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I've enabled the playback option to display focus points when viewing photos on my D7000. When shooting in AF-A with focus point Auto, it often displays multiple active focus points for each image.

My question is, what does it really mean for a focus point to be indicated as active? That the camera thought that point was in focus? Or that it was trying to use that point to focus, but maybe didn't achieve it?

The question was prompted by a candid portrait of my son shot with a 35/1.8 wide open. The indicated focus points are mostly on his face, but one is on his ear, and one is completely off his face on the out of focus background. The actual sharpest focus ended up being on his ear, with the front of his face significantly out of focus despite most of the "active" focus points being in that area.

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According to Mastering the Nikon D7000 by Darrell Young,

If you are using Single-point AF or Dynamic-area AF, you'll see a single red AF indicator where the camera was focused when you took the picture. If you are using Auto-area AF you'll see all the AF points that were providing autofocus in your image.

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  • The D7000 seems to use some form of scene recognition when doing Auto AF, in which case what you see is all the AF points used to make a decision, but it could have chosen to take the average or the median or what else. – xenoid Nov 3 '19 at 21:39
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Each red AF point is an area that the camera thought was in focus. Keep in mind that if you focus and then recompose, the red point(s) shown in the image playback will no longer be over what they were over when the focus was locked - they'll be over whatever they were over after you recompoosed without refocusing.

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