I knew the problem was with the auto focus. First time I called the camera shop..they said "bring it in, we'll diagnose it...for about $200.) I tried a cvouple of days later...he said they would trouble shoot for free.
HOWEVER...he said to check to see that the lens was seated securely and correctly. I had taken lense off a few weeks ago and it was not reinstalled correctly. One small twist of the lens and back to perfect forcus!
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1. The viewfinder's diopter is probably out of focus (doesn't affect Auto Focus of photos). There's a dial and a +/- symbol next to the viewfinder. Turn the dial till you can see clearly through it. Alternative reason: The glass in the viewfinder is dirty/foggy. Use camera cleaning solution (a drop) on a cotton bud to clean it.
2. Malfunction needs Canon Service Centre to take a look at.
Auto Focus does not determine exposure. Only sharpness. "Wrong" exposure could be due to the metering mode being set in Spot Metering. Set it back to Evaluative Metering which may improve the overall even exposure of your shots. Test your shots in full auto or P mode. M (Manual) mode will require you to check the exposure setting manually (you can see the indicator in the viewfinder when you half-press the trigger)
Canon EOS Rebel XT / 350D does not offer Liveview shooting option which newer cameras offer. It does not have contrast based auto focus system like the ones you see on point and shoot cameras either. LCD is used to review pictures taken or navigate through the menu system. Besides, LCD on the back of the camera is so small and lack the details anyway. You are better off using the small viewfinder it offers.
This could be many things. If indoors, use higher iso setting and/or use the flash. Make sure exposure compensation is set to 0, or raise it. Use one of the automatic programs and let camera pick shutter speed and aperture. In manual mode, pay attention to exposure value in viewfinder, and avoid using higher apertures unless outdoors in bright sun (f16, f22, etc) the higher this number the less light is allowed to camera.
What mode are you shooting in? If you are in almost any mode except M(anual), the camera may not be able to lock focus once you point it a relatively dark area of the sky. See if the Focus Confirmation light in the viewfinder is flashing. If it is, the shutter will not release. See page 162 in the manual for options, and page 71 for shooting Bulb exposures.
I had this problem awhile ago - you must have accidently adjusted the focal area - it is sooooo easy to do without realising it. Here is what I was told: **************************
Most likely, you have changed the AF point, which only takes effect in the creative modes (Manual, Av, Tv, P, etc)
There should be a button on your camera that has a grid like pattern above it, like - - - - - - -
so. press that, look through the viewfinder, and move the shutter or
rear wheel, you should see the different AF points like up in red, and
as you turn different ones will light up, and eventually all of them.
also, you can look on the screen on top (or back, if its a rebel) and
it will show you which ones are selected while in that mode, instead of
looking through the viewfinder.