The Buyers guide to...Which cameras have the most AF points?

Buyers Guide

Having a camera with a wealth of AF points is a must-have feature for any photographer aiming to capture fast-moving action. Sport and wildlife photographers, in particular, need AF points across the frame to accurately track subjects which may be moving in unpredictable patterns.

So which cameras have the most AF points? We’ve tested all the cameras in this guide and have picked our favourites based not only on which cameras have the most AF points but which also offer superb AF performance.

Now, before you start shouting, ‘Where’s the Sony RX…,’ for now we’re focusing on interchangeable lens cameras. We’ll update this post later to account for fixed-lens cameras. But before we begin any discussion about which cameras have the most AF points, lets first answer a couple of burning questions we often get asked…

What’s the difference between phase detection and contrast AF points?

The short answer you need to know is that contrast detection AF is more accurate than phase detection, but much slower. Because of this, it’s largely best suited for landscape and portrait photographers – in other words, non-moving subjects.

Don’t get us wrong: when we say contrast AF is more accurate, that’s not to say phase detection isn’t accurate. It is!

Contrast AF analyses the pixels directly on your camera’s sensor to determine when your subject is in focus. This is a longer process, but it’s more accurate in low light.

Phase detection AF creates pairs of images based on the light coming in through your lens. It analyses these to ascertain the focus and is much faster than contrast AF. As such, phase detection AF is beneficial to wildlife and sports photographers who rely on their subject tracking and continuous AF modes.

Which camera has the most autofocus points?

The following cameras lead the pack in terms of having the most AF points…

Sony A7 III

  • Phase detection points: 693
  • Contrast AF points: 425

The Sony A9’s autofocus (AF) system is phenomenal. While the A7 III doesn’t have exactly the same system (that would require the same sensor), it has the same 693-point phase detection points and 425 contrast AF points.

These points cover 93% of the imaging area. This makes it easier than with the A7 II to track moving subjects. In addition, the system is sensitive down to -3EV, which means it should be effective in low light.

There’s also Sony’s Eye AF mode that helps you target the most important part of a portrait subject.

Read our full Sony A7 III review

Sony A6400

  • Phase detection points: 425
  • Contrast AF points: 425

One of the most exciting developments is with the autofocusing. It draws on the technology in the Sony A9, A7R III and A7 III. There’s a total of 850 AF points, 425 that use phase detection and 425 that use contrast detection. These are said to be packed together tightly and cover 84% of the image area.

That dense coverage helps make the A6400 good at identifying and tracking subjects.

Sony also claims that the new-generation BIONZ X image processing engine enables the camera to achieve focus in just 0.02sec.

In addition, there’s ‘Real-time Eye AF’, the latest version of Sony’s excellent Eye AF system. This automatically locates the eyes in real time to get them sharp. You can even set a preference for focusing on the left or right eye. There’s also Real-time Tracking that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help recognise subjects. Together, these should result in fast and accurate focusing in a wide range of situations to allow the photographer to concentrate on getting the composition right.

Sony has also added Animal Eye AF support via a firmware upgrade, which is great news for keen wildlife photographers and pet owners.

Read our full Sony A6400 review

Nikon Z7

  • Phase detection points: 493

The Nikon Z 7 has hybrid autofocusing that uses phase and contrast detection. Nikon only uses contrast detection focusing for Live View and video shooting in its DSLRs, so this is a major step for the company.

There are 493 AF points and around 90% of the image area is covered. Nikon DSLR users will find that a huge improvement as it means you can focus very close to the edges of the frame.

In each autofocus mode, Single (AF-S) or Continuous (AF-C), the Z 7 has five AF point selection modes. However, the choice depends on the AF mode. In AF-S mode there’s Pinpoint AF, Single-point AF, Wide-area AF (Small), Wide-area AF (Large) and Auto-area AF. Meanwhile, in AF-C mode there’s Single-point AF, Dynamic-area AF, Wide-area AF (Small), Wide-area AF (Large) and Auto-area AF.

In Auto-area AF, the camera will attempt to detect the subject automatically. However, pressing the OK button reveals a tracking point which can be positioned over the subject. The camera will then attempt to track the selected target around the frame. In AF-C mode it will also adjust the focus if the subject distance changes.

Read our full Nikon Z7 review

Nikon Z6

  • Phase detection points: 273

The Nikon Z 6 has hybrid autofocusing. This is a change from Nikon’s DSLRs which use a dedicated phase detection sensor for shooting with the viewfinder and contrast detection focusing for Live View and video shooting.

The Z 6 has 273 AF points that cover around 90% of the sensor. As a result, you can focus on areas much closer to the edge of the frame than you can with a DSLR. This means you don’t have to use the focus-and-recompose technique. In addition, you can track subjects around more of the imaging frame.

Like the Z 7, the Z 6 has five AF point selection modes. However, the choice changes a little depending upon whether you are In Single AF (AF-S) or Continuous AF (AF-C) mode. In AF-S mode you have the choice of Pinpoint AF, Single-point AF, Wide-area AF (Small), Wide-area AF (Large) and Auto-area AF.

Switch to AF-C mode and you’ll find Single-point AF, Dynamic-area AF, Wide-area AF (Small), Wide-area AF (Large) and Auto-area AF available.

In Auto-area AF, the camera attempts to detect the subject automatically. If you press the OK button a tracking point becomes visible. You can then move this over the subject, press OK again, and the camera will attempt to track it around the frame. This operates in both AF-S and AF-C mode but it only adjusts the focus in AF-C mode.

Read our full Nikon Z6 review

Canon EOS R

  • Phase detection points: 5,565

Unsurprisingly, the EOS R’s autofocus system is Dual Pixel CMOS AF. That means there’s phase detection focusing. What’s more, the EOS R boasts 5,655 AF positions, as Canon is calling them. These are all user-selectable and cover 100% of the frame vertically and 88% horizontally.

What’s more, Canon claims the EOS R’s AF system is sensitive down to -6EV. That means it should focus in near darkness. In addition, the Digic 8 processing engine enables Canon to claim that the R has the World’s fastest AF system. Focus acquisition is said to take just 0.05secs.

Eye AF is also present, but only in Single AF mode, not in continuous focusing mode.

Read our full Canon EOS R review

Canon EOS RP

  • Dual Pixel AF positions: 4,779

Canon has given the EOS RP an impressively-well specified autofocus (AF) system. As you’d expect with Canon, the imaging sensor is a Dual Pixel CMOS AF device, which means that the focusing uses phase detection. That’s usually faster than contrast detection.

The Dual Pixel design means that every photoreceptor is split in two so they can all play a part in focusing. There are 4,779 user-selectable AF points which cover 88% of the width and 100% of the height of the frame.

According to Canon, the RP’s AF system is operational down to -5EV when using an f/1.2 lens. That’s 1 stop behind the EOS R, but impressive nevertheless.

Face and Eye detection is also on hand and the Eye detection works with continuous AF.

Read our full Canon EOS RP review

Panasonic S1, S1R

  • DFD contrast AF points: 225

As with the S1 and its Micro Four Thirds cameras, Panasonic has used a contrast detection autofocus (AF) system in the Lumix S1R. This is claimed to have an impressively wide working range of -6Ev to 18Ev.

The AF system draws on the company’s Depth From Defocus (DFD) technology to speed the focusing. Combined with the high-speed communication afforded by the Lumix S series lenses, it delivers a claimed focus acquisition time of 0.8sec.

Artificial Intelligence is all the rage in photography at the moment, and Panasonic has employed it to help the S1 and S1R identify humans, cats, dogs and birds. Once the camera has identified one in the scene, it can focus on it.

Helpfully, you can press the joystick on the back of the camera to toggle through identified objects to select the one you want to focus on.

There are nine AF point selection modes on the S1: Face/Eye/Body/Animal Detection, Tracking, 225-Area, Zone (Vertical/ Horizontal), Zone (Square), Zone (Oval), 1-Area+, 1-Area and Pinpoint. I found 1-Area and 1-Area+ the most reliable.

However, the Face/Eye/Body/Animal Detection system does a good job of spotting those subjects in a scene. That’s indicated by a white box around them. A yellow box indicates the focus area. This is useful when there are several faces in the scene, you can just tap the one that you want to be the focus point to move the yellow box.

Read our full Panasonic S1 review

Read our full Panasonic S1R review

Fujifilm GFX100

  • Phase detection AF points: 3.67m

Although the sensor has a Bayer pattern colour filter array, it otherwise uses the same technology as the sensor in the Fujifilm X-T3. That means it has Fuji’s Intelligent Hybrid AF system that combines contrast detection with phase detection. What’s more, the phase-detection points cover virtually the whole frame and there up to 425 points available for selection.

Like Fujifilm’s X-Series cameras, the Fuji GFX 100 has Single point, Zone AF and Wide/Tracking AF options. In Single Point AF mode the focus point array can be switched between a 13×9 (117) and 25×17 (425) grid of points. There are also 6 sizes of AF point available. Similarly, in Zone AF mode the size of the zone can be changed so it covers 3×3, 5×5 or 7×7 of the 117 areas on a 13×9 grid.

Also, the customisation options that are available in cameras like the X-T3 are available on the GFX 100 in continuous autofocus (AF-C) mode.

In addition, Fujiifilm has improved the Face & Eye detection and tracking. Plus, it’s possible to switch between the detected faces to ensure the right target is used for focusing.

Thanks to the new sensor design and processor, Fujifilm is claiming a 500% improvement in the AF performance in comparison with the GFX 50S.

Read our Fujifilm GFX 100 review

Fujifilm X-T30

  • Phase detection AF pixels: 2.16m

One of the big upgrades with the Fuji X-T30 over the X-T20 is that it enables a better AF system. For instance, there are 2.16 million pixels used for phase detection autofocusing rather than 0.5 million. This gives 100% coverage with AF points.

Each AF point also benefits from 4x as much data.

According to Fuji, this, the new processing engine, an improved algorithm and the BSI design of the sensor combine to make the AF system sensitive down to -3EV.

Fujifilm has also worked on the Face & Eye Tracking system. It’s now faster and more stable than the X-T20’s. The X-T30’s exposure is less likely to fluctuate when a face is detected.

In addition, smaller or more distant faces can be detected. Previously a face needed to occupy at least 10% of the vertical space. The X-T30 can detect faces that take-up just 7% of the space.

As before, there’s a menu section dedicated to customising the continuous Autofocus (AF-C) settings. This doesn’t offer quite as much control as the X-T3, but it’s a nice feature to have. There are 5 preset options that let you tailor the camera’s AF response.

Read our full Fujifilm X-T30 review

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