Today, Canon announced that with the Canon EOS R3, all the autofocus modes are getting face/eye/body detection. This is similar, though not identical, to how it works with Sony, Panasonic, Leica, and Fujifilm cameras with autofocus. Canon is the only one left with Face and eye detection that doesn’t let you also select a point on the screen manually. And truly, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for Canon to restrict this tech to just the Canon EOS R3. Instead, it would majorly drive sales of the Canon EOS R5 and Canon EOS R6.
Right now, various Canon cameras have very similar autofocus in this regard. The Canon EOS RP, Canon EOS R, Canon EOS R5, and Canon EOS R6 have a dedicated Face detection mode. The Canon EOS R6 and Canon EOS R5 can take it further with animal face and eye detection. The other two just have human detection. The Canon EOS R3 goes even further for sports and vehicle shooting. But the Canon EOS R3 eliminates the dedicated face mode and applies it to every single focusing mode.
We asked Canon to provide a bit more clarity on the Canon EOS R3’s new focusing modes. According to Canon’s Drew MacCallum, here’s an explanation of the new modes and what they are.
“Spot Single-point AF, Single-Point AF, Expand AF Area, Expand AF Area Surround, Flexible Zone (1-3), Entire Area AF. The changes are in how Flexible Zone can be customized in size and shape (three different can be set) and that the Entire Area AF used to be called Face + Tracking. Since ALL AF methods are now capable of tracking (Face, eye, head, body, object), the option of having a “start AF point from selected” is not necessary. Essentially, all modes are that previous menu in the R5/R6.”
It would surely be nice for the Canon EOS R5 and the Canon EOS R6 to get this autofocus mode update. Often, I’ve shot photojournalistically with the Canon EOS R5 and had the camera in Eye and Face detection mode. But sometimes, I wanted to focus on something else instead. For example, if I’m photographing in my local community garden, I’m typically documenting the volunteers and employees working. But sometimes I want to go from focusing on their faces and bodies to detail shots of the plants they’re tending to. In Face and eye detection, the Canon EOS R5 doesn’t always get the spot I want in focus. So I need to do the antiquated thing of hammering the focus button for it to select a new spot. It gets annoying quickly. And it can also mean that sometimes I’ll miss the shot.
With the new system in the EOS R3, I can have a lot more versatility if I wanted. However, I seriously think that versatility should come down to the Canon EOS R5 and the Canon EOS R6. Those cameras are more suited to most professional photographers and passionate photographers. They’re smaller, first and foremost. And they also incorporate tons of technology in them while not being overly pricey for most folks.
By and large, I’m not really expecting it to come to the Canon EOS R original. But that would also be incredible if it did. The animal autofocus detection I think might be a bit too difficult, but I can’t see why the Canon EOS R couldn’t apply face detection to all modes. When I was testing a beta firmware of 1.4, it seemed like it was possible. I own the Canon EOS R, and even still, I think that it’s got to be possible. Whether or not Canon will do it is another question. But it’d be a fantastic way to sell more cameras.