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News & Insight

Great Mirrorless Camera Autofocus Shootout: Who Has the ‘World’s Fastest Autofocus?’

By Kishore Sawh on May 26th 2014

I’ve still not bought a mirrorless system, and with each sun-up and sun-down, I have more reason to think I’m letting the best in camera life pass me by. There’s a very handsome Fuji X-E2 staring at me from across my desk that I’m reviewing, which I very well may not give back, and with each new incarnation of mirrorless systems it seems almost unthinkable that they won’t be the dominant force in 5 years. Given what you’ll see and hear in this video, it could be sooner.

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TheCameraStoreTV has put together what they have dubbed ‘The Great Mirrorless Camera Autofocus Shootout!” to help bring some clarity to the claim almost all the major camera companies are touting now; that their autofocus system is the fastest in the world. How better to test that than to actually take them out of the laboratory, into the real world, for an entirely unscientific test. I actually make no real mockery here, as I find these sorts of ‘real world’ tests far more relatable than ones made by pixel peepers, and always find these gents objective.

[REWIND: Sony A6000 Initial Review & Field Testing Opinion]

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The cameras in question are the latest and greatest from each manufacturer; Sony’s A6000, Olympus OMD E-M1, Fuji’s X-T1, and the Panasonic GH4, with the Nikon D4s thrown in for good measure, and fun. All of these cameras lay claim to the ‘World’s Fastest Autofocus’ and were taken to a motocross park and put through their paces. While not a lab, there were controls so speak of, such as keeping the focal lengths similar and the apertures all to f/4. The D4 was what they were sort of all measured up against. Take a look. What you see may surprise you.

Thoughts


[Spoiler alert]
There is a demographic who will, undoubtedly, care about which really has the fastest autofocus in the world. I’m not part of it. Actually, I couldn’t care less about the title, and rather more interested in the camera as a whole. I’m beginning to become somewhat curmudgeonly regarding incremental camera upgrades as I spend more time looking into what really makes a great photograph, and the tools that make them.

However, the findings of this ‘test’ was really quite interesting. That Panasonic was to come out on top, I wouldn’t have guessed, but that he says the performance difference between it and the D4s was so negligible as to be non-existent, is quite something. I don’t think for a second the King of the Nikon sport shooters has been dethroned, but…

About

Kishore is, among other things, the Editor-In-Chief at SLR Lounge. A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joey

    Interesting video.
    I’ve been considering the XT-1 for a while now and when I hold it in my hand, it just feels better and looks better than the Em-1 and the GH4. I’m going to be using it mainly for street and kids shots, and I still have my Canon 60D for sports action. Even though the AF is slower in these tests, its not a deal-breaker for me. I still haven’t seen anything to put me off the XT-1.

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  2. Apollo

    AF Speed, is it fastest, is it fast enough, fast, fast AF…oh come on! In the end, the fast AF is useless if it can’t lock to the subject. I hate how is it cool to make a very fast AF (Which is a good thing BUT:) but then screw the locking and tracking, sometimes they fail even with stationary subjects…If you make a good fast AF, you make it accurate or you ‘slow it down’ to make it accurate again…

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  3. JSM

    Great video and first I have seen that has tested the tracking of the E-M1.
    However, I do have an E-M5 and find the S-AF to be super fast and accurate when utilised with Olympus lenses. This brings up an issue with the test and comparison of the “camera”. The Olympus is tested with the Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 lens as it is the only equivalent fast zoom to the rest on the market at this time but it is built first and foremost for Panasonic bodies such as the GH4.
    This by no means is a complaint about the test as it is about what is on the market today. However, it does need to say something about the variances that the lens will bring to each camera. I would love to see this redone when the Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 PRO hits the market later in the year.
    Great work.

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  4. Ray Wong

    I wonder how the Sony A7r stacks up to these guys? I’m considering that camera

    Close to the sony 7000?

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    • yolka

      a7r is lacking a phase detection capabilities and have quite a lot mpx to be parsed in order to autofocus with contrast af only. i do not think it can keep up with the four in the vid… but in the end i am just speculating.

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    • Matthew Saville

      The Sony A7r isn’t even in the running, because the newer, crop-sensor version (A6000) is Sony’s current “self-proclaimed champ” of AF speed. And you can see how it fared in this test…

      =Matt=

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