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Photography Tutorial: Change This Setting on Your Camera NOW!

by Erin Peloquin on January 26, 2012 · 140 comments

Consistently good focus in my photography is something I’m always working on.

When I take photos, I look at the back of my camera for feedback on focus as well as exposure.  Some (rude) people call this chimping.

Of course, you have to zoom way in to verify that focus is good on the camera display.  And you never really know until you see the photo on your computer, right?  So getting this feedback on your focus is a time consuming process.

But after all these years, I just learned that my camera will show on the display exactly where the focus point was.  How cool is that?  No need to zoom in.  If you intended to focus on an eye, but instead focused on the forehead, you’re going to see this right away because there will be a red box or dot on the forehead.

In the photo above, do you see the red box just to the right of the arrow?  That is my camera telling me exactly where focus was achieved.  (Of course, it doesn’t look sharp on a phone photo of a camera display, but the doll food under that red dot is actually quite sharp.)

Do you want to set up AF Point Display on your camera?  Here’s what it looks like on the Canon 7D menu:

And below is the Canon 5D Mark ii menu.

This feature is available on the Canon 60D also, so I suspect that it might be a standard dSLR feature.   You would find it under one of your Playback menus.  Look for AF Point Display.

Nikon shooters, is this available on your cameras?  I would love to know how to set it, if so.  I did a quick google search and looked through the manual for the Nikon D300 but didn’t see anything like it.  I’m sure I’m just not using the right search terms – its’s probably called something different.

Thanks to my friend Lindsay at Sunflare Photography for teaching me this awesome camera setting.

 

{ 138 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacy January 26, 2012 at 8:58 am

I’m not finding that option on my Rebel xsi.

Thank you for such an informative blog. I have really enjoyed following you the last few months.

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Crysta February 9, 2012 at 12:15 am

Stacy, I also have looked for this option on my XSI and am unable to find it. If ANYONE can confirm or deny that this model has this feature, it would be great!!!
Thank ya,
Crysta

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Leslie January 26, 2012 at 9:07 am

I don’t see the red box when I have my display AF enabled? Should I be seeing this in the preview and/or the playback of the picture?

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Lori January 26, 2012 at 9:09 am

I shoot with a Nikon D90 and I couldn’t find this setting in my manual. I will be interested to see if anyone can find it–I’d LOVE to have this feature!

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paula.thequilter January 27, 2012 at 10:55 am

I have a Nikon D60 and it is in the playback mode. You will see it as AF-area mode. HTH.

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Jody Mahoney January 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm

I, too, have a Nikon D90 and would be very interested to find this feature. Thanks, anyone!

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mary February 4, 2013 at 10:55 am

the D90 does not include focus point..D7000 does have this feature.

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charlotte wilson February 17, 2012 at 10:01 am

Lori,

I also have a D90. Did you ever get your answer about the focus setting?

All the best,

♥charlotte

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stef April 14, 2012 at 7:22 am

I have the Nikon D90, went to the playback menu, looked under display mode and there is no option for focus point box :(

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Tanya January 18, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Stef….There isn’t an option for focus point box because if you look through your lens, you will se that is already there! I love this feature. Sometimes, you have to focus and recompose, depending on what setting you have. Try NOT to use autofocus and fool around with either of the PSAM settings.

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Angie L January 26, 2012 at 9:27 am

My Canon 50D has this as well. I’m so glad you mentioned it. There will be several times when this is going to be very handy! Mine is certainly enabled now! Thanks! :)

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jackie January 17, 2013 at 12:50 pm

I have a Canon 50D as well and have it enabled but have noticed that the red point doesn’t always appear. Do you have this issue? I shoot in Manual.

Thanks.

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mary February 4, 2013 at 11:00 am

I have a similar problem with the D7000 but I shoot wildlife alot so I have my focus in “release” mode therefore it does not always focus and therefore it will not show up on display with a red box. Its the curse I live with in order to get a fast moving birds in the bush! Perhaps you have your 50D in release mode..if so switch to focus.

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jackie February 8, 2013 at 9:52 am

It doesn’t seem to work when I have the camera set to BBF.

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Janice Kenyon January 26, 2012 at 9:28 am

Thanks for the tip. My husband is the photographer and I assist in the studio, but I’m hoping spend more time behind the camera. I’ll look for the setting on the Canon 5D and try it out.

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Leslie January 26, 2012 at 9:33 am

I have a canon…I can see this feature when shooting in AUTO…but not manual.

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melissa January 26, 2012 at 9:35 am

I have a Nikon D7000 and the option is on the playback menu under display mode. Under basic photo info, check the focus point box! Thanks for the tip – this will be very helpful!!

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Deanna@Snippets from Springdale June 6, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Yep, it worked on my Nikon D7000, thank you for the tip.

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Rhonda Roman January 9, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Also works on the D800

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Shari April 12, 2013 at 9:46 am

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! :o )

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Jana January 26, 2012 at 9:52 am

I have the Canon Rebel xsi and I can’t find this setting on my camera either? I did a search and haven’t come up with anything either?

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Malissa January 26, 2012 at 9:56 am

Found it on my nikon d7000! Go to playback menu, then, display mode, then, put a check mark next to focus point. Thanks for sharing this info!

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Nancy January 26, 2012 at 10:00 am

I couldn’t find this in my d700′s menu or my David Busch book. I seem to remember seeing this option after my pictures are loaded onto my PC in my nikon transfer. Would also love to know if anyone has the answer.

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DeniseAck January 26, 2012 at 10:23 am

Waaa. Not available on Canon T1i. My menu doesn’t show the top 2 choices (highlight alert, AF point display), only the bottom 3. :(

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bdaiss January 26, 2012 at 11:31 am

Boo hiss! I WISH the T1 had this! I wouldn’t call it cheating at all. It’s making the most of technology! : )

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Pam January 26, 2012 at 10:40 am

AWESOME! Literally just said (out loud!) “Oh my gosh!”

Thanks for the tip – it’s a game changer~

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Jessica January 26, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Found it on both my 7D and 50D… going to look at my rebel later. Great feature… going to come in handy!

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Erin January 26, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Wow, you have lots of cameras!

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LeeAnn January 26, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Don’t have that on the Nikon D3100. Adding yet another reason to upgrade to the D7000! :)

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Marisa January 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Holy cow! I swear, I read my 7D manual and somehow overlooked this. This is a GREAT tip. Royal Family fan and awesome camera tips…how could I not love this blog?! :)

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Erin January 26, 2012 at 8:57 pm

We must be kindred spirits, Marisa! Nice to meet you!

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Alexia January 26, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Use it all the time on my Canon 60D, so helpful!

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Kim January 27, 2012 at 11:37 am

I have mine enabled on my 60 D, but when I preview my photos it isn’t showing up. Is there an extra step that I’m missing?

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Leslie January 27, 2012 at 11:46 am

I can’t seem to see them when I preview either…only when I’m using “auto” which kinda defeats the purpose. Changed lens thinking that might be the issue. Didn’t solve anything.

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Barbara January 27, 2012 at 9:20 am

Thanks so much for sharing this tip. It was enabled on my 50D, apparently, but I was unaware of what it was telling me. Went back and looked at recent photos and saw exactly why some of them weren’t in sharp focus.

This will be a great help for my future shots.

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Erin January 27, 2012 at 9:33 am

You are welcome!

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Deb January 27, 2012 at 9:33 am

Love the tips and info from you, Erin! Thank you. If anyone can find this on the Canon Rebel T2i menu, please share! Thanks!

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Lisa January 27, 2012 at 9:37 am

Thanks for the info, but unfortunately it is available on the Canon Rebel T2i….bummer!

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Lindsay m January 27, 2012 at 9:39 am

Erin, so glad I stumbled upon this one….and so glad that so many other people can get great use of it too!!

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Erin January 27, 2012 at 9:47 am

You and me both, Lindsay!

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Tammy January 27, 2012 at 9:40 am

I have a NikonD40 and I have AF- Area Mode with 3 options; Closest Subject, Dynamic Area, and Single Area. Is this what I am looking for? If so, which do I choose?

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Erin January 27, 2012 at 9:46 am

Tammy, that controls how your camera chooses a focal point. That’s not what you’re looking for, unfortunately.

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Camille Duckworth January 18, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Tammy, sadly it’s not on the D40

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dawn January 27, 2012 at 9:57 am

Looked on Nikon D5000 but didn’t see anything. However, I will continue to look for it! Thanks!

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Kristen January 27, 2012 at 9:57 am

I have a Nikon D90 and I don’t have this option available either : (

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Natasha S January 27, 2012 at 10:14 am

I can’t find this on my 5100 but if someone else does I would love to know where it is!

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Belinda January 27, 2012 at 10:21 am

I have the Nikon D90 & I wasn’t able to find it on my camera.

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Bobbi Jo January 27, 2012 at 10:27 am

Will enable this first thing when my D7000 gets here next week :) Thank you!

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Gina January 27, 2012 at 10:29 am

Erin- I know that it’s not available on my T3i- however when looking through the viewfinder- the AF point activation indicator will show it when depressing the shutter while obtaining focus. I’m sure your’s does this too. Some or all of the little boxes flash red to show where the focus is before I even finish pressing the button. Which is good since it doesn’t give me the option to see it like your’s does after the fact.

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Susan January 27, 2012 at 10:30 am

Sooooooooo nice to know others struggle with focus! I have this enabled and still have to work at focus, especially in groups. Thanks for the tip.
Erin- just finished your “Ready, Set, Actions” Cracked up at how funny you are– and it was a wonderful tutorial.

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Cathy D. January 27, 2012 at 10:44 am

I use this all the time! I shoot with a Nikon D300. To set it, go to the Playback menu (first menu: icon is a right pointing arrow head). Scroll to “Display mode” Under Basic photo info turn “Focus Point” on. Hope this helps!

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Allison H January 27, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Thank you! I was scrolling down the comments hoping to find someone with the d300 as well :)

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Kimberly K January 30, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Thanks Cathy! I use the D300 as well. Looking forward to using this feature :-)

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Melissa Mertz January 27, 2012 at 10:51 am

Are there seriously two other Melissa’s with Nikon D7000′s??! That’s my camera as well. Too funny!

Thanks for sharing where to find this feature. Can’t wait to get home and turn it on.

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Malissa January 27, 2012 at 11:00 am

Yes, it is definitely funny!!! lol When I posted on here, I didn’t see the other Melissa because I was on my phone, but when I made it to my laptop, I saw her and thought it was funny, now here we are with 3 Melissas with a D7000- love mine!

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Kenna January 27, 2012 at 10:52 am

Found it on the Nikon D700. Just like a previous poster said – go to menu, playback menu, display mode, and click on the focus box. Great information – thanks so much for sharing!!

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Deena January 27, 2012 at 11:03 am

WOW Thank you for this awesome tip!! I was always zooming way in to be sure I nailed it, this will save me lots of time! Worked on my 40D, shooting manual. :)

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Kristen January 27, 2012 at 11:05 am

I have a D90 and I can’t find that option : (

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Melissa Mertz January 27, 2012 at 11:11 am

I love mine too. The only thing I’m disappointed with is the somewhat “mushy” shutter button. Often when I’m trying to set the focus, in anticipation of taking a shot, it actually goes down all the way and takes the shot when I haven’t finished framing yet. I’ve read others online have the same complaint. Have you experienced that?

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Malissa January 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm

I haven’t experienced that and I’ve had my D7000 for about 9 months now.

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Donya January 27, 2012 at 11:14 am

Thank you for this! I am absolutely going to utilize this feature now that I know about it!

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Heidi January 27, 2012 at 11:36 am

Thanks Melissa/Malissa I found it on my d7000. Anxious to work with the new setting. :)

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Staci Brock January 27, 2012 at 12:03 pm

The Nikon D200 has this in playback, one of the options (tile, histograms etc.), use the large, “turnwheel” button press down to go to that option when your images are in playback mode.

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traceyhooping January 27, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Yeowzer!

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Robyn Brown January 27, 2012 at 12:45 pm

My nikon d5000 doesn’t have it. Seriously considering upgrade. :(

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Jennifer January 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm

It worked on my Canon 40D! Woohoo! THANK YOU for sharing this awesome tip! I’ve read my manual up and down, I guess I missed that part!

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Erin January 27, 2012 at 1:44 pm

You know, I’ve read my manual too. I think a lot of us have. It’s just hard to figure out what they’re saying sometimes…. Perhaps I should write up a manual “translation” one of these days.

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Nichole January 27, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Ok maybe I am not getting it…can you get this to work if you have it set to the center point always and you focus and recompose? When I do it, it just shows the center block as being the focus point even if the focus actually is to the left or right. Btw this is on the Canon 60D. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!!

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Erin January 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Nichole, that’s a good point. When you focus and recompose you are focusing first. Focus is achieved in the center and that’s what your display will show you.

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Char January 27, 2012 at 3:24 pm

AMAZING!! I was just parusing all the settings on my 5D to see if I wanted to change anything and I saw that. Wasnt sure what it was, was gonna grab my manual and lookie here!!! Now I know! Thanks!! :)

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Maureen January 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm

No luck finding thid on the Nikon D5000. Still poking around..

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rattimoth January 27, 2012 at 5:25 pm

not available in any way shape or form on the 55d/t2i :<:<

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Masher January 27, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Yup, got this on my 40D. Nice tip. Thanks

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Leslie Maxwell January 27, 2012 at 5:39 pm

FINALLY…had success on my 5D….I was using the back focus button and it wouldn’t work. However, using the AF button and it does! Not sure the reasoning but at least I know I can use it.

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Letty February 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Leslie, I have a 5D also. Can you share how/where you found it? Thanks!

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Angela February 16, 2012 at 9:13 am

It’s not working on my 5d. I use the AF-ON button on the back for focusing. Should it work with that or will I have to use the shutter button to focus?

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Erin February 16, 2012 at 3:08 pm

It will work Angela, at least if your 5D is a Mark II – I don’t know for sure about the other 5Ds. If it’s a 5DMII, you have another setting somewhere that is preventing it right now. Look for my post tomorrow about settings on my 5DII.

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Lam-Son June 1, 2012 at 1:49 am

Angela, if you hold down AF-ON button at the same time as you press the shutter button, then the red dot will show up. If you release the AF-ON button prior to pressing shutter, then the red dot will not appear because technically AutoFocus is not engaged.

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Courtney February 12, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Thanks so much Lam-Son! I was having this same issue. My question now is that if I am recomposing since I am still in the same plane my focus will be where I origionally focused before I recomposed right? Does that even make sense?! Thanks again!

Anna January 27, 2012 at 8:55 pm

I found it on the Nikon D300S. In the PLAYBACK MENU go to DISPLAY MODE and highlight FOCUS POINT then click it to get the check mark in the box to the left. Then go up DONE and click OK.

Thanks so much for sharing this tip!

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Kelly February 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Thanks – I found it and it works thanks to you! I had forgotten to go up to DONE and hit OK after, but now I got it. :)

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Erin February 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Not uncommon on Nikons to forget the DONE. My friend and I did the same on his camera!

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Emily February 17, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Could not figure out what I was doing wrong on the Nikon D600…DONE!!! Thanks!

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Zanne January 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm

I have a Nikon Coolpix 5700 & you can does this. When viewing your pictures in full screen mode just rotate your command dial. It shows you all kinds of info on your picture.

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chris January 28, 2012 at 1:48 am

Thank you, thank you for sharing this wonderful tip. This will save me some time for sure. I don’t think checking the screen is cheating, I do it to see if I got it and move onto the next thing. This will just speed things up, knowing my focus is in the right place:) And, so glad I have it on my 40D!!! Have a great weekend.

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nicole February 21, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Rats! Chris, I can’t seem to find it on my D40. Could you help a gal out?

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Dale Herman January 28, 2012 at 9:36 am

I also have a Canon 7D, but I do not get these same results. I have many, many photographs that yes, it does show a red dot where the camera says it’s focused, but when actually viewing the photos the sharpest part is NOT where the dot is, but elsewhere in the photo. I have had it serviced at Canon’s repair facility twice, and it is still no different. In fact, on some photos, it shows the focus point on the far right hand side of the photo, but the actual focus point is on the far left side of the photo?!? I shoot a lot of sports and it is very frustration to focus on something then have the camera focus where it wants rather than where I’m telling it to focus. The 7D is great at being able to adjust where the camera is to focus on any given shot, but I just don’t see it actually performing up to advertised expectations.

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Erin January 28, 2012 at 11:15 am

Dale, could this be because your subject is moving between the time focus is set and the time the shutter is released? What does Canon say about it? I never did much action photography with my 7d.

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