"Back-Focus" approach workable on PENs?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by CarlB, Oct 2, 2011.

  1. CarlB

    CarlB Mu-43 Veteran

    Under dim lighting conditions sometimes I want to take shots without refocusing.

    There's an approach that has been developed to help with this and similar situations: "Back-Focus button assignment," or such.

    The idea is to separate the focus (and exposure settings) from the shutter button. With most default camera settings, pressing the shutter button half-way sets the focus and exposure, which is desirable most of the time. The "back-focus" allows for a separate button to auto-focus once (and exposure set) then take however many shots with the shutter button without refocusing.

    I've been looking through the PEN manuals. While it seems as if the AFL/AEL modes and programmable button assignments might make this possible, I sure can't figure out how to make it happen.

    Has anyone had success setting up a PEN camera toward this?

  2. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    I have. I have it set up when I have the camera set to manual focus, the AFL/AEL button is simply dedicated to AF, not AE.
  3. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    This is the only way I shoot a digital camera, and the system has not changed from the Olympus E-System DSLRs to the Olympus PEN. Exact same setup.

    Go to Menu => Sprocket => Button/Dial => AEL/AFL. There you can set Single AF, C-AF, and MF modes. Mode 3 is the one that assigns any of those AF types to the back-button. If you set MF to Mode 3, then that will still give you MF capabilities with the focus ring, but will add S-AF capabilities to the back-button. If you set C-AF to Mode 3, that will give you continuous AF as long as you hold down the back-button. You can also set S-AF to Mode 3, but in my opinion this is senseless if you have MF set to to Mode 3. You get S-AF + MF by using MF Mode 3 anyways. I just leave S-AF to the default Mode 1 just in case I ever for whatever crazy reason want to go back to shutter-focus. But I never do. ;)

    Next, after you have your AF modes set, all you need to do is assign your AFL button, which will be your back focus button. On the E-PL2 this is in Menu => Sprocket => Button/Dial => Button Function, but this is the one part that can vary between models. For instance, on my old E-System cameras there was only one AFL button but it could be swapped to the Fn button so you had two choices instead (if I remember, I think the E-P1 was the same). With the newer PEN cameras your possibilities are much more expandable! The E-P3 has the most customizable buttons yet. On my E-PL2 I set the big red Direct-to-Video button to AFL as my back-button.

    Of course, you then need to go through your regular control panel to set your camera to use one of the AF types that you have set to Mode 3, or use Menu => Sprocket => AF/MF => AF Mode to do that.
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  4. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    What Ned said. BTW, I set this to manual focus because if I want to put AF back on the shutter button, it is really easy to set the mode back to AF.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. CarlB

    CarlB Mu-43 Veteran

    Hey thanks both so much!!

    I'll try this out a bit later, and no doubt will have a few questions. But it's great to hear that this is doable.
  6. Phoque

    Phoque Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 18, 2011
    Ontario, Canada
    In the EP-3 manual, it's on page 88. It's clearly explained, I've tried it and it works as advertized.
  7. elandel

    elandel Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 16, 2010
    Milan, Italy
    Thanks. l'm also trying but not able to do it. Does it work the same on Pana bodies?
  8. CarlB

    CarlB Mu-43 Veteran

    Worked perfectly, thanks.