How to Change the Autofocus Mode on a Canon EOS 60D - dummies

How to Change the Autofocus Mode on a Canon EOS 60D

By Julie Adair King, Robert Correll

Your Canon EOS 60D offers three different autofocusing schemes, which you select through the AF mode control (not to be confused with Live View AF Mode). The three choices work like so:

  • One-Shot: In this mode, which is geared towards shooting stationary subjects, the camera locks focus when you press the shutter button halfway. Focus remains locked as long as you hold the shutter button at that halfway position.

  • AI Servo: In this mode, the camera adjusts focus continually as needed from when you press the shutter button halfway to the time you take the picture. This mode is designed to make focusing on moving objects easier.

    For AI Servo to work properly, you must reframe as needed to keep your subject under the active autofocus point if you’re working in Manual AF Point Selection mode. If the camera is set to Automatic AF Point Selection, the camera initially bases focus on the center focus point. If the subject moves away from the point, focus should still be okay as long as you keep the subject within the area covered by one of the other nine autofocus points.

    In either case, the green focus dot in the viewfinder blinks rapidly if the camera isn’t tracking focus successfully. If all is going well, the focus dot doesn’t light up, nor do you hear the beep that normally sounds when focus is achieved. (You can hear the autofocus motor whirring a little when the camera adjusts focus.)

  • AI Focus: This mode automatically switches the camera from One-Shot to AI Servo as needed. When you first press the shutter button halfway, focus is locked on the active autofocus point (or points), as usual in One-Shot mode. If the subject moves, the camera shifts into AI Servo mode and adjusts focus as it thinks is warranted.

Which of these three autofocus modes is available to you depends on the exposure mode:

  • P, Tv, Av, M, B, and C modes: You can select any of the three AF mode options.

  • Portrait, Landscape, Night Portrait, and Close-Up modes: The camera restricts you to One-Shot mode.

  • Sports mode: The camera always uses AI Servo autofocus.

  • Full Auto, Creative Auto, and No Flash modes: These modes always use AI Focus.

    AI stands for artificial intelligence, if that helps.

So, assuming that you’re using an exposure mode that enables you to choose from all three AF modes, which one is best? Here’s our take: One-Shot mode works best for shooting still subjects, and AI Servo is the right choice for moving subjects. If you’re just getting used to your camera and feeling overwhelmed with all its features, you may want to stick with AI Focus until you’re ready to take more control. AI Focus does a good job in most cases of making that shift for you and saves you the trouble of having to think about adjusting one more setting between shots.

Whatever your decision, you can set the AF mode in two ways:

  • Quick Control screen: Display the Shooting Settings screen (just press the shutter button halfway and release it). Then press the Quick Control button and use the multicontroller to highlight the icon. The selected AF mode setting appears at the bottom of the screen. Rotate the Quick Control or Main dial to cycle through the three mode options.


    If you prefer, you can press Set after highlighting the AF mode icon to display the screen shown on the right, where all the mode choices appear. Then use the multicontroller or the Quick Control or Main dial to highlight your choice and press Set again.

    Pressing Set to show all the choices for each setting is a great way to become familiar with all the settings. This method is also the most cumbersome and time-consuming of the three ways to change settings using the Quick Control screen.

  • AF button: Don’t forget about this button. It’s on top of the camera, in front of the LCD panel, right beside the Drive button. Press it to go directly to the screen shown on the right. Select your choice and press Set.