Video: Try This to Improve the Autofocus of Your Camera and Lens

We bet you’ve never tried this trick to tune up the autofocus of your camera.

You’ve all heard about cleaning your sensor. But how many of you clean your lenses? And we’re not just talking about the front element, but what about the contacts? And what about the autofocus contacts of your camera? How many of you are too scared to do it in the same way that you’re too afraid to clean your sensor? In one of our recent episodes of Pro Camera Reviews, I decided to show how I keep my cameras working each and every time correctly. The idea behind this is one that folks rarely do. If you asked photographers to answer honestly, I’m positive that most would say that they never do it. But in this case, it’s necessary. You can watch the video below and read along for our explanation of how we do this and why.

We’d like you to think about a drain. After a while, it gets clogged. While it’s specifically meant for water, sometimes other things end up going down there. So what do you do? You clean it out. That sometimes requires getting in there and using a pipe cleaner or some sort of solution like Draino. Now, what if we told you that the contacts of your camera are similar?

The contacts of your lens and camera are little pins. They line up with one another and deliver information back and forth. But sometimes they get clogged. Even if your camera lens never leaves your camera, something is bound to get into that little area. So to keep the autofocus speedy, you need to clean too. To do that, you use a cotton swab and isopropyl alcohol. Then you rub the contacts in a gentle but effective way. Then when you connect the two, the autofocus should be good as new.

“Cleaning the contacts removes dirt, grime, dust, and anything else that can hinder the communication between the camera and the lens. With isopropyl alcohol, just use the cotton swab dipped in the alcohol and rub it into the contacts. That should take away any sort of dirt blocking the full communication.” – From Cleaning Your Camera Lenses With Isopropyl Alcohol and Purosol

So why does this happen? Well, let’s start with the fact that it’s an area that’s prone to dirt. Something is bound to get in there no matter what. Depending on the strength of the connection and how weather sealed the link is, you’ll get different results. A non-weather sealed Canon Rebel camera may suffer from this much. On the other hand, the Canon EOS R and the RF lenses have some of the best weather sealing we’ve seen in the L lineup. So we expect less variability of the autofocus with the RF mount and the right lenses.

Basically, all you need to do is use a little bit of isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab or a microfiber swab that makeup artists use. Then you rub it onto the contacts, and you’re good to go. But there are technicalities to doing this. You always want to do it with the camera or lens above you. You never want the alcohol to leak down into the sensor of the camera.