I pretty much shoot all the time in manual focus mode. I often borrow my girlfriend's most excellent Sigma 8-16mm ultra wide angle lens. She almost always shoots in Auto Focus mode. When I return it to her, I invariably forget to reset it to Auto Focus mode.

After her first wrecked shoot I got rid of silent mode for her 7D, so it would beep when it was focused. Hear the beep, ok to shoot, don't hear it, not ok. Right?

Well, her 7D doesn't work like that. She can shoot, with the beep, in manual focus mode and lose the shots because I didn't put the lens back into Auto Focus mode.

The three options I can see are never borrowing her lens, buying my own, or get used to the couch. None is really acceptable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is the fact that the image isn't in focus in the viewfinder not enough of a clue that AF is off? Also, you haven't actually asked a question here, you've just stated the problem. What do you want to know? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 20, 2011 at 13:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Specifically with the 8-16 I know it can be hard to see if it is out of focus in the viewfinder as everything is so tiny. She should be noticing the focus areas lighting up though. If not you both should really get more into good camera practice and do some simple settings checks before using it each time \$\endgroup\$
    – Dreamager
    Nov 20, 2011 at 14:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ElendilTheTall: I think the question was posed in the title, and the body was an explanation of why the question was asked. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Nov 21, 2011 at 1:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ElendilTheTall, jrista has it correct, the question is the title. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 21, 2011 at 13:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't answer the question (can you get the camera to warn you when AF is turned off). You answer also lacks any kind of reasoning. Why should it be turned off? Is there a technical reason, or is it just that you believe this solves the problem because it will always be off when the OPs girlfriend picks up her camera/lens, so she will just have to get used to it? \$\endgroup\$
    – forsvarir
    Jan 10, 2012 at 15:31

3 Answers 3


Why don't you set the mode to be manual focus and put a colored tape over the AF/MF button while you are using it and so when you return the lens, the tape will be an in your face reminder to change it back to Auto Focus mode.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow, that's perfect. Simple, effective. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 21, 2011 at 13:02

To my knowledge, there is no feature specifically designed to warn you if AF is off on any camera or lens, for any brand that I am aware of. This is something that really boils down to presence of mind, for both you (returning her camera with the settings you borrowed it with), and for your girlfriend (checking her settings before she starts a shoot if she is willing to lend you her equipment in the first place.)

That aside, unless your girlfriend shoots from the hip without ever looking through the viewfinder (AF lights do blink when they lock) or using live view or checking her shots, I am rather surprised she can't tell when a shot is out of focus within the first few shots taken. Even using your own gear that is never lent out, its easy enough to forget a setting or two, and it should be a standard practice to snap off a few shots and check the results before diving in and doing a whole photographic shoot. I can't tell you how often I start shooting without fixing my exposure settings (usually shutter speed or flipping to aperture priority mode), or even flipping my lens to AF/IS. It really should be a given that every photographer takes a few trial shots and checks the results before diving in and shooting seriously. Otherwise, a bad shoot is really only the fault of the photographer themselves once their camera is in-hand.

  • \$\begingroup\$ She has a lot more experience that I do but I know what you mean, I need to get into the habit more. I think the big issue is that when using the 8-16mm lens it is hard to see if the image is sharp through the viewfinder. Couple this with the red squares show red when you are in manual mode is a recipe for a bad shoot. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 21, 2011 at 13:04

On the 7D you have a 'green dot' focus light in the bottom-right of the viewfinder. Regardless of if the lens is in AF or MF mode, this will light up when the image is in focus (or at least, the part under the active AF point in the viewfinder).

I use this a lot as I have the 7D, and a Zeiss 100mm makro-planar lens which is ONLY manual focus (a gorgeous, gorgeous lens), and the difference between hitting that plane of focus and having it a millimetre out is next to nothing! So the green dot really does help.

The beep on AF will still sound on the 7D as soon as the green dot comes on. This may happen several times rapidly in succession if you're 'hovering' around the right focus point. If it beeps and then you (or she moves) then of course it will be out of focus again.

If I may make a suggestion: Go into the custom function button config and change the shutter button to take the picture only. ie. so it does not trigger AF or metering. Then make sure the rear AF-ON button is set to do the AF and metering. This way, you and your g/f can just keep your thumb on the AF button whilst looking through the viewfinder and as soon as the green dot comes on you press the shutter and you have your picture!

To answer your original question though - no - you cannot get the camera to 'warn' you when it's not in AF mode. However if you look on the right of the top display, where it shows the options for ONE SHOT, AI FOCUS, and AI SERVO modes, if the lens is in MF mode, those won't be shown at all. As soon as you flick it back into AF mode the currently selected AF mode will be shown. So you could always check that?


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