It has been previously demonstrated that systems based on local features and relatively complex statistical models, namely 1D Hidden Markov Models (HMMs) and pseudo-2D HMMs, are suitable for face recognition. Recently, a simpler statistical model, namely the Gaussian Mixture Model (GMM), was also shown to perform well. In much of the literature devoted to these models, the experiments were performed with controlled images (manual face localization, controlled lighting, background, pose, etc.); however, a practical recognition system has to be robust to more challenging conditions. In this article we evaluate, on the relatively difficult BANCA database, the performance, robustness and complexity of GMM and HMM based approaches, using both manual and automatic face localization. We extend the GMM approach through the use of local features with embedded positional information, increasing performance without sacrificing its low complexity. Furthermore, we show that the traditionally used Maximum Likelihood (ML) training approach has problems estimating robust model parameters when there is only a few training images available; considerably more precise models can be obtained through the use of Maximum a Posteriori (MAP) training. We also show that face recognition techniques which obtain good performance on manually located faces do not necessarily obtain good performance on automatically located faces, indicating that recognition techniques must be designed from the ground up to handle imperfect localization. Finally, we show that while the pseudo 2D HMM approach has the best overall performance, authentication time on current hardware makes it impractical; the best trade-off in terms of authentication time, robustness and discrimination performance is achieved by the extended GMM approach.