Why did I lose my auto focus? You want to read this blog!!

We have compiled a list of the TOP50 questions that we hear on our workshops. From gear, to settings, to composition, and shooting styles, we have decided to post three questions and answers a week till we get through them all.

We hope they answer some of the questions that you may have. Here is today’s question.

Question: Why did I lose my auto focus ?

Today's answer supplied by: Chris Pepper

There are many reasons why a person could lose auto focus with their camera. The first items I would be quick to check would be the AF/MF switch on my lens. The second place would be to look on the body of my camera to make sure I never switched it to manual focus. Or we could go through the whole regiment of looking through our settings in the camera menu. But these are not really the points of what I wanted to talk about today. And as a side note this effects all make and model types of cameras. The above picture of the 7D MKII was just so you could see a good image of a front mount and contacts.

The condition I'm thinking of is more like an erratic auto focus, it works, it stops working. My F stop shows F0, no wait a minute did that just say F zero?? But my lens is a F2.8 how could I get F0?? There is a logical reason for this and if its happening to you or has happened your not going to want to hear the answer.

My first step before we over react would be to gently wipe the contacts on the lens to make sure there is no condensation or dirt build up. This problem can also occur during stupid cold temperatures where a pin from the lens to body is sticking or frozen. But the number one reason is??

Remember when you went out and bought that first large lens for wildlife photography? And you were so gung ho to throw it on your camera and just start shooting. And when you bought that lens 99% of the time the person who sold it to you was happy to see walk out that door with little to no instructions. Ya he neglected to tell you something very important! That would be to never pick up your camera by the body or just hold the body when a large lens is attached. The reason for this is the added stress or weight of the lens can actually damage your camera mount. These are precision machined mounts so that the electronic pins on your lens can mount correctly to the electronic pins to the body of the camera. This helps create functions like your auto focus, image stabilization, MF/AF switch or recall focus.

I see people do this all the time and I cringe because the costs can be anywhere from 400-1000 dollars for a replacement part. Not only is there a cost factor but if you don't have a second camera and you have a trip or a paying gig coming up now you have to rent something or borrow a camera from a friend. This issue can easily be eliminated by holding the lens/body combo by the lens. Or if its a 500-800 resting the lens hood on top of your foot or the ground if you are low to the ground.

Another issue is using a longer lens and mounting the body to your tripod and not using the lens foot. Here is my guide to what is too big to mount via the body. If you can't hand hold a lens to photograph something use a tripod. If the lens comes with a foot to mount a lens to a tripod then its way to heavy to mount the body on the tripod.

And last would be to always take a large lens off a body when in transport. The stress of bouncing in a camera bag or bouncing around in a back seat can cause this to weaken as well over time. Now some of you may say I do this all the time and nothing ever happens? Well keep testing your luck, and don't cry when it happens cause it will. And when you take it back for warranty or service the phrase "Impact" will likely come up from your service rep. And the word "Impact" from a camera manufacture means please open up your wallet and let us show you the meaning on your credit card today.

Chris will be teaching our composition classes in 2016. David and him are currently working on the schedule that will be live soon. Please contact us if you want to be notified when those classes go live. 


Kevin A Pepper

Kevin is a photographer and educator based in Waterloo, Ontario. His first love is photographing nature, regardless of the season or weather condition; the Ontario landscape and its wildlife are his inspiration. But you will also see other styles of photography in his portfolio. From street photography to urban exploration of abandoned buildings and architecture, he loves to capture it all with his camera for his corporate clients and his growing personal portfolio. Kevin’s images have been featured in Canadian Nature Photographer, PHOTONews Canada, Photo Technique Magazine, The London Free Press, The Weather Network, and National Geographic Online. His diverse client list includes the City of Cambridge, Olympus, GORE Mutual, TVO, and African Lion Safari. Kevin also operates “Northof49 Photography”, a company launched in 2012 dedicated to teaching amateur photographers through International and Canadian-based workshops. In the coming year, Kevin will be leading workshops in Iceland, Mongolia, Tanzania, Venezuela, Provence, and numerous destinations across Canada. Website: www.kevinpepperphotography.com