Sony A7R II Eye AF Settings

I recently got a Sony A7R II camera, to replace my Panasonic GH2. I also got the 55mm prime and the 24-70mm zoom lenses. It’s a great camera, and I’m still learning the ins and outs of it. One really nice feature of the camera is EYE AF, the ability to focus automatically on someone’s eyes. It works surprisingly well, and is a great feature especially if you have young children (who aren’t so keen on staying in one spot for very long). You can tell when the camera has locked onto someone’s eyes because it’ll draw little green boxes around the eyes.

Eye AF is great, but the way it’s implemented is a little quirky. With the default configuration of the camera, you must first half press the shutter button to focus the camera (as you would normally), then you have to press and hold the center button of the control wheel to activate the Eye AF (while still half pressing the shutter button). This is awkward, to say the least. I have reconfigured my camera to make things easier. I now use back button focus, tied to the AEL button. Also, I have configured the AF/MF/AEL switch level to toggle between normal AF and Eye AF. So now, to focus the camera, I hold down the AEL button, and then use the shutter to take the photo. Depending on which position the AF/MF/AEL toggle is in, when focusing I’ll either be in normal AF or Eye AF. I don’t have to hold down two buttons at once for focus, and I can quickly switch autofocus modes.

It took me a bit to figure out how to configure the camera to do this, so here are the steps required (2.5 means go to the second tab in the Menu, 5th screen):

  • 2.5 AF w/shutter – Off
  • 2.6 AEL w/shutter – Auto
  • 2.7 Custom Key Settings
    • AEL Button – Eye AF
    • AF/MF Button – AF On

It’s also important to note that for Eye AF to work, the camera must be in AF-C (continuous autofocus) mode.

Also, here’s the Sony Help Guide for the A7RII.

5 thoughts on “Sony A7R II Eye AF Settings

  1. Thanks much! My question is, that if I turn the setting to 2.5 AF w/shutter – OFF – this requires holding the AF/MF button down for any focusing to occur, which is what I thought you were trying to get around: having to hold down a 2nd button other than shutter. Is there a way to just pre-set these three things together: [1] AF-C. [2] Cont eye auto focus [3] A/F with shutter – ON.

    Am I misunderstanding? I think it’s a disadvantage to have 2.6 AEL w/shutter “off” = the camera permanently in the state of having to push the AF/MF button to get the camera to focus. Yes/No?

    note: in my recently purchased camera (6/16), the setting for your step 2 is “2.5 AEL w/shutter – Auto”, not 2.6.

  2. Sorry – you were right – with your settings above, if you then go back and with the AF/MF lever UP, and re-set the 2.5 – AF w/Shutter to ON, you can select [1] the AF/MF lever UP and push the button gets normal focus with depress and [2] AF/MF lever DOWN + press button and HOLD goes to eye auto focus. but why should you have to hold the button down to use eye auto focus?

  3. Thanks for your article. I use a similar set up. Basically with the AF/MF lever up pressing the button is eye focus in AF-C and the shutter release only releases the shutter. In the AF/MF lever down (AEL) the button acts as back focusing and the shutter button is shutter release only. But doing this focusing is accomplished and no photo is accidently taken making sure you trigger the shutter when you intend do which makes getting the shot easier. It also locks your focus where you intended it once you release the back focus button even if you move the camera.

  4. Thanks. Have you programmed the Focus Hold (lens button) at all?
    I have it programmed to Eye AF and the AEL button for focus, but I’m unclear still whether I need to press both simultaneously.
    Also apart from AF-C do you need a specific focus area setting?

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