Canon 1D X Mark III Versus Sony a9 II: Which Has Better Autofocus?

The two heavyweights when it comes to flagship sports and wildlife cameras are the Sony a9 II and the recently released Canon 1D X Mark III. The ability of the autofocus to track a subject is critical, so how do the two compare when placed side by side?

This short video from Jared Polin shows the Sony and the Canon going head-to-head. The differences between the two are incredibly subtle, which might be something of a surprise given that the Sony is a mirrorless camera, while in this real-world test, the Canon is a DSLR with its mirror locked up.

Both offer 20 frames per second when using the electronic shutter, and some will argue that the Canon’s 16 fps when shooting with its mechanical shutter — compared to the a9 II's 10 fps — offers it a distinct advantage when shooting under artificial lights, as it can produce less banding.

The performance of the 1D X Mark III in mirrorless mode bodes well for Canon’s future mirrorless cameras, such as the EOS R5 that is due to be released later this year. Canon clearly has the potential to produce a mirrorless camera with autofocus to match the Sony a9, but it remains to be seen whether it chooses to pack the R5 with enough processing power to give that performance.

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

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6 Comments

Who is shooting action/sport handhold and framing so large ?

1DxIII AF seems to be far more efficient in OVF mode framed accurately.
Looks like a useless comparison for sports photographers. I doubt, any sony's bodies other than in ambassadors hands, will be present in important events like Olympics games in Tokyo.

VINICIUS YUZO ZUCARELI's picture

A GOOD video by Jared Polin? Surprise! I liked it, even though I would have left Canon using the OVF. This is not actually the best scenario for it, but I would say it would be faster.

For really fast paced sports I would say Canon on the OVF wins hands down, and I would like to see it happening.

Alex Yakimov's picture

Since it seem that OVF is the way with sports then let's wait for a real comparison. With D6 I mean *-)

Ziggy Stardust's picture

Interesting but hardly a demanding test. It can't answer the headline question.

This shows a Canon DSLR with mirror up does as well as a dedicated Sony mirrorless. The R5 specs look to put the a9II in the dustbin of also ran in the distance regarding sports and superior AF. Poor Nikon looks to have just warmed over the D5 with a new name and not much else. Look out for Canon this year with pro RF lenses and looks like 4 new bodies coming out this year, R5, R6 and two un-named models. Wow, Canon has decided to show dominance. Like they did with the EOS 620 and 650 were proof of a superior concept that led to utterly destroying Nikon in the pro arena and now the R5 is the follow-up of the proof of concept R and RP. It looks to utterly dominate even without being the top Canon pro model. WOW.