A simple way to switch focus from left to right for sport photography with the Fuji X-T2

When shooting sport photography with a Canon 5dM3, I used back focus buttons : I assigned the left one to AF-ON and the right one to * (AE Lock). On the field, I then focused with the right or the left button with one interaction and shot the picture with the shutter button. I got pretty hardwired with this process…

Then I switched to a Fuji x-t2 and tried to mimic my previous habits. But I quickly noticed that one can only define one focusing point with this camera… So I had to figure out how to use my x-t2 for sports… This is my journey !

First, a brief description of how I shoot basketball : I sit somewhere near the field. Sometimes the action takes place on the right and sometimes on the left, thus my need to change the focusing point quickly… I wanted to shoot in AF-C continuous mode, also in burst mode, and at first had not chosen between a single focus point or a zone. In this post, I chose the zone mode, but the same method can be applied with a single focus point…

At the very beginning, I tested AF-C, slow burst mode CL, single focus point. I made the focus stick directly available without a push (User Setting > Button/Dial Setting > Focus lever setting : ON). Then I minimized the number of interactions from left to right by choosing 91 focusing points instead of 325 :

For sport, I need quick autofocus, so I wanted to use only the phase detection autofocus points (PDAF) and not the contrast detection autofocus points (CDAF). In the picture above, PDAFs are the 49 big squares in the center of the frame.

Now when going from left to right, I had to move through 6 focusing points, so 6 interactions… I realized that the ball was far quicker than my thumb… Thought “you’ll get used to it”… And began to count 1-2-3-4-5-6 for every move from left to right… And when I missed, I often landed on a CDAF instead of a PDAF… So I digged further…

Instead of the single focus point, I chose to test the zone focus mode (still AF-C and CL) :

The number of interactions dropped from 6 to 4 ! Great ! 1-2-3-4… That’s better… but still to slow… and still the CDAF landing issue… Still deaper…

Then I stayed with the zone focus mode in AF-C but changed from the slow burst mode CL to the hight burst mode CH. Here are the available focus points :

With this configuration, I could only choose phase detection points PDAF ! But still 4 interactions for 1 move… Almost there…

And then the number of interactions dropped to 1 when I realized that the shorter way to go from left to right was to go 1 interaction to the left :

So cool ! One move from left to right is now equal to one interaction… No more counting, just be slightly reversed wired… Now I can enjoy shooting basketball with my x-t2 !

Here is what I see now in the viewfinder :

And here is the picture :

This is it… I wanted to share this journey ! I hope it will help some folks ! If you have additional ideas, suggestions, please leave a comment…

That’s all for today.

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By Laurence Bichon

I am a pro photographer in Meudon, near Paris, France. I enjoy photography, art, teaching and spleeping in the wild. I don't try anymore to hide that I'm a geek (I've worked as an software engineer for 20 years). My blog is about my photography journey.