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Canon R3 Versus Sony a1: Which Has Better Autofocus?

Canon’s latest full frame mirrorless camera, the EOS R3, was launched only a few months ago, and we’ve had to wait patiently to find out how its autofocus system compares with that of one of its biggest rivals, the Sony a1. This video puts the pair head to head in a real-world situation.

Many of the recent advances in autofocus have been led by Sony, leveraging a mirrorless system that’s been on the market longer and giving the company plenty of opportunity to perform some serious research and development. Slower to the mirrorless party, Canon has been playing catch up but, as this video seems to suggest, it’s no longer behind and some will argue that it has edged ahead.

Obviously, there’s a lot more to a camera than just its autofocus and in terms of user experience — and I say this as a Sony shooter — the Canon is a lot more appealing from what can be seen in this video. Of course, having the Atomos Ninja attached magnifies the viewfinder and amplifies the difference, but what you see when peering through a Canon is in my opinion far more refined than what you experience with the Sony. Of course, much of what’s being displayed can be turned off, but the symbols feel cluttered and inconsistent in terms of both their size and design.

Which gets your vote? Let us know in the comments below.

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9 Comments

Dean Swartz's picture

I love Jared, but he ain't no sports photographer. Perhaps we'll get a comparison of the Sony a1 to the Canon R3 by Patrick Murphy-Racey! (PMR are you listening?) That notwithstanding, I thought the R3 lost focus more often than the a1 in Jared's videos. Jared, please stick to "events" photography and leave sports/action to the pros! ;0)

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

By PM-R, a Sony Artisan (ambassador)? Well, geee, I wonder which he'll prefer. :P

D R's picture

Dumb comment. Jared has been a photographer for 15 years I believe; he knows what he is doing.
I shot sports and events for over 16 years myself, and there really isn't much to it if you know the sport.
People get so stuck on stupid labels, like "pro" or "sport photography" but these are mostly meaningless.

Adam Palmer's picture

I was hoping that he might go through and count the in and out of focus shots. The viewfinder blackout would bug me a bit if i shot sports.

D R's picture

The R3 has no blackout AFAIK, not sure about the A1.
Though, even opticals blackout whenever the shutter clicks.

Adam Palmer's picture

I've never used the r3 I just noticed that the screen went black on the video from the viewfinder. Might be something that just happens on the hdmi output?

Adam Palmer's picture

Around minute 3:59 or so it seems like the canon viewfinder has a quick blackout. There are more if you keep watching. May well just be related to the HDMI output.

D R's picture

The funny thing is, 99.99999% of people reading/watching these comparisons will never buy either of these cameras. It's now more of a pissing contest between brands... like when people were kids and would say "my dad can beat up your dad".
The only brand I'm loyal to is my own. With that said I've shot Canon for over 16 years because there hasn't been anything from Nikon, Fuji, Olympus, Pentax or Sony that has made me want to switch (or would make me a better photographer). I've never seen a single person switch brands and suddenly up their photo game. Never. Not once. And I've seen lots of people do it.

Adam Palmer's picture

I might get the a1. If it drops a bit. I'd agree with you if you changed the percent to 98