is it passable to use the ae-l/af-l button to focus, without disabling the shutter release buttons functions. AS I would like to use ae-l/af-l in some situations to focus but not all of the time. I have a d300 that I can use this facility and I would like to use it on the d7000 if possible. Thank you for any advice you can give.
That button locks the focus, exposure or both until the shatter button is fully depressed or the camera is turned off. This allows for setting either focus or exposure to a given setting and the recompose and allow the other action to be set by the camera. This is more flexible than the half press and hold option.
Yes, it certainly is possible to configure the AE-L/AF-L Button to activate autofocus. Check Custom Setting f5 on page 232 in the camera manual for details.
If you choose that setup, the Shutter Release will no longer activate autofocus, but will still initiate VR (with a VR lens, obviously). This is the same arrangement as using the AF-ON button on the D300 to activate autofocus
One of the first things I do when getting a new camera is to set up the AF-ON button. I can continue to hold the AF-ON (AE-L/AF-L converted) during a series of shots of a moving object. Try that with the shutter button.
I can also use that button effectively while VideoGrafting.
What a fantastic feature! I always knew this feature existed, but I never bothered to try it out, until I read this thread. So today, I setup my D7000 to activate auto focus when I press that AE/AF button and it's fantastic! I didn't think I'd like it for some reason, but I love it already.
What I like is that I can focus on the spot I want, then recompose without concern that the camera is going to auto focus again to a different spot. I get Auto focus when I want it, and not when I don't. Very liberating!
I typically setup my cameras to focus with the ae-l/af-l button, and also set the shutter button to AE-L. That way I can focus on a separate region, lock it, meter on a separate region, lock it, and then take my picture.
I have the AE-L/AF-L button set to AE-L and the FN button set to AF-L. That also allows me to lock exposure and/or focus together or separately and still hand the camera over to someone else to take a picture without worrying about or remembering to reset the menus or explaining to them how to make the camera work.