Back Button Focus

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Hi so back button focus do I need to use it? So am quite varied on the type of photography I do (wildlife, birds, landscape, waterfalls) so should, or do I need back button focus on a 2021 camera? I have tried BBF many times over the years and could never get on with it so with the Canon R5 is there a need? I know older cameras that the centre AF point was way better than all the other AF points however this is not the case now. So, I have gone back to shutter button and am much happier and I use the AF button for Eye Detection. So what is your view on back button focus?
 

MartynK

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Martyn
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I use it most of the time, but that's neither here nor there. You should use whatever works best for you.

FWIW, I grew up with MF cameras and it took me quite a while to get used to AF and the small/dim viewfinders of crop DSLRs compared with the Nikon F series etc. I'm still comfortable with the 'old' SLRs.
 
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Lew
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I use BBF for any fast moving subjects, a waste of time on landscapes,
I use BBf all the time.
I don't agree that it's a waste of time for landscapes, if you want to focus 1/3 of the way into a scene, bbf is great as you can then recompose (auto focus will refocus when you don't want it to) without the need to keep the shutter button half pressed, also if you want to bracket the exposures the focus is still locked for you
 
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Dave
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I know older cameras that the centre AF point was way better than all the other AF points however this is not the case now.
That's not the main reason for using back button focus. The reasons I use BBF are to decoupl focus from shutter release to allow continuous or single focus/focus lock, or even manual focus, without having to move a switch or press a button.
 
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Tony
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I have the EOS R and use BBF with tracking, mainly shoot events.

I have it set so the focus point returns to the centre when released, get the cross hairs on the subject, press BBF, recompose and click away.

I found the focus point can jump around if it is on the shutter button, probably me slightly releasing it between shots.

T
 
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Graham
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Hi so back button focus do I need to use it?
I use it all the time, or at least 99% of the time.

The advantages for wildlife etc are often cited, but I find it useful for general photography as well. Handheld I find it quicker to move the camera to put the focus point on the subject and fix it with the back button before recomposing than moving the focus points around. And for landscapes on a tripod I prefer to move the focus point to where I want to focus and lock it in with the back button.

But an important reason for using it all the time, is so I don't get confused with what is going on. I use manual focus lenses a lot of the time, so by including a "focusing step" in my process, with the focus ring on the lens, or the back button, is important for mental consistency.
 
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54
Edit My Images
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Hi so back button focus do I need to use it? So am quite varied on the type of photography I do (wildlife, birds, landscape, waterfalls) so should, or do I need back button focus on a 2021 camera? I have tried BBF many times over the years and could never get on with it so with the Canon R5 is there a need? I know older cameras that the centre AF point was way better than all the other AF points however this is not the case now. So, I have gone back to shutter button and am much happier and I use the AF button for Eye Detection. So what is your view on back button focus?
Some people love it; some people hate it. As to whether you use it or not, only you can decide. There is no right or wrong, it is down to personal preference.
 
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2,696
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John
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When I first had a camera capable of BBF, I decided I aught to master it, found it cumbersome and awkward, carried on without it. A couple of years later, I had a tricky shot which I was not able to get - the camera kept focusing when I pressed the shutter button which I did not want it to do. Eventually, I remembered BBF and the awkward shot was easy. So, I still do not like it and rarely use it but it is another useful tool in the box and when needed is essential. Much like manual focus; not useful most of the time, sometimes gets in the way, occasionally essential.
 

KIPAX

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KIPAX
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Hi so back button focus do I need to use it?
OK I will be the first to actually answer your question :) ... The answer is NO

Nobody "needs" it.. however depending on what you shoot it does have its advantages as people have pointed out above... You can quite easily carry on without it....
 
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Steve France
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Difficult to define the word 'need' however personally my pictures improved considerably when I started using BBF and I would not consider moving back. I was missing focus on birds in particular, especially BIF. ;)
 

KIPAX

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Difficult to define the word 'need' however personally my pictures improved considerably
Define "pictures improved " .. BBF will not have any effect on the quality of your pictures :) It should however have a big effect on your keeper rate..
 
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I use back button focus for continual face/eye AF. Shutter button does standard single AF. Works best for me.
 
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221
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Malc
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BBF and continual focus. I use the rear command wheel instead of one of the buttons as it falls perfectly in place for my thumb and is bigger and easier to use than the smaller buttons. One click to focus, or hold the wheel pressed in for focus tracking.
 
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Leroy
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No, you don’t need it! I use on my HX-1, I find it so much easier, I would never go back.
 
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132
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Chris
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Used it less on my 40D than my current 5diii as there was more separation between the half and full press of the shutter however there's always situations where one or the other is preferable. It all depends on what you want and how you need to achieve what you are looking for. It's on probably 90% of the time on my 5diii
 

MartynK

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Martyn
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OK I will be the first to actually answer your question :) ... The answer is NO

Nobody "needs" it.. however depending on what you shoot it does have its advantages as people have pointed out above... You can quite easily carry on without it....
I fully agree with you about 'need', as opposed to prefer or want. Of course, that doesn't necessarily apply to me if I 'need' to buy yet another book on the Anglo-Zulu War, the Anglo-Boer Wars or...:D
 
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31
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I love back button, but had to switch back to the shutter after missing an amazing photo / momento.

On holiday, and a chance encounter with a "wild" monkey, once in a lifetime, one moment type of shot/situation. I passed the camera to the other half to snap the shot, she unaware the kit was set for back button she took the picture, bokeh was lovely, but the shot was so far out of focus it was totally unrecognisable what was going on.

Lesson learnt, must get a better trained other half!
 

Nikon_Nick

Shirley
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Nick
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I use BBF for everything. I’m just used to it now, and see no reason to go back.
 

SFTPhotography

Ranger Smith
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Steve
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I use it on landscapes too.
One you've focused, it doesn't change focus when I press the shutter.
Means I don't need to change to mf...
This. One of the first things on a workshop is get a client comfortable with this method.

My shutter button is just that - a shutter button - I disable all the AF settings from it. Set that to fire regardless and BBF all the way.
 
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1,390
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Martin
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I was considering this issue yesterday and found my Nikon D810 does something I wasn't previously aware of. I normally use BBF but occasionally I fancy the ease that shutter button pressing gives me so fiddled about a bit and found that I can use both. If I use BBF the image stays focussed where I put it so long as I keep the BB pressed but if I don't use the BB then the shutter button will operate the focus. I expect this is common knowledge but something I've just found, I'm pleased with it anyway.
 
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2,696
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John
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I was considering this issue yesterday and found my Nikon D810 does something I wasn't previously aware of. I normally use BBF but occasionally I fancy the ease that shutter button pressing gives me so fiddled about a bit and found that I can use both. If I use BBF the image stays focussed where I put it so long as I keep the BB pressed but if I don't use the BB then the shutter button will operate the focus. I expect this is common knowledge but something I've just found, I'm pleased with it anyway.
My Canon 80D does the same.
 
Messages
54
Edit My Images
No
I was considering this issue yesterday and found my Nikon D810 does something I wasn't previously aware of. I normally use BBF but occasionally I fancy the ease that shutter button pressing gives me so fiddled about a bit and found that I can use both. If I use BBF the image stays focussed where I put it so long as I keep the BB pressed but if I don't use the BB then the shutter button will operate the focus. I expect this is common knowledge but something I've just found, I'm pleased with it anyway.
I think that most people who use BBF disengage focusing from the shutter button.
 
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