Why no more Eye controlled focus (ECF) in DSLR?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by wooi_loon, Sep 5, 2008.

  1. Hi,

    Can someone point out, why Canon took off this feature ever since the first D30? It was a very nice feature in
    EOS3/5/30. I rather wish to have it back than what ever fancy video mode, which I don't think is interesting.

    Any difficulty to add this feature in DSLR? or any conflict to the electronic part with the eye tracking system?
  2. The smaller viewfinder probebly doesn't help.

    Personally, I'm not sorry to see it go.
  3. For the full-frame versions the viewfinder should not be a problem.
  4. Canon didn't put ECF in their series one cameras. It's wan't considered reliable enough to be a professional feature. That leaves the 5D and I'm guessing it would be more trouble than it would be worth to add it.
  5. I don't believe there is much of a technical issue here not to be able to add this feature. There are far more challenging things that Canon has been able to overcome and integrate into the new DSLRs. My guess is somehow Canon figured out there is not much market demand for this added feature (which again I believe is not true, a lot of people will like it) and they just stopped putting it.

    <br><br>I agree ... this is one of the features that I still miss from my old Elan 7E. That stupid "joystick" type focus selection button is really irritating, more so when you are in a hurry ... along with the "Print" button (which could have been so many different things other than being a "Print" button) this is probably the second most thing I hate on my 30D.

    <br><br>Canon please ... can we get our ECF back :)
  6. If you look back to older postings, you'll find that ECF didn't work for some. I can only imagine it to have been a support nightmare.

    Personally, it works consistently for me and it's the greatest thing since indoor plumbing. This feature, the excellent AF performance (and TMY2) is why I still haul around an EOS-3.
  7. The size of the EOS 30 and xxD viewfinders are about the same, my old EOS 30 worked well. Probably was a bit tricky to add this feature in 1D series because of 45 AF points, but the well spread AF points in xxD should work well as it does in EOS 30. Just, I thought probably some story behind that we dont know. or maybe no one bother about this old feature anymore and Canon is concentrating on pixel and ISO war. Someday, hope this will come back.
  8. Here are answers from Canon's Chuck Westfall in his "Tech Tips" column:

    Nov 2006:


    "At this point, it is reasonably clear that the absence of Eye Controlled Focus (ECF) in EOS digital SLRs is a marketing decision. There is no point in ruling out the possibility that ECF may be introduced in future EOS models, but I don't expect it to appear unless a sufficient level of market demand is perceived. So far, that has not happened, but your request has been forwarded to our Product Development Center."

    Mar 2008:


    "I have stated numerous times on the Web and at least twice in Tech Tips that it is obvious by now that the omission of ECF in EOS Digital SLRs is a marketing decision, not a technical issue. We get user requests for ECF from time to time, but to be blunt, customer demand so far has been insufficient to justify adding this feature. I'll never say never, but don't hold your breath on this one. "

    Then again, we all know that demand for a dedicated print button is overwhelming...
  9. If they are going to add tricks to their DSLRs I'd far rather they worked on in-body stabilization via sensor shift technology than ECF. That might induce me to buy a new body. ECF certainly wouldn't.
  10. Is it possible to have in IS body and IS lens work together?
  11. Thanks Mark U for the links.
  12. Some corrections for Wooi Loon's benefit:

    The size of the viewfinder prism is key: various components have to be packed around it, such as the metering sensors. The facets of a 1.6 crop pentaprism only have about 40% of the area of a full frame pentaprism with the same coverage (e.g. 95%). The eyepiece of the 40D viewfinder has higher magnification to compensate for the smaller image size.

    The EOS 3 was the first camera with the 45 point AF system and yet it offered ECF. If you've ever seen one, you will know that the pentaprism housing is substantial, even though the camera has no popup flash.

    Looking at the images in Canon's teaser campaigns it seems to me that one camera being shown has an abnormally large pentaprism and no popup. Another seems to have a rather more normal pentaprism shape, perhaps with the hint of a popup flash. We'll know the real significance soon enough.
  13. Re: IS:

    It is impractical to try to run two different systems together - one would be switched off for preference. Too much computing and communication would be involved in deciding which system should respond to which bit of shake - the calculation would be too slow to be effective in control. Existing IS lenses would not have circuitry to handle the splitting of "responsibility". The communication channel via the lens contacts has limited bandwidth, designed to be sufficient to handle commands to control the aperture and focus, and to switch IS on or off. Current systems are essentially analogue, so no real calculation is necessary.
  14. Thanks Mark U to correct my mistakes. I forgot EOS 3 has 45 AF points, never own one before.
    One has pointed out one picture showed no top button but another got one, probably one 1D and one 5D. Will see.
  15. I'd love to have ECF again. Used it all the time in my Elan 7E and EOS 3. Much faster than the silly joystick thingie! As it is now, I often
    just revert to 1980s single AF sensor style lock-AF-recompose. I do miss ECF. If the 5D MK II had it I've buy it and sell my 5D...
  16. Re:IS:
    That said, in near future, probably no IS body from Canon, because of quite up to date IS lenses.
  17. "Is it possible to have in IS body and IS lens work together?" Not at the same time, but it IS possible to have both available and chose one.

    I wrote a long article on this which you can read here - http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/digital/image_stabilization.html

    There's no technical reason why Canon can't do the same as Sony, Pentax and Olympus and offer body based image stabilization, as well as sell image stabilized lenses. The camera is smart enough not to allow both to be used at once, but body based IS would allow ALL your lenses, including wide and normal primes which are not (and probably never will be) optically stabilized. If you have an IS lens and want viewfinder stabilization too, just select lens IS.

    Canon could do this right now. In fact Olympus have a body with IS and an optically stabilized lens which will mount on that body. There's absolutely no technical reason why Canon couldn't offer this if they wanted to. They just don't want to.
  18. As Canon keeps telling us, they're asked about it so often, but there's no demand for it...
  19. But from marketing perspective, Canon won't introduce the IS body, because some lens have IS and non-IS version.
  20. Incidentally, you can select focus points with the main dial; I find this far faster (and easier) than using the joystick.

    In three digital bodies, I don't think I've ever used the joystick. Shame, really.

    I miss a lot of things from my EOS-3, such as the lack of flash (I prefer it without, call me weird), the viewfinder, the "feel" of the body, and the autofocus system. It's sort of depressing that a camera a decade old seems more sophisticated and professional in many ways than my 40D. But I don't miss ECF. It never worked for me, at all. And even if it did, I'd rather peg a focus point for composition than control the focus with my eyes; all too often I'm not looking at where I want the image to focus when I'm composing. It's a neat technology demonstration, but I can't really see myself using it for serious photography, even if it did work.
  21. My first Canon was an A2E, and I loved the ECF - in the beginning. As I became more experienced, my eye would wander around the frame, checking the background, foreground and so on. This drove the ECF wild. The lens was constantly zooming in and out of focus, and I found that very annoying. So I quit using ECF. My 10D doesn't have it, and I don't really miss it. I either focus-recompose or manually select the focus point.
  22. If they are going to add tricks to their DSLRs I'd far rather they worked on in-body stabilization via sensor shift technology than ECF. That might induce me to buy a new body. ECF certainly wouldn't.
    I'm exactly the opposite. I really, really miss ECF; it worked very well for me, and I would pay extra for it. Remember, Canon has released IS and non-IS versions of bodies before (A2/A2e, Elan II/IIE, Elan 7/7E, Elan 7N/7NE), so they could obviously do the same with a DSLR: offer a non-ECF version for the several people in this thread who don't want to pay for ECF that they don't want to use, and an ECF version for the several people in this thread who loved it on their film bodies and miss it on their DSLRs.
    If Canon were to introduce a 50DE, and set the price difference between it and the 50D to be similar to the price differences between the ECF and non-ECF pairs of bodies they've released before, I wouldn't even have to think about it; I'd get the 50DE. Or, if I decided to buy a 5D II (or whatever it's going to be called) and they also introduced a 5D IIE with a similar price difference, I wouldn't have to think about that, either. And it surely wouldn't have to be a big price difference; they did the engineering a decade ago and it's surely already been paid for.
    Interestingly enough, they continue to list ECF as a feature of the EOS system in their brochures. Their spring 2008 EOS system brochure, for instance, lists it on the second of six pages of EOS system features, and even goes so far as to point out that it's an exclusive Canon feature. It's listed before the Canon CMOS Sensor, DiG!C III/DiG!C&hbsp;II Image Processor, and even before the Full-Frame Canon CMOS Sensor. Strange that they'd make such a big deal about a feature that they don't think is important enough to include in any new body in almost a decade.
  23. There are some kinds of shooting where I've found ECF to be very useful: it works well for me having put a little effort in to calibration. At other times, when my eye needs to rove round the image, I simply switch it off. It's at its best in fast paced candid work in my experience. I'd be happy to see it re-appear on DSLRs.
  24. I'm with the "wish we had ECF" crowd. I didn't use it all the time, but for many things it was a great feature. I would pay extra for it.
  25. Normally, I feel that Canon won't listen to what customer need, it is all about marketing. If they feel the pressure from the competitor, they will do something. If happen or somehow Nikon introduce similar eye tracking AF in their system, I guess Canon will bring it back again. How many of us wish the EF 50mm f/1.4 should upgrade to real USM, but we just wait and wait... Now the pressure from SIgma, will see whether Canon will react later.
  26. re ECF: I miss it (Canon are you listening?

    re IS: Canon and Nikon use in-lens IS, according to recent (Japanese) sales figures their market share is around 80%, leaving the rest for in-body IS and no-IS suppliers. I think the market shares have to shift dramatically before Canon or Nikon will consider to offer in-body IS.
  27. for me, it does not work very well!
  28. I do really like my EOS3, but it must be somehow the potential nightmare for those who suffer for "Astigmatism". I remeber that we did a lot of fun of that when EOS3 was introduced to the market.

  29. I would buy a DSLR that had ECF!

    ECF was very effective for me, especially for small moving critters and also for multiple-spot metering, to read the contrast range of a scene (another EOS 3 feature I miss on my DSLR).

    To make ECF work consistently, I did (as Mark U mentions above) invest time in calibration, and I still do periodic calibrations when I use my EOS 3. It is quick and easy to do with practice (almost 2nd nature).

    I never had the roving eye problem with ECF on my EOS 3 ("that drives the ECF wild"). I used CF 4 to put AF activation on the "Star" button on the back of the camera, so, ECF was only active when I pressed this button to activate AF.

    Cheers! Jay
  30. We had both the Elan IIe and an EOS3. The ECF worked for both of us (my wife wears glasses) but we only used it sparingly due to our shooting styles and subjects. Interestingly, while the ECF worked for me using the EOS3, my wife could never get it to work for her. We spent a lot of time trying to calibrate it for her (and I'm the one with the astigmatism) but never got it. I didn't really use it much on the EOS3 either, as we took predominantly bird and animal photos with it, much of the time using a Canon 300 mm f/4 plus 2X teleconverter, which could only focus using the center AF point (I wish THAT focusing point were available in the 5D-range of camera). As you might guess, the inclusion or lack of ECF is a non-factor to us.
  31. Wooi, it's just a Marketing Decision from Canon,

    A simple test would be for Canon to have two of the same camera's(aka 7D, 7De), one without ECF, and one with ECF. Charge extra for the ECF, and let the market decide which one will sell the best.

    How many EOS IIe, 5, 7e, 7ne, 3, were sold than others, without ECF? Kind of funny, all the EOS 3's are gone(USA), and Canon is left with their flagship 1v, holding the bag, without ECF.

    BTW, Canon, where is my 7D ECF? I will pre order my 7De now.
  32. I like the ECF. It is one thing I like in my EOS-3 over my 5D (not to mention better AF overall but I don't want to start down that road--I really like my 5D). However, It is not too slow to press the button and spin the main select wheel on the 5D; but there will be times when you lose shots.
  33. From what I've read, the Olympus IS system only works either on the lens or on the body. You can't have both turned at the same time or the whole thing goes wonky and it will shake like crazy. You also can't use it with the camera attached to a tripod or the system shudders. One of the firmware upgrades Olympus has offered is the ability to use in-body IS with legacy lenses mounted to the body. This opens the door well beyond just having the feature for ultra-wide lenses, but for any lens that can be mounted to a dSLR... which considering the popularity of the EOS system for mounting manual focus lenses I'm very surprised they don't offer that feature. I suppose Canon might consider body-side IS as an Olympus feature, but they certainly didn't seem to mind that perception when it came to Live View. ;)

    As far as the ECF feature, my bet is that Canon is holding out on this feature to offer in the future and claim it as a revolutionary feature when people's memory retention of the film-body ECF has faded. You know... sorta like starting with small viewfinders and slowly creeping them up in magnification and size over the years. After-all, if you offer ALL of the features you spent 15 years developing in film SLR's on your dSLR's, where will you have to go in the future?
  34. I would definitely prefer ECF over sensor IS. Especially in team sports it's really the only system that is fast enough to choose in hurry situations. I simply hate the button and roller system in 1D. I have the ECF in my old EOS 30. If Canon says it is a market decision they certainly don't know the users of their products very well.
  35. >Is it possible to have in IS body and IS lens work together?

    I would say yes, if you do it right: The in body IS has most likely less mass to move around. Therefore, it could be used to correct high frequency shake while it leaves the low frequency components to the IS of the lens, which should be able to correct a larger amount of shake. However, combining the two would not be a trivial task.
  36. I owned an EOS-5 which had the first ECF and if work very well for me. I used it 100% of the time when shooting
    wildlife. When I started shooting weddings I never used ECF, although I only shot a few weddings with the 5 before
    changing to an EOS-3 and a 1VHS. I never used ECF on the EOS-3. The ECF on the 3 does not work the same as
    on the 5. On the 5 you look one of the focus points and the ECF focuses on that FP. On the 3, at least the way it
    work for me, you look at an area in the view finder where you want camera to focus and the ECF lights up a FP in
    that area and focuses on that FP. I could never be sure it would select the FP I wanted. When shooting weddings I
    need to know that the camera is focused where I want it.

    I would like to see Canon offer the ECF on a DSLR but it would have to be more reliable than it was on the EOS-3.

  37. I liked the ECF on my Elan IIe as it also had depth of field EC. Once I got my tripod set just right, I could just use eye control to focus on a point, check dof, repeat at will, without having to hit that tiny little button and jiggle the camera off point. A small thing I admit, but very handy when your tripod is just barely balanced, or you had to use one hand to steady it in a breeze
  38. On the 5 you look one of the focus points and the ECF focuses on that FP. On the 3, at least the way it work for me, you look at an area in the view finder where you want camera to focus and the ECF lights up a FP in that area and focuses on that FP.
    I've never used the 3, but your description of how it works fits what the brochure says (which looks a lot like how a marketing person would attempt to portray a limitation as a nifty new feature):
    With the EOS-3's 45-Point Area AF, Eye Controlled Focus is now on a higher plane. Instead of looking at any particular focusing point, just look at the subject anywhere with the Area AF ellipse.​
    I had the Elan 7E, whose ECF is one generation newer than that of the 3, and has only a fraction as many focus points to deal with. It was pretty reliable, but sometimes chose the point beside the one I was looking at. So it's hardly surprising that the 3 would have difficulty picking the exact point you want, given its slightly older version of ECF and much more tightly-packed collection of AF points.
    If they were to offer ECF on a body with the 9-point AF system of most of their consumer DSLRs, I think that would resolve your reliability concern. Also, if Canon were to introduce an ECF-equipped DSLR with a 45-point AF system, they'd probably use the new 45-point system from the 1D/1Ds III, in which only a subset of the points are manually selectable (similar in concept to what can be done with the 3, 1V, and older 1D/1Ds bodies via custom function) with the others becoming assist points (similar to the 6 invisible points in the 5D), and the spacing between selectable AF points would probably mean that ECF would be able to figure out which specific point you wanted, rather than just the area.
  39. By the way, one thing I think Canon should rectify is that the focus indicators should truly correspond the size and shape of the true focus elements. I understand, and also my experience back this up, that the focus points are actually longer and narrower than the indicators. It can sometimes by quite misleading if you've got a tight spot to focus on.
  40. For those of you still hoping for ECF in a Canon DSLR, here is a more recent entry by Chuck Westfall (December, 2009) on the topic:
    If you like the ECF feature and want it in a DSLR from Canon, please write to the email address provided by Chuck in the above cited article and request it. They won't know we want it if we don't ask for it!
    For your convenience, here is the email address again: carecenter@cits.canon.com.
  41. I think the issue of market demand is only partly the issue. I think Canon got tired of all the negative press from people who got irritated by it. So they probably thought well it's not doing their reputation any good even though it works well for most people (it will be the irritated people who are most vocal). I had 3 people in my household try it and it worked consistently for all of us - and I haven't even calibrated mine yet.
    I just got my EOS 3 yesterday after years of shooting digital exclusively, and I have to say, this is the best camera I have ever used (have not used the EOS 1N). My most favorite feature is the ECF, mind you I have only put a few rolls of film through it. For portraiture, I love just looking at the eye of the subject to get perfect instant focus every time (from my L-series lenses).
    It's foolish to talk about this feature as though the addition of it might be at the exclusion of something else - particularly in the 1D or 7D series. Come on people, we pay enough for our hardware - especially a 1D. I initially bought the EOS 3 simply because I don't have the funds for a full-frame digital camera, and I felt my lenses weren't getting their full capabilities exploited (especially the 16-35MkII). It turns out that getting the EOS 3 was probably the best thing I have ever done for my photography career. However if Canon announced that they were gonna add it to their next 1D, I would most certainly work towards the goal of obtaining that model specifically because they did so. I'm afraid after 1 day and 3 rolls of film, I am now spoilt with it and loath to go back to using my digital. I will most likely spend money on film as a result. The AF is so much better than my digitials too. I look forward to shooting my first sports event with film!
    I have never used the ECF for video but it really is the OBVIOUS thing to do. I reckon heaps of people would switch to canon video cameras if they added it. With video, it is not like you can rest the focus zone in the middle and focus-then-recompose for each shot. And you are not gonna use some stupid joystick while trying to hold the video camera still. The fact that it is missing is a real big gap in digital photography (video and still).
  42. I would love to see Nikon put eye controlled focusing in their digital cameras. Maybe the competition would put a bur under Canon's saddle, so they would bring back and put it in their digital cameras.

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