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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Without digital cameras...AT WHAT STAGE DO YOU ALL THINK, THAT FILM AND FILM CAMERAS WOULD BE AT NOW, IF WE DID NOT ...
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Old 27-03-2013, 22:23   #1 (permalink)

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Without digital cameras

AT WHAT STAGE DO YOU ALL THINK, THAT FILM AND FILM CAMERAS WOULD BE AT NOW, IF WE DID NOT HAVE DIGITAL CAMERAS ?

I KNOW THERE ARE STILL A NUMBER OF PEOPLE USING FILM, BUT IT IS GETTING HARDER TO SOURCE.

WOULD FILM MANUFACTURER'S HAVE DEVELOPED SOMETHING NEW ?
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Old 27-03-2013, 22:46   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

Hard to say, Woody. How much did film cameras change over (say) the decade prior to the introduction of digital cameras
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Old 27-03-2013, 22:56   #3 (permalink)

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Re: Without digital cameras

THANK YOU CHARLOTTE. I SUPPOSE THERE WAS NOT A GREAT DEAL OF CHANGE, AS MAYBE THERE WAS ALREADY RESEARCH INTO DIGITAL.

I AM JUST CURIOUS TO KNOW WHAT PEOPLE THINK WE WOULD BE USING NOW.
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Old 27-03-2013, 23:19   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

I sometimes mess around with trying to restore old photographs and one thing that strikes me is that the definition on WW1 images is generally a lot better than those photo's taken just after the second world war. Primarily because the WW1 images were off plate cameras whilst after WW2 the likes of Box Brownies came into use.

This begs the question were we going forward for your family snapper.

If the question means was photography being made available to everyone then the answer is yes.

If the question means was the quality improving from the WWI images I don't think so.

Of course I'm not looking at the high end cameras of the day
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Old 27-03-2013, 23:27   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

Woody, not having had much experience with film, I meant the question to open up the (possible) answer a bit, i.e. depending on what (if any) changes had occurred previously, then a possible future status of film might follow on from those previous developments in the medium. It's just that I genuinely don't know what the previous developments in film were, in recent history, in order to give a sensible answer

If, on the other hand, you're after wild speculation on a sci-fi level, then that's a whole other avenue we could explore ...
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Old 28-03-2013, 11:14   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

When I last used film I had 2 cameras I will swear that they were the best film cameras I had ever owned they were a couple of Nikon 90X, my lenses were ...24mm....35-70mm....80-200mm all 2.8.....and a fixed 400mm Sigma, I dont think film cameras would have got any better than this, I am talking 35mm here! sadly all this gear was sold except the 400mm Sigma which I still sometimes use to-day if needed, I am quite happy with what I use now and I really dont think that digital will get much better than what we have now!
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Old 28-03-2013, 11:50   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

It is just speculation but for film itself, we might assume that a few improvement might have been possible though that would still not please everyone. I used Chromogenic film (XP1 & XP2) for many years bit some photographers did not consider this to be pure enough. If you are assuming that digital sensors had not been invented but other digital developments had, then I am sure cameras would have developed offering many but not all of the features we now enjoy. Even if film media could not have been developed much, there would still be pressure to offer customers "improvements".
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Old 28-03-2013, 12:49   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

i would not be taking photos now if it was not for digital cameras. Thats an easy one. as I know nothing about film nor have no interest in it i cant answer about where it was where it is or where it would be.
All i know is that its on its way out.
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Old 28-03-2013, 13:53   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

Digital is long way short of complete. We are only just starting to see high resolution and high dynamic range across the spectrum. The physical limitations of making an accurate, fully dynamic, fast sensor, without it and its accompanying circuitry overheating are gradually being overcome. Dragging a film through on a motor-drive had the same risks of overheating the track if there was too much friction - hence the design of cine cameras that would lift the track out of the way and then move the film.

Film needed another backing substance, and with modern nano-chemistry it would have been possible to design film that could be triggered to lay absolutely flat for a picture and then return to flexible to be stored. I would have expected the chemists to have got light sensitive materials to give more accurate and faster colour sensitivity with a memory so that developing and fixing would not be necessary. No negatives but only positive results with huge latitude. Again film had a long way to go.

We all might have had holographic cameras.

What film cannot achieve that digital can is the immediacy of the result, that can be varied by the user without a huge darkroom installation. Forget Polaroid, that was inflexible.

Personally I do not think film is dead. There is a lot to be understood from its technology. e.g. radio-active materials would have been much later discovered without it. It has no circuits to break down in adverse conditions.

Environmentally I do not think there is much difference if everything was all cleaned up correctly but generally film has been bad.

In the end I think that the chemical technology that might have been applied to film will get into the digital arena and we will see pictures processed at the speed of our brains with the accuracy of birds ... a biological substrate that behaves not unlike our eyes.
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Old 28-03-2013, 14:35   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

when i said dead i meant he use of film in photography not the actual technology that stems from it
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Old 28-03-2013, 15:20   #11 (permalink)

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Re: Without digital cameras

REALLY GOOD REPLIES SO FAR, THANK YOU. I AM REALLY INTERESTED IN EVERYONES VIEWS / OPINIONS ON THIS.
I STILL HAVE A FILM CAMERA, AN A1 WITH MA MOTOR DRIVE, PLUS A 50MM F1.4 FD, 35-105MM FD.
I ENJOYED USING FILM AND THE ENDLESS HOURS IN THE DARKROOM, DEVELOPING AND PRINTING, TO BEGIN WITH, A GNOME ENLARGER AND LATER A DURST, WITH COLOUR HEAD, DURST COLOUR PROCESSOR, GREAT TIMES.
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Old 28-03-2013, 15:44   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

I would add the Film cameras and lenses would of moved on in the same way digital have in the way they behave (excluding sensor related stuff). Eg faster & better autofocusing, more focus points.

I think with film we would of seen resolution (which is already great) increase and grain reduce. Almost certainly improvements in ASA performance right up the range, like we see with ISO on digital.

Who knows maybe some for of in camera developing to produce a preview - who really knows ?
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Old 28-03-2013, 18:12   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

The one thing about film cameras was that you bought yourself a decent camera and two or three lenses and a bag to keep them and that was you finished for life, no more expense. Now it's new cameras every other day, computers, laptops, I-pads, external storage, Adobe CS. Lightroom and so on the expense is endless only controlled by the size of your bank account. How times change.
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Old 28-03-2013, 18:49   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

Well I find myself moving more towards film, and there seems to be quite a healthy service out there. Plenty of sites dedicated to film, 35mm, Medium format, etc, and film is still being produced and processed. I don't think there is any need for anything new in film photography, as the attraction seems to me to be the old and simple technology, the home development, and results in hard copy.

We all look for something different from our photography, some its the results, others its the process, and others the processing. For me, digital can come across as quite sterile, and I find some of the obsessions such as pixel peeking and sharpness, as missing the point, but that is just a personal opinion and not really meant as a criticism.

Nikon's F6 is probably as good as it gets in 35mm, and employs many of the same features as other digital cameras. Nikon | Imaging Products | Nikon F6

I picked up a Mamiya RB67 of fleabay, not too expensive, not a lot to go wrong, a bit of a beast, but engaging and fun. Medium format has gone digital too, but the costs are obscene. Perhaps that will change with more cameras like the Nikon D800 being developed. From what I can see, there is still a very good market in Large format as well, with equipment still being produced.

At the top end, film is probably a niche market, but the rest is cheap and cheerful. You can pick up a Nikon F70 for less than a tenner, or a medium format folding camera for not a lot more, or you can spend silly money on a 6x6 TLR from Rolleiflex.

I can't see any good reason for any future investment in film photography though, and it has probably run its course. Without digital, I think we would probably be inventing digital, as it seems to go quite well with computing.

It will be interesting in a few years time to see what happens to digital. More pixels and a faster frame rate to me just means we will finish up with a Camcorder.
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Old 28-03-2013, 23:57   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

Quote:
Originally Posted by colinmac View Post
The one thing about film cameras was that you bought yourself a decent camera and two or three lenses and a bag to keep them and that was you finished for life, no more expense. Now it's new cameras every other day, computers, laptops, I-pads, external storage, Adobe CS. Lightroom and so on the expense is endless only controlled by the size of your bank account. How times change.
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Sorry Colin i disagree with you. The reason i went to digital was that my film cameras cost me a fortune to feed. No rechargable batteries, film costs, developing cost and thats without the time wasted outside boots the chemist peeling off stickers off your photos that said poorly focused or over exposed!
Digital for me.
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Old 29-03-2013, 10:21   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

I still think mono is better on film especially with gritty high ASA, they had more texture and "feeling".
I still have a 120 Zeis ikon folding camera circ 1930 and a Kodac 120 folding camera about the same era.
They are fully working and still produce good images. The thing is you can have the film developed and put on a disc so you can still do adjustments etc. (not that I use them very often now) As to the cameras the last Canon ones turned on when you lifted them to your eye ( my 1Ds3 cant). I also found that in animal images the first shot was ok, but then the motor drive kicked in and they always looked straight at you for the second shot,before running off. I do still miss my PentaxL X wth motor drive grip and 300mm M*
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Old 29-03-2013, 13:18   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

I remember using my mothers brownie box camera as a kid. Thinking how old is this, it looked old. I ended up using a cassette loaded small C124, a little larger size negative then 35mm. They scan very well. My Father I think had it right as he used an 8mm wined up three attached lenses Kodak movie camera. We have hours of old family movies. When out now I run into people with big bellows on a tripod, they seem to enjoy what they do. Me, I've followed the light that converted cameras capture, I think I feel like the guy using the old bellows camera,, they just like what they do. I liked my C124, it was a tough camera to ruin.
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Old 29-03-2013, 13:32   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

if you think back 15 or so years ago - before digital (as if it didn't exist) photography just wasn't as popular or at least there were far less people into photography in the way it has become mainstream these days,. so there would have been far less pressure or market forces to push photography had it remained film only

that being the case really not much would have changed,. you might have seen a few faster films and some with less grain but overall the chemical technology is fairly mature and I expect much the same amount of progress would have been made, previously existing film stock would still be made (I haven't been keeping track but I think some films are no longer being made / film companies have gone out of business?)

back in the day people bought a film camera that lasted 10 years or longer,. many people these days will replace a camera every few years* as technology advances and the greater popularity of photography in the mainstream creates pressure for advancements,. you've never had it so good

*or perhaps more often if you take into account the way mobile phones with cameras are sold with contracts
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Old 29-03-2013, 15:45   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

If film was the sole methodology of photos:
More sensitive film
More efficient and faster development of films
More development of Polaroid technology

Future for digital:
Infinite focus images - choose your focus point and DOF in PP (the technology exists now)
Pixel Binning or oversampling - take a number of pixels and merge them into one for extremely low light, low noise and incredibly accurate images (used in the Nokia 808 PureView mobile with very good results: 41MP to 8 or 5MPs)
"Filling in" an image with missing detail using the internet to search and find images with the missing detail - already being used to achieve "clean" images (tourist locations without people cluttering the image)
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Old 29-03-2013, 17:40   #20 (permalink)

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Re: Without digital cameras

THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH, IT HAS BEEN VERY INTERESTING, READING ALL YOUR VIEIWS ON THIS.
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Old 29-03-2013, 23:23   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

I'm speaking as a film user who doesn't own a digital camera (except for the one in my phone that I don't know how to use). I normally use a 5x4 camera (that refers to the size of the negative in inches - 700 megapixels when scanned. Cost from £150 second hand, lens about the same). If I want a point and shoot I use a Mamiya RZ67 where the negatives are 6x7 in centimeters.

On the camera side, I don't think things would have changed much. The only real difference between a film 35mm camera and a DSLR of full frame or smaller size lies in one having a piece of film at the rear and the other having a digital sensor. OK, wind-on has gone, but the main developments in 35mm cameras over the last 50 years are equally applicable to digital - instant return mirror, fully automatic diaphragm lenses (the lens stays wide open until you make the exposure and then opens up again afterwards), built in and TTL metering, auto exposure, and the bane of sharp pictures, auto focus.

The film technology is more debatable. Certain changes in films were incremental - faster speeds, finer grain, higher resolution - but there were breaks with the past as well. The so called "designer grain" films which used newer methods of producing silver halide crystals lead to finer grained films that used less silver, had higher resolution (for their speed) and were notoriously prone to problems at the least hint of over development. It's difficult to predict these discontinuities.

I would have expected more research to have been done in certain areas that were becoming increasingly active at the point Kodak shut down their research. Traditionally, films are developed in alkaline solutions and fixed in acid ones (there are exceptions to both of these, with alkaline fixers and acid developers). There was increased interest in working on other fixers and stop baths.

Developers were always being improved, or new super brews produced. Some were even better than earlier products. There was a burst of activity in the 1960s, and there could well have been another spurt.

If films could have been made that required no development (with a reasonable exposure time; normal films will darken on exposure, it's just not reasonable to wait for hours for the effect) then they would probably have been made by now, after 150 years of research which lead to nothing in that line. Dispensing with fixing seems an impossible dream; although it could be "faked" as it was in the Polaroid process.

Making one-off positives seems a remarkably bad idea to me, unless you use a camera that gives a reasonable sized print (10x8 cameras for all?) and also want a single non-duplicated result to sell into the art market.

A number of films have been discontinued, but many remain. Some excellent specialist films like Infrared Ektachrome are no more. As to cameras, there are more makers of large format film cameras in the world than makers of DLSRs, although I admit that the DSLRs are made in greater quantities.

What I can say with some degree of certainty is that digital cameras have resulted in an impoverishment to the photographic vocabulary of those using them. No affordable digital camera lets the photographer make use of camera movements; and once you've used them camera lacking them seem primitive, no matter what other functions they may have.
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Old 29-03-2013, 23:26   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

I should have added a list of "unsolved questions" in film - there are a lot of areas where research might have been done to answer questions that have been open for years. But providing a list would probably not mean a lot to most people here.
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Old 31-03-2013, 13:40   #23 (permalink)

PLEASE NOTE

I TYPE USING CAPITALS DUE TO A DISABILTY

THANKS FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING
 
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Re: Without digital cameras

Stephen, do you do your own developing and printing of your film ?
How do you transfer your negs to photoshop ?
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Old 31-03-2013, 14:28   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

Quote:
Originally Posted by WOODY View Post
How do you transfer your negs to photoshop ?
You use a scanner Woody.
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Old 31-03-2013, 14:38   #25 (permalink)

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Re: Without digital cameras

Graham, i know it's with a scanner. It's the neg size i thought would be a problem, as most scanners do not supply a neg carrier that size.

I have a canon scanner, which has a neg carrier for 35mm and 21/4 square, but nothing bigger
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Old 31-03-2013, 14:58   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

You use a specialist scanner. Negative carriers are supplied with consumer flatbed scanners and are geared up mostly for 35mm and/or 6x6. Proper neg scanners will not scan prints.
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Old 31-03-2013, 15:29   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

I process my own films. At least the black and white ones. I rarely use colour, and only in 6x7 and 6x6 roll film, and I get a local lab to process that for me. Roll film uses a Paterson daylight tank, and 5x4 a CombiPlan daylight tank, so kitchen sink jobs. I do still have a darkroom with a couple of enlargers set up (a 5x4 LPL and a 6x7 Durst) but I'll admit that I've only used it as a darkroom in recent years to load tanks and load the sheet film into darkslides.

The darkroom also contains my scanner and printer. I use an Epson Perfection V700 which has carriers up to 5x4 and an inset to allow 10x8 film - the maximum size it can take. The scans from 5x4 come out at around 24,000 x 30,000 pixels. My printer is an Epson 3800 A2 printer. An A2 print from 5x4 is about the same degree of magnification as a 2.5x3.5" print from an APS-C sensor.

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Old 31-03-2013, 15:40   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

I'll just add another note on scanners. Conventional wisdom runs that drum scanners are better than the dedicated film scanners usually bought by amateurs (as being affordable) and these in turn are better than flatbed scanners. The real world appears to be slightly different, or at least not so clear cut.

Film scanners even for roll film are rare now unless you move up to the drum scanners; but the modern flatbeds do a good job given that the results are not enlarged very much (see previous post). There was a very interesting comparison made a few years ago in Professional Imagemaker magazine between an Epson V750 and an Imacon drum scanner. The tests were made by a couple of people, with different samples of the equipment, but for me the value came from one of them being Paul Gallagher, who was photographing landscapes in black and white using a 5x4 camera - not much different from me in that respect.

The findings were that the drum scanner did pick up more detail, but the visual effect was considerably less after the image was sharpened*. Where the drum scanner excelled was in picking up the film grain in areas of uniform tone such as the sky. Paul Gallgher remarked that he's never seen a sky with grainy clouds in nature. For his purpose, the Epson was the better scanner.

* The effect of sharpening, lack of detail and visual impression is an interesting one that needs a separate thread to discuss.

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Old 31-03-2013, 17:53   #29 (permalink)

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Re: Without digital cameras

Stephen, thank you very much, for your detailed explanation. You are obviously, a very dedicated photographer.

I admire you very much, for sticking to traditions and your great passion for film photography.
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:55   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Without digital cameras

As somebody who grew up with, trained and eventually made a living using film I have a fairly good knowledge of the medium.
I have for the last 14 ish years been using digital (only because I have had to).
For me I think that anybody who ever wants to use a camera in any way shape or form more than a point and shoot should have to go through at least 6 months using black and white film and developing their own images.
There is so much to learn from this about getting the shot right in camera rather than relying on software after the fact to fix incompetence.
The amount of times I have been at a motorsport event for instance and all I can hear is the machine gun fire of shutters taking 30 or so shots as the subject passes. You might as well video it and pick a frame.
I still think that prints produced from film have more soul and are more like works of art than any digital format can produce.
Yes there are exceptions, but these are few and far between and are produced for the most part by PS masters and not great photographers.
In summary, without digital photography we would have fewer but more talented photographers and the market for photographers would still be a valuable one and the micro stock market for pictures would not be in place devaluing peoples work.
The above is just my 2 cents please no bashing my head in for being a fossil.
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