Whether you are using a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, the might exist a special button on the dorsum of it labeled “AEL” or “AE-L / AF-L” (in the case of Nikon) that tin can exist quite useful in many situations. In this article, I volition explain what the AE-L / AF-L push button does, when information technology should be used, and how information technology can be combined with different autofocus modes. I will also demonstrate how I personally employ this push button on my cameras when I ready them upward.
AutoExposure-Lock / AutoFocus-Lock
The AE-L / AF-L button stands for “AutoExposure-Lock and AutoFocus-Lock” and its primary role is to lock photographic camera exposure and/or focus. What does this exactly mean? If y’all are using any of the camera modes like Programme, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or other scene modes, the button could be used to force the camera to use a certain value for shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and white remainder. Since in any of the automatic modes the camera uses its metering sensor to determine the optimal exposure, instead of having your camera re-evaluate the light every time you recompose, you could lock the exposure to a value you are comfortable with – hence the term “AutoExposure-Lock”. There are many cases where using this feature is very helpful.
One example is when you photograph panoramas. Information technology is extremely of import to utilize exactly the same exposure from frame to frame in panoramic photography. If one exposure differs from another, it is practically incommunicable for panoramic software to sew images together in a consequent, continuous form. Another good example is if you are photographing a subject with a constantly changing groundwork and you desire to betrayal the subject exactly the same style from shot to shot. Basically, any time consistency of exposure is required and you practice not want to switch to a full manual fashion, the AE-L push can be very useful.
What well-nigh AutoFocus-Lock (AF-L)? Similar to exposure lock, autofocus lock tin can exist used to finish the camera from making the lens reacquire focus when you recompose. For case, if you are photographing indoors in a dim environment, you will find that using the center focus point is going to requite you the nearly accurate results. This is because the eye focus signal is ever the most authentic, especially on entry-level DSLRs that only have one cantankerous-type sensor. And then if y’all want to use the center focus point to acquire focus, it does not always mean that you want to position your subject area in the center. Every bit soon equally you recompose your shot and half-press the shutter button once more, the photographic camera volition be forced to reacquire focus. If yous shoot in “AF-South” or “Single Area Focus Mode“, you could go on half-pressing the shutter push without releasing information technology when recomposing your shot, which would not force the photographic camera to reacquire focus.
However, if the camera is set to “AF-C” or “Continuous Focus Mode”, and so the camera will e’er continuously reacquire focus when you half-printing the shutter push button and recompose your shot. So if you do non want to deal with these situations, y’all could apply the AutoFocus-Lock feature of the photographic camera to lock the focus on your bailiwick, and then y’all could recompose the shot and take a picture. The focus will remain on your subject and will not change, every bit long every bit you lot proceed to concur the button. Delight annotation that you lot have to be careful when recomposing shots similar this because the focus plane that is parallel to the camera sensor changes, which will oft result in bad focus when using large apertures.
Default AE-L / AF-Fifty Behavior
The default behavior of the AE-Fifty / AF-L push button is typically prepare to lock both camera exposure and focus. Entry-level DSLRs typically accept limited control over this push button’s functionality, while pro-level DSLRs have many ways to control the beliefs of the AE-L / AF-L push. For instance, the Nikon D3400 just has v options for this button: AF / AE lock, AE lock but, AF lock only, AE lock (hold), and AF-ON (see more than on these below), while Nikon D500 has all of these, plus 12 more means to control the push’s beliefs. So the number of ways to customize the AE-L / AF-Fifty button volition depend on the camera model.
Types of AutoExposure and AutoFocus Lock Modes
You might be dislocated when you encounter the different types of AE and AF options in the camera bill of fare. Which 1 does what and what should you set yours to? Let’due south go over each one, but first, go to your camera carte and Navigate “Custom Setting Menu”->”Controls”->”Assign AE-L/AF-L button” or to “Setup Menu”->”Buttons” on some entry-level Nikon DSLRs:
Y’all should see some or all of the below:
– the default behavior of the AE-L/AF-L push button. Will lock both camera exposure (shutter speed, discontinuity, ISO, and white remainder) and lens focus. The feature will only be agile while yous concur down the button. One time you release it, the lock will be released equally well.
AE lock only
– volition only lock the photographic camera exposure, and so focus will be reacquired if you recompose the shot. Too just works while you hold down the AE-L/AF-Fifty push.
AE lock (Reset on release)
– exposure volition be locked in one case you press the AE-L/AF-Fifty button and will stay locked until you take a picture, even if you release it.
AE lock (Hold)
– exposure will be locked when the button is pressed and will stay locked even if you take multiple pictures. The lock will be automatically removed if the camera is inactive for a time period set up in the “Auto meter-off delay” menu setting, or tin can be also removed by pressing the AE-L/AF-L button again.
AF lock just
– but focus will be locked while the button is depressed. The lock is removed every bit presently every bit you release the push button.
Please notation that when the AE-L / AF-50 is depressed and the camera is set up to any of the AE modes, you volition see an “AE-L” indicator in your viewfinder. If you fix it to “AF lock but”, the indicator will not light up.
You lot might likewise observe many other options under “Assign AE-L/AF-L button” such every bit “FV Lock”, “Live View”, etc. I won’t go over these, since these options depend on your camera and will also change the functionality of the AE-L / AF-L button. The merely option I volition mention, is “AF-ON”, because it is a very useful characteristic on entry-level DSLRs like Nikon D3x00 and D5x00-series cameras. Since entry-level DSLRs do not take a dedicated autofocus “AF-ON” button, you can set the AE-L / AF-50 button to acquire focus instead (which volition de-activate focus conquering when y’all one-half-press the shutter release). That way, y’all tin acquire focus with the AE-Fifty / AF-L button and take pictures with the shutter release. And then, y’all don’t have to worry about locking your focus when you recompose, since half-pressing the shutter release button volition do zip.
So, which lock mode do I personally employ and why? When I use an entry-level DSLR, I either choose “AE/AF lock”, so that both exposure and focus stay locked together, or I prepare the button to “AF-ON” and use manual mode to keep my exposure consistent. On higher-finish DSLRs with a defended “AF-ON” button, I ever choose “AE lock (Concord)”, so that only the exposure is locked – the photographic camera will not automatically reacquire focus when the “AF-ON” button is activated. I use this feature quite a flake when taking panoramic shots and I like the fact that the exposure stays locked while I take pictures. Once I am done, I either printing the push once more or let the lock time out. Turning the camera off also releases the lock. Oh, and if you happen to change your camera manner from say Aperture Priority to Shutter Priority or to Program, the exposure values will stay locked.
Exposure Lock and Metering
You might wonder virtually how to properly meter your camera before even locking the exposure. If you lot are confused nigh metering, I highly recommend checking out my “understanding metering modes” commodity, where I become through different types of camera metering modes in item. Determining the correct exposure is relatively easy nowadays with modern DSLRs, because cameras are equipped with circuitous metering systems that utilize diverse algorithms and preloaded templates to accurately set exposure values. On top of that, enough of options to control and fine-melody the exposure are provided to finish-users – different metering modes can control the way exposure is evaluated by the photographic camera, while exposure compensation can exist used to override the calculated exposure.
Let me requite you an example of how y’all can combine camera modes, metering modes, autofocus modes, and autoexposure lock to accept a picture. Say I am photographing my son at sunset on a beach, with the sunday backside him and me in front of him. I am in Discontinuity Priority mode, where I set the aperture and my camera automatically calculates the shutter speed. I unremarkably apply Matrix Metering” mode, so the camera almost probable would expose the background correctly, while my son becomes a silhouette (considering the background is much brighter):
Then if I wanted to expose my son correctly without worrying nigh bravado out the background, I would switch to Spot Metering mode and position the focus point on his confront. The camera would so meter off his face instead, exposing him properly and non paying attention to the background. If I have a picture and he is yet underexposed, I would dial positive exposure compensation to farther brighten him up or if he is overexposed, I would dial negative exposure compensation. Once my exposure looks good, I would press the “AE-L / AF-L” button on the camera (which is set to “AE lock hold”) to lock the exposure and continue taking pictures without worrying well-nigh setting the exposure again. If he constantly moves while I take pictures, I would selection Continuous Autofocus Style (AF-C) to runway his movement.
Remember, all these tools are given to us to simplify our photography and then that we can concentrate more on capturing great images, rather than worrying about properly calculating the exposure. Once you acquire how to apply these dissimilar modes and features, you will be able to capture images the way you want to with ease.
Promise y’all find the above article useful. Let me know if you lot have any questions!