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Here’s Why Canon Camera Won’t Take Pictures on Autofocus

Here’s Why Canon Camera Won’t Take Pictures on Autofocus

Autofocus is a feature of Canon digital cameras that has revolutionized the world of camera photography. Because of this nifty feature, we expect our camera to automatically and accurately focus on the subject of our pictures. Sometimes, autofocus can let us down, and we aren’t able to take the pictures we need. Why does this problem happen, and how can we fix it to get the pictures we need?

Autofocus issues can happen if your camera or lens is on manual focus or if the subject is too close. Sometimes, it could be because you aren’t selecting the correct focus point or if there isn’t enough contrast or light. Sometimes, autofocus pictures fail because you aren’t choosing the appropriate mode. 

So, if you are facing issues using autofocus mode, you need to try our troubleshooting tips below. They will help you identify what exactly is wrong with the camera so that you can take better pictures with the autofocus mode. Keep reading this article to learn more about the issues you can face while using autofocus mode. 

Why Can’t My Canon Camera Take Pictures On Autofocus?

Autofocus mode is, by definition, an automatic mode. While it is incredibly effective, there are times when autofocus can struggle. Below, we’ve gone through the many reasons why your camera isn’t working correctly when it is on autofocus. 

Camera Focus Is On Manual 

When you are using your camera, you will see that there is a focus selection switch. This allows you to switch between manual and automatic focus. It’s possible to switch between them accidentally. The camera interprets any one of your lenses or camera is on manual focus as a manual focus selection. Therefore, always make sure that they are compatible and on autofocus mode. 

Photo: Canon

The Lens Is For Manual Focus

Although it’s more common to find a lens that can autofocus now, this was not always the case. An older lens is typically set to work with cameras on manual focus, which is why they will revert to manual focus when you use them. This loses your ability to autofocus on subjects. So switch them out for a compatible lens. Although you could also try using an adapter that allows autofocus, they can be pretty expensive.

Related: 5 Best Flashes for the Canon 6D

Your Subject Is Too Close

Sometimes, a Canon camera can struggle to autofocus. This might be because the subject is too close for the camera to be still able to focus. There is a certain distance the subject needs to be from the lens with every lens to get the correct focus. Some cameras also have a macro mode, which helps improve the focus distance. 

A macro lens is also an excellent option to consider if you want to get a close-up image of your subject. However, with the macro mode, you can take pictures of subjects from much closer. When you switch off macro mode, you can focus quicker and better.

Incorrect Focus Point

Some Canon cameras come with a fully automatic mode. In this mode, you can use the area selection mode. The camera will choose where you need to focus, and what the camera chooses might be different than your intended subject. 

If you are using manual selection, you need to point precisely at the subject and focus on it. To choose the correct focus point, we recommend that you manually select the focus point for the best possible results. 

Too Little Contrast Or Light

A common issue that you might face when using an autofocus mode is that the camera cannot detect enough contrast. The way that most Canon cameras work is that they identify subjects and backgrounds with contrast. The more contrast there is, the better you can identify the edges of the subject. This is what gives you the clarity and sharpness that the autofocus mode brings to the table. 

Photo: Canon

In order to focus correctly on the subject, you need a more robust lens and to make sure that the lens is clean. The solution, in this case, is to put the subject in reasonably strong contrast with the background. That will give you the clean edges that you need to focus on the subject. You can also run into this issue if there is light from another source coming in from behind the subject. This, once again, affects the contrast and makes the lines of the subject blurry. 

Related: What to Do When a Canon Camera Won’t Read an SD Card?

You Are Using The Wrong Autofocus Mode

If you are new to the world of photography, you might not know that there are actually multiple ways of using autofocus mode. Some are more effective than others. For example, single-shot autofocus mode is what you use when you capture an image. In most cases, this will work effectively, and the focus stays in one place because, well, it’s one single image.

However, if you are using continuous autofocus, you might run into some issues. Every time the frame moves, the camera adjusts the autofocus again. This can work smoothly in stable conditions, but the autofocus can jump around randomly if the subject is moving or your frame isn’t stable.

However, the focus is more likely to be better and sharper because there is no delay. But remember, autofocus is not perfect. It’s just your camera trying to interpret the image and deciding what it should focus on. There are always chances the focus won’t go as you plan. 


When it comes to understanding autofocus mode, the best way to go about it is to experiment. Your Canon camera is capable of doing a lot of things that you might not even expect, and autofocus is just the tip of the iceberg. However, if at any point you come across issues with autofocus mode, you can always try troubleshooting and talking to Canon customer support.