Canon Car AF Mode Coming to EOS R5 and R6 December 2nd via Firmware Update: Digital Photography Review

A screenshot from Canon’s promotional video, embedded below, showing the capabilities of its Car AF mode with motorsport photographer Larry Chen.

Canon Japan has announced new firmware updates for its EOS R5, EOS R6, and EOS 1DX Mark III camera systems coming on December 2, 2021, bringing new and improved AF performance for each of the three cameras.

Firmware version 1.6.0 for the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III offers one update: improved head detection performance for people who wear helmets and goggles during winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding. Although relatively simple, it’s a timely update for Northern Hemisphere photographers, and also presumably will improve AF performance while photographing friends and family skiing and the like.

Firmware version 1.5.0 for the Canon EOS R5 and EOS R6 is more substantial, providing not only improved AF performance for people wearing helmets and goggles during winter sports, but also adding a “vehicle priority” AF mode to give priority to cars and motorcycles when photographing motorsports. Location Detection can also be applied to specifically focus on the driver’s helmet inside the vehicle.

The Car AF feature was first shown during Canon’s presentation of its EOS R3 camera, so it’s good to see the feature trickle down to the EOS R5 and EOS R6 cameras. However, it is not known if it will work as well on EOS R5 and EOS R6 as it will on EOS R3 when it becomes available. Interestingly, Canon specifically notes that “general passenger cars, commercial vehicles and motorcycles may not be detected,” but it doesn’t explain why non-race vehicles in particular are not easily detected.

Below is a video showing the car AF mode used by Canon ambassador and motorsports photographer Larry Chen on the EOS R3:

Canon has also improved eye AF detection when there is a shadow on the face or bangs/margin hanging over the subject’s eyes and also added a new torso detection component that will focus on the middle part of the subject if their eyes, face and head are hidden or obscured.

Firmware version 1.6.0 for the EOS-1D X Mark III and firmware version 1.5.0 for the EOS R5 and EOS R6 should be available for download on the cameras’ product pages on December 2, 2021.

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