Why no Focus Assist light on Canon EOS ?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by hjoseph7, Apr 23, 2022.

  1. I searched the Web, local libraries even the Universe to find out why Canon did not include the 'Focus Assist light(FAL)' on any of their cameras ? Even their Pro-level models ! The Focus Assist light helps the camera lock focus in very dim lighted areas. Pentax, Nikon, Fuji and other manufacturers included The FAL in their camera and they did not make a big deal about it. Actually you would never know it was there until one day while shooting, you noticed a red or green light shooting out of your camera.

    Canon does include the FAL in their flash units such as the 580 EX, 430EX etc. They also include it in their STE-2 off camera transmitter. This means that if you are in a very dim area, you can throw one of these on top of your camera and the Focus Assist Light coming from the flash or transmitter will help you lock focus.

    The problem with that, (and I'm not sure why Canon did not come up with this ?) is, suppose you want to use non-Canon strobes like in a Studio setting, or specialized flash units, then what ? Suppose you want to use non-Canon transmitters like 'Cactus', or 'Pocket Wizards' then what ?

    On my P/T job, I'm often asked to photograph properties where Electricity is NOT guaranteed. Even though I'm using 'L' series lenses, when the EV in the room goes down to a certain level, it is impossible to lock focus. This drives me crazy and I have to run to my car to get a pocket flash-light to help with the focusing. I can't use a Canon flash because I have a Pocket Wizard in the hot-shoe which triggers an off-camera, non-Canon Strobe. I searched the web, but there are no other alternatives other than a flash-light. What was Canon thinking ?
  2. Not sure why, or if Canon ever discussed this in a public forum, but my Elan IIe certainly had a really good AF assist lamp which projected a red grid line for AF assist and was effective in total darkness (within its limited range). I believe the EOS 5 had a similar system and the film Rebels I have used had a white AF assist light, or otherwise known as the "white light of hell" which was completely distracting and needed to be shut off. I don't believe the EOS 3 or 5D had an assist light, and without doing extensive research, the Nikon D5, D850, and Z7 do not have AF assist lights. Even a good AF assist light has a limited effective range of about 10-15 feet, is designed to cover a limited field of view, and not terribly useful with long lenses or moving subjects. I have only used mono-lights with modeling lights on, which made it quite easy to focus even with a lowly 5D mk I.
  3. Dustin McAmera

    Dustin McAmera Yorkshire

    I thought I remembered this feature. Page 207 of the manual for my EOS M50 is titled 'Preventing the AF-Assist Beam from firing'. So this camera at least has the thing.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2022
    katsone likes this.
  4. I think the EOS D60 was the last Canon to have an in-body AF Assist Lamp. Later cameras use the pop-up built-in flash to provide AF Assist.

    You could get around this problem by switching to a wireless trigger system that includes an AF assist light like this YN622C. It also includes a pass through hot shoe so you might be able to continue using your Pocket Wizards.

    hjoseph7, Jochen and Ken Katz like this.
  5. Thanks Mike I'll take a look...
  6. While focus assist lights are nice to have, it is pretty useless to build them into compact SLRs, where they are quite likely to get overshadowed by behemoth lenses and their hoods.
    Some Canon battery grips (I wonder who buys those, mine is 3rd party) came with a PC socket. You could probably put your wireless trigger on an L bracket and wire it to the socket?
  7. My 5D MK IV has it. And I recall several other model Canon EOS I owned had it. IR Focus assist.


  8. If you want, you could also use a small pen light. I recall seeing these used years ago. You can pick up a nice LED pen light flashlight at Harbor Frieght for under $10. I have a couple bigger ones also that are like stage spot lights.


  9. 7D MkII has beam assist too.
  10. Mark beat me to it: my 5D Mark IV has an AF assist beam. Ditto, my 7D--the old, first generation model, not the Mark II. Just look in the manual for your camera. If you download the PDF of the manual, you can even search for it that way. Canon calls it "AF-assist beam"
  11. I know we'll probably never see it again, but I really liked the AF assist in my old Sony 828. Send out a "laser" grid to help the AF, and worked perfectly.
  12. The pen-light has to be really good, at least 300+ lumen for my purposes. I tried a couple of cheapo ones and they could not cut it. Well if the 5D Mark 4 has it, good for Canon, they finally decided to bypass the 'Marketing Department !
    Last edited: May 4, 2022
  13. The 5D Mk IV does not have itโ€™s own AF Assist beam. It only has the option to turn on the AF Assist beam on an external flash when mounted to the camera.

  14. The Canon APS-C Crop camera bodies can utilize the pop-up flash to aid AF Assist, but it is a series of annoying flashes that most people disable if they know how to.
  15. It looks like Canon has re-introduced the AF Assist Beam on their line of EOS R series cameras.

  16. Dustin McAmera

    Dustin McAmera Yorkshire

    They haven't reintroduced it: the mirrorless cameras all have an LED focus-assist lamp, back to the original EOS M in 2012. I guess it must reflect the different way AF is done, since the image is already on the sensor while a mirrorless camera is focusing.
  17. Thanks for clarification, Mike.

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