Yet more trouble with the Canon EOS 7D? Autofocus issues

by planetmitch10 Comments

We're finding new reports indicating that some Canon EOS 7D units having autofocus (AF) problems. Here's an example from this post on… “The AF in my camera was unable to focus on a static, high contrast, well-lit subject. I repeated the test using a single focus point, and using the cluster mode for each cluster of focal points. Same result, sometimes worse.”

Redrock Micro

Update: I forgot to include the coverage of this issue by Fake Chuck Westfall. “I’m getting a lot of emails about the autofocus system on the EOS 7D not working correctly. … At this point we’re not exactly sure what’s going on.”

Over on DPReview, there are several threads about cameras with issues. This thread (tho long) has some good comments (as well as some really lame ones).

“Re: 7D Autofocus Problems: A controlled test w/ 40 images, on tripod [SIMILAR] JohannV517 – 3 days ago
I guess I must be one of those inept schmucks who shakes so much that I can't read the manual. All I know is that after trying three different lenses (70-200 f/2.8, 50 MM f/1.2, and 24-105 f/4) in all sorts of lighting situations and focus modes I can't get my new 7D to focus properly either. And yes, I've done the “hard reset” and loaded the new firmware. I'm not new to photography. Tack sharp photos are definitely a rarity.
I've seen some of the shots when the camera is operating the way it's supposed to, and I'm really amazed. They make my shots look that much worse.”

And this DPReview thread has some good still samples to show the issues.

Obviously, there's more investigation that needs to be done, and it sure doesn't seem to happen on every camera – in fact, there are several reports of cameras being exchanged and the second one working better. It seems to happen with just about every new camera that is released and we certainly saw some of the same discussions with the 5D2 when it came out. We'll keep an eye on this one.

(Photo credit: snap from the DPReview forums)

Outdoor Photo Gear


  1. Hi, I am also experiencing the same problem with my canon eos 7d. it was just a sudden transformation to a sophisticated quality camera, to a lousy mess… i really don’t know where to go from here, considering the fact that i have a 50mm lens for some lovely portraitures.

    Its hard guessing on the right focus, specially when u need the camera for that precise moment, that specific moment, that one shot…

    any help on resolving the issue?


  2. I’ve got the exact same problem and it’s getting me really frustrated. I sold my 1DmkIII + 5DmkII for the 7D and I would be thrilled about it, if it would only focus correctly

    a 1000D does it better for Pete’s sake!!

    I have the problem with every single one of my lenses

  3. I did testing myself after returning from a trip with many OOF images.

    You can see a set of images at:

    Basically, focus seems to be off just slightly, despite being close enough to look “good in the viewfinder. I used the center focus point (not spot, its too small to be accurate I have heard). And After focusing on her face, they were all off. And dont tell me the lock focus and recompse “doesnt work” with the Canon 7D because it seems to have worked just fine for the sharp one.

    I sent it back, here is hoping for a fixed camera!

  4. Read a lot about it and it seems that some people fixed the issue by doing a “hard reset” by removing both the button battery and the main battery out of the 7D. I have this issue and doing this right now.. Hope this fixes the issue.

  5. A year ago I purchased a Canon 7D with long time savings.
    This camera has to be the biggest disappointment since
    I have used canon since 1971. I definitely would advise
    People to stay away from this camera. The problem is
    with sharpness. I have made comparisons, under the exact
    same conditions with a D10. The D10 leaves the D7 in
    the brownie category as far as sharpness is concerned.
    I have tried taken pictures with auto-focus and with live view,
    The results are random and unpredictable. You would figure
    Using a sturdy tripod, 100 ISO, 1/750 sec, f8.0, mirror lock-up, 17mm, manual focus and timer, that you could expect an acceptable photo?
    No, right center sharp and anything with leaves out-of focus.
    After many test shots, even with above situation, sometimes
    Totally out-of focus and other variations out of focus. My
    D10 had always a mediocre predictable result with the same conditions.
    I have used in this test three different lenses,
    Tamron 17-50mm, Canon 28-135mm and to be sure a Canon 100mm f2.8L IS lens.
    I have missed many shots already, including shots at Grand Canyon and the whole Autumn season.
    Canon has heard about this problem and ignores it totally. That really makes me mad and we should boycott Canon until they are making efforts to correct this problem.

  6. I recently bought a 7d and it exhibited focusing problem. Exchanged it to a new unit and same problem. Stay away from this camera. I switching to Nikon.

  7. I bought a 7d on the 22 November 2011. Had it for two weeks and images were soft. I used the manual selection, centre point focus & spot focus in single shot mode. I focused using the centre square and recomposed. While it took a couple of great shots after a micro adjustment to +6 ( ) , an unacceptable number were still soft.

    I took it back to the camera store where myself & a camera tech mounted it upon a tripod at a 45 degree angle to a focus chart. We then took my canon ef-s 17-55 f2.8, the store’s canon ef-s 17-55 f2.8, my ef 50mm 1.8, and the store’s ef 50mm 1.8 & the stores Canon ef 24-70 L USM.

    With IS turned off (where applicable), and in single shot mode, we used manual select centre square focus. The results? All of the lenses (mine and the store copies) showed an unacceptable level of intermittent forward and back focus. We reset the custom settings and tried again. Same result. We changed to spot focus, and whilst the results were superior, they were far from satisfactory. We turned off the ‘focus search’ in custom settings and again there was an improvement. Played with the micro adjustment, better again. However, the fact remained that with the exception of the 24-70 L USM, not one lens focused correctly during the entire tests (various degrees of forward and back focus were always present). The 24-70 L USM was much closer and did achieve correct focus a couple of times.

    We then took the store’s 7D body and replicated the tests. Whilst I believe the results were superior to mine, the results showed a similar trend.

    After an hour and a half of testing, I asked the camera tech what his conclusion was. He said it seemed that spot focus is far superior centre focus as the focus square appears too large and other non displayed focal points may be in-play. Also the 17-55 & 50mm might not be perfectly compatible with the 7D. I looked him right in the eyes and asked him if he bought a $1,700 camera two weeks ago and it produced these results what would he do. He said whilst he would be disappointed, no camera lens combination was perfect, and sighted well known examples of incompatibility (original 5D and certain L lenses, sigma lenses & certain bodies). He encouraged me to hang on to the 7D and give it ago.

    Me? I returned it. It’s a pity as the build quality, ergonomics, custom features, frame rate etc. are second to none. But low light performance and in particular the autofocus (especially in low light) lets it down. Are there good copies of the 7D, yes. Is there an issue with the autofocus? there appears to be (certainly on the bodies that I have tested).

    My advice: Whilst there are a lot of idiots online who seem to complain as though it was some competitive sport, as well as those who complain without knowing how the equipment works, there are still those who can identify an issue with a particular make or model. My advice is to research the specs you are after, and make yourself aware of the reported issues. Then and only then, buy the camera off a reputable dealer, where you can return it for a refund if you experienced any of the faults reported and you are not happy to live with. This is exactly what I did, and the only thing I lost was a bit of time, however if I got a good copy of the 7D, I would have been over the moon.

    Now to decide, 60D or 5D mk2? Better start my research!

  8. I’ve had my 7d for over a year now and I’ve managed to take some beautifully sharp photos but I definitely agree that it’s focus is not that reliable, especially in low light. I was taking concert shots in low light from a distance with my 70-200 f4 and found I could only get it in focus when using live view and manual focus. Using my 50mm at the widest aperture is purely pot luck and I’ve learnt to really slow down my shooting just to come home with some keepers.

    I’ve tested this camera with many lenses and it does work better with some than others. I seem to hit it every time with my 35mm f1.4 and rarely with my 24-105mm f4 (although I’ve never been happy with that lens).

    I’m really hoping the 5d mkii is better (despite the complaints with the focusing on that body as well). I will miss the build quality of the 7d and the speed of the shutter. I love the customisability of the 7d and the ability to allocate different functions to different buttons. A 1dx would be great but I can’t be bothered carrying it around; it is a tank.

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