Thoughts about a7II vs. a7RII

We love the Sony a7RII, but the a7II is still a great camera with great image quality.

My only wish is that continuous eye AF feature might go into the a7II one day, even if it’s slower and less accurate.

For example, I wish this photo caught their eyes in focus, but both of them moved during the laugh. It’s not noticeable at small resolution, but in full resolution the eyes are not in focus.

This is not to say that the a7II can’t get the eyes sharp. When it works, it’s amazing. But it’s more hit-or-miss at wider apertures, and so requires a more still subject.

That changed with the a7RII. There is just something so satisfying about seeing a photo with very sharp eyes. And with the a7RII it’s practically effortless.

However, if you can live with some missed shots or don’t take photos of young kids that don’t pose, the a7II is a great deal. The eye AF in AF-S mode works very well if your subject is posing still for you. With some more nimble reflexes, AF-S with eye AF can work wonders if you catch kids at an opportune moment.

Truthfully, if the a7RII continuous eye AF didn’t work as well as it does, we probably would have just kept going with our a7II. We had been quite happy with the high ISO performance and image quality in general. The a7RII does take it to the next level with more megapixels and even cleaner high ISO, but the main improvement for us was the continuous eye AF.

In most other regards, the two cameras are very similar. The 5-axis stabilization, the size/weight, the rendering from the full-frame E-mount lenses, and the general operation. The premium for the a7RII is worth it to some, but it would not be worth it to everyone. The main differences come down to 42 megapixels vs. 24 megapixels, 4k video recording, better and faster autofocus, and more refined features like better EVF, silent shooting, minimum shutter speed with auto ISO, and longer shutter life.

Personally, after using the a7II for less than a month and the a7RII for less than two weeks, I would not switch back to a larger camera. My husband had gotten the Canon 70D and Sony a77II previously, neither of which I enjoyed using. I prefer a smaller camera body that I have an easier time handling, that draws less attention and that makes me feel less like a target.

I love these smaller cameras. If I could go even smaller and not sacrifice image quality or functionality, I certainly would!

I believe that the a7RII is a Swiss Army Knife that can be completely silent if need be, can be small and look like a point-and-shoot if you want to be discreet, can be mounted on a tripod with a flipping screen that gives you low angles, can allow an amateur like me to use the continuous eye autofocus easily, can give great handheld performance any time any where like museums and churches where tripods are prohibited, can double as a camcorder and take 4k video on-the-fly with 5-axis stabilization, and can review photos in bright daylight via the electronic viewfinder.

If you want more functionality than the base model, you can add a battery grip to increase its size and battery power, can hook it up to a huge external battery that gives you all day power, can get big if you want to put a telephoto long lens on it with adapters, can go into a huge stabilizing video rig or a flying drone, can be a B cam that does out-takes or silent photos during film rolling, can output hours of higher quality video via HDMI, and can adapt various legacy and film lenses with adapters and be stabilized.

On the other hand, you can get some, though not all, of these functionalities with other cameras. It’s up each individual to figure out if these features and upsides are good enough to offset the limitations and drawbacks, then pick the camera that fits one’s needs.

In the end, photography should be about enjoyment and creative pursuits. Since we’ve gotten these cameras, we’ve started taking more photos and having more fun in the process. The memories we have captured are far more important than the gear.

Interested in more?

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55 responses to “Thoughts about a7II vs. a7RII”

  1. Lenny says:

    As an amatuer… glad I stumbled on this, quite on the fence with the 7ii and the 7Rii
    and trying to gather as much info, opinions, experiences from other amateurs / enthusiasts / hobbyists POV
    every time I read a pro’s POV it just leaves me with doubts and a headache, I see this was posted mid August, are you guys still using the R? what’s your thoughts, experiences, gripes, etc…. on a long term?
    Beautiful family ..btw
    Thanks, L

  2. Hi Lenny, thank you! We are not pros, but we do shoot photos for work using our personal cameras.

    For us the a7RII is an “enabling” device. It allows us to get our kids’ eyes sharp far more than the a7II can. Our toddlers refuse to pose.

    For taking portraits of adults, a7II with the single eye AF works well. I use the a7II at work to take photos of directors.

  3. Lenny says:

    Thanks for the reply… I see that the eye focus is really your stand out difference between the 2,
    Is there any other stand out feature that you like on the R… Guess what I’m is is it worth the extra grand?

  4. I think whether or not it’s “worth” the extra money is up to the individual.

    The a7RII has over the a7II:

    – Better high ISO performance
    – 4k video recording
    – 42 megapixels vs. 24 megapixels
    – Overall improved autofocus (399 PDAF points) and continuous eye AF
    – Silent shooting mode

    It also has a lot more refined features like EVF/LCD switch with a custom button, minimum shutter speed in auto ISO, movie tracking sensitivity modes, more sophisticated autofocus modes, and more bracketing modes like bracketing with self-timer.

    In general the a7RII feels like a more refined camera than the a7II, but you would not be able to tell them apart just looking at them quickly. Nor could you really tell apart the photos taken by them easily. Both are great cameras, but the a7RII is definitely my favorite right now.

  5. Arize says:

    Very nice review. Currently shooting the original A7 and I’m extremely frustrated by its low light AF performance. Can you comment on the difference between the low light AF between A7II and A7RII? I’m hoping they are similar enough in performance so that I don’t need to pay the premium to get the A7RII. Thanks for your help.

  6. Hi Arize, the a7II is rated to 0 EV (with F2.8 lens), which means it has worse low light AF than the a7RII, which is rated to -2 EV. If you attach a F1.8 lens the autofocus would perform well down to lower light levels, but the a7RII would still do better. Hope this helps.

  7. J says:

    Great review! A personal perspective with proper knowledge of photography and Sony’s newest tech. I’ve been shooting professionally with Sony from the start of my career and finally made the jump to the a7rii literally this week. Sony’s been forcing us A Mount users to abandon our big, but more ergonomic, dslt’s so there really isn’t any choice if you want to stay with Sony as a pro shooter :/ I’ve been using the a99 for years and love playing with the a5100 for it’s Super quick tracking focus and lovable small size. I’m hoping that the a7rii can take away any frustrations I’ve ever had with the a99. Amazing camera for stills, but video became archaic not long after it’s release. My first photoshoot with the a7rii and new FE lenses will be this weekend. Fingers crossed! Thanks again and happy shooting! Cheers! – J

  8. Cheers to you J! We also switched from A-mount to E-mount. I hope the transition goes smoothly for you!

  9. Tom says:

    Excellent and concise review on the subject. Oddly enough, I switched from the A7 over to an A77II. Sony has some great technology in all of theses cameras so it comes down to user preference. I do find the eye focus feature extremely valuable and knowing the A7II doesn’t quite nail it (as you mentioned) gives me reason to pass on that camera. I hope the A7III gets all of these features right. As of now- it’s A mount for me.

  10. Calum says:

    Hi, thanks for the review. Have you tried using the Rii for much long exposure stuff, at high and low ISO? I’ve read some reports of hot pixels occurring m, wondered whether you had noticed this on the Rii or the II?

  11. Hi Calum, I have seen some minor hot pixels in long exposures around 10-20 seconds (running water, etc.) but have not encountered issues that would affect image quality. I have also read that the latest firmware update fixes this issue for longer than 30-second exposures, but have not tested this myself.

  12. Brian says:

    Can I ask what lens you shot these photos with?

  13. Hi Brian, most of these were shot with the Sony Zeiss 55mm/f1.8 lens.

  14. Brian says:

    Have you tried the a7ii with the new 2.0 firmware ? It’s supposed to fix a lot of autofocus issues.

  15. We are using the 2.0 firmware on the a7II. It has breathed new life into our Tamron 70-200mm/2.8 Di USD lens adapt it on the a7II. We get good autofocus performance plus face detection on it, enough so that it can catch our toddlers in action under good light.

    We also use uncompressed RAW on both a7II and a7RII. The continuous eye AF on the a7RII still gives it an edge for native lenses for tracking kids. But I use the a7II for work where the single eye AF is more than sufficient during portrait sessions of adults.

  16. Joseph says:

    Hey guys… Really great review of the 2 cameras.

    Really tempted by the clarity on offer by shooting with 42mp and the sharpness of being able to focus much more accurately.

    I thought most of these photos were taken with the Zeiss Batis 85mm with is the mens I use for my portraits with the A7ii body.

    Thus, I just wanted to know what your thoughts are on how the Zeiss 55mm holds up to the Batis (if you have used it at all?


  17. Hi Joseph, thank you!

    We have a review of the 85mm and the 55mm. Both are great lenses, albeit “expensive for only F1.8” according to many.

    The Zeiss 55mm is a great lens, but I do think the 85mm is better for portraits. The Batis 85mm also has less chromatic aberrations and color fringing. It’s just a bit bigger and heavier, and with the lens hood on looks more intimidating, which could be a good thing if you want to look serious.

    If you like your Batis 85mm, by all means keep it. :)

  18. Ram says:

    Best review for laymen.

    I have a question

    My budget will not allow for a a7r ii
    i must go with Sony Alpha a7 II Mirrorless Digital Camera with FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens

    what are my chances of taking pictures as good as the ones you have here…. can you tell me what i will not be able to achieve relative to the pictures above.

  19. Hi Ram, you can take great photos with any modern camera. However, do keep in mind that the 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 will not have the fast (wide) aperture to give you the shallow depth-of-field look. If you can fit the upcoming Sony 50mm F1.8 lens ($250) into your budget, that should help you create more shallow DOF images.

  20. Ram says:

    Thankyou Rose,

    Can I ask you this…
    If the budget was 3k total, what lenses and body would you get for every day photography and some special home events…

  21. Hi Ram, with 3k budget total USD:

    FF option: a7 with 28-70mm kit lens ($1400), Sony 50mm F1.8 ($250), and Batis 85mm F1.8 ($1200).

    APSC option: a6300 with 16-50mm kit lens ($1200), Sigma 30mm F1.4 ($400), and Batis 85mm F1.8 ($1200).

    If you shoot a lot of fast-moving targets like kids and action, go for the a6300. If your subjects will pose for you, then the a7. If you want 4k video though, definitely a6300.

    You also might want to budget for some filters, insurance, camera bag, etc. You can try to get some of these items used or refurbished, although the Batis is difficult to find at a good price right now. If you really like the a7RII, it sometimes goes on sale gray imported for $2500, and you have a little leftover to get the new Sony 50mm F1.8 lens.

  22. Paul says:

    Hi Rose,
    Great review. I’m thinking of getting the A7rii with the Zeiss 55mm f1.8. What would you recommend for a general lens for landscape photography?

  23. Hi Paul, I would recommend either the Sony FE 16-35mm F4 zoom lens for landscape photography, or the new Voigtlander 15mm F4.5 prime lens that will be shipping for E-mount in a few weeks. Personally I am partial to the Voigtlander because of the beautiful light stars it renders even at F4.5, and it is also cheaper, lighter and wider. But if you don’t enjoy the look of ultrawide, the 16-35mm is a flexible lens that also renders stars when stopped down to F10 and above.

  24. Hello Rose,
    The comparison is beautifully done. Thanks for the post. I’m a canon user and a Indian wedding photographer who wants to try out the sony range of mirrorless cameras(A7II, A7RII and A6300).
    Was curious if the autofocus abilities of A7II have improved after firmware updates in recent times and are as good as the A7RII. Also how is the performance of these cameras with metabones Mark IV adapter with canon lenses. Any cue on this?
    I was considering a situation where i could either get a A7RII or a A7II and a A6300 (one for stills and the other for video). Please do share your thoughts on this as well.

  25. Hi Anupam, thank you for your comment. In our experience, the a7RII is still superior to the a7II for autofocus tracking with native lenses. However, with adapted lenses, the a7II does quite well except in very low light situations.

    If you are thinking about a switch, I would suggest getting the a6300 and see how you like the mirrorless experience. It would be the cheapest and give you the best video autofocus.

  26. Joe says:

    Hi Rose,

    Thanks for your thoughtful review. I’m an enthusiast but am picky about image quality. I’ve been struggling with choosing a new system but keep coming back to the Sony A7ii and A7rii. If I decided on the A7ii, do you think the new 24-70GM is worth it for that camera or would you stick with the Sony Zeiss 24 – 70?


  27. Patrick says:

    Hi Rose, or Charles or maybe both,

    I actually got the same question as Joe, but with maybe a different background. I’m trying to get into professional photography or at least to the point that it pays a bit for itself. I’m split between an a7 ii with the 24-70 gm lens or a an a7r ii with maybe a 50mm lens or something that will keep the budget south of 4k (euro). Any thoughts?

    With regards,


  28. Hi Joe and Patrick, thank you for your comments.

    I think the a7II is a good camera for sure. The primary drawback is the autofocus speed and lack of continuous eye AF. But if you aren’t doing sports and generally take photos of posed people, that should not be a big issue. The 24-70mm/F2.8 is a great lens and a stop faster than the 24-70mm/F4, but it’s also larger, heavier and more expensive. It really depends on what you’re looking for in terms of a new system.

    If you decide against the 24-70mm/F2.8 and are budget conscious, I suggest building with some cheaper primes like the 50mm/F1.8 and 28mm/F2. I would also suggest getting a cheaper backup camera like a6000 or a63000 that can take E-mount for pro work, as having a backup is always a good idea. I have seen plenty of pros use APSC cameras with cheaper 50mm/F1.8 lenses. It’s not just about the gear, so don’t feel like not having full-frame makes you less professional.

  29. Michael says:

    Hi Rose & Charles,
    I have both Nikon FF and Olympus M43. I find that I’ve almost stopped using the Nikon gear because of the ease of travel with smaller mirrorless cameras. I’m considering dipping my toe in to the mirrorless FF arena because I could use some of my Nikon glass while minimizing up-front investment in a third system (I would eventually shift over to one of the three; more likely mirrorless). Do you have any experience with other mirorrless formats such as M43 or Fuji and, if so, how would you compare them to A7ii or A7Rii?

    Thanks in advance

  30. Dave says:

    Hi nice review, I’m really happy with my A7ii and I’m in the not worth the upgrade camp (to the A7rii) as I think my money would be best spent getting some sexy Sony glass. My main use is hand held run and gun video… And shoot stills on a canon 5diii

    Keep up the good work


  31. Nik says:

    Thank you for the thorough and helpful post!

    Can I ask what lens you took the photos that follow this sentence with? “That changed with the a7RII. There is just something so satisfying about seeing a photo with very sharp eyes. And with the a7RII it’s practically effortless.”

    All four are amazing! Thanks in advance.

  32. Hi Nik, thank you for your comment! We took that photo with the Sony Zeiss FE 55mm F1.8 lens.

  33. Steven Chen says:

    Hi, Rose & Charles:
    just found this excellent site ! learn a lot… I claim myself semi-pro, another wandering guy for new gear searching recently.. could you share some experience about the low light image quality and auto focus speed between Sony a6300 (might be late 6500)and a7ll ?
    thanks for your time.

  34. Hi Steven, thank you for your comment. I have used the a6300 and the a7II, although not side-by-side. The a6300 definitely has faster autofocus than the a7II, and the low light image quality is almost comparable to the a7II. However, because it is a crop sensor camera, it won’t have as shallow depth-of-field as the a7II given the same set of lenses. If you really value the faster autofocus along with continuous eye AF, the a6300 is a very capable little camera. But it is also smaller in size than the a7II, and that might be something to consider as well, if you prefer larger bodies for handling.

  35. Steven Chen says:

    Hi, Rose and Charles : Thank you VERY MUCH for sharing your experience with me, you help me to made a final decision…

  36. Nash says:

    Rose and Charles, my decision of picking the a7ii over the a7Rii was bothering me. I use the camera for pleasure and vacations. With the recent price drops, the price was difference was only about $1050, but I was not comfortable splurging the extra 1K considering that I don’t do photography as a profession.

    I decided to keep my a7ii with the kit lens, have a Touit 32mm (I sold my a6000 and kept this lens), and am planning to get the G Master 85mm 1.4

    I’m hoping this will be good for a couple years and I don’t get tempted for the very fast a7Rii :-)

    Thanks for this review, it’s very helpful for those planning to get an a7ii

  37. Guru says:

    Hi Rose/Charles,

    Great article and photos! I’m an amateur Canon photographer and looking to upgrade to full frame camera. What’s your thoughts on video and photography in low light with A7ii & A7Rii (other than continuous auto-focusing).


  38. Hi Guru, I think the a7RII is an all-around better camera than the a7II. There are rumors that Sony will be announcing the a7III or potentially other follow-ups to the full-frame E-mount lineup, so you might want to hold off a few more months to see what is coming. :)

  39. F. Hampel says:

    I currently use an A7II and have been considering switching to A7RII for one reason, I am not quite satisfied with the high iso (noise-wise) performance of A7II, and using an A7RII would allow for downsampling beyond the better inherent signal-noise ratio. The only thing that keeps me back is the fear of increased or more pronounced color fringing. I use Nikon d750 in parallel with my Sony system, and that is what I experienced when I purchased a d810 body. A few of my favorite lenses proved to be a real disappointment when exhibiting all that awful purple color fringing. Did you have any observations in that respect (or anyone else)? I like using vintage Zeiss, Canon FD, Leica lenses and I’m afraid increased color fringing might turn out to be a real nuisance on this high-pixel count body. What do you think? Cheers, Frank

  40. Christophe says:

    Thank you so much for sharing a point of view from photographers with young kids who don’t pose (it’s their nature after all). I have been struggling to get my thoughts on AF performance and most reviews don’t mention this – love the point about eye focus !

  41. wayne says:

    I’m new to sony. I just got my A7RII, Can I ask what lens did you use for all this pictures? Thank you!

  42. Hi Wayne, we used the Sony Zeiss 55mm F1.8 lens with the Sony a7RII and the a7II to take these photos.

  43. Bennie says:

    Great review thank you. I’m also debating a switch from my a7s to either a7ii or a7rii. The only thing , besides price , would be the file size. Do you shoot raw or jpg and do have any problem with bigger files to process and store ? Kind regards , Bennie from the Netherlands

  44. Hi Bennie, thank you for commenting. We shoot in RAW exclusively, and working with 42mp uncompressed RAW files from the a7RII can be cumbersome, but worth the small bit of extra processing time.

  45. John Quill says:

    Thank you for your “down to earth” review. It is informative and speaks to the kind of photographer I am – an interested amateur.

    As I age I am finding it a little more difficult using Zeiss lenses on my Canon cameras because of camera shake. I currently use a Canon 5ds r as my primary.

    With the anti shake in both the 7Rii and the A7ii I am thinking of buying one or the other to make using the Zeiss lenses easier. I am also thinking of either a Metabones iv or FotodioX adaptor.

    Would you kindly give me some guidance on image quality of both Sony cameras compared to the image quality of the 5ds r? My hand held techniques are quite good I have been told.

    Would there be a significant difference due to the anti shake that the Sonys? In other words, would I be likely to get better images from the Sony cameras and which Sony camera would you recommend?

    Thank you.

  46. Hi John, thank you for commenting.

    We make use of the 5-axis in-body stabilization of the Sony cameras quite a bit. My husband has gotten relatively sharp handheld photos down to 1/5th to 1/10th of a second with wider lenses, and he rarely brings out the tripod for landscapes unless it’s a real long exposure shot.

    In terms of image quality, the a7RII will give you larger files with greater post-processing latitude, and is much more competitive with the 5DSR than the a7II would be. I think you would also like a lot of the native lenses in the Sony full-frame E-mount system for landscapes, as they can be compact and lightweight while offering great image quality.

  47. Nicole says:

    Hi. Thanks for this review. I’ve literally beem stressing myself out trying to make this camera buying decision. I’m coming from Canon 6D thst was recently stolen and really want to try the Sony mirrorless cameras. It’s been hard to decide which would match what I had in the 6D and the type of work I do and want to move into doing. I’m mostly an Event photographer and want to move into doing more portrait and lifestyle shooting. I’ve almost settled on the a7ii, but fear that it might not strong enough to handle my event shooting since that often means low light situations. Any thoughts or advice on whether I should add to my budget to spring for the a7rii?

  48. Hi Nicole, thank you for commenting. If you are doing portrait and event photography, I think the a7RII will be worth the extra investment. You can pick one up used or gray market for a great deal these days. The continuous eye autofocus feature is great for portrait shooting, and the image quality in low light / high ISO situations is superior to the a7II. The other option is to wait for the a7III, but it sounds like you need a camera soon and can’t wait.

  49. Nam Nguyen says:

    Hi. Thanks for this review and amazing photos :)

    I just bought a Batis 85mm based on your review for Batis 85mm.

    Should I buy Sony A7ii or A7Rii for my 85mm? Have you tried the a7ii with the new 3.30 firmware ?
    I think about autofocus issues. Are they fixed with the new firmware?

  50. Hi Nam, I have not tried the a7II with the newer firmware, but the a7RII is generally much better in autofocus than the a7II, if you are concerned about AF performance.

  51. Hello,

    I recently purchased the a7rii to replace my a6500 and a7ii. I barely had it out of the box, got cold feet, boxed it up and planned to return it. I’m wondering if I may be making a mistake.

    I tend to shoot portraits, details, landscapes, astrophotography, etc. I occasionally shoot events for work, and like to have a platform compatible with that. It is rare I use two bodies at the same time, and find that I am generally disappointed when I use my a6500 instead of the full frame a7ii as far as the images are concerned, but disappointed with the a7ii as far as the AF and other features are concerned. As a result I tend to leave my a6500 at home and get frustrated by the a7ii.

    I originally thought about waiting for the a7iii as I am not in some truly tremendous rush for a new camera, but I’m not even sure what benefits that camera will provide, so I feel like I’m waiting and watching the value of my gear decline. The a9 would solve literally all of my problems certainly but is a bit beyond my price range, and does have some extra capabilities I do not generally need. My primary complaints with the a7ii are as follows:
    1. Low light AF reliability, especially at smaller apertures
    2. General speed of operation (writing to card stalls, etc.)
    3. Battery life
    4. Dual card slots
    5. Noise level in low light (I prefer to shoot events in natural light to be more discrete, so any opportunity to improve this feature I will take)
    6. General features being outdated like min-shutter-speed auto ISO, etc.

    a7rii would solve several of these problems (1,5,6), but not all of them, and to solve some but not all with such an expensive upgrade is frustrating. I definitely don’t NEED more battery life or dual slots, and the upgrade would help in some other critical areas, but I’m really on the fence.

    Any advice?

  52. Hi Chris, what platform do you shoot at work? You shouldn’t use your personal camera for work, unless they are compensating you for wear and tear/insurance on your gear. I use the a6500 at work, which doesn’t have dual card slots, and it has been fine (but I don’t generally go above ISO 3200). Unless you’re shooting weddings, one card slot is generally sufficient.

    I think that for event/portrait work, especially in low light, and definitely if you want to use the silent shutter reliably, the a9 is the best E-mount camera for that purpose. For landscapes, astro and still life, the a7RII is still great. Could you look into a gray market or used a9? Or could you wait for the a7III announcement? It has been speculated that the a7III won’t have dual card slots, but it should have superior autofocus performance than the a7RII.

    Personally, having used the a6500, a7II and the a7RII, I would say the a7RII is the best camera of the three. But that is disregarding financial considerations, which are definitely important. I think you may want to consider selling your a7II now if you are not making full use of two bodies, and buy a faster APSC lens for your a6500 for low light work (something like the Sigma 30mm f1.4). The a6500 is not likely to be replaced soon, whereas the a7II will likely be.

    Good luck and hopefully you can find the right setup for your needs.

  53. What I meant to say by ‘for work,’ is that I generally shoot portraits, details, landscapes, astrophotography, etc. on my own time but occasionally shoot events, weddings, and portraits professionally. Because of this, my gear tends to be fairly multipurpose. I am also in an interesting place because I need highly professional gear sometimes but for many uses, my a7ii is sufficient (despite its frustrations). So, 90-95% of the time, the a9 would be a very-nice to have, 5-10% of the time it’s a must have. The a9 would solve all of my problems, I think, though that comes at a hefty cost. The a7iii may also solve quite a lot of them, but from what I know at this stage it doesn’t look like they’ll have dual cards or improved battery life in that model.

    Thank you for your input, the a6500 is an excellent camera. I don’t know if I could sacrifice my full frame completely…I’d really like to never have to worry about which camera I’m using again. I have a feeling the a9 would help with that.


  54. rad says:

    Hi Rose,

    I did go ahead and buy the a7ii with a Zeiss 50 lens… while i love the pics this camera and lens combination takes, I do miss my old zoom lens….
    I am ready to spend more money now and would like a good zoom lens without sacrificing too much quality, what lens would you suggest.


  55. Hi rad, I would suggest the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens if you can find it in stock. If you don’t mind the f4 aperture, the 24-105mm f4 has been well-rated as well.

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