What Are Focus Points In Digital Photography

You pick up your camera with a primary objective of taking a picture of your subject. First of all, you’ll want to ensure that your subject is in focus before you take a picture. Conventionally, DSLR cameras a configured in such a way that when you press the shutter button halfway down, the camera locks focus on the subject and when you press the shutter button way down, the image is captured. This method of acquiring¬†focus is a pretty standard method except the camera is otherwise configured.

Acquiring Focus

What Are Focus Points?

Let’s assume we’re using the conventional method I mentioned earlier whereby you pick up your camera and press the shutter button half-way down to acquire focus; the moment you look into the viewfinder you’ll see some black dots which become red when the focus is locked (depending on the camera model). These dots are called Focus Points. As photographers, we make use of focus points to draw the attention of the viewer to a part of the scene which we want them to look at. A typical example is the image of my Graphic Tablet sitting next to my laptop on my office desk. The focus was on the pen which threw every other aspect of the scene out of focus.

Graphic Tablet

Selecting Focus Points.

When it comes to selecting focus points, we could either let the camera do this for us automatically or we take control of what should be in focus and do it ourselves. Having a camera in Autofocus mode has an obvious disadvantage, which is; the camera may decide to lock focus on a different point within the scene which could be totally different from what we want… Here’s an example.

Phone Display


I had the camera set on autofocus and wanted the Vimeo thumbnail to be in focus but the camera selected the facebook thumbnail.

So this is a summary of what focus points are in Digital Photography. I tried to make it as simple as possible to understand. Let me know in the comments section if I missed out on any point or If you have thoughts to share.



Join over 1,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current:


Author: Forte

Nigerian Wedding, Beauty, Portraits And Fashion Photographer | Cinematographer | 3D Animator | Motion Graphic Artist | Graphic And Web Designer

Leave a Reply