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How to change focus points and focus modes

Thursday, October 2, 2014

On Thursday, I blog about photography tutorials. This week's tutorial is about adjusting your focal points. But before I get into that part of the tutorial, I'm going to talk about your camera's AutoFocus Modes. Your camera's default focusing mode is One Shot, and in my opinion it's the worst mode to use.

The photo above shows on a Canon camera where you can find your focus mode. If you've never changed it, it's probably on One Shot focus.

Canon camera have three focusing modes (most Nikon's have 2 modes):
  • One Shot is best for still subjects
  • Al Servo is for moving subjects. You point your camera at the subject you want to focus on (like a moving child or dog) and as the subject moves, your camera will continuously re-focus.
  • Al Focus mode starts off in One Shot mode and if your subject starts to move, the camera will switch to Al Servo (Nikon has added this on newer models).

I don't know many people who ONLY shoot stationary subjects, so I don't recommend using the One Shot mode at all. I personally prefer Al Focus, but many photographers prefer Al Servo because they don't like their camera making decisions for them. Please change this right away on your camera, and you will instantly have sharper photos!

How to change AF Mode on Canon: push the AF button (on the back of the camera) and use the arrows to make your selection.
Change AF Mode on Nikon: push the AF button (on the front of the camera) and turn the front dial.

Ok, now moving on to the Focus Points.
When you look through your viewfinder, you probably see something similar to this:

Your camera normally defaults to the center focus point. In my tutorial about composition, I discussed that objects usually look better when they are off center, or by using the Rule of Thirds. Only using the center focus point can be frustrating if you want to have a subject that is off center and still in focus.

In this photo of Finn, he is off center and the focus is on the eyes. When you photograph people or pets, always focus on the eyes.

Changing the focus point is very easy. Press this button and use the main dial (on the top of the camera) to scroll to the focus point that you want.

Ta-Da! A sharp image using basic composition rules while focusing on the eyes!

Other photography tutorials:

Have you tried this tutorial? Have you noticed that you're getting sharper images?
Let me know in the comments section if you have any photography questions!
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3 Responses to “How to change focus points and focus modes”

  1. These posts are really helpful! I just started shooting in manual this summer. I still get frustrated all the time, but my photos are much better.

  2. This is great! I had no idea what the AI Servo and AI Focus meant. I need to see if I am shooting in One photo or not. I'm not sure if I changed it or not. I love these posts!

  3. I love this tutorial! Off to change my camera to Al Servo now!


Comments make my day! You can also email me: RenovatingRebecca (at) gmail (dot) com