Today I was shooting two persons with my camera (Canon 7D) on a tripod. One person, the one I wanted to be in focus, was composed so far out of the center that I don't have any focus point close to their eye.

I tried to use the closest focus point to their eye, and as a result I ended up with the eyes being out of focus.

Since the camera was mounted on a tripod I could not apply 'focus and recompose'. Generally, I could use live view, but moving the focus square is a very slow process and the mode eats the battery for breakfast.

Any suggestions?

  • 1
    Surely you can move the head on the tripod? move to the eye, focus, recompose, shoot? Oct 22, 2015 at 23:22
  • @DigitalLightcraft But this means I move focal plane at different angle. AFAIK, after recomposing, meaning focal plane is moved to position, the focus may not retain.
    – dimba
    Oct 23, 2015 at 8:06

2 Answers 2


Taking the comments into account, your only option is to use live view mode (whether you prefer it or not) or buy a new camera.

You cannot create focus points from thin air and your plane of focus will shift with the rotation (whether you handhold your camera or use a tripod).

However personally, I would go with recomposing by using the closest AF point you have.

But you could also think of not recomposing but cropping the desired framing in postproduction.

  • I like your final approach: use a wider lens, compose so the subject is in the middle of the frame, and then trim away the excess in post-production.
    – mattdm
    Oct 23, 2015 at 13:18
  • @kamuro I like the idea of cropping. However, most of time I use primes, so cropping is not option for me.
    – dimba
    Oct 23, 2015 at 15:21
  • @dimba, cropping is not related to lens types. You can always crop an image in post-production.
    – Olivier
    Oct 23, 2015 at 21:23
  • 1
    @dimba: you could take two or some more steps back.
    – kamuro
    Oct 26, 2015 at 10:53

I have two observations, the second of which really presents at least one possible answer.

  1. This problem doesn't seem specific to using a camera on a tripod. It seems that you want a composition where the focus is aligned with something near the edge of the frame, where you don't have any autofocus points. As you note in a comment, if you are hoping for very precise focus, the focus-and-recompose method doesn't work, because the change in angle moves the focal plane more than people might think. But this applies just as well if you want this composition hand-held.

  2. You have tagged the question . That, I hope obviously, can be an answer. You won't get confirmation from the AF system if there's no AF point where you want, but you can judge manual focus anywhere in the frame. If your subject is static, that might be the best approach. However, it's hard to judge precise focus in a DSLR viewfinder — I suggest live view for this as a well. And, hey, if your camera can focus on arbitrary areas in live view, might as well take advantage. Sure, it takes more batteries, but getting a second battery is a relatively cheap solution to the problem as all things go.

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