Back Button Focus

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Back Button Focus

Postby Chopper » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:12 am

Hi guys,

Wondering what situations back button focus is useful for? Everyday shooting or more specific situations?

Is it best used in AI servo or any drive mode?
Canon 5D MKIII, Canon 60D, 70-200 f2.8 L, 17-40 f4 L, 50 f1.8, 24-70 f2.8 L, 50 f1.4

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Re: Back Button Focus

Postby dubaiphil » Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:14 pm

I have an AF-On button on my Nikon.

I never used to use it, but then saw the light, so to speak.

I have autofocus disengaged on my shutter button now, and just focus with the back button. It allows better workflow for me, as in I have two modes of focus under my thumb at any one point in time.

Either, I focus using a cross point and then release the thumb and recompose (quicker than selecting a focus point manually)
Or, keep the thumb held down for continual tracking
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Re: Back Button Focus

Postby Chopper » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:58 pm

Thanks dubaiphil,

guess it's a matter of practice and getting used to it.

Anyone else have an opinion?
Canon 5D MKIII, Canon 60D, 70-200 f2.8 L, 17-40 f4 L, 50 f1.8, 24-70 f2.8 L, 50 f1.4

http://www.flickr.com/photos/55078072@N06/
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Re: Back Button Focus

Postby Plymer » Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:40 pm

It took about 2 weeks of being frustrated with my XSi and losing focus lock after moving my finger minutely off the half-press position for me to look into BBF... I haven't looked back. The first thing I do when a new camera comes out of the box is disable AF on the shutter button. Especially with the focus and recompose technique, shooting and focusing are two separate actions and they deserve their own buttons.

And if you're using AI Servo/Continuous AF it really is the only way to operate. Some cameras even have a built-in toggle between One-Shot and Servo (7D, 5DIII, etc.) which allows the ultimate flexibility.
Canon EOS 5D MkII | Canon EOS 7D | Canon Digital Rebel XSi | EF 35mm f/1.4L | EF 50mm f/1.8 II | EF 85mm f/1.8 | EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM | EF 135mm f/2L | EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS | 580EX II | LumoPro LP-120

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Re: Back Button Focus

Postby pierovera » Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:46 pm

Well I guess using the back focus button is a better alternative than what I use for focusing and recomposing, that is focusing, switching the lens to manual focusing and then shooting.
I agree with Plymer, focusing and shooting do deserve their own buttons, but sometimes it is a nice thing to be able to focus with the shutter button, especially when you don't have much time to focus, compose and then shoot, for example, shooting wildlife.
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Re: Back Button Focus

Postby Chopper » Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:04 pm

Thanks for your help guys. So please correct me if I'm wrong here (I'd love to try myself but unfortunately my camera is back with Canon for a warranty repair), but if I'm in AI Servo, shooting in continuous mode- if my thumb is on the back button focus button it will continuously track my subject leaving me to close the shutter when I'm ready?
Canon 5D MKIII, Canon 60D, 70-200 f2.8 L, 17-40 f4 L, 50 f1.8, 24-70 f2.8 L, 50 f1.4

http://www.flickr.com/photos/55078072@N06/
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Re: Back Button Focus

Postby pierovera » Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:46 pm

I think so, yes
Gear: Canon SX20 IS, Canon Rebel T3i, Canon EF-S 18-55mm, Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
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Re: Back Button Focus

Postby Plymer » Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:18 am

Absolutely. And when you take your thumb off the focus button, focus is essentially "locked" and you can fire away without the focus motor engaging. You won't get a focus confirmation in AI Servo mode, but with good shooting technique this isn't an issue.
Canon EOS 5D MkII | Canon EOS 7D | Canon Digital Rebel XSi | EF 35mm f/1.4L | EF 50mm f/1.8 II | EF 85mm f/1.8 | EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM | EF 135mm f/2L | EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS | 580EX II | LumoPro LP-120

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Re: Back Button Focus

Postby PalaDolphin » Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:43 am

Chopper wrote:if I'm in AI Servo, shooting in continuous mode- if my thumb is on the back button focus button it will continuously track my subject leaving me to close the shutter when I'm ready?

Yes, it will, in AI Servo mode.

After reading this post, I've moved the AF function from the shutter to the * button on the back of my T4i. This changes everything for me, for the better.

Plymer wrote:You won't get a focus confirmation in AI Servo mode, but with good shooting technique this isn't an issue.

As far as AI Servo is concerned, I'm going to set my camera to AI Focus (I don't know if older models support this mode). AI Focus is a hybrid of One-Shot and AI Servo; It starts in One-Shot mode until AI detects movement, then it switches to AI Servo. That way, as long as it's still in One-Shot mode, I'll get the beep and the focus confirmation light in the viewfinder.

I will probably switch temporarily to having both AF/AE on the shutter button when shooting wildlife type shots, but otherwise I will keep it set to back button focus.
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Re: Back Button Focus

Postby usernametaken » Mon Apr 22, 2013 6:11 am

I use back button focus all the time. Camera is set to AI servo so if I want to keep focusing I just keep the button pressed and if I want to lock focus just take finger off the button.
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Re: Back Button Focus

Postby HikingMike » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:16 am

I've been trying with back button focus and just the otherday I finally commited and turned off the half press focus from my shutter. Now I'm waiting for the first time I go shoot and forget that I've done that :lol:
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Re: Back Button Focus

Postby Woor » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:29 am

Because of this thread I've converted as well. I was a heathen, but now I see the light! In focus! :lol:

It would be awesome if anyone has tips or tricks like that you would like to share.
Nikon D7000; Nikkor 35mm 1.8 DX, Nikkor 50mm 1.4 G, Nikkor 70-300mm VR, Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 (non VC)
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Re: Back Button Focus

Postby janern » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:17 am

I may convert soon too!
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Re: Back Button Focus

Postby dubaiphil » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:39 am

The only problem - giving the camera to someone else to take a photo! Otherwise it's invaluable
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Re: Back Button Focus

Postby Woor » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:23 am

I've been thinking the same thing, can't wait till my girlfriend gets her hands on it and is lost even more than usual :D
Nikon D7000; Nikkor 35mm 1.8 DX, Nikkor 50mm 1.4 G, Nikkor 70-300mm VR, Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 (non VC)
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