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Friday, 05 August 2016


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Well, you've managed to use a word I didn't know (not a big accomplishment), but that Google didn't, either! Searching Google for katushka resulted in some hits related to people whose names/handles use that, but I couldn't get a definition. From context, I'm guessing it's a synonym for tuchas. Side note: You may be aware, but I'll bet if not you'd be amused, to know that Peter Mark Roget was of the opinion there were no such things as synonyms, each word being specific and appropriate for only one use. His thesaurus helped locate related words, but they were not considered interchangeable, to the chagrin of High School essayists everywhere.

As for the backup cameras, I too agree that they are indispensable, and I'm amazed at how many auto enthusiasts rail against them in comments sections around the web, offended because 'in my day, I only needed a mirror to park a car, and to need more is a sign of the collapse of civilization', which ignores, as you rightly point out, the scenarios where what they show isn't seen when backing using only the rear-view mirror, or looking over one's shoulder.

Eye tracking focus seems like a feature I'd enable. I'm firmly in the micro four thirds (I apologize, I can't recall the house style for the term, so I'm defaulting to clunky). I suppose if I had a job I might be tempted to change systems to get a killer feature. For my photography, the key to improving is in getting a camera that is easier to operate fluidly. I'm of the opinion (for my requirements) that any current system will produce all the technical image quality I need. But being able to set the camera and know how to use it, that's where I can get wins. Focus is one of the areas I struggle with.


Fujifilm X series has it too in some models: "Eye Detection AF automatically detects human eyes"

"Choose Face Detection to automatically detect human faces, or turn on Eye Detection AF to automatically detect and accurately focus on human eyes for successful portraits with a shallow depth of field. You can also define the area of priority focus, for example right or left eye, or the eye closer to the camera."


I was expecting this to be a camera that focuses where you're looking. I think that technology exists in fighter pilots' helmets, but it may still be too bulky and expensive for consumer cameras.

The "people" in one of my typical scenes are sword ferns, "standing" in front of the "pillors" of my attention, a few big redwood trees behind them. No human eyes here, but still a focusing dilemma: with light always in short supply in a dense forest and difraction placing limits your choices of aperture, and with critical detail right in front but with essential elements much further away - where to focus?

Every scene seems to have a different answer and, over much trial and error, I have come to find the right element of sharpness in the foreground vs. a slight softening of more distant scenery, to make both me and viewers happy (Note: I am NOT trying to have everything razor sharp).

I doubt there will be anything better than my own manual pick of the focus plane and other exposure values. So all these nifty focus "gimics" are a lost cause for me, but I do admire the technology.

As others will no doubt point out, the A7R2 was the first camera to do continuous eye focus tracking - it came out a few months before the A7S2.

Reading this reminds me of why I usually use manual focus. I'll put the focus where I want it, not where the camera thinks it should be. Yes, I do use auto-focus for some things, such as some sports shooting-which I don't do often, but if I want to focus on the pimple on my subject's nose, I don't want the camera doing otherwise. Don't misunderstand, I love digital, but its just a matter of who will be the boss, the camera or me. And it sure ain't the camera!

Mike, the Panasonic GH4 does this and it is most impressive when
I use the 42.5mm f1.2 lens. As you raise the camera to your eye with
nothing but the image on the screen the rectangle with the cross
hair pops up smack on the closest eye and if I recompose or the
subject moves it follows........nice

I've found the problem with eye detection is that it requires a short time to acquire focus, and if you're shooting people who aren't posing and are doing something where they're moving around its nearly impossible to get a lock before the person moves/turns away for a split second and the eye detection has to start all over again. I still find the best way to shoot people in action is to place the AF point in the part of the frame that their face will be in, wait for the right moment, quickly lock and shoot.

Hopefully this new system is better, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Ha! My Olympus E-M10 has (1) face detection; (2) face detection with nearest eye priority; (3) face detection left eye and (4) face detection right eye settings. Found in the custom AF/MF section. Out of the box, you need to dive into the menus and enable the custom menu before you can see it.

I leave it in face detect mode with nearest eye priority. When there's no face in the scene, it'll default to your favorite AF mode, in my case the tiniest center point only. When there's a face and an eye, it'll grab it.

I've never done any lock-down testing on it, but anecdotally it works super well. It's especially helpful shooting at waist level, or pictures of wiggly children.

I think the Olympus bodies try to do this too. But I don't remember for sure.

It's also available on the A7RII - Gary Fong has a video on that as well

My Oly E-M1 has not only face detection, but also face with either left eye or right eye.

What's a "katuschka" ? Is it an optical nerve ?

[Butt, derriere, posterior. --Mike the Middlebrow Ed.]

Am I missing something or doesn't the Sony A6000 already have this feature?

There are YouTube vids that show how to setup the custom button function to enable it.

[A6000 has it an AF-S, A6300 has it in AF-C. --Mike]

Most new features spend some time in "It's a Gimmick Purgatory"
Over time it either disappears of gets added to the list of 'must have features. I had a Canon A2e (EOS5 outside the USA) that had an early version of the feature in the early 1990's It had 5 (I think) focus points which you selected with a button press which illuminated the af points and you selected by looking at the one you wanted. It worked well enough as I remember, and I don't think Canon used it again.
Pretty sophisticated for 1992.
Even then it was faster than the button + Joystick of later cameras.

As long as the focus point stays where you place it until you move it, it could be a really nice feature.

I have Eye AF in AF-S mode only on my A6000 and in AF-S and AF-C mode on my RX1Rii. I use Eye AF all the time - it's amazing. But being able to use it in AF-C mode in addition to AF-S is not enough to get me to upgrade my A6000 to an A6300.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy using Eye AF in AF-C mode on my RX1Rii, but the reality is that when I use my A6000 for portraits or kid shots, which I do a lot with my FE 55, I find that I don't have any problem nailing focus with Eye AF in AF-S mode.

This is my sole disappointment with the X-T2 announcement. I was hoping that Fujifilm would have improved their implementation of face/eye detection, but it appears that they didn't—at least not specifically.

Autocorrectus Erronius:
"...he character and "personality" of cameras is to a large extent determined by the method of finding ..."

Missing the t in the first word. A common malady of all my devices.

I'm sure for some photogs this is the killer, gotta have
feature. Something they have dreamed of. Something that makes them reach for the plastic fantastic and spend that
$1000.00 plus USD on yet another camera. They may never have another out of focus eye in a photo again.

For me, well its a big yawn.

Thanks for the info Mike but really every time another camera mfg. comes out with another "gotta have feature" it really is not necessary to crow about it.

My 2 cents.

I have this amazing technique for making sure the eye is in focus rather than another part of the face. It's called stopping down. Works a treat and is a hidden feature on almost every camera available that has an aperture dial.


My Fujifilm F31fd is almost ten years old now. Depends on what time scale you’re using, but I wouldn’t call this a recent innovation. I used the Fuji’s fd a lot because the small LCD of the camera is only for point and shoot and not for precise focusing. Funniest memory: when I made a picture of the the statue of Salvador Allende in Santiago de Chile it also worked. It also recognizes snowmen and binocular viewers.

David Evans: I have a Canon Elan film camera with eye-controlled autofocus. It has three autofocus points, and you can select which one you want by looking at it through the viewfinder. It works, too. I have always been surprised that nobody brought this feature back in a digital camera, if only for the marketing opportunity. Would make a great bullet point, huh?

"I had a Canon A2e (EOS5 outside the USA) that had an early version of the feature in the early 1990's It had 5 (I think) focus points which you selected with a button press which illuminated the af points and you selected by looking at the one you wanted. It worked well enough as I remember, and I don't think Canon used it again."

Canon used a more evolved version of their eye-control focusing system in some models right up to the end of film SLRs. My circa-2001 EOS 30 (would have been called something else in the US) had it and it worked wonderfully, apart from having to be re-calibrated every so often as my eyes aged. It was quite a magical feeling watching the subject snap into focus in the finder as you looked at it. I've never understood why Canon didn't continue the system into their DSLRs. Of course, it's more or less the opposite of the technology Mike's talking about.

This is a useful feature sometimes, but it's usually best turned off when photographing non-face dominant scenes as it can see faces in many weird places.

Canon used to have a very useful (to me) technology with the eye-following focus, as in - you look at it in the viewfinder and it focusses there. A number of models had it, with the last being the best; the EOS3. With a bit of training it was extremely accurate. Not sure why Canon dropped it and didn't keep developing it. Overall, for me it would have been a lot more useful than the eye-detection, touch-to-focus or toggles currently in vogue.

The old Oly OM-D EM-5 has eye-detect; you can pick left or right eye. Nothing beyond that to set up.

But I find even the face-detect isn't good enough for the situations where it would be useful. When there's just one face in a nice portrait (um, the photo goal, not the rectangle orientation) location, things are slow-moving enough that it's not useful. But when it's rapidly changing framing of a band playing and often includes profiles, it gets it wrong so often that I have to turn it off.

Let us know when it is reliable enough to keep on the eyes when using a 400 f/2.8 wide open for sports. Would be really nice to have on receivers, Quarterbacks and the like under the stadium lights. Even more so with poorly lit High School stadiums.

If it can keep the eye of deer, moose, mink and small birds in focus it would be even better.

Mike, I think you are right to recognize this as one of those features that truly matters if you care about composition. Eye AF, along with regular ole focus tracking are quickly maturing into sure fire methods to lock focus when your subject is off center - or lock in the center and move off without worry of losing the plane of focus. I'm sure all the manufacturers will be working hard to perfect but for now, Sony is leading the way.

Just wonder whether it can track a bird's eye in flight.

Dear Editor Mishka: Please to excuse. "katushka" no mean place where you sit. I married to native Russian speaker. She say katushka mean "spool" or "bobbin." There is similar word, "Katyusha," which is nickname for "Ekaterina" (Katherine), like Katie or Kathy, or Kitty who was friend of Anna Karenina. Also is name for song, and rocket named after song, used by Russian army in Great Patriotic War (WWII).

I seem to recall from some video (maybe a Gary Fong) that the Sony a7r2 has face recognition as well as eye focus. So at the beginning of a wedding the photographer takes a shot of the bride and labels it #1, then the groom and labels it #2, and so on through the group.

That way if there is a group, the camera should try to focus on the eye of the bride if she is present, the groom if she is not and so on through the group.

I thought this was a little more sci-fi than the eye detect.

Important to a very small market but pretty impressive tech.

I would think katushka was a modification to jewish/eastern european word kishka, which literally is intestine, but is often used for a rough equivalent to "a pain in my ass," namely "a pain in my kishka(s)."

Actually following up on an earlier post, there is a Russian song about a tank (sung by Theodore Bikel), and I believe the word (sounds like) katushka.

My random guess is "katuschka" is an elaboration of "touchas" or "tush" or "tushie." Maybe your English teacher heard it someplace, maybe he just made it up.

I had a friend who was a fan of Rocky and Bullwinkle and like to make up vaguely Russian sounding words while imitating the voice of Boris and Natasha. Katuschka sounds like something she would have come up with.

I'm with Joe on this one. This is a big yawn for me, too. Sorry, I just find the Sony cameras so…boring. Using them is like using an appliance rather than a real camera, and using them reminds me of using a DSLR, which I just find to be so unrewarding these days.

I'll take responsiveness and a good film simulation over an eye-detection feature any day of the week. Along those lines, I just rented a Fuji X-Pro2 for a week to try out. I have to say that the responsiveness of this camera is impressive, and the new Fujifilm Acros B&W film simulation is spectacular. The X Pro-2 is notably snappier and more responsive in use than my X-T1, which is no slouch. And, what the new Acros film simulation does for rendering skintones in black-and-white is very, very special. Wow. I can see why all the portrait photographers have been raving about it.

@Mike and Lenya,
I think the expression "pain in the Katushka" still stands. Look at all those needles poking in, looks pain full and restricking.
I think Mike just assumed it to mean back side. And we all know what assuming some thing turns into "the ass of u and me".

According to an article today from the Washington Post (8/6/2016) the NHTSA reports that, despite the popularity of backup cameras in new cars they haven't significantly cut down on back-over incidents -- less than 8 percent. It said, though the sample size is small, the fatality rate has improved somewhat but "the number was volatile year-to-year".

The article said the back-up cameras can reduce the blind zone (for SUVs and vans I assume) by 90 percent, but the drivers keep hitting things!

Nothing was said about any controversy, just the plan to add new safety technology to new cars amid disappointing results.

My guess is that Mr. Kearney was just embellishing the word tush or tushie by putting ka at either end. Ask him.

Hmmm, my Olympus Stylus One has an auto focus setting to detect the near side eye. That camera dates back to 2013. I know the feature works too because I use it sometimes.

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