AI Focus vs AI Servo: Which is Best?
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AI Focus vs AI Servo: Which is Best?

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Canon cameras have some focus priority modes. Such as One shot, AI focus, and AI servo focus modes. When photographers shoot subjects like sports or wildlife they need a stable focus mode that will continue focusing until the shutter is released.

AI Focus constantly tracks focus until the subject stops, at which point it locks focus and resumes tracking whenever the subject starts to move. The AI Servo always maintains focus and never locks.

This article is an in-depth discussion on AI focus vs AI servo to clear the confusion about them.

AI Focus vs AI Servo: Quick Comparison Table

FeaturesAI FocusAI Servo
Supported CamerasNikon, CanonCanon
FunctionLocks the focus on a subjectTracks the subject and locks the focus
PriorityTo shoot a stationary subjectTo shoot a constant moving subject

What is AI Focus?

AI Focus is an artificial system that tracks the focus continuously of a moving object until it stops. And when the subject stops moving, the camera locks up the focus and allows you to take the shot.

If you try to focus on the subject and move your camera and press the shutter you will have a defocused image. While you move the camera will keep beeping as you were supposed to stay still with the locked focus.

Simply if you lock in the subject and if you recompose, the camera will not refocus.

What is AI Servo?

AI Servo is for automatic focusing. It is Canon’s focus priority mode to shoot the moving objects without any sweat. It can monitor movement, analyze it, and adjust the image’s focus based on where it predicts the subject will be at any given moment.

In AI Servo the whole story is different. If you move with or without your subject the camera will try to focus on the subject. You will not hear any beep of locking the focus and you can move them.

The moment you switch the camera to a different location the camera will refocus immediately.

Comparison of features: AI Focus vs AI Servo

As you already know these two are camera AI system that tracks and locks the subjects and focus them.

The base work is the same for them but there are some key features to talk about.

Here are some of the comparisons of features of AI focus and AI servo:


AI Servo continually adjusts its focus to follow the moving item.

You don’t need to wait for it to catch the object because it is always ready when you want to snap the shot.

On the other hand, AI Focus continues to operate in one-shot mode until the object begins to move.

Once in AI Servo mode, it begins refocusing to follow the object. In a sense, It is clear that AI Servo is faster. AI Servo is really useful to shoot sports photography.

AI Focus struggles to focus the subjects once the subjects start moving.

So AI Servo is the clear winner here.


AI Focus can not continuously refocus, it is impossible to follow a moving object and maintain it in focus if the depth of the vision is limited. Canon made this function focus on a stationary object.

So in terms of accuracy AI focus lags a bit if you are to shoot a moving object.

AI Servo will continuously refocus to keep the moving item in focus, it is well suited to follow moving objects even with a limited field of view. It can monitor movement and adjust the image’s focus based on where it predicts the subject will be at any given moment.

Here based on accuracy AI Servo is also the winner.

AI Focus vs AI Servo The Winner

The AI Focus is not that reliable to use as it misses focus on the subjects and gives blurry images. And In terms of both Accuracy and Speed, the AI Servo is a useful function to use as it has the application field.

Here is a video where you will find every answer to your question regarding AI Focus and AI Servo.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Does AI Focus mean on canon?

AI Focus is the AF mode on Canon cameras. It locks the focus on a stationary subject. If you use your camera to stream your video or blog, The AI focus comes in handy.

What Does AI Servo mean?

AI Servo is the short form of Artificial Intelligence Servo Automatic Focusing. It is a dedicated focusing mode for moving subjects.

When would you use a Servo focus?

AI Servo is a great function to shoot sports photography. When your subject is moving and you struggle to focus on it. Then AI Servo comes in help.
It is a great mode to use if you are a sports photographer. But it is not flawless, but it does its job nicely.

What is AI Servo in  Nikon?

AI Servo AF (Canon) and AF-C (Nikon). In Nikon, the AI Servo is named as Continous focus. And it does the same job as AI Servo.
Nikon has given a  very straightforward name to the mode.

What is AI Servo in  Sony?

In Sony, the AI Servo is named Continous Autofocus. And it allows the shutter to be released with the focus confirmation.

Final Words

So this is it. I hope this explanation will remove your misconceptions and confusion about AI Focus vs AI Servo.

If are looking for a good AI focus system to assist you in photography, AI Servo is the mode for you.

In some forums (Dpreview), users said explicitly that AI Focus doesn’t work at all. And they highly suggest using the camera in AI Servo Focus mode all time.

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