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Are the latest Canon mirrorless bodies good at fast and accurate AF?

axool
Apprentice

I went from a Rebel to a mirrorless EOS M100 in 2018 for travel. It was nice compact camera, and I used it with some of my nicer EF lenses, but I never really felt like it was as good as the Rebel it replaced. Sensor is great, but shooting felt clunky, especially focusing. Lots of AF hunting and misjudging.

I'm looking at a new camera body and am really tempted to go back to an older DSLR instead of a mirrorless. Are the modern mirrorless like the R7 good for wildlife and fast-moving motorsport with focus targets that might be in cluttered environments or moving towards/away?

8 REPLIES 8

shadowsports
Legend
Legend

Greetings,

What lenses do you own now?  Are they Canon or third party?

We don't need to know about your M series lenses.  If you have full frame EF lenses, I might look at an R8, or R6 Mark II.  They would be my primary preference for fast moving Motorsports.  Price wise the R8 is comparable, the R62 is more expensive.

For wildlife, the R7 is a safe bet. It really depends on what you're going to be shooting most.   My recommendations might change depending on the lenses that you own and your budget.

~Rick
Bay Area - CA


~R5 C (1.0.6.1) ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10, 430EX III-RT ~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw/MF656Cdw ~Pixel 8
~CarePaks Are Worth It

p4pictures
Whiz
Whiz

The latest R-series cameras really are a cut above the old M-series models and most DSLRs when it comes to fast accurate focusing. The EOS R100 is a little odd in that it appears to be basically an EOS M50 Mk II with an RF mount on, so it is more like the M-series than R-series in performance / AF. 

Pretty much all the R-series from R50, R10 and R7 onwards will outperform a Rebel. It does take a little bit of time to get used to slightly different ways of working compared to DSLR though. Many people I meet, initially try to use their mirrorless just like the did their DSLR, and in doing so avoid making use of the latest AF performance that they bought the camera for.


Brian
EOS specialist trainer, photographer and author

"Many people I meet, initially try to use their mirrorless just like the did their DSLR, and in doing so avoid making use of the latest AF performance that they bought the camera for."

Hey Brian, could you expand on what you mean by "use their mirrorless just like they did their DSLR", please? I'm just a little stumped, but maybe I'm thinking along the wrong lines.


Gary

Digital: Canon R6 Mk ll, R8, RP, 60D, various RF, EF, and Rokinon lenses
Film: (still using) Pentax Spotmatic, Pentax K1000, Pentax K2000, Miranda DR, Zenit 12XP, Kodak Retina Automatic II, Kodak Duaflex III, and various lenses

I've been working with Canon DSLRs since the EOS D30 in 2000. Over the years the number of times I have had photographers tell me that they read online / in magazines / saw a video that said they needed to use 1-point AF and keep it in the middle for the best results is ridiculous. Yes experienced professionals can certainly do that, but many less experienced photographers lack the skills to follow moving subjects with a single AF point. Move to mirrorless and this attitude prevailed for a good many people who I have provided individual and group training sessions for.  

For the earlier EOS R5 and EOS R6 many photographers stuck with the single AF point, or expand AF surround / cross type AF methods they used on their previous DSLR. This has the effect of focussing like a DSLR, but completely sidesteps all the clever animal / people / vehicle and eye tracking capability that they purchased the camera for.

On the later models like EOS R50, R10, R7, R3, R8, R6 Mark II the camera does subject detection and eye tracking with any AF area. But then photographers tell me they didn't want the camera overriding their placement of the 1-point / spot / af point expansion blocks so they turned subject tracking with the whole area off, which once again makes the camera work like a DSLR, but loses much of the clever AF and subject tracking they purchased it for.

Since I went mirrorless with the EOS R at the end of 2018 it took me a year to get comfortable with using eye AF, but when the EOS R5/R6 arrived I was already fully switched from DSLR thinking. Early on I did a test at a motocross event using both the EOS R6 and EOS 7D Mark II. My success rate for focus was inline with my normal 75% on the 7D MkII yet 99.8% on the R6. 


Brian
EOS specialist trainer, photographer and author

Thanks, Brian!  Yes, looking at it that way makes perfect sense.  I guess I hang around with the wrong group of fellow photographers.  I've never heard anyone talk about using the single focus point on cameras for many years.  Seems like when I want to focus on a specific stationary item that AF isn't hitting, it's just easier to go into manual focus.  I suppose I have an advantage from a background of manual focus SLRs that I've been using since the 70's.

I've embraced Servo focus since it first came out many years ago, and have appreciated (and used) all of the advances since.  The AF focus on the R6 Mk ll is just crazy good.  Last marathon I was hired for last summer I was still using the RP, and 6D backup.  I'm looking forward to the first one this year with the advanced tracking, and seeing how well it does.

However, that brings up a question I have for you... Since I'm normally shooting finish lines where a handful of people are running towards me, and in the past I've always used Servo to try and catch the closest runner as they cross (which I've had pretty accurate success with over the many years)... which mode do you suggest with the R6 Mk ll?  Seems like if I go for eye tracking AF I'm not sure if it will get confused on 10 people running towards me, all at a slightly different distance.  I do have to admit I never tried it on the RP since Servo worked well.  What are your thoughts?


Gary

Digital: Canon R6 Mk ll, R8, RP, 60D, various RF, EF, and Rokinon lenses
Film: (still using) Pentax Spotmatic, Pentax K1000, Pentax K2000, Miranda DR, Zenit 12XP, Kodak Retina Automatic II, Kodak Duaflex III, and various lenses

For your marathon finish line photos I'd set up one of the flexible zone AF areas and make it relatively small, a bit larger than the 1-pt AF and make sure that whole area tracking Servo AF is on. Then you can "guide the camera" by placing the specific runner initially in the frame of the zone you setup, once in the frame the camera will then track them around the frame even if you recompose while keeping your finger on the "focus button".  

I do the same for motocross events where I might have a few riders side by side in to a corner. Place the frame of the AF zone over the desired rider and start focusing, then recompose or not as needed while keeping the focus button pressed. 

By focus button I mean the half-press of the shutter if using shutter to focus, or whichever back button is set up for back button AF.


Brian
EOS specialist trainer, photographer and author

Thank you, Brian!


Gary

Digital: Canon R6 Mk ll, R8, RP, 60D, various RF, EF, and Rokinon lenses
Film: (still using) Pentax Spotmatic, Pentax K1000, Pentax K2000, Miranda DR, Zenit 12XP, Kodak Retina Automatic II, Kodak Duaflex III, and various lenses

justadude
Rising Star
Rising Star

You will notice a huge difference in AF over the Rebel.  I even noticed a very nice improvement in AF moving from my Canon RP up to the R8 and R6 Mk ll (I purchased both in the last 6 months, but have owned the RP for a few years).  The RF lenses are even more accurate when teamed with the R series bodies.  While my EF lenses perform just as well for AF on these new cameras as they did on my DSLRs (60D, 6D & 80D)... the image quality on the R series cameras is much better than it was on the older DSLRs.  I think you would really like the mirrorless for wildlife and motorsports.

All of this depends on your budget, and which EF lenses you own.  Also, have you considered trading in your EF lenses towards the purchase of RF lenses? (if that's in your budget of course).  Only asking because as much as I love using EF lenses, and also old film lenses, on my R-series bodies, for something as fast as motorsports, I would reach for one of my RF lenses.


Gary

Digital: Canon R6 Mk ll, R8, RP, 60D, various RF, EF, and Rokinon lenses
Film: (still using) Pentax Spotmatic, Pentax K1000, Pentax K2000, Miranda DR, Zenit 12XP, Kodak Retina Automatic II, Kodak Duaflex III, and various lenses
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