You may be using a DSLR camera or a point and shoot camera. All of you would be familiar with the autofocus feature, which is present by default in all digital cameras. There are many sub-variants in this Autofocus mode. Understanding these modes can help you to achieve a faster focus on your subject depending on the photo situation. Let us see the different camera focusing modes.

Camera Focusing Modes

1. One Shot AF Mode

This is one of the autofocusing mode coming under the Autofocus feature. This mode is mainly used for focusing on stationary subjects. So, you can make use of One-Shot AF mode for portrait and Landscape photography. Most of the cameras will have this focus assigned to a sensor and user can select the focus point of his choice.

If the user has not selected the focus point then the camera will go ahead with the last used focus point to focus the subject. The camera will try to focus on the subject which is coming in front of this focus point. Certain cameras allow selecting multiple focus points in the form of groups or zones. The additional focus points are used for focus assistance.

2. AI Servo AF Mode

If you are planning to photograph a moving subject then it is better to go for AI Servo mode. So, sports photographers and wildlife photographers who wanted to capture action shots can make use of AI Servo mode for achieving focus. Here also you can either use a single point focus or a group of focus points.

Camera Focusing Mode-AI Servo Mode

Once you half-press the shutter button, the focus gets locked on the moving subject. You just have to just track the subject on the viewfinder. You can full press the shutter button to trigger the shot at the right moment. If you are making use of back button focusing then you need to press the back button for getting the focus lock and then press the shutter button for capture.

3. AI Focus AF Mode 

If you are looking for the benefits of both One-shot AF Mode and AI Servo mode then you can use the AI Focus AF mode. You can use this Autofocus mode for both stationary as well as moving subjects.

Understanding Camera Focusing Modes

Now, the question would be, If this mode can serve the purpose of both the other modes then we could use this mode for all the scenes. Yes, you can use this mode for all the scenes. Here, it comes with a small drawback of reduction in focusing speed. So, if you are looking for a slightly more faster Autofocusing then you should go with the One-Shot AF mode or AI Servo mode, depending on what you are shooting.

4. Manual Focus

Before the arrival of “Auto Focus”, it was all “Manual Focus”. If you are using a DSLR camera, you can find the AF/MF slider switch in the camera lens. the is a feature of the camera lens system. Once you have set the mode to “Manual focus” then you need to rotate the focusing ring to achieve the focus.


There are times when Autofocus fails. You will have to use “Manual focus” during these situations. It happens mostly in low lighting conditions. The autofocusing system will try to focus hunting and will never get the focus locked. It can also happen if your autofocus system is faulty. If you are using an old lens which does not come with an Auto Focus feature then you need to do it manually.

If you are doing a manual focus, I recommend using the Live View mode in your camera to ensure that you have the perfect focus lock. You need to zoom in 100 percent to the subject of interest to check whether it is focused or not.

5. Touch Screen Focus

Nowadays, most of the cameras are coming with Touchscreen focusing feature. You need to just enable the Live View mode in your camera and tap on the subject to get the focus locked. Here, you can easily change the focus by a touch. If you are using the Touchscreen facility to focus then I recommend to keep the camera on a stable surface or use a tripod to capture the image. Otherwise, you may get blurry images because of camera shake.

If you have understood the different camera focusing modes, start exploring these modes in your camera feel the difference.