Great tip to speed up your focus for your videos.

Canon T2i has been discontinued, replacement is the Canon T6i: B&H | Amazon

I have already missed a ton of great video clips that passed me by because I was not focused quickly enough when shooting video on my T2i.

In this video I demonstrate Jose’s tip.

Hat tip to Jose Jesus Zaragoza on Vimeo for the time saving tip.

One of the best tips I can give you, and some people have willed their first born child to me because of this, is change your autofocus setting to Live Quick Mode. My biggest gripe with the camera was the slow focus in Live Mode, compared to the lightning quick autofocus in regular stills mode, using the camera’s mirror. Live Quick Mode uses that same method to focus, outperforming the default focusing mode. It’s easily three to four times faster. I used to find myself having so much fun taking stills because of the autofocus’ speed, and hated messing with video, until I realized I didn’t buy the camera for stills. Now I have more fun taking video since the autofocus is just as fast. Of course, this is the one-time autofocus, not a continual autofocus, but I wouldn’t want continual autofocus myself. Pulling focus is an art, but it’s a pain on your specific plastic lens.

To learn more about this see page 133 in the T2i 550d manual.

Jose watched my video and then had this to add:

Excellent, I’m glad you found this useful!

One helpful thing I’d add is that I prefer to have a single focus point, right in the center of my frame, rather than the 9 points, this is to keep the camera from guessing what you want to have in sharp focus, or having to choose the focus point each time.

I center my subject, do the focus, and then recompose the shot by panning on the tripod if I want the subject off-center. Focusing is lightning quick now compared to Live View. As with any kind of focusing, it’s not so good at night, but rocks most any other time.

Excellent job, Dave!

I then as Jose how he focused just in the center and he wrote:

Set up movie mode, and hit the button that brings up the quick menu (it’s the one that has a little blue printer sign on it).

Once you’re there, just press right (the button with the little white AF on it) and from there you can use the little dial next to ISO button to the front of the camera to cycle through automatic or manual selection and keep going until you identify the focus spot you want to keep.

Like I said, I keep it in the center focus point and just take the shot from there.

BTW, I had to fiddle around with the camera for a few minutes before I figured it out. I just knew there was a way to do it.”

I plan on doing a quick video on this as well.


  • I look forward to your next one.I love my 550D.I’m trying to make a short film,as soon as I get my head around the thing.Your videos really do help.

  • I’ll ask this, at the risk of showing just how little I know about SLRs… would it make sense to set up the camera to have a very deep depth of field when in video mode, in effect just keeping everything in focus? I realize this defeats the idea of the look many people are trying to get, but for quick candid shots it might make sense.

  • @Bill, that is a good idea. I think the trick is getting comfortable with the fstop that gives you the results you need. Like 2.8 to 4.0 perhaps.

  • My concentration is usually wildlife photography. I’ve become a HUGE fan of quick mode v. live mode due to movement (both in video and photo mode) of the animals at, which seems to be, right about the time when I’m going to snap my photo (murphy’s law of wildlife photography perhaps??)! Live mode on the T2i seems to be great for dedicated stills or video when time is on your side, but quick mode has just been fantastic and I find the results are just as good. -Chris

  • Great tip, Dave, will try it. Had to know it before I went on holiday!( although I visit yr site daily) Just did my post production in iMovie 09. Will post it on Vimeo.

  • Is there any way to use the quick mode as a continual focus, to press the shutter, while filming, to get a new focus? Or do I have to stop recording , make a new autofocus (quick mode) and then press rec again?

    Haven’t found a way to manage this…

  • I just purchased my T2i to replace my Xti. I’ve only had it for two weeks. I was really excited to get it and start recording video. But I lost some of my excitement when doing video because of the exhausting amount of settings just to do a simple recording. Then I came across your training clips. I’m now getting back on that high and your tips have been great. I even purchased the timing device you used in Vegas. The White balance tips was something I never thought about. Thanks again and I’ll be looking for more.

  • Hi Dave

    First of all, two words: Thanks (for all these useful tips) and Congratulations (for the high quality tutorials).
    The main thing to make great movies to me is switching from one focus to another (foreground to background for example), smoothly and quickly. Should I do this in Automatic mode as you showed (pressing the button) or in manual focus mode (in which case I usually get the focus slightly wrong and it does not look smooth)?

    Thanks again

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you… So my camera’s working the way it’s supposed to. I’m just an idiot. I was freaking out as to why it wouldn’t focus continuously. lol

  • Dave, great website! I learned quite a few things already about my T2i in the past 2 hours while browsing this site

    Love it, subscribing to you on youtube!

  • Hi Dave,
    I’ve discovered you last night while searching for video shooting tips on my 550D. I’ve found you and I must say this is the very best way to learn for ‘how to’ stuff.
    Right after this video I’ve tested focus with 3 dimensions, manually and with quick mode and it works!
    Must say that only problem that I have is my kit lens for now. But for learning and first shooting it satisfies my needs.

    All the best!

  • Hi Dave,

    I bought my t2i about six months ago and have been really getting into macro photography, especially of bugs and flowers. I bought a very cheap combo lens from sigma that doubles as a macro zoom which I believe is a 75-300 mm lens. However, I’m looking to invest in a canon lens that will hopefully last me forever. Assuming I just want to keep shooting basic insect photos and flowers (among other nature) what would you recommend?

    Also, should I think about converting to the 7D or 60D in order to get a better macro image quality?

    Thanks in advance for all your help! I really enjoy your videos.


  • Hi Dave,

    A simple thanks will not do, but still thanks a lot for sharing. I particularly liked the tip of the day because I was unable to figure out how to get the manual focus πŸ™‚
    I’m a regular to your site now


  • Hi Dave,
    do you know, if there is a Live Quick Mode at the EOS 650D in Video-mode, too? I do not find it and I just have3 options to choose (FaceTracking / FlexiZone Multi / FlexiZone Single). There is no Quick Mode…