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How is the R5 eye-AF?
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Author:  OntPhoto [ Tue Oct 12, 2021 9:17 pm ]
Post subject:  How is the R5 eye-AF?

I have heard mixed results but mostly positive for the eye-AF of the R5.  The camera tracks the subject by focusing on the eye.  One person said for the eye-AF to work well on the R5, the subject has to be close.  Is that true?  What has been your experience?

He said maybe Sony is better.  I had no idea if Sony even has eye-AF. 

Author:  hullyjr [ Tue Oct 12, 2021 10:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How is the R5 eye-AF?

I can only comment on using the R5 with the EF600/4 II + 1.4x. The bird eye-AF so far has worked brilliantly for me. Two subjects, Brant geese & Black Scoters have dark/black heads but that did not prevent the cameras from finding the eye even when I could not see it. The latter were 100+ feet away, bobbing on Lake Michigan in windy conditions. There is no need to get close as long as there is enough of the bird shape for the software to recognize. The Brant was feeding on grass under the water so the head would temporarily disappear. The eye-AF would then track the body until the head re-appeared. Only time it did not find the head was when the goose was head on but it still tracked the bird. On hummingbirds it just tracks the eye as they buzz back and forth next to a feeder. Just amazing, after so many years of hand/finger dexterity that was never faster enough. I've yet to try it with BIF or on bird flocks.

My biggest challenge was to "unlearn" the old DSLR way of getting one of the AF points, normally in the center of the viewfinder, onto the birds head. Now you focus on getting the subject correctly positioned in the viewfinder.

The higher end Sony and Olympus cameras have this capability.

This will be standard fair in a few years, maybe you get to select a menu of subject options. I would like to see moths, butterflies & dragonflies. And how long before bird ID is built in - the camera adds the species to your metadata or title along with location information!

Author:  Robert Royse [ Sat Oct 16, 2021 4:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How is the R5 eye-AF?

My experience using the bird eye af on the R5 with the EF800L is mixed. It does extremely well zeroing ion on bird eyes with large birds at a fair distance such as waterfowl, gulls, and shorebirds.

As far as tracking small warblers and sparrows at close range when the DOF is millimeters that is a whole other story. The eye tracking does find the eye well enough and tracks it, but the camera doesn't necessarily turn that into a precision spot AF point. If you try that and use the electronic shutter in servo mode, you'll probably get some keepers if your shutter speed is fast enough. I don't know about other lenses with the R5, but the 800 has focusing issues at close range and isn't always reliable with any focusing method on that camera compared to the 1 series DSLR's.

ETA :
This morning I was out playing around with the RF 800 f11. It also focuses well at distant subjects and is more hit and miss up close on small birds up close with the eye focus.

Author:  Ed Cordes [ Mon Oct 18, 2021 7:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How is the R5 eye-AF?

Image


I have been using he R5 for about a year and added the 100-500 about 2 months later.  My experience has been totally positive. I use the animal eye detect mostly on birds, mostly on smaller song birds.  The system seems to find the eye fast and tracks it very well.  Small songbird distance is about 10-50 feet.  I, of course have shot very successfully at longer distances but those are not my usual conditions.  I have had many successful flight shots of little and medium size birds at 25-75 feet and larger birds at 100+ feet.  Here is a shot I just never would have gotten if it weren't for the R5 system. R5 with 100-500 and 1.4 TC 1/2000 ISO 3200 F 10

Author:  OntPhoto [ Fri Oct 22, 2021 9:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How is the R5 eye-AF?

hullyjr wrote:
I can only comment on using the R5 with the EF600/4 II + 1.4x. The bird eye-AF so far has worked brilliantly for me. Two subjects, Brant geese & Black Scoters have dark/black heads but that did not prevent the cameras from finding the eye even when I could not see it. The latter were 100+ feet away, bobbing on Lake Michigan in windy conditions. There is no need to get close as long as there is enough of the bird shape for the software to recognize. The Brant was feeding on grass under the water so the head would temporarily disappear. The eye-AF would then track the body until the head re-appeared. Only time it did not find the head was when the goose was head on but it still tracked the bird. On hummingbirds it just tracks the eye as they buzz back and forth next to a feeder. Just amazing, after so many years of hand/finger dexterity that was never faster enough. I've yet to try it with BIF or on bird flocks.

My biggest challenge was to "unlearn" the old DSLR way of getting one of the AF points, normally in the center of the viewfinder, onto the birds head. Now you focus on getting the subject correctly positioned in the viewfinder.

The higher end Sony and Olympus cameras have this capability.

This will be standard fair in a few years, maybe you get to select a menu of subject options. I would like to see moths, butterflies & dragonflies. And how long before bird ID is built in - the camera adds the species to your metadata or title along with location information!

Thanks Jim for that feedback. It fits what I have heard from some others.  Maybe this other fella isn't using it properly.  He is not so much a photographer as a hard-core birder.  I like how the R5 allows for quicker composition as you say, the AF point does not have to be on the head.  Hmmmmmm, I wonder if the R5 can recognize a moths eyes now?

I will eventually upgrade to the R6.  The R6 over the R5 because I want the ultimate in low-light to match my current Canon 6D (version 1).  Of course the R6 has so many advantages over the 6D.  Number 1 being the eye-focus.

Author:  OntPhoto [ Fri Oct 22, 2021 10:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How is the R5 eye-AF?

Robert Royse wrote:
My experience using the bird eye af on the R5 with the EF800L is mixed. It does extremely well zeroing ion on bird eyes with large birds at a fair distance such as waterfowl, gulls, and shorebirds.

As far as tracking small warblers and sparrows at close range when the DOF is millimeters that is a whole other story. The eye tracking does find the eye well enough and tracks it, but the camera doesn't necessarily turn that into a precision spot AF point. If you try that and use the electronic shutter in servo mode, you'll probably get some keepers if your shutter speed is fast enough. I don't know about other lenses with the R5, but the 800 has focusing issues at close range and isn't always reliable with any focusing method on that camera compared to the 1 series DSLR's.

ETA :
This morning I was out playing around with the RF 800 f11. It also focuses well at distant subjects and is more hit and miss up close on small birds up close with the eye focus.

Interesting feedback Robert.  You would think the closer the subject is the better the eye AF will be. Then again, you are having to deal with the "personality" of a particular lens, MFD, etc.  I haven't used the 800 so could not speak about how it works. 

This birder uses the Canon 100-400L IS II.  I plan to get more info from him (lighting condition at the time, normal settings on camera, etc.).  But as your experience shows, it depends on so many variables. 

Author:  OntPhoto [ Fri Oct 22, 2021 11:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How is the R5 eye-AF?

Ed Cordes wrote:
Image


I have been using he R5 for about a year and added the 100-500 about 2 months later.  My experience has been totally positive. I use the animal eye detect mostly on birds, mostly on smaller song birds.  The system seems to find the eye fast and tracks it very well.  Small songbird distance is about 10-50 feet.  I, of course have shot very successfully at longer distances but those are not my usual conditions.  I have had many successful flight shots of little and medium size birds at 25-75 feet and larger birds at 100+ feet.  Here is a shot I just never would have gotten if it weren't for the R5 system. R5 with 100-500 and 1.4 TC 1/2000 ISO 3200 F 10

Thanks Ed.  I know someone with similar gear and this person has good experience with the same combo as you.  All this means I have to see for myself.  But my variables will be different from yours (of course).  

Author:  Tim Grams [ Sat Oct 23, 2021 11:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How is the R5 eye-AF?

Overall, I'm very impressed with the Eye focus on the R5. When it works, its a tremendous tool. But it does have limitations. Birds with spots in their plumage, specifically downy and hairy woodpeckers, cause problems for the camera. The focal point jumps between various spots and the eye.

It has proven to be extremely unreliable on moose, both bulls and cows. Sometimes it will work with a cow, but its so seldom that I manually move the focal point around on the subject. On a bull with antlers it is totally confused. It works good on bears and will almost always lock on to an eye after a bit of hunting.

It seems to do better with most birds than with large mammals.

Author:  Robert Royse [ Sat Oct 23, 2021 1:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How is the R5 eye-AF?

OntPhoto wrote:
Robert Royse wrote:
My experience using the bird eye af on the R5 with the EF800L is mixed. It does extremely well zeroing ion on bird eyes with large birds at a fair distance such as waterfowl, gulls, and shorebirds.

As far as tracking small warblers and sparrows at close range when the DOF is millimeters that is a whole other story. The eye tracking does find the eye well enough and tracks it, but the camera doesn't necessarily turn that into a precision spot AF point. If you try that and use the electronic shutter in servo mode, you'll probably get some keepers if your shutter speed is fast enough. I don't know about other lenses with the R5, but the 800 has focusing issues at close range and isn't always reliable with any focusing method on that camera compared to the 1 series DSLR's.

ETA :
This morning I was out playing around with the RF 800 f11. It also focuses well at distant subjects and is more hit and miss up close on small birds up close with the eye focus.

Interesting feedback Robert.  You would think the closer the subject is the better the eye AF will be. Then again, you are having to deal with the "personality" of a particular lens, MFD, etc.  I haven't used the 800 so could not speak about how it works. 

This birder uses the Canon 100-400L IS II.  I plan to get more info from him (lighting condition at the time, normal settings on camera, etc.).  But as your experience shows, it depends on so many variables. 



I just think that the EF800L needs the battery of a 1 series camera to power it correctly.  I have been doing extensive testing with the R5 and that lens. When it nails focus it's spectacular, but initial shots when the lens stopped down a bit don't hit the mark on the first try. If you are in one shot mode and point that lens at close range at a small bird and fire off one frame, don't expect it to hit the mark like it would with a 1 series DSLR. If you're in the electronic shutter mode and hold the shutter down for a half of a second it will eventually get into focus. Doing that leaves you with hundreds and hundreds of 45 mp files to sort though very quickly. I could go on and on about that lens and the R5, but I'll leave it at that for now. My guess is that my particular lens will work great with the R3 if I had $6K to spend on a 24mp camera.

For what it's worth, I also recently got the RF 800. It makes for a fun carry around lens. Shoot it in crop mode with the eye control focus and you'll get some keepers in nice light capable of making razor sharp 13x19 prints if processed well. I don't demand much from it, so I am less concerned when the results aren't 100% perfect every time, which they certainly aren't. I also have the EF 100-400. It seems to focus well on the R5 being a smaller less power hungry lens. I haven't tried it on birds since I don't find it long enough to be especially useful for that. It nails the wildflowers that I have used it on.

Author:  OntPhoto [ Tue Nov 02, 2021 10:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How is the R5 eye-AF?

Robert Royse wrote:
OntPhoto wrote:
Robert Royse wrote:
My experience using the bird eye af on the R5 with the EF800L is mixed. It does extremely well zeroing ion on bird eyes with large birds at a fair distance such as waterfowl, gulls, and shorebirds.

As far as tracking small warblers and sparrows at close range when the DOF is millimeters that is a whole other story. The eye tracking does find the eye well enough and tracks it, but the camera doesn't necessarily turn that into a precision spot AF point. If you try that and use the electronic shutter in servo mode, you'll probably get some keepers if your shutter speed is fast enough. I don't know about other lenses with the R5, but the 800 has focusing issues at close range and isn't always reliable with any focusing method on that camera compared to the 1 series DSLR's.

ETA :
This morning I was out playing around with the RF 800 f11. It also focuses well at distant subjects and is more hit and miss up close on small birds up close with the eye focus.

Interesting feedback Robert.  You would think the closer the subject is the better the eye AF will be. Then again, you are having to deal with the "personality" of a particular lens, MFD, etc.  I haven't used the 800 so could not speak about how it works. 

This birder uses the Canon 100-400L IS II.  I plan to get more info from him (lighting condition at the time, normal settings on camera, etc.).  But as your experience shows, it depends on so many variables. 



I just think that the EF800L needs the battery of a 1 series camera to power it correctly.  I have been doing extensive testing with the R5 and that lens. When it nails focus it's spectacular, but initial shots when the lens stopped down a bit don't hit the mark on the first try. If you are in one shot mode and point that lens at close range at a small bird and fire off one frame, don't expect it to hit the mark like it would with a 1 series DSLR. If you're in the electronic shutter mode and hold the shutter down for a half of a second it will eventually get into focus. Doing that leaves you with hundreds and hundreds of 45 mp files to sort though very quickly. I could go on and on about that lens and the R5, but I'll leave it at that for now. My guess is that my particular lens will work great with the R3 if I had $6K to spend on a 24mp camera.

For what it's worth, I also recently got the RF 800. It makes for a fun carry around lens. Shoot it in crop mode with the eye control focus and you'll get some keepers in nice light capable of making razor sharp 13x19 prints if processed well. I don't demand much from it, so I am less concerned when the results aren't 100% perfect every time, which they certainly aren't. I also have the EF 100-400. It seems to focus well on the R5 being a smaller less power hungry lens. I haven't tried it on birds since I don't find it long enough to be especially useful for that. It nails the wildflowers that I have used it on.


Thanks for sharing your experience. Particularly the possible battery power issue with some lenses.  Gives me a new perspective on the R5 and R6 series.  Good to see the pros and cons compared to a DSLR like the 1Dx but most of the people I know who use a 1Dx have switched to R5 and not going back.  These same people are likely going to upgrade to the R3.  

Author:  Robert Royse [ Wed Nov 03, 2021 4:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How is the R5 eye-AF?

OntPhoto wrote:

Thanks for sharing your experience. Particularly the possible battery power issue with some lenses.  Gives me a new perspective on the R5 and R6 series.  Good to see the pros and cons compared to a DSLR like the 1Dx but most of the people I know who use a 1Dx have switched to R5 and not going back.  These same people are likely going to upgrade to the R3.  


After using the R5 a while I will never want go back to a DSLR again either. Right now I'm left with only very expensive options, since my current 800L is a great optic but it's very heavy and really not usable on the R5 the way I would want to use it. Options I have are to get the R3 and hope it works with the lens, sell the 800 while I still can something for it and get a 600f4RF, or dump all my Canon gear and start again from scratch with Sony. Right now I'm leaning toward the Sony route. I feel like sticking with Canon just to use some old EF mouint lenses and accessories is kind of like dumping money into a car with 175K miles on it just to get 200k out of it.

Author:  OntPhoto [ Tue Nov 09, 2021 11:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: How is the R5 eye-AF?

What does everyone think about this comment by a poster on DPR?  It said a French site tested the eye-AF of the R5 and R6 and found the R6 had a better hit rate over the more-megapixel R5.  For those who have used both, what has been your experience?  Reading threads like that also put the expectations of eye-AF into perspective for me.

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4535180

Author:  Robert Royse [ Sat Nov 20, 2021 8:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How is the R5 eye-AF?

Since I last posted on this thread I did what a lot of people did 10 years ago and sold my 800L and got a (lightly used) EF600mm f4L IS II. It's fantastic with the R5 alone and with both 1.4x and 2x tc's. The eye AF works amazingly well, even with things like Downy Woodpeckers, picking the eye out and nailing it among all the spots and stripes. I'm sold on it now and there is no turning back the clock.

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