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Auto focus
Face Detection
Manual focus
Is it in focus?

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Canon XF300 XF305PART 1: FOCUS

by Christina Fox

This is an extract from my training manual handed out on the courses I run on the Canon XF305 and XF300. If you haven't attended the course you will probably find it helpful to use this and the Canon manual which came with your camera.

There are quite a few different ways of focusing with the Canon XF300 and XF305. You can go manual, in two different modes of operation, or you can leave the focus on auto and use the face detection feature.

In all my other manuals I try to persuade people not to use auto focus. But, this camera has a great feature - FACE DETECTION. I have tried it on several interviews and have to say it works very well. So, maybe auto focus has finally become useful.

If you do not use face detection it will focus on what is in the centre of the screen.

THE TROUBLE WITH AUTO FOCUS ... is that it generally doesn't work well under the following conditions:

  • When the subject is not in the centre of the picture (particularly when there are moving objects in the background). However, if you turn the focus ring you can suggest where it should focus ... and hope it stays there.
  • In low light conditions
  • If there is a bright light behind the subject (e.g. a window) or when the subject is bright (e.g. a car with its headlamps on)
  • When the subject is of low contrast - walls, the sky
  • If the subject is made up of fine repetitive patterns
  • If the subject is behind vertical bars or a chain link fence
  • When another subject passes between the camera and the point of interest

So, I would only recommend auto focus if you are going to use FACE DETECTION.

  • Press the MENU button
  • Scroll to and select CAMERA SETUP menu
  • Select AF MODE
  • Select FACE AF
  • Select ON

If you point the camera at someone you should see a white box appear around their head. Even if they move around the camera will track them.

If you intend to use this feature a lot I recommend you set this function to an assign button (see below). That way you will be able to easily switch it on and off.


If there is more than one person in the shot the main face (ie largest or nearest to the camera) will have the white box. The other faces will have grey boxes around their heads.

If you want to change focus priority to one of the other faces you will have to assign one of the assign buttons to SELECT FACE.

  • Press MENU
  • Scroll to and select THE OTHER FUNCTIONS  menu
  • Select an UNASSIGNED BUTTON (eg 8)
  • Select FACE AF
  • Select another UNASSIGNED BUTTON (eg 9)
  • Select SELECT FACE

With button 8 you will be able to switch face detection on and off. While button 9 can be used to set which face is the most important in the shot. As you press button 9 you'll see the grey box turn white - so that this becomes the priority face and the camera will keep focus on that person. This could be very useful if you are doing an interview with two people and want to focus pull from one person to the other as they speak.

There are two ways to operate the focus in manual...


  • Press the PUSH button and push it in the direction of the AF/MF arrow.
  • Set the FOCUS switch to M. (manual)
  • You can now use the focusing ring to manually focus your shots
  • The focusing ring rotates infinitely. If you are used to using an infinity ring focus you may prefer to carry on working this way. Plus, you will be able to use the PUSH AF button (below) to help you focus.

manual focus switches


  • Press the PUSH button and push it in the direction of the FULL MF arrow.
  • Set the FOCUS switch to M. (manual).

This mode gives more certainty in focusing as the focus ring has definite end stops and a marked range finder that tells you the focus distance (useful if you want to use the markings for focus pulling). But, the PUSH AF button will not work in full manual mode.

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In High Definition focus is very critical, so there are three  features to help you ensure focus is correct:

1.) The PUSH AF button. This switches the camera to Auto Focus while you push it. The best way to make use of it is to zoom in as close as you can to the point of interest (eg your interviewee's face). Press the PUSH AF button to find focus. Once you see the image is in focus, stop pushing and then frame your shot.

2.) The MAGN button (assign buttons 6 and 7). The camera will zoom the picture in (ie magnify it) to help you check focus.

3.) PEAKING works by emphasising sharp edges by giving them a little added zing in the viewfinder or LCD screen. Peaking clings to sharp edges to emphasise they are in focus. The peaking on/off function is assigned to button 2 - but you can reassign it to another button if you prefer.

You may also want to change the way peaking looks.

  • Press the MENU button
  • Scroll to and select LCD/VF SETUP  menu
  • Select SELECT
  • Select PEAKING 1

Stay in the LCD/VF SETUP  menu

  • Select PEAKING 1
  • Change the COLOUR to RED

Peaking comes in four colours (red, blue, white or yellow). I recommend you set peaking to RED as it makes it easier to see.

© 2000 - 2010

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Christina Fox