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I tried to google, but only semi-decent answer was that ECF didn't work for some and was a nightmare for support group.

But are there any reasons modern Canons (or other major camera-makers) lack eye-controlled focus (ECF) system?

  • 2
    I don't know why manufacturers abandoned the technology, but I do have a Canon EOS 50e and a Canon EOS 5 with Eye Controlled Focus and I have to say that I found the feature very unreliable. When it worked it seemed like a great way to select a focus point. When it didn't work it felt like a great way to miss a shot while you tried several times to get the camera to select the correct focus point. It tended to be easier to select the focus point manually. – Arkanon Mar 27 '15 at 20:12
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I agree that was an awesome technology but only to the beginners I suppose. And even thought it was very popular among a mass crowd it had a few setback:

  • It had to be calibrated with the eye of the user, which worked out easy for many but not everyone.
  • If a picture had to be clicked using ECF, the user must focus his eye on a particular place, and many professional photographers found it annoying as even after setting a point of focus they looked all around the scene and that caused the focus to shift and the subject became in and out of focus.
  • Manual focus was found to be more precise over this tech

So Canon found that a lot of users don't need this tech, and even though it seemed as the future of cameras Canon ruled it out of their latest DSLR cameras.

  • I always wondered myself why Canon abandoned ECF. I never used it, but I always thought it would be a really great feature. Camera manufacturers are always banging on about autofocus speed. I don't care how fast a camera can focus if it doesn't know what I want to focus on. I guess it makes sense that the photographer doesn't always necessarily look directly at the point of critical focus, but for sports photography for example, ECF sounds like a great idea to me. – osullic Mar 25 '15 at 10:58
  • it is all about practicality. And since Pros dont buy high-end cameras anuymore, it doesn't make sense to indulge them with cutting features that can be turned OFF... @Arun: I'd argue that even with ECF you still have AF-lock button or half-click, so wandering eye is not an issue. I never used more than 1 (central) AF zone in my cameras, just point where you need focus, AF/AE-lock on it, re-frame, shoot! So why not do same thing without moving camera around, just looking? Manual focus is strange argument, AF quality has nothing to do with ECF per se. – aaaaa says reinstate Monica Mar 25 '15 at 14:39
  • That is possible. "Locking your targets" but in practical use, focussing and holding it and then looking around seems a bit of extra work. I don't know, for me it is. I find manual focus very useful. – Arun Babu Mar 27 '15 at 7:12
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I think the introduction of the joystick is really making a difference, too.

With plenty of AF points, it's a bit tedious to use both dials to select a particular one. The ECF can select horizontally and vertically at the same time. It can be considered a 2D input and is in principle superior to using dials.

DSLRs (some models) have a joystick which serves the same purpose. Given the choice between a joystick and ECF I prefer the joystick, because it does not have the disadvantages mentioned by Arun Babu in his answer. The ECF did not work very reliably for me.

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