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Could you use an eye-controlled auto-focus feature on your camera?
Yes! I gots to have it 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Sure, but it wouldn't change my choice of camera 45%  45%  [ 5 ]
No, I can't see myself using it much 36%  36%  [ 4 ]
Eye don't know 18%  18%  [ 2 ]
Total votes : 11
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:04 am 
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Location: Colorado, USA
Hi folks! I am an absolute newbie to this board, but I'm impressed with the site, 8) so I wanted to ask this question that's been on my mind for years. I have looked everywhere to get some info on this unsuccessfully, so I'm wondering if anyone else .

Let me preface the question by saying that I am a Nikon fan :shock: but that's simply because I grew up with an FM SLR to cut my teeth on. That said, I get exposed to Canon products from time to time and I'm impressed by their features.

In 1999, I was on Pikes Peak with my extended family after riding the Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway to the summit. I get them all lined up for a group photo and my brother-in-law hands me a Canon EOS. I go to take the shot and the viewfinder starts lighting up wherever I look in the frame. :o He explains that its part of the auto-focus. I pick out someone in the middle and click a frame or two off before handing it back. Later on, I see an advertisement on the back of Trains magazine for Canon highlighting the same feature. I actually found the ad! I don't think they'd mind me posting it. I left it somewhat big so folks can read the details.

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Now, for a long time, I was under the impression that this was a common feature on Canon cameras. I even thought long and often about certain shots it would help with or even rescue. Railroad photography often deals with fast-paced shots of a locomotive quickly moving through your frame. On more than one occasion, I have been burned by the auto-focus failing to adjust at the last second. However, I've found out a while ago that since going digital, Canon has not included this feature on any camera. Can anyone tell me why Canon quit making this very helpful feature?

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:42 am 
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If I see this right, the camera "only" has 3 AF points? I don't think that would sell these days. Adding more eye detecting points may lead to an accuracy limitation. I don't know how well multi-point AF worked in that era, but with modern wide area AF it would tend to select the closest object anyway.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:12 pm 
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popo wrote:
If I see this right, the camera "only" has 3 AF points? I don't think that would sell these days. Adding more eye detecting points may lead to an accuracy limitation. I don't know how well multi-point AF worked in that era, but with modern wide area AF it would tend to select the closest object anyway.


My experience was that there were something like 10 to 12 AF points evenly distributed around the frame. I think the ad simplified the AF points. The device followed my eye very well.

My thought is that it could work fairly well in lower light when depth of field is limited and motion requires shorter exposure times.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:47 pm 
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If you want a pure speculation, from what I read about this feature one would need to calibrate it to their eye in order to get accurate results; especially if they are wearing glasses.
A lot of people do not want to take the time to calibrate their lenses with micro-adjust and expect everything to just work.

If not enough people were buying these cameras, and the ones that were buying them were complaining because they did not adjust them properly, I could see Canon discontinuing the feature. Case in point, you liked the feature but it did not sway you away from Nikon. Canon is a business and is trying to deliver what people want and are willing to pay for.

Again though, this is pure speculation.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:38 pm 
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Hi Steve, thanks for reminding me of this feature!

The last 35mm film camera I owned was the Canon EOS 5 in the early Nineties, which had this feature. Looking through the AF points selected them, while a glance up to the corner activated the optical depth of field preview.

I'm not sure about the model you've mentioned, but on the EOS 5 it was definitely just three AF points, and I agree with popo that it'd be extremely hard to implement on a modern AF system with 20+ or even just nine points. Unfortunately the number of AF points has now become a recognisable and marketable number, so the manufacturers are constantly pushing for more. Although ironically, I, like many I suspect, end up using single AF points for most of my photography.

What has happened since the eye detect system though are touchscreens, and I personally use these ALL the time to select my desired AF area. I remember the eye system was far from 100% reliable and often took a few glances or even a good hard stare, whereas I can tap the screen on a mirrorless Live View system and get the AF point exactly where I want quickly and very accurately. I believe it's rendered the eye system redundant.

I do remember the depth of field preview glance was quite fun though, so maybe there's some merit for some function to be assigned to the corners of the viewfinder...

Thanks for a nice trip down memory lane!

Gordon


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 2:33 pm 
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The EOS 50E (Elan IIe) had a three zone AF; the replacement (EOS 30) had a seven zone AF and was the last camera with that feature. (OK, the 30V came after that but that was the kind of update like 650D --> 700D)

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:23 am 
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It would really depend on how well it works. For me, my T4i has touch-screen focus, but I really only use that with a tripod. Most of the time I use only the center AF point and recompose.

But thanks for introducing this to me. I never knew such a feature existed, especially back in 1999.

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