How Real Time Eye AF works with a7 III & a7R III FW 3.00

Real Time Eye AF works with a7 III & a7R III FW 3.00

Sony a7R III & a7 III FW 3.00 enables Real Time Eye AF. Once enabled, the camera will search and track for eyes WITHIN the chosen focus area.

Activating Real Time Eye AF

Menu > Camera Settings 1 > AF2 > Face/Eye AF Settings > Face/Eye Priority in AF > On

How Real Time Eye AF works with Different Focus Areas

[WIDE] Real Time Eye AF will search & track an eye in the entire frame

[ZONE] Real Time Eye AF will search & track an eye in the within the selected Zone

[CENTER] Real Time Eye AF will search & track an eye in the center of the frame (Not recommended)

[FLEXIBLE SPOT: L,M,S] Real Time Eye AF will search & track an eye within the selected Flexible Spot
(Large works best for this setting)

[EXPAND FLEXIBLE SPOT] Real Time Eye AF will search & track an eye in the area within or surrounding the Flexible Spot

[LOCK-ON AF: EXPAND FLEXIBLE SPOT] Not compatible with Real Time Eye AF

Why Lock-on AF is Not Compatible with Real Time Eye AF

Lock-on AF is designed to track an object – not an eye. Enabling Lock-on AF the camera will track objects instead of an eye, unless you do the following:

Enabling ‘Eye AF Classic’

If you’re one of those people who want Eye AF to work with the press of a Custom Button like it used to, Eye AF function can also be used by assigning [Eye AF] to a Custom Button to activate it.

The camera can focus on eyes as long as you press & hold the Custom Button. This is useful when you want to temporarily apply the Eye AF function to the entire screen regardless of the setting for [Focus Area].

For instance, if [Focus Area] is set to [Flexible Spot] and you want the camera to focus on an eye outside of the focusing frame, you can apply the Eye AF function by press & hold the Custom Button to which [Eye AF] has been assigned, without changing [Focus Area].”

Turning off Real Time Eye AF

If you really want to roll old school, you can turn off Real Time Eye AF entirely.

Menu > Camera Settings 1 > AF2 > Face/Eye AF Settings > Face/Eye Priority in AF > Off

Then simply press & hold a Custom Button assigned to Eye AF to activate.

Enabling Animal Eye AF

It is not possible to track human and animal eyes simultaneously. To enable Animal Eye AF:

Menu > Camera Settings 1 > AF2 > Face/Eye AF Settings > Subject Detection > Animal

The development of Animal Eye AF performance will continue, increasing the range of animals recognized by the system as well the system’s ability to track their movement.

Download Sony a7R III & a7 III FW 3.00

Order Sony a7R III from B&H Photo | Amazon
Order Sony a7 III from B&H Photo | Amazon

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30 thoughts on “How Real Time Eye AF works with a7 III & a7R III FW 3.00”

  1. Hey Brian

    I have not updated the firmware yet, plan on doing it this week.

    But I am a bit confused with the following camera settings:

    1. Turning off Real Time Eye AF

    2. Enabling Animal Eye AF

  2. Brian, what will I be missing out on functionality wise if I enable eye af classic as you call it? Will I be getting the updated accuracy and performance of the new eye af?

    1. ‘Classic’ works with the Press & Hold of a Custom Button assigned to Eye AF just as it always did.

      Real Time Eye AF works with half-press of shutter to track eyes in the selected focus area.

      I greatly prefer the latter, but for those who want to Press & Hold a Custom Button to activate Eye AF can go ‘Classic’

  3. Brian Patterson

    So Real Time Tracking is Eye AF-specific, not the same utilization as real time ‘object’ tracking on the a(, right? For object tracking we must use the Lock-On AF feature, correct? Please confirm or correct… thanks!

    1. Sony a7 III & a7R III do NOT have Real Time Tracking – only a9 (FW 5.00) and a6400 (FW 1.00).

      This is how Real Time Eye AF works with 3.00 firmware update.

      Lock-on AF is NOT compatible with Eye AF. Period.

      But, you can press & hold a button assigned to Eye-AF to cancel Lock-on AF and switch to Eye AF.

  4. Do you know if they will release a firmware upgrade including real time eye AF for the sony a7rii (which I have) or other mark 2 series?

    1. I’m not aware of any plans to do so. Sony a7 Series II processors are much slower than the ones in Series III cameras so I doubt that is possible.

  5. hey there Brian

    The eye autofocus doesnt work well when shooting vertical, does this happen to you , i shoot with a a7r3 the real time eye is set to on and focus is wide firmware up to date

    thanks 🙂 if you have a solution

    1. Hi Don, just tested it to see if there was something I’d missed, but Eye AF works fine with the camera vertical. I tested both the grip side of the camera down & up and Eye AF works equally well both ways.

      A7R III FW 3.01
      24-70mm F2.8 GM
      Focus Mode: AF-C
      Focus Area: Wide
      Face/Eye Prty in AF: On
      Subject Detection: Human

  6. Is there a way to stay in AF-S Center whole havjng a back button registered to Eye AF and also switch to AF-C like I could before the update?

    All I can do is eye af but it won’t track just hold because my main shooting mode is AFS

    1. Sorry but, the 90s called. They want Center Point AF back. There are MUCH better options available today than ‘center focus recompose’ – such as Flexible Spot Expanded with Face/Eye AF enabled which will only be active if the selected AF point is near an eye.

      Assigning Eye AF to a Custom Button will not change AF-S to AF-C in any version of the firmware.

  7. Lol, hold habits. I still like telling the camera where to focus. And thank you so much! That was basically my question being able to switch from AF-S to AF-C w/ Eye-AF.
    Although I do have a registered button to switch to AF-C for tracking on the fly, it does ok with faces if I’m close enough

    1. Flexible Spot, Flexible Spot Expanded and Tracking Flexible Spot Expand are all much more accurate AF modes than Center AF & Recompose.

  8. If I have eye af on in camera and only want to focus on a subject in the foreground (example: focus on flower that chil d
    Holds out in front of her face, eye still in frame) using a large flexible spot the camera still jumps to the eye even when it’s outside of the spot since it is still close to the eye. What’s the best solution for this?

    1. Try switching to Flexible Spot (M). In most cases that should do the trick, but if the spot you’re trying to focus on is really close to an eye, you may need to turn Face/Eye AF Off when you don’t want it.

  9. Real Time Eye AF works with half-press of shutter to track eyes in the selected focus area.
    I greatly prefer the latter
    ===
    I am curious why you prefer the latter?

    1. That’s easy. With Real Time Eye AF there is no need to press AND hold a custom button the whole time in order to activate Eye AF. Just focus with a half press as you normally would.

  10. Hi Brian, are you aware of the Sony A7RIII added Eye tracking is also added/available while shooting video or is that function exclusive to the Sony A7R4?

  11. Thank you Brian, very useful article. I was testing out some of these modes on my A7iii and wasn’t sure why the eye wasn’t detected in flexible spot lock on mode. Now I know..

    I do like how eye AF has priority even when the flexible spot is pointed somewhere else.

  12. Thank you for this. Although I’m sure it is covered in your article my brain isn’t as flexible as it used to be and I need a little further clarification please. A7R3 > Ive set eye af to be on via the menu page AF2>Face/eye af set>Face/eye prey in af =on.
    I also use different focus areas (expand flex spot, lock-on etc) for different kinds of shooting and have them in memory, with other menu settings, on the dial positions 1,2 &3.
    I use the back button to focus.
    Not sure if I should or shouldn’t also have an eye-af button assigned.
    Sometimes, the person is outside of the focus area but I see the little box detecting a face.
    Question: when I press my focus button will it focus on what is in the focus area or on the face outside the focus area?

    1. Brian,
      Actually after re-reading your explanation I think I’ve got it.
      In brief, eye-af works in some focus areas but not in others.
      I’ll have to re-evaluate the focus ares I’ve selected in my memory settings (1,2 & 3dial positions).
      But if I choose to keep them then eye-af can be used with those areas by assigning a custom button to focus with.

    1. Any button can only be assigned one function. It’s totally unnecessary to assign Eye AF as long as you can understand how it performs as explained in this post

  13. But as you point out the eyes/face sometimes fall outside of the focus area. And it isn’t always possible, or have time to, move the focus area over the eyes/face. I typically use Expand Flexible Spot for most pictures – portraits, candid, even still life or urban / rural landscape. And for action/ kids moving/playing I use Lock-on AF. So what I’m grappling with is how to best take advantage of eye-af for when I the subject isn’t on or close to the focus area. Or as in the case of Lock-On it doesn’t function to find a face/eyes) As you suggest, a custom button could fill that need (such as AEL …),

  14. I’m going to change up and use Expand Flex Spot L for most things and

    Wide for action/kids playing. That should take more advantage of Eye AF being On

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