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Does Canon's highly intelligent autofocus improve photos?

(Image credit: Brian Worley)

The Canon EOS R3 (opens in new tab) has Canon’s most advanced AF ever – and that’s quite a claim. I’ve had the chance to have a look at the camera in action and study the manual of more than one thousand pages. I’ve previously referred to the EOS R5 (opens in new tab) and EOS R6 (opens in new tab)’s AF as witchcraft, and the new system starts there and goes beyond.

Eye Control AF in the EOS R3 is not a gimmick; the camera watches your eye position as you look around the frame for the subject of interest just by raising the camera to your eye. When you press the shutter, or AF-ON button, it will move the AF point to where you’re looking, even with a single AF point active. 

Then it starts to focus track your subject, leaving you free to look elsewhere in the frame for the next subject. When you want to switch AF to the other subject, just release the focus button, then press it again to move the AF point to the new subject. It’s really instinctive and works very well. 

About Canon Pro: Brian Worley

Brian Worley headshot

(Image credit: Brian Worley)

Brian is a freelance photographer and photo tutor, based in Oxfordshire. He has unrivaled EOS DSLR knowledge, after working for Canon for over 15 years, and is on hand to answer all the EOS and photographic queries in Canon-centric magazine PhotoPlus (opens in new tab).
Visit Brian's website (opens in new tab)

While the best Canon cameras (opens in new tab) have been able to track subjects across the focus area for ages, the EOS R3 adds a new subject tracking ability that’ll move the focus point of any AF method with the subject as the camera or subject moves. For traditionalists used to working with a single AF point this is going to feel like machines taking over, but you can toggle subject tracking on or off.

Finally, there’s subject detection, now with three distinct subjects to detect: people, animals and vehicles. People is like the R5/R6 with the added ability to track the body, as well as head, faces and eyes. The R3 will switch based on what it needs. Animal subject detection is nearly the same as R5/R6. Vehicle tracking is new to the R3 and optimized for motor sports where the subject is wearing a full-face helmet. You can opt for detection of the vehicle or helmet.

If this is the future, I look forward to it. Like all systems you’ll still need to know what settings to use and when…


Extension tubes allow lenses to focus closer than normal, but there are only EF versions. (Image credit: Brian Worley)
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Dan Mold
Dan Mold

The Technique Editor on PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, Dan also brings his technical wizardry and editing skills to Digital Camera World. He has been writing about all aspects of photography for over 8 years, having previously served as technical writer and technical editor on Practical Photography magazine, as well as Photoshop editor on Digital Photo

Indeed, Dan is an Adobe-certified Photoshop guru, making him officially a beast at post-processing – so he’s the perfect person to share tips and tricks both in-camera and in post. Able to shoot all genres, Dan provides news, techniques and tutorials on everything from portraits and landscapes to macro and wildlife, helping photographers get the most out of their cameras, lenses, filters, lighting, tripods and, of course, editing software.