Thursday 6 August 2009

Tips & Techniques - Back Button Focusing

Every once in a while you find out a little tip that makes a big difference to camera handling.

Back button focusing was one for me about four years ago now.

On the Canon cameras before the the 1Dmk3 and 40D you could make the * button on the rear panel your Auto focus button by selecting the appropriate Custom Function in the sub menu system.

From the 1Dmk3 and 40D onwards, Canon fitted an AF-ON button next to the * that would do the same job.

However, being used to the position of the * button I use another tool in the sub menu to switch the function across.

So why do this though?

At the time, I was doing a fair bit of shooting of moving subjects, mostly birds of prey in flight amongst other things.

By using the * button with the AI servo function, it is possible to pick your subject up early, press the * get focus, maintain focus and the press the shutter button when you want to get the image.

Now of course you can do the same with the shutter button, but I found a different level of control and feel when set up with back button action.

Now my cameras have been set in this mode for four years now and just taken for granted but it can be remarkable when you explain the technique to somebody else, they go away and use it and come back and tell you what it difference it has made.

So Dinah, I am glad that you have found this to be a useful function.

As a quick reminder for 1Dmk3 users on set up.

Go into the Custom Function menu to C.Fn IV.1. Select No. 2 and save. Then if you want to focus using the * button rather than the AF-ON button, go to the next page to C.FnIV 2 and select No.1.

I prefer to use the * button as it is less of a stretch for my thumb.

Dave will let us know how it works for Nikon bodies at some point

So how about telling us if there are any tips or techniques that you have found that you wouldn't be without now.


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