When to Use Back Button Focus for Wildlife Photography

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Have you heard of a technique called back button focus? In this free video, world renowned outdoor photographer Ian Plant takes you on a wildlife safari in Kenya for tips on back button focus. When you are doing wildlife photography, you should use your camera’s predictive autofocus mode because this allows you to track the animal as it moves. But what if the subject doesn’t fall on one of your autofocus points? Ian solves this problem by disabling the front shutter button focus, then enabling the back button focus. Using his own camera, he shows you how this button works. Whenever you press the button, the camera will find the focus point. When you release the button, the camera will lock focus, resulting in the sharp image you were aiming to achieve.

Discussion
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5 Responses to “When to Use Back Button Focus for Wildlife Photography”
  1. Steve

    Since starting to use BBF some time ago, and getting used to it, I find it difficult to come up with a reason NOT to use it. Is there one?

    Reply
  2. Earl J Moniz

    The photo of the tree and big cat was not taken with the lense he is holding in his hand.
    Will simply using back button focus bring me excellent results he demonstrates in this video…?
    Of course not…
    It’s seems a bit deceptive… (sigh)

    Until that time. . .

    Reply
    • Ian Plant

      Hi Earl, the lens is irrelevant to back button focus, as it is a feature of the camera. All of the photos shown in the video were taken using back button focus. And of course simply using back button focus won’t ensure that you get great photos. It is a technical feature that allows you to more effectively track moving subjects and recompose without losing focus when using predictive autofocus – which is exactly what I say in the video. There’s nothing “deceptive” about it.

      Reply