This chapter contains descriptions of some of the more esoteric options available for the complex autofocus systems found in the EOS R5 and R6. Many of these are the settings that you’ll probably set once and forget for a while, or, at least until you decide to make a significant change in your camera’s autofocus behavior.
As much as I would have liked to present one huge, 100-page chapter on autofocus, it made more sense to describe the basic functions and settings in-depth in Chapter 5, and retain the lesser-used AF menu descriptions here with the camera’s other menus. I think the need to jump back and forth will be minimal, although, as with any camera guide, you may need a review of other chapters from time to time as a refresher.
The entries listed in the AF menus vary, depending on your shooting mode. In still photography modes other than Scene Intelligent Auto, the full list of 26 items is distributed among AF tabs numbered AF 1 to AF 5. In Scene Intelligent Auto mode, a simplified roster of only 10 of those entries is available. The settings accessible when using Scene Intelligent Auto are marked with an asterisk below.
NOTE I’ll explain the 19 AF entries available in Movie mode in more detail in Chapter 16. Some 17 of them are the same as their still photo counterparts, with two additional settings to adjust Movie Servo AF speed and tracking sensitivity.
Options: One-Shot AF (default), Servo AF
My preference: N/A
This menu entry, the first in the AF 1 menu (see Figure 12.1) is an alternative to using the QCD-1 or M-Fn button options to set autofocus operation. If the AF/MF switch on the lens is set to MF, then only MF appears in this entry and the other two are not available. Reminder: when focus is achieved, the focus point turns green or blue (in Servo mode); if focus cannot be achieved, the point turns orange. To recap:
Options: Face+Tracking (default), Spot AF, 1-point AF, Expand AF area, Expand AF area: Around, Zone AF, Large Zone AF (Vertical), Large Zone AF (Horizontal)
My preference: N/A
You can use this menu entry instead of the Quick Control screen or M-Fn button options. You can check focus with 6X/15X (R5) or 5X/10X (R6) magnified views by pressing the Magnify/Reduce button in all modes except Face+Tracking.
Your choices, as explained in more detail in Chapter 5 are as follows:
Options: People (default), Animals, No Priority
My preference: People
This entry determines the priority for tracking subjects in Face+Tracking, Zone AF, and Large Zone AF (Vertical or Horizontal) autofocus methods.
Options: Enable (default), Disable
My preference: N/A
This setting turns Eye Detection AF on or off, as described in Chapter 5. In use, an AF point is displayed around a detected human or animal eye. Eye Detection is available only with One-Shot AF and the Face+Tracking AF method. Temporarily disable Eye Detection AF by pressing the AF Point Selection button, followed by the INFO button. Press INFO a second time to reactivate Eye Detection.
Options: Enable, Disable (default)
My preference: N/A
When Continuous AF is enabled, the camera refocuses all the time (even in One-Shot mode) until you press the shutter release halfway. Then it refocuses (and locks, in One-Shot mode) and resumes refocusing (in Servo mode) until you press the shutter release all the way. The net effect is that when you’re ready to take a picture, the camera has focused and refocused continually and therefore should be ready for the final focusing when you take the photo. Canon warns that if you want to switch to manual focus when Continuous AF is active, you should turn the camera off first, slide the lens switch to MF, and then turn the camera back on.
Options: Touch & Drag AF: Enable, Disable (default); Positioning method: Absolute, Relative (default); Active Touch Area: Whole Panel, Right (default), Left, Top, Bottom, Top Right
My preference: When enabled, I prefer Relative Positioning and Whole Panel Active Touch Area.
As I’ve mentioned before, your touch screen can be useful even when you’re working exclusively with the electronic viewfinder. When you access this entry, the screen shown in Figure 12.2 appears, giving you three options:
Options: Peaking: On, Off (default); Level: High (default), Low; Color: Red (default), Yellow, White
My preference: On, High, Red
Although located in the Autofocus 2 menu (see Figure 12.3), MF Peaking Settings deals only with manual focus and is therefore available only when focusing in Manual modes. Focus peaking is a technique that emphasizes the outlines of the area in sharpest focus with a color that can be red, white, or yellow. The colored area shows you at a glance what will be very sharp if you take the photo at that moment. If you’re not satisfied, simply change the focused distance (with manual focus). As the focus gets closer to ideal for a specific part of the image, the color outline develops around hard edges that are in focus. You can choose how much peaking is applied (High or Low), select a specific accent color (Red, Yellow, or White), or turn the feature off.
Peaking Color allows you to specify which color is used to indicate peaking when you use manual focus. White is the default value, but if that color doesn’t provide enough contrast with a similarly hued subject, you can switch to a more contrasting color, such as red or yellow. Peaking is not shown in magnified view or in the HDMI output you direct to an external monitor or recorder. It may be difficult to see the outlines at high ISO settings or when Canon Log is activated.
Options: On, Off (default)
My preference: On
This is another useful manual focus (only) tool that overlays a guide within the image frame that shows you which direction you need to move the focus ring, and roughly how much. You can relocate the focus guide to a desired portion of the screen (press the AF Point button and use the directional controls) or tap the screen to move it. Pressing the SET button (or the Return icon at the upper-right corner of the touch screen) places the guide frame in the center. I provided more information on using the Focus Guide, along with illustrations, in Chapter 5.
Options: Enable (default), Disable, LED AF-assist beam only
My preference: LED AF-assist beam only
This setting determines when bursts from a compatible external electronic flash or the camera’s built-in LED are used to emit a pulse of light that helps provide enough contrast for the camera to focus on a subject. You can select Enable to use the camera’s LED or an attached Canon Speedlite to produce a focus assist beam. Use Disable to turn this feature off if you find it distracting. Keep in mind that if you select Enable and the Speedlite’s own AF-Assist Beam Firing is set to Disable, the AF-assist beam will not be emitted (the flash’s setting takes precedence).
Options: Case 1 (default), Case 2, Case 3, Case 4, Auto
My preference: N/A
This entire menu is used to select from among five different factory preset “Cases” with autofocus settings suitable for various types of action scenes. You can also modify those presets to adjust the sensitivity of the camera during tracking of moving objects, its response to acceleration and deceleration, and how quickly it switches between autofocus points as subjects move through the frame. The icons (see Figure 12.4) provide pictogram reminders showing the types of action each Case is designed to cover. Highlight the Case you want to use and press SET to confirm. To change any of the parameters, press the RATE button and use the QCD-1, touch screen, or Multi-controller joystick to adjust the sliding indicator. The camera provides helpful information about each Case at the press of the INFO button, and you can read my own detailed recommendations for this menu in Chapter 5. To recap, the parameters you can change are listed below. To reset these parameters to their default values, highlight the Case, press RATE, and then press the Trash button.
While you can adjust these parameters for any Case, you may find their default values useful:
See Chapter 5 for step-by-step instructions for adjusting the values of any of the five AF Cases.
Options: Disable after One-Shot AF, One-Shot AF→Enabled (default), One-Shot AF→Enabled (Magnify), Disable in AF
My preference: One-Shot AF→Enabled
This is the first entry in the AF 4 menu. (See Figure 12.5.) You may need this entry’s capabilities if you frequently use EF-/EF-S-mount lenses with an adapter. A limited number of extra-fast Canon prime lenses and one zoom—all of them L lenses with USM or STM motors—feature super-sensitive electronic manual focusing rings you can use to fine-tune focus after focus has been locked in using One-Shot AF. You might want to disable the use of this ring when using one of the compatible lenses, because even a casual bump against the ring can change focus significantly.
NOTE Even if you’ve enabled One-Shot AF→Enabled (Magnify), the LCD screen or viewfinder display may not be magnified when you turn the focus ring while pressing the shutter button halfway following a shot. If that happens, release the shutter button, wait for the magnified display, and then press the shutter release halfway again while turning the focus ring. (This is a rather esoteric capability; I don’t expect many readers of this book to need it.) The lenses in question are as follows as of this writing:
EF50mm f/1.0L USM
EF85mm f/1.2L USM
EF85mm f/1.2L II USM
EF500mm f/4.5L USM
EF50mm f/1.8 STM
EF300mm f/2.8L USM
EF400 f/2.8L USM
EF400mm f/2.8L II USM
EF28-80mm f/2.8-4L USM
EF24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 STM
EF600mm f/4L USM
EF1200 f/5.6L USM
EF200mm f/1.8L USM
EF40mm f/2.8 STM
You have three choices:
Options: Release-priority, Focus-priority (default)
My preference: Release-priority for sports, Focus-priority for most other subjects
This setting can be used to specify whether One-Shot AF uses focus-priority (the default) or release-priority. I explained the use of these alternatives in Chapter 5.
Options: Disable, Enable (slow) (default), Enable
My preference: Enable (slow)
This feature determines how quickly the camera switches AF points to track a new subject that intervenes in Face+Tracking, Zone AF, or Large Zone AF (Vertical or Horizontal) AF methods. For example, if you’re shooting a football game as a running back is breaking through the line and a referee bolts along the sideline in front of you. With this feature set to Enable, the camera will very quickly switch to the ref, and then should return its attention to the running back—but often, not quickly enough. A better choice would be to use Disable, so that the camera briefly ignores the referee, who is likely to have moved on in a second or two. Focus tracking will remain on your running back. With the default value, Enable (slow), response is delayed. Your options include:
Options: On: Continue focus search (default); Off: Stop focus search
My preference: Stop focus search
When a scene has little inherent contrast (say, a blank wall or the sky) or if there isn’t enough illumination to allow determining contrast accurately (in low light levels, or with lenses having maximum apertures of less than f/5.6), a lens may be unable to achieve autofocus. Very long telephoto lenses suffer from this syndrome because their depth-of-field is so shallow that the correct point of focus may zip past during the AF process before the AF system has a chance to register it.
Use this setting to tell the camera either to keep trying to focus if AF seems to be impossible or to stop seeking focus. Your choices are as follows:
Options: Face+Tracking, Spot AF, 1-point AF, Expand AF area, Expand AF area: Around, Zone AF, Large Zone AF (Vertical), Large Zone AF (Horizontal)
My preference: All options checked
Here you can choose which of the AF-area selection modes are available. In effect, you can enable the modes you use most often, and disable those that you rarely or never work with. The 1-point AF mode cannot be disabled, however, and is displayed with a permanent check mark.
When you access this entry, a screen with all modes is displayed (see Figure 12.6). Use the QCD-1 or directional controls to highlight a mode you want to activate/deactivate and press SET. A check mark above the icon indicates that the mode will be available. Select OK to confirm your choices. To cycle among the modes you’ve checked, press the AF Point Selection button on the upper-right corner of the back of the camera and press the M-Fn button until the mode you want to use is selected.
Options: AF Point Selection/M-Fn buttons (default), AF Point Selection/Main Dial
My preference: AF Point Selection/M-Fn buttons
With this setting, you can customize the controls used to choose an autofocus point manually, perhaps making the selection easier or more intuitive for you, or (as is the default) making this process require the use of two controls so that it can’t be done accidentally.
Your choices are as follows:
Options: Same for both vertical and horizontal (default), Separate AF points: Point Only
My preference: Separate AF Points: Point Only
If you have a preference for a particular manually selected AF point or Zone AF frame when composing vertical or horizontal pictures, you can specify that preference using this menu entry, by choosing Separate AF Points. Or, you can indicate that you want to use the same mode/point in all orientations (Same for Both Vert/Horiz). If you’d like to differentiate, there are different orientations to account for:
I provided instructions for setting your focus points and illustrations in Chapter 5 and won’t repeat that information here.
Options: Initial AF Point Set for Face+Tracking; AF Point Set for 1-point AF, Expand AF, Expand AF: Around; Auto (default)
My preference: Auto
Do you feel that your AF-point selection is too automated for you? If you’d like to regain a little control, because you feel you know exactly where your subject is most likely to reside in the frame, this is the override for you. You can manually specify the starting point that will be used in AI Servo (continuous autofocus) mode when the AF Method is set to Face+Tracking.
If you’re confused, this description of your options should clear things up:
Options: Normal (clockwise), Reverse direction (counterclockwise)
My preference: Normal
Some shooters prefer to have the focus ring rotate in the opposite direction when changing focus from near to far. Usually, they are photographers coming from another vendor, such as Nikon, that uses the reverse rotation. If you want your R5 and R6 to focus more closely when rotating clockwise, choose Normal. If you would prefer to rotate counterclockwise to focus more closely, choose Reverse Direction. My day job involves extensive use of both Canon and Nikon cameras, as well as Sony (which conforms to the Canon convention), I’ve learned to work with the rotational direction native to the system I happen to be using.
Options: Varies with rotation speed (default), Linked to rotation degree
My preference: Varies with rotation speed
Because your RF lenses use focus by wire, it was easy for Canon to program your R5 or R6 to change the degree of focus adjustment during manual focus, based on how quickly you are rotating the focus ring. When you turn the ring slowly—usually because you are fine-tuning the focus plane, perhaps during macro or portrait photography—the point of focus changes slowly. But when you turn the ring rapidly—say to follow-focus a speedy athlete—the camera focuses over a larger range for each degree you rotate the focus ring. That behavior is usually ideal, and is the default for your camera.
However, videographers have found this feature not helpful under some conditions. That’s because, unless a lens is optimized for video shooting, zooming with a particular lens may not necessarily be linear. Alternating between small focus jumps and large ones, depending on the speed of rotation, doesn’t work well when the goal is to pull or push focus. That’s a technique used during a shot to focus the viewer’s attention first on one object, and then on another one that gradually (or quickly) snaps into focus. In such cases, it’s preferable to have a given amount of rotation produce the same amount of focus change. Videographers often use accessories around the focus ring and markings that show where focus should begin an end during a shot. Linking sensitivity to rotation ensures that this refocusing happens smoothly regardless of speed.
I tend to use the default setting to vary sensitivity with rotation speed, when I am shooting stills and most video, and switch to the other option only when a more linear behavior is important.
Options: -, 0, +
My preference: N/A
If you find that the Multi-controller joystick doesn’t respond appropriately when you use it to select an AF point with your thumb, you can change the sensitivity with this setting. Choose Minus to cause the focus point to move more slowly than normal, or Plus to move it more quickly. This is strictly a personal preference that depends on how dexterous you are with your thumb.
Options: Enable, Disable
My preference: N/A
This setting enables or disables manual focus adjustment using the focusing ring when certain lenses, shown earlier under the Lens Electronic Manual Focus entry, are attached.