Here's a typical situation during vacations:

  • I set my Canon 77D on a tripod
  • I change the shooting setting to "timed series" (2-10 shots after a 10-second delay)
  • I go stand in front of the camera
  • Problem: camera uses the initial focus instead of focusing when the actual shot takes place
  • Result: blurry shot of myself with a perfectly sharp background

Is there a setting that forces the camera to re-focus before each timed shot? I've tried switching to AI Servo, but it didn't help. I'm also aware I can use a Bluetooth/IR remote or connect the camera to my phone, but a simple timer is a lot easier and faster.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Canon has "One-Shot", "AI-Servo", and "AI-Focus" modes. "One-Shot" mode uses focus-priority and will normally focus the camera before taking a shot. Have you tested the camera in this focus mode? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 2, 2019 at 1:59

4 Answers 4


When setting my Canon camera on a timer, how do I force it to focus at the time the shot is taken instead of when the timer is set?

I'm pretty sure with the 77D (as well as most other Canon DSLRs) you can't.

Most instruction manuals and 'how-to' books recommend using a dummy target the same distance as you plan to stand from the camera. You can either use AF (autofocus) to focus on it and then set the lens' switch to MF (manual focus) or set focus mode to MF and use the dummy target to manually focus on the spot you intend to stand.

I'm also aware I can use a Bluetooth/IR remote or connect the camera to my phone, but a simple timer is a lot easier and faster.

Wi-Fi might not be simple or fast, but the BR-E1 remote is pretty simple and fast. It also allows you to do exactly what you want. It only needs to be set up once to be paired with your camera. After that it is probably easier and faster than messing with the timer each time you want to set up to do this would be, if the timer even allowed you to delay AF until right before the exposure is made.

The Wireless Remote Control BR-E1 uses the 77D's Bluetooth capability to allow a remote user to control AF, shutter actuation, and even starting/stopping video recording. It works with all Bluetooth capable Canon cameras.

From Canon's listing of the BR-E1:

A wireless remote controller compatible with Bluetooth enabled cameras for wireless focusing, still shooting and video recording, and zooming using the Power Zoom Adapter PZ-E1. Operating distance is approximately 16 ft in any direction.

Note that several infrared remotes made by Canon will not work on the 77D and other Bluetooth enabled cameras that did not have an IR receiver on the front of the camera.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I wonder why Canon didn't think of such a simple feature... \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2018 at 16:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not just Canon, many other camera makers don't offer the ability either. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Mar 8, 2018 at 16:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, now this answer is worthy of an upvote as it mentions the bluetooth remote. Note a bluetooth smartphone may also work in some cases as a bluetooth remote (my EOS RP works with smartphone as the bluetooth remote, using the Canon Camera Connect app). Also, the Canon Camera Connect app can use bluetooth to automatically set-up the Wi-Fi on the camera and on the smartphone, so with bluetooth, Wi-Fi is simple and fast enough for me. \$\endgroup\$
    – juhist
    Jul 2, 2019 at 10:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Again, the remote is simpler than using a third party phone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, where compatibility and pairing issues may crop up. The second section of the answer was not originally included because the OP specifically indicated they did not want to go there. However, I decided to include it because it's still a simpler solution than using a third party device via Wi-Fi or BT. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jul 2, 2019 at 10:58

Magic Lantern can do this, but it's unfortunately not available for the 77D. However, for people with a Canon camera that is supported Magic Lantern offers functionality that can focus while on a timer.

Rough steps are:

  1. Set Use Autofocus in the shoot preferences
  2. Enable the intervalometer, example settings might be:
  • Take a pic every: 1 second
  • Start trigger: take a pic
  • Start after: 10 seconds
  • Stop after: 5 photos

After you take a single picture, it will:

  • wait 10 seconds
  • try to lock focus
  • take a picture
  • wait 1 second
  • try to lock focus
  • take a picture
  • wait 1 second
  • etc...

To make sure it focusses on you, you can select a focus point/area that covers the position where you expect to stand such that the camera will only try to focus in that area.

Alternatively you could use the audio remoteshot function in combination with the Use Autofocus setting to trigger the camera via a loud sound when you're in position. However, in my experience it's a bit finicky and the intervalometer is easier to use.


Just enable continuous AF (5th tab in menu of my 70d) and shoot in live view, - it will make camera focus automatically all the time, like if you're recording a video tracking subject


I don't think the dummy target approach adequately works for fast lenses (especially on full frame) and images viewed on a high-resolution screen where the depth of field can be mere centimeters. It may work adequately for a slow crop sensor kit zoom.

I'm not sure if 77D has this feature, but the EOS RP, which I recently bought, has an interval timer feature. For example, you can set an interval timer for 00:00:20 interval and 5 shots. When you press the shutter, the first picture is taken and then the camera will take the next pictures according to the interval you specified.

I just tested this "interval timer" feature on my EOS RP, and even in the one-shot AF mode (as opposed to servo AF), the interval timer autofocuses automatically prior to taking each picture. My test involved putting one object close to the camera and the other object twice as far from the camera. Then I alternately removed the close object and put it back. The nearest object in the scene was always the one the camera chose to focus at (both objects were around the autofocus point).

Note the interval timer is set in the camera menu. It's distinct from the self-timer (that can be set to take a picture after 2 seconds, take a picture after 10 seconds, or to take a burst of pictures after 10 seconds). If using the self-timer, focusing happens when half-pressing the shutter, so there's no option to focus after the timer expires. Also, self-timer has the drawback that you only have the choice between 2 and 10 seconds. Interval timer allows an arbitrary timer period.

Even the manual acknowledges this feature, but for some reason it suggests manual focusing: "Setting the lens focus mode switch to <AF> prevents the camera from shooting unless subjects are in focus. Setting it to <MF> and focusing manually before shooting is recommended."

Now, does 77D have this feature? I don't know. My cheap EOS 2000D certainly doesn't.

If you want to take a quick burst, you'll probably want an interval of 00:00:01 and then to take 30 shots. You then just delete the shots where you were walking from the camera controls to the scene.

Also, some cameras (like 2000D and EOS RP) can act as a Wi-Fi access point, allowing remote release using the Canon Android app. Then you just connect your smartphone to the camera, set up the camera (use selfie timer here so that you have time to put the phone to your pocket) and tripod, walk to the scene, use remote shutter release in the app, put the phone to the pocket during the self-timer and wait for the timer to expire. The app can show live view picture from the camera, so no tiltie-flippie LCD screen required.

If using Wi-Fi, remember to turn it off from the camera (not just from the phone!) before connecting the camera via USB to a computer, as the USB may not work with Wi-Fi enabled.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The 77D does not have an interval timer. The only Canon DSLRs that do of which I am aware are the 7D Mark II, 5D Mark IV, and possibly some of the 1-series bodies. (The 7D did not, nor did the 5D Mark III). \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jul 2, 2019 at 10:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ If the OP doesn't want to mess with the simple BR-E1 remote, what makes you think the OP would find the even more complex Wi-Fi method you have suggested acceptable? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jul 2, 2019 at 10:43

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