Not Fully Depressed…Just Half Depressed

What can you do with a half depressed shutter button?

In this short post I’m going to assume that you are a shutter button only photographer. What I mean is that you press the shutter button to focus AND take the shot – One button operation.

So why would you only half depress the button? Two things happen when you half depress the shutter button: the camera locks the exposure and locks the focus. If you release the shutter button AFTER you’ve half depressed it then both metering and focus are lost: as long as you keep the shutter button half depressed they’re locked. So what’s the point? If you’re in single shot mode then you can recompose before you fully depress the button to take the shot. The original subject you metered and focused on will remain focused and metered correctly wherever you put it in the frame. This is a real plus for composition and it helps with your recovery if you’re a cropaholic!

The next great advantage is if you’re doing spot-metering. Half depressing the shutter button allows you to spot meter correctly and then lock the exposure using your Exposure Lock button. You can then apply the appropriate stops (+/-) before you fully depress the shutter button to take the shot.

Check your manual to see if you have a choice to reassign button operations. If so you may wish to change things to back button focus. If you’ve never tried it then please do so because for many of us, once we tried it we never went back. Simply put it’s assigning the half depressed shutter button function to another button on the back of the camera. This allows you to operate metering and focus with your thumb and just use you index finger for fully depressing the shutter button to take the shot. In straightforward terms it means that you’ve moved the half depress function of the shutter button to somewhere else. For many photographers it improves the ergonomic operation of the camera and ultimately feels more normal – whatever that means.

I spoke with a photographer who had great difficulty half depressing the shutter button because they had some issues with motor control and lack of full sensitivity feeling in their fingers…they found it hard to apply just enough pressure to hold the shutter button half way’. I suggested they try back button focusing and once they tried it they felt much more confident in metering and focusing. It worked for them.

None of this is ‘My way or the Highway’. Ultimately the choice is yours…but do give it ago if you’ve not tried it yet.

Happy snappin’ folks

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