How To Take Tack Sharp Portraits | Back Button Focusing

 Michelle Franzetti asked to learn more about back button focusing. 

 

What is back button focusing?

 By default, most cameras focus when your finger presses halfway on the shutter. With back button focusing, you're using the "AF-ON" button on the back of your camera to focus.

 

Why does back button focusing help get tack sharp portraits?

 

When you use back button focusing, the camera won't refocus when you're clicking the shutter to take the photo since it's using the "AF-ON" button to focus. Also, instead of letting the camera guess where you want it to focus, you're setting the focus point. 

 

NOTE: the camera lens is set to "AF" not "MF". I'm talking about focusing on the camera body. 

 

How to use back button focusing?

 

I use a single point to focus. On the Canon 6D, there are 9 points that you can move the point to. On the Canon 5d Mark iii, there are 64 points that you can move it to. For this top example, I'm showing a 9 point grid. 

 

When shooting the bride and groom, I pick either of their eyes to move the point onto. In groups, I usually pick the center person's eye to focus on. For this top example, I moved the point to his face, then I pushed the "AF-ON" button to set the focus.

 

If the image isn't composed the way I want to (ie what if you wanted to focus on the corners where there are no squares), I'll push the "AF-ON" to lock onto the subject, and then recompose the photo the way I want. 

 

NOTE: Once you lock the focus, you can move left and right without having to refocus because they are on the same focal plane. (think like an X axis) However, if you move forward or backwards, the plane is changing (like Y axis), and you'll need to refocus. I tend to focus before each shot out of habit though. 

 

Google "(your camera) back button focusing" to see how to set the settings in your camera.

 

For more FREE photography education, visit my resources page here!

 

 

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