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Auto Focus Menu

Lesson 19 from: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Fast Start

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

19. Auto Focus Menu

Many photographers don't realize that, besides the autofocus modes, you can tweak the way your camera autofocus decides what to focus on. Learn how to tell the camera what subject is most important and how fast that subject's motion changes for a much more accurate autofocus.
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Lesson Info

Auto Focus Menu

We are in the midst of the menu system and we are ready to dive into the auto focus section. There's a lot of little fine tune controls when it comes to focusing and this is of most importance to the action and sports photographers out there who need to tweak their focusing so that everything is as close to focus as possible. The first page is a series of cases, different types of scenarios that you might be shooting in, that they have adjusted for you. You can simply choose one of these six different cases and you can see all these different examples for different types of activity because it's gonna depend on how much the subject is moving around, if there's objects that might interfere with that subject and the types of motions, whether they're moving towards you, away from you, moving erratically or moving steady in many situations. And you can just simply choose one of these cases. But if you don't like one of these cases and it's not quite right for what you're shooting because m...

aybe you're shooting high school sports or college sports or professional and the athletes move at different rates and speeds and have different situations that they get themselves into that needs to be adjusted with the focusing system. So what you'll notice is that there's this little plus and minus and level scale that you can go in and adjust on each of these different cases. And what I want to do is just go through and talk about what these three different cases talk about. So the focusing parameters. The first is tracking sensitivity, where you can either track and establish subject or you can track a new subject. And we saw this before in a previous section. The basic question that you want to ask yourself here is do I want to track a new subject? If you're focused on a subject and another subject comes into frame, do you want it to go to that new subject or not? It depends on the type of sports that you're shooting. Tracking a new subject, if you're trying to figure out who's the leader in the race? Who's the person closes to you at the finish line? Would be a situation where you're gonna track that new athlete coming in. Now, some things where you don't want that is tennis, why not in tennis? Because they have a tennis racket that they're swinging out in front of them and you don't want it to focus on the tennis racket, you want to stay on their face, on their torso. In butterfly swimming, if you're shooting it in front, a lot of water gets splashed out in front of that swimmer and you don't want it focusing on the water, you want it to stay on that subject in the background. And so, for instance, if you were photographing a team and you have a team and you want players on that team in focus and you don't care about the other team at all, then you would probably be more on the minus side so that once you're focused on a subject, other players coming into frame do not disrupt the focusing of it. The next option is how fast is acceleration and deceleration happening with your subject. Does my subject change speeds quickly? And so, if it is rapidly approaching you or moving away from you, you could go to the yes side or if it's more fixed, you can stay no. So as an example, subjects with fixed speeds would be auto racing or a marathon running. They're pretty constant and just steady at their movement in their speed, whatever their speed happens to be. Sudden starting or stopping is a lot of field sports, whether it's basketball, or football, or something like that. I think the best example is track and field, the long jump. An athlete is standing still, within 40 meters they run to maximum speed, they jump into the air and then come to a complete stop. And so they go from stop to maximum speed to stop in that period of time and so they are changing speeds very quickly and this is giving the camera information about how frequently it needs to update the focusing tracking according to that speed change. And then, third and final, is auto focus point switching. Does my subject change position quickly? And so, if your subject moves from side to side in the frame moves to new focusing points, then you would want to say yes here. And so some examples of this gradual AF point switching would be track and field and motor sports. I'm a track and field fan and so you know when a runner is in lane three, you pretty much know where they're going to be. It's pretty easy to track their movements. Sports where they move quickly are gonna be a lot of those a little bit more field sports, abstract sports, dance, figure skating, gymnastics, floor in gymnastics. With the beam in gymnastics, you know pretty much where they're gonna be going, that's pretty easy to figure out. Each sport, each activity, has its own parameters and even competed at different levels those parameters are gonna change a little bit as you go from high school to college to professional, for instance. I want to show you on the back of my camera how you would go in and customize some of these settings. Let's make sure my camera's turned on. I'm gonna hit the menu button. And I'm gonna hit the tab button because I want to quickly get over to auto focus so I can always hit the Q to just get over to our auto focus settings. And I can select any one of these that I want. And that's my default one. But if I want to go in, I could hit rate and you'll see that there's a little settings adjustments there so I come over there and I hit the rate button. Let me turn this around a little bit better so you can see what's going on here. And so if I hit rate, no, actually, already did hit it, I can hit the set button in here and I can change these to any particular setting. And so this is currently set up it looks like for rhythmic gymnastics there and I can say, I wanna be a little bit more locked on on my subject. I can come down here to the acceleration, deceleration and say, you know what, these athletes just, their style of movement is really, really active so I'm gonna bump it up here a little bit. And then auto focus point switching, they were changing a bit, and maybe they're changing it a lot more. And so, if you pay close attention to the way your camera is focusing, if it's not doing it the way you want it to, you can get in here and tweak with this stuff. Now, to be honest with you, I shoot a bit of sports from time to time. And, most of the time, I just shoot in case one, the versatile, multipurpose setting and it does a fantastic job. And so, by default, I would say, start with this and see how it does for you. If it doesn't do a good job and you notice a consistent problem, that's a good time to start choosing a different case mode and then start adjusting it. I would hazard a guess that maybe 1% of the people who own this camera get in here and set custom settings on these particular features. It's something that not everybody uses. I think it's something that is being used more in their sports cameras. This isn't really classified or advertised or focused towards a sports photographer but at seven frames a second, it's really not that bad. My first professional camera could shoot at six frames a second, so seven doesn't sound all that bad. It's just not that fast when you compare it to 10 or 12 or 14 or 16 frames a second, where some of the other cameras are at these days. So that's our case settings there. Second page. AI Servo first image priority. When you are in the continuous focusing mode and we've talked about this before, this balance between speed and accuracy. Do you want it to be accurate? I mean, we all want it to be accurate, of course. But would you be happy if it's super accurate but only shoots a picture every once every five seconds? No, it needs to have a little bit, strike more of a balance between it. And so, in here there's kind of a balance between the release priority and focus priority. If you found that your camera seemed to be fussing with the auto focus about fine tuning it too much, you could move it over more to the release side, where it's going to shoot a picture a little bit more rapidly. It may not be in perfect focus, it might be close enough. And so depends a little bit on what lens you're using and how you're shooting and what you're doing with the images. But to start with, right in the middle, equal priority, is a good starting place. For the second image, some people think it's more important that those second images happen quickly, or that they are in focus. Maybe you just want to get the first image off, in case something really exciting happens but let the camera work a little bit harder to fine tune that focus. I'm sure we've all experienced this in our life, we give somebody a job to do the job and you're saying, are you done with the job, yet? No, I'm just making it perfect. No, it's good enough, we gotta go. And so that's what's going on here. How fussy do you want the camera to be in its perfection of focus. And you would think, well we always thing in maximum focus, but if it's fussing over a millimeter of focus, it's of no use to us cus they're gonna be good either way. And so it requires a little bit of experimentation if it's not working the way you like it to start with. And so I'm not recommending any change to start with. There are a few lenses that have electronic focusing rings, which means when you turn the focusing ring it electronically engages the camera and focuses. And there are some special parameters and there's, as I said, there's only a few lenses. This is not most of the lenses. You can disable that focusing ring if you don't want it to work or you can enable it after the one-shot has been achieved. And so this is only gonna apply to a few people. These are, for the most part, somewhat unusual lenses with those electronic focusing rings. There is a auto focus assist beam that fires from the flash, if you have a Canon flash on your camera. There is, also, an infrared assist that will fire. And this can be very disruptive to a subject that you are photographing, so in general, I recommend turning this off. It could be used if it is in just the right scenario but it's one of these things where I like to be as discrete as a photographer and not shine a bright light on my subject as I'm trying to photograph them. For inanimate objects, it might work just fine but I would definitely not want to use it in a sports and action type environment. It also has a very limited range that it works. One-Shot AF release priority. Normally when your camera is in the one-shot mode, your camera must achieve focus before it shoots a photo. That's kinda the safety protocol, it's the way all cameras have been set up since the day that we got auto focus. But if you want to turn it off, you can. I don't have a good reason why you would want to but you can do it. Moving quickly along to page four. This is for people who've got 300s, 400s, 500, 600, 800 millimeter lenses. When the camera fails to achieve focus, it'll start searching everywhere from close up to far away for focus and in those cases, it's best to set this on stop focus search so that it focuses out to infinity, stops, and then you'll press re-press on the shutter and find it again. For most people with typical lenses, this is not gonna be an issue. Just leave it turned on and it will eventually find focus very easily. It's just on those long lenses, the difference being between infinity and close up can take a long time to focus back and forth. Selectable AF points. Alright, so we have, what is that? 61 focusing points and not all of them are cross-type points. And so if you wanna only use they cross-type points, you can select those here. If you only want 15 or nine, you can select just those. Some people have found that it's just more button pressing to get to a few of their favorite spots. And so if you really don't need them and you have a few favorites and you wanna use just those favorites, you can just eliminate the button pressing to get from one area to the other when it comes to your individual focusing points. Here is where you get to choose which modes will be available to you when you press the AF selection button. To start with, I recommend highlighting all of these. And it's just one of those things you'll be able to rotate around and see which ones you choose. After you've been using the camera for a period of time, you might figure out, you know what, I never use this particular mode and I don't even want to see it, I don't even want to press a button to get past it. And so if you know that you only use say the nine point mode and the single point mode, you can eliminate everything down to those two so that when you press the button, it just goes back and forth between those two. And so we're gonna see this in a number of places where we can eliminate things that we never access on the camera. And to start with, I always like to say, leave them there until you figure out how you like to work with the camera and then, once you get that figured out, then start skimping and throwing those things away. Because it's nice to be able to have access to it because if you uncheck the box here, and you decide out in the field, ooh, I want to use that mode that I turned off, you gotta go find this in the menu system, you gotta uncheck the box, and then you gotta go back to that, which just takes more time than pressing by it once in a while. Now normally you're gonna press the AF activation and then either the multifunction or the AF selection button to switch things around. If you would prefer to do it with the dial, you can do it with the dial. Most people leave it either on the AF selection and M-F button, which kinda both work together. But if you wanted to use the dial, some people prefer that. Options, I love them. Orientation linked AF point, so this is really cool. Normally the camera is on same, which means when you select focusing points in the horizontal frame, they kinda stay in exactly the same spot when you move your camera vertically. But now, rather than having the top points selected, now the left points are selected. And so what you can do is you can select separate AF points and you can have individual ones memorized for horizontal shooting and then when you switch into vertical, you can choose a different set of points in that situation. And I have found that very helpful when I'm going back and forth between horizontal and vertical shots but I want my subject kind of in the same place in the frame. And so this is not going to work very well if you were shooting straight up or straight down because the camera's gonna have a hard time figuring out if it's horizontal or vertical. And it may not work in certain types of other environments, as well, depending on how you're composing your shots. But I found it very helpful in sports photography. Initial point AF Servo. Okay, this one was really hard for me. I had to read the instruction manual at least 20 times to figure this out. Alright, so initial AF point AI Servo, so we're talking about continuous focusing when you have all 61 focusing points selected. What I mentioned when we talked about the focusing points is you get to choose where things start. You get to choose one of those 61, which is your initial starting point. Now the question is, where do you want to start? And the two options are, I want to start wherever it was the last time I was in all 61 focusing points, or I want to start the last time I was in any other focusing system. And so the analogy that I like here, and I love unusual analogies, is when you get into your car, which radio station do you want your car tuned to? The one that it was on the last time when you were riding in the car or the one you were just listening to in the kitchen? And so, that's kinda the idea here is which point do you want to have active? The one that you were just using or the one that you were using when you were using this mode of the camera? And that's really gonna depend on what types of shooting you're doing. Initial would be good if you are shooting different types of subjects, you're going from one subject to something different. If you're staying on the same subject and you're just switching focusing points then you probably want to leave it on manual so that it stays where you were using your other focusing points. Alright, there's a feature in this camera that is the intelligent tracking option. When you are using zone, large zone, or auto selection AF, the camera is not just using information from the focusing sensor, it's using information from the metering sensor that is judging color information and even facial information about how to track a subject. Now, the questions is, is this better to have it turned off or turned on? And the answer, like so many things in this world, it depends. If you are not trained in how to use a camera in sports photography, it's probably better to turn it on, cus it's utilizing more information and it's looking for faces and it's trying to track color and it's using a little extra mojo to figure out what it's doing. The professionals have found that it's a little inconsistent. And it doesn't always do what you expect it to do. And so if you're comfortable with your focusing system, if you set up your focusing system and you're used to the way that it tracks subjects back and forth, I would just turn this off. If you are brand new to the camera and you want all the help you can get, that might be a reason for turning it on. The problem that I have with it is it's just a little bit unpredictable in the way it works. It's a little less predictable than just using your standard large zone or zone focusing points. Now you do have the subsection of either looking strongly for faces or just for subjects, and there, it's mainly using color information. And so my tendency is to wanna disable this because then you're gonna have more consistency in the way the camera works. But for the untrained photographer, I think leaving this turned on might increase the number of in focus shots depending on the situation. Alright, final page in auto focus. AF point selection movement, alright, this is kind of fun. And so if you're focused way over on the right hand side and you wanna get way over to the left hand side, how do you do that? Well, you use the little joy stick and you go click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click, click or you can go to the right and just wrap around and go through the little time warp to get over to the other side and so I like the continuous option, it doesn't seem to hurt anything, and yes you can go from top to bottom and bottom to top with one click. So it just helps you navigate, where to put the cursor a little bit more quickly. AF point display during focus. Alright, so we have 61 focusing points. How many focusing points do you want to look at and when do you want to look at them when you're looking through the viewfinder? And so there's a lot of different ways to think about this things. And in general, the top settings are gonna have focus points that are more visible. If you said, I don't like this clutter on the screen, go for some of the lower settings. Now there are different times when you might see the focus point come up. Pre auto focus just when you're looking through the camera and you're getting ready to line up your shot. There is while it's focusing and it's currently trying to focus. And then there's when it achieves the focus, it usually gives you a little blink, if you like that. And then after it's focused and you're just shooting photos or you're just sitting there kind of in stand by, will you see it after the focus. So selected always has those focusing points that you have activated and so if you have the center point activated, you're gonna see it constantly. The second option is where all the points are turned on all the time, and I think that's just way too much clutter. So I don't recommend that one. But if you don't want the focusing points on as often, there are a couple of other displays, which will reduce the amount of time that you will see those focusing points in the frame. I think most people are gonna wanna leave this on selected until they really kind of let the camera bother them and say, why is this on all the time? Because it's not that much clutter in the screen and it is very helpful information if you're using focusing very much. And so constant is a good place to start with. If you want to lessen the clutter, there are a couple of good options in there for you. Viewfinder display and illumination. When it's dark out, the camera will illuminate the focus points in red and it will do this automatically under low light conditions. If you want, you can enable it so it's always turning on in red. Some people think it's a little intrusive and it's a little too bright. Normally the camera will switch over to black frames, illuminating when it is in focus. And so the auto section seems to be fine for me, that's me personally, some people like to have a little bit brighter notification, some people want a little bit more subtle of a notification. One thing to keep aware of here is you'll notice that there is a secret sub-menu, if you press the Q button. Do you want to see auto focus points while the camera is in AI Servo? That's the continuous focusing mode. So if I have someone running towards me, do I want to see the focusing points lighting up showing me where the camera is focusing? I don't like clutter in the screen but this is really useful information for a lot of people to see if their camera is tracking their subject properly. And so I recommend leaving this turned on, illuminated, so that you can see the stuff happening. If it bothers you then turn it off, but it's nice to have that option, which we did not always have in these cameras. The AF status in the viewfinder, there's a little AF that will show up in the viewfinder. And, once again, I don't like clutter on the viewfinder if I can avoid it. The little green dot does exactly the same thing and it shows it to you outside the view frame, so that's the one I think is the better of the two choice cus I wanna try to keep that frame lines clear. With that little thing there, I tend to pay less attention and I get more clutter in the corners, cus it's distracting me and hiding things. AF microadjustment, so this is to adjust the focusing of your lenses and at first this was just irritating and it felt wrong. You buy this expensive camera, you buy this expensive lens, you focus, you take a photo, and it's not right. It's a little back focused, it's a little front focused. And you're like, take it back Canon, fix it, give me the right one. Well, there are certain tolerances that all the cameras have and there are certain tolerances that the lenses have and usually they're gonna even out and you're not gonna notice a difference. But if the camera's kinda doing one thing and the lens is kinda doing the same thing, it's potential that all of your images might be front focused or back focused, which means you intend for it to be right on your subject but maybe with a particular lens on a particular camera, it's gonna always focus in front of your subject, maybe by as little as a quarter of an inch, just a few millimeters, it might be by much more than that. But often times, it's just a little bit of a consistent problem and that's what you're looking for. You can go in and you can tweak and adjust and fix all your lenses. If you want to do a test, you need something to focus on. It can be anything that your camera can easily focus on. You need to be able to judge if you are focusing in front of or behind that subject and so I have a second thing and I usually use just a ruler here and a yard stick to measure if I am focusing on a subject properly. Now, you can buy something like this to focus and check whether you're focusing in front or in back. It's really nice but you can do it with supplies at home. And so I'm using a ruler and a yard stick and what it looks like when I take a photo and I make adjustments in here from minus 20 to plus 20, you can see the yellow line is indicating where sharpest focus is. And as I adjust focus, it's moving from in front to back cus it's supposed to be focused on the and with minus 20, it's front focusing, with plus 20, it's back focusing. And I would say correct focusing on this is not quite zero, it's probably plus three or plus four, where you would need to adjust it. If you want to do this, you need to set up that type of set up, you need your camera, tripod, you need to be able to take everything as sharp as you possible can with as shallow depth of field as possible. And then what I do is I manually unfocus the lens and I let the camera auto focus on that subject and then I judge to see if it's sharp or not sharp, and whether it's front focused or back focused. And if it's not right, you go in and you tweak it. And this allows your camera to be dialed in to that particular lens. And so once you get in here, there's a number of tweaks and I wanna show you a little bit on my camera what that looks like cus I've gone in and micro adjusted all my lenses because I want to get the sharpest possible settings on this. I'm gonna hit the menu and I'm gonna go to the final tab under auto focus, under microadjustment, and it's turned on. In here, I want to go into info change. I wanna go ahead and I don't wanna make a change, I just want to show you what I've done with this lens. So I'm gonna hit info and with this lens, which is a 24 to 70, I found out that I needed to adjust that to the back side by level of six on the wide angle settings. So when I'm at 24, you can adjust individually where it is set for wide angle versus telephoto. This one is focusing properly on telephoto, but it's needed a little bit of a tweak to correct for a focusing problem when it's at wide angle. Now, this takes some time. When I want to micro adjust, I set aside an hour just because you wanna get everything set up, you don't want to make any mistakes and I do the test a couple of times when I shoot photos to make sure that it's proper. Now, who needs to do this? In general, people who have lenses that are 2.8 or faster, that would be a good general thing. If you have a 2.8, a 24-70 2. you probably need to do it because you're gonna get a pretty shallow depth of field, you need to be very precise about it. People with telephoto lenses, a little bit more so than wide angle lenses. If you have a 16-35 F/4, it's probably not gonna matter. You're just getting so much depth to field on that, so anything that you shoot with shallow depth to field, basically, the truth is, everyone needs to do this who observes that their camera is not focusing perfectly. And I have found through my experience and I've had every time I buy a Canon camera, I gotta go through the new microadjustment, which really makes me not want to get a new Canon camera, cus once I get it dialed in, it's just set there and it's good and in fact, it even remembers the serial numbers of lenses. And so, I don't know why you would have two 50 millimeter lenses but if you did, you could even have them logged as different serial numbers in the camera. But, as I was saying, I have found that I need to adjust the microadjustment on about three quarters of my lenses. That's how often they need to adjust it. In most cases, it's less, it's between the 10 and 10. It's not like a huge amount, it's a little bit. And so it's just fine tuning. With the 85 1.2, that thing was just noticeably off and it was just wrong from the get go and that one needed to be adjusted for it to work properly. But that's like a shallowest depth to field as you get in a lens. And so for anyone's using a 2.8 lens, longer lenses, that's who's really gonna want to look at this in order to do it.

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Ratings and Reviews


John is such a fabulous educator. Well spoken, knowledgeable and he presents with such clarity and easy, it makes listening that much more enjoyable. I would highly recommend taking this class and any of his classes dealing with photography. HE simplifies the menu system and buttons on the camera in this course that would be painstakingly long if you tried it on your own. I have watched this video 2-3 times know and each time I go back, I learn a little more. Being able to drop into any of the main topics with easy, not having to watch and search for your desired info is so convenient. I will never buy another camera without checking to see if John has completed a review on it........I trust his opinion. Thanks John......I am a fan.

Ralph Somma

I was reluctant to purchase this course because I already have the Instruction Manual that came with the 5D Mark IV and am committed to reading it in it's entirely. Nevertheless, after watching a preview of the course, I decide to buy it so I could view it at my leisure, pause and rewind it as needed. I am so glad I did. John Greengo's teaching method is clear and concise. He presents the material in a way that makes it interesting and enjoyable to learn. His effective use of visuals and demonstrations makes understanding every important function of the 5D Mark IV a breeze. I look forward to implementing what I've learned, his recommendations and tweaking the camera's settings to suit my own needs and preferences. Now as I trudge through all 600+ pages of the manual, I'm confident I will more easily grasp the camera's 100+ settings and can always refer back to the course if necessary.


First I have to say that I wanted this camera before it was even released. I had taken some of John's fast start courses and I had some questions regarding this camera vs. the 5D mark III and 7D mark II that I was using at that time. I emailed John and got an "out of office/out on location response". I put it out of my mind assuming that when John Greengo was back in the office, he'd have hundreds of emails waiting and my little question would get lost in the shuffle. I was delighted to receive a response a few weeks later. I was even more delighted when he released this fast start course. I did end up buying the 5D mark IV (love it) and had a pretty good handle on using it. This class opened up some new doors in how to use all of the features and customize things to suit my needs. I can never recommend John's classes enough. He explains things in an easy yet technical way that is useful to both beginners and seasoned photographers!

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