Your E-Mount camera shares the default behavior of many less sophisticated point-and-shoot cameras when you take a picture. When you press the shutter release button half-way, the camera focuses, then sets the exposure, then takes the picture when the button is fully depressed.
Sony a6300 with ShutterBands enhancements installed.
For taking snapshots, this works fine most of the time. But when you want to insure a really great result, you need more control over this process - especially the focusing.
You can assign the focus step to another button on your camera so you can thoughtfully and carefully set the focus. Using some of the great features on your Sony camera, you can be certain your subject is tack-sharp rather than leaving it up to chance. There have been many times when I thought I had a great shot, only to be disappointed when I viewed the photo on my Mac and discovered it was slightly out of focus. Ugh!
Most modern DSLR and Mirrorless cameras provide a menu selection for decoupling the focus step from the shutter release button. This is usually called "back button focus" because a button on the back of the camera is assigned to auto-focus. Here's how you can do that with your Sony E-Mount camera.
Step 1. Turn Pre-AF Off. Pre-AF is a preset that allows your camera to begin focusing even before you touch the shutter release button. I don't want it to do that when I'm taking control of when auto-focusing occurs. To turn it off:
- Press the MENU button
- Go to GEAR screen 3.
- Select Pre-AF.
- Touch the Center button and set Pre-AF to Off.
Step 2. Turn AF w/shutter Off. This is the setting that tells your camera to auto-focus when the shutter release button is depressed. We'll not be using that anymore. To turn it off:
- Press the MENU button
- Go to GEAR screen 5
- Select AF w/shutter.
- Touch the Center button and set AF w/shutter to Off.
Step 3. Decide which button you want to use for focusing. My preference is C1 - right next to the shutter release button on top of my a6300. Then I can focus and shoot with my index finger without any delays. To set C1 to handle focusing:
- In the MENU go to GEAR screen 7.
- Scroll to Custom Key (Shoot) and select with the Center button.
3. In the Custom Key (Shoot) screen select Custom Button 1.
4. Scroll to AF On and select it with the Center button.
Congratulations - you've just assigned C1 as your new Auto-Focus button!
So here's how you can use this new powerful button.
Focus the camera on the most important element in your photo by pressing the C1 button. When you see the green "focus achieved" indicator, release C1. Your focus is now set and locked. Now you can concentrate on framing your shot, and when you're ready, take the picture. Take another. And another.
Your camera will no longer try to re-focus each time you depress the shutter release button. There's no need to change the focus unless the distance to your subject changes.
I really like taking control of the auto-focusing on my a6300. Automatic is nice - but most of the time, I want to be in charge of this critical step of my photography work flow.
Having a ButtonBump on C1 really makes this technique work for me. Without the ButtonBump, finding C1 is a little bit uncertain. I have to feel around for it. ButtonBumps remove the uncertainty. It's instantly available - and that's what I want when I'm shooting.
I'll be expanding on this idea in my next blog post. There are additional things you can do to make "ButtonBump Focus" even more powerful.
Thanks for reading!