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What are the best SERVO autofocus settings for the EOS R5?

The Canon EOS R5 comes with the next generation of Canon’s Dual Pixel autofocus system. If you used the EOS R or RP before buying an R5 you’ll notice that the R5 has a bunch of new AF settings compared to it’s predecessors. That said, it is basically the same concept as the older cameras and if you’re familiar with how those work, using the R5’s autofocus should feel very familiar.

It still begs the question, which of the R5 settings is best? The older cameras have great AF so why do we need the new options? Well, it all comes down to the situation you find yourself in and whether you are shooting still photos or video.

First lets look at Page 1 of the AF tab in the R5’s camera menu.

The first thing to do of course is to select SERVO mode under the setting ‘AF operation’.

Once you have enabled SERVO you can take a look at page 3 of the AF tab.

When you go to the AF settings menu for the EOS R5 it may look complicated, but it is pretty simple. On this tab there are 4 presets that adjust two AF settings. Those settings are “Tracking Sensitivity” and “Accel./Decel.” tracking. You can change the values in each preset to whatever you want.

Tracking Sensitivity affects how “sticky” the camera’s AF is. If you are generally trying to focus on one person or animal at a time, this is the setting you want to set to the lowest, or -2. I have found that most of the time leaving this at -2 is the best option and is good to use when using the “Initial AF point” setting. That way you can place your initial AF point on the person or animal you want to focus on, and the camera will do its level best to stay on that subject.

The “Accel./Decel.” tracking option attempts to pre-focus the lens based on the subject’s movement. I have noticed that with this set in the middle it is too sensitive, again, it is much better to set this option to -1 or even -2 for most photography situations like portraits, landscapes, or pretty much anything where your subject is either not moving or barely moving. For instance, if you are trying to focus on slow moving animals or something like say an elk or cow that is grazing, -2 or -1 will be your best option.

With that in mind I picked the first preset called “Case 1 versatile multi-purpose” and set “Tracking Sensitivity” to -2 and “Accel./Decel.” to -1. This helps settle the servo AF system down and makes the servo AF more reliable for general photography.

When should you use the more aggressive options? I think they are mostly for extreme scenarios involving sports and animals where subjects either move fast or move erratically.

For instance, if you are trying to photograph soccer players running around on a field you may want the camera to switch focus to whomever is facing the camera, in that case you can set “Tracking Sensitivity” to +1 or +2, this will cause the camera to switch to the best subject rapidly without being told to do so. The same can be done for “Accel./Decel.” tracking but you really need to be careful with this setting. Setting “Accel./Decel.” to +2 will make the AF very “jumpy” because it is anticipating rapid movement towards or away from the camera. For the most part you want to keep that setting as low as possible.

As far as the rest of the presets go, I do not think they are perfect either. “Case 4” in particular seems wrong. If I am trying to track something that is moving back and forth really fast, I am thinking maybe dragonflies or something like that, I feel like I would want the camera to stay locked on to it. For that reason I set the “Tracking Sensitivity” for Case 4 to -2 and the “Accel./Decel” tracking to +2.

When setting up the presets for the 4 cases just think about the different situations you often find yourself shooting and think about what the best combination of settings is to achieve your goals. Perhaps you feel they are fine as they are, perhaps you will feel you need to change them, either way it is a good idea to try the different settings to get best results from the camera.

Of course if you just want to skip all this you can simply choose “AUTO” at the bottom of the list and let the camera figure out what the best settings are for what you are trying to accomplish.

If you have any questions or ideas about how to set up the camera, feel free to share them in the comments below!


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