I am relatively new to DSLR cameras, so I apologize for any potential ignorance. Since I have been using my Canon T3i, every time I attempt to take a close-up photo, the camera does not auto adjust and take the shot. I get red square dots that show in live mode or a blinking green dot in the viewfinder.

I have searched around trying to find answers, but I haven't found one yet. Does anyone have any idea what I am doing wrong?

  • \$\begingroup\$ What specific lens are you using? Have you checked its specifications for how close this lens can focus? \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Nov 14, 2017 at 8:05
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ How close is close? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Nov 14, 2017 at 15:54
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If you want to focus closer with the same lens, you can get a set of extension tubes. They bring your lens further from the sensor, focusing closer. Or a macro/micro lens. Easier to use than extension tubes, but more expensive. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jeremy S.
    Nov 15, 2017 at 3:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: How close can a lens focus? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Nov 17, 2017 at 4:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: Why can't my DSLR with kit lens focus on objects close to the lens? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Nov 17, 2017 at 4:17

3 Answers 3


You are just too close to your subject.

Cell phone cameras and "Point and Shoot" cameras can take photos from very close distances. DSLR cameras can not. It is actually the lens that determines how close you can shoot. Most general purpose lenses have a minimum focus distance of about 9-12 inches. If you need to focus closer you can buy a specialty "Macro" lens which can focus much closer. There are also accessories like "extension tubes" or "close-up filters" that you can add to the lens to allow closer focus.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Any recommendations on a Canon macro lens that will work with a t3i? \$\endgroup\$
    – Paul
    Dec 16, 2017 at 2:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are many variables involved in choosing a Macro lens. I would recommend asking a new question, but include more information about how much you are willing to spend, and what type of subjects you want to shoot. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 16, 2017 at 20:55

Each lens has what is known as a Minimum Focus Distance (MFD). That is the shortest distance at which that lens can bring an object into focus. If you are closer than the MFD, as measured from the camera's image plane, the camera won't be able to focus on the subject.

For very close subject distances, a macro lens (sometimes called a micro lens) can be used.


Yes, you willl definitely want to look into Macro Photography.

Likely, you will want to use the camera in Manual focus mode, with what is called a "Macro lens".

There are different ratio of magnification, for how close you want to get. Usually 1:1 is common.

Still, you would want to focus it manually.

Ideally auto focus is for shooting hands free video, or perhaps documentary style footage, because closeup shots may require a different approach.


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