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

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

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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. The process will be different for each camera model out there. So 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. On some cameras, you might need to turn off All Points from your focus menu – this setting does not focus on all points. It tells the camera to choose which of the points it thinks is the subject.

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 |2018-12-07T12:44:59+00:00April 3rd, 2014|Basic Photography, Camera Settings, Guided365|101 Comments


  1. Sally December 6, 2018 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    What about a Nikon. Any tips for setting up that focus please

    • Erin Peloquin December 6, 2018 at 4:58 pm - Reply

      Sure. There are some tips in the comments below, or you can google single point AF for your camera model.

  2. KC Chrisotph November 30, 2018 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    Yet another “Thank You!” It’s been seven years since I set up my 7d, and my new toy (6d2) was driving me nuts.

    I knew I was giving up some controls without the joystick, but no moving the focus point without pushing the stupid button first?

    Should be set “on” by default (but I still miss the joystick, just not 5d4 money worth).

    Thanks, again!

    • Erin Peloquin December 1, 2018 at 12:04 pm - Reply

      I know! Why isn’t it set this way by default? So glad I could help!

  3. Rahul Sharma November 20, 2018 at 11:53 am - Reply

    I just had 6d mark ii (coming from Nikon so all the controls were alien to me) for over a couple of days and I went out to a park with my family. I have Golden Retriever and I kid you not, keeping this guy in focus was no joke, on top of that changing the focus points using default conventional method, would always cost me missing his pose. I was so frustrated. I wish I had come across your post a day earlier.

    Nevertheless, I am thankful for your post

    Best Regards,

    • Erin Peloquin November 23, 2018 at 12:35 pm - Reply

      I’m so glad I could help you, Rahul! Now you need another day at the park! With new cameras, you don’t always know what you need to know until you’ve messed up a shot or two. I hope there’s not much more of that with your new one! Enjoy.

  4. Cheryl October 1, 2018 at 8:47 pm - Reply

    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!

    • Erin Peloquin October 2, 2018 at 1:07 pm - Reply

      I am so glad I could help! Thank you for your comment, Cheryl! And if you want to learn even more about your camera, check out my Guided365 course. It begins on January 1.

  5. Brian Idocks June 6, 2018 at 10:25 am - Reply

    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.

  6. Brian Idocks June 6, 2018 at 10:24 am - Reply

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

  7. sofia May 31, 2018 at 10:08 am - Reply

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

    • Erin Peloquin June 1, 2018 at 9:53 am - Reply

      Hi Sofia. What did your camera manual tell you to do to make this change?

  8. Leah April 11, 2018 at 4:16 pm - Reply

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

  9. Jill January 5, 2018 at 9:54 pm - Reply

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

    • Erin Peloquin January 6, 2018 at 12:30 pm - Reply

      Jill, just to confirm, this is not a Guided 365 tutorial. Is that what you are asking about?

  10. Prabhakar Rao August 6, 2017 at 5:21 pm - Reply

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

    • Erin Peloquin August 7, 2017 at 12:48 pm - Reply

      I don’t know. You’ll have to give it a try to find out. Glad you liked the tutorial!

  11. Lishan August 2, 2017 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    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!

  12. Gon July 18, 2017 at 11:34 am - Reply

    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!

    • Erin Peloquin July 18, 2017 at 11:44 am - Reply

      I am so glad I could help! What made you switch?

      • Gon August 7, 2017 at 1:31 pm - Reply

        Hi Erin, I switched because I do a lot of video and Nikon is still far behind Canon, specially in video autofocus.

        • Erin Peloquin August 8, 2017 at 3:08 pm - Reply

          That’s good to know. I really need to get into video. Seems overwhelming – I don’t know where to begin.

          • Gon August 8, 2017 at 5:21 pm

            Good photographers usually make pretty good videographers. However, it is a different animal and you’ll find that you need a lot of variety composition wise, tight shots, wide shots, etc. And then, editing takes a bit longer than photography.

            I would recommend you play around with adobe premiere or apple’s final cut, basic cutting is pretty simple and once you get going, you’ll start exploring more complex tools and technics.

            Good luck!

          • Erin Peloquin August 10, 2017 at 9:27 am

            I do have Premiere. Will have to check it out. Thank you, Gon!

  13. Graham Williams June 8, 2017 at 2:46 am - Reply

    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 best what I was trying to focus on..!!! I do like a smart camera…but not THAT smart !! But. Now I have renewed confidence in it and would get off my bed to go and get the camera right now and change the settings following your EXCELLENT guide…..BUT….the camera is downstairs and I.m not game to navigate stairs so soon after surgery!!! But I will do it as soon as I can. THanks again so very, very much for saving my sanity!!

    • Erin Peloquin June 8, 2017 at 4:51 pm - Reply

      Hi Graham! What a nice message. Thank you for taking the time to write it! I hope you’ve made it down to you camera now and found the instructions easy to implement. I hope you have a speedy recovery, and that I get to see some of those photos from Greenland and Iceland!

  14. Patti Hartog January 19, 2017 at 10:34 am - Reply

    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!)

    • Erin Peloquin January 19, 2017 at 12:25 pm - Reply

      So glad to help! I love my 6D!

    • Cheryl October 1, 2018 at 8:52 pm - Reply

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

  15. Lori January 17, 2017 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    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?

    • Erin Peloquin January 18, 2017 at 12:41 pm - Reply

      Hi Lori. Auto Focus Selection doesn’t actually let you choose more than one point. It is telling you that those lit up points are all an equivalent distance away from your camera, therefore they will all look well focused. Does that help?

    • Fraser Williams April 4, 2017 at 10:26 am - Reply

      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.

  16. Cory December 14, 2016 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Erin Peloquin December 19, 2016 at 3:46 pm - Reply

      Have you tried it yet Cory? The aperture is the wheel around the multi controller.

  17. JockB December 1, 2016 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    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?

    • Erin Peloquin December 2, 2016 at 6:10 am - Reply

      No. Step 1 makes sure that you get to choose the focus point. You must have already done this. Step 2 eliminates the need to press a button before selecting the focus point.

  18. Tandy October 12, 2016 at 8:19 am - Reply

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

    • Erin Peloquin October 12, 2016 at 2:10 pm - Reply

      I am so glad it helped, Tandy! Thanks for the message.

  19. Colleen January 18, 2016 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Erin January 19, 2016 at 10:14 am - Reply

      So glad to help! 🙂

  20. YZJaffar September 7, 2015 at 8:52 am - Reply


  21. Leslie August 15, 2015 at 6:21 pm - Reply

    How can I do this on my 5dii

    • Erin Peloquin August 20, 2015 at 1:19 pm - Reply

      You’ll need to look in your camera manual. It’s different for every camera, and unfortunately, I can’t memorize them all! 😉

  22. Nicole Turley April 14, 2015 at 11:16 am - Reply

    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?

    • Erin Peloquin April 14, 2015 at 2:00 pm - Reply

      You need a larger aperture number/smaller aperture. Many people say that the aperture number should be equal to or greater than the number of people in the photo.

  23. Mary February 12, 2015 at 3:06 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Erin Peloquin February 19, 2015 at 6:49 pm - Reply

      You are hitting a button on your camera that changes the setting. Some cameras have buttons that change it directly.

  24. Jess February 10, 2015 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    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!!!!!

  25. Bart February 1, 2015 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    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!

  26. Amy December 3, 2014 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    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 shots as well, but I don’t want to lose the BBF. The half shutter press messing up my focus on a moving subject won’t work too well for me – so any insight you may have on setting up for both simultaneously would be wonderful! (And I always shoot in manual.) Thanks!

  27. Noelle November 14, 2014 at 4:19 pm - Reply

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

    • Erin Peloquin November 14, 2014 at 6:42 pm - Reply

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

  28. Tony lyon November 11, 2014 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    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

  29. Christina Bingham November 3, 2014 at 8:08 pm - Reply

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

  30. Julie Sikkel October 23, 2014 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    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!


  31. Gale October 16, 2014 at 1:17 pm - Reply


  32. ifurnish September 19, 2014 at 10:49 am - Reply

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

    • Erin Peloquin September 22, 2014 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      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.

  33. Veronica September 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm - Reply

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

  34. kel August 7, 2014 at 11:26 am - Reply

    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.

    • Erin Peloquin August 7, 2014 at 1:15 pm - Reply

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

    • Erin Peloquin August 23, 2014 at 6:47 am - Reply

      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.

  35. Jess August 6, 2014 at 12:34 pm - Reply

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

    • Erin Peloquin August 7, 2014 at 1:14 pm - Reply

      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.

    • Erin Peloquin August 23, 2014 at 6:46 am - Reply

      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.

  36. Kristy Jo July 30, 2014 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    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?

    • Erin Peloquin August 7, 2014 at 1:03 pm - Reply

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

  37. Kristy Jo July 30, 2014 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    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!

  38. Irma April 9, 2014 at 7:52 am - Reply

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

    • Erin Peloquin April 11, 2014 at 8:27 am - Reply

      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.

  39. Jimmy April 7, 2014 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Erin Peloquin April 7, 2014 at 8:30 pm - Reply

      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!

      • Rhonda April 9, 2014 at 1:24 pm - Reply

        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?

        • Erin Peloquin April 11, 2014 at 8:22 am - Reply

          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.

  40. Robert P Butler April 7, 2014 at 10:19 am - Reply

    i am glad to found this site.

    • Erin Peloquin April 7, 2014 at 10:41 am - Reply

      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!

  41. Robert P Butler April 7, 2014 at 10:03 am - Reply

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

  42. Joanne April 7, 2014 at 7:55 am - Reply

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

  43. Chuck April 6, 2014 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    Can this be set on a Canon SL 1?

    • Erin Peloquin April 7, 2014 at 8:32 am - Reply

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

  44. Lashawn April 4, 2014 at 8:54 am - Reply

    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!

    • Erin Peloquin April 4, 2014 at 11:12 am - Reply

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

      • Roxanne March 23, 2015 at 3:16 pm - Reply

        I know this is an old post, but I’m curious (found your article when troubleshooting with my new 6D, which I just got with the rebate!).

        I shoot manual, but I also have my camera set to BBF. Why would the two be mutually exclusive? I’m thinking it is because the focus point is also the metering point, but aren’t you typically metering for the focus point and pretty much simultaneously? My brain is hurting. 😉

        • Erin Peloquin April 7, 2015 at 2:10 pm - Reply

          The point of BBF is to separate metering from focus. Shooting manual, you set the meter to whatever you want it to be, based on your metering mode. And if you select your focus point manually, you have already separated focus from exposure. Does that help? BBF would be redundant in most cases.

          • Roxanne April 7, 2015 at 3:04 pm

            Huh. My understanding is that the point of BBF is to separate shutter release from metering/focus to help reduce inaccurate focus/re-focus and to have single/continuous autofocus, not to separate metering from focus (which I don’t thing it does). My understanding is that the red focus point chosen (even with BBF) is also the metering point (BBF doesn’t change that). I could be wrong, but that has always been my understanding.

          • Erin Peloquin April 7, 2015 at 4:10 pm

            So, on my camera, the red dot that appears on your image after you’ve snapped it is called the AutoFocus Display. Are we talking about the same red dot? You can read more about it here. This red dot has nothing to do with metering.

            You are right that BBF locks focus.

  45. Kay April 4, 2014 at 8:44 am - Reply

    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.

  46. Nic April 4, 2014 at 1:58 am - Reply

    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.

  47. […] Change These 2 Settings for Proper Focus Point Selection As Soon As You Get a New Camera – 1 freebie(s)? […]

  48. Monica April 3, 2014 at 2:41 pm - Reply

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

    • Erin Peloquin April 3, 2014 at 2:45 pm - Reply

      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.

  49. Aly April 3, 2014 at 2:40 pm - Reply

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

    • Erin Peloquin April 3, 2014 at 2:45 pm - Reply

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

  50. Karen April 3, 2014 at 12:03 pm - Reply

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

  51. Joyce April 3, 2014 at 11:54 am - Reply

    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. 🙂

    • Erin Peloquin April 3, 2014 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      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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