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Change These 2 Settings for Proper Focus Point Selection As Soon As You Get a New Camera

by Erin Peloquin on April 3, 2014 · 43 comments

A brand new camera arrived on my doorstep yesterday! The Canon 6D is the latest addition to my toybox.

6d product shot

After I have a chance to play with it for a few days, I’ll write about why I’m shooting now with the 6D instead of the 5Dii. In the meantime, if you are interested in purchasing my beloved 5Dii at half the cost of retail, contact me here.

But for now, I thought I’d share the first two customizations I made to the Canon 6D before snapping any photos. Good focus is nearly impossible for me without these settings.

The default focus settings for any camera are always completely automatic. This means you have no control over what the camera focuses on, and it usually focuses on what is closest to your lens.

The terminology related to focusing can be difficult to understand, especially if you are reading your manual trying to figure out what to change. Although we often consider the word “auto” to be bad when it relates to our cameras, AutoFocus is a good type of Auto. The opposite of AutoFocus is manual focus, meaning that you spin the dial on your lens to find focus – that’s the old fashioned way, right?

Rather than manual focus, what you want to look for in your camera books is manual AF Point Selection. This means that the camera is still auto focusing, but you tell it what to focus on by choosing the AF point.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On the 6D, you change the settings to manual AF Section like this:

  • Press the Quick Control button to go to the Quick Menu.
  • Use the Multi-controller to scroll down to the AF Selection chooser and press Set.
    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Press Set again to toggle from Automatic Selection to Manual Selection.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Press Menu to leave this setting.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Telling your camera that you’d like to select your AF point is that easy.

When you are ready to shoot, select your AF point by pressing the AF Point Selection button, then use the Multi-controller to navigate to it.

Wait, I have to press a button and then set my focus point? Isn’t that too much to do before taking a photo of a wiggly toddler? Wouldn’t it be easier to skip the button and just select the point?

YES! These questions lead us to the second customization I make before shooting. I have assigned my multi-controller to directly navigate to the focus point, without having to press the button first. Since this controller doesn’t have a shooting function by default, I can’t imagine why this isn’t a default setting.

Regardless, this is an easy enough change to make also:

    • Hit the Menu button and use the multi-controller to navigate to the Custom Functions menu. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

    • Press Set, and use the multi-controller to move down to C.Fn III: Operation/Others
    • Push the multi-controller to the right until you reach menu 5. Press Set.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

    • Use the Multi-controller to navigate to the Multi-controller button assignment item at the lower right corner. Hit Set.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

    • Move the multi-controller to the right to select “AF point direct selection.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

    • Hit Set, and then hit Menu 3 times to back out of the customization area.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 


After these two quick changes, I was ready to shoot with my new camera. By the way, I think that the sign of a true camera junkie is someone who makes these changes and completely ignores setting the date and time before taking those first shots. At least I can admit it, right?

 

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Joyce April 3, 2014 at 11:54 am

Hey Erin!
I just recently changed my 5d MarkIII to do this and so far I really like it! It makes it so much easier to change the focus point. Do you ever worry about which focus point you use since some of them aren’t as sensitive?
Can’t wait to read why you are now shooting with the 6D instead of the 5D II.
Thanks for another great article. :)

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Erin Peloquin April 3, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Thank YOU Joyce! I have the focus confirmation beep turned on, so if I don’t get the beep on an outer spot, then I move to the center spot. Other than that, I don’t worry about it. If they catch focus, then the resulting focus will be just as good as if the center had focused. Those outer spots just aren’t able to grab focus in as many situations.

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Karen April 3, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Will be watching the followup to this……thanks for sharing.

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Aly April 3, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Smart. Any help on how to do this with a Nikon D7100?

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Erin Peloquin April 3, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Aly, sorry. I’m no help with this. But google manual focus point selection for your camera and you should find it.

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Monica April 3, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Is this for all Canon cameras? I have an oldie, lol! Canon Rebel t2i

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Erin Peloquin April 3, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Monica, it should work for all dSLRs, not just all Canons. Look in your manual or look online for Rebel t2i manual focus point selection.

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Nic April 4, 2014 at 1:58 am

Also for the 5D mk III users you can set your camera to only use cross mount points so that it favours the best focus points depending on lens for more accurate focusing.
Regards

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Erin Peloquin April 4, 2014 at 11:12 am

That is good to know, Nic!

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Kay April 4, 2014 at 8:44 am

Something is wrong with the links to the free photo edits from April 4th. I wasn’t able to leave a comment there so tried it here.

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Lashawn April 4, 2014 at 8:54 am

Do you use back button focus? And if so, what are your setting on the 6D for that? I think I have it set up right but I’m not sure!

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Erin Peloquin April 4, 2014 at 11:12 am

Hi Lashawn. I don’t use BBF because I shoot manual, and I set focus after I set exposure.

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Chuck April 6, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Can this be set on a Canon SL 1?
Thanks
Chuck

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Erin Peloquin April 7, 2014 at 8:32 am

Hi Chuck. I’m not sure. You’ll need to check your user manual.

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Joanne April 7, 2014 at 7:55 am

I can’t wait to hear more about you and your 6D! I’ve been holding off buying one (not sure why!).

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Robert P Butler April 7, 2014 at 10:03 am

I just purchase a 6D with 24-105L lens and I love it.

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Robert P Butler April 7, 2014 at 10:19 am

i am glad to found this site.

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Erin Peloquin April 7, 2014 at 10:41 am

I am glad you found it too, Robert. And great to know that you like your 6D. I’ve really enjoyed playing with mine the past few days!

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Jimmy April 7, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Hi Erin!
Welcome to the 6D family! I can’t wait to hear your feedback once you’ve had a chance to play with it more. Thank you for the tip on the auto-focus settings. I’ll give it a try on mine.

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Erin Peloquin April 7, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Thanks Jimmy! I’ve had tons of fun with it so far. I need to go through a shoot that I did Friday to see how the images turned out!

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Rhonda April 9, 2014 at 1:24 pm

I really enjoy your site.
Thanks for the information on the 6D. I just bought one and am waiting for it to arrive.
I am trying to decide if I should keep the kit lens or sell it and get something like the Tamron 24-70 2.8 for a general lens for portrait, family and travel photography?
Any thoughts?

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Erin Peloquin April 11, 2014 at 8:22 am

Hi Rhonda. That depends on which lens comes in your kit. A 24-70 might not be long enough for travel – just depends on your style.

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Irma April 9, 2014 at 7:52 am

Great info! I love my 6D – but still learning it. So, if you shoot in Manual, you can’t use BBF?

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Erin Peloquin April 11, 2014 at 8:27 am

No, Irma, you can use BBF in Manual. I just choose not to. It doesn’t make sense to me in Manual because the point of BBF is to separate setting exposure from setting focus. That’s already the case when you shoot Manual.

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Kristy Jo July 30, 2014 at 7:39 pm

I am upgrading from the 7D to the 6D and this was super great to read. Can’t wait to hear more about your new camera. Can’t wait to get mine too! Thanks for sharing!

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Kristy Jo July 30, 2014 at 7:46 pm

One concern I had was the little joystick button (as I call it) is no longer on the 6D. Is that hard to get use to not having that there?

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Erin Peloquin August 7, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Not for me. It’s different, but it’s not hard to learn.

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Jess August 6, 2014 at 12:34 pm

So, do you need to do this if you just use the center focus point, lock focus and then recompose?

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Erin Peloquin August 7, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Well, there are two steps above so I’m not sure which one you are referring to. If you are going to shoot with the center point only, however, you do need to take your photo off of Auto Point Selection.

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Erin Peloquin August 23, 2014 at 6:46 am

Hi Jess. There is info on this in the comments above. If you only use the center point, that’s the only place you’ll see the focus point. It won’t help.

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kel August 7, 2014 at 11:26 am

Hi! Thanks for the info. Never thought of doing that on my 7d. But I have a question…..on my camera the wheel at the back is for my shutter speed and the wheel on top near my shutter button is for my aperture. So if I assign my back wheel focus point what will I use for my shutter speed…..that is equally important.
Thanks!!!!!

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Erin Peloquin August 7, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Hi Kel, on the 7D, you set your focus using the joystick, not your shutter speed dial.

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Erin Peloquin August 23, 2014 at 6:47 am

Hi Kel. You can use the joystick on the 7D (not either of the wheels) for focus point selection. You can change the wheel and joystick settings using Menu if you need to.

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Veronica September 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Thank you for sharing the custom setting for the AF button. It will make life much easier.

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ifurnish September 19, 2014 at 10:49 am

What about back button focus? What are your thoughts on this?

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Erin Peloquin September 22, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Shooting manual, back button focus doesn’t matter. The point of BBF is to separate exposure & focus point setting. They are separated already if you shoot manual.

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Gale October 16, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Perfect!

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Julie Sikkel October 23, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Do you use back button focusing on your Canon 6D? If so, how do you set it up and use it correctly? :)

Thanks for any information you may have…love the way you illustrate and explain things!

Julie

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Christina Bingham November 3, 2014 at 8:08 pm

You have no idea how helpful this is!!! Thanks for posting!

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Tony lyon November 11, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Thanks for that info

I love my 6D and havent had my 1ds III out of the cupboard since i got it.
I found that very usefull as I often want to focus on the last point on the centre line

Cheers Tony

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Noelle November 14, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Does this work with back-button focusing? I’d love to read the comments but, strangely, I don’t see them anywhere.

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Erin Peloquin November 14, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Hi Noelle, I just fixed the comments. Read through them now – I think you’ll find some good info!

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