Panasonic has the worst auto white balance. - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 56 Old 03-09-2012, 01:20 PM - Thread Starter
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After a year and a half of working with my Panasonic HDC-TM700 camcorder, both as a photo camera and video camera, and using almost exclusively the manual mode and "manual" white balance, and having tried other more recent models from the same company also in the same price range, I've come to the conclusion that Panasonic cameras all have a serious flaw in their white balance algorithm.

I've compared them with similar models from Canon, Sony, and even though the Canon was always perfect and the Sony was very slightly blueish, they were all much better than the messed-up colors of the Panasonic models.

All pointing to the same outdoor scene consisting of a sunny day in spring, with some white snow on the ground in plain sunlight, and colored cars also in the sun.

For a $1000 camcorder, I would have expected better performance.
What good is it to have 3 cmos sensors if the camera can't balance their individual gain properly ? And I'm not even talking about full auto white balance mode which keeps on changing constantly even though the lighting or subject hasn't changed in the scene !

I'll be using Canon or Sony products from now on. Panasonic is on my black list from now on.
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post #2 of 56 Old 03-09-2012, 01:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alainhubert View Post

....I'll be using Canon or Sony products from now on. Panasonic is on my black list from now on.

I hope someone gets one of the new Sonys with the wiggly lens and writes up the results here soon. Maybe you!
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post #3 of 56 Old 03-09-2012, 01:34 PM
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Hi

Quote:
Originally Posted by alainhubert View Post

After a year and a half of working with my Panasonic HDC-TM700 camcorder, both as a photo camera and video camera, and using almost exclusively the manual mode and "manual" white balance, and having tried other more recent models from the same company also in the same price range, I've come to the conclusion that Panasonic cameras all have a serious flaw in their white balance algorithm.

I've compared them with similar models from Canon, Sony, and even though the Canon was always perfect and the Sony was very slightly blueish, they were all much better than the messed-up colors of the Panasonic models.

All pointing to the same outdoor scene consisting of a sunny day in spring, with some white snow on the ground in plain sunlight, and colored cars also in the sun.

For a $1000 camcorder, I would have expected better performance.
What good is it to have 3 cmos sensors if the camera can't balance their individual gain properly ? And I'm not even talking about full auto white balance mode which keeps on changing constantly even though the lighting or subject hasn't changed in the scene !

I'll be using Canon or Sony products from now on. Panasonic is on my black list from now on.

If you search the Internet for "Panasonic Bondi-blue" you will find numerous reports of the same problem.

Where white manual balance is concerned some problems can be due to the incorrect use of the setting. You need a proper photographic grey card, white copy paper or other white objects are unlikely to be truly white and can skew things, once you know you have a true source for grey it is helpful to understand the manual white balance process on the Panasonic cameras.

Panasonic has two stages when you ask it manual white balance, the first stage is closing the iris, so you hear a click and see the LCD go black, this is stage one and is doing black levels across the 3 sensors. The mistake is once the iris opens and the image comes back that the operator assumes white balance is complete, and so moves the camera away from the zoomed in grey object, but it isn't. The second stage is then adjusting the white balance with the iris open, so you need to leave the camera set on your grey card for a couple of seconds after the iris opens. The camera tells you white balance is still taking place by the flashing white-balance icon, only when this stops flashing is the process complete, so don't move the camera away from the grey card until it stops flashing.

I hope that helps.

Regards

Phil
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post #4 of 56 Old 03-10-2012, 05:01 AM
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I do agree that Panasonic seems to have hired a bunch of colorblind engineers - but with the use of WB cards on my TM900 (something I'd do with any video camera from any manufacturer) and adjusting the green out of the auto WB on my GH2 (once), both cameras produce stunning results. Worth it for me, but maybe not for everyone.

To the OP, good luck with the other brands, they make great cameras too.
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post #5 of 56 Old 03-10-2012, 05:58 PM
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Like the others, I set the white balance and exposure manually most of the time. For shooting where I am panning between brighter and darker areas I tend to use iAuto mode and let the camera automatically adjust the white balance and exposure. Sometimes the results are good and sometimes they are mediocre.

According to camcorderinfo.com comparable camcorders from Canon and Sony don't deliver the same degree of image sharpness and detail resolution as the TM700/900, but some owners prefer them because they are better in other respects such as white balance.
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post #6 of 56 Old 03-10-2012, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
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As I stated, I'm using manual white balance 99.9% of the time. And I have enough experience to know how to do it properly with a white reference.

The automatic neutral density filter that comes into play when a bright outdoor scene is shot changes the overall color balance.

And the color saturation is too high most of the time, relative to the filmed scene.

But my main gripe is more with the dreadful automatic continuous color balance, that keeps changing even when the lighting and the scene does not!
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post #7 of 56 Old 03-11-2012, 12:35 AM
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Hi

Quote:
Originally Posted by alainhubert View Post

As I stated, I'm using manual white balance 99.9% of the time. And I have enough experience to know how to do it properly with a white reference.

So are you are still pointing at the grey card during the second part of the white balance adjustment?

Quote:
The automatic neutral density filter that comes into play when a bright outdoor scene is shot changes the overall color balance.

The ND would be included in any white balance adjustment assuming the brightness didn't change significantly, if it does you need another white balance anyway.

Quote:
And the color saturation is too high most of the time, relative to the filmed scene.

You can adjust this. Consumer camcorders are like TVs, by default they are set to "pop".

Quote:
But my main gripe is more with the dreadful automatic continuous color balance, that keeps changing even when the lighting and the scene does not!

It is because white is being continually guessed at in the shot. On older (or better) camcorders like my DV one there is a separate white filter which contains a white balance sensor behind it separate from the main sensor, these are much more accurate. Alas to keep prices low these have largely gone away.

The TM900 series seems to have fixed the "Bondi-blu" issues of the 700 series. Above all I've said, even after very careful set up there does seems to be colour balance issue with the 700 and 300 series before that. Not everyone had the problem or noticed it though. If still under warranty you could send it back for repair.

Regards

Phil
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post #8 of 56 Old 03-11-2012, 05:56 AM
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Do like you do with images. Adjust with software.

Personally, I have no problem with the white balance on my TM700.

Everything it does it light years better than what I had before.

The digital age is about everything being perfect.
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post #9 of 56 Old 03-12-2012, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brunerww View Post

adjusting the green out of the auto WB on my GH2 (once)

What setting do you use to adjust the green out?
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post #10 of 56 Old 03-13-2012, 11:50 PM
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Another upset Panasonic camcorder owner here. I used to use a Panasonic mini DV tape camcorder years ago, and it had the same blue problem that the new models have. After reading such great reviews, I bought a highly rated newer Panasonic model only to find that it has the same terrible auto white balance problem. It is funny that the review sites test how many angels you can see on the head of a needle, but they don't test one of the most important features of basic competency. What good is the best resolution and all of the other things they test, if the picture is all blue!! Panasonic cameras are not for use on full auto. They should be reviewed and presented only as cameras for those who want to make manual adjustments.
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post #11 of 56 Old 03-14-2012, 10:03 AM
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Hi

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Originally Posted by David HT guy View Post

Another upset Panasonic camcorder owner here. I used to use a Panasonic mini DV tape camcorder years ago, and it had the same blue problem that the new models have. After reading such great reviews, I bought a highly rated newer Panasonic model only to find that it has the same terrible auto white balance problem. It is funny that the review sites test how many angels you can see on the head of a needle, but they don't test one of the most important features of basic competency. What good is the best resolution and all of the other things they test, if the picture is all blue!! Panasonic cameras are not for use on full auto. They should be reviewed and presented only as cameras for those who want to make manual adjustments.

Websites such as Camcorderinfo do test the accuracy of colours, and Panasonic camcorders have always rated very well.

Panasonic camcorders colours always tend to be a little cold and often brutally honest, and on unadjusted TVs with "Dynamic picture" modes it will look pretty bluish, the same goes for computer monitors which unless well calibrated are often more blue. Owners of other makes of camcorders will argue theirs are too warm. There was a YouTube example comparing a Panasonic HD and Canon HD camcorder with a rig that held both cameras so they recorded the exact same outdoor park scene at the same time. On the Panasonic it looked cold and like winter, on the Canon it looked warm and more like summer. Which was right? Well the trees had no leaves so it was winter, but most people naturally preferred the warmer picture of the Canon, but the Canon wasn't capturing the scene as honestly.

You can adjust the colour balance on good HD camcorders, including the Panasonic's so it can be warm rather than cold.

I've used Panasonic camcorders for many years including DV ones and have never had a problem with it looking blue.

You can buy other makes of camcorder, if you haven't had a good experience with Panasonic why keep buying them, buy something else.

Regards

Phil
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post #12 of 56 Old 03-15-2012, 12:12 AM
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Phillip- The problem is not color accuracy, but the auto white balance and how it adjusts from one scene to the next. I am not referring to a slightly cold or slightly blue tint. The scene has a dominant blue color. Camcorderinfo tests using manual white balance. I'll try to upload a scene and post a link here. Maybe Canon has a patent on the auto white balance process, and Panasonic cannot make a good auto white balance system without violating the patent. Panasonic must know about this problem, and I assume they have very smart people working for them. They either can't or do not want to fix the problem.
When the auto white balance works, the picture is terrific. But, the blue tint comes up often enough to make the camera, in my opinion, not suitable for full auto use.
I got the newer Panasonic because of the great reviews. Before I owned the Panasonic, I owned a Canon (I can't remember the model). The auto white balance on that was fine. I could shoot go from sun to shade, from inside to outside, and the white balance adjusted.
One of the attractions to me of the Panasonic was the wide angle lens. To get the same in the Canon was much more expensive.
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post #13 of 56 Old 03-15-2012, 10:57 AM
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Hi

Quote:
Originally Posted by David HT guy View Post

Phillip- The problem is not color accuracy, but the auto white balance and how it adjusts from one scene to the next. I am not referring to a slightly cold or slightly blue tint. The scene has a dominant blue color. Camcorderinfo tests using manual white balance. I'll try to upload a scene and post a link here. Maybe Canon has a patent on the auto white balance process, and Panasonic cannot make a good auto white balance system without violating the patent. Panasonic must know about this problem, and I assume they have very smart people working for them. They either can't or do not want to fix the problem.
When the auto white balance works, the picture is terrific. But, the blue tint comes up often enough to make the camera, in my opinion, not suitable for full auto use.
I got the newer Panasonic because of the great reviews. Before I owned the Panasonic, I owned a Canon (I can't remember the model). The auto white balance on that was fine. I could shoot go from sun to shade, from inside to outside, and the white balance adjusted.
One of the attractions to me of the Panasonic was the wide angle lens. To get the same in the Canon was much more expensive.

If you check the Panasonic manual the auto-white balance doesn't cover the full range that manual or the presets cover, it only goes up to around 6500k in auto mode, so that might explain why sometimes it is more blue if you have a higher colour temperature it doesn't adjust to it?

Regards

Phil
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post #14 of 56 Old 03-15-2012, 12:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip_L View Post

Hi



If you check the Panasonic manual the auto-white balance doesn't cover the full range that manual or the presets cover, it only goes up to around 6500k in auto mode, so that might explain why sometimes it is more blue if you have a higher colour temperature it doesn't adjust to it?

Regards

Phil

Could be, but the Canon did not have this problem of adusting to changing light conditions, or getting the white balance correct when the camera is first turned on. For a short time I had a Sony DV tape camera (the panasonic was too big for vacations), and the Sony did not have an auto white balance problem. My quick fix on the Panasonic is to change the mode from record to playback, and then back to record. Most of the time the white balance gets adjusted correctly. This was the exact same thing I did with my old DV tape Panasonic, and given all of the other reports of the Panasonic auto white balance problem, I don't think the problem is with my particular units. This can be done when the camera is first turned on, but it is not practical during shooting when the lighting changes.
If there is a way to get the auto white balance to work properly, I would love that. The camera is small, and other than white balance the picture quality is great, and it has a wide angle lens.
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post #15 of 56 Old 03-18-2012, 07:41 AM
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I have started forcing outdoor sunlight white balance mode just so the white balance doesn't shift while recording. Usually auto is fine outside in sunlight but as the sun sets it does weird things. Also shooting from a car it can drift to some weird temps and even a forced manual setting with a white card doesn't fix that.
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post #16 of 56 Old 03-18-2012, 08:47 AM
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"Usually auto is fine outside in sunlight but as the sun sets it does weird things."

I don't understand why you are having problems. I agree that achieving correct WB is not so simple when the light changes. But the TM900 that I have manages fine. You should look at my baseball video: the shots move from bright sun to shadow and during the game the sun sets. All the challenges. Tell me if you see "weird things."

http://vimeo.com/38663820
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post #17 of 56 Old 03-18-2012, 10:08 AM
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This is not the best example. My daughter is walking up the stairs in a building, and then outside. The video shakes, but you can get the idea of the blue problem. If I can find, or make, another test, I will post.

http://vimeo.com/38728433
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post #18 of 56 Old 03-18-2012, 10:24 AM
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Yes, your example is one in which the WB is set for indoors (which is where you start) and then when you get to outdoors and the light color changes WB does not change, so it is wrong. If you went from outdoors, assuming WB was set for outdoors, and then go inside, the WB would be too yellow.

What else is new? WB does not change fast on the Panasonic. This is by design so WB does not change within a scene with the same llghting but the colors of subjects change. On some pro camcorders you set the speed of WB adjustment, and can make it faster. Please, no more shaky cam videos, and we all get the point. So trade cameras, or learn to use it properly.
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post #19 of 56 Old 03-18-2012, 01:12 PM
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Sometimes the picture is overly blue when I first turn it on outdoors. The Canon and Sony I had did not have this problem, and they would also adjust very fast to different lighting conditions. This happens just often enough with the Panasonic to be a problem. When the exposure and white balance are correct on the Panasonic, the picture looks great. But, if learning how to use the camera means making adjustments, then the Panasonic may not be for me. I need a camera that works well in full auto, even if that means giving up some picture quality.
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post #20 of 56 Old 03-18-2012, 01:26 PM
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"Sometimes the picture is overly blue when I first turn it on outdoors."

Yes, it is the WB from the last shot (Indoors) before you turned the camera off. And if you are indoors when the last shot was outdoors the WB will be overly yellow. *There is no blue bias.* Give it a few seconds and it will adjust. Then shoot away. I agree if it is not fast enough for you, try another camera. But you give up a lot, and I have found it to be not a big deal once one knows how it works. I have shot scores of hours of video with the TM900.
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post #21 of 56 Old 03-18-2012, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David HT guy View Post

Sometimes the picture is overly blue when I first turn it on outdoors.

Another option you can do to change the WB quickly from the blue tint is to push the manual/auto button. It should clear it up more quickly rather than the gradual change in auto mode. I push the auto/manual button whenever I turn my TM900 on to clear things up before recording a scene. It may work for the SD600 as well.

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post #22 of 56 Old 03-18-2012, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by tingham View Post

Another option you can do to change the WB quickly from the blue tint is to push the manual/auto button. It should clear it up more quickly rather than the gradual change in auto mode. I push the auto/manual button whenever I turn my TM900 on to clear things up before recording a scene. It may work for the SD600 as well.

What is the function for pushing this button?
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post #23 of 56 Old 03-19-2012, 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by bowmah View Post

What is the function for pushing this button?

Sorry, I should have been more specific with my previous post. The button's function is to toggle between using auto or manual controls when using the cam.

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post #24 of 56 Old 03-19-2012, 08:54 AM
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Auto balance on many Panasonic camcorders is indeed not the best, but who cares? Use either a preset or manual WB and do not overdrive highlights,* you should get consistent color. Then adjust the whole video track in an NLE.

* The way Panasonic manages blown highlights may cause color change.



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post #25 of 56 Old 03-19-2012, 10:04 AM
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Tingham- Thanks for the tip.
Ungermann- People who want to use the camera in full auto, and do not want to do post processing care about how well the camera works on full auto.
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post #26 of 56 Old 03-19-2012, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David HT guy View Post

People who want to use the camera in full auto, and do not want to do post processing care about how well the camera works on full auto.

It's not a brand-specific issue. Using auto white balance on any camera will not look right.

Just carry a white piece of paper with you and zoom in on it, manually set it.
Do it again when the lighting conditions change. Not that difficult.

You can also use a grey card made for WB, but the paper will suffice.
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post #27 of 56 Old 03-19-2012, 10:40 AM
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Hi

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Originally Posted by xfws View Post

It's not a brand-specific issue. Using auto white balance on any camera will not look right.

Just carry a white piece of paper with you and zoom in on it, manually set it.
Do it again when the lighting conditions change. Not that difficult.

You can also use a grey card made for WB, but the paper will suffice.

Paper does not work reliably (see here http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=38913989). For a start a lot of paper is blue under outdoor light, it's deliberate to make us think it is very white and better quality in the same way white washing power has blue and UV dyes in it to make us believe we are getting whiter than white! Also the surface of the paper will have different reflection properties depending on the light source and angle the light is bouncing of it. I've used white paper before with disastrous results. Also while it's called white balance you really need a neutral grey, usually if you zoom into white the auto exposure system does the same thing, but not always.

Searching Amazon for "white balance card" will find some proper cards, usually you get three, white, black and grey, the white and black can be included in a shot to help set black and white levels in post edit.

Regards

Phil
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post #28 of 56 Old 03-19-2012, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip_L View Post

Paper does not work reliably.

Works for me.
Definitely better than auto; which usually gives an orange or yellowish look to everything.
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post #29 of 56 Old 03-19-2012, 10:49 AM
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Hi

Quote:
Originally Posted by xfws View Post

Works for me.
It's definitely better than auto; which usually gives an orange or yellowish look to everything.

You must have some very good neutral white paper then. White paper isn't white, see here http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=38913989

The cost of a few dollars/pounds you can get the proper tools for the job or chance it, each to their own, but professionals or seasoned amateurs would not use white paper because it has brightening agents in it to deliberately make it appear whiter than white, this gives you an incorrect white balance, plus it will behave differently in different lighting situations.

Regards

Phil
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post #30 of 56 Old 03-19-2012, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip_L View Post

You must have some very good neutral white paper then. White paper isn't white, see here http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=38913989

The cost of a few dollars/pounds you can get the proper tools for the job or chance it, each to their own, but professionals or seasoned amateurs would not use white paper because it has brightening agents in it to deliberately make it appear whiter than white, this gives you an incorrect white balance, plus it will behave differently in different lighting situations.

Regards

Phil

I should really get one of those.

Only 5 bucks:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...ance_Card.html
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