Back Button Autofocus

Using Back Button Focus on DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras

Objects in the foreground throwing you off?

If you are not using the back button focus on your camera, you will be wasting a lot of shots. This will save you a lot of headaches if you have objects in front of what you are trying to focus on.  Or nearby.  

Most semi and professional cameras will come with the focus as part of the shutter action.  You press half way down to focus, then the rest of the way to fire the shutter and take the picture.

This works for DSLRs and Mirrorless Cameras both. 

Save yourself a lot of headaches and wasted photos. 

Pretty much all semi-professional and professional cameras have a button on the back of the camera whose function can be changed to a focusing button. 

Using the shutter button for focusing sucks.  Press half way down.  Then, as you reframe the photo and press again on the shutter button, voila, what you had intended to be in focus, no longer is.  Because it will often refocus as you press the shutter button.

The function button that can be changed to this feature is usually right where your thumb will sit.  On my DSLR Nikons it was the AutoExposure/AutoFocus Lock (AE-L/AF-L) button.  On my Nikon Z6, the button is ‘AF-ON’.  In your menu settings you can change the function of this button to ‘focus’. 

Once done, you will not be able to focus with your shutter button.  You will now be using your finger for the shutter and thumb for focus. 

It might take a bit of getting used to.  So, if you have an important photo shoot coming up, you may want to practice a bit beforehand.  Once used to it, you will never go back. 

Different makes of cameras will have different buttons for this. 

I’ve included a couple of photos here.  I would suggest doing a search for your camera make/model to find out where, in the menu settings, to make the appropriate adjustments. 

Also, if you hate it this way, it is easy enough to change it back.  But make sure you give it enough time to get comfortable.  I've been using this technique for years and love it.

The step by step for adjusting this button on a Nikon Z6 or Z7 is taken from


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