How to Use Focal Lock for Precise Focus

Use focal lock to ensure the right parts of your photo are in focus.

Your camera’s autofocus tool will typically focus on the center of your frame — so it’s not the most reliable tool when your subject is off-center. Focal locking allows you to select the exact spot you want in focus.

Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Pose your subject and compose your shot.

  2. Aim your camera's focal point (it will light up red in your viewfinder) at the exact spot you want to focus on. Press the shutter button down halfway.

  3. Without releasing the shutter, move your camera back to recompose the shot. Then press the button down fully to take your shot.

In your final image, the initial spot where you pressed the shutter halfway will be in focus, even though you moved the camera afterwards.

In addition to being used for off-center subjects, focal locking can be used in standard portraits for sharply focused eyes: frame your subject, pull your camera up to lock the focus on the eyes, then pull the camera back down to position your subject in the center of the frame.