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My Canon 7d is about 2 months old. I used it for a shoot in DC, and it just isn't behaving as expected. When I try to focus, I get little black boxes in the focus frame. They used to be black, with the focal area in a red box. I let my girlfriend use the camera for a few hours, and I can't figure out what she's changed. Do I need to reset to factory settings? Or does anyone have an idea of how to tun my focus squares back to red, and to make them selectable?

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It happens this was just covered in the answer to a similar question about a different Canon model: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/38003/… –  mattdm Apr 14 '13 at 13:16
    
I don't suppose asking her what she changed would be a wise course of action? ;-) –  Michael Clark Apr 14 '13 at 20:04
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1 Answer

What shows up in the viewfinder and when it shows up there is based on the cumulative results of several menu and custom settings on the 7D. Which mode you are shooting in, which AF mode, and which AF Area Selection you are using will all affect this. (To further complicate matters, there are two versions of the 7D instruction manual: The original 276 page version and a 292 page version released with firmware version 2.0.0. Since your 7D is only two months old we'll assume you have the newer version. It is also available for download here.)

Under Custom Function menu III: Autofocus/Drive (p.225ff) there are several settings you should check (these will affect the P/Tv/Av/M/B modes - Auto modes decide all the AF settings for you):

  • C.Fn III-6 Select AF area selec. mode. Which modes are enabled will determine which modes you are able to select using the AF point selection button (p.92ff) or the AF area selection function from the Quick Control Screen (pp.38-39).

  • C.Fn III-8 VF display illumination. By default (Auto) the red illumination only turns on under low light. To display it regardless of the scene brightness, change the setting to Enable. It will still only light up either when focus is achieved or the AF point selection button is pressed. (p.229)

  • C.Fn III-9 Display all AF points. By default (Disable) only active AF points are displayed when shooting. How many points are visible will depend on which AF Area Selection Mode (pp.91-95) you are using. Enable will allow all AF points to be visible when shooting. This will affect which black squares are visible. All focus points will be displayed as small squares. When focus is achieved, the points in focus will be displayed as larger squares. This is important because the red light will only illuminate whichever black squares are visible when focus is achieved.

  • C.Fn III-10 Focus display in AI SERVO/MF. If using AI Servo AF or MF mode this must be set to Enable or no focus point information will be displayed during shooting in Zone AF or Auto select 19-point AF AF area selection modes (p.94)(unless C.Fn III-9 is set to Enable- see above). Active points or zones will be displayed in the viewfinder prior to half pressing the shutter button. (p.229)

Which AF Area Selection mode (p.91) you are shooting in will determine which focus points are displayed in the viewfinder. If C.Fn III-9 is set to Disable only active focus points or zones will be displayed (p.229). The following is for One-Shot AF mode (p.89)(and AI Focus AF mode with Servo not active):

  • In Spot AF mode the selected point will be displayed as a small square inside a larger square. (p.93)
  • In Single-point AF mode the selected point will be displayed as a large square. (p.93)
  • In AF point expansion mode the selected point will be a large square and the active surrounding points will be small squares. Once focus is achieved only the confirmed point(s) will be displayed as a large square(s). (p.93)
  • In Zone AF mode a bracket surrounding the active area will be displayed (no points will be displayed prior to focus confirmation). When focus is achieved the confirmed point(s) will be displayed as a large square(s). (p.94)
  • In Auto select 19-point AF mode a bracket surrounding the active area will be displayed (no points will be displayed prior to focus confirmation). When focus is achieved the confirmed point(s) will be displayed as a large square(s). (p.94)

In AI Servo AF mode (p.89)(and AI Focus AF mode when Servo is active) the display is similar to the above:

  • In Spot AF, Single-point AF, and AF point expansion modes no change is made to the display once focus has been achieved.
  • In Zone AF and Auto select 19-point AF modes the brackets are displayed and any points currently in focus are displayed as large squares.

Additionally, when Servo is active the green focus confirmation light at the far right of the viewfinder status information (p.19) will not confirm focus (p.89). As with One-shot AF mode, it will blink when no active focus points are in focus (p.89). Unlike One-shot AF mode, the focus confirmation light will not remain lit when any active focus points are in focus since in AI Servo AF mode the focus is not locked but continuously updated until the shutter is actuated.

Unlike previous Canon bodies such as the 50D or the 5D mark II, the 7D and newer Canon bodies do not have the focus points inscribed on the view screen with red dots that light up to indicate active focus points. If you think your 7D once did this, you are remembering using an older Canon body. Instead, the newer bodies use an LCD to superimpose the information onto the area covered by the view screen.

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