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Here’s a very good video on how and why you may wish to use back button focus and how to set it up on both Canon and Nikon cameras. The last part of the video explains WHY. By the way,I (Jan Armor) use it all of the time!
And here’s the WHY again, a better explanation than on the video, written by a Canon user, but just as applicable for Nikoners;
This article was updated on January 8, 2013 to include current products.
For years, Canon EOS cameras have offered photographers an option to change the way autofocus is activated. Often referred to by pros as “back-button AF”, this feature lets the user customize the camera so that focusing is performed by pressing a rear button with the photographer’s right thumb. The shutter button still wakes up the camera with a half-press, and fires the shutter with a full press downward.
By separating AF activation from shutter release, it’s possible in some cases to be more effective with AF, and not have the focus thrown off if something momentarily enters the picture area while you’re shooting.
Canon was actually the world’s first camera maker to incorporate such a feature, launching it back in 1989 with the EOS 630 (35mm film SLR). All current EOS digital SLR models have this feature in the camera’s Custom Functions, including the EOS Rebel models, going back to the Rebel XT and XTi.
Why would anyone want to remove AF from the shutter button?
This is a question many users ask when Back-button AF is first explained to them. There are certainly many times where the standard method of operation — press the shutter button half-way down to focus, and then press fully to shoot — works perfectly well. Everything is controlled by one finger, and if you like, you can lock the focus with a stationary subject by holding the shutter button half-way down. Even dedicated supporters of back-button AF will change back to standard camera operation from time to time.
But back-button AF offers some significant advantages, especially for the experienced photographer. Here are some frequently-mentioned ones:
Easier to lock focus
If you are shooting something like a series of portraits of a person, and you want them composed off-center, back-button AF makes it super-easy to take as many pictures as you want. Focus on your subject by pressing the rear button (more on which button later in this article). Once in-focus, take your thumb off the rear button. Re-compose the shot to move your subject off-center. Shoot as many pictures as you like. With focus activation removed from the shutter button, you now can fire any time you like, and remove your index finger from the shutter button after a shot is taken. No matter what, the camera makes no effort to re-focus when you press the shutter button half-way down again.
Easier timing of shots
Similar to point number one above, but yet another benefit of pulling focus away from the shutter button is that critical timing becomes simpler to manage. For example, if you were shooting a speaker at a podium, he or she might periodically look up or make a gesture that would be an ideal instant to capture. If you’ve focused with back-button AF, your index finger is free to shoot at the decisive moment. There are no worries about holding your finger half-way down and waiting, waiting, waiting in that position for your subject to do something interesting.
Even with a very animated subject that may be moving around, you can have your camera’s focus set to AI Servo AF (to track any movement), and just keep your right thumb on the back button to keep focus active, while your index finger can be ready to shoot with no worries about also preserving focus.
Less risk of focus errors with moving subjects
For sports photographers and others taking action pictures, back-button AF lets you stop focus whenever something might interfere with the moving subject you’re tracking — without requiring you to stop shooting. In sports, for instance, it’s common for a referee or another player to come between the camera and an athlete being photographed. With back-button AF, it’s easy to momentarily pull your thumb off the rear button, and you can still keep shooting by pressing the shutter button fully. The camera instantly stops focusing when your thumb comes off the back button. Once the obstruction is out of your way, you can immediately pick-up your primary subject by pressing your thumb on the back button again.
Easier over-riding of AF with full-time manual focus
More than half of Canon’s lenses have a neat feature called full-time manual focus*. Even if the lens’s AF/MF switch is in the AF position, these lenses allow the shooter to instantly adjust focus manually by simply turning the focus ring on the lens. There’s no need to first move the switch to MF.
With back-button AF, this becomes a nearly foolproof feature. Use the autofocus whenever you like by pressing the rear button with your right thumb. Shoot whenever you like by pressing the shutter button. And if you want to touch-up focus, or totally over-ride what the AF is doing, just pull your thumb off the rear button and turn the ring. No matter how many pictures you shoot, pressing the shutter button will not cause the AF to try to kick-in and re-set the focus you just adjusted manually.
Easier macro and close-up focusing
Many times, you’ll find that it’s actually easier to get consistently sharp close-up pictures of small objects by pre-focusing, and then moving yourself forward or backward until you see the critical sharp focus appear in your viewfinder. Once again, with back-button AF active, you can use the AF to get within general range (press the rear button with your thumb, then take your thumb off the button), and move a little bit to get things critically sharp. Most important, you can then shoot freely, without AF trying to re-focus each time you touch the shutter button. Finally, touching-up focus with the full-time manual focus feature on certain Canon lenses is simple and quick, and the autofocus never fights you by trying to un-do what you just adjusted.
Which button is used for back-button AF?
Once you’ve activated this feature, you press one of two buttons: either the rear AE Lock button (marked with an asterisk or star icon), or if your camera is equipped with it, the rear AF-ON button. Either is relatively easy to reach with your right thumb on the back of the camera as you shoot.
Those cameras with the separate AF-ON button also have a Custom Function that lets you flip-flop the roles of the AF-ON button and the adjacent AE Lock button (with asterisk icon). This is called “AF-ON / AE lock button switch” in the Custom Function menu of most recent EOS models. If you find the AE Lock button easier to reach, you may want to engage this function as well.
Activating back-button AF
Back-button AF is engaged by setting the appropriate Custom Function in your EOS camera. Remember, to use any Custom Function, your camera must first be in one of the “creative zone” exposure modes – P (Program auto exposure), Av (aperture-priority mode), Tv (shutter-priority mode), or M (manual exposure mode). Custom Functions are totally locked-out if you’re in the full-auto “green zone”, or a picture-icon setting like the Portrait mode or Landscape mode.
From Jan Armor- An annoying little thing that Apple added without explicitly tell us upfront... I use lightroom on a daily base and suddenly got all those messages that AAE files were not imported from iphone. If they told us I for certain did not hear it...
Lucky enough I had the bright idea to go look on google for AAE and found this thread...
So I know now that the AAE files are not of life importance as they are just side files containing edits made on phone. I can do the edits again if I need them.
Explanation is that it would make the workflow easier... It doesn't... It brings more work. You have to re-edit if you want the exact file as on phone.
These are all minor peeves, my main peeve is that you first have to panic and run into troubles and question marks, without a word upfront from apple... If I did not see it I bet there are many more people out there who did not see it neither...
A work around is to import them in Image Capture, software included in every mac, but that one is adding several steps to a normal workflow. You have to import and then import again from desktop (or wherever you put the folder with the imports via Image Capture) into Lightroom...
A bit of a nuisance. Anyway, I am glad I found this thread and now know what to do...
Member Bill Farrell likes http://www.uglyhedgehog.com as a photo site.
John Mecray suggests this article from MacWorld
"Eight great sites for photography lovers"
History of photography- http://www.overnightprints.com/history_of_photography
From Reuters/Photographers/What Makes a Good Picture
Have you seen http://photo.net/ ? It's a wonderful photo site - started as a small community website by a brilliant man named Philip Greenspun..... I have been a Photo.net member for years and have watched it grow! Many good articles on gear, etc, also. -- Jill Meyers
Digital Outback: http://www.outbackphoto.com/ Lots of hands-on trials of current equipment.
Are you planning a trip and don't have the lens you would like to use? Do you really need that new lens you are drooling over that has those great specs? Is that new camera the one you really want? The answer may be to rent the lens or camera and give it a try.
If you are going on a trip you can have that big, long lens shipped to where you will be staying and mail it back from there; you don't have to lug it on the plane! If you are using it locally, have it shipped to your home; there will probably have to be someone there to sign for it. Or, Hunts is a pick-up and drop-off point for a couple of companies if you are near one of their stores and no one will be home.
Two rental companies members have used are LensProtoGo and LensRentals. If you are a NAPP member, you may be able to get a discount.
Digital Photo Review: http://www.dpreview.com Perhaps
the best "techno-geek" reviews of digital cameras. Wonderful forums to ask
virtually any question you might have. Super resource for the digital photographer
and printer. -- DJ
cnet is a great site to read about equipment reviews
Amazon product reviews are another great source of information on photo-related products.
Are you a digital fan? Here's an article by Michael Reichmann on the battle
of the current titans:
We have at least one member with a passion for large
format photography--great! For those of you interested in this
field, or for the pros and cons vs. traditional 35mm film or digital capture,
this is an excellent and well-reasoned discussion by Bernard Languillier: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/lf-appeal.shtml.
How about film? NOT DEAD! And to prove it, Nikon produced this gem of a
Hi there! Moved into a DSLR and have to face the scary sensor cleaning task?
(once for the record, you are NOT cleaning the sensor, you are cleaning the
glass filter on top of the sensor...but I digress...) Here is a nice site that
covers all the possible solutions in one place --
Film photography: http://www.usefilm.com Just like it says...
Confused about the never-ending debate about film vs. digital? Well here's a site that REALLY examines the issue: http://www.clarkvision.com/index.html
Fron Jan Armor (Mr. Lightroom) who fowards this from LR Guru Laura Shoe. "I agree with her, 5.5 is problematic. Several of my students have actually gotten hung up on this update. I will wait till Adobe gets the kinks are out in LR 5.5, sticking with 5.4. By the way, it is usually a good idea to be cautious before updating any software. Don’t fix what ain’t broken, at least not right away." Jan
While updates have gone smoothly for many people, Adobe has acknowledged that the release of Lightroom 5.5 and Creative Cloud 2014 has been a rocky one in terms of installation issues.
While I don't have specific troubleshooting suggestions for every issue, here are a few tips and resources:
• If you have installed Lightroom 5.5 from the Creative Cloud and it crashes on launch or you are locked out of the Develop and Map modules, in the Creative Cloud app try signing out and signing back in.
• You can also try uninstalling and reinstalling Lightroom. For those with the stand-alone version, you can download the new version directly here.
• If you are still having issues, post in the Adobe forum or onLightroomForums.net. Post as much detail about your issue as possible, including error messages and ideally any relevant screenshots.
• For Photoshop CC installation issues, here is an FAQ from Adobe.
Finally, if you haven't yet updated and want to wait a couple weeks for these issues to settle, this is of course an option as well.
Ask Tim Grey? gets two thumbs up from Jack and Frank
The website of Mark S. Johnson (from Radiant Vista) offers workshops and great Photoshop tutorials. http://www.msjphotography.com/
Kelby one- Scott Kelby's all inclusive site for tutorials, webinars, and workshops. The presentations cover a wide range of topics and are very well done.
Lenswork: http://www.lenswork.com Superb little magazine looking at B and W photography. An elegant, classy publication. Try the audio blogs..which are by Editor Brooks Jensen and done weekly. They are short, they are insightful and he has a great view of our--by which is meant the photographic--world. -- DJ http://www.lenswork.com/lwb.htm
PopPhoto contest winners: http://www.popphoto.com/Popular-Photography-s-16th-Annual-Readers-Contest
From The Luminous Landscape:
Best, Don Jagoe
From The Online Photographer:
Two links worth visiting from Jan Armor's“Great Photographers" class. I’ve always said the ladies have what it takes!
National Geo Women- PBS video (6 minutes)
the women websites http://wovexhibition.org/
VIVIAN MAIER - HER DISCOVERED WORK- This video was created in dedication to photographer VIVIAN MAIER, a street photographer from the 1950s - 1990s. Vivian's work was discovered at an auction in Chicago where she resided most of her life. Her discovered work includes over 100,000 mostly medium format negatives, Thousands of prints, and countless undeveloped rolls of film.
Another site with information about Vivan is https://www.artsy.net/artist/vivian-maier
Photographing Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano by Lucas Jackson:
"Luck is a funny thing"
"Freezing the volcano’s lightning"
What is a Photograph? Or Real vs. "Photoshop job" (as David Pogue, the author
of this article, calls it) http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/25/photoshop-and-photography-when-is-it-real/?ref=technology
Preparing for a gallery exhibition -- here is an interesting discussion on print
many of us don't give a lot of thought to. We either print at the maximum size
of our chosen printer, or default to a common size. Peruse Alain Briot's essay
on the subject and perhaps you will give it a second thought --
From Chris Kosegarten, some excellent legal information for photographers:http://www.krages.com/bpkphoto.htm
Dallas Molerin sent us this link after visiting Susan Stanton's gallery in Asheville, NC: http://www.susanstanton.com/
A link from the Jack and Barbara Renner: http://www.earthlightgallery.com/links.htm
Great weather photography (amazing!) at http://www.jimreedphoto.com.
At SpaceWeather.com you can find news and information about the sun-earth environment including auroras, meteor showers, eclipses, and other celestial happenings. Subscribe to their e-mail service for simple text messages of upcoming sky events.
PhotoSig: http://www.photosig.com Where any photographer can go to have his or her work praised or shredded. Can be highly X-rated, although this is selectable by the user. Excellent tool if you are looking for unvarnished and global critique of your work.
Newport Art Museum: http://www.newportartmuseum.org Our favorite museum!
Going to Paris sometime in the future? Well one of my favorite places to spend a morning or afternoon is near the Marais, at the Maison Europenne de Photograhphie. http://www.mep-fr.org/us/default_test_ok.htm Constantly changing exhibitions, a nice little cafe and you are 2 blocks from some of the best little cafes in Paris. Great street shooting too! Don
Also in Paris, the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, www.henricartierbresson.org. Don's personal favorite all-time photographer. It's great fun to go to Mecca....
Pinhole photography, as demonstrated by our friend Martin R. Anderson: www.martinranderson.com.
From Jan Armor...
"Been posting on Flickr for about a month. Wonderful photo sharing site, highly recommended, great place for inspiration. You have to dig a little but there is some outstanding work presented here. Just type in a word, like "Pemaquid Point" and you'll see hundreds of images. $25 per year and you can upload unlimited amount of files. Great place to store and share your special work. You can download your own, or other people's work, etc. As you can see, I've been using other people's texture screen overlays on some of my pictures." (see Member Photos)
JPEG Magazine -- Share photos and vote on submissions. http://www.jpgmag.com/
DPChallenge -- Submit to challenges, cast your votes, participate in the forums, and much more! http://www.dpchallenge.com/
Zenfolio -- "Combines the best in online photo viewing experience with a flexible shopping cart." http://www.zenfolio.com/
From Lenswork No. 55...
"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." Scott Adams
"We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action." Frank Tibolt
"I have gradually confused photography with life." Jerry Uelsmann
"For me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event." Henri Cartier-Bresson
"It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter because you can invent things. But in photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary." David Bailey
"No matter how slow the film, Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer It has chosen." Minor White
"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." Joseph Chilton Pearce
" Photography is not about cameras, gadgets or gismos. Photography is about photographers. A camera didn't make a great picture anymore than a typewriter wrote a great novel." Peter Adams
"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." Dorothea Lange
"Illusions are art, for the feeling person, and it is by art that you live, if you do." Elizabeth Bowen
"There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, thanks to their art and their intelligence, transform the yellow spot into the sun." Pablo Picasso
"All large tasks are completed in a series of starts." Neil Fiore
"No place is boring, if you've had a good night's sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film." Robert Adams