Make it simpler to choose the correct AF area

With up to eight AF area choices to cover a range of photographic situations it’s slow to switch between the ones you use. Use the limit AF areas setting to speed up switching between the AF areas you work with.

Limit AF areas

Most photographers I know use just a small subset of the AF areas that their camera offers. Some rely totally on whole area AF with their mirrorless cameras tasked with finding the subject and getting it in focus. Others value being able to place a single AF point where it’s needed for the scene they’re capturing. You could argue that just these two options is enough, and the other choices are ones to get in the way between and make it slower to switch AF area. This is where the limit AF areas function speeds up using your camera and stops you selecting an unsuitable AF area.

When configuring this screen you remove the check mark from the areas you done’t want to use, but you have to then choose ok to save any revisions you have done.

This is what my EOS R6 Mark II settings are currently, I only have three choices, the single AF point, a flexible zone and the whole area AF. For most of my photos these are the only ones I use. If the need arises I can switch on others, but it’s pretty rare for me to need them.

Areas that are not selectable are greyed out and cannot be chosen when working at speed. The LCD screen above has spot, af expansion and two of the flexible zones restricted.

Not just for mirrorless

Whilst I use mirrorless cameras in the main, this same capability has existed for sometime in the advanced DSLR cameras, an EOS 7D Mark II from 2014 has the same capability, but you need to seek out Select AF area selection mode in the menu to be able to choose from that camera’s 7 different options.

Direct AF area selection – custom buttons

I also combine the limited range of AF areas with customised buttons to make switching between them much faster. With the mirrorless cameras I configure the AF point selection button with Direct AF area selection. Doing this means that each time I press the button the AF area changes to the next one in my shorter list. Sometimes for a portrait shoot I might only use 1-point and whole area AF, so the button simply toggles between them.

Once again something similar is possible with DSLR, both the EOS 5D Mark IV and EOS 7D Mark II have a control that can be assigned direct AF area selection and I have used this for many years.

Give this a try and you’ll be faster to operate your camera, plus less likely to choose an AF area that you don’t want to use.

Advent Calendar of Tips

This year I’m writing a quick tip each day up until the 25th of December, here’s some of the others I have already posted.


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