Patent: The return of eye-controlled focus, but for mirrorless cameras

Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
Aug 9, 2018
1,190
1,262
More and more I am seeing people wanting a camera body to do more and more 'thinking'. At first, smart phones were the culprit in the demise of dslr's and now I see mirrorless tech being the demise of the 'photographer'.

Years ago, photographers had to really stand up for it being an art form or not in the eyes of the critics. Now with it losing it's 'craft' level of study, technique training, having an eye for framing and interest, where will the field go when AI is controlling more aspects of the shot than the human?

Why even have manual modes then? You might argue it's the future, it's evolution but what I see is the person behind the viewfinder is slowly becoming less relevant. So, will the new saying be "It's about which camera you buy, not who is behind the lens"

Meanwhile, film is still a thing thank goodness so there is hope there.
I couldn't agree more!
PS: all my cameras, (I started with a twin-lens Rolleiflex without metering), are still set on manual all the time. I'd hate the camera deciding about all important parameters. I want to take the picture, and not the camera. Maybe I'm wrong?
Yet, even though I relentlessly (stupidly!) criticized AF when Minolta brought it, I could no longer get along without it...
 
Last edited:

Peter Bergh

EOS M50
CR Pro
Sep 16, 2020
32
20
More and more I am seeing people wanting a camera body to do more and more 'thinking'. At first, smart phones were the culprit in the demise of dslr's and now I see mirrorless tech being the demise of the 'photographer'.

Years ago, photographers had to really stand up for it being an art form or not in the eyes of the critics. Now with it losing it's 'craft' level of study, technique training, having an eye for framing and interest, where will the field go when AI is controlling more aspects of the shot than the human?

Why even have manual modes then? You might argue it's the future, it's evolution but what I see is the person behind the viewfinder is slowly becoming less relevant. So, will the new saying be "It's about which camera you buy, not who is behind the lens"

Meanwhile, film is still a thing thank goodness so there is hope there.

An analogy: Do you still drive a stick shift? To put it more bluntly: Are you a luddite?

IMHO, the more of the trivial things that the camera handles, the better. When the camera handles the simple stuff, I am free to concentrate on the one essential thing: composition.

PS. My previous camera was a Mamiya RB67, a totally manual film camera. I wouldn't go back for any amount of money.
 

WoodyWindy

On the road again!
Jul 20, 2010
97
10
This sounds like a very different technique than was used in the film eye-controlled focus. This doesn't appear to be based on what the user is currently looking at, but rather what the current user (based on their "eye-print") has selected to focus on in the past.
 

usern4cr

R5
CR Pro
Sep 2, 2018
1,158
1,911
Kentucky, USA
This sounds like a very different technique than was used in the film eye-controlled focus. This doesn't appear to be based on what the user is currently looking at, but rather what the current user (based on their "eye-print") has selected to focus on in the past.
If this eye AF is not tracking the user's eye movements to move a focus box, then I don't know what value it would have at all.
 

SteveC

R5
CR Pro
Sep 3, 2019
2,337
2,187
If this eye AF is not tracking the user's eye movements to move a focus box, then I don't know what value it would have at all.
I agree. This sounds like some sort of predictive/AI thing, and I loathe a system showing me only what it THINKS I want to see...or focusing on what it thinks I want to focus on.
 
  • Like
Reactions: usern4cr

Kit.

EOS 5D Mark IV
Apr 25, 2011
2,125
1,461
Are you referring to moving the AF with your eye? How is that taking away from the art side of photography? I see it more as offering a more natural means of operating the camera compared to using dials or a joystick.

So, it is actually the camera being less in the way of the art, isn't it?
What would the natural behavior of the eye-controlled AF be if you decided to look at the histogram?
 

Joules

doom
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2017
1,655
1,996
Hamburg, Germany
What would the natural behavior of the eye-controlled AF be if you decided to look at the histogram?
Recognizing that you moved your eye to the display elements and therefore leaving the AF at the subject your eye looked at before beginng to move, for example.

Or more likely, moving the AF point would require an additional input like half pressing the shutter button before making changes to what is being focused on.

My confusion with your post is just that I fail to see how giving artists more options diminishes the art.
 

Kit.

EOS 5D Mark IV
Apr 25, 2011
2,125
1,461
Recognizing that you moved your eye to the display elements and therefore leaving the AF at the subject your eye looked at before beginng to move, for example.
So, if I want to move the AF point there, it won't let me?

And what if I want to check how the out-of-focus areas are rendered?

Or more likely, moving the AF point would require an additional input like half pressing the shutter button before making changes to what is being focused on.
So, still no checking out-of-focus areas when autofocus is active?

My confusion with your post is just that I fail to see how giving artists more options diminishes the art.
As long as this option is turned off and never used, it doesn't.

However, trying to actually use it will produce bad habits and worse images, because you are forced to restrict your eye movements otherwise necessary to evaluate the scene as a whole.
 

Joules

doom
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2017
1,655
1,996
Hamburg, Germany
So, if I want to move the AF point there, it won't let me?

And what if I want to check how the out-of-focus areas are rendered?


So, still no checking out-of-focus areas when autofocus is active?


As long as this option is turned off and never used, it doesn't.

However, trying to actually use it will produce bad habits and worse images, because you are forced to restrict your eye movements otherwise necessary to evaluate the scene as a whole.
I'm not the Canon engineer designing the features, so what point is there in me speculating about these questions? If they can't figure out a way to make the technology usefull for certain users under certain circumstances, they won't implement. If they do implement it, there will still the options that we are used to for those users or circumstances where the new implementation isn't usefull. It will of course be interesting how they go about the design aspects and challenges like those you name for example in the finished product.

I just don't see how adding features and options (that you don't have to use) can take away from the art. You can of couse be of the opinion that the tool used to create it, or the understanding of this tool, are part of what makes the art valueable. I don't see it that way, but even if you do - there has to be an individual limit of how much you care. Is art lesser if AF is used? Is it lesser if a certain method for selection of AF point is used? Is it lesser if the user doesn't understand how AF is aquired on a technical level?

For me, art requires an idea and is the product of this idea being realized through some tool. Depending on how concrete this idea is, deep knowledge of the tool and how it affects the result may be required for the artist to create the desired art. But having a tool with more options should only enhance the chance of the artist having just what they need at their disposal and therefore being able to focus more on the art and less on the tool. Your view on this is certainly valid, I just don't understand it based on what you've written so far. Maybe you aren't even concerned with the point about art that slclick raised originally and I commented on in the post you quoted.

Or maybe I just didn't make it clear that I think dials and joysticks can't be replaced properly by this alternative control method for all users and use cases.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Maps and usern4cr

Kit.

EOS 5D Mark IV
Apr 25, 2011
2,125
1,461
Your view on this is certainly valid, I just don't understand it based on what you've written so far. Maybe you aren't even concerned with the point about art that slclick raised originally and I commented on in the post you quoted.
My main point was, of course, that the people here overestimated the usability of this option.

However, if the use of this option gains popularity among "artists" for its ease of use despite its reduced usability, I would expect some changes in the quality of what the general public perceives as "art", and I don't think I would like these changes.
 

SteveC

R5
CR Pro
Sep 3, 2019
2,337
2,187
I'm not the Canon engineer designing the features, so what point is there in me speculating about these questions? If they can't figure out a way to make the technology usefull for certain users under certain circumstances, they won't implement. If they do implement it, there will still the options that we are used to for those users or circumstances where the new implementation isn't usefull. It will of course be interesting how they go about the design aspects and challenges like those you name for example in the finished product.

I just don't see how adding features and options (that you don't have to use) can take away from the art. You can of couse be of the opinion that the tool used to create it, or the understanding of this tool, are part of what makes the art valueable. I don't see it that way, but even if you do - there has to be an individual limit of how much you care. Is art lesser if AF is used? Is it lesser if a certain method for selection of AF point is used? Is it lesser if the user doesn't understand how AF is aquired on a technical level?

For me, art requires an idea and is the product of this idea being realized through some tool. Depending on how concrete this idea is, deep knowledge of the tool and how it affects the result may be required for the artist to create the desired art. But having a tool with more options should only enhance the chance of the artist having just what they need at their disposal and therefore being able to focus more on the art and less on the tool. Your view on this is certainly valid, I just don't understand it based on what you've written so far. Maybe you aren't even concerned with the point about art that slclick raised originally and I commented on in the post you quoted.

Or maybe I just didn't make it clear that I think dials and joysticks can't be replaced properly by this alternative control method for all users and use cases.
I'm not the canon engineer either, but I could make a suggestion...work it like back button focus. Push the back button, the camera registers where you're looking and focuses. Take your thumb off the button and check out the rest of the screen including histogram, out of focus areas, etc.
 

PerKr

EOS 90D
Jul 11, 2018
124
132
Sverige
Do someone know why was it removed and not in DSLRs only on three SLRs(right?)?! Have asked me this for years :D...
Only Canon know for sure. However, as amazing as it was for some people it was very unreliable for others. And with an increasing number of focus points picking a specific focusing point gets increasingly more difficult. Basically, it just didn't get enough good user reviews to be meaningful in a time when Canon were the only ones to have something like it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: fox40phil

canonmike

EOS R6
CR Pro
Jan 5, 2013
324
273
My eyeglasses self darken in the sun...i wonder if this would still work.
This question may be spot on and I would be interested to know the answer, myself. As mentioned in another post, I am an eyeglass wearer and owned two EOS 3 film bodies and very much enjoyed their eye controlled focus capabilities. However, my glasses were not automatic transitional, sun darkening lenses that you are referring to, like the ones I now also wear. Unfortunately, I sold both of my EOS 3 bodies when I upgraded to my first Canon digital body, the 20D, back in 2004, so I cannot attest to that capability. I hope an EOS 3 user out there sees your post and can speak to your question. It will be interesting to see if Canon actually brings back this tech, hopefully with improved capabilities.
 

canonmike

EOS R6
CR Pro
Jan 5, 2013
324
273
I'm not the Canon engineer designing the features, so what point is there in me speculating about these questions? If they can't figure out a way to make the technology usefull for certain users under certain circumstances, they won't implement. If they do implement it, there will still the options that we are used to for those users or circumstances where the new implementation isn't usefull. It will of course be interesting how they go about the design aspects and challenges like those you name for example in the finished product.

I just don't see how adding features and options (that you don't have to use) can take away from the art. You can of couse be of the opinion that the tool used to create it, or the understanding of this tool, are part of what makes the art valueable. I don't see it that way, but even if you do - there has to be an individual limit of how much you care. Is art lesser if AF is used? Is it lesser if a certain method for selection of AF point is used? Is it lesser if the user doesn't understand how AF is aquired on a technical level?

For me, art requires an idea and is the product of this idea being realized through some tool. Depending on how concrete this idea is, deep knowledge of the tool and how it affects the result may be required for the artist to create the desired art. But having a tool with more options should only enhance the chance of the artist having just what they need at their disposal and therefore being able to focus more on the art and less on the tool. Your view on this is certainly valid, I just don't understand it based on what you've written so far. Maybe you aren't even concerned with the point about art that slclick raised originally and I commented on in the post you quoted.

Or maybe I just didn't make it clear that I think dials and joysticks can't be replaced properly by this alternative control method for all users and use cases.
You have raised some very valid points here, the biggest one being, IMHO, offering the feature is one some people might enjoy. Others, still, see no use in it. So, turn it on, turn it off. Since you are not saddled with having to employ eye controlled focus, I see nothing wrong with having another option at one's disposal. Enjoyed your post.