What should I expect with 7D + 70-200 IS II re: autofocus?

I'm relatively new to SLRs, starting with the t2i + kit lens several years ago and migrating to the 7D about a year ago. I've loved the 70-200 IS II for the same reasons as everyone.

I love action photography but have found the camera misses autofocus on about half my shots when the subject is rapidly approaching the lens. As an example I was shooting my kid sledding on a bright but overcast day - I had all the AF points enabled, AF Servo, IS mode 2, and High frame rate. Lens wide open - was leading him a bit coming down the hill.

My question is - am I just expecting too much from the AF? Any suggestions for increasing my keeper rate?



Forgive me for not so good english :)

First of all, you should tell us, what was the shutter speed that you had in given conditions.

Next, I am not sure from what direction you were shooting. If your kid was sledding directly towards you, I think you should put IS mode to 1, not 2, so that stabilization could compensate for vertical and horizontal movements. 2 is for panning, so that compensation is not affecting horizantal movement.


Change the AF to: single point / point expansion / zone mode.
I use point expansion (with center point selected) most of the time when chasing moving subjects.
I shoot with a 7D and 70-200 2.8 IS II frequently. It has been a great combo for basketball and football.

There are a few reasons your photos could be blurry, and it's totally normal to end up with a fair amount of blurry photos when shooting action. The key is knowing why they're blurry and having a good amount of focused images to choose from.

I'd imagine that shooting on a bright, sunny day, you can close down your aperture a good deal to f8 or so. This will help eliminate any sort of depth-of-field blurriness as long as the focus is close. I'm usually always at 2.8 indoors or at night, but action at 2.8 is tricky.

I have the AF set to the center point and just leave it at that. I'll use AI servo most of the time, but sometimes I'll switch to manual focus.

Your shutter speed needs to be pretty high too - usually 1500 0r 2000 or higher depending on several variables. Sometimes you can get lucky with a slower shutter, but it's tricky. If you're following the subject and they stay about the same distance from you, you can drop down the shutter speed to put some motion blur on the background.

Post some photos if you'd like - it's usually easier to tell what's up when we can see photos and camera data (ISO, shutter speed, aperture).


Sep 27, 2011
I use a 7D as well for sports and in the beginning I was looking for the "right" settings.
After I had tried several settings, I have set C1 with the settings below and I nail my shots

Picture Style - Standard (but sharpness upped to 4)

C.Fn III: Autofocus Drive
1 - AI Servo tracking Sensitivity: Set to -1
2 - AI Servo 1st/2nd img priority - Set to 0 - AF priority/Tracking Priority
3 - AI Servo Tracking Method - Set to 0 - Main Focus point priority (that way the camera focuses on what you want, not what it wants)
4 - Lens Drive when AF impossible - Set to 0
5 - AF Microadjustment - Set to 0 (Most people have said this is ineffective. Even the manual says it needs to be done on location where you are shooting to do any good.)
6 - AF area select mode - I have single point w/expansion selected and single point. Been shooting mostly on single point w/expansion for sports.
7 - AF Manual pt. selection pattern - Set to 1 (Continuous)
8 - VF display illumination - set to 1 (Enable)
9 - Display all AF points - Set to 0
10 - Focus Display in AI Servo/MF - Set to 0
11 - AF-assist beam firing - set to 2 (Enable to external flash only)
12 - Orientation linked AF point - Set to 0
13 - Mirror lockup - Set to 0 (Disable)

C.FN IV: Operations/Others

Shutter button is set to Meter only
AF-ON button is turned OFF (too easy to hit accidentally)
AE lock button (*) is set for metering and AF Start