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When you're shooting in a landscape frame of mind, most of the things you're shooting aren't going to move. If they are moving either you're pointed in the wrong direction or something's gone horribly wrong. But in general you're shooting stationary objects, which means that variation from frame to frame is coming by you making slight adjustments to your framing or maybe changes to your exposure. Now, normally by default, your camera is set up so that when you half press the shutter button, it focuses, it meters, and it probably auto wide balances unless you've set a manual wide balance.
And that's great. I normally don't keep my camera configured that way, though. And I especially don't want it configured that way when I'm shooting landscape. What I do is configure my camera so that the shutter button, when I half-press it, meters. For auto-focus, I have to press a different button. In the case of this Rebel XL1, I can configure it so that this button right here is an auto-focus button. In other words, I separate auto-focus from metering. What that gets me when I'm shooting landscape is I can shoot much faster for the types of little adjustments that I'm making from shot to shot.
So for example, I would frame up a shot. Hit this button to auto focus. And now, as long as the distance between my camera and the subject doesn't change, I can zoom, I can reframe, I can make exposure changes, I can make metering changes, whatever I want to do. And I don't have to keep refocusing. If I'm shooting a panorama, this is great because, typically, if I'm shooting a panorama of something distant, the focus point is the same across every frame. So, I press this button to do my focus, and now it's set for all of my frames.
This is particularly good for landscape panoramas because a lot of times as you pan across, you're metering points end up in empty sky and there's nothing for them to focus on. So having the button on the back of the camera configured to focus means that I focus once and then I get to concentrate on the work that I'm doing. This is really exactly how it works when you're manually focusing. You set focus and then you do your stuff. You've just got to remember that if you change position this way, you're going to need to focus again. Every camera configures differently. Not all cameras have this capability.
Check your manual to find out if you can separate the functions on Canon cameras and I believe on Nikon cameras. It's always a custom function. And it has to do with changing basically the programming of any of these buttons. So dig through your manual, see if you can find a way to do that. I guarantee you'll have a speedier time, when you're out shooting landscapes. One caveat. For the first day, you're going to think you're autofocus is broken. You're going to go, that's not focusing, and you're going to get really frustrated. Or you're going to forget to focus and not be able to see that something might be slightly out of focus.
So after you make this change you've got to be really diligent about learning it, but once you're used to it it's a much speedier way to work.
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