Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?

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Freecall Regular Member • Posts: 250
Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?
1

Interesting article and moving from my D800 to a Z6 that made me thinking, especially for a left eye shooter as the AF on button & focus point selector on Z6 are a lot closer to my nose as on D800. Any thoughts from Z6/Z7 users with a long-time experience .. do you still use it or have you switched ??? Is AF lock a good alternative ?

https://petapixel.com/2020/01/21/is-back-button-focus-becoming-an-outdated-photography-technique/

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Aleks Che
Aleks Che Regular Member • Posts: 105
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?
1

Freecall wrote:

Interesting article and moving from my D800 to a Z6 that made me thinking, especially for a left eye shooter as the AF on button & focus point selector on Z6 are a lot closer to my nose as on D800. Any thoughts from Z6/Z7 users with a long-time experience .. do you still use it or have you switched ??? Is AF lock a good alternative ?

https://petapixel.com/2020/01/21/is-back-button-focus-becoming-an-outdated-photography-technique/

There is another indisputable advantage of using the AF-ON button, which is not mentioned in this article.

For example, I assigned exposure compensation in PASM modes to my focus ring on my lens, which is very convenient for me. Previously, when focusing and releasing the shutter was on one button while focusing (half-pressing the shutter button), I began to twist the exposure compensation ring, often accidentally pushing the shutter with my finger. And after switching to AF-ON, this does not happen anymore - you don’t need to be careful with your thumb - I press calmly AF-ON all the way without the risk of losing time to refocus due to an accidental “shot”. This can be said of any other manipulations with the camera between focusing and releasing the shutter (enlarging the image to check focus or something else) - if you use the AF-ON button, accidentally pressing the shutter is excluded.

This is especially true in the cold season, when gloves are put on your hands and it is difficult to precisely control the effort of half-pressing the shutter button with your finger.

This fully applies equally to SLR cameras and mirrorless cameras. Therefore, I think that it’s too early to “bury" the AF-ON button

waverunner333 Junior Member • Posts: 42
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?
19

I’m happy using AF-ON and didn’t see anything in the article that would change that.

beatboxa Senior Member • Posts: 6,657
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?
4

Freecall wrote:

Interesting article and moving from my D800 to a Z6 that made me thinking, especially for a left eye shooter as the AF on button & focus point selector on Z6 are a lot closer to my nose as on D800. Any thoughts from Z6/Z7 users with a long-time experience .. do you still use it or have you switched ??? Is AF lock a good alternative ?

https://petapixel.com/2020/01/21/is-back-button-focus-becoming-an-outdated-photography-technique/

I still use it.

But I think the button itself needs to be updated. I like what Canon did in the new 1DX.

Or alternatively, make a larger, more comfortable joystick. Something Nikon could learn from is gamers: pick up a gaming controller and feel the thumbsticks.

The way gamers aim and move around is how we should be using AF: move the thumbsticks to move the AF point, and click them for AF-On. It is a single button, without having to move your thumb between one button to move the AF point and a second button to autofocus.

An even more brilliant idea would be if Nikon could figure out how to allow do tracking without having to move the thumb from the joystick to initially move the AF point, to the OK button to start tracking, to the AF-On button to start autofocusing. 

Anyways back to the gaming interface: we can do this on the joystick-enabled Nikons, but the joysticks themselves are uncomfortable if doing this continuously for a while. They need more surface area and more fluid movement in each direction, and tweaking. For example, when one clicks down for AF-On, does it stop AF point selection, and how does one avoid unintentionally moving the AF point?

Ellis Vener
Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 12,841
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?

I still use both techniques. It depends on what I am photographing.

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SaltyPeanut
SaltyPeanut Senior Member • Posts: 1,376
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?
1

beatboxa wrote:

Freecall wrote:

Interesting article and moving from my D800 to a Z6 that made me thinking, especially for a left eye shooter as the AF on button & focus point selector on Z6 are a lot closer to my nose as on D800. Any thoughts from Z6/Z7 users with a long-time experience .. do you still use it or have you switched ??? Is AF lock a good alternative ?

https://petapixel.com/2020/01/21/is-back-button-focus-becoming-an-outdated-photography-technique/

I still use it.

But I think the button itself needs to be updated. I like what Canon did in the new 1DX.

Or alternatively, make a larger, more comfortable joystick. Something Nikon could learn from is gamers: pick up a gaming controller and feel the thumbsticks.

The way gamers aim and move around is how we should be using AF: move the thumbsticks to move the AF point, and click them for AF-On. It is a single button, without having to move your thumb between one button to move the AF point and a second button to autofocus.

Might be irritating to press AF-ON and accidentally move it sideways, changing the AF point, as you press down on it...could work with the right kind of joystick, who knows. Same with the new button in the 1DX...wonder how those shooting in cold temps with gloves will pan out.

An even more brilliant idea would be if Nikon could figure out how to allow do tracking without having to move the thumb from the joystick to initially move the AF point, to the OK button to start tracking, to the AF-On button to start autofocusing.

Anyways back to the gaming interface: we can do this on the joystick-enabled Nikons, but the joysticks themselves are uncomfortable if doing this continuously for a while. They need more surface area and more fluid movement in each direction, and tweaking. For example, when one clicks down for AF-On, does it stop AF point selection, and how does one avoid unintentionally moving the AF point?

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SaltyPeanut
SaltyPeanut Senior Member • Posts: 1,376
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?
1

Still use it for 2 main reasons: it's difficult sometimes to hold down the shutter button half way while taking or not taking shots unintentionally, and holding the AF-ON button down actually helps me stabilize the camera better, especially when I press down on the shutter button to take a shot. Moving the AF point in between shots is not a big deal.

From the article: "What’s overlooked though is that it’s actually just as easily done with the default shutter focus method too by using AF-L (autofocus lock). The difference is that releasing the AF-On button in the case of back-button focus would stop AF-C and emulate AF-S, however with the default shutter focus setting, AF-C can be stopped to emulate AF-S by holding the AF-L button and then pressing the shutter button."

This seems silly...what's the point of not using the AF-ON button to use another button just like it?

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OP Freecall Regular Member • Posts: 250
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?
1

I think you can use the AF-L to press once  & keep it looked  instead of constant pressing on the AF-on button ?

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SaltyPeanut
SaltyPeanut Senior Member • Posts: 1,376
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?
1

Freecall wrote:

I think you can use the AF-L to press once & keep it looked instead of constant pressing on the AF-on button ?

Not too good for moving subjects with shallow DoF. You can simply use AF-S, same thing, or just let go of the AF-ON button in AF-C after it focuses.

I've always found the whole AF-ON vs shutter button more of a YMMV deal. However you like/prefer to shoot, go with it. There are pros and cons to each. For me, more pros with AF-ON than the other.

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Toxdox42 Regular Member • Posts: 214
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?
1
  1. Bbeatboxa wrote:

Freecall wrote:

Interesting article and moving from my D800 to a Z6 that made me thinking, especially for a left eye shooter as the AF on button & focus point selector on Z6 are a lot closer to my nose as on D800. Any thoughts from Z6/Z7 users with a long-time experience .. do you still use it or have you switched ??? Is AF lock a good alternative ?

https://petapixel.com/2020/01/21/is-back-button-focus-becoming-an-outdated-photography-technique/

I still use it.

But I think the button itself needs to be updated. I like what Canon did in the new 1DX.

Or alternatively, make a larger, more comfortable joystick. Something Nikon could learn from is gamers: pick up a gaming controller and feel the thumbsticks.

The way gamers aim and move around is how we should be using AF: move the thumbsticks to move the AF point, and click them for AF-On. It is a single button, without having to move your thumb between one button to move the AF point and a second button to autofocus.

An even more brilliant idea would be if Nikon could figure out how to allow do tracking without having to move the thumb from the joystick to initially move the AF point, to the OK button to start tracking, to the AF-On button to start autofocusing.

Anyways back to the gaming interface: we can do this on the joystick-enabled Nikons, but the joysticks themselves are uncomfortable if doing this continuously for a while. They need more surface area and more fluid movement in each direction, and tweaking. For example, when one clicks down for AF-On, does it stop AF point selection, and how does one avoid unintentionally moving the AF point?

You make a very good point, my big complaint on my D3400 and Z50 is that I have to remove the camera from my eye to use the "joystick," to move the focusing point.

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Cekon Regular Member • Posts: 136
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?
1

Interesting article, but I don't see why a mirrorless camera would change my way of focussing.

I use BBF all the time, because I want to tell the camera "Now focus on this!".

With the AF-Lock approach its like letting the camera do whatever she wants to and then tell her "Now please stop focussing..."; that seems a bit too complicated for me...

I almost always stay in AF-C; with BBF I don't have to switch. Only complain with the Zs is the missing 3D tracking as it used to be with the DSLRs (activated through the AF-ON button, very easy...) - I wouldn't need the joystick if I could always track my object that easily.

BTW I use AE-Lock with the half shutter press, as the Z lacks a dedicated button - but I don't need that very often....

The Zs still don't have enough buttons to put custom functions on...

C:

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Steve Wetzel New Member • Posts: 2
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?

SaltyPeanut wrote:

Still use it for 2 main reasons: it's difficult sometimes to hold down the shutter button half way while taking or not taking shots unintentionally, and holding the AF-ON button down actually helps me stabilize the camera better, especially when I press down on the shutter button to take a shot. Moving the AF point in between shots is not a big deal.

From the article: "What’s overlooked though is that it’s actually just as easily done with the default shutter focus method too by using AF-L (autofocus lock). The difference is that releasing the AF-On button in the case of back-button focus would stop AF-C and emulate AF-S, however with the default shutter focus setting, AF-C can be stopped to emulate AF-S by holding the AF-L button and then pressing the shutter button."

This seems silly...what's the point of not using the AF-ON button to use another button just like it?

To me, the advantage is if you are wanting to use AF-C because of moving objects you want to act fast have using your thumb to position the focus point and your index finger to focus and snap is faster than using your thumb to move the focus point, then move to a different button to focus then use your index finger to snap.

When you are working more slowly (AF-S) using your thumb to hit two buttons is slower, but your working slower so it's less of an issue.

It seems like a minor point but I think I am going to try it.  It makes more sense to me now that we can focus on so much larger an area of the frame.

j_photo Veteran Member • Posts: 4,384
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?
9

BBF isn't for everyone or every situation and never was.  It gives access to AF-S and AF-C functionality simultaneously. For the majority of my shooting, this is the main advantage. Shooting mirrorless doesn't change that.

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SaltyPeanut
SaltyPeanut Senior Member • Posts: 1,376
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?

Steve Wetzel wrote:

SaltyPeanut wrote:

Still use it for 2 main reasons: it's difficult sometimes to hold down the shutter button half way while taking or not taking shots unintentionally, and holding the AF-ON button down actually helps me stabilize the camera better, especially when I press down on the shutter button to take a shot. Moving the AF point in between shots is not a big deal.

From the article: "What’s overlooked though is that it’s actually just as easily done with the default shutter focus method too by using AF-L (autofocus lock). The difference is that releasing the AF-On button in the case of back-button focus would stop AF-C and emulate AF-S, however with the default shutter focus setting, AF-C can be stopped to emulate AF-S by holding the AF-L button and then pressing the shutter button."

This seems silly...what's the point of not using the AF-ON button to use another button just like it?

To me, the advantage is if you are wanting to use AF-C because of moving objects you want to act fast have using your thumb to position the focus point and your index finger to focus and snap is faster than using your thumb to move the focus point, then move to a different button to focus then use your index finger to snap.

When you are working more slowly (AF-S) using your thumb to hit two buttons is slower, but your working slower so it's less of an issue.

It seems like a minor point but I think I am going to try it. It makes more sense to me now that we can focus on so much larger an area of the frame.

I can see that if you constantly move the AF point around often. I usually don't often enough.

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johnpatrickbishop Regular Member • Posts: 261
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?

beatboxa wrote:

Freecall wrote:

Interesting article and moving from my D800 to a Z6 that made me thinking, especially for a left eye shooter as the AF on button & focus point selector on Z6 are a lot closer to my nose as on D800. Any thoughts from Z6/Z7 users with a long-time experience .. do you still use it or have you switched ??? Is AF lock a good alternative ?

https://petapixel.com/2020/01/21/is-back-button-focus-becoming-an-outdated-photography-technique/

I still use it.

But I think the button itself needs to be updated. I like what Canon did in the new 1DX.

Or alternatively, make a larger, more comfortable joystick. Something Nikon could learn from is gamers: pick up a gaming controller and feel the thumbsticks.

The way gamers aim and move around is how we should be using AF: move the thumbsticks to move the AF point, and click them for AF-On. It is a single button, without having to move your thumb between one button to move the AF point and a second button to autofocus.

An even more brilliant idea would be if Nikon could figure out how to allow do tracking without having to move the thumb from the joystick to initially move the AF point, to the OK button to start tracking, to the AF-On button to start autofocusing.

Anyways back to the gaming interface: we can do this on the joystick-enabled Nikons, but the joysticks themselves are uncomfortable if doing this continuously for a while. They need more surface area and more fluid movement in each direction, and tweaking. For example, when one clicks down for AF-On, does it stop AF point selection, and how does one avoid unintentionally moving the AF point?

I couldn't agree more with these suggestions. Why can't I just program the joystick to BBF when I press it?

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beatboxa Senior Member • Posts: 6,657
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?
2

johnpatrickbishop wrote:

beatboxa wrote:

Freecall wrote:

Interesting article and moving from my D800 to a Z6 that made me thinking, especially for a left eye shooter as the AF on button & focus point selector on Z6 are a lot closer to my nose as on D800. Any thoughts from Z6/Z7 users with a long-time experience .. do you still use it or have you switched ??? Is AF lock a good alternative ?

https://petapixel.com/2020/01/21/is-back-button-focus-becoming-an-outdated-photography-technique/

I still use it.

But I think the button itself needs to be updated. I like what Canon did in the new 1DX.

Or alternatively, make a larger, more comfortable joystick. Something Nikon could learn from is gamers: pick up a gaming controller and feel the thumbsticks.

The way gamers aim and move around is how we should be using AF: move the thumbsticks to move the AF point, and click them for AF-On. It is a single button, without having to move your thumb between one button to move the AF point and a second button to autofocus.

An even more brilliant idea would be if Nikon could figure out how to allow do tracking without having to move the thumb from the joystick to initially move the AF point, to the OK button to start tracking, to the AF-On button to start autofocusing.

Anyways back to the gaming interface: we can do this on the joystick-enabled Nikons, but the joysticks themselves are uncomfortable if doing this continuously for a while. They need more surface area and more fluid movement in each direction, and tweaking. For example, when one clicks down for AF-On, does it stop AF point selection, and how does one avoid unintentionally moving the AF point?

I couldn't agree more with these suggestions. Why can't I just program the joystick to BBF when I press it?

You can already program it for BBF

I just personally find it uncomfortable after a while. But if you want to set it up, go to the custom menu > controls, and you can set the joystick push to "AF-On".

See my post here from when the Z's first came out:

I had been thinking about making a custom solution for a while which involved making a little joystick over the joystick...maybe it's time to just do it...

Digital Shutterbug Veteran Member • Posts: 4,453
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?

beatboxa wrote:

You can already program it for BBF

I just personally find it uncomfortable after a while. But if you want to set it up, go to the custom menu > controls, and you can set the joystick push to "AF-On".

See my post here from when the Z's first came out:

I had been thinking about making a custom solution for a while which involved making a little joystick over the joystick...maybe it's time to just do it...

In my situation, having the joystick act as BBF would never work. I have it set to bring the focus point back to center. Even that is extremely frustrating. I wind up pushing it numerous times before getting it to center the focus point.

My problem is neuropathy in my hands. Pushing buttons is akin to anyone else doing the same thing while wearing relatively heavy gloves. I have difficulty finding buttons without looking for them. Then, I move the joystick sideways before I can push it straight in.

I know I'm in the minority with my condition, but I'm certainly not alone with this issue. The tiny joy sticks on cameras are frustrating, at best.

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Steve

BSiler Regular Member • Posts: 383
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?

I agree.  I use BBF on both a D850 and Z6.  I do find BBF to be a little less useful on my Z6 than on my D850, but that difference has nothing to do with mirrorless-ness.  As you noted, if you set the AF Mode to AF-C, then BBF gives you the functionality of both AF-S and AF-C.  So, with my D850, I use BBF and never need or want to switch out of AF-C.

With my Z6, I do occasionally switch to AF-S for a reason unrelated to BBF:  With the Z6 set to AF-S, I get a green light focus indicator -- something I don't get in AF-C.  I like that green light indicator, and I often switch the Z6 to AF-S for that reason.  So, with the D850, I never need to switch out of AF-C, and BBF is always an advantage.  With the Z6. I often switch to AF-S, and my habitual use of BBF carries no advantage.

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Droster Contributing Member • Posts: 607
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?

BBF never grew on me. I used to just use whatever I have in the center to focus on where I need to and then crop in post. Now I just crop less often.

I still see case usage, for example if a subject pops in and out of something like a net during volleyball or badminton so I’ll just pre-focus at a spot. The only other time I used it was to focus when I shoot video.

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j_photo Veteran Member • Posts: 4,384
Re: Back button focus "outdated" due to new ML tech ?
2

BSiler wrote:

With my Z6, I do occasionally switch to AF-S for a reason unrelated to BBF: With the Z6 set to AF-S, I get a green light focus indicator -- something I don't get in AF-C.

I agree entirely. The lack of AF-C focus confirmation in the Zs is baffling to me.

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