|, Camera Settings, Guided365|01. Change These 2 Settings for Proper Focus Point Selection As Soon As You Get a New Camera

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

When I get a new camera, the first setting I tweak is Focus Point Selection. Good focus is nearly impossible without this change!

The default focus setting for any camera is always completely automatic. Your camera might call this setting something like “Automatic AutoFocus Point Selection.”  This means that you have no control over what the camera focuses on. Consequently, it usually focuses on whatever is closest to your lens.

You want to be able to tell your camera where to focus, right? I’ll show you how I make that change on my own camera below. But first, I want to help you decode your camera manual so that you can find the same setting on your camera.

We all know that camera manuals aren’t written in plain English. You might think that the opposite of Automatic AutoFocus Point Selection is manual focus. You’d be wrong! If you change your camera to manual focus, you’ll have to focus the old fashioned way, twisting the focus ring on your lens for each photo you shoot.

Rather than manual focus, what you want to look for in your camera books is Manual AutoFocus Point Selection. This means that you will tell the camera what to focus on, and then the camera will do the work of spinning the focus ring for you.

Set AutoFocus Points on Camera

Configure Your Camera for Focus Point Selection

On the Canon 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.
  • Press Set again to toggle from Automatic Selection to Manual Selection.
  • Press Menu to leave this setting.

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 assigned my multi-controller to navigate directly 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 Canon wouldn’t have assigned this function out of the box.

Regardless, this is an easy enough change to make:

    • Hit the Menu button and use the multi-controller to navigate to the Custom Functions menu.
    • 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.
    • Use the multi-controller to navigate to the Multi-controller button assignment item at the lower right corner. Hit Set.
    • Move the multi-controller to the right to select “AF point direct selection.”
    • Hit Set, and then hit Menu 3 times to back out of the customization area.


After these two quick changes, I was ready to shoot with my new camera using Manual AutoFocus Point Selection. 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?

By |2018-01-22T12:24:36+00:00April 3rd, 2014|Basic Photography, Camera Settings, Guided365|95 Comments

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Cheryl
Cheryl

Good lord…. I almost gave up trying to learn to use my camera anymore because I thought I just sucked at it too much! Turns out I needed to change a couple of settings!

Brian Idocks

Thank you so much for this. AF systems are complex enough and all so different these days, it’s nice to see it simplified like this.

Brian Idocks

Excellent instructions here. AF systems are so complex these days that it’s nice to see someone simplify it.

sofia
sofia

Hi! I have problem, my camera doesnt even show the option of the AF POINTS whgen i press Q
HELP!

Leah
Leah

Thank you. I missed so many good shots playing around with focus button.

Jill
Jill

Will all the tutorials relate to Canon as I have a Nikon?

Prabhakar Rao
Prabhakar Rao

Good morning. Will these same setup methodology apply to the 5D MK III? Thank you for such a detailed guide.

Lishan

Thank you, thank you for this wonderful tutorial! Your step-by-step instruction is so clear that I had no problem following it and setting up my 6d!

Gon

Hi, I recently switched from Nikon to Canon and was very frustrated with this issue. All my Nikon bodies had direct AF selection by default and I had not been able to find how to change this in Canon. Adding an extra step for AF selection made me feel very slow. Thank you very much for this!

Graham Williams
Graham Williams

Erin I.m lying on my bed resting after arthroscopic surgery – which I.m praying will be OK by the end of July so that I can go on my dream 6 week trip to Greenland and Iceland….armed with my Canon 6D. The issue of single point focus has been driving me nuts!! Then I found your blog with your VERY clear step by step instructions about how I can do this without spending valuable time ( and major frustration) trying to do it out in the field! I was becoming quite disenchanted with my 6D because it thought if knew… Read more »

Patti Hartog
Patti Hartog

Thanks for this…I had put my new 6D away due to frustration over how clunky it seemed to be choosing a specific focal point when I needed a quick shot. Thanks for rescuing my camera (and me!)

Cheryl
Cheryl

Same! I got mine in 2013!! It’s been in my closet because of frustration!!

Lori

Can I select more than one focal point when in manual mode? I always use manual focal point selection, but it only lets me choose a single point, whereas the auto focus selection often selects multiple focus points. I want to select multiple points in manual mode. Can that be done?

Fraser Williams
Fraser Williams

Lori, remember that the lens only focuses on one plane. It is impossible to get the camera to focus on more than one plane (distance from the camera) when taking a shot. The various focus points available in your camera are there to allow you change the focus point without rotating the camera. Only one focal point is available per shot depending on your focal length and your aperture setting.

Cory
Cory

Hi Erin,

If I set the multi controller wheel for the auto focus selection points, how am I supposed to set the aperture while in manual mode? I believe the multi controller is for the aperture in manual mode.

JockB
JockB

ERIN: I have had my 6d for a year. I always use spot focus, but have not changed the custom function as you described. Am I reading a past answer correctly that without step 2, above, the 6d will still pick an autofocus point other than the center point I selected in step 1?
Thanks

Tandy
Tandy

Thank you so much for this post. Totally different pictures before setting the camera and after

Colleen
Colleen

Oh my word. Thank you for this! I have used my 5D MKII for 5 years and setting it to the center point was so easy with that camera. I would have NEVER figured this out if it weren’t for this blog post. Thank you so much.

YZJaffar
YZJaffar

ERIN !! WOW .. SO MUCH USEFUL .. THANKS .. KEEP IT UP BUDDY !!

Leslie
Leslie

How can I do this on my 5dii

Nicole Turley
Nicole Turley

Quick question on the focusing. I took a family shot last week and the people were sort of staggered. When I got home it looks like some of them in the back were not in focus. Is there a way to focus on a group? Like 5,6 people?

Mary
Mary

Whenever I am selecting my focus point, sometimes all of them highlight. Is there a way to disable that? It is like the camera is trying to switch back to autofocus.

Jess
Jess

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! I just bought this camera and have been fighting on single point selection! It choose wrong soooo much and I was seriously ready to send them camera back! Who knew that deep within the menus I could set it back to “normal” single point!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!

Bart

This technique works, but it’s kind of a hack. The position of the joystick wheel is not ergonomically placed (in comparison with the 5D range), so although you can change the focus points, it remains a pain. Huge flaw!

Amy
Amy

I’ve been reading through your info as I have a 6D in the mail right now (yay!) – but I am wondering if you can use the settings as you suggest AND back button focusing? BBF is invaluable to me as I shoot cross country, football, basketball, soccer, track (and the occasional skate or snowboarding trick). I have my 7D set up with BBF – but of course that camera is made more for sports shooting. I plan on using the 6D for times I need better ISO handling, but would like to give the camera a chance at sports… Read more »

Noelle
Noelle

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

Tony lyon
Tony lyon

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

Christina Bingham
Christina Bingham

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

Julie Sikkel
Julie Sikkel

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

Gale
Gale

Perfect!

ifurnish
ifurnish

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

Veronica

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

kel
kel

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!!!!!

Jess
Jess

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

Kristy Jo

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?

Kristy Jo

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!

Irma
Irma

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

Jimmy
Jimmy

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.

Robert P Butler
Robert P Butler

i am glad to found this site.

Robert P Butler
Robert P Butler

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

Joanne
Joanne

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

Chuck
Chuck

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

Lashawn

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!

Kay
Kay

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.

Nic

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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Monica
Monica

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

Aly
Aly

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

Karen
Karen

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

Joyce
Joyce

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. 🙂