Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Nikon cameras with face priority auto focus

Nikon have announced that their COOLPIX 7900, 5900 and 7600 compact digital cameras have face priority auto focus.

When the appropriate portrait mode is selected, the camera
automatically detects a person’s face at typical portrait taking distances, then activates autofocus to focus upon the face area. Focus stays on the face, even if the image is recomposed, or the person moves. The face is outlined on the LCD display.

Nikon note that the technique can be fooled - it may not detect a face if the subject is not looking directly at the photographer, or if they are wearing sunglasses. Since a camera has limited processing power, and certainly limited time, these restrictions are perhaps understandable. The technology is based on FaceIt from Identix.

For other (PC) based approaches to detecting faces, The Face Detection Homepage is a good place to start. This includes a list of links to online face detector demos. With more power, and more time to play with, most of these can detect faces with far fewer restrictions than Nikon have, though the latest demo from betaface returned me two matches that were coincident - a case I would have expected to have been checked for and discarded.

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