Rumor: Sony May Introduce Eye-Tracking Autofocus Next Year


Want to focus your camera simply by looking at a particular area of the viewfinder? If you’re a Sony shooter, you might be enjoying that feature as early as next year. The company is reportedly working on building Eye Tracking autofocus into its cameras, with the initial version arriving in a flagship camera sometime in 2014.

sonyalpharumors writes that that the new technology might be one of the next big things from Sony:

The next key tech that may appear in this crucial year is Eye Tracking AF: Sony is considering to implement that feature on their upcoming flagship in 2014. They call it “Eye controlled Focus System”. This feature of the camera will track objects using some infrared sensors in the viewfinder following the eye movement.

The advantage is the rapid change/move of focus points (e.g. from the middle to the border). The biggest disadvantage is that you will have to calibrate your eye for this to work properly. Also this will only work using the viewfinder, it will not work using LiveView on the display. The feature can be enabled/disabled and will have a memory (calibration data) for 3 users.

They also write that while initial tests of the technology have been promising, it may be too pricey to include in anything but the highest-tier cameras.


Canon hasn’t made a camera with its Eye-controlled focusing (ECF) technology since the Elan 7NE, which was launched in 2004

This wouldn’t be the first time that eye-controlled focusing has been offered in cameras. Canon’s EOS line of SLRs offered eye-controlled focusing (ECF) back in the days of film photography. The feature tracked eyeballs to select the appropriate AF point, and was useful for certain types of photography — sports, for example — in which the subject is constantly in motion.

After a number of models offered ECF (A2E, Elan IIE, IXe, 3, Elan 7E, and Elan 7NE), the feature was discontinued and left by the wayside in the early 2000s as digital photography picked up steam.

If Sony does launch the feature, it will be the second reintroduced feature that originally started with Canon. Sony’s pellicle mirror technology also came years after Canon pioneered and abandoned its own version.

Image credit: Canon EOS 30V photo by Mike Funnell/Wikipedia

  • Caca Milis

    Don’t look at boobs, don’t look at boobs! ah damnit.

  • Matthew Neumann

    I’d be really curious to see how this would work. I’m skeptical, to say the least.

  • Matthew Wagg

    Well if Sony can solve the issues Canon had with their Eye controlled focus, more power to them. If they put it in an a99 style body I might be tempted to switch.

  • ennuipoet

    It kinda worked in the Elan’s, I mean it did work but it lacked the proof to say that it “worked”. The early EOS versions gave nicely focused images, but no one could if it was the early AF systems or the eye focus system.

  • Cookies71

    I loved that feature in canon film – very disappointed they stopped doing it, would def try Sony!

  • Remi Carreiro

    did it work that well? I just thought it was something that still needed a lot of prototyping and that it was the reason why it wasn’t being used yet.

  • Mansgame

    Digitalrev was talking about an old Canon that did that today!

  • epouso

    My canon a2e let you pick 1 of the focus points with your eye. sometimes it worked.

  • Duke Shin

    Eyeball control is a trip. Crazy stuff.

  • Jim A.

    I had the Canon Elan 7E and it worked waaay better than I expected. They should bring it back!

  • DarrenWard

    Does everyone else actually look at the thing that you want in focus? I tend to look around the frame a lot.
    Besides, I can’t see this being any faster than using a directional control on the back of the camera (like the stubby joystick type thing on Canons) and you can use that while not looking through the viewfinder so the focus point is already set by the time the viewfinder reaches your eye.

  • lidocaineus

    It’s simple really – it uses IR to check where your retina is looking. You calibrate the mechanism by looking at predefined points through the viewfinder, and after that it’s extremely easy to tell what you’re looking at in such a small space. The only time it’s thrown off is if you use contacts that can throw off the IR detector. It worked extremely well on the old Canons.

  • Kevin Freels

    It doesn’t follow your eye all the time. On the canon, you press the button while you look where you want and it sets that spot. It’s almost instant vs having to scroll around. It’s a LOT faster. Just look and press. I was hoping Canon would bring it back out soon but this would be enough to make me jump systems.


    I loved Sony Features, battery backup, picture clarity, I have Sony H series DSC-HX200V 18.2 megapixel Exmor® R CMOS sensor, 30x optical zoom/60X Clear Image Zoom, Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens, 3D Sweep Panorama, 1080p Full HD video, GPS and compass awesome picture clarity. I loved it.

  • Steven Pam

    Canon had this twenty years ago and it worked fine! Every day I curse the stupid little joystick on the back of my 7D and wish for this feature to come back. Maybe on the 7D Mk II? Probably wishful thinking.