Screenshot from a Canon promotional video, embedded below, showing off the capabilities of its Car AF mode with motorsports photographer Larry Chen.

Canon Japan has announced new firmware updates for its EOS R5, EOS R6 and EOS 1DX Mark III camera systems will be released on December 2, 2021, bringing new and improved autofocus performance to each of the three cameras.

Firmware version 1.6.0 for the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III brings a single update: improved head detection performance for people who are wearing helmets and goggles during winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding. While relatively minor, it’s a timely update for photographers in the northern hemisphere and will presumably also improve AF performance while shooting friends and family while sledding and the like.

Firmware version 1.5.0 for the Canon EOS R5 and EOS R6 is a bit more substantial, bringing not only the improved AF performance for people wearing helmets and goggles during winter sports, but also the addition of a ‘Vehicle Priority’ AF mode that will prioritize cars and motorcycles when shooting motorsports. The ‘Spot Detection’ feature can also be implemented to focus specifically on the helmet of the driver inside the vehicle.

This Car AF feature was first shown off during Canon’s introduction presentation for its EOS R3 camera, so it’s nice to see the feature trickle down to its EOS R5 and EOS R6 cameras. However, it’s unknown whether it will perform as well on the EOS R5 and EOS R6 as it will on the EOS R3 when it becomes available. Interestingly, Canon specifically notes that ‘General passenger cars, commercial vehicles, and motorcycles may not be detected,’ but doesn’t elaborate on why, in particular, non-racing vehicles won’t be detected as easily.

Below is a video showcasing the Car AF mode being used by Canon Ambassador and motorsports photographer Larry Chen on the EOS R3:

Canon has also improved Eye AF detection when there is a shadow on the face or bangs/fringe hanging over the eyes of the subject and also added a new torso detection component that will focus on the midsection of a subject should their eyes, face and head be hidden or obscured.

Firmware version 1.6.0 for the EOS-1D X Mark III and firmware version 1.5.0 for the EOS R5 and EOS R6 should be available to download on the cameras’ respective product pages on December 2, 2021.