The Sony NEX line is already knocking it out of the park, so this news comes as icing on the cake. SonyAlphaRumors.com has good word that the upcoming Sony NEX-5R (which will replace the NEX-5N) will sport a new 16MP CMOS sensor with phase detection AF sensors built as pixels directly on the sensor.
For those unfamiliar with the tech, phase detection AF is what’s used in all DSLRs; however, most mirrorless cameras to date have featured a contrast detection AF method. The contrast AF system has gotten better in recent years – with Sony, Panasonic and Olympus doing a bang-up job of making it much faster in the latest models. However, if you’ve used both a DSLR and a mirrorless camera, then you know that DSLRs just focus faster . . . and that’s due to phase detection AF.
The recently announced Canon EOS M features a phase detection AF method at the pixel level as well. And, Canon even introduced the feature into the Canon Rebel T4i. While the Rebel T4i certainly does a better job at AF than other traditional DSLRs, it still has a ways to go based on my early testing with the camera for full time AF during video. Hopefully, the EOS M performs much better than the Rebel T4i’s AF.
But Sony is really sneaking up on Canon and Nikon. Frankly, I think Sony is the manufacturer to beat at this point in the mirrorless market. If the new NEX-5R steps up the game with an even better AF system than exists in current NEX models, then it’s going to be hard for others to really push past.