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Autofocus questions

edited September 2014 Posted in » Canon 60D Forum
I've had my 60D for awhile and I mainly shoot soccer outdoors. I seem to get many blurry shots despite all of my attempts.

I typically use my 100-400mm lens, 1600 shutter speed, wide open (depending on light), evaluative metering, auto ISO and all 9 autofocus points (automatic). When I put a wide autofocus point on a subject it still tends to focus on something nearer to the center point, nor does the focus confirmation light ever come on. If I get my subject perfectly in the middle, it works out, but they are always moving and largely unfocused.

If I use the basic modes it'll highlight which focus point is being used. I wish I was getting that feature the way I'm trying to shoot.


  • edited September 2014
    I think I know exactly why you’re getting blurry results. You mentioned “wide autofocus point” which suggests to me you’re shooting in LiveView. The slower contrast-based autofocus and the shutter lag involved with taking shots in LiveView will certainly result in blurry action shots.

    The first thing you need to do is shoot with the optical viewfinder.

    Now, here are the autofocus settings you need to use for shooting sports/action.

    The AF mode should be Al Servo (known as AF-C for Nikons).
    The AF-Area mode should be AF Point Expansion (known as Dynamic for Nikons)

    Lastly, here’s what you need to do when shooting. Using AF Point Expansion requires you to keep your subject at or near the active AF point. So pre-select your AF point. Compose and pan with your subject to keep it near the AF point. If you half-press your shutter, the camera will continuously track the subject and keep it in focus. Fire away!
  • edited September 2014
    @ohyeahar, thanks for your response. I definitely shoot through the optical viewfinder, never in the liveview mode. I'm using the settings you suggested but cannot seem to find anything on AF point expansion for this camera. I use automatic for AF point selection (all nine points light up in the AF point selection mode).

    If AF is in automatic mode wouldn't it focus on the subject that is closest to the camera as judged by any of the 9 AF points? If there is someone in the leftmost AF point but the other 8 points have nothing or a background much further back, wouldn't or shouldn't it focus on the someone in the left AF point?
  • edited September 2014
    I just checked out the 60D manual and it appears there’s no AF area modes like in other Canons. Sorry about that.

    Anyway, let me first answer the question you just posed. That is, if AF point selection is in auto mode, wouldn’t it focus on the subject closest to the camera as judged by any of the 9 AF points?
    No, it will not. At least not in Al Servo. According to the manual, if you’re in Al Servo AF mode and you use automatic AF point selection, this means the camera will lock focus on whatever is in the center AF point and then track its movement there.

    So what you can do is use Al Servo and then track off the center AF point, or you can manually select your AF point and track off of that.
  • edited September 2014
    @ohyeahar, you're right, I found it on page 77 of the manual that in AI Servo mode "camera uses center AF point to focus". I guess my only option is to be better at tracking my subject with the center AF point. Thanks!
  • edited September 2014

    Well, using the center AF point is actually quite advantageous for sports. At least that's what I've observed from shooting my son playing sports every weekend.

    I used to use an off-centered AF point because it makes for a better composition. For example, if my son is running and I pan my camera to track him from left to right, it would make sense to have the AF point slightly to the left of the center point. That way, the picture is composed in such a way that there's some negative space for him to run to.

    But in sports, things happen quickly and there's often a lot of change in direction. What if all of a sudden the ball changes possession and so my son has to run back on defense the other way. If I don't move my AF point, my pictures will all be composed horribly. My son would be running right into the edge of the frame and there would be a lot of wasted space behind him. If I move the AF point, I risk missing the shot.

    So the solution is to just use the center AF point. Then you can just crop depending on which direction your subject is moving. Of course, this means you shouldn't shoot too tight unless you're certain you don't need to crop.
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