Autofocus

The M6 II's eye detection lets you grab the the right moment without having to worry about whether it's going to be in focus.
56mm F1.4 DN | ISO 2000 | 1/250 sec | F1.8
Photo: Richard Butler

Key Takeaways:

  • The M6 II's AF system is simple and effective, requiring little user input
  • Face and Eye detection work well, though your subject needs to be pretty large in the frame to find its eyes
  • Once it's started focusing on faces, the camera will prioritize this over your chosen AF position
  • Subject tracking works well but will occasionally drift off your chosen subject

In-depth

The EOS M6 II has four autofocus area modes that you can choose from:

  • Face + Tracking
  • Spot AF
  • 1-point AF
  • Zone AF

The latter three of these let you choose an AF point of various sizes, with Zone covering quite a large area and the camera prioritizing whatever's closest in that region. We've generally found the 'Face+Tracking' mode to work well in a wide range of circumstances.

The individual, specified AF points will do a better job of placing the AF point precisely on a static subject (in which place you'll probably want to use single AF, which Canon calls 'One Shot' AF). However, for most shooting and any subject that moves, we'd usually leave the camera in continuous AF ('AF Operation: Servo') and Face + Tracking.

How to select your initial AF point in Face/Tracking mode

We got the best results out of them M6 II by setting it up so that you can specify your initial AF point in Face + Tracking mode, since it lets you specify your subject (and lets you choose between faces, if there is more than one in your photos).

1) In the Custom Functions tab (5th, orange tab), scroll down to C.Fn II: Autofocus

2) In C.Fn II: 3, select option '1: Initial AF pt set for Face + Tracking'

This will, in Servo AF mode, show a small box that acts as the starting point for the camera's tracking, rather than having the camera choose for you. If you change C.Fn II: 2, you can have the camera jump between two different starting points, depending on whether you are shooting portrait or landscape orientation.

We find the tacking mode isn't quite as good at staying on the target subject as some systems but not to the degree that it's a problem.

Straight Run, Center Point, approx 14fps
Weave, Face+Tracking, approx 7ps

In standard AF test, the camera did a pretty good job of keeping a steadily approaching subject in focus.

When asked to track the subject, it did a good job of following the subject (which is distinctively colored and well separated from the background), but would misjudge the change of acceleration as the bike entered and left the turns. This error was more pronounced at the highest burst speed (14 fps). Shooting at the lower speed yielded the results shown, with occasional slight mis-focus that is then corrected.

Face/Eye Detection

The M6 II's eye detection is pretty effective. It's not quite as fast or consistent at finding eyes as the best rival system, but it does a good job of finding and indicating that it's found your subject's eyes, which helps build confidence.

Enabling Eye AF

An apparent mis-translation makes it a little confusing to tell whether the eye-detection element of the camera's Face Detection system is active.

When you're in the Q menu and you select Face + Tracking, the display will show the following message. Don't be fooled into thinking you need to press the Info button to enable Eye AF.

If the camera shows the word 'Enable' then Eye AF is already enabled.

If you've set the camera up to let you specify your initial focus point as we detailed earlier on this page, the camera will focus on a face if your selected point is over it, but will happily focus on non-face objects if you prefer. Your subject needs to take up quite a large proportion of the screen before the camera will recognize and find their eye, though.

If there's more than one person in the scene, the M6 II will focus on the one underneath the initial target, and will follow them as they move around. Even if they turn away from the camera, it'll generally continue to track them, rather than being distracted by other faces. However, if the person is looking away when you initiate subject tracking (ie: it's tracking a generic subject, rather than a face), the camera won't switch to face or eye detection when your subject faces towards you.