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Back-Button Focusing

Larry Greenbaum , Jan 21, 2013; 01:37 p.m.

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


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Steve Henry , Jan 21, 2013; 01:41 p.m.

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.

Keith Gierman , Jan 21, 2013; 02:18 p.m.

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.

Wouter Willemse , Jan 21, 2013; 02:48 p.m.

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.

Warren Wilson , Jan 21, 2013; 03:21 p.m.

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.

Steve Smith , Jan 21, 2013; 04:30 p.m.

Just one question... what is it?

Larry Greenbaum , Jan 21, 2013; 04:33 p.m.

Steve, it refers to back button focusing.

Pete S. , Jan 21, 2013; 04:38 p.m.

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 :-)

Larry Greenbaum , Jan 21, 2013; 04:39 p.m.

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

Kari Oinonen , Jan 21, 2013; 04:57 p.m.

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.

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