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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 for me without these settings.

The default focus settings for any camera are always completely automatic. This means you have no control over what the camera focuses on, and it usually focuses on what is closest to your lens.

Your photos won't be sharp unless you change this setting! #FocusPointsClick To Tweet

The terminology related to focusing can be difficult to understand, especially if you are reading your manual trying to figure out what to change. Although we often consider the word “auto” to be bad when it relates to our cameras, AutoFocus is a good type of Auto. The opposite of AutoFocus is manual focus, meaning that you spin the dial on your lens to find focus – that’s the old fashioned way, right?

Rather than manual focus, what you want to look for in your camera books is manual Auto Focus Point Selection. This means that the camera is still auto focusing, but you tell it what to focus on by choosing the AF point.

Focus Point Selection in Your 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 have assigned my multi-controller to directly navigate 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 this isn’t a default setting.

Regardless, this is an easy enough change to make also:

    • 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 Focus 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?

01. Change These 2 Settings for Proper Focus Point Selection As Soon As You Get a New Camera was last modified: May 9th, 2016 by Erin Peloquin


  1. Joyce
    Posted on April 3, 2014 at 11:54 am

    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 Says :
      Posted on April 3, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      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.

  2. Karen
    Posted on April 3, 2014 at 12:03 pm

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

  3. Aly
    Posted on April 3, 2014 at 2:40 pm

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

    • Erin Peloquin Says :
      Posted on April 3, 2014 at 2:45 pm

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

  4. Monica
    Posted on April 3, 2014 at 2:41 pm

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

    • Erin Peloquin Says :
      Posted on April 3, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      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.

  5. CraftCrave | DigiFree | CraftCrave Says :
    Posted on April 3, 2014 at 8:52 pm

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  6. Nic Says :
    Posted on April 4, 2014 at 1:58 am

    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.

  7. Kay
    Posted on April 4, 2014 at 8:44 am

    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.

  8. Lashawn Says :
    Posted on April 4, 2014 at 8:54 am

    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 Says :
      Posted on April 4, 2014 at 11:12 am

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

      • Roxanne
        Posted on March 23, 2015 at 3:16 pm

        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 Says :
          Posted on April 7, 2015 at 2:10 pm

          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
            Posted on 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 Says :
            Posted on 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.

  9. Chuck
    Posted on April 6, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    Can this be set on a Canon SL 1?

  10. Joanne
    Posted on April 7, 2014 at 7:55 am

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

  11. Robert P Butler
    Posted on April 7, 2014 at 10:03 am

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

  12. Robert P Butler
    Posted on April 7, 2014 at 10:19 am

    i am glad to found this site.

    • Erin Peloquin Says :
      Posted on April 7, 2014 at 10:41 am

      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!

  13. Jimmy
    Posted on April 7, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    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 Says :
      Posted on April 7, 2014 at 8:30 pm

      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
        Posted on April 9, 2014 at 1:24 pm

        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 Says :
          Posted on April 11, 2014 at 8:22 am

          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.

  14. Irma
    Posted on April 9, 2014 at 7:52 am

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

    • Erin Peloquin Says :
      Posted on April 11, 2014 at 8:27 am

      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.

  15. Kristy Jo Says :
    Posted on July 30, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    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!

  16. Kristy Jo Says :
    Posted on July 30, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    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?

  17. Jess
    Posted on August 6, 2014 at 12:34 pm

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

    • Erin Peloquin Says :
      Posted on August 7, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      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 Says :
      Posted on August 23, 2014 at 6:46 am

      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.

  18. kel
    Posted on August 7, 2014 at 11:26 am

    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 Says :
      Posted on August 7, 2014 at 1:15 pm

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

    • Erin Peloquin Says :
      Posted on August 23, 2014 at 6:47 am

      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.

  19. Veronica Says :
    Posted on September 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm

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

  20. ifurnish
    Posted on September 19, 2014 at 10:49 am

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

    • Erin Peloquin Says :
      Posted on September 22, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      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.

  21. Gale
    Posted on October 16, 2014 at 1:17 pm


  22. Julie Sikkel
    Posted on October 23, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    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!


  23. Christina Bingham
    Posted on November 3, 2014 at 8:08 pm

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

  24. Tony lyon
    Posted on November 11, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    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

  25. Noelle
    Posted on November 14, 2014 at 4:19 pm

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

    • Erin Peloquin Says :
      Posted on November 14, 2014 at 6:42 pm

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

  26. Amy
    Posted on December 3, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    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. Bart Says :
    Posted on February 1, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    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!

  28. Jess
    Posted on February 10, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    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!!!!!

  29. Mary
    Posted on February 12, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    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 Says :
      Posted on February 19, 2015 at 6:49 pm

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

  30. Nicole Turley
    Posted on April 14, 2015 at 11:16 am

    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 Says :
      Posted on April 14, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      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.

  31. Leslie
    Posted on August 15, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    How can I do this on my 5dii

    • Erin Peloquin
      Posted on August 20, 2015 at 1:19 pm

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

  32. YZJaffar
    Posted on September 7, 2015 at 8:52 am


  33. Colleen
    Posted on January 18, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    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
      Posted on January 19, 2016 at 10:14 am

      So glad to help! 🙂

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