Mirrorless Cameras vs DSLRs Autofocus Performance

Mirrorless Cameras vs DSLRs Autofocus

When it comes to autofocus performance, both mirrorless cameras and DSLRs have made significant advancements in recent years. However, they differ in their approach to autofocus technology. Let’s explore how mirrorless cameras handle autofocus and how it compares to DSLRs:

Mirrorless Cameras:


  • Dedicated Autofocus Sensor: DSLRs traditionally use a separate phase-detection autofocus sensor located at the bottom of the camera’s mirror box. This dedicated sensor provides fast and reliable autofocus performance.
  • Optical Viewfinder Advantages: DSLRs offer the advantage of an optical viewfinder, providing a direct, real-time view of the scene. Some photographers prefer this optical viewfinder experience, especially in fast-paced shooting situations.
  • Continuous Autofocus (AI Servo): DSLRs have a mode called AI Servo (or AF-C in some models), which continuously adjusts focus on a moving subject. While DSLRs can handle continuous autofocus well, their performance may vary depending on the number and arrangement of autofocus points.
  • Phase-Detection Coverage: DSLRs may have a more limited phase-detection autofocus coverage area compared to some mirrorless cameras, which can affect subject tracking, especially when the subject moves outside the active focus points.


  • Speed and Accuracy: Both mirrorless cameras and DSLRs can deliver fast and accurate autofocus performance. Mirrorless cameras with on-sensor phase-detection have narrowed the gap, and in some cases, they can even outperform DSLRs, particularly in continuous autofocus scenarios.
  • Subject Tracking: Mirrorless cameras, especially those with advanced subject tracking algorithms, have shown to excel in continuous autofocus, making them a popular choice for sports and wildlife photographers.
  • Lens Compatibility: DSLRs have an advantage when it comes to lens compatibility, as they can use a vast selection of autofocus lenses from various manufacturers. Mirrorless systems are catching up, but some lenses may require adapters, which can affect autofocus performance.
  • Viewfinder Experience: The optical viewfinder in DSLRs provides a direct and uninterrupted view of the scene, while mirrorless cameras rely on electronic viewfinders (EVF) or rear LCD screens. Some photographers prefer the optical viewfinder for its clarity and real-world representation.

Digital Cameras

In conclusion, both mirrorless cameras and DSLRs have capable autofocus systems, and advancements in technology continue to bridge the gap between the two. The choice between the two types depends on your shooting style, preferences, and the specific autofocus features that are essential for your photography needs. Both systems offer excellent autofocus performance, and you can’t go wrong with either choice.