A fashionably quick change of focussing point

Orientation Linked AF Point

Several Canon cameras have the option to switch the selected AF point depending on the orientation of the camera. The cameras can detect three different orientations; horizontal, vertical (grip up) and vertical (grip down).

The cameras uses the same orientation sensor that is used to automatically rotate images, and this last weekend I found a situation where I have used orientation linked AF for the first time in a practical situation. I was fortunate to have been invited by Calumet and Canon to shoot from the photographers area at the British Fashion Council’s London Fashion Weekend. Runway fashion shows are not something that I have masses of experience of shooting so such opportunities are to be grabbed and maximised.

I elected to shoot with the EOS 5D Mark III, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM and an Extender EF 1.4x II. I did take the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM but most of the pictures were shot with the 70-200 with or without the extender. Fortunately the lighting is designed to make it straightforward to get good pictures, it looks dark off the sides of the catwalk, but ISO 800 gave 1/640s at f/5.6 as the exposure, and from Canon’s CPS folks we had good information that setting the white balance to Kelvin and choosing 3000K would be the way to go.

Fashionably orientated

I managed to get a good spot in the photographers pit, virtually down the centre line of the runway. From the end of the catwalk to the closest edge I tended to work with the zoom at 280mm, vertical at the far end of the runway and as the models walked down, then switch to a horizontal orientation for a close-up as they stopped posed and then turned to walk back. With the multitude of AF points available to me on the EOS 5D Mark III (even with the camera set to only allow cross-type points to be selected) it was tough keeping up with moving the points and keeping up with the models.

I switched in the orientation linked AF feature and could have different AF points pre-selected just by turning the camera from horizontal to vertical. I also wished I had the BG-E11 battery grip on the EOS 5D Mark III too for comfort.

Vertical orientation set to select upper AF point

Vertical orientation set to select upper AF point


Horizontal orientation set to select central AF point

Horizontal orientation set to select central AF point

One item to remember is that when using the orientation linked AF points, it is possible for each orientation to use not only a different focus point, but also a different AF area selection mode. So it is possible to have say the block of nine  (surround) in one orientation, and a single AF point in the other.

Just make sure you can change the AF modes and points without looking at the camera, as you will find that the natural tendency is to turn the camera to a horizontal position to work out which buttons to press. This means you make the change, in the horizontal position, then hold the camera to your eye vertically and it is not changed since the change was made for the horizontal position.



About the author

Full-time photo tutor and photographer. I love to share my knowledge and skills to make photos, videos and teach others. I write books and articles for photo magazines and I always have at least one Speedlite flash in my camera bag