Camera Tech Explained: Canon Dual Pixel Autofocus
Often knocked for a perceived lack of innovation, Canon does have at least one ace up its sleeve over the competition – dual pixel autofocus.
Introduced with the 70D in 2013, dual pixel autofocus significantly increases autofocus speed and accuracy in Live View mode, including autofocus while shooting DSLR video. Recent Canon DSLR cameras are lauded as having sweet autofocus racking and tracking capabilities for video, and dual pixel autofocus is the reason.
While Canon has only recently become a competitor in the mirrorless marketplace with the introduction of the M5 in 2016, its current DSLR lineup can offer a competitive live view experience thanks to dual pixel autofocus, and with the rising popularity of DSLR videography, the video mode autofocus is a real selling point. From my experience, it performs quite well. In conjunction with tap-to-focus touchscreen capabilities, it offers impressively smooth and accurate focus racking without fumbling around to grab exact focus manually.
But, what is dual pixel autofocus, exactly? Canon has recently updated their online learning library with some new content to break it all down, for those technical-minded people who love to dig into the inner workings of camera technology.
Excerpted from Canon’s knowledge base:
“Put simply, DPAF takes autofocus to the next level. It provides both smooth and consistent focus for a wide range of photo and video applications. Each pixel on the CMOS imaging sensor has two separate, light-sensitive photodiodes, which convert light into an electronic signal. Independently, each half of a pixel detects light through separate micro lenses, atop each pixel.
During AF detection, the two halves of each pixel — the two photodiodes — send separate signals, which are analyzed for focus information. Then, an instant later when an actual image or video frame is recorded, the two separate signals from each pixel are combined into one single one, for image capturing purposes. This greatly improves AF speed over the majority of the area on which you’re focusing. The result is phase-detection autofocus, which surveys the scene and recognizes not only whether a subject is in focus or not, but in which direction (near or far), and by how much.”
Check out this video to see it in action, and you can read more in Canon’s article, from which the excerpt was taken, here.
For vloggers and DSLR videographers, Canon’s dual pixel autofocus technology offers a real reason to opt for this brand, and to stick with a DSLR, in an era in which consumer camera technology is leaning more and more toward mirrorless.
via Canon Watch