Free Back Button AF Guide For Nikon

(Note – if you already have my Secrets ToThe Nikon Autofocus System e-book, you don’t need this book – you already have all the info 🙂 )

Have you ever wondered how back button autofocus works?

Have you ever wondered how to set up Back Button AF (BBAF) for your Nikon?

Well, you’re not alone! My inbox overflows with questions about Back Button AF all day long, so I decided to go ahead and put a free guide together.

This 30-page guide will explain everything you ever wanted to know about Back Button AF for Nikon, from why the heck you’d want to use it in the first place, to how to set it up, to actual usage, and it will answer lots of common questions. 

Plus, best of all, The Back Button Autofocus Guide For Nikon Cameras is 100% free! Just download and enjoy! 

It covers Back Button AF setup for the following cameras:

Nikon D5, D4, D4s
Nikon D850, D800, D810,
Nikon D750
Nikon D600, D610
Nikon D500
Nikon D7500, D7200, D7100
Nikon D5xxx series, D3xxx series


Also, note that this publication is only a (very) small adaptation from my Secrets To The Nikon Autofocus System book. The bulk of this guide actually comes from a single chapter that includes not only Back Button AF, but also several other alternative focusing methods. 

Of course, the full Nikon AF book is 494 pages long so this is only the very slightest taste of what’s in that publication (about 6% of the information, to be exact). So, if you like what’s included here, you’ll really enjoy the full book. Head to the page and give it a peek – I promise, you’ll like what you see. And don’t just take it from me, check out the testimonials page too. 

You can download it at the link below (for download help, see this page).

All I ask in return is that you tell your friends about it. Thanks!!

Free Download – The Back Button Autofocus Guide For Nikon Cameras – Click here

For visual learners, I have a video that covers the topic as well that uses animation to show the benefits of Back Button AF.


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This entry was posted in Nikon Gear, Techniques, Using Your Gear.

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40 Comments on "Free Back Button AF Guide For Nikon"

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Yousif A Almadani

chasing herons using gimbal head and mono pod is very difficult i like handheld shooting

Nigam Machchhar
Hi Steve, Not sure I am doing something wrong or it is general issue with 153 AF point supported body or even day one issue from Nikon on BBF. Here is what I observed if I select singe AF point with AF-C mode for non moving subject because I want to do focus and recompose. Here is steps I am following, first lock target by pressing AF-ON button. Now take finger off from AF-ON button, recompose and just press shutter button (not at all touching AF-ON button again), still what I have observed that camera is trying to engage AF… Read more »
Connie Doherty

I was unable to dowload after my purchasr due to an error


new discussion. Steve, i couldn’t find your e-book version of the Secrets to the Nikon Auto-Focus System. Can you tell me how to get it for the kindle?

James McDonald

I am left eye dominate and when i use the bbf on my Nikon D40X i am poking my right eye with my thumb knuckle. Can you suggest another button? i don’t see a way around this. Thanks for all the tips.


Loved reading through BBaf guide. I have a D7000 and I have been using bbaf for a while. Your book gave me a better way to set it up, thanks. I hope to upgrade to d500 soon. When I do I will get the big book. I love the folksy way you write. Just like we were talking to me easy to folow.


Duh. I printed the whole thing out and THEN noticed that it does not apply to my camera (D3400). I watched another of your videos (tips) and feverishly wrote down all the instructions, but again realized AFTER that, that my D3400 does not have a “custome settting menu”.


Thanks so much for this. Bought your book. When I shoot with my vertical camera grip , bbaf does not seem to work. The grip shutter release causes the af to engage. Is there a workaround for these vertical shots? I’m using a d750 with vello grip and it works as long as I’m using the cameras shutter, but not if I use the grip shutter.


There is a separe setting for the grip. You go to something like MB-DB16 settings or whatever the grip is called and change AE/AF lock button to AF ON. Then you can also back button focus using vertical grip


Why not set AF-A instead of AF-C?

PS: love the book!


Check out the video again as Steve explains why he (and myself for one) is not a fan of AF-A 😉

Eric Bowles
With AF-A the camera determines whether the subject is stationary or moving, and then chooses the AF Servo mode accordingly. But when it’s wrong – it takes a couple of seconds to correct. I was set up to photograph a nice black bear in a stream. I knew that when it left the stream it would shake off the water like a dog making a great photo. AF-A recognized a stationary subject and with AF-S the default is Focus priority – the camera will not fire until focus is achieved. The camera failed to fire – TWICE. There is no… Read more »

Thanks Steve!

Hi Steve, in the PDF you say: Next, set your AF-C priority selection (Custom Settings Menu > Autofocus > AF-C priority selection) to one of the “Release” modes and NOT to “Focus”. If it’s set to “Focus,” you won’t be able to use this method in a focus-and-recompose situation, and it kind of defeats the whole purpose of using BBAF. Why would selecting the Focus priority disable one from doing focus-and-recompose with BBAF ? I’m doing it like that for years (D610) and it works great, it’s just not taking pictures when not acquiring focus, but only if you hold… Read more »
John Brancato

Thanks for the info. My users manual doesn’t quite explain it with the simplicity you have produced.


I never knew of this but since I read your advice a while back, I love it.
Thank you


Great Vid Steve
Been using BBF for years now……….no regrets
Your Vids are precise and excellent and very easy to follow

Joe T

Steve, I got your eBook on Secrets to Nikon Autofocus system when it first released, even though I use Canon system. Great book and easy to read ! I managed to adapt most of them to my Canon bodies and my keep rates have improved considerably. I have not use Live View to fine tune the autofocus until I read your book, and that is particularly important for landscape photography. Like you said, BBAF is great both for wildlife and landscape. Keep up the great work.


When using BBF, how can the exposure be locked-in at the focus point?


Thanks, Steve. Found it in the guide pp19-21 just b4 you responded. Enjoy!

Jacques Grilli

BBF – It does work with the Df – why is not listed ?

Cesar Roberti

Thanks Steve!

Mark from NJ
Steve, thanks for the free BBAF ebook, it answered a lot of my questions. I already have your wildlife ebook and just bought your AF ebook. A question still on the BBAF. 1. When holding down the AF-ON button, before you actually take the shot do you half press the shutter button and then when ready to take the shot press shutter button all the way down? ( assuming you don’t have exposure lock activated when shutter is half pressed and using aperture priority mode). 2. In the past when traveling with my wife on vacation I was using AF-S… Read more »
Having used the shutter release for focusing for years using the back button now takes getting used to. The other day I couldn’t figure out why my lens wasn’t focusing then I finally remembered that I switched over to the back button for focusing. I really like this mode over the other method and thank you for highlighting and setting up this important function in “Secrets to the Nikon Autofocus System”. For you readers who haven’t yet purchased Steve’s two e-books I highly recommend getting them as there is a wealth of information there as well as how to set… Read more »
Joel Willstein

I’m left handed as well, but when I lost my eyesight in my left eye, I had to learn to use my right eye for just about everything. Took a few days, but now using my right eye is completely automatic to the point I never think about it.

Ivan Strickon

Your recommendation to use back button auto focus is great. Only problem I had on the D600 is that I am left handed and use my left eye and the back button is not convenient. But, using your instructions I programmed the preview button on the front top and this works great. My finger is right there.