4 Mirrorless Cameras Battle the Nikon D4s in an AutoFocus Shootout

TheCameraStoreTV released this very timely video yesterday in which they putting the autofocus systems of four separate mirrorless cameras — the Fuji X-T1, Sony a6000, Olympus OMD E-M1 and Panasonic GH4 — to the test against the mighty Nikon D4S.

Each of these cameras have claimed at some point or another in their marketing that they indeed have the fastest autofocus, so The Camera Store’s goal was to see which one could rise above the pack.

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Before anybody starts getting upset, it’s worth noting that The Camera Store openly states that these tests are far from technically perfect. Instead of putting them through their paces in a lab, they opted for a more real-world comparison. And so the 4 mirrorless systems took on the D4s in a rather difficult autofocus scenario involving dirt bikes.

TheCameraStoreTV team also did their best to match up equivalent glass amongst all six of the cameras, as to make it the most fair fight possible.


The results are impressive, and show that mirrorless cameras that typically cost about 1/4th the price of DSLRs such as the Nikon D4s can actually hold their own in almost every situation they were put in.

The full video is just over 14-minutes long, so if you’d like to see this performance comparison for yourself, carve out some time this holiday weekend and enjoy!

(via Mirrorless Rumors)

  • Roger Coelho

    I would have liked to see the same comparison with the more common full frame cameras like the Canon 5D3 (the price is closer to the price of the mirrorless set). Also, how do these mirrorless cameras focus in low light? I have the XE1 and it does alright, but it doesn’t come close to my 5D3. I am just curious on the more advance mirrorless cameras tested here.

    Being a mirrorless and DSLR shooter, I would love to say one is the answer to everything, but both systems still have the merits and flaws. DSLR are still the go-to for heavy work and full frame goodness. Mirrorless are compact and easier to carry around.

  • Ron

    Am i the only one that saw a difference in image quality which is better on the D4S?

  • Zos Xavius

    IQ comparisons are pretty meaningless from this video IMHO. If anything the nikon would have some more separation which would make the picture arguably better. The nikon shots had better focus too, which would improve their quality. Comparing the rendering of JPEG engines is rather pointless.

  • Scott

    Definitely not. :)

  • ietion

    If mirrorless means that the sensor is draining battery while ‘sniping’ all day, i don’t think there is any luck for them against DSLRs. For heavy use at least.

  • Esprit

    The D4s images looked quite a bit better, I expected it to be closer.

  • Dan Tauro

    Would the lens not have a lot to do with the focus speed? Sure the camera is important but 2.8 lens just has more available light to focus with since the focusing is done at 2.8 which was a disadvantage for the Fuji. To me a camera is only as good as it’s lens lineup and let’s face it the lenses for mirrorless cameras are still on catchup.

  • kenyee

    Which lenses were used on each?

  • drboudreaux

    Considering that the mirror less cameras are still in their infancy and the D4 is the culmination of decades of r&d, the quality gap in this testy should have been much wider. DR shooters will never admit that there is something on the horizon that is closing the gap. The bigger is better mentality will never allow for that. I recently switched from a Nikon D3 to the Fuji X-men and I find the quality at 16×20 to be near identical. I, personally, don’t needa huge camera to look professional, just great images.

  • Edgar Allan Bro

    yeah, because mirrorless cameras were developed in a vacuum and in no way use processes, systems or technology from existing DSLRs.

  • kassim

    “I recently switched from a Nikon D3 to the Fuji X-men…”

    Man, don’t compare human tech to a mutant elite group tech.. hahahaha

  • Dale R Boudreaux

    I was using my DSLR spell check apparently.

  • Devorah Kaye Goldstein

    if u go to about 1/3 in on the video, he mentions which lens was chosen for each system.

  • AMVR

    This is not the age of Ni-MH, if there was such a critical limitation as that no company i.e. not Sony, not Fuji, not Panasonic, not Olympus, not Pentax, not Nikon, not Canon, not Samsung, not Leica, no one would be investing in mirrorless right now. Also, mirrorless have had battery grips for a long time now.

  • Zos Xavius

    in mirrorless everything from AF to metering is traditionally done in software whereas a DSLR has dedicated subsystems for these features that is designed with very mature technologies. Its only been until PDAF on the sensor, improved processing speeds and better algorithms have caught up to where MILC can start to compete with the major advantages DSLRs still have. What you say has merit, but the core image processor and sensor are only one part of a much bigger package that has to work together. Notice how he states that he had a much easier time keeping things in frame with the DSLR due to reduced blackout? There are still significant gaps for certain kinds of shooting, though this shootout shows that these gaps are getting narrower.

  • AMVR

    ¨arguably¨ indeed. Blowing away all the contextual content of a photo is not a asset, it is, in the vast majority of cases, a flaw. It’s by far the worst trend in recent photographic history, it wasn’t up until a few years ago that thin DOF was considered a problem rather than a solution for composition.

    Also, there’s no way anyone can tell a difference in IQ from a highly compressed youtube video.

  • Mirrorless

    Where the Nikon V3 which they shy off from testing?

  • ietion

    Olympus OM-D E-M1 – ‘330 shots per charge’. Sony Alpha 7R ‘340 shots per charge’. And I don’t know if we are even considering any ‘stand by’ time at all in these numbers. Even my 11 years old 10D can easily beat these numbers on a single battery.

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  • David Drufke

    It depends on your subject and your background, and what type of photo you are creating. And I think thin dof is much better than spot coloring, HDR, vintage and film actions and presets, overuse of clarity, oversharpening of eyes, and other recent trends, but to each their own.

  • David Drufke

    I totally agree, but it’s still an interesting test.

  • David Drufke

    Yes, but almost every new DSLR has better image quality than the D3 too.

  • Ken Elliott

    I noticed that too. I don’t expect to see much difference in a You Tube video – yet it was there. It would be interesting to see those mirrorless cameras go against like-priced dSLRs.

  • mikeaubrey

    I’ve gotten more like 700 on my E-M5’s batter. It all depend son your usage. Just stop chimping and you’ll get more shots.

  • Gery

    If I’m not mistakken, they match Fuji’s aperture, so all the 2.8 lenses shoots at f/4

  • Gery

    Yep. Then again, sensor size don’t lie. They are just comparing performance here. It’s about time for Canon and Nikon to start issuing a new generation of APS-C camera with +/- 10fps burst. They have the tech, they are just holding it until now, making money from old tech on the expense of customers.

  • Dan Tauro

    But during auto focus the aperture is as wide as the lens allows. Then there are other factors like the motors that do the autofocus. All physical things that affect auto focus that are apart from the body. So it is hard to judge based on several different lenses across 4 or 5 platforms.

  • jkantor267

    These cameras just aren’t small enough. I don’t want anything I can’t hold with only two fingers.$T2eC16Z,!)cE9s4Pud,wBR229Jviug~~60_35.JPG

  • kenyee

    To spare people the watch…the 12-35/2.8 for GH4, the 24-70/2.8 for the D4, 12-40/2.8 for OM, and 16-50/2.8 for the Sony

  • Marc Hill

    Of course with the GH4 one can always pull respectable 8 meg frames from the 4K video