Face detection in viewfinder shooting
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Face detection in viewfinder shooting

Face detection in OVF shooting is nothing new: cameras like the original 1D X, 5DS, 7D Mark II, and most full-frame Nikon cameras also have this ability. But with the 360,000 RGB+IR pixel sensor, the 1D X has the potential to recognize faces better. Does it?

In our brief time with the EOS-1D X Mark II, face detection indeed appeared to work very well. When the camera is set to iTR (Face Priority), and 61-point mode with Auto selection, in single AF (One-Shot) mode the camera is really good at finding the nearest face and focusing on it – and it even appears from our initial testing to prioritize eyes or the plane of a person's cheeks. Traditionally, we’ve found face detection in OVF shooting on Canon cameras like the 7D Mark II and 5DS to focus on the nose – possibly due to the low resolution of the metering sensor and the camera ostensibly just telling the PDAF system to focus in the general vicinity of the face (dedicated PDAF systems tend to prioritize the nearest object - like noses). With the spatial resolution of a 360,000-pixel RGB+IR sensor, though, we expect the eyes to be distinguishable features, and we found the majority of shots shot with ‘Auto’ AF area with face priority to be focused on or near the eyes, less so the nose. The system was also good at not getting confused by objects obstructing parts of faces - impressive

That said, results were less impressive in continuous AF mode (AI Servo), where iTR kicks in and can lead to erratic results. In Servo 61-point AF with iTR, we found the camera to start on or near the eye of a detected face, but then wander off to a nose, or the subject’s hair. This is consistent with our previous experiences – we’ve found iTR to be somewhat inaccurate at sticking to your initial subject (e.g. the eye of a face), potentially due to its heavy reliance on distance information over pattern recognition for subject tracking. However, we would’ve expected the 360,000-pixel RGB+IR sensor to significantly increase the accuracy of iTR for subjects such as faces and facial features, and nearer objects in general. Yet our initial impressions are that if it does, it’s not obvious (as yet).

Please note, though, again, that our initial assessment is based on use of a pre-production EOS-1D X Mark II.