Party Time! 10 Cameras With AF That Can Handle The Dance Floor

If you are an event photographer of any sort, be it a wedding or other gathering, chances are good that you may find yourself in a low-light situation pretty regularly. In a fast paced low-light environment your camera’s AF is critical to achieving quality images in that sort of setting, and as we all know, not all cameras are created equal when it comes to low-light AF.

So, what camera(s) should you be considering if you know that shooting a party is a likely scenario for you? Look no further, we’ve got you covered.

*As we often do for these list posts, we are just presenting a variety of good options and the order of the list is not to be considered a ranking*

Canon 5D Mark IV

“In extremely low light situations, the hit rate is simply astounding. Very few Nikon cameras can keep up like this. Part of that has to do with the autofocus system being very similar to the 1DX Mk II’s. It just works. Comparatively speaking though, Olympus is still better in a lot of situations and the new Sony a99 II can track moving targets extremely well.” — Read The Full 5D Mark IV Review

There is a reason that Canon’s 5D series has always been such a popular choice for wedding an event professionals. Beyond their excellent image quality and robust build, their AF system just works in all situations you could realistically ask them to. If you shoot Canon, this is for sure a camera to consider for your event kit.

Canon’s [amazon_textlink asin=’B01KURGS9E’ text=’5D Mark IV’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5887b041-5d00-11e7-96f2-215a80739eb6′] is currently available on Amazon for [amazon_textlink asin=’B01KURGS9E’ text=’Canon 5D Mark IV’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’524a65e1-5d00-11e7-9a0e-53ba77d73725′].

Fujifilm X-T2

“So most of the time the autofocus is pretty spot on an accurate. In low lighting without a whole lot of contrast, the autofocus can work pretty darn reliably… Tracking and continuous autofocus in good lighting and with a wide angle lens is also pretty solid. To be fair though, it’s pretty tough for any system to really mess that up in 2016.” — Read The Full X-T2 Review

The days of crop sensor cameras being extremely watered down next to their full frame counterparts is long gone, and no crop camera quite drives this point home like the Fujifilm X-T2. The X-T2 is the best that Fujifilm currently has to offer in regards to Autofocus performance and for party/event photographers this is the Fuji camera to consider.

Fujifilm’s [amazon_textlink asin=’B01I3LNMAM’ text=’X-T2′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0b1908fb-5d01-11e7-9cb0-f71e6b9c191a’] is currently available on Amazon for [amazon_textlink asin=’B01I3LNMAM’ text=’Fujifilm X-T2′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’04fe13c1-5d01-11e7-8c80-253c9dea51ba’].

Sony A7R II

“Part of this has to do with the 399-point AF system, which even in strongly backlit situations nails the focusing around 90% of the time. Indeed, the Sony A7r Mk II is just as reliable as a DSLR when it comes to focusing situations–and that goes for both single focusing and continuous focusing.” — Read The Full A7R II Review

Sure the A9 has better AF, but it is also what we would say is likely out of the budget for your average event professional. In the Sony ecosystem the A7R II has it all – high resolution, stellar image quality, and fast/accurate AF. It will be interesting to see what features from the A9 trickle down into the A7 series cameras, but for now, if you are going A7, the A7R II is where you want to be as an event or party photographer.

Sony’s [amazon_textlink asin=’B00ZDWGFR2′ text=’A7R II’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ea641f21-5d01-11e7-9967-05b82cbd8b05′] is currently available on Amazon for [amazon_textlink asin=’B00ZDWGFR2′ text=’Sony A7r II’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’df8c3e16-5d01-11e7-9aa8-19e667f97c07′].

Event Tip: Throw your camera into single-point AF mode and make use of an AF-Assist Beam (on camera or on speedlight) to get the best AF performance in low-light situations. 

Olympus OMD E-M1 MkII

“Olympus has forever been the king of autofocusing and, when it comes to the OMD E-M1 MK II, that’s still the case. It’s still got the fastest and most reliable autofocus I’ve ever seen and that is no small statement. Fujifilm, Canon, and Sony all do very well with their mirrorless systems in their newer cameras, but Olympus seriously takes the cake here.” — Read The Full OMD E-M1 Mk II Review

Many people probably don’t think of micro four thirds cameras as low-light tools for party and event photographers, but the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk II is exactly that. In our experience this camera has some of the fastest and most accurate AF around and it would no doubt be a great asset for an event photographer.

Olympus’s [amazon_textlink asin=’B01M4MB3DK’ text=’OM-D E-M1 Mk II’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9258569a-5d02-11e7-82ac-0198ebb029a4′] is currently available on Amazon for [amazon_textlink asin=’B01M4MB3DK’ text=’OMD EM1 MK II’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8d6f0357-5d02-11e7-89a6-49763fd0ffbd’].

Nikon D810

“In typical day to day autofocus operations, the D810 is a champion and a star. With both Nikon lenses and third party offerings it can focus quickly and track subjects with no issues. Part of this is due to the fact that Nikon took the D4s’ focusing and put it into this camera. So if you’re shooting sports, then you’ll have no problems at all and nothing to complain about. The same applies for portrait shooting and events at a weddings” — Read The Full D810 Review

The D810 may be getting a little long in the tooth compared to the other options on this list, but for the party and event photographer out there this is where we would place our money in the Nikon system. Similarly to the 5D Mark IV, this is a camera that can take virtually any AF situation you throw at it and perform well.

Nikon’s [amazon_textlink asin=’B00LAJQVR6′ text=’D810′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d86af5db-5d04-11e7-ba48-edd906e55862′] is currently available on Amazon for [amazon_textlink asin=’B00LAJQVR6′ text=’Nikon D810′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d38dd73d-5d04-11e7-ae37-638528f4ab7a’].

Pentax K-1

“The camera feels great in the hands, and it’s more than good enough to take a lot of abuse. However, I personally once again like the feel of Canon and Sony’s offerings. Maybe that’s because I’ve spent considerable more time with their cameras. But if given enough time, I’m sure I’d have no issues with the Pentax vs the rest.” — Read The Full K-1 Review

Pentax made some noise when they finally entered the full frame DSLR market with the K-1, and although this may not be a product line many of you have considered, for the party and event professional it offers a feature set that fits nicely with their needs. For current Pentax users this is a no brainer.

Pentax’s [amazon_textlink asin=’B01BL6L3G6′ text=’K-1′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9bbf895a-5d05-11e7-ba48-edd906e55862′] is currently available on Amazon for [amazon_textlink asin=’B01BL6L3G6′ text=’Pentax K-1′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’970200f3-5d05-11e7-85a5-df1f3b2b2d5b’].

Party Tip: Sometimes mixed lighting in a party atmosphere can be really annoying and hard to fix. In a case like that processing in black and white can save a lot of headaches. 

Other Great Options

While the options above would headline our list, the following cameras should also be considered.

  • Canon 6D Mark II (Read our Initial Thoughts)
  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B01A8DUR74′ text=’Fujifilm X-Pro2′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’78f999b0-5d06-11e7-9cb0-f71e6b9c191a’] (Read our Review)
  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B007FGYZFI’ text=’Canon 5D Mark III’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7d5ec828-5d06-11e7-873e-3d72a0925145′] (Read our Review)
  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B01M586Y9R’ text=’Sony A6500′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’84f3178d-5d06-11e7-9677-b79ee4a5b7df’] (Read our Review)
  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B0060MVJ1Q’ text=’Nikon D750′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’89740b34-5d06-11e7-81b8-f547df1a16bb’] (Read our Review)


Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.