Ac tion stations
M/A-M vs A-M
Nikon lenses have a switch for switching between AF and manual focus, but on some it’s an M/A-M rather than A-M switch. These offer manual focus override in autofocus mode – you can half-press the shutter button to autofocus, then turn the focus ring manually.
Lock the focus
Sometimes you want the accuracy of autofocus, but the repeatability of manual focus, such as when you’re shooting a landscape. Leave the lens set to autofocus to get the initial focus, then slide the switch on the lens to the M position and the focus will stay the same.
Maximise depth of field
Autofocus systems are designed to focus on a single plane. If you are going for maximum depth of field, you may need to focus mid-way between two objects, not on one or the other. Use single-point AF and pick a mid-point to focus on, or switch to manual focus.
Infinity… and beyond
It can be hard to focus in near darkness. An old trick is to focus manually and then turn the focus ring until it stops, assuming that’s ‘infinity’ focus. This doesn’t work with modern lenses, which have extra travel. Infinity will be slightly before the ring stops turning.
Focus in Live View
Manual focus may have been accurate with film SLRs, which had big viewfinders, but it’s not so easy with the smaller focusing screen in a modern Nikon D-SLR. However, if you switch to Live View and zoom in, you can judge manual focus with pin-sharp accuracy.
You can also use the electronic rangefinder option to confirm focus if you’re having problems with focusing. While the viewfinder display is active, look for the green AF confirmation lamp in the bottom-left corner of the viewfinder as you turn the focus ring on the lens.