I've been working with two different Canon EOS 5D mark III cameras, and had the same problem with both.

When auto-focusing I have two kind of indicators when the image is focused on a certain point.

  • the audio beep
  • visual indicator on the focus point (the light/square on the selected focus point "blinks" red for a moment)

Altough I hear the beep every time the camera auto-focuses, the visual indicator does not show (or at least I cannot clearly see it) every time.

I'm not sure if this is related, but I just did a short test (indoors) pointing the camera in various directions with diffrent light coming from different directions, so I'm guessing there's something to do with the lighting, but I might be wrong... In the test when the visual indicator worked on certain points in the room, it worked in 90% of retries, while when trying on other points it almost or never worked...

Do other Canon 5D Mark III users have the same problem? Is this a matter of a setting which I need to modify, or is there a problem with the camera?

  • \$\begingroup\$ On Nikon, you can turn OFF or ON this focus indicators! Did you try in settings to turn it ON? If you did, what objective you are using? \$\endgroup\$
    – D4Am
    Commented Apr 13, 2013 at 11:35

1 Answer 1


There are several menu settings that affect when the red illumination of focus points is activated.

  1. By default, the red indicator lights will only illuminate over the active focus points when focus is achieved and the brightness of the scene in the viewfinder is low. You can modify this in the menu settings. Under the AF 5 (purple) tab, select VF display illumination. The Auto option is the default setting. Select Enable to have the points light up regardless of the brightness of the scene. Select Disable if you do not want them to light up. It is explained on page 103 of the 5DIII user manual.

  2. The red lights will only blink over whatever black indicators are visible. This may be all, some, or none of the focus points depending on the setting chosen under AF point display during focus. To change which focus points are displayed and when they are displayed in the viewfinder, see page 102. This adjusts the black non-illuminated display of the focus points.

  3. To turn on the red illumination when focus has not been achieved, Press the AF point selection button. This is useful for checking and changing the AF focus points/zones when shooting in a dark environment. What is illuminated will depend on the AF Area Selection Mode. See pages 72-77 for how to select an AF Area Selection Mode and how to manually select AF points or AF zones.

Focus confirmation is also communicated by the beep (if it is turned on under the Shooting 1 (Red) menu) and the green focus confirmation light in the lower right of the viewfinder. See page 23 of the 5DIII user manual.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Bloody VF display illumination :-). That was the problem. I don't beleive that Auto is the default setting. Thanks... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 7:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ In this context Auto means the camera automatically decides if it is dark enough or not for you to need them, not that they will automatically come on every time! According to page 57 of the User's Manual, Auto is the default setting for VF display illumination. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 8:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Very helpful, especially when on the road and no booklet handy. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – user20347
    Commented Jun 7, 2013 at 23:34

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.