There’s nothing worse than hearing your camera beep to indicate it’s locked on and focused, then to find out you missed the shot completely because you were actually intending to focus on something else that what the camera chose to focus on. Usually your camera is pretty smart in picking what to focus on, but if you’re anything like us, usually isn’t good enough. From the image above, you can see that the 5D Mark II has a total of 9 focus points represented by boxes. This is what you’ll see if you look through your viewfinder. We’re going to look at how to tell your 5D Mark II exactly where to focus. Plus if you have another Canon camera, these same steps should be similar for your camera too.
To know exactly where your camera is focusing, pay attention when you hear the beep on which box is highlighted. If you have the beep off, you’ll just have to watch. The image above shows the focus in the center, so the center focus point is highlighted red.
In this image, the right focus point is highlighted, so the camera will try to focus on whatever is at that focus point. You may have already noticed after playing around with this a little that your camera doesn’t always guess the right focus point for what you’re actually wanting it to focus on. That’s where changing the settings comes in handy.
To see which focus points are active on your camera, push the focus point selection button (circled above).
After you press the button, look on the top display of your camera to see which focus points show up. I’m pretty sure the factory default is for most Canon cameras is to have all the focus points active, so there’s a good chance your display will look like the image above. With all those focus points showing up as active, that means your camera just takes a guess at what you might be focusing on, and uses that focus point to focus. Does that seem a little unreliable? It is.
To change to only a single active focus point, make sure your focus points are being displayed on your camera, then scroll your top dial circled above until you have the focus point selected where you want to focus.
We prefer to use the center focus point for all our focusing. All of our cameras are set up the same. We never change it. Another good option is top center focus. Whatever makes sense for the way you shoot.
What focus point do you prefer to use? For those of you who leave all the focus points active, is there a way you compensate for the unpredictability?