Cameras With the Best Autofocus in 2022

Cameras with autofocus



There 2 types of systems: phase detection and contrast detection and 2 types of autofocus modes: Single AF and Continuous AF
From photographers, stock footage videographers to vloggers and independent filmmakers, almost all video creators can benefit from a good AF system
The Sony A9 Mark II, The Canon R5C and the Nikon Z6 II are among the cameras with the best autofocus on the market in 2022

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Today, if you are a photographer, it’s almost impossible to imagine not having autofocus in your camera. Unless you are a manual vintage lens purist, autofocus has become inherent to photography. Even filmmakers and videographers, more reluctant about using autofocus years ago, have embraced this technology, making their lives easier, especially under certain conditions.

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The history of the autofocus

However, although many take this feature for granted, autofocus was not incorporated in mass production until 1977 with the Konica C35 AF. Leica developed prototypes before, but manual focus was the norm until the leading players in the industry standardized the system. In 1978, the Polaroid SX-70 was the first single-lens reflex camera to feature autofocus. Still, this was in the 80s when the first SLR 35mm camera appeared (the Pentax ME-F). In that decade, Nikon, Canon and the rest of the brands switched to electronic mounts, allowing full communication between lens and body.

2 AF systems

Brands continued developing the 2 primary AF systems in photo and video cameras: phase detection and contrast detection.

Phase detection

Faster, but requires a more complex system to work accurately.

Contrast detection

Needs more time to work, but the mechanism is not as complicated since the information is taken from the electronic image of the scene.

DSLRs had phase detection autofocus, making them faster and more accurate than mirrorless, which used contrast-based detection. However, most cameras use hybrid AF these days, taking advantage of both systems.

Like Canon with its Dual Pixel AF, each brand has developed its technology. Continuous AF and eye detection technology have made creators’ lives easier, allowing them to film and take pictures without worrying about focus.

Types of autofocus

Let’s introduce the 2 autofocus modes available in most cameras: single autofocus and continuous autofocus.

Single autofocus

Single autofocus stops once it focuses on the subject. After that, you take the picture or release the button to focus again. This mode is great for static subjects.

Continuous autofocus

For moving subjects, however, it’s better to use continuous autofocus. If you are photographing or filming moving subjects like animals, kids, sports, etc., this mode will continuously adjust the focus to ensure a sharp image.

What types of creators could need autofocus?


Almost all photographers will benefit from AF. As mentioned, continuous autofocus is a must for nature, sports, events and kids photography. And in situations where you need to be quick, such as street photography, autofocus will make the difference between getting a picture or not.

If you are a photographer working in a controlled environment such as product photography or an artist who loves manual focus, you can live without autofocus. However, the rest will need it.


There is a widespread thought among some filmmakers that you should not use autofocus. ‘Real filmmakers don’t use autofocus.‘ This is a shallow statement that considers only certain kinds of filmmakers. 

Of course, pulling focus is an art and a skill that will benefit any filmmaker. And in a controlled environment, with a crew and a focus puller helping you, the human touch and rhythm -even with its imperfections- can’t be replaced by an autofocus system.

But let’s be honest: autofocus in 2022 is not the same as autofocus in 2008. The level of perfection is almost scary. Also, wedding, nature and sports filmmakers, content creators, self shooters… are also filmmakers, aren’t they? So a solid autofocus system will be the only way to get the shot in certain situations.

Documentary, event and wedding filmmakers

Although experienced camera operators love to focus manually, technology can help us in uncontrolled situations. Continuous autofocus will determine getting the shot or missing it for some b-roll (crowds, people moving, animals, events, etc.).

Vloggers and content creators

content creators need best af

Video creators and vloggers will benefit from continuous autofocus (in fact, some content would be impossible to produce without it). And even if the eye-tracking feature misses your face once or twice, its use will be worth it.

Stock footage videographers

Filming nature or moving environments (birds, surf, skate, etc.) for stock footage sites will get more shots with a good autofocus camera than without it.

Small crews

If you work with a small team, you may not have a focus puller. However, if you are filming an interview and directing it, for example, the eye-tracking feature will assure your subject is in focus, especially in close-ups where the depth of field is shallower.

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Cameras with the best autofocus

If you are looking for the best autofocus system, you usually get what you pay for. As always, only you know which brand and model fulfill your needs. In this list, you will find cameras that we love, with superb autofocus and in different price ranges.

Sony A9 Mark II

sony a9 best eye af
Source: Sony

When we talk about Sony, we are talking about the best autofocus technology on the market, especially with its eye-tracking feature. With the Sony A9 Mark II, things are no different. It was advertised as the perfect sports camera, and all the tests and reviews confirm that. Even in the most challenging and unpredictable movements, the camera gives you an impressive focus accuracy, and you can configure how you want to use its focus capabilities.

Among its features is 20 fps shooting with a silent electronic shutter or up to 10 fps with a mechanical shutter. In addition, it has a 693-point phase-detection autofocus system, intelligent subject tracking and Real-time Eye AF and UHD 4K video recording.

Other Sony cameras with great AF

If your focus -pun intended- is mainly video, and you like Sony, you should maybe look for the A7s III. It has impressive autofocus capabilities but is more video-oriented.

the a7s II has sony eye af

If you need only video, you should check the FX series. They all have Sony’s Hybrid AF, giving you one of the best systems in the market.

And check out our post comparing the Sony FX3 and the Sony A7s III.

If you are a pro photographer or can afford it, the Sony a1 is a beast.

Canon EOS R5C

canon 5rc best af
Source: Canon

If you need a hybrid camera with excellent video features and advanced autofocus, the Canon EOS R5C is your camera. Considered by the company as a hybrid between the R5 and the C70, some of its features include:

  • 4K120 recording
  • HDMI RAW output
  • Unlimited recording time
  • Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF with eye detection
  • An active cooling system.

Talking about autofocus, the R5C features 1053 automatic AF zones, eye, face and head detection AF and birds and animal detection AF. The Canon R5C is due to be released in March this year, and it’s one of the most anticipated cameras of 2022.

Other Canon options for AF

If you need in-body stabilization, maybe you prefer the R5, or if you don’t need to take pictures, the C70 is another example of Canon’s autofocus technology.

If you prefer a DSLR camera, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III is one of the best full-frame photo cameras in the market, with DCI 4K and 5.5K RAW video.

Nikon Z6 II

nikon z6 ii best af
Source: Nikon

Nikon has always been one of the big players in the history of photography. Their recent cameras have all the video features you need if you are a hybrid shooter.

The Nikon Z6 II s a versatile mirrorless suited for most applications thanks to the following features:

  • A 24.5MP CMOS sensor
  • Quick EXPEED 6 image processors
  • UHD 4K video recording at 60p and 50p
  • 120p in Full HD
  • A 273-Point Phase-Detect AF system.

Covering 90% of the sensor, the Z6 II gives you accurate focus in photo and video mode, switching between phase-detect and contrast-detect to assure the best accuracy.

Other Nikon options with superb autofocus are the Nikon Z6, Z7 and Z7 II.

If you are a pro and can afford it, the newer Z9 is in another league.

Budget Cameras with excellent autofocus

Suppose you are looking for more affordable alternatives. In that case, you will also find fantastic autofocus solutions in cameras such as the Fujifilm X-T4, Sony a6600a6100 or the Olympus E-M1 Mark III.

olympus em1 mark 3best autofocus camera
Source: Olympus


Frequently asked questions

Originally, DSLR with phase-detection had the fastest AF. Nowadays, mirrorless autofocus is as good as DSLRs but with more capabilities.

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III Dual Pixel CMOS AF uses 3,869 manually selectable points in live view.

The Sony a6100 and a6400 are among the fastest focusing cameras on the market. Sony claims they can focus in 0.02 seconds.

It’s a technology developed by Sony that allows focusing on the eye and tracking it as the subject and the camera move.

In AF-S, once you focus, the focus system stops. On the other hand, AF-C focuses continuously, following your subject.

About Jose Prada

Jose Prada is a filmmaker, musician and writer based in the UK and Spain. He has won several awards with short films and commercials and has published filmmaking courses on different platforms., the production company he founded together with Rene Strgar contributes high-end stock footage to Artgrid.

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