Canon EOS R7 — Autofocus

I was eager to try the autofocus on the R7 with a variety of subjects.

I used the same settings on all the photos: Servo, AF[1], Subject Tracking, Subject to Detect is Animals, Eye detection is Enabled. Servo AF is on Case 2 which is “Continue to track subjects, ignoring possible obstacles.”

For those of you new to AF[1], it is a wide zone where the camera looks for a subject based on face and/or motion. Once the camera has found a subject, the focus point lights up with blue dots. Then we can move the camera around to compose the shot while the camera stays on the subject.

Northern mockingbird. The R7 found the bird without hesitation and locked on to the eye.
Great-tailed grackle. I didn’t push the focus button until the bird’s face came into view. Once the eye was clear of the pine needles, then the R7 found the eye and locked on.
Gray Hairstreak. Tiny butterfly. The Flexible Zone AF 1 (AF[1]) was not the best choice for this small butterfly. The R7 found the subject because it was moving. The focus point bounced between the butterfly’s real eye and the fake eye at the base of the tails. I should have changed to 1-point AF and put that point on the butterfly’s eye. Not bad, though.
Gray Hairstreak. Same as above with a slight change in my angle to get a green background.
Clouded Skipper. The R7 found the butterfly’s eye without a problem. It locked on and held focus.
The same clouded skipper perched on a purple passionflower. The R7 stayed on the butterfly but I confused the camera. The R7 tried to focus on the structure on the passionflower. This camera is smart but the photographer has to remember to give clear directions. My error in not changing to the 1-point AF area. Then the camera would have known exactly where to focus.
Honeybee on bee bush. The AF[1] focus area stayed with bee without any effort.

I found the Autofocus on the R7 quick and precise. The R7 is not a mind reader (though it does amazing things) so we have to remember to change AF Areas based on the subject.

The only time the R7 failed to acquire focus was on a tiny subject at the top of a stick. I moved the camera down the stick until it acquired focus. Then I moved the camera back up to the subject and the R7 held. This is not unusual with AF in mirrorless but not as bad as I’ve seen in earlier cameras.

All photos in this post were taken with the 100-500mm RF lens, 1.4x extender. All the insects were at the edge of the minimum focusing distance of 3.94 ft.

All photos are uncropped.

Questions? Post below. I’d love to hear your comments and feedback. Thanks for reading.

Author: kathyadamsclark

Professional photographer leading workshops and tours.

10 thoughts on “Canon EOS R7 — Autofocus”

    1. Thanks for the comment, Nick. The SpotAF is very small. The 1-Point AF is a bit larger. I haven’t used SpotAf much but when I have it’s pretty tiny. Not much room for error. The 1-Point AF seems to work well on birds, butterflies, dragonflies, etc. It’s a good size for me.

      I like the Flex Zone AF 1, though, overall. It’s a bit larger. With Animal Eye set and Subject set, I’m essentially telling the camera “look in this square for an eye and lock on.” It does an amazing job.

      Shooting through vegetation, though, I’d move to 1-Point AF to cut through the vegetation. Same with butterflies so I focus on the eye of the butterfly. More precision.

      Thanks for the comment!


      1. Thanks for the reply, Kathy.
        I got the R7 two week ago and still figuring out the settings that work best for me.


  1. Thanks for this article. It has been very helpful. Just got the R7 recently and it’s my first mirrorless and has more AF features than I’m used to. Your descriptions of each situation have helped me understand this a lot and I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos on it – this was the most helpful.


  2. Hello Kathy, I have wide area af on the back button and would like to know how I can quickly change to spot focus via some sort of customisation rather than go in to menu.


  3. I’m just getting used to a new R7 and having problems with autofocus. In particular with small birds. I’ve tried various things and do pretty much what you do! The pictures you’ve shown here are generally in pretty good light? Have you had the same success when it’s a bit dimmer? (Today I was out early on a grey day. Close to a small bird with shutter around 500 and iso 1600. The camera struggled to focus at all and, when it did, the photos are certainly not as sharp as I’d expect).
    Nice article and pics!


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