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Get more from custom autofocus on the Canon EOS R5 and R6

Canon EOS R5
(Image credit: Future/Canon)

From my workshops and inbox, it’s clear that many photographers have found that the autofocus on the Canon EOS R5 (opens in new tab) and Canon EOS R6 (opens in new tab) takes some effort to get the most from.

There are three main factors to consider: AF mode, AF method and subject to detect. For moving subjects or photographers in awkward positions, use Servo AF, so the camera refocuses right up until the picture is taken. One-Shot is for static subjects, such as buildings, landscapes and still life.

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)

With eight AF methods, a lot of photographers revert to a trusted single AF point and in doing so miss out on much of these cameras’ autofocus capabilities. It’s a leap of faith to trust the EOS camera to find your subject and focus on it, but it does this so well.

Face detection and tracking, plus the three zone AF methods, are the intelligent options that find a subject in the frame and move AF points in response to it moving around while keeping it in focus with Servo AF. You need to choose the subject to prioritize people, animals, vehicles or no priority. If your camera is set to animal priority, it tracks people as long as there are no recognizable animals in the frame. For the spot, one-point and expand AF methods, there’s no intelligent subject tracking – it is down to you to keep the AF point on the subject and repositioning it if the subject moves. 

Eye detection only works when using the face detection and tracking method, and when set, it prioritizes focus on the eyes if they are visible.

Some people use the AF-ON, AE-lock and AF selection buttons to directly switch AF methods or focus mode, with multiple back buttons configured for AF. This is workable as long as you remember which button does what!

Brian Worley

A frame from a 26-shot sequence, all in focus, where the rider was tracked using vehicle subject detection, with an EF 200mm f/2 lens wide open (Image credit: Brian Worley)
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Lauren Scott
Lauren Scott

Lauren is the Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, having previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) magazine, a practical-focused publication that inspires hobbyists and seasoned pros alike to take truly phenomenal shots and get the best results from their kit. 


An experienced photography journalist who has been covering the industry for over eight years, she has also served as technique editor for both PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and DCW's sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)


In addition to techniques and tutorials that enable you to achieve great results from your cameras, lenses, tripods and other photography equipment, Lauren can regularly be found interviewing some of the biggest names in the industry, sharing tips and guides on subjects like landscape and wildlife photography, and raising awareness for subjects such as mental health and women in photography.