Back-Button Focusing

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by larry_g|4, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. I just learned about back-button focusing and am interested in anyone's experience with using this technique. Do you find it advantageous over regular auto focus for landscape images? I use both a D7000 and D80. Thanks. Larry
  2. All of my professional wildlife photographer friends use back button focusing and recommend it to others. It takes a little getting used to, but once converted, you'll probably not change, including for landscape, since it makes focus and recomposing much easier. Go for it.
  3. I use the back button most of the time. I find it more convenient than the shutter release since you don't have to worry about the focus changing with the shutter release. I only use the central focus point and recompose after focussing.
  4. I use it for action photos, where it's easier to keep continuous AF going and firing away. In all other instances, I do not use it a lot. I do not see any advantages for landscape work, to be honest.
    But I also am no great fan of focus-and-recompose; it only really works properly when the objects are sperical around you (if they are in one plane, the distance will change as you turn - maybe not by a whole lot, but still). When using AF, I prefer to use the outer focus points over focus-and-recompose.
    Note that on the D7000 you can configure the behaviour of shutter release (focus priority, release priority). I do not recall for the D80 if that's possible.
    Why not try it for a while, and see if it works for you? Whatever I and any other person say here, what works for us may not work for you. This is mostly a preference about ergonomics, and that tends to be a personal preference more than anything else.
  5. Since I started using it a few years ago, I have not gone back to shutter-release focussing.
    I like it for all kinds of photography because it gives me the best of both worlds. By leaving the camera set on "continuous autofocus" I can track a moving subject by keeping my thumb pinned to the button, or I can focus and recompose as if I were in "single-servo" mode.
    The only down side is if I give someone else the camera (rarely happens) and have to explain it to them.
  6. Just one question... what is it?
  7. Steve, it refers to back button focusing.
  8. Use it all the time, can't live without it anymore. Often called AF-On in Nikon speak as that's the name of the button :)
  9. Hi All, thanks for your input. I suspected that back button focusing would get many votes.
    Now for dumb, elementary, important questions: After I press the back button, am I able to use the multiselector to choose the area on the frame on which to focus? After pressing the shutter, does the focus remain locked for the next image until I press the back button for the second time? I assume I cancel the focus setting by pressing the back button again, yes?
    Thanks for entertaining such basic questions. Larry
  10. The AF-On button has no memory. So, no to yes.
    When you press the button the af-system activates and does what your other setting guide it to do. One of the advantages here is that when you stop pressing that button focusing stops too.
    Usually you choose the focus point or area before you start the focusing function with the AF-On button. There are a lot of focusing related opitons with D7000.
  11. Just some more info on the use of af-on.
    While pressing the af-on button it is focusing. The shutter release works independently from focusing.
    So you can shoot images both while focusing or while not focusing.

    For landscape images you will likely press af-on to focus on something specific. Then release AF-On. Compose your image and then you can shoot however many images you like without refocusing.
    On cameras where you don't have a dedicated AF-On button you can use another button, usually the AE-L/AF-L which is the autoexposure lock. This is usually a menu setting.
    Most common is to set the camera in AF-C mode which means that the camera will focus continuously as long as you're pressing the AF-On button, even if it is focused already. The default setting is that AF-C indirectly means that you can fire the camera even without it being in focus. This is called release priority, meaning you can release the shutter even if not in focus. On more advanced cameras you can change this behavior.
    But to get you started set the AE-L/AF-L to AF-On in the menu. Then set the focus mode to AF-C and you should be ready to go.
  12. Before I started to use AF-On I had to switch to manual focus every time I didn't want to refocus.
    So on a tripod shooting a stationery subject I would have to move the camera so I could find the spot where I wanted the focus (the selectable focus points are seldom exactly where you want to focus). Then half-press the shutter to focus and while pressing switching to manual focus. Let go of the shutter, recompose and tighten down the head. Then take a number of shots perhaps fine tuning the exposure.
    Then if I wanted to refocus on something else I had to unlock the head, set it to AF, point at the spot to focus, half-press the shutter, switch to manual focus, recompose and lock down the head and the fire with the shutter release cable.
    With AF-On I could stop switching back and forward between manual and autofocus. And it was also better when shooting other type of subjects.
    The only thing that was a learning curve was to program the thumb to focus. I forgot a bunch of times and shot something out of focus. Now it muscle memory so I never think about it.
    PS. Don't forget that you can use live mode on the D7000 to compose and set focus very easily. Especially with AF-S lenses since the only thing you have to do is turn the focus ring. When focus is good you can just fire the shutter and the camera won't refocus.
  13. @ Larry
    Depending on the Nikon camera model you may have another button just aside (called AE/AF lock) that you can set to focus and keep the camera focused, either during the time you hold the button or till you press it again (obviously this only works for AF-S).
    Some other brands may call this button AF-L/AE-L and may offer the same facilities or not.
    I use back button focusing all the time for my nature, birds in flight, landscapes and granddaughter photos on my D 300s, D 700 and D 600 cameras. Pete has explained why. The link above provides a great explanation of it for both Nikon and Canon shooters.
    Joe Smith
  15. I am still not able to get this:
    When you use shutter button to AF, you focus and then press the button to take the picture.
    When you use AF on button to AF, you focus and then press the shutter button to take the picture.
    What's the benefit?
  16. I am still not able to get this:
    When you use shutter button to AF, you focus and then press the button to take the picture.
    When you use AF on button to AF, you focus and then press the shutter button to take the picture.
    What's the benefit?​
    The benefits are a higher level of control over autofocus and increased speed in different situations. Read the info in this thread as well as the link above. If it after reading doesn't become obvious why, then there is likely no benefit for you and the photography you do.

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