What is Back Button Focus?

The focus with the Back button is what it looks like instead of pressing the shutter button halfway down activate autofocus, you hold a dedicated button on the back of your camera. When you let it go, the focus stays locked. Here's why you might want to use it.

RELATED: How to get the most out of autofocus with your camera

The benefits of rear focus

The big advantage of the back button is that it separates focusing and taking pictures. The camera's default setting, in which the shutter controls both actions, makes things difficult, such as trying to focus on a part of the scene that does not fall well under an autofocus point. It can also slow down the burst mode of your camera while autofocus hunting, preventing you from taking pictures.

With Auto Focus with the Back button, you can easily focus on the subject of your scene, and then recompose your photo without having to worry about using the photo. any kind of AF lock. And since your focus will remain locked until you change it, you can continue shooting without worrying about autofocus while trying to focus on it again. This is very convenient when your subject is not moving too much.

Another nice feature is that you do not have to choose between manual focus or single or continuous AF modes. If you enable focus through the Back button and set your camera to continuous autofocus:

  • To focus manually, do not press the focus button, but Manual focus using lens rings instead of. Most professional and professional lenses will allow you to focus manually even if the lens is set to autofocus.
  • To perform a single focus, hold down the focus button until the focus acquires a lock. Then release it and pull.
  • To focus continuously, hold down the focus button and continue taking pictures.

As you can imagine, once you have mastered the situation, it is much faster to react to 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 their operation. Autofocusing the Back button is one of these methods.

Debugging the return button

To set the focus using the Back button, you need to access the menus of your camera. You will normally have to do two things:

  • Remove the autofocus from the shutter.
  • Set the AF-ON button or, if your camera does not have one, the AE-L (* on Canon cameras), to enable auto focus.

For Canon cameras, dig in the menu until you find custom functions. On consumer cameras, look for the option that sets the shutter button to AE Lock and the AE lock button to AF. On more advanced cameras, you'll have more control over the buttons, functions, to play until you have the configuration you prefer.

For Nikon cameras, find the Custom Settings menu (the pencil icon) and go to Commands. Select Assign AE-L / AF-L and choose AF-ON. Then go to the Autofocus option and choose AF Activation. Select AF-ON only, and you are ready to go.

If you're having trouble or your camera does not belong to one of these manufacturers, look for your camera's model and autofocus from the previous Google button. Someone will certainly have a specific guide.


The debugging of the Back button is much more flexible. Once you start to master the basic exposure settingsIt's worth playing with and see if it's for you.

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