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 – it’s probably called something different.
Caveats When Using the AF Display
Do you focus and recompose? (Here’s why I use it only infrequently.) This red dot will be meaningless because it will always appear on the center focus point.
Also, lenses focus on a distance rather than an object or person. You can read more about that here. So, if you are taking a photo of your toddler and he moves towards your camera or away from it after you set focus, the distance that the lens has focused on will change. The red dot will still appear over your toddler, but focus will be off.