Disappointed with animal eye AF on R5

Started Nov 25, 2020 | Discussions
knutte Regular Member • Posts: 481
Disappointed with animal eye AF on R5
1

Went to the Channel Islands NP today, had my EF70-200/f4 II w/ 1.4 ext on the whole time in anticipation of wild animals. saw bald eagle,Santa Cruz Island fox, stellar jay and hundreds of dolphins. So many missed shots because the eye AF just didn't lock in. Did I expect too much? Am I missing some other setting? In case of the fox, is it because he closed his eyes? (That's a joke....).

Interesting fact: The Santa Cruz Island Fox became an endangered species after bald eagles moved to the island and started to prey on the feral pigs that also roamed the island and also on the foxes in the 1990's and after initiating the program, they became one of the fastest most successful recovery programs in US history!

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PMUK
PMUK Senior Member • Posts: 2,134
Re: Disappointed with animal eye AF on R5
3

knutte wrote:

Went to the Channel Islands NP today, had my EF70-200/f4 II w/ 1.4 ext on the whole time in anticipation of wild animals. saw bald eagle,Santa Cruz Island fox, stellar jay and hundreds of dolphins. So many missed shots because the eye AF just didn't lock in. Did I expect too much? Am I missing some other setting? In case of the fox, is it because he closed his eyes? (That's a joke....).

Interesting fact: The Santa Cruz Island Fox became an endangered species after bald eagles moved to the island and started to prey on the feral pigs that also roamed the island and also on the foxes in the 1990's and after initiating the program, they became one of the fastest most successful recovery programs in US history!

Hi knutte,

I’m not sure whether animal eye-AF is intended to cover dolphins or not (I haven’t had a chance to try mine with aquatic subjects), but what AF settings were you actually using?

(Had you set - 'Animal Priority', selected 'face + tracking AF' and then enabled 'eye-AF'?).

I find the more I can fill the frame with the subject, the better eye/ face/ body AF works.

Phil

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gavin
gavin Veteran Member • Posts: 8,124
Re: Disappointed with animal eye AF on R5
1

animal AF has issues with some type of animals and confusing background. I think the dolphin it is probably moving too fast in and out of water?

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Davidof_CR Regular Member • Posts: 153
Re: Disappointed with animal eye AF on R5
4

It is optimised for dogs, cats and birds.

Fox ... may be, it would be better if it is closer

Dolfin ... definitely not intended to recognise it

I think the number of recognised animals will increase but until then we have to use other modes.

David

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Colin46 Senior Member • Posts: 1,683
Re: Disappointed with animal eye AF on R5
5

knutte wrote:

Went to the Channel Islands NP today, had my EF70-200/f4 II w/ 1.4 ext on the whole time in anticipation of wild animals. saw bald eagle,Santa Cruz Island fox, stellar jay and hundreds of dolphins. So many missed shots because the eye AF just didn't lock in. Did I expect too much? Am I missing some other setting? In case of the fox, is it because he closed his eyes? (That's a joke....).

Interesting fact: The Santa Cruz Island Fox became an endangered species after bald eagles moved to the island and started to prey on the feral pigs that also roamed the island and also on the foxes in the 1990's and after initiating the program, they became one of the fastest most successful recovery programs in US history!

In the dolphin shot, I don’t think the eyes would be recognisable as eyes due to the size and the distance away. It’s a record shot at best and not really what eye focus was intended for sorry.

it’s not really an animal shot, it’s more a water shot that just happens to have a animal in it occupying a very small part of the frame.

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koenkooi Contributing Member • Posts: 501
Re: Disappointed with animal eye AF on R5
1

knutte wrote:

Went to the Channel Islands NP today, had my EF70-200/f4 II w/ 1.4 ext on the whole time in anticipation of wild animals. saw bald eagle,Santa Cruz Island fox, stellar jay and hundreds of dolphins. So many missed shots because the eye AF just didn't lock in. Did I expect too much? Am I missing some other setting? In case of the fox, is it because he closed his eyes? (That's a joke....).[..]

Did you set the eye-AF to animal priority?

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Marco Nero
Marco Nero Veteran Member • Posts: 7,361
Eye-Detect AF
7

knutte wrote:

Went to the Channel Islands NP today, had my EF70-200/f4 II w/ 1.4 ext on the whole time in anticipation of wild animals. saw bald eagle,Santa Cruz Island fox, stellar jay and hundreds of dolphins. So many missed shots because the eye AF just didn't lock in. Did I expect too much? Am I missing some other setting? In case of the fox, is it because he closed his eyes? (That's a joke....).

I see two problems:  One is that you're using an older EF lens on the R5 and you've added an Extender to this lens.  The use of the Extender reduces contrast which makes AF less reliable.  The use of an older type lens with a newer type camera that possesses Eye-Detect AF may prove problematic.  You can tell on the EVF and LCD whether or not the camera is locking onto the eye.  If in doubt, switch to a small-box reticule for AF.  That's exactly how I'd have dealt with this concern.    As I said earlier this year when the R5/6 were announced, photographers are going to get a little lazy.  I don't aim that comment at you... I'm just saying that as technology advances, people tend to lose touch with their "normal" routine methods and techniques and even skilled photographers forget to select the right methods or operational features.  I did it myself the other day.

Interesting fact: The Santa Cruz Island Fox became an endangered species after bald eagles moved to the island and started to prey on the feral pigs that also roamed the island and also on the foxes in the 1990's and after initiating the program, they became one of the fastest most successful recovery programs in US history!

Not sure if you saw the videos by several reviewers prior to the commercial release of the R5/R6 but beyond 20 feet, the Eye-Detect AF switches to "head detect" when eyes are unavailable or are no longer facing the camera.  This was noted by one reviewer using the eye-detect AF with skateboarders.  The Camera would still track the heads at greater differences but unless the person was close enough to detect the details of the eye, the camera would not do so.  The A.I. onboard the camera tracks movement and faces at longer distances.  From my own experiments with indoor animals and even backlit, inanimate, scaled human figures showed the camera was looking for a reflection in the eye to lock focus onto - whenever it was able to frame the head. 
.
Your Fox photograph shows that the animal was behind plants that were in the mid-ground/foreground.  That's probably going to mess with the Eye-Detect AF.  Unlike many dogs, the shape of the fox's face has markings on it that disguise the location of the eyes.  The Dolphin would have been a bit of a lost cause to begin with due to shape, eye-placement and reflections.
.
Try taking your camera to a zoo and observe how the A.I. will learn to identify what it is you're interested in targeting.   For indoor animals, I've found the Eye-Detect works fine.  Very lowlight scenes and environments will prove problematic on occasion.  My black cat is the one that the Eye-Detect AF struggles with.  Sometimes, it comes down to several other factors such as how bright your lens is (limitations with lowlight AF performance on any camera is often connected directly to available Aperture range).
.
My EOS R6 tracks bees in flight (which is pretty cool) and butterflies.  But unless I can personally see a reflection on the eyeballs of an animal, I find the camera can be less than reliable.  Switching to "human" or "no preference" instead of animal also eems to be problematic if Animals are your subject.

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Marco Nero.

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John Sheehy Forum Pro • Posts: 25,296
Re: Disappointed with animal eye AF on R5
8

knutte wrote:

Went to the Channel Islands NP today, had my EF70-200/f4 II w/ 1.4 ext on the whole time in anticipation of wild animals. saw bald eagle,Santa Cruz Island fox, stellar jay and hundreds of dolphins. So many missed shots because the eye AF just didn't lock in. Did I expect too much? Am I missing some other setting? In case of the fox, is it because he closed his eyes? (That's a joke....).

Interesting fact: The Santa Cruz Island Fox became an endangered species after bald eagles moved to the island and started to prey on the feral pigs that also roamed the island and also on the foxes in the 1990's and after initiating the program, they became one of the fastest most successful recovery programs in US history!

Your shutter speeds are your first problem with the dolphins (1/200).  1/40 might be feasible for a still fox at 280mm, but one out of many possible shots can often have an IS jump, or maybe you disabled IS, or the IBIS is not cooperating well with your lens.

Lighting is not great and subject eyes are not distinct.

Animal Eye AF is a new technology.  Even though many people call it a "game changer", it is still not magic, and can't always be relied on as if it were a genie.  The sensor has to see the eye with sufficient contrast and clarity.  With a very sharp lens, it can sometimes lock onto the eye of a bird that is only 1/10 the height of the frame, or smaller.

R2D2 Forum Pro • Posts: 24,079
Re: Disappointed with animal eye AF on R5

I would reiterate all that's been said above.

Also, you don't mention which Firmware you are using, or what your "Initial Eye AF point" setting is.  What do you have Focus Search set to?  Your Use Case?  Do you have Exp Simulation on?  These settings can have a big impact too.

Do you use the "back button" AF button(s)?  I have Eye AF set to the AF-On button (Case 1), and Spot AF set to the * button right next to it (Case 3 with Tracking Sensitivity maxxed).  You don't even need to reposition your thumb to swap between the two, just "lean" the thumb over.  It's very fast, and quickly becomes muscle memory.

As more AF functions become automated (and specialized), IMHO one needs to become even more familiar with all the little quirks and best shooting practices needed for each type of subject they're after.

I myself have been trying all different settings and methods, and haven't nailed everything down yet.  I think there are a lot of late-comers like myself in the same boat.  That's one reason you haven't seen any definitive AF threads (or even outside blogs) pop up yet.

This is a beast of a machine, where experimentation and practice will pay off big-time, especially early on in the game.

Supply a few more details and some of the more practiced members might be able to offer more detailed advice (to all of us).  Best of luck to you.

R2

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BirdShooter7 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,256
Re: Disappointed with animal eye AF on R5
2

I know we have a lot of Canon fans here and I’m definitely one of them but I don’t want to try to make excuses for them.  I think ultimately that does everyone a disservice.  I ended up renting an R5 and have been using it over the past week quite a bit and my impression of the animal eyeAF with firmware 1.2 is that I’m sometimes in absolute awe with its tracking and sometimes in total disbelief when it utterly fails in seemingly easy situations.  I think it’s a big step forward and really makes me want to spend my hard earned money on an R5 but at the same time it’s a work in progress.  Hopefully Canon will continue to tune it and it will get better and better.

One other thing that I’m strongly getting the impression of is that animal eye AF can contribute to lock ups.  In using the camera I noticed in some situations I would go for very long periods without lockup’s and in some situations I was getting them very frequently.  One of the most memorable was when I was trying to photograph a bird standing on a tangle of lichen-covered branches.  Even without taking a single shot the camera would lock up within seconds of attempting focus requiring battery removal to get the camera to work again.  It did this over and over and I eventually had to turn off animal eye AF to get the camera to take the photo.

Other surprising failures were a situation where I was trying to photograph a deer that was filling about 70% of the frame.  Light was decent, mid morning light at my back and the deer was standing in an open field.  The eye AF just wouldn’t lock on even when I repeatedly used the single AF point to get the focus on the eye.  As soon as I went back to animal eye AF the focus would just lock a big group of AF points on the animal’s back.

Another surprise was when photographing Brown Pelicans slowly flying past into the wind in good light.  The animal eye AF would just not lock on.  I don’t know what the issue was in this case.  The battery was nearly fully charged and everything was set up the same way it was when the animal eye AF had worked beautifully on Pelicans the previous day.

Having said that, I was also totally amazed by how well the animal eye AF would hang onto birds eyes as they moved through the tall grass and reeds, sometimes with only tiny parts of the birds exposed.

Anyway, it’s a feature that I am really excited about and probably is the most compelling feature of the camera for me but it definitely isn’t perfect.

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Laci55
Laci55 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,542
Re: Disappointed with animal eye AF on R5
14

The fuzzines on the fox image is depending of the low Sutter speed! (The fuzzies is all over the picture! It has hardly anything to do with the eye focusing ability of the R5!)

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Funny Valentine
Funny Valentine Senior Member • Posts: 1,298
45 megapixels is too demanding for the processors and AF
3

There are 2 french youtube channels that have done many tests comparing the R5 and R6 and they came to the conclusion that the animal eye AF on the R5 has a success rate below 40% and the R6 success rate is above 90%. With the R5 you get more detail but you pay the price of slower AF because 45 megapixels are too demanding on the processor.

You should try the R6 and you will be more satisfied. Personally I can get around 70-80% keepers consistently on moving rabbits and flying birds, and around 100% keepers with sleeping cats.

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Rahto Senior Member • Posts: 1,563
Re: 45 megapixels is too demanding for the processors and AF
3

I have noticed with small birds at a distance the R5 can’t find the eye when I switch to crop mode it can so I have programmed my depth of field button to kick my R5 in and out of crop mode giving me kind of the best of both worlds.

Bob

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Armando J. Rodriguez, Jr. Senior Member • Posts: 1,154
Re: Disappointed with animal eye AF on R5

BirdShooter7, thanks for an answer with examples.

Armando

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KiloHotelphoto Contributing Member • Posts: 620
Re: Disappointed with animal eye AF on R5
1

You’re too far away, those pictures are huge crops according to the info, 14 and 9mp. The dolphins were probably the size of a autofocus point, you have no chance of eye af working on that. The Fox was probably pretty small also and they blend into their surroundings so well the camera may have a hard time finding it.

I wasn’t expecting eye af to be perfect and it’s not, but it is really good when you fill the frame enough.

Great blue herons I’ve had trouble with even filling the frame, it always wants to lock on to a white orange spot near its shoulder. After a couple tries I give up and move the autofocus point myself.

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John Sheehy Forum Pro • Posts: 25,296
Re: 45 megapixels is too demanding for the processors and AF
1

Funny Valentine wrote:

There are 2 french youtube channels that have done many tests comparing the R5 and R6 and they came to the conclusion that the animal eye AF on the R5 has a success rate below 40% and the R6 success rate is above 90%. With the R5 you get more detail but you pay the price of slower AF because 45 megapixels are too demanding on the processor.

I'd have to know the exact methodology to comment.  There is too much room for illusion in photography; not just in public health.

You should try the R6 and you will be more satisfied. Personally I can get around 70-80% keepers consistently on moving rabbits and flying birds, and around 100% keepers with sleeping cats.

How do you know that your near-misses aren't more hidden behind the lower magnification suggested by the larger pixels?

I'm not saying that it isn't possible that the underlying analog capture tends to be better focused more of the time with the R6, but most people are not capable of understanding how to do a truly equitable comparison.  For starters, you'd have to compare the range of results with the R6 at 300% pixel view, and the R5 at 200% pixel view.

If you're looking at the results from each camera at 100% pixel view, your comparison is a total sham.

Sabud Contributing Member • Posts: 660
Re: Eye-Detect AF

Sorry you are wrong! Canon EF 70-200/4L IS II USM is a totally reconstructed lens released 2018. (compare with the present EF 70-200/2.8L IS III USM = 10 years old, in general)

David Carlyon Contributing Member • Posts: 617
Your shutter speeds are way too slow!
13

1/40th on the fox, and 1/200th on fast moving dolphins? For the dolphins I think you'd need at least 1/1000th, and probably 1/2000th or faster. On the fox, the camera shake/motion blur is so bad that it's hard to even tell where the focus was.

An f/4 lens with an extender on it means you'll probably have to crank the ISO up pretty high to get usable shutter speeds for a fast moving subject. For the fox, a tripod might help (if the fox doesn't move much during the exposure).

The other posts are correct about things like "R5 isn't programmed for dolphins" but if your shutter speed is that slow, and your handholding, and the subject is moving at high speed, that's irrelevant. (Unless you're really skilled at doing panning slow-shutter shots.)

1Dx4me
1Dx4me Forum Pro • Posts: 12,653
Re: Disappointed with animal eye AF on R5

BirdShooter7 wrote:

I know we have a lot of Canon fans here and I’m definitely one of them but I don’t want to try to make excuses for them. I think ultimately that does everyone a disservice. I ended up renting an R5 and have been using it over the past week quite a bit and my impression of the animal eyeAF with firmware 1.2 is that I’m sometimes in absolute awe with its tracking and sometimes in total disbelief when it utterly fails in seemingly easy situations. I think it’s a big step forward and really makes me want to spend my hard earned money on an R5 but at the same time it’s a work in progress. Hopefully Canon will continue to tune it and it will get better and better.

One other thing that I’m strongly getting the impression of is that animal eye AF can contribute to lock ups. In using the camera I noticed in some situations I would go for very long periods without lockup’s and in some situations I was getting them very frequently. One of the most memorable was when I was trying to photograph a bird standing on a tangle of lichen-covered branches. Even without taking a single shot the camera would lock up within seconds of attempting focus requiring battery removal to get the camera to work again. It did this over and over and I eventually had to turn off animal eye AF to get the camera to take the photo.

Other surprising failures were a situation where I was trying to photograph a deer that was filling about 70% of the frame. Light was decent, mid morning light at my back and the deer was standing in an open field. The eye AF just wouldn’t lock on even when I repeatedly used the single AF point to get the focus on the eye. As soon as I went back to animal eye AF the focus would just lock a big group of AF points on the animal’s back.

Another surprise was when photographing Brown Pelicans slowly flying past into the wind in good light. The animal eye AF would just not lock on. I don’t know what the issue was in this case. The battery was nearly fully charged and everything was set up the same way it was when the animal eye AF had worked beautifully on Pelicans the previous day.

Having said that, I was also totally amazed by how well the animal eye AF would hang onto birds eyes as they moved through the tall grass and reeds, sometimes with only tiny parts of the birds exposed.

Anyway, it’s a feature that I am really excited about and probably is the most compelling feature of the camera for me but it definitely isn’t perfect.

thanks for your realistic analysis, Craig. that is what i was guessing about R5 and i am seriously thinking about the next iteration, hoping canon would polish eye-focus feature further and improve the keepers rate.

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Mika Y.
Mika Y. Senior Member • Posts: 1,862
Re: 45 megapixels is too demanding for the processors and AF
1

Funny Valentine wrote:

There are 2 french youtube channels that have done many tests comparing the R5 and R6 and they came to the conclusion that the animal eye AF on the R5 has a success rate below 40% and the R6 success rate is above 90%. With the R5 you get more detail but you pay the price of slower AF because 45 megapixels are too demanding on the processor.

This sounds like a so massive difference that I'd expect many more sources to report it rather than just two YouTube channels if it's true.

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