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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎07-09-2015

Having trouble with autofocus on 7D mark II

I cannot seem to get auto focus to work in any kind of tracking for stills or video and I'm not sure what I am doing wrong. I have my camera set to AI Servo mode, but it doesn't follow any action. I can auto focus by half depressing the shutter, but then have to keep doing that to refocus. When I first got the camera, this seemed to work, I can't imagine what I did or what I'm supposed to do to get it working again. I have tried playing with the AF-ON button, the M-Fn and that new toggle switch on the back, but nothing seems to engage it. I really want this to work for video, but as I said, I can't seem to get it going for stills either. I'm sure it is something really stupid on my part. Any help would be appreciated. And yes, my lenses have been set to AF!
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎07-09-2015

Re: Having trouble with autofocus on 7D mark II

Additionally... I got the tracking thing to work in live view and video, but it doesn't stay focused on the tracked spot when I move the camera in or out. Also, when I switch to live view or video, AI Servo changes to One Shot which does not seem right.
Super Contributor
Posts: 487
Registered: ‎03-17-2015
Occasional Contributor
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎07-09-2015

Re: Having trouble with autofocus on 7D mark II

Thank you.  I guess I have to determine whether its a problem with the camera, or with me.  As I said, it seemed to be tracking and focusing at first.  I think I am going to try going back to factory settings.  

Super Contributor
Posts: 487
Registered: ‎03-17-2015

Re: Having trouble with autofocus on 7D mark II

[ Edited ]

@Reaston wrote:

Thank you.  I guess I have to determine whether its a problem with the camera, or with me.  As I said, it seemed to be tracking and focusing at first.  I think I am going to try going back to factory settings.  


Just practice and learn your camera well.  I've heard the 7D mark ll is a very complex camera.  Don't feel bad about user error, it comes with the turf.    Most of us experience it at one time or another in our Photography developement.

VIP
Posts: 11,368
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Having trouble with autofocus on 7D mark II

"...  but it doesn't stay focused on the tracked spot when I move the camera in or out."

 

Hmmm?  What?  AI-Servo tracks a subject.  It doesn't track you moving the camera.  After doing all you have indicated, I would reset the camera and try again.  You might have set something improperly.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
Reputable Contributor
Posts: 766
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Having trouble with autofocus on 7D mark II

[ Edited ]

Uh, oh...

 

I'd say the odds are about 95 out of 100 that you've set something wrong or are using the camera incorrectly. The vast majority of "focus problems" come down to the user, are no fault of the camera. You need to learn how to correctly set up and use the 7DII, which has one of the most advanced and complex AF systems of any camera ever made. There's a definite learning curve!

 

Depending upon your experience with  other AF cameras and Canon AF in particular, you may want get back to the basics by viewing the three half-hour videos beginning with: https://vimeo.com/36931479

 

Those are a seminar by Canon's Rudy Winston. A bit dated now and discussing older camera models, but the info still applies and is good.

 

Next, read this article about Back Button Focusing (BBF), also by Rudy: http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/resources/articles/2011/backbutton_af_article.shtml 

 

In case you don't know, BBF is a very popular technique among action/sports shooters. It puts you in more control of the AF and allows you to use AI Servo in more situations (you can even set it as your default focus mode, which is something you probably wouldn't want to do without BBF).

 

Then go here http://learn.usa.canon.com/resources/articles/2014/eos7dmk2_afGuidebook.shtml and download the 7D Mark II AF setting guide and read it thoroughly... many times!

 

Finally... start out as simply as possible (K.I.S.S.) :

1. Set the camera to Single Point/Manual Selection

2. Choose the center AF point

3. Set the camera to AI servo.

4. Try using Back Button Focusing (which is set up on 7D-series by turning off AF at the shutter release button).

 

This will handle probably 90% or better of your still shot focusing needs. Experiment with other modes and settings a bit at a time, learning when and where they'll be most useful and you should switch to using them.

 

Sorry, I can't help you very much with video focusing, in particular... I don't yet have 7DII (which has the new Dual Pixel AF in video and Live View modes)... and I don't use my DSLRs to shoot video.

 

EDIT: I should add... the camera itself is about one third of the AF performance equation.

 

The camera's AF system is important. 7DII's is one of the most advanced and fastest available.

 

But the lenses used on any camera also make a big difference and you didn't mention what lenses you're using. Among Canon lenses, USM are typically the fastest, STM are the smoothest and usually the quietest (may be best for video), and micro motor are the least expensive. Larger aperture lenses... f2.8 or bigger, also can be faster focusing. Some of the camera's AF sensors are higher performance when combined with these lenses. (Note: This is not always the case. For example, ultra large aperture lenses like f1.2 and macro lenses may be a little slower focusing... because they emphasize high precision over focus speed, to deal with shallow depth of field situations).

 

The third factor is the photographer themselves... how they set up the camera and use it. Practice, experience and skill is still important too, even with autofocus and all its capabilities. Used right, AF is faster and more accurate than was ever possible with manual focus. However, IMHO it's also possible to over-automate it... to rely too heavily on the camera's automation modes. Consistent and accurate AF still requires good input from the user. Basically, you need to "tell" the camera exactly where you want it to focus.

 

Hope this helps!

 

***********


Alan Myers
San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7D(x2), 50D(x3), some other cameras, various lenses & accessories
FLICKR & EXPOSUREMANAGER 

Super Contributor
Posts: 487
Registered: ‎03-17-2015

Re: Having trouble with autofocus on 7D mark II

[ Edited ]

@Reaston wrote:
I cannot seem to get auto focus to work in any kind of tracking for stills or video and I'm not sure what I am doing wrong. I have my camera set to AI Servo mode, but it doesn't follow any action. I can auto focus by half depressing the shutter, but then have to keep doing that to refocus. When I first got the camera, this seemed to work, I can't imagine what I did or what I'm supposed to do to get it working again. I have tried playing with the AF-ON button, the M-Fn and that new toggle switch on the back, but nothing seems to engage it. I really want this to work for video, but as I said, I can't seem to get it going for stills either. I'm sure it is something really stupid on my part. Any help would be appreciated. And yes, my lenses have been set to AF!

No offense but I just have to ask.  I get the impression you got this fine DSLR mostly for video.  Why, do you not get a video camcorder if mostly video???  I can understand using the video function occasionally is a plus, I use mine from time to time for short clips.  I know it's nice to have as an option if we need it.   But even though video is included in our DSLR's, the camera's are intended for still pics.  Camcorders are much more suited for video, cheaper, with more features (in given price range), and much easier to use and setup.  You would'nt have 1/2 the problems with a camcorder.   DSLR's are even time limited in the length of time you can record.  Can you tell me what can your camera do that a camcorder cannot do better???   I ask cause I'm flbbergasted so many get DSLR for video.   I have 2 camcorders and would never get a DSLR for video.  I have a Canon G30 camcorder and there's nothing most DSLR's can do, that I'm aware of......that my camcorder (appox $1,000.00) cannot do better. 

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎07-09-2015

Re: Having trouble with autofocus on 7D mark II

Jazzman,

 

I take a lot of stills with my camera, that's what I mostly use it for.  But, I am also a videographer at a local TV station and I have frequently used my original Canon 7D for supplemental video on various projects (along with my GoPro camera).  The reason I like using the Canon for video is for the nice narrow depth of field I can get, the variety of lenses, etc...  The pictures are much more "filmic" than the stuff we get with our regular video cameras.  

 

I bought the 7D Mark II because of its improved focusing power and its ability to track moving subjects, like say race horses at Saratoga.

 

Anyway, I updated the firmware and suddenly my camera is now able to track shots in video mode again.  So for now, I am a happy camper.  Thanks to everyone for their suggestions and help!

 

If anyone is interested, here is an open I made for one of our specials, using my broadcast video camera, GoPro and original 7D... https://vimeo.com/100538935

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎07-09-2015

Re: Having trouble with autofocus on 7D mark II

And Amfoto1,

 

Thank you for all the help and links.  Very good stuff.  And I am still assuming that I had something set wrong on my camera that the update was somehow able to fix my goof!

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