Eye-AF with Face Detect: Sony’s Killer Feature

Sony’s killer feature is Eye-AF and along with that, Face Detect. In his latest YouTube upload, my friend Patrick Murphy-Racey describes how he got the shot at the US Open with the new Sony FE400mm f/2.8GM lens.

When shooting tennis, the net often catches a focus system’s attention when tracking a subject, so PMR used wide AF, Eye-AF, and as a back up face detect. What that settings choice did was allow him to freely compose with a wide angle while shooting knowing that the camera is going to first find a face, lock, and then track their eyes.

In cycling, helmets and visors often obscure the eyes of the subject, so I use the same settings to first have a wide area and then lock onto their face. See this frame below from a continuous set I took for Bike Hugger.

Grand Targhee 18

The mountain biker’s eyes are obscure from shadow off the helmet visor and googles, but the[amazon_textlink asin=’B076TGDHPT’ text=’ a7R III’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’texturadesign-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d8aca6d1-b06c-11e8-802f-1f447c8789b1′] with the [amazon_textlink asin=’B07GGMX9JC’ text=’FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’texturadesign-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’dfbaae85-b06c-11e8-b972-778b0f84e961′] locked onto his face, and I got the shot without using the joystick.

For you settings geeks, PMR is in Manual mode, f/2.8, 1/4000th and….

  • Wide Area AF
  • Face Detect On
  • Back button AF on
  • AF-ON button.

My settings for the shot from the Grand Targhee were the same, but at 1/1000.

If you don’t have the opportunity to shoot with PMR like I have, then read his blog where he continues the discuss of how Sony’s tech has made him (and me) a better shooter.

When you have EyeAF that nails sharp eyes without thought, Face Detect AF as a backup to EyeAF, and you are seeing the image before you shoot it, you don’t shoot a ton of extra frames.  When I shot Canon and Nikon, I would typically overshoot constantly because I love to use fast glass wide open and I never was quite sure if I had eyes sharp.  Now, I’m shooting with such a high level of confidence that it’s extremely rare that I delete a file because it’s not sharp.  I’m more editing moments than out of focus photos.


My daily shooter is Sony a9 II with a vertical grip and various Sony lenses attached like the FE 20mm F1.8. Find more gear recommendations in our shop. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.