Canon EOS R5 - Autofocus in Action

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One of the most out­stand­ing fea­tures of the Canon EOS R5 is the new DualPix­el aut­o­fo­cus. Cov­er­ing almost the entire viewfind­er area, it rec­og­nizes ani­mals and humans, and even their eyes, on which it will then focus pref­er­en­tial­ly. I have already shown some sta­t­ic pic­tures in my blog.

How­ev­er, I want­ed to try it in action as well. Since my pre­ferred sub­jects, as you can eas­i­ly see here on my web­site, are mam­mals, land­scapes and cities, I have lit­tle expe­ri­ence with BIF (Birds-In-Flight) photography.

Dur­ing a walk at a lake, I sud­den­ly heard a duck fly­ing towards me. For­tu­nate­ly I had the Sig­ma 60-600mm DG OS HSM on the R5. So I took the oppor­tu­ni­ty and quick­ly set the R5 to time pre­set with an expo­sure time of 1/1600.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the cam­era was not in con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing mode, so I got only a very few pho­tos. After that I set the con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing mode (elec­tron­ic shut­ter, 20 fps, TV mode and expo­sure time of 1/2000s) direct­ly to the C3 pre­set to pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing again 🙂 . Nev­er­the­less, I find the fol­low­ing pho­to quite accept­able con­sid­er­ing the circumstances:

600mm, f/6.3, 1/1600, ISO 640, light crop

The AF tracked the duck accu­rate­ly and also rec­og­nized its eye. OK, expe­ri­enced bird­ers would prob­a­bly have had the same suc­cess with a DSLR, because the flight direc­tion of the duck was straight and the aut­o­fo­cus field could have been placed man­u­al­ly on the head while track­ing the duck. And the aut­o­fo­cus did­n’t have to be par­tic­u­lar­ly fast in sin­gle frame mode of the camera.

Accord­ing to Canon, how­ev­er, the AF of the EOS R5 should be able to track objects reli­ably even at the high­est con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing speed of 20 fps with elec­tron­ic shutter.

Of course I want­ed to try that out by myself now. This time, a drag­on­fly that I dis­cov­ered near­by was the object of my exper­i­ments. I pho­tographed it again with my Sig­ma 60-600mm DG OS HSM, adapt­ed with the Canon RF-EOS R adapter at 600mm focal length, aper­ture 7.1, 1/2000s expo­sure time and ISO 1250 with the high­est con­tin­u­ous frame rate.

The shoot­ing took place around noon in bright, hard sun­light and was only intend­ed to prove the tech­ni­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties - free from any artis­tic aspect. The fol­low­ing is an uncropped image from the series:

And here a 100% crop of the drag­on­fly from the pic­ture above:

In the series with 20 fps, ALL sin­gle images except 1-2 were 100% in focus. Dur­ing the shoot­ing I could see the aut­o­fo­cus mark stick­ing to the rel­a­tive­ly small drag­on­fly, even though I was tak­ing the pic­tures from hand-held and shak­ing con­sid­er­ably from side to side. Below is an ani­mat­ed, scaled down and slight­ly cropped GIF of the series:

If you are curi­ous, you can watch the sequence in high­er res­o­lu­tion (full HD) (Atten­tion: 57 MB GIF)

All in all, I am very impressed by the aut­o­fo­cus per­for­mance of the Canon EOR R5. The adapt­ed Sig­ma 60-600 also per­forms very well on it. Espe­cial­ly the price/performance ratio of the lens is unbeat­able. Com­pared to the orig­i­nal Canon RF 100-500 F4.5-7.1L IS USM, which is almost twice as expen­sive, it has an even wider focal length range and with 100mm longer focal length even a 1/3 f-stop faster aper­ture. The only real dis­ad­van­tage is its weight of 2,7kg (Canon RF 100-500 only 1.530g).

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Fabrizio Stefani

    Con­grat­u­la­tions for this well done test. I own an Eos R5, which I use now with an old EF 400 f/5.6 L for wildlife (cou­pled with an EF 1.4X III when need­ed). I would like to upgrade my tele buy­ing either the RF 100 500, or the Sig­ma 60-600, sice 400 mm is too short in a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of cas­es. I now this test and review is quite old now, I imag­ine you have had oth­er chance to test bet­ter the aut­o­fo­cus of the Sig­ma, and maybe even the RF 100-500. Bas­ing on your test, do you feel, after that time, that the Sig­ma is still a valid option, com­pa­ra­ble to the Canon lens (even the EF 100-400 II)?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Gerd-Uwe

      Hel­lo Fabrizio,
      thank you for your com­pli­ments. I still use both the Sig­ma 60-600 and the EF 100-400 IS II. Opti­cal­ly, the IS II is bet­ter up to 400mm. Using the 1.4x exten­der, it can still keep up with the Sig­ma, but is 2/3 stop slow­er, has a poor­er bokeh, and is miss­ing 60mm at the long end. In addi­tion, the 100-400 is much more com­pact and lighter than the Sig­ma. The Sig­ma, on the oth­er hand, offers an unbeat­able zoom range and the aut­o­fo­cus con­tin­ues to sit very well with the R5. It feels like the 100-400’s AF is a bit faster, but the Sigma’s is cer­tain­ly fast enough for my pur­pos­es. Both lens­es are very good and worth a rec­om­men­da­tion. I have no expe­ri­ence with the RF 100-500 so far, I cur­rent­ly con­sid­er it to be exces­sive­ly expensive.
      Best Regards,

  2. Anssi Hakala

    I was think­ing to buy Canon Rf 100-500mm, but after this I’m total­ly inter­est­ed in Sig­ma. I would like to know dif­fer­ence between Canon 100-500mm Rf and this lens espe­cial­ly aut­o­fo­cus per­for­mance. This Sig­ma might be more val­ue for mon­ey than RF lens.

    1. Dr. Gerd-Uwe Neukamp

      The Sig­ma 60-600 is indeed worth its mon­ey. It is an ide­al lens for safaris or the zoo, I have used it exten­sive­ly on our last safari 2018/2019 in the Masai Mara, many pic­tures of this lens can be seen in my gallery. For my pur­pos­es, the AF is fast enough, but it might be to slow for fast fly­ing birds. The eye AF on the EOS R5 works per­fect­ly, I already have some pic­tures of birds on my web­site. The Sig­ma has a longer focal length range and a high­er speed than the RF 100-500, but the Sig­ma is a very large and heavy lens, it is more com­pa­ra­ble to the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Exten­der 1.4x. I don’t know the AF per­for­mance of the RF 100-500 per­son­al­ly, but accord­ing to the reports it will cer­tain­ly be faster than the Sig­ma. And it is twice as expen­sive. For me, the advan­tages of the Sig­ma clear­ly exceed the costs and I will keep it.

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