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Sony Claims AF Speed Of Adapted Canon Lenses Will ‘Almost’ Match Canon DSLRs on A7R II

By Anthony Thurston on June 17th 2015

One of the big headline features of the A7R II was its vastly improved autofocus system, including over 300 phase detect AF points covering over 40% of the sensor. Upon hearing this news, the first thing that jumped out to me was how would this affect the performance of adapted lenses – which has been very disappointing to this point.

sony_alpha_a7rii_initial_thoughts_miguel_quiles_11

Sony Artisan Thibault Roland had a chance to interview an engineer from Sony, who worked on the A7R project. An interesting note from that interview, which you can find in its entirety here, is the bit quoted below, where the Sony engineer claims that the AF speed of Canon lenses adapted to the a7R II almost match their speed on Canon bodies.

We were confirmed that AF of Canon lenses was “much faster than before. With adapters (and in particular, with a firmware updated Metabones Mark IV) Canon lenses are almost as fast as on a Canon body.

Now, as we all know, just because an AF system is fast, doesn’t mean that it is accurate. But if this turns out to be true, I can see a wave of A7 adopters trading in their current A7 models and upgrading to the A7R II, specifically for this upgraded AF functionality. On the current generation of A7 bodies, the adapted lens AF speed is dreadful. It works, yes, but it’s so slow in most situations that there is little point in using it.

The first signs that this claim by Sony may be true are coming in as well, with videos posts by our own Miquel Quiles and Gordon Lang of Camera Labs showing a vastly improved AF speed on the a7R II.

[REWIND: SONY ALPHA A7RII: INITIAL THOUGHTS FROM THE SONY PRESS EVENT]

Sony a7R II pre-orders open up today as well, so now the question becomes, “Are you going to get one?” I know I am very very tempted to try and sell my A7 II and upgrade to the a7R II. It’s just a matter of if I can come up with the remaining money to cover the difference – which is quite massive (for me). But we will see.

If you are interested, you can get your pre-order in on the A7R II now over on B&H for $3198.

What about you? Are you planning to grab an a7R II? Do you think that the AF performance will be improved enough that you can actually use Canon lenses with AF? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

[via Canon Rumors]

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Adrian Ferg

    I see all of these bias comments which I genuinely find hilarious. Act like these cameras aren’t top notch and you’re clearly fooling yourselves..Probably the same ppl that would outright buy a gopro and call it the best action camera ever.

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  2. Peter McWade

    Sony pulled me away from Pentax and Canon and I see keeping my A7R which by the way is a top notch camera. It fits my needs perfect. I could use the internal stabilizer and that faster auto focus. I did not believe I needed that but I like shooting birds on the wing and need a setup that will track better than I can manually. I also can make use of the better low light and get a bit better video. 4K is something I want. As good as Canon is it is more a name brand than anything and I feel that Sony has surpassed Canon. The size fit is like the old Pentax and is very very comfortable in the field. I hate the bulky Canon and Nikon Cameras.

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  3. michael leong

    How about for Nikon users – is there any rumors of a suitable adapter for Nikon lenses??????? Please say they are!!

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    • Thomas Horton

      Will the flange distance allow an adapter?

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    • Kyle Farris

      There are already Nikon adapters on the market by tons of companies including metabones. The downside is they don’t support electronic control so no AF, VR, EXIF, etc… rumors have it, though, that someone is working on a fully-compatible adapter.

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    • michael leong

      Hope you are right Kyle . . . that is the one thing holding me back on switching totally!

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  4. Ben Perrin

    I would love to see someone review the accuracy of such a system. If it turns out to be good I may just buy one of these down the line. Keep us posted Anthony!

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  5. Phil Bautista

    Hi Anthony. How much are you selling your A72?

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Not sure yet. I am probably going to review the A7R II before I decide whether or not to actually upgrade. But watch my twitter feed, if I do sell it, I will probably post it there.

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  6. adam sanford

    Follow up question: how will Sony handing this 42MP BSI sensor over to Nikon for a D820 hurt its own sales?

    I know Sony is printing money selling sensors on all fronts (not just in FF), but at some point, doesn’t it behoove you to be the best and *exclusively the best* show in town?

    Wouldn’t Sony convert more SLR users if they didn’t give Nikon that golden goose of a sensor?

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    • Justin Haugen

      Stahp making so much sense!

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    • Thomas Horton

      I have often wondered why Sony makes cameras.

      They make sensors that in demand by some big manufacturers, why not allow them to assume the risk of manufacturing the camera?

      I wonder if Sony making cameras, would have an adverse effect on their relationship with the other camera manufacturers that use Sony sensors.

      Of course, I am sure that Sony executives have already thought this through and don’t need my advice. LoL

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    • adam sanford

      Thomas, the widely spread rumor is that Nikon and Sony struck something of a Hitler-Stalin pact (i.e. divide-Poland-down-the-middle) by letting Nikon run riot with Sony FF sensors **provided they never make it into a mirrorless body**. Nikon dominates sensors scores for SLRs, and Sony does the same for mirrorless.

      But as the source of the golden geese, Sony is holding the cards here. There will come a point that Sony becomes big/established/trusted/mature enough to go it alone and they will either formally cut the cord with Nikon or astronomically jack up the sensor price on them. Either way, Sony is making money.

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    • Lauchlan Toal

      I’m not so sure that Sony has full power over Nikon’s sensors. If I’m not mistaken, Nikon developed and produced the sensors in the D3x00 and Dx line-ups, and they are quite excellent. I think that if Sony stopped supply sensors to Nikon they’d lose profits because Nikon doesn’t have the same economies of scale that Sony does for sensor production, but the sensors would still be roughly the same in terms of performance.

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  7. Thomas Horton

    I would think it is pretty risky to pre-order a camera like this before any real testing and evaluation of its capabilities has been conducted.

    Unless Sony wants to pay me to be a tester (yeah. like that would happen).

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    • adam sanford

      Spec-sheet frenzied enthusiasts will single-handedly keep Sony afloat with this one, but I don’t think current CaNikon pros will buy this rig sight un-seen. (Some of them very well may convert to this rig someday, but they’ll want testing/reviews before they do.)

      And when it comes to AF, speed isn’t everything. Reliability of all the AF points, hit-rate in demanding conditions, servo performance, etc. will tell a truer story of how the AF performs. Canon folks are spoiled to have Bryan Carnathan to comprehensively shake-down an AF system before their dollars come out. Sony would be wise to underwrite some reviewers to do the same to entice pros that are leery to take the big plunge and convert.

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    • Phil Bautista

      Return policies in the US are so lax that you can pretty much buy anything, try it out for a few days, review it, and send it back if you’re not happy with it. If your reviews are good, you get lots of hits. If your reviews are really “good,” maybe you become an artisan of light.

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  8. adam sanford

    In all seriousness now: since the IQ of Sony’s sensors is quite good, I see this technical upgrade + these sorts of marketing moves as an effort to slowly chip away at the commonly flagged reasons why folks still use mirrors.

    [Ahem] The usual suspects are:

    Sony’s supporting ecosystem of accessories pales in comparison to CaNikon
    EVF battery life is far worse
    EVF magnification is smaller
    Mirrorless AF fares poorly at tracking / sports / servo work
    Mirrorless AF is slower / less responsive
    There are so few native lenses with Sony as compared to CaNikon

    By adapting Canon glass so effectively (*if these claims are substantiated*), one would argue that the bottom two on that list just went away. Sony is chipping away at the excuses not to buy it. I still want to see more native glass and improved native AF performance from them, but this is a piece of a bigger strategy for them.

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  9. adam sanford

    Because nothing says Sony’s got your back like:

    “Yeeeeah…. I *think* Canon sells that, don’t they?” :-P

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    • Kyle Stauffer

      I’m anxiously awaiting the specs on the 5d Mark IV sensor after some of these releases over the last several months. Should get interesting!

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  10. norman tesch

    almost is only good in horse shoes and hand granades

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    • Thomas Horton

      That would be closeness. :)

      But in the real world, often good enough is.. uh.. well.. good enough.

      BTW, what is a “Sony Artisan”? Do people put that on their resume? :)

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    • Anthony Thurston

      I disagree. I would never expect an adapted lens to work as well as a native lens, but if the Sony is really fairly close, then that is a HUGE advantage. I mean, look at it this way.

      You have people moving from Canon now, even though the AF performance sucks. Just think how many more will consider moving more seriously now that AF is more comparable.

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    • Holger Foysi

      @A. Thurston. What I am wondering is, where and when all theses numbers of converts shows up in the statistics. Thom Hogans latest analysis showed again 11% market share of Sony in total in 2014. This is hasn’t changed yet for 15-20 years (incl. Minolta) if I read it right, despite the overall shrinking market. This may change in the next couple of years, though. Sony’s money in sensors comes mainly from the car industry and mobile devices, as far as I know.

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    • oishi nekotama

      @HOLGER FOYSI i don’t know the number for the whole camera industry, but in mirrorless domain they have 40% marketshare and apparently it’s enough to make the camera/imaging division to profit last quarters.

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