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You Are Here: Home > Gear > Modifying Cameras > Enabling the A2E's ECF



Background Information: When the A2E (or EOS 5 as it is called outside the US) came out, it was the first camera to have what is called Eye Controlled Focus. This feature allows the camera to track your eye and select the focus point closest to where you are looking. ECF's debut was generally well received but one of the main complaints was that it does not work when the A2E is held vertically. More accurately, ECF is disabled when the A2E is held vertically. Canon responded to criticism by saying that ECF was disabled in vertical mode because there were not enough memory slots to profile your eye for the vertical position. I was a bit skeptical because there are 5 memory slots on the A2E and most users probably don't use more than 2. I personally feel the reasons had more to do with marketing strategies than technical limitations. Regardless, after some experimenting, I found that separate vertical/horizontal profiles were not necessary for my eye. Thus, if I could find a way to trick the camera to thinking it was always in horizontal mode, ECF would be maintained when the camera is held vertically and the systems would still work reliably well. The following tutorial describes how to modify the orientation sensors in order to achieve this.

There is however one drawback in making this modification that should be mentioned. Because your camera's orientation is factored into the camera's Evaluative Metering algorithms, the modification may theoretically throw off your exposure when you are 1) using Evaluative Metering and 2) holding the camera in any way other than the normal horizontal position. In the 8+ years which I have had my A2E modified though, I have not detected any additional exposure errors introduced by the modification.


1) Disassemble the A2E.

2) On the bottom of the lens mount, you will see a semi-circular black plastic cradle. Remove the 2 inner silver screws holding the cradle to the body. Do not remove the 2 larger silver screws on the outside since they do not touch the cradle (although it looks as if they do).

3) Carefully pull out the cradle making sure to not stress the wires. On each end of the cradle are 2 tic-tac sized housings. Each housing contains a metal ball bearing that slides back and forth between electrical contacts. You can hear them rattle if you shake them. In each housing are 2 pairs of electrical contacts, an inner and an outer set. Depending on which pair is being bridged by the bearing, the camera can determine if it is being held vertically or horizontally. Specifically, the algorithm reads:


Outer Contact

Inner Contact
Inner Contact
Outer Contact
Vertical (Port End Down)
Vertical (Grip End Down)
Horizontal (Normal)
Horizontal (Camera Held Upside Down)

What we want to do is to set it so that the camera always thinks it's in the Horizontal (Normal) position so that it won't disable ECF. We're going to do this by securing the bearings so they always bridge the inner contacts as indicated by the red text.

4) Look at the underside of the cradle and notice there are 2 slits under each housing which allow air to circulate when the bearings move around inside. Use a thick toothpick or something similar (just make sure it will not break easily) and wedge it into one slit so that it holds the bearing in the inner position (where it is closest to the middle of the cradle as it would be if you held the camera horizontally). Do this for both housings.

5) Trim the wedges so that they protrude about 1 mm or so out of the housing.

6) Use a slight amount of hot melt or other highly viscous adhesives to hold the wedges in place. Do not use cyanoacrylate ("superglues") adhesives because they are very fluid and may seep between the bearing and the contacts breaking the circuit. Hot melt adhesive is recommended because it is secure but can still be easily removed later on if you decide you want to re-enable the sensors.

7) Allow the adhesive to cure.

8) Remount the cradle taking extra care to not pinch any wires under the screws.

9) Reassemble.


DISCLAIMER: The following information is for informational purposes only. No guarantee is made or liability assumed regarding the following information. Modifications you make to your camera are taken at your own risk. Because mistakes may result in permanent damage to your camera and any disassembly will void your warranty, it is strongly recommended that no attempts be made to modify cameras if you are not experienced in working with similar devices and unwilling to take the said risks.

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