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Manual focus option is always disabled

edited October 2013 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
I got a new DSLR camera and I'm having trouble in manual focus mode. I'm not able to do a manual focus for nearby objects, even in Auto or Manual mode. Please help!


  • edited October 2013
    What lens do you have?

    There is likely a switch on the lens that you can switch from A (auto) to M (manual).

  • edited October 2013
    Mine is a 18-55mm AF-S lens. I see there are 2 modes on the lens, M and A. When I turn the M mode on, I was not able to visualize the objects clearly, but when I turn the A mode on I can clearly see an object and a green square also appears. I'm not sure if this is correct? What is the M mode on the lens for?
    Please explain! Thanks for the time spent helping me out!
  • M allows you to manual focus. If the object is blurred you need to do just that, focus manually.
  • edited April 2015
    The manual focus ring on these lenses is very small and not very easy to use. It's at the far front, and rotates the entire front of the lens (changed for D5300 and D3300). If you switch to M on the lens it will entirely disengage the auto focus from the lens, and you will have to turn it manually. You will still see the focus confirmation dot in the viewfinder and the range finder if you have enabled it.

    Be sure not to try manually adjusting the lens when it's set to "A" as these lenses do not allow manual fine adjustment, and can be broken if you force them. You must choose one mode or the other.

    In case this is all entirely new, make sure you distinguish between the zoom (which changes focal length only) and the focus, which must be done every time. AF is sometimes so fast it may not be obvious that it's always working. The zoom ring is very big and easily grasped, but the focus ring is small and designed more as an afterthought, since AF is the usual mode here.

    In addition, it can be very hard to focus with the small viewfinder and you must make sure you have adjusted the viewfinder diopter. That's the little +/- wheel on the right side, which compensates for your vision. Turn it until the numbers beneath the image and the focus points in the screen are as clear and focused as they can be. Go + if you're farsighted, and - if you're nearsighted. If the screen is blurry, you will never hit manual focus well.

    You can also switch to live view and manually focus. If you have trouble seeing fine focus in the viewfinder, you can do this wearing glasses as needed, and use the + and - zoom keys next to the finder to zoom the view (this will not zoom the lens or change the picture - only your view). For finest manual macro focusing, this is the best way.
  • edited April 2015
    When using manual focus on the D5100 and a 18-55mm lens with the viewfinder, in the bottom left hand corner there is a little green dot or light. When that is on steady the lens is focused properly. Also when in auto focus there is normally a beep when the lens is in focus.
  • edited April 2015
    You can turn off that focus beep, which I did on about the first day I had my D3200. You can also find a "rangefinder" menu option that changes the exposure meter display in modes other than M to a rangefinder that helps with manual focus. The rangefinder will indicate focus for whatever focus point you have chosen. So if you are manually focusing, you can set the focus point in the viewfinder over a subject, and determine when that point is in focus.

    Be aware that, especially with slow lenses and manual lenses, although the focus dot still functions, it may not always be correct. None of the manual focus aids will work correctly with a lens that is too slow to auto focus.

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