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What is the Back Button Focus?



Focusing on the Back button is exactly what sounds like. Instead of pressing the shutter button halfway to activate autofocus, press and hold a special button on the back of the camera instead. When you release, the focus remains locked. Why would you like to use them?

RELATED: How to Make the Most of Your Autofocus with Your Camera

The Benefits of Focusing on the Back of the Button

The great advantage of focusing on the back of the button is that it is different Focusing photos. The default setting of the camera, where the trigger controls both operations, makes certain things cumbersome, such as: For example, if you try to focus on a part of the scene that does not fall well below an autofocus point. It can also slow down the burst mode of your camera while the autofocus is hunting, so you can not take pictures.

Autofocusing the back button lets you easily focus on any subject in the scene, and then shoot the picture without recomposing to use an AF lock. And since the focus stays the same until the focus changes, you can keep shooting without worrying about autofocus trying to focus on something else. This is very handy if the subject does not move too much.

Another nice feature is that you do not have to choose between manual focus or simple autofocus and continuous auto focus. If you turn on focus for the rear button and set your camera to continuous auto focus:

  • To focus manually, do not press the focus button, but instead focus manually with the lens rings. Most prosumer and professional lenses allow you to focus manually, even when the lens is set to autofocus.
  • Hold down the focus button until the focus gets a lock to adjust the focus. Then release them and shoot away.
  • Press and hold the focus button to focus continuously, and continue shooting.

As you can imagine, it is much faster for you once you have everything under control in different situations. And as I've said over and over again, it's not about not using the automatic features of your camera. It's about using them to control how they work. The autofocus for the back button is one of those options.

Setting the rear key focus

To set the rear key focus, you need to enter the menus of the camera. In general, you need to do two things:

  • Remove the autofocus from the shutter button.
  • Set the AF ON button. If your camera does not have one, the AE-L (* for Canon cameras) is. – to activate the autofocus.

For Canon cameras, you can go to the menu until you find the user-defined functions. For consumer cameras, look for the option to set the shutter to AE Lock and the AE Lock button to AF. With more advanced cameras, you have more control over which keys perform which functions until you make the settings you want.

For Nikon cameras, find the Custom Settings menu pencil icon) and go to controls. Select the Assign AE-L / AF-L button and select AF-ON. Next, go to the autofocus option and select AF Enable. Just choose AF-ON and you're ready to go.

If you're having trouble or your camera is not from one of these manufacturers, search Google's camera model and "Back" autofocus. I certainly have special instructions.


The focus on the Back button is much more flexible. Once you become familiar with controlling the basic exposure settings, you should study it and see if it is for you.


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