My Canon 5D IV Has Trouble Focusing | Dear Devlin

Photographers often have similar issues, but they might not be discussed much across the world of shiny happy social media.

So if there’s ever been a burning question that you would like to ask an expert but you’ve been too afraid to before, enter – Dear Devlin! The new Agony Aunt column for wedding photographers.

The best part? It’s anonymous. Making it anonymous hopefully lets people feel safe to raise topics that they might not otherwise.

So drop your questions here – there’s nothing too silly or too small, and perhaps you’ll feature next week. This week, we’re handing it over to this anonymous photographer, who asks –

My Canon 5D IV Has Trouble Focusing

Dear Devlin. I struggle with focus. I use a canon 5d mark iv and find then when I’m pressing the shutter halfway down and then moving to frame, I lose the focal point I want. I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong. Kit has been serviced recently as well. Help! London Lush.

Dear London Lush,

Ahhh, bless you, this is exactly why I stopped shooting on the 5D Mark IV. I felt like I was always battling with it to focus, especially when I love to shoot with a tiny depth of field much of the time.

How To Fix Canon 5D Focus Problems

It seems to me that you are using Back Button Focus a lot, which was also my favourite back in my DSLR days. So first of all you say that your kit was recently serviced, but you’ve not mentioned calibration. This is usually separate to a service and would need to be done for each of the lenses in your kit. When I shot Canon DSLRs, I would send them in once a year for calibration and this did help. The company I would recommend is Cameracal.

But maybe you’ve had a service and calibration and there’s still an issue. For key moments like walking down the aisle for instance, you could switch to Live View. It tends to be more accurate than focusing via the viewfinder.

Through Live View, the light travels in a straight line through the lens and hits the sensor. So it is more direct than the 90-degree detour which is necessary for the viewfinder. This additional step might be why there is more room for error.

Sadly using the Live View screen on the Mark IV drains your battery but you could also compose the photo through the viewfinder and then open Live View. Or use the touch focus on your screen instead of back button focus as this means you will not need to recompose.

DSLR vs Mirrorless: Which Camera is Best for Wedding Photography?

If all of this of sounding like too much hard work, think about trying out mirrorless. Now I’ve switched, I would never give up advanced focus tracking. It’s something that I simply don’t have to think about now which frees me up to focus on the creativity.

As wedding photographers we often have little control over what we are trying to shoot – you can’t scoop up all the confetti and ask folk to throw it again because you’ve missed the focus on all of your shots. But we can make use of the latest technology and invest in our gear.

Now when my images are out of focus, it’s because I’ve made a creative choice and ironically I love playing with intentional blur in my work at the moment but it’s my choice and under my control – not because the camera couldn’t cope with what I was shooting.