Here’s a stumbling block I came across yesterday with a student: moving the focus point of the Sony A7 II. The challenge was trying to interpret the vague descriptions in a thin user manual. It was nearly impossible. Why are the features hidden and undocumented? I have no idea.

Sony A7 II Control WheelIn this case, attempting to move the focus point (the rectangle you see in the viewfinder or LCD that tells you where your camera is focusing) with the Control Wheel (the way it works with both Nikon and Canon) was bringing up the Display, ISO and the Drive Modes.

Ah, but there is a way to make use of the Control Wheel for the focus point! However, it’s buried deep into the menu structure of the Sony (what a pain!!!) and pretty much undocumented. Once you’ve set it, you may still not be happy with the procedure.

Here’s the step by step to setting it:

1. Press the Menu button on the top left of the camera.

2. Go to the Gear icon and go to Menu 6, scroll down and select Custom Key Settings

A7 II Menu

3. In the Custom Key Settings go to Menu 2

A7 II Custom Key Settings

Menu 1

4. Then, in Menu 2, select the Down Button

Sony A7 II

Menu 2

5. A Down Button menu will pop up with a lot of options

Setting the Focus Mode

6. Select Focus Settings

A7 II Focus Settings

7. Now the Focus Settings have been assigned to the Down Button

A7 II Down Button

Got that? The Custom Key Setting should say “Focus Settings.”

Now look through your viewfinder or LCD to take a photo. To move your focus point someplace other than the center of your viewfinder, first you gotta press the Down Button of the Control Wheel to move Focus Setting (to normal people that just means the Focus Point). This tells the camera you want to move the focus point. Then you can press the up, down, left and right buttons of the Control Wheel to move the Focus Point. Insane, right? Forget to press the Down Button first, you end up seeing the Display, ISO and Drive Modes again. Arrgh!

This was also brought up in a preliminary review of the Sony A7 II by Nasim Mansurov on his Photography Life blog in January. I hope this clarifies how to set this up. Life shouldn’t be so hard.

For the record, I love the size of this camera and the quality of the raw files, especially the low noise of the high ISO captures. If it weren’t for difficulty of programming without any manufacturer support (and the limited number of lenses), I might switch. But for the moment I’m sticking with my Nikons.