Real World Back Button Focusing?

Started 4 months ago | Discussions
SverreE Contributing Member • Posts: 613
Re: watch this...
3

I learned to love it. You find many youtube videos explaining the benefits.

One recommendation: Try it for a while and use only bbf. That's the only way to train your brain so it become second nature.

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Sverre

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C Sean Senior Member • Posts: 2,836
Re: Real World Back Button Focusing?
1

If you're asking wether you need back button focus, maybe you don't need it yet?

Back Button Focus is a time saving method of having the camera able to focus on a still subject to a fast moving subject without changing the camera settings. Basically it being lazy or you're in environment where anything can happen.

The beauty of BBF is time saving, the subject may stand still for one second and then all of a sudden is  going at great speed. Usually with a camera you have to switch from AFS to AFC and that can lose you the money shot. With back button focus, you just press AF/AE Lock and the still subject is in focus. However, it the subject start moving, hold down the AF/AE Lock and that activate continue auto focus.

Another beauty is allowing you to manual focus and again you don't have to play with the dial. So this is a very good time saving method.

So what would be the best applications for BBF? Sport is a good candidate, like baseball for example. You are photographing the bat person and  he could be standing still at one moment and running the next. Wildlife is another good example. Animals and birds are still at one moment and moving the next.

I personally find BBF most useful for your traditional African safaris where anything can happen at anytime. I don't think there is a better set up for an African Safari than BBF. Once you get the hang of BBF, the chances of missing the shot will be slimmer.

The only downside to BBF, is you need to allow the camera to autofocus first before pushing the shutter. Pressing the focusing and shutter at the same time will produce out of focus shots. So you could say it one big downside to BBF that you can't nail the shot straight away. Other than that it's a great tool.

David5833 Senior Member • Posts: 1,626
Re: Real World Back Button Focusing?
1

I use BBF on two Nikon DSLR's. I prefer it to half-press, I just think it's a better configuration to separate the focus from the exposure metering. I would use it on my E-M10ii, but the available button is awkwardly placed so I don't use it on this camera. Half press works just fine...it's not a religion, I'm good either way.

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Joe94
OP Joe94 Contributing Member • Posts: 571
Re: Real World Back Button Focusing?

C Sean wrote:

If you're asking wether you need back button focus, maybe you don't need it yet?

Back Button Focus is a time saving method of having the camera able to focus on a still subject to a fast moving subject without changing the camera settings. Basically it being lazy or you're in environment where anything can happen.

The beauty of BBF is time saving, the subject may stand still for one second and then all of a sudden is going at great speed. Usually with a camera you have to switch from AFS to AFC and that can lose you the money shot. With back button focus, you just press AF/AE Lock and the still subject is in focus. However, it the subject start moving, hold down the AF/AE Lock and that activate continue auto focus.

Another beauty is allowing you to manual focus and again you don't have to play with the dial. So this is a very good time saving method.

So what would be the best applications for BBF? Sport is a good candidate, like baseball for example. You are photographing the bat person and he could be standing still at one moment and running the next. Wildlife is another good example. Animals and birds are still at one moment and moving the next.

I personally find BBF most useful for your traditional African safaris where anything can happen at anytime. I don't think there is a better set up for an African Safari than BBF. Once you get the hang of BBF, the chances of missing the shot will be slimmer.

The only downside to BBF, is you need to allow the camera to autofocus first before pushing the shutter. Pressing the focusing and shutter at the same time will produce out of focus shots. So you could say it one big downside to BBF that you can't nail the shot straight away. Other than that it's a great tool.

Thank you very much for this detailed explanation, hints & tips, very helpful for me & very much appreciated

GodSpeaks
GodSpeaks Forum Pro • Posts: 14,329
Been using BBF since it was available.
3

I like it because it separates AF from shutter release.

It allows me to "pre-focus" on a spot and then wait for my target to hit the spot.

When shooting people, I do a lot of focus and recompose, where BBF is very useful.

ALL of my cameras are set up for BBF.

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cosmicnode Veteran Member • Posts: 5,752
Re: watch this...
1

Joe94 wrote:

Paul Auclair wrote:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAl_qwqeYbk

this video does a better job detailing BBF than reading/sifting through all the positive and negative threads/opinions.

Thank you, I will give this a watch

I could not get away with BBF, I have watched video's and the best explanation I have found for it to be used is that when tracking you keep your finger continuously on the back button whilst firing short bursts of the subject, for those who use this method  they don't need to refocus every time they hit the shutter button  this sounds the logical reason to use it, However in these video's they do seem to repeatedly "stab" the shutter button. I rest my index finger on the shutter button and by flexing it engage the AF, a little more pressure and I take a burst of photos, relaxing the pressure shops shooting but the AF is still engaged unless i remove my finger from the shutter button. For me a more natural way of using the camera and no chance of jerking the camera when stabbing the shutter.

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JasonTheBirder
JasonTheBirder Senior Member • Posts: 1,357
Re: Real World Back Button Focusing?
4

I always use it.

It allows quick manual focus without switching to manual and without the danger of switching to AF when you are watching a bird through branches.

It allows focus and recompose without holding anything down.

It allows me to stay in AF-C mode 100% time, and for perched birds I simply press it once for focus to simulate AF-S.

Decoupling the shutter from focus just makes so much sense to me.

Joe94
OP Joe94 Contributing Member • Posts: 571
Re: Real World Back Button Focusing?

JasonTheBirder wrote:

I always use it.

It allows quick manual focus without switching to manual and without the danger of switching to AF when you are watching a bird through branches.

It allows focus and recompose without holding anything down.

It allows me to stay in AF-C mode 100% time, and for perched birds I simply press it once for focus to simulate AF-S.

Decoupling the shutter from focus just makes so much sense to me.

The tip around being able to stay in C-AF, but instantly use S-AF for birched bird, does sound quite good actually.

Im not just going to wait for a day to get out and give it all ago now to see how it works out for me

Paul Auclair
Paul Auclair Veteran Member • Posts: 6,050
Re: Real World Back Button Focusing?
1

Joe94 wrote:

JasonTheBirder wrote:

I always use it.

It allows quick manual focus without switching to manual and without the danger of switching to AF when you are watching a bird through branches.

It allows focus and recompose without holding anything down.

It allows me to stay in AF-C mode 100% time, and for perched birds I simply press it once for focus to simulate AF-S.

Decoupling the shutter from focus just makes so much sense to me.

The tip around being able to stay in C-AF, but instantly use S-AF for birched bird, does sound quite good actually.

Im not just going to wait for a day to get out and give it all ago now to see how it works out for me

familiarize yourself with using BBF use before you expect to go on a serious/semi-serious outing.

i bought a camera with a joystick and expected to have my thumb parked on the joy stick most of the time (as opposed to the BBF button) so i switched back to shutter AF from BBF.

first day out...a brown tree creeper lands chest level to me and 8' away...small, rare bird filling the frame at eye level...super-excited...i did not get the shot.

i saw the OoF bird in the viewfinder and no matter times i pressed the BBF button...nothing happened...bird gone...i was supposed to press the shutter button.

(i've since switched back to BBF)

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as always,
thank you fellow DPR members for your kind words and encouragement.

bferg New Member • Posts: 23
Re: Real World Back Button Focusing?
1

I have saved BBF within two of my MySets.

1) for when I need a focus trap for pictures say of my dog running, preset the focus location and no need to wait (lose) the moment waiting for the camera to find focus, as the dog runs into the trap area, focus is already set, press the shutter button and captured a dog in action in focus.

2) tripod shooting of a stationary subject, set the focus spot and I’m all done with focusing, I then spend my time composing and waiting on the light.

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El Jeffe Regular Member • Posts: 491
Re: Real World Back Button Focusing?
1

A runway fashion photographer showed me how he uses BBF. He sets focus at a certain distance and waits for the model to walk in to it.

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bpjod Contributing Member • Posts: 866
Re: Real World Back Button Focusing?
1

I use back button focus in SAF, but don’t in CAF. With SAF I like the AF to be decoupled from the shutter button. Easier to focus/recompose, focus on a small object through foreground obstructions (like a fence or foliage), and I also like to use manual focus on a tripod and not lose focus when I press the shutter.

Most of this just doesn’t matter when I need CAF and since there can be so much happening at a quick pace, not having to deal with back button focus in addition to everything else is a big help.

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Joe94
OP Joe94 Contributing Member • Posts: 571
Re: Real World Back Button Focusing?

Thank you again everyone for all your extra hints & tips, very much appreciated & as always very helpful

j tokarz Contributing Member • Posts: 904
Re: Real World Back Button Focusing?
1

I think a lot of this topic depends on the camera. If the BB is large and easy enough to feel without having to look then yes it works ok. Tiny buttons in awkward places i can't seem to get used to it. Then i use AEL first then shutter button and maybe recompose.

Space the final frontier Senior Member • Posts: 1,038
Is recompose after focusing still relevant?
1

Not trying to hijack this thread, but I am honestly curious to see that quite a few responses citing recompose after focusing as part of the work flow. With so many AF points available in modern cameras, is this practice still relevant?

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Barry Stewart
Barry Stewart Veteran Member • Posts: 9,125
Re: Is recompose after focusing still relevant?
1

Space the final frontier wrote:

Not trying to hijack this thread, but I am honestly curious to see that quite a few responses citing recompose after focusing as part of the work flow. With so many AF points available in modern cameras, is this practice still relevant?

There are probably lots of threads on this topic, over the years. Focus and recompose is fine, it the focus point is static — and is in the same focal plane as your main scene. If it's not, you inject that change of planes by shifting you lens.
As well: many zoom lenses aren't parfocal and won't tolerate a change of zoom length... so: no zooming in to get sharp focus, then zooming wide. The focus will shift on you.
Especially with touch-screen or joy-stick cameras, the ability to put the focus point on the desired spot allows you to be composed while focusing. Very handy.

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Barry Stewart
Barry Stewart Veteran Member • Posts: 9,125
Re: BBF - meh
1

addlightness wrote:

I have four different m43 camera bodies - GM1, GX85, EM5.ii and PEN-F - some has BBF, some don't.

Half-shutter-press is the only way to go for me - keeps me from going insane. YMMV.

P.S. When I had only one camera body - a Nikon dSLR - I tried but gave up after a while where my wife/kids would routinely take turns behind the camera and you can imagine the ...

I CAN imagine the problems, as so many people have little experience with 'proper' cameras. (Mind you, even in simple mode, most wouldn't think to half-press before jamming the shutter.)

As a soccer ref —and sports shooter —  I sometimes hand my camera over to bystanders to shoot some action, while I'm on the field. The best time I can recall, I gave my E-M1.2, 40-150 and monopod to a soccer dad, who said he had little experience. I showed him how to BBF and he got some very usable shots. Wonders never cease!

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mfinley
mfinley Senior Member • Posts: 4,782
Re: Real World Back Button Focusing?
3

Joe94 wrote:

Afternoon All,

Over the last few months whilst learning photography, I have read & seen a lot about using Back Button focusing (EAL/EFL button), particular with wildlife/bird & some macro photography.

Now up to now, I have been using standard focusing/exposure using the normal button with half push ect....

What Im looking for, is some real world recommendations/thoughts, as to whether using Back Button Focusing really is worth setting up & if so why in real world terms?

(For ref I'm using Olympus OMD E-M1 Mark 3 & do do wildlife & bird (not BIF) and macro)

Many Thanks

Shoot every day for a week with BBF and come back and tell us why YOU will never go back to the old way again. I don't know any heavy use photographers who aren't using BBF.

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greyghost59 Contributing Member • Posts: 650
Re: Real World Back Button Focusing?
1

All my cameras are set up for BBF and CAF  and no reason to go back.  Once you get use to it it just feels better and its more comfortable for me.

Each to there own i think.

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