How Good Is Nikon's New Eye Autofocus Compared to Sony and Canon?

Nikon’s latest firmware brings some meaty upgrades for Z 6 and Z 7 owners in the shape of eye autofocus, and many were excited to see how it compares to the likes of Canon and Sony. Photographer Jared Polin was given a week’s head start with the new feature and has tested it extensively. Check out this video to see how it performs.

As part of his assessment, Polin tries a couple of different lens combinations and is very thorough in his real-world tests using the Nikon Z 6. Sony still seems to be ahead of the game by some considerable distance, which is understandable given that it's had a few years’ head start over the competition. There are various limitations revealed in Nikon’s nascent technology, but Polin seems optimistic for what is to come.

If you've yet to upgrade the firmware, head to the Nikon Download Center by clicking here.

Two small points that Polin picks up on caught my interest: firstly, Sony’s method of installing firmware updates is dreadful compared to Nikon, something that I wish could be improved. Sony, if you’re reading, please take note. Save us some fiddling and allow us to install it from an SD card! Secondly, Polin speculates that shooting portraits in AF-S (autofocus single) mode is now almost a thing of the past: switch to AF-C (autofocus continuous), trigger eye autofocus, and let the camera do the work instead of playing with focus points or playing the classic “focus, recompose” game. Things have changed.

If you’ve installed the latest firmware for your Z 6 or Z 7, let us know in the comments how you’re finding the eye autofocus performance.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

Log in or register to post comments

What's so dreadfull about flashing an upgrade to a Sony camera?

You connect the camera to a pc/mac, start the program and wait till it finishes. That is just about all there is to it.
With the older Sonys, you had to put the file on the memory card and start it from there.
You still had to have a pc to get the file onto the memory card.
It is dead simple.

So connecting a cable and running the update is too much? The article claims special USB cables are needed, which is not true, You simply need the correct USB cable, it's like claiming you need a special memory card to do the update on Nikon.. when in truth you need the correct model of card...

It works fine.
Turned it off now because Auto anything is something out of my control and I prefer to control the camera.
It will most certainly be handy when I do a lot of fast portrait work. Which isn't that often because I don't really like to do fast portrait work.

Z6 is amazing camera but not for professionals.
My z6 and many z6 of my colegues cras when you use af-c Auto and focus with the finger.
I will sale my Z6 and maybe all nikon equipment.