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Manual focus won't work

edited March 2017 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
Hi. I am using the Manual focusing function, but the focusing motor won't engage to focus on the spot I select. The focusing motor does work in all the auto focus functions, but not LiveView. I have M/A selected on the lens and have done several resets, cleaned the contacts and tried everything else I can imagine. Is there a secret button I have missed? A piece of my memory card broke off in my camera which led it to read 'No SD Card Inserted.' I pushed tons of buttons and blew air into the card reader before I figured out that problem, so I'm wondering if one of those actions caused this problem. Thank you so much for any help you can give me!


  • edited March 2017
    I take it from this that you're using a lens with M/A as its auto mode, which allows manual override of the AF. Is this a Nikon lens, or third party?

    With a Nikon lens of this sort, if you have the camera set to AF, and the lens set to M/A, it should re-start focusing when you re-press the shutter button or the back button if you're using BBF. If you override the AF manually, it will remain at that setting until you restart focusing. This should be true for any AF mode, including AFC. When you manually override, it cancels the tracking in AFC.

    If you're using any manual focusing option in the camera, the lens will not AF in any way, no matter what the lens is set to. You can manually focus a lens with A/M setting when the camera is set to AF, but the camera's manual function turns off all auto focusing everywhere.

    If this is an internal focusing lens without a distance window, and fairly short, it may be focusing so fast that you don't see it. Make sure when using live view that it really is failing to refocus, by aiming it at radically different distances.

    I have only the D3200 and D7100 to try on this, and they both behave as one would expect, but on the D7100, which has a separate Live View function for movies and stills, AF behavior changes in the movie setting. While AF still tracks in still mode, it operates only once in movie mode and does not refocus.

    When you switch to Live View, a different set of AF options will appear on the menu. On the D3200, if you choose M in one, it will carry over to the other (and it's a hardware switch on the D7100), but there's a possibility it differs here, so you should switch to LV and make sure first that if there's an option here you set it to still, not movie, mode, and then go to the AF menu and make sure the settings are as you want them there.

    As a last resort, you might try a hard reset. You can go to the menu, and reset the options for shooting and setup menus, or, so I've read, you can push the [menu] and [i] buttons simultaneously for a few seconds and reset most things, which is the way to do it if you can't even open the menu. That of course will do away with any customized settings you've made, but I have heard of a few cases where through no fault of the operator, the camera misbehaved and this restored it.

    If you have, or can borrow, another AF lens, it's worthwhile to try that and see if it behaves any differently.
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