Is Eye Autofocus in the New Canon R5 and R6 Better Than Sony?

Canon’s hot new full-frame cameras, the EOS R5 and EOS R6, are finally falling into the hands of reviewers, and customers are starting to get an idea of how the various features perform. Just how good is the eye autofocus, and has Canon overtaken Sony?

While videographers are getting sweaty about the prospect of the R5 and R6 overheating, stills shooters are more interested in things like buffer clearance, dynamic range, and autofocus performance. Since introducing the EOS R in 2018, Canon has been playing catchup when it comes to eye autofocus, but early impressions are that the R5 and R6 will surpass that of Sony, long regarded as the market leader.

In this short video, Jared Polin puts the R5 and R6 through their paces using one of Canon’s new f/11 super-telephoto primes, using various creatures at what I’m assuming is his local zoo as subjects. Certainly, the blue box dances around very convincingly, but it’s worth checking the raw files that Polin makes available. 

Polin isn’t alone in being impressed. In this video (see 14:42), Tony Northrup mentions that the eye AF is “better than Sony, in my limited experience,” which Canon fans will no doubt be excited to hear.

Do you have high expectations for Canon's autofocus performance? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Spy Black's picture

I think Canon still shooters will naturally gravitate to these bodies. Pro videographers will be better served using either one of Canon movie bodies, or a camera from Sony, Pana, Blackmagic, etc.


Put the new video from Tony. It is focused on the auto focus. Seems a step up from everything else, but still not perfect.

darrell miller's picture

i would hope its better.. its a year ahead of Sony. You're comparing 1+ yr old camera technology (meaning it was developed at least 2 yrs back..) to a camera that is going to come out in a month..

microteck's picture

Only speaking on Autofocus, Canon beats Sony at the moment. I just watched Tony & Chelsea Northrup testing the new camera and it locked-on to the eye faster than anything before. And Canon hasn't had multiple firmware updates like Sony. So it can only get even better.

Adam Rubinstein's picture

No one knows. Jared went to the zoo with an f/11 coke bottle, and Tony took an old 500 with an older 2x TC and shot at critters hundreds of yards away. I’ll reserve judgement until the body is in my and other professional wildlife shooters’ hands.

microteck's picture

I have to agree with you. I downloaded Jared's sample RAW Photo of the Bald Eagle. It was magnificent and I'm now using it as my desktop photo. Anyhow, I consider myself an amateur photographer but I do think the different lens (glass quality) Tony and Jared used might have more to do with fast eye lock-on then anything else (not zoom). I don't plan on buying the camera because it's out of my reach, but plan on renting one for a week and give it a go.

P.S. I also learned to never buy a new camera when it's HOT (pun intended). Price usually drops when things cool down.

Duck Man's picture

People are hating their video for sounding like a sellout, but it looks to me like they intended their to be a dichotomy but Tony's points and title were clickbait. It looked more like he intended to play the role of mindbown cocky fanboy, while Chelsea threw out some reasonable critical comments like the blackout. The fact is they keep clickbaiting people that even if they do make a legitimate criticisms they are overlooked.

One thing that Tony later mentioned was that the 500mm f4 only supports 5fps with AF tracking. I think that's more concerning than anything else.

Matt C's picture

The AF looks very impressive. Unfortunately, almost everything else about this camera is a dealbreaker.

T&C's video lays a few of these out - the battery ran out after an hour. It's a bit too laggy for sports. Another thing that's not a dealbreaker but is something to watch for - the lenses are very expensive. Which isn't a problem, sony's are too, but sony has third party options at half price. RF does not. (Unless you count adapting EF glass.)

I think most people who did wildlife and sports would be better off with either a9, the r4, or even the a7iii does some things better here - the all day battery life being one of them. And the lag isn't half bad either.

With that said I love Canon's RF lens lineup, and I can't wait until they release a camera that has these issues ironed out. They will get there, and when they do it'll be a great day for everyone.

Duck Man's picture

They were shooting with a 500mm f4 which only supports 5fps using AF tracking on the R5. The lag they mention is due to longer frame insertions.

Rayann Elzein's picture

Are you crazy sharing a video from this guy without a bold red warning! I almost got a heart attack when he started yelling at my face when I started playing it....

Jon Premosch's picture

All the improvements on the EOS-R will make this the best stills camera on the market for the for the foreseeable future. I have done a ton of editorials and commercial jobs this year with the Eos-R and even tho its a lil laggy I have managed to create way better images than i did with my old D850 and Sony A7riii due to the accuracy of the AF and the colors/ rendering I am getting out of the Canon camera.

microteck's picture

You done a lot of editorials and commercial jobs, but have you ever done Street Photography and stick a camera in someone's face?

Deleted Account's picture

"A ton of" ... "even tho its a lil". I hope you're not writing the copy. ;-)