R5; How To Select Single Focal Point While Using Viewfinder

I purchased my R5 in June of 2023. From the very first I've been frustrated with trying to find a way to select a single focal point without having any other points go active.
I've seen numerous discussions on various threads regarding others having the same frustration.
Today was my third call to Canon Tech support regarding this issue, and how it's so different from several other models I've used for over 25 years. The other two calls they
didn't even seem to understand what I was trying to describe. The tech today showed me that the "only way" to select a single focal point was to use the touch screen to the point where I wanted the cameras to focus and then press the shutter and not use the back button focus. I told her that isn't very handy at all during a portrait shoot or wildlife moving with vegetation or other things nearby. I was ready to just dump my R5!
I talked to a good friend of mine who shoots Canon, but he's good at finding info on various issues. I knew you could select two buttons on the back of the camera to focus on different scenarios, like switching from single shot to servo mode, but nothing I'd come across mentioned that you could have a single focus point to work with. He forwarded something he found about setting up the AE button as a second focus button but it didn't specifically mention that by setting the AE button it would give you a single focal point. I went ahead and set it but fully expected it to behave as the focus button does.
I was very pleasantly surprised, excited actually when I used the AE button and only ONE FOCAL POINT to work with!!!
I just cannot understand with all the frustrations expressed the last few years since the camera came out that Canon and the three different tech agents could not tell me this!!
Not only on this issue but my experience with Canon tech support is that they have truly gone downhill in the last few years. Especially since most work from home and don't always have access to the exact model you are calling about and they only look online just as you've probably already tried yourself.
I hope this helps someone else.

Scott Wright
 
I don’t understand. You set the camera to single point (or spot AF), and you use the joystick (or touchscreen) to move that one AF point where you want it. To focus on what’s under that point, half-press the shutter (or press AF-ON).

That’s standard Canon procedure, it’s in the R5 manual. Does that not work for you?

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No. Just to be sure I followed what you shared. Whether I half press the shutter or back button focus, I get numerous blue focal points showing. Short of having a human face, or animal, with an eye showing fully, I can never seem to have just one focal point to work with to get the sharpest image with a wide aperture.
I purchased my R5 in June of 2023. From the very first I've been frustrated with trying to find a way to select a single focal point without having any other points go active.
I've seen numerous discussions on various threads regarding others having the same frustration.
Today was my third call to Canon Tech support regarding this issue, and how it's so different from several other models I've used for over 25 years. The other two calls they
didn't even seem to understand what I was trying to describe. The tech today showed me that the "only way" to select a single focal point was to use the touch screen to the point where I wanted the cameras to focus and then press the shutter and not use the back button focus. I told her that isn't very handy at all during a portrait shoot or wildlife moving with vegetation or other things nearby. I was ready to just dump my R5!
I talked to a good friend of mine who shoots Canon, but he's good at finding info on various issues. I knew you could select two buttons on the back of the camera to focus on different scenarios, like switching from single shot to servo mode, but nothing I'd come across mentioned that you could have a single focus point to work with. He forwarded something he found about setting up the AE button as a second focus button but it didn't specifically mention that by setting the AE button it would give you a single focal point. I went ahead and set it but fully expected it to behave as the focus button does.
I was very pleasantly surprised, excited actually when I used the AE button and only ONE FOCAL POINT to work with!!!
I just cannot understand with all the frustrations expressed the last few years since the camera came out that Canon and the three different tech agents could not tell me this!!
Not only on this issue but my experience with Canon tech support is that they have truly gone downhill in the last few years. Especially since most work from home and don't always have access to the exact model you are calling about and they only look online just as you've probably already tried yourself.
I hope this helps someone else.

Scott Wright
No it doesn’t work this way. To be sure I followed what you shared. I attached a few quick pictures taken with my phone to demonstrate. In the first image it shows where rarely I get a large blue square showing a focus selection. The vast majority of the time I get the second image. I’m trying to focus on the group of pictures but then I get all those blue focus points dancing around and know way to really control them. I’ve tried every single focus method with the same results.
The last image shows using the *, or AE button to focus. I first place the white square where I want to focus and then press AE button to get lock and it turns green. The same thing happens when you use the touch screen.
So, maybe I’m missing something, like many others?
Scott
 

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Blue AF points/boxes mean you’re in Servo mode, so the camera will start focusing at your selected AF point but then track movement (or try, even if there’s no movement). That’s why you see blue boxes jumping around.

You need to be in One Shot AF for single point selection to work (that’s the first menu choice, AF operation, on the AF1 menu pictured above). One Shot turns the AF point green if focus is achieved (or red if it can’t be).

What’s happening is your AE Lock AF is set to One Shot, while your main AF operation is set to Servo. Many people do choose to configure it that way. Personally, I use C1 for static subjects (One Shot), C2 for moving subjects (Servo, human eye priority and 1/250 s shutter), and C3 for fast moving subjects (Servo, animal eye priority, 1/2500 s shutter), and I use the M.Fn button to quickly switch between them (available modes restricted).
 
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I have heard a couple times that blue means servo mode is selected but I attached images showing that I’m in one shot unless there is somewhere else that would indicate I’m in service mode.
Totally confused what is going on.
 

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I just realized that my AF on button was set to servo mode. I set it to one shot but it is still behaving like servo as far as not being able to select with a single focal point as I can with the AE button.
So, what is the difference? That is, why does the AE button have one focal point and the AF has several points?
In the customization menu I tried all options for AF method and I still get the same result.
 
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Blue AF points/boxes mean you’re in Servo mode, so the camera will start focusing at your selected AF point but then track movement (or try, even if there’s no movement). That’s why you see blue boxes jumping around.

You need to be in One Shot AF for single point selection to work (that’s the first menu choice, AF operation, on the AF1 menu pictured above). One Shot turns the AF point green if focus is achieved (or red if it can’t be).

What’s happening is your AE Lock AF is set to One Shot, while your main AF operation is set to Servo. Many people do choose to configure it that way. Personally, I use C1 for static subjects (One Shot), C2 for moving subjects (Servo, human eye priority and 1/250 s shutter), and C3 for fast moving subjects (Servo, animal eye priority, 1/2500 s shutter), and I use the M.Fn button to quickly switch between them (available modes restricted).
I appreciate the help and suggestion in using C1-3. Yet, as I replied I just can’t seem to get both back buttons to act the same even though I think I have everything the same on each at the moment, although won’t leave it that way if I can figure this out.
I attached some more of what I’m getting between the two buttons.
Perhaps you can send me a shot of your customization selection for your AF on button to get a single focal point?
Thanks for all the help.
Scott
 

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Static subjects:
View attachment 211899

View attachment 211901

Moving subjects:
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View attachment 211900

For the second one, the blue box started over the 2x marking but quickly expanded to enclose the whole 2x TC.
I don’t know if your R3 is a slightly different focusing system but your menu is a little different. I attached what I think is comparable settings you show for static shots?
Yet, I still usually get multiple focus points and maybe one in five or six attempts I’ll see a single point where as using the AE button provides only the single point.
Just not sure what’s going on unless I need to send it to CPS to get it checked?
 

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I don’t know if your R3 is a slightly different focusing system but your menu is a little different. I attached what I think is comparable settings you show for static shots?
Yet, I still usually get multiple focus points and maybe one in five or six attempts I’ll see a single point where as using the AE button provides only the single point.
Just not sure what’s going on unless I need to send it to CPS to get it checked?
Maybe it's an R5 quirk, I had the R and have the R8 and and both give me a single AF point that I can move where I want it (though it's much easier to use the Smart Controller on the R3 than the upper right quadrant of the touchscreen as I did on the R and do on the R8). The One Shot setting overrides the equivalent setting on the R8 (I'm assuming the 'Subject tracking' setting on the R3 corresponds to the 'Whole area tracking Servo AF' setting on the R8, but with that ON as below I still get just the one movable white square that turns green with focus lock.

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I would try some things before sending to CPS, this is almost certainly a settings issue not a hardware problem. The first thing to try is write your current setting to a card, then reset the settings. I suspect if you call Canon that's what they'd suggest (well, the reset part – they might not bother telling you to save your current state!). If the reset restores the expected behavior in One Shot AF (single, joystick-movable white box that turns green with a half-press of the shutter), you can either rebuild your customizations until that behavior changes, or you can restore you current customizations from the card and keep trying to change AF-related settings (both in the AF menus and the custom setup menus).
 
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Maybe it's an R5 quirk, I had the R and have the R8 and and both give me a single AF point that I can move where I want it (though it's much easier to use the Smart Controller on the R3 than the upper right quadrant of the touchscreen as I did on the R and do on the R8). The One Shot setting overrides the equivalent setting on the R8 (I'm assuming the 'Subject tracking' setting on the R3 corresponds to the 'Whole area tracking Servo AF' setting on the R8, but with that ON as below I still get just the one movable white square that turns green with focus lock.

View attachment 211905

I would try some things before sending to CPS, this is almost certainly a settings issue not a hardware problem. The first thing to try is write your current setting to a card, then reset the settings. I suspect if you call Canon that's what they'd suggest (well, the reset part – they might not bother telling you to save your current state!). If the reset restores the expected behavior in One Shot AF (single, joystick-movable white box that turns green with a half-press of the shutter), you can either rebuild your customizations until that behavior changes, or you can restore you current customizations from the card and keep trying to change AF-related settings (both in the AF menus and the custom setup menus).
Thanks for that recommendation. I didn’t realize I could backup my settings to a card! Wow, wish I’d known that for times I’ve sent in my other cameras over the years.
I’ll give this a try later today and let you know.
 
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I have a few suggestions:
1) You can set the AF-ON button to "Direct AF method selection, " which allows you to quickly cycle through the AF methods to single point (or whatever you want)

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2) Better possibly for what I think you're after is set AF-ON button to "Switch to registered AF function," which allows you to select single point (or whatever you want) as the default AF mode *while you hold the AF-ON button down.
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2) Better possibly for what I think you're after is set AF-ON button to "Switch to registered AF function," which allows you to select single point (or whatever you want) as the default AF mode *while you hold the AF-ON button down.
That may already be set, but with Servo as the AF operation associated with it.

With current camera bodies, there are many (!!!) ways to customize them. People set things up one way, but there are multiple different settings that allow achieving the same goal. For example, I used to have toggling between One Shot and Servo assigned to the M.Fn2 button. Actually, though the level of customization has increased for the 5-series and lower cameras, it's always been high for the 1-series.
 
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On the R5 it is absolutely possible to have a single point, spot AF point, or Expand AF point in Servo mode, without tracking. The AF point will turn blue and stay where it is.

No One Shot needed at all, and also no button customization.

For reference, here is the relevant manual section: https://cam.start.canon/hy/C003/manual/html/UG-04_AF-Drive_0050.html

And a random Youtube video I found showing that it does work (see 3:25, you can see the settings at 3:33 top left corner: Spot AF & Servo mode):

For spot, single, or expand AF points the single point will be blue, and there will be no tracking/dancing around. If you set Zone AF the AF points will track inside the Zone. If you set "L+Tracking" it will track all around the screen.

So the R5 should only track all around the screen if you set AF mode to "L+Tracking" (or when you assign a custom button to "Eye AF").

But how "L+Tracking" looks on your screen may vary depending on how the option AF-5: "Initial Servo AF pt for L+Tracking" is set!

If it is set to "Af pt set for spot/single/expand", then it might look like you are getting a single AF point and you can move it around. But as soon as you start focusing it will track all around the screen. A tell-tale sign of this being the culprit is the larger-than-usual AF point being shown on the screen, much larger than a spot AF point.

But if you select Spot AF and use the shutter button to focus it should not do this.

It works the same way when you assign a custom button to "Switch to registered AF function", or when you assign a button to "AF-On". It does not work if you assign it to "Eye AF". But assigning custom buttons is not necessary to get this behavior.

So in summary: if you just want a fixed servo AF point: set your AF point to "Spot", "Single", or "Expand" and AF mode to Servo.
 
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Thanks for that recommendation. I didn’t realize I could backup my settings to a card! Wow, wish I’d known that for times I’ve sent in my other cameras over the years.
I’ll give this a try later today and let you know.
I just reset my camera settings and now things work as you have described!!
Thank you for your help!!

Scott Wright
 
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