Canon R5 Failing to Focus

I ordered my Canon R5 when it was announced in February 2020. The camera finally arrived in July 2020 and I was totally excited about the new experience of using this much anticipated camera.

Life was good — but the camera wouldn’t focus. The R5 was amazing 95% of the time. Yet, 5% of the time it just wouldn’t focus. It failed to acquire focus.

I shot some video footage so I could share my experience with others. I played with settings. I figured out workarounds. But, by November 2020 I felt like I was beating my head against the wall. Why wouldn’t this camera acquire focus.

Then, my R6 arrived. The R6 never refused to focus. It might hesitate here and there like the Canon 7D or Canon Rebel but it never refused to focus.

That’s when I realized something was wrong with my Canon R5. I contacted Canon Professional Services. They offered some suggestions to my settings — but nothing I hadn’t already tried.

Finally it was time to send the R5 to the shop. I shared my videos with Canon and talked with the technicians.

Here are changes to my settings recommended by Canon Professional Services:

  • AF Menu –Tab 4 – Lens electronic MF ; this is currently set to OFF.  If you set it to One-Shot-Enabled the lens will manual focus by the focus ring if shutter is half depressed. This will make it behave like a long telephoto on a EOS 1D-X body
  • AF Menu- Tab 5 – Initial Servo AF Point for Tracking;  Suggest second selection Tracking will start with the selected AF point
  • AF Menu – Tab 3  – Case 3 or 4 might work better for birds  in flight or moving objects than Case 1
  • AF Menu – Tab 4  – Switching tracked subjects – might want to try “Initial Priority”

So far, so good! I’ve used the R5 for a week and it’s worked as expected. I’ll keep you posted.

Author: kathyadamsclark

Professional photographer leading workshops and tours.

14 thoughts on “Canon R5 Failing to Focus”

  1. Kathy, Thank you. I use the Nikon Z6 and sometimes have focus problems. Have you heard of others having similar issues? I might try the similar settings on my camera in Nikon language and see what happens. Stephanie

    On Tue, Feb 9, 2021 at 8:02 PM Kathy Adams Clark wrote:

    > kathyadamsclark posted: ” I ordered my Canon R5 when it was announced in > February 2020. The camera finally arrived in July 2020 and I was totally > excited about the new experience of using this much anticipated camera. > Life was good — but the camera wouldn’t focus. The R5 wa” >


  2. I am facing the same issue. with my Canon R5 + RF 100-500 + 1.4 Extender
    what is the setting requires for
    1- AF4 – Lens drive when AF impossible – Continue search focus ON or Stop focus search OFF
    2- AF 1 – Continuous AF – Enable or Disable


  3. i have the R5 and the EF 500mm USM IS f4 V1, sometimes it’s great, but often, it won’t focus on anything, even if i get close the focus with AF ring, it won’t acquire focus, the lens keeps breathing, no matter the AF setting or option, won’t focus on anything. And all of a sudden, AF is back… ’till the next time. Its clearly a camera problem, not the lens not the operator. I’ve notice some freezing camera too with the RF 100-500mm, the only thing to do is to remove the battery. this problem are amazing for such a hight price camera. Is the R5 a scam?


    1. I’m not going to say the R5 is a scam. I just got in from photographing birds and it didn’t fail to focus one time. Reminder that mine has been back to Canon for a check-up. Since then it’s working just as I expect. I’ve never had the camera totally freeze. That’s no happened on the R5 or R6. Your experience with the R5/500mm lens is what I experienced. That’s gone after a trip back to Canon.


  4. What exactly (if anything) did Canon service do to your R5? Was some faulty hardware replaced? Or did you simply change to camera settings as they suggested to remedy your issues?


    1. My issue was not in my settings. It was a focus calibration issue. They adjusted and I never had the problem again. Works like a charm. If you have a focus issue, I recommend you send the camera back to Canon. They might ask you for photo taken when the camera wouldn’t focus. Be sure to keep some. Good luck!


      1. That does not make sense to me. There is nothing to calibrate. Focus detection occurs directly on the imaging sensor.


  5. I have come across a fix few others have mentioned: AF tab5, 3rd down: Focus bracketing, requires use of electronic shutter, beware the default setting of 100 frames which will fill your memory card quickly. I use 3 frames with a focus increment of 3 and I get the focus I want


    1. Thanks for your comment, Robert. I hadn’t noticed the 100 frames on focus bracketing. I did a series of blog posts about focus bracketing. You might like them:
      Here’s another: Here’s another:


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