it is less effective when focused at macro distances. The switches are clearly labeled and positioned on the barrel for convenient operation, and their functions are self-explanatory.

On the other hand, the Sigma macro lens has 3 switches as well: an AF/MF switch, a focus limiter switch, and an IS (Image Stabilization) switch. The 3-position focus limiter switch allows for selecting between full AF range, 0.45m to infinity, and 0.312-0.45m, depending on the subject being photographed. The IS switch enables the optical stabilization mode and provides two modes, mode 1 and mode 2, with the option to disable it completely. The AF/MF switch lets the user switch between autofocus and manual focus modes.

In conclusion, both lenses offer convenient and functional switch/button designs for their respective features. The Nikon lens provides an M/A mode for autofocus override, a focus limiter to speed up autofocus for non-macro subjects, and a VR on/off switch. The Sigma lens, in contrast, offers an AF/MF switch, a 3-position focus limiter switch, and an IS switch with 2 stabilization modes.

While both sets of switches/buttons are well-designed and user-friendly, the choice between the two lenses depends on your personal preferences and specific requirements. If you value the M/A mode and simpler VR control, the Nikon may be a better choice.

However, if you prefer the versatility of the 3-position focus limiter and additional IS modes, the Sigma could be more suitable.

Filter Thread

The Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and the Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 lenses both have a 62mm filter thread, making them compatible with the same filters. This size is not as commonly used on current Nikon lenses but remains a reasonable choice, as it keeps the cost of filters relatively low.

The Nikon macro lens features a non-rotating filter thread, which prevents vignetting even with combinations of thick filters. It is easy to use with various filter options, such as the Hoya multicoated HD3 62mm UV filter, which is known for its toughness and protection.

Similarly, the Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 lens has a metal filter thread that doesn’t rotate on focus, allowing for the use of angle-critical attachments. However, Sigma does not recommend using more than 2 filters on this lens due to the high amount of vignetting that may occur.

In conclusion, both lenses have a 62mm filter thread, providing compatibility and reasonable filter costs. The Nikon lens allows for the use of multiple filters without vignetting issues, whereas the Sigma lens is limited to using no more than 2 filters to avoid vignetting.

The choice between the two lenses depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you require flexibility in using multiple filters without vignetting, the Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 lens may be the better option.

However, if you prioritize a durable metal filter thread and don’t need to stack multiple filters, the Sigma lens could be the more suitable choice.

Lens Hood

The Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 lenses both come with lens hoods included in the box/package. The lens hood for the Nikon macro lens is deep and reversible, featuring a metal finish and sturdy construction. Its ergonomic bevel allows for smooth rotation, making it easy to install and remove.

On the other hand, the lens hood for the Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 is cylindrical and made of plastic. It features a ribbed and smooth black interior to reduce flare. The ergonomic bevel clicks solidly into place, providing good front element protection. Sigma also includes an APS-C lens hood extension for better shading. However, this lens hood cannot be reversed neatly for storage, making it tricky to attach. Additionally, the lens cap cannot be fitted when the hood is in place.

In conclusion, the Nikon lens hood offers a more user-friendly design, reversible feature, and smooth rotation. Meanwhile, the Sigma lens hood provides extra shading capabilities with its APS-C extension, although it has some drawbacks, such as difficulty in attaching and not being able to fit the lens cap while the hood is in place.

Focusing and Optical Stabilization

Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm F2.8G IF-ED VRSigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Nikon F (FX)
AF MotorSilent Wave MotorHyper Sonic Motor
Rotating Front ElementDoes not rotate on focusingDoes not rotate on focusing
Min Focus Distance0.31m0.31m
Max Magnification (X)11
Full-Time Manual FocusYesYes
Focus MethodInternalInternal

Both the Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 are macro lenses with nearly identical specifications.

The minimum focus distance for both lenses is 0.31m, allowing you to get close to your subject and capture fine details.

They both offer a maximum magnification of 1x, reproducing subjects at their actual size.

Additionally, both lenses feature Full-Time Manual Focus (FTMF), enabling you to fine-tune the focus manually without switching between autofocus and manual focus modes.

Focusing Performance

The Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 lenses both offer solid focusing performance, with some differences in their respective autofocus and manual focus capabilities.

The Nikon macro lens features reliable and relatively fast autofocus performance, thanks to its Silent Wave Motor technology, which enables quick and quiet focusing. The focus limiter switch prevents hunting and speeds up autofocus in certain conditions. However, it may occasionally struggle when switching between macro and non-macro subjects. Manual focus override is available, with a smooth manual focus action. The lens has an internally focusing design, ensuring a constant lens length and a non-rotating front element, which is beneficial for filter use. There is no focus breathing.

The Sigma macro lens provides fast and near-silent autofocus operation with its HSM focusing system. The autofocus acquisition speed is good, and it focuses accurately, although it may experience focus hunting issues in low-light situations. The focusing speed is moderately fast, and the lens has a lot of focus travel. Manual focus override is available, with smooth manual focus action, albeit stiffer than usual for macro work. The lens also features an internally focusing design with a constant length and non-rotating front element.

In conclusion, both lenses have their strengths in focusing performance.

The Nikon has a slight edge with its Silent Wave Motor technology, faster focusing, and focus limiter switch, making it a more reliable choice for various shooting conditions.

The Sigma also performs well in most situations, but its focus hunting issues in low-light scenarios and stiffer manual focus for macro work make it slightly less versatile compared to the Nikon.

Overall, the Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 offers superior focusing performance, making it the better choice for photographers who demand quick and reliable autofocus capabilities.

Optical Stabilization

The Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 lenses each offer optical stabilization systems, but they differ in their design, efficiency, and noise levels.

The Nikon macro lens features a vibration reduction (VR) system, providing a solid 3-stop improvement, although it may not always reach its claimed 4-stop advantage. This VR system is more effective at normal distances, while less efficient at closer distances due to the magnification of camera shake. The VR system can be turned on or off with a switch on the lens, and it produces a gentle wishing noise during autofocus operation. There is only one mode of stabilization, controlled by a single switch. With this lens, the recommended handheld shutter speed is 1/focal length, but the image stabilization allows for holding a 2 stops longer shutter speed, around 1/25 sec for a 105mm lens.

The Sigma macro lens offers optical stabilization with 2 modes: position one stabilizes movement horizontally and vertically, while position two compensates for vertical plane movement only, making it useful for panning shots. It provides 4 stops of image stabilization, which is especially important for short telephoto lenses. However, this OS mode can be noisy, with clicking/buzz-like noises and deeper-pitched clunking sounds heard while it is active. Additionally, a mild whirring noise is produced when OS is activated. With this lens handheld, the OS allows reasonably sharp image hit rates down to 1/10 sec, offering about 3 1/3 stops of assistance. The lens owner’s manual instructs users to turn off OS when using a tripod and not to remove a stabilized lens while OS is active.

In conclusion, while both lenses offer optical stabilization, the Nikon lens has a quieter and simpler VR system, making it more user-friendly. The Sigma lens, on the other hand, provides a more advanced stabilization system with two modes, but it generates more noise during operation.

Ultimately, the Nikon’s optical stabilization is more suitable for photographers who prioritize a quieter and easier-to-use system, while the Sigma may be better for those who value the additional stabilization mode despite the increased noise.

Image Quality

Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm F2.8G IF-ED VRSigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Nikon F (FX)
Special Elements1 ED glass and 1 Nano Crystal coat glass element3 SLD (Special Low Dispersion), Sigma Multi-Layer Coatings
Diaphragm Blades99
Circular ApertureYesYes


The Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 lenses exhibit different types of aberrations, with the Nikon lens having more noticeable longitudinal chromatic aberration and the Sigma lens displaying better chromatic aberration control.

The Nikon macro lens has minimal spherical aberration but experiences noticeable longitudinal chromatic aberration (loCA). This loCA can result in greenish tints on background subjects and magenta tints on foreground subjects, especially in out-of-focus areas. However, the loCA effect is relatively mild and can be reduced by stopping down to f/5.6 or through post-processing with Capture NX 2.

On the other hand, the Sigma macro lens demonstrates excellent chromatic aberration control, with only slight fringing visible in extreme scenarios, such as backlit tree branches. In terms of coma, there is some soft flaring present when bright lights are nearby, but this is not uncommon for a short telephoto lens.

In conclusion, the Sigma lens is superior in terms of aberration control, as it handles chromatic aberration very well and has only minor flaring in certain situations. The Nikon lens, while displaying minimal spherical aberration, has more noticeable loCA that requires stopping down or post-processing to minimize. Photographers who prioritize better aberration control will likely prefer the Sigma over the Nikon.


The Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 lenses both offer impressive sharpness, with some variations in their performance across the frame and at different apertures.

The Nikon lens delivers excellent sharpness across the whole image frame, although there is some drop-off in center-sharpness at wide open apertures and narrow-aperture sharpness is not as good as some competing macro lenses. Between f/4 and f/11, sharpness in the central region is exceptional, while extreme edge/corner sharpness is somewhat disappointing. However, for most real-world applications, photographers will find the sharpness more than adequate. At close focus distances, the lens’s corner sharpness is weaker but still acceptable, and it’s typically not an issue for macro subjects like flowers and bugs. Stopping down to f/8 results in near-perfect sharpness for close-up work, but the sharpest aperture depends on the lens and situation.

On the other hand, the Sigma lens exhibits excellent overall sharpness, with the center being particularly sharp. Corner sharpness is slightly behind the center, especially at wider apertures, but still quite good. Wide open apertures have generally very good sharpness, though some corner softness may be present. Stopping down improves sharpness, but diffraction can start affecting image quality at narrower apertures. The sharpest aperture often falls around f/5.6 or f/8, depending on the specific lens and shooting conditions. This lens also performs well with a teleconverter, albeit with a slight compromise in image quality.

In conclusion, both lenses deliver outstanding sharpness, but the Sigma has a slight edge in terms of overall performance, especially at wider apertures and in the corners.

Photographers seeking the highest levels of sharpness might prefer the Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 over the Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8.

Bokeh Quality

The Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 lenses both offer pleasing bokeh quality, with subtle differences in their out-of-focus rendering.

The Nikon macro lens is known for producing smooth and beautiful bokeh, rendering out-of-focus areas as circles rather than harsh geometric shapes. This results in a lovely, pleasing background blur that can enhance the overall aesthetic of the image.

On the other hand, the Sigma lens also delivers good bokeh quality, although it may show some slight outlining of high-contrast edges when the aperture is stopped down. This effect is less noticeable at wider aperture settings. The foreground and background blur quality is typical for this lens, and its ability to focus closely allows for a very strong background blur. Overall, the Sigma macro lens creates nicely out-of-focus backgrounds with reasonably soft bokeh.

In conclusion, both lenses are capable of producing attractive bokeh, but the Nikon has a slight advantage in terms of smoothness and overall aesthetics. Photographers seeking a lens with more pleasing bokeh quality may prefer the Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 over the Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8.


The Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 lenses both exhibit some degree of flare and ghosting, but each lens has its unique characteristics and coatings to help mitigate these issues.

The Nikon macro lens can have issues with flare when shooting against bright backgrounds, particularly at wider apertures like f/2.8. However, this issue is not always noticeable. Ghosting may be present at f/2.8 but improves as the aperture is stopped down. The lens benefits from a Nano Crystal Coating, which helps minimize flare and maintain image contrast by gradually changing the angle of refraction. While flare and ghosting can occur in certain situations, they are not major issues and can be managed with proper shooting techniques.

The Sigma macro lens features a super multi-layer coating to reduce flaring and ghosting caused by reflections. Despite this, some soft flaring and ghosting may still occur when a bright light source is pointed directly at the lens, which is typical for a short telephoto lens. Flare may become more significant at f/11 and narrower apertures, but normal backlighting produces attractive results. To minimize flare and ghosting, it’s advised to avoid shooting directly into sunlight or having the light source pointed at the lens.

In conclusion, both lenses exhibit some flare and ghosting, but the Nikon lens benefits from its Nano Crystal Coating, giving it a slight edge in managing these issues. However, photographers using either lens should be mindful of shooting techniques and conditions to minimize flare and ghosting in their images.


When comparing the Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 lenses in terms of vignetting, both lenses exhibit some level of vignetting at their widest apertures, but they differ in how noticeable the effect is and how it reduces as the aperture narrows.

The Nikon macro lens shows a bit of vignetting when wide open at f/2.8, but it becomes less noticeable as you focus closer or use a narrower aperture. In practice, the vignetting isn’t objectionable, but it can be visible against a gray field.

On the other hand, the Sigma macro lens displays noticeable vignetting at f/2.8, with corners being over 2 stops darker on full-frame cameras and just under 1 stop darker on APS-C cameras. This amount often goes unnoticed in many images, and vignetting reduces to a barely-visible 1 stop at f/4 and to an extremely low 2 stops at f/5.6. When mounted on a full-frame camera, there is slightly greater vignetting at the widest apertures compared to a 50mm lens, but it is gone by f/4, which is expected for a fixed-focal-length macro lens.

In conclusion, the Nikon lens has a slight advantage in vignetting performance, as it is less noticeable, especially as you focus closer or use a narrower aperture. However, both lenses show improvement in vignetting as the aperture narrows, and the Sigma lens still delivers great overall performance with no real weaknesses.

If you find vignetting undesirable, you can correct it using post-processing software or by stopping down the aperture.


Comparing the Nikon Micro 105mm f/2.8 and Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 lenses in terms of distortion, both lenses perform admirably, displaying minimal distortion in their images.

The Nikon macro lens exhibits very minimal distortion, with only slight visible distortion at certain distances that can easily be corrected using Photoshop’s lens distortion filter. Furthermore, the lens has approximately 0.44% barrel distortion, which is considered completely negligible. Despite this minor distortion, the lens excels in sharpness and color rendition.

On the other hand, the Sigma macro lens produces negligible distortion as well, with just a touch of barrel distortion that is barely noticeable in real-life usage. This minor distortion is a common characteristic of fixed-focal-length macro lenses, and the Sigma is no exception.

In conclusion, both the Nikon and the Sigma macro lenses showcase superior distortion performance, with only minimal barrel distortion present in both cases. You can’t go wrong with either choice when it comes to distortion management.

Final Verdict

In conclusion, for macro photography enthusiasts, choosing between the Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm F2.8G IF-ED VR and Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Nikon F (FX) can be a challenging decision.

Considering that Sigma is a more budget-friendly option, it offers superior performance in some areas, such as aberration control, overall sharpness, and distortion management. The lens also has a more precise focusing mechanism and a versatile Dual Focus system, which are crucial factors for macro photography.

On the other hand, the Nikon macro lens offers a smoother and more user-friendly optical stabilization system, more pleasing bokeh quality, and better flare/ghosting management, thanks to the Nano Crystal Coating. Additionally, it comes with a metal alloy construction, weather sealing gasket, and a well-designed focus ring, ensuring better durability and protection.

Ultimately, the decision between the Nikon and Sigma comes down to your specific needs, priorities, and budget. If affordability and superior sharpness are more important to you, the Sigma may be the better option. However, if you value better build quality, pleasing bokeh, and a more user-friendly optical stabilization system, the Nikon could be the superior choice for your macro photography needs.

Meet the Author

Wei Mao

Wei was a cruise photographer who worked at Disney Cruise Line. He is a lucky traveler who has been to more than 20 countries with his camera while working on an around-the-world cruise. Photography has changed his view of the world forever. Now he wants more people to benefit from photography through his blog.

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