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Canon 7D Mark II Fast Start

Lesson 9 of 20

Autofocus Area of the Canon 7D Mark II

John Greengo

Canon 7D Mark II Fast Start

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

9. Autofocus Area of the Canon 7D Mark II

Lesson Info

Autofocus Area of the Canon 7D Mark II

Working our way over to the right hand side of the camera, we have a cluster of buttons in the upper right hand corner. The first of this is the on button pressing this button will focus the lands as long as the lens is in the auto focus mode. As the camera comes out of the box, this button is pretty much useless. The camera may focus with this button, but it's going to refocus when you press down on the shutter release button sew this button is really there for people who want to engage what is known as back button auto focusing, and this is where you turn off the auto focusing option on the shutter release on the front of the camera and you do it separately with the back of the camera. This is something that I have switched to in the recent years and I very much enjoyed, but it does take a little bit of time to adjust and I enjoy it because every time I press down on the shutter release, the camera isn't trying to refocus. I may have set up focus perfectly, and it may be a little bit...

of a tricky situation and I don't want to re focus every time I take a picture. And so it is a very nice option but it is more of an inner many intermediate or advanced option for users and I'm going to explain exactly how to do that as we get into the menus where you make those changes next button is the star button which is the auto exposure lock button how are you supposed to know that I don't know just use cannons and you'll get used to know it that that is the auto exposure locked but now what this will do is if you are in aperture priority time value or the programme mode this will lock the exposure in for a short period of time about six seconds so that you can reposition the camera and shoot your picture if you shoot in manual exposure this button doesn't get used and you don't use it for anything else and so you can go in and you can customize it with another feature later on and there is some very, very cool focusing ways that I would say ninety eight percent of the people who own this camera don't even know that you can do this but you can use that as a focusing button as well that's a different type of focusing button then either the front button or the back button and if this has you intrigued stay tuned because we were gonna talk about it at the very end of the menu section the far right hand side is r f point selection button this is how we're going to switch the focusing points on the camera or at least to initiate the change in focusing points and all of these buttons can be changed or at least the on button let me clarify a f on button and the lock button can be customized if you go into the custom controls to change that particular function and we will do that later in this class but first let's talk about the point selection this camera has arguably one of the best focusing systems ever put into a camera into it in my mind it has sixty five auto focusing points and I put a little ass trick by it because every once in a while there are some limitations on how many focusing points when you use certain macro lenses extenders tell the extenders maybe an extension to possibly or maybe some older lenses you might not be able to use absolutely all sixty five points but on all their current lenses you can sew by pressing the button in the back of the camera it activates the whole focusing system for change so that step one step two is you would press the in function button up on the front of the camera or the new lever in the back of the camera to switch the different focusing modes if you have changed to something that is a smaller area you will change that area by either the top dial that back a little joystick or the back dial of cameras. So there's, lots of controls here, so let's, go through some of the options a little bit more closely and carefully here. So we press the point selection button we select with the function upon the front of our camera or the lever to select a single point, and we can move that point with any of those other controls. Now, spot a f is a very, very tiny little box in the middle of another box, and I typically don't use this because it is an incredibly small area, and there is frequently no contrast in such a small area and so it's, very hard to grab onto certain subjects. So I would say, use this very, very carefully. The better system that I think for most people to use is thie single point, the one point which is the bigger of the two boxes selected in the same way you can select any one of the sixty five. And this right here is by far the most common system that most photographers use for basic photography. Now this game is gonna be used with a lot of action, photography and that's a little different. But if I was shooting a portrait, I would probably choose one point a f in some scenarios, I could see shooting portrait, photography and spot they have to make sure that I'm getting that on the eye the iris of the person I'm shooting. But for most basic photography, I like one point for subjects that are moving around it's very hard to keep a single point on that subject, so this camera has more options than ever before on expanded areas. So the expanded f area what I like to call five point is one box with a little help from its friends it's nearby neighbors in order to assist and picking up focus. If the main box does not pick up focus it's going to look at those four other areas for additional information and this is going to be much better for trying to capture a bird and fly or somebody running and down the field and way have a variety of these that are going to be using just slightly larger points of area, so the next one is a nine point. This is my favorite one for shooting action it's about the right size for the size of the torso if I'm shooting a person it's bigger than a point, but not too large that it's going to be picking up on other things like referees and other players when I'm shooting, and so this is a great one for shooting sports it's my favorite one however, if you don't have interference with other subjects, you can try one of the larger ones. The next one is a zone a f, which is a larger area, usually of twelve points, but might very according to where it is in the frame and you can move this large box anywhere in the frame that you might want. And so, if necessary, I'm more than happy to go to zone from the nine point area once again, just more and more area. So the next is the large zone, which is either the middle left or right, and this is some ways the simplest way of focusing because you need to be less precise about exactly where your camera is. If you are shooting in a very cluttered environment where there's lots of action let's say basketball, where the players are very, very close to together, this might not be the best option there if you're not really filling the frame with your subject because it's going to be picking up arms and legs of referees and opposing players and so forth and that's. Why I like using a smaller area, and so you want to use in my mind the smallest area that you can easily control and keep on your subject, and then finally we have the sixty five point autofocus system, which uses all sixty five points and just looks at whatever is closest in those points or whatever area you want to start with, and I'll explain more about this when we get into the customizing of the menu system, but to start with if you choose to sixty five, itjust looks for everything, the only time that I forsee using auto, the auto selection sixty five point is when I know for a fact there is going to be nothing between me and the subject that I want to shoot, and so I think this would be a terrible choice for field sports where you're going to have other players in between you. If you're standing at the finish line of a track race and you want to photograph the winner of the race, well, that's the person that's closest to you that's a system that would work pretty well. So is a group of cyclists coming around the velodrome, you're going to be focused on the front of the pack now. In that particular case, I'm also thinking is the front wheel or the handle bars picking up the focusing points because I wanted the face to be in focus? Another good scenario would be birds in flight in a clutter free environment, so this would not work well in a dense forest, but if they're out in the big open blue sky than the sixty five point would work pretty well depending on what angle you're viewing the birds at is it going to pick up the tip of their wings or they're going to pick up their head? And so another good case where you might want to go back down to the nine point if you can comfortably keep that on your subjects. I used a system similar to the sixty five point on the previous camera and it was under a ideal scenario was on the back of a boat shooting birds that were flying in the wake of the boat and there is nothing between me and the birds and a perfectly blue sky, and that was a great scenario for using all focusing points. But typically I really like the nine point system, I think it's better for most sports photography, so one of the things you need to understand is how the camera is actually achieving focus within these points and so let's talk a little technical, we're going to geek out here a little bit and we want to talk about the focusing system being used in this camera, so this camera uses a phase detection being splitter, and this is the type of system that has been used for really about the last thirty years when it comes to focusing systems and some cameras over the course of history have had horizontal line sensors and this line any line that they that you point the camera must cross both sensors for it to work. And if it's a vertical line, it won't work on a horizontal line sensor. It senses horizontal lines, it tells if they're out of focus, because then they're broke, and it knows how to focus the lens very quickly in order to get them in proper focus. The vertical line sensor does the same thing in the other direction, and so having on ly horizontal line sensors are on ly vertical line sensors has always been an issue in the past, and so you would see listings for how many horizontal or vertical line sensors, then they can would combine them, and you would get across type sensor, which is sensitive to both vertical and horizontal, and that is the best type to have. But kanan has taken that a bit further, and they have invented duel cross type sensors, which is looking for even mohr different types of lines, which means the camera, but even better at picking up information. Now, what your camera has in it is sixty five cross type focusing points, and the centre one is special for a couple of reasons. Number one is a duel cross type, so it is. A more sensitive it's not more accurate but more sensitive than the other sixty five points because it can pick up on different types of resolution and contrast, it is also a two point, eight high precision system and what this means is that it is more precise when you are using a two point eight lens or faster and that's exactly when you need it to be more precise. One of the questions is well, how does the camera really no it's in focus? How precise is it in it's focusing well it's as precise as it needs to be when you put on a lands that is shallower in depth the field, it is mohr exact in the way that it focuses. The third way that the center point is unique is that it is good down to evey minus three and I believe and I don't have the stats right here with me but that this is the lowest evey rating any canon camera has ever been raided in its auto focus system. So if you are wanting to focus under low light, it doesn't get any better than this camera as a side note. If you are interest did in composition and you like the idea of rule of thirds it's the focusing boxes that you can see highlighted on screen here are very close to the rule of thirds, so if you like that idea and you want to use the row third, I am still waiting for any camera to come out and have boxes placed exactly in the rule of thirds, but this is the closest we've gotten so far. Now we're going to talk more and more about this customization when we get into the entire menu bank of features for adjusting the focus customization, but this will get you most of the basic most of the important information for anyone who's wanting to shoot action these this is the highlight information if you do want to tweak it, because you don't think you're getting as consistent results as you think you should, there are many more ways to customize it as we get into the auto focus section. Are there any questions at this time? Kenna john, we had had a question from tricia sullivan, who had said, what settings do I use to capture sports in low light? So it sounds like with this camera that using that center focus point is going to be that's a bit more helpful than choosing other areas. There's not really too many changes you can make under low light versus good life, but if you are under low light, I may not like it for composition reasons, but I would probably stick to things that include the center point and focusing, yes. We have some other questions and I don't know these are things that about focus as always I don't know if these are things that you're going to cover you want to throw out a couple bit? I'm sure so we have james carry louder who has asked hedge on my biggest concern is tack sharp focussing there are many maybe too many focus tracking modes how can I best find the one from my situation? I'm mainly using it for sports and I did I just wanted to comment with his question there are a lot more options it seems like that other cameras in terms of the focusing oh yeah when it comes to having a camera really designed for action photography, it arguably might be the best out on the market I mean, we do have the one d x it's a full frame camera it's got pretty much all the same options that this one has, but having the sixty five focusing points covering as large of area as this half is this does I know that there's a number of bird photographers out there that are going to do that's going to take this out of the camera bag first because it's got that extra reach it's got the sixty five focusing points and there is a whole section on tweaking the focus for the types of actions that you're shooting the difference between a figure skater in a sprinter in the olympics is very different in how they move and how the camera can adjust in focus and there's a lot of mojo going on behind the scene here, and how can it tweaks the auto focus for different situations? And so that customizing we will doom or in the menu system is but a ce faras the tracking mode, you know, there's just there's either single or continuous, focusing and that's the starting point, and for most people, well, what do I do? Do I have to test everything? No, no, just take it out of the box, put it in the continuous smoke, go out and shoot what you want to shoot with it, it's going to take a little while to figure out how you need to tweak it, try to pay attention to what's going on, and if there's consistent issues oh, it it never is able to get this situation, then let's, go look at the menu, says settings, and see if there's a way to address that particular issue. And so for me, you know, I'm gonna be doing a lot of sports photography with this. I do a lot of running photography, and right now I haven't changed the default settings because they're pretty darn good to start with, and so you don't I don't feel like you need to jump in and start putting the camera in some wacky mode. It does a very good job right out of the box. But if you want to have an extra high level of criteria in your images, you want even more higher percentage of in focus. There is likely going to be a tweak that you could make.

Class Description

The Canon® 7D Mark II is a complex and powerful camera – learn everything you need to know to get the most out it in this Fast Start with John Greengo.

Through engaging visuals and easy-to-understand lessons, John will provide you with a complete introduction to your camera’s features and functions. 

You’ll learn how to:

  • Navigate and customize the menus
  • Use the 65-point autofocus system
  • Take advantage of the video capabilities
  • Make use of your customization options.

If you are considering investing in the Canon 7D Mark II or want to get the most out of the one you already own, The Fast Start Canon 7D Mark II tutorial will empower you with all the information you need.


Kanoelani Patenaude

I am a pro photographer in my dreams, where I know the in's and out's of my camera; however, reality proved differently, as real life would tell you, I was a deer caught in headlights just looking at my new 7D Mark II. I am a photographer enthusiast without the skills, but a lot of love for the moments one, or the profession/hobby of it can capture. I mostly shoot my husband, friends, and community surfers in the lineup, and of course, my children, who rarely sit still. Thus, I switched from Nikon to Canon, venturing on the 7D Mark II for the grand reviews of how stellar of camera it is for action shots (surfing, and kids, this was a no brainer). That said, and overwhelmed with the way beyond my skill set, but noted desire and aspiration to grow, I made the purchase, and sought help rather quickly as I wanted to feel confident with what I was utilizing to capture the best memories possible. I came into this CL course knowing the "on/off" button, and "auto" shoot mode. I came out of the course feeling like the pro in my dreams, and ready to shoot manual. John's teaching style is on point, and his detailed visuals are a huge plus. So impressed, I purchased, John's photography starter kit, and was even more blown away. My first shots post that course, I thought were great for my first educated shoot, and shockingly, I even received and email from one of the sponsors of the surfers I captured, asking if they could use my image for their sites and publications. Not bad for a newbie. Though, my intent was never a business purpose, I did not know if I should charge a small fee, or give it for free. I don't mind free as it's not my business, yet I don't want to ruin it for any photographers in town doing the same thing that are charging. Perhaps another course to help me with that. I highly recommend courses by John Greengo! Thank you so much, John!


I bought my 7D Mkii the week it was introduced as an upgrade to my old 20D. I immediately noticed what a huge step up it was and to be honest was a little overwhelmed by all of the options and customisations available. In the year I've owned it I've managed to pick up a lot but I still felt there was a lot in there that I wasn't making the best use of. John's course has filled in the missing pieces and I now feel a lot more confident that I will be able to get the best out of this amazing camera.

J.R. Link

John's coverage of the Canon 7D Mod II was excellent. It helped immensely in understanding the myriad of choices available in this camera. I would recommend this course to any user of the 7D Mod II. camera. The only comment I would make is that it might be helpful if John didn't assume that we all are sports photographers. Some hints for other types of photographers would be a great addition to an already excellent course.