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Animal AF on the Canon EOS R5 really works – even on fish! See it in action

Animal AF on the Canon EOS R5 really works! See it in action
(Image credit: YouTube: Marcus C)

Canon has made a lot of noise about the Animal AF modes on the R5 and R6, and it appears that the hype is justified. Real-world tests of the Animal AF, and its tracking ability, on the two cameras has surfaced online – and it's highly impressive.

While we were able to go hands-on with the new cameras, unfortunately there were no animals present during our initial Canon EOS R5 review (ditto for our Canon EOS R6 review). Thankfully, a series of videos testing the capability of the new tracking system have been posted on YouTube. 

As you've probably heard by now, the R5 and R6 can detect and track dogs, cats and birds (including birds in flight), thanks to Canon's AI-originated Deep Learning AF, which teaches the cameras to recognize subjects by building a database of hundreds of thousands of reference images. 

In these videos, the Animal AF demonstrates an uncanny ability to recognize and follow all three subject types – and, impressively, it even manages to find and lock onto the black eyes of a black dog, something that often fools the animal AF in some Sony cameras.

However, the uploader also tested the cameras at what appears to be a zoo – and Canon's tech seems to work on many other kinds of animals, too, including a meerkat, sloth, small monkey, tortoise, turtle and fish. 

What's clear from these video demonstrations is that Canon's Animal AF is incredibly accurate at detecting eyes on any animal. The argument  could certainly be made that meerkats, monkeys and sloths (even upside-down!) bear similar facial features to canines and felines, which would explain how it works with them so seamlessly.

What we were most impressed by, however, was how well it also worked on turtles, tortoises and fish – which obviously are in no way similar to dogs and cats (or birds, for that matter).

While we will obviously reserve judgement until we can give the autofocus a full test ourselves, this early preview of the Animal AF – crucially backed up by sample shots – seems like yet another feather in the cap of the Canon EOS R5 (and R6, which shares the same autofocus tech). 

Pre-order the Canon EOS R5 from B&H (USA)
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Pre-order the Canon EOS R5 from Park Cameras (UK)
Pre-order the Canon EOS R5 from Wex Photo Video (UK)
Pre-order the Canon EOS R5 from Canon Australia

Read more: 

Canon RF lens roadmap: current and future lenses for the Canon EOS R system
Best Canon RF lenses: the best lens for Canon EOS R5, R6, R, RP and Ra
The best Canon camera: Canon's DSLR, mirrorless and compact cameras

James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Phot0: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.