Howdy, Stranger!

If you're just starting out in the world of photography and want to learn how to get the most out of your camera, then this forum is your new secret hangout spot!

Take better photos today with my Nikon D3200 Cheat SheetsCheck 'em out!

Cannot get the AF out of Auto mode

edited January 2017 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
I'm trying to select a specific focal point, but I can't get the camera out of Auto mode. The box on the lower right of the display shows all focal points selected and has "Auto" right above it. I've tried every mode on the dial and also gone into the AF settings to try AF-A, AF-S and AF-C; none of these get the focal points out of the "Auto" setting. The only thing that allows me to use the direction pad to select a focal point is putting it in MF, which disables the AF function of the lens.

What am I missing here?



  • There are two separate menu settings for AF. One selects AFA, AFS and AFC, and the other selects the zones used by AF. It's confusing, but it's the only way to make all the combinations work without a dozen choices on one button.

    The easiest access to the settings is with the [i] button on the bottom left. Use the directional pad to navigate to "AF Area Mode," which is just below the "Focus Mode." There you will find the choice of Single Area, Dynamic Area, 3D, and Auto Area. In AFS, you only have Single point and Auto Area enabled. In AFC and AFA you get all the modes (although not all will work when AFA has chosen single servo). Auto Exposure defaults to Auto Area, but allows you to change it. It limits you to AFA mode only, though.

    Single point will track in AFC, but only when you keep the subject in the single spot. Dynamic Area will track in AFC even if the subject moves out of the spot. 3D will also track in AFC if the subject moves around. Auto will choose its own subject, and in AFC may or may not track, depending on what it has chosen.

    For a specific subject that you can track well, single point works best. If you are good at panning, this may get you the most accurate birds in flight. Works fine for regularly moving objects you can pan, such as cars and trains, too.

    For a subject that moves erratically or quickly, Dynamic Area may work better, but for some subjects, if the subject is larger than the single point, focus may shift to a different part of the subject. For example, if you are tracking an animal, focus will stay on it, but may shift to a different part of it, going for an extremity when you had originally aimed for the eyes. No issue if the subject is far away and small anyway. Nice for bugs, and a good default setting which usually gets what you need.

    3D will track, and works well for an isolated subject, but it uses color information, so it may jump to a different subject if your chosen one is not unique. Good for a bird, not so good for a single football player in uniform. Worth a try. Sometimes works well for erratically moving bugs and bees.

    Auto area generally looks for the closest subject, with a brain that supposedly recognizes faces. It can be good in a pinch, but may choose the wrong subject. I have heard some recommendations that it works well for birds in flight, since the bird is the only subject. I tend not to use it, so can't be confirm that.

    All the modes but Auto area begin with a chosen point. The difference is what they do after the subject starts moving. You can choose among the 11 points using the rear multi control. To quickly recenter the point, hit the [OK] button. Keep track of this, as it's very easy to move the point by accident.
  • edited January 2017
    Thanks, Bruto. That answered my question. Nearly all the work I do is wildlife/nature with a subject that isn't in motion. The Single Point mode is exactly what I need. The Auto Area mode was selecting whatever was closest, which could be the tiniest twig on the tree a bird is sitting in. It was infuriating.

    Much appreciated!
Sign In or Register to comment.