Has Your Canon 7D Had Auto-Focus Problems?

After having sent my 7D in to Canon Canada 5 times now, and having them tell me every single time that there is no issue with the camera, and that this is the first they've ever heard of an AF issue with some subset of 7Ds, I've decided to start tracking all of the problem threads and people who both have experienced this issue and returned a camera to Canon service anywhere in the world for it.

My camera had a very real front-focusing AF issue as evidenced by this side-by-side comparison image, using centre-point, one shot, single point AF:

I could shoot the same tree from 10 feet all day and end up with the same out of focus image.

The second body, a loaner 7D from the CPS pool produced the second image using the same lens, on a tripod, in very bright daylight. (ISO 100, f/1.2, 1/2500s).

At least in Canada, there is only one product specialist for the 7D in Mississauga it seems, so if more than one person has sent a 7D in for this problem, and probably more than once, it would suggest that Canon knows more than they are saying.

If you've had AF-related issues with your 7D and have a case to make, please sign the petition

This issue seems to affect a small number of 7Ds, so the assumption is most work absolutely fine. If yours works great, and you've never had an issue, happy shooting, but I'm mostly interested in people who have similar issues and have also sent their camera in to Canon service.

If there are enough people who report similar issues I will try and come up with a better way to organize and track this data.

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  • Jacob

    I, along with my entire staff, received Canon 7D's and we all have had focus issues. This is the worse camera that I have ever owned. I want to throw it against a wall every time that view the images it takes. Everyone that I know that has owned a 7D has had issues. One person even switched to Nikon because the problem drove him nuts. I am dumbfounded that Canon refuses to admit that they put out a poor product.

  • Joet

    I have heard of many who have this same problem. I have found that all are doing the same thing. There are videos out that explain simply why you are having this issue. It is NOT the cameras fault... Do some Google searching for videos like "Canon EOS 7D Training DVD 1 and 2... They are very good and will explain why you are getting these pictures..

  • L Ooi

     Can you provide links please?

  • Tami1215

    I got my 7D in March 2011.  It has been sent back to Canon in Mississauga (Ontario) twice.  Each time I get it back, it is worse than the previous time.  It has been tested not only by myself but Henry's staff as well.  When I send the body in, I include my lenses and a dvd of example images.  The first time Canon said they "adjusted the focus, cleaned the sensor, updated firmware".  The second time they said "no issues found".  I'm wondering if they even looked at it.  The camera can not take a sharp image.  The best I get is a front focused image but that is about 1 in 16.  Otherwise, they look like the 1st shot on this post - like you're shooting through plastic wrap.  My T1i takes sharp pictures with the same lenses (50mm 1.4, 10-22mm, and 24-105mm f4L) at the same settings. I'm at a loss.  I'm just so frustrated. 

  • Btrial

    just got my 7d about 2weeks. taking pic. outside sunny day is beautiful. but inside
    was more like hit, miss.........mis.......... will send my back before 30days. will take the restocking fee lost. I had it.

  • Leonard Morey

    My camera is so hit and misss I always take 4-5 shots hoping to get one perfect one

  • Gslabbert5119

    Sent my 7D into Canon twice so far and it is going back for the 3rd time. It continues to give me oof images and I shoot professionally. Sent the camera into Canon CPS in CA

  • adri8n

    Good luck, I'm assuming that's CA as in California?

    Keep us posted!

  • L Ooi

    I too am frustrated with my 7D.  It's already out of warranty, but it's still under repair warranty.  I've sent it back to Canon 3 times already, got it back the 3rd time from about a couple of weeks ago.  I blogged about mine here - http://blackismyfav.blogspo....  You can see the side by side images taken with a tripod, mirror lockup, remote shutter release, center AF point, Manual, same lighting, same everything, and all images were different.  Canon said that was completely normal, I'd say it's only normal if they're blind.  The first time I sent my camera to Newport News, VA, second time, I sent it to the same place, but they shipped it to Irvine, CA instead, saying that there was no one with the expertise available at that time in VA to fix my problem.  The third time, I asked them to send me a label to their NJ location, they did.  Each time, they came back and said the AF adjustment was wrong.  How many times could they have adjusted it wrong themselves and readjusted it to another wrong setting again?!  I'm so sick of Canon right now, I haven't tested my camera yet with controlled testing since I got it back the 3rd time.  I took it with me to vacation last week, used one of the 50mm's I sent into Canon, it was backfocusing by quite a bit.  Very very sick of this, I will sign the petition.

  • I'm glad you've taken this up as a personal project. Canon must know more than they are admitting and are probably hoping to buy enough time until they release the 5D3 or an update to the 7D before they admit anything. They probably hope that by doing things this way the publicity backlash will be overshadowed by the media hype of the new models.

    Unfortunately it leaves a sour taste in too many people's mouths and wallets...sort of like 1987 when they changed lens mounts, pissed a lot of fans off and saw a mass migration to Nikon. I wonder how long Canon can continue to depend on their Rebel consumer base to be the foundation of their SLR market.

    The camera market has been rapidly evolving in front of their eyes and they are always one step behind. Notwithstanding great lenses, with the poor customer service you've found from their (premium) CPS program, it's probably a good thing for Canon's future that they also sell photocopiers and printers.

  • Craig B Clements

    My big breakthrough after almost a year of blurry inconsistent focusing problems was when I found out about the miracle "placebo effect" hard reset cure. Who would have thought that removing the clock battery for a period of time would give me the tack sharp focusing that I always dreamed about. It is like getting a whole new set of lenses that actually work. I just wish that I had found out about the fix sooner, before I sold some of my other lenses. There is always that arrogant thinking on the forums that blames the photographer for being in over his head with his new camera, and there is a learning curve for sure, but the hard reset
    fix cut through all of that for me.  I thank the person who came up with this fix and had to put up with all of those self-appointed experts who said that it couldn't work and was just their imagination that was making their focus problems go away.

  • adri8n

    That's great, I know a bunch of people have had success with the hard reset.
    Unfortunately, no luck for me.

  • Alex M Souza

    Hello, Adrian
    I use a 7D + 400m f5.6L for birds in flight. No problems with Ai Servo AF.

  • I had two 7d's purchased nearly a year apart from different vendors. Neither one would track objects moving towards or away from the camera in servo mode very well. Lateral movement was fine. I shoot center point with surround assist and had adjusted the focus sensitivities every which way with little effect. Both bodies were returned to CPS for adjustment and they indicated that the cameras were in spec. The only suggestion that they offered was to send the bodies back with my lenses. As these lenses, including a 70-200 f2.8 IS, 300 f2.8, 400 f2.8, 24-105 L, etc. focused just fine on my other bodies including a 1dmkII, 5d, and 1dmkIII, it was unlikely that the lenses were at fault.

    My impression is that there is a problem with the lens/body interface or perhaps the tracking algorithm itself. This manifested in oof pictures typically taken in bursts. The first one might be in focus with subsequent images of the sequence in various focus/oof combinations.

  • adri8n

    Are you in Canada? Where did you get them serviced?

    So what has been the outcome? Do you still have them and they aren't working?

  • Adam

    Nope, I returned one and sold the other.  They were serviced by Canon Professional Services in the US and both came back as being "in spec".  Again, I dont know whether it is a problem with the 7d AF system or the lens/7d interface.  Yet, the problem is real and it affects not only AI servo shooting in burst mode but single shots as well.  Even in single shot mode, pointed at a stationary target, I found too much variability in the 7d's AF.  As part of an experiment, manually turn the lens to infinity and then using single shot mode point the 7d at a target.  After taking a picture, turn the lens back to infinity and repeat the process again a couple of times.  You'll be surprised at the variablility in focus planes - much more as compared to my other bodies.

  • adri8n

    Irvine, or elsewhere?

    I haven't even gotten to testing Servo. Couldn't shoot static, non-moving targets consistently, just like you described, so I was skeptical that it could track moving objects. Will try with the new body.

    I've never seen the type of variability in focal planes with a 50D, 5D or 5D2.

    So what do you shoot with now?

  • CPS has a center in Virginia.  When the 7d nails focus it produces pleasant images, although I was seemingly unable to make either body focus consistently.  As I described the AF issues were primarily those of consistency with L lenses including 24-105, 70-200 f2.8 IS, 300 f2.8, 400 f 2.8, 400 f 5.6, etc.  In single, center AFP with assist in single shot mode shooting at static targets, I would get vastly different AF planes aiming and repeatedly shooting at the same subject.  In Servo mode shooting at objects moving lateral to the sensor, the camera would focus reasonably well.  With objects moving towards the sensor, some images in a sequence would be in focus, others oof with no apparent explanation.  The AF points and subjects weren't changing it was as though the camera had great difficulty tracking accurately.  This occurred indoors, outdoors and under various lighting shooting a variety of sports.  AF adjustments made no difference.

    I shoot with a 1dmkII, 1dmkIII, and 5d.  None of these bodies exhibit these AF inconsistencies using the same lenses.

  • I use my 7D, only acquired in Dec 10, as an upgrade to a 40D, for quite a lot of sport, motorsports including racing, F1 etc, superbikes, cycling, rugby, cricket and general press photography, I don't use a particularly fast lens a Canon 28-300 L IS USM and I have had virtually no problem with the AF.

    Issues tend to be user error, too slow a shutter speed for Superbikes, panning not spot on that sort of thing, but AF has been very good.

    I do use back button focussing if that help.

    My Flickr stream is http://www.flickr.com/photo... have a sniff.

  • adri8n

    That's great! And I know from seeing photos and watching forums that most 7Ds have no problem at all. That just wasn't my experience, and hasn't been some others as well.

    The problem is, when it doesn't work, trying to get it fixed is very difficult.

    Glad yours works for you, will check out your stream!

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