Problem taking pictures with viewfinder on my D3100

edited February 2012 Posted in » Nikon D3100 Forum
I'm facing a strange problem. Sometimes when I try to take pictures using the viewfinder, the camera won't take a picture. I can hear the lens focusing, but the shutter won't click. However, when I switch to Live View it takes pictures every time, irrespective of the settings. Am I doing something wrong or is there something wrong with my D3100?


  • Howdy Jatin - My guess is that your current AF point or AF mode is unable to lock focus, when shooting in regular mode. When this happens, the D3100 will disable the shutter release. I would set the focus mode to Single-servo AF and adjust the focus point to Auto-area AF. Both of these options can be tweaked by pressing the "i" button and then navigating to the right hand column of the LCD info display.

    The reason Live View focusing works, is because it uses a different focusing system. Generally speaking, Live View focusing is not as fast or accurate when compared to regular shooting, which leads me to believe your AF point or AF mode isn't setup correctly. Let me know if that works for you.
  • edited February 2012
    Moose - Thanks a lot. This worked. My camera was in continuous focus mode and may be that was the reason.

    Are there some specific things i should keep in mind to avoid this problem in locking focus? Is this something which may happen in any camera?
  • @jatin - Glad it worked! Autofocus really depends on the amount of light available and the subject you're trying to capture. When shooting in low-light, autofocus will slow down quite a bit. When trying to capture moving subjects, autofocus will tend to "hunt" (go in and out of focus).

    Generally speaking, it's a good idea to stick with the Single-servo AF mode and set your focus point to Single-point AF when shooting motionless subjects. With these settings in place, you'll be able to use the center focus point to focus on your subject by half-pressing the shutter button. Keeping the shutter button half-pressed, you can re-frame the shot for better composition and then fully press the shutter to capture the shot.

    For moving subjects, switch to Continuous-servo AF mode and set your focus point to Auto-area AF. With these settings in place you'll be able to continuously focus on a moving subject by half-pressing the shutter. Once you're happy with the composition, just fully press the shutter to capture the shot.

    For more info on all of this see my article on Focus modes and Focus points for the D3100. Happy shooting! :)
  • I'm shooting in the Aperture (A) mode and have the above settings set. Even when I have the flash up, it will still focus when it's pressed halfway but take a while to take the actual picture. I end up focusing 3 or 4 times before the picture is actually taken. any ideas?
  • @hatgirl - Your current AF point or AF mode is unable to lock focus. When this happens, the D3100 will disable the shutter release. This usually occurs indoors or when there's not enough light...hence the reason for having to focus multiple times before the D3100 can lock focus and allow you to actually take the shot. Only real way around it is to turn up the amount of available light in the room.
  • edited May 2015
    I'm also having problems with my viewfinder mode.
    I can focus fine in live view, but not in viewfinder mode. When I bought the camera a green box would appear around the face of the person whose picture I was taking; this box no longer appears (it appears in live view though).

    In addition my camera will only let me change from AF-A to MF.

    Please help!
  • edited May 2015
    In viewfinder view if the AF is working, you should see one or more little red dots in the screen. In single point or dynamic or 3D mode, the focus will begin on whatever dot you have chosen with the arrow keys. In multi-point, a number of dots should light as the camera chooses focus points. It's easy to get the dot displaced from the center by accidentally pushing an arrow key. Hit the [OK] button to recenter it.

    Remember that there are two separate menu settings for AF. On a D3200, at least, the first focus mode allows AF S, C, A, or M. The second focus area allows S, dynamic, 3D or multi. If you choose S for the mode, it will gray out the choices in the second setting. You must be set at A or C to get all the tracking choices.

    It's possible that there is a malfunction too. Try resetting the lens, and if necessary you may need to have the AF sensor cleaned. First I would try making sure the lens is properly seated. Try a different lens if you can and make sure all settings are correct. If you get a visible dot in the screen, and the lens is set to AF, it should be capable of focusing on a reasonably well lit object. If not I'd consider having it looked at.
  • edited November 2016

    I tried all the above, but did not resolve my issue with the viewfinder.
    Finally I removed the lens and fixed it again, and that resolved my problem.
    Hope it will help someone like me who is a beginner. :P
  • Thanks for the update, @suraj_karnati. It's a good reminder to do this before much else. The contacts are pretty reliable, but because the lens must be able to withstand being installed and removed many times without wearing out, the pressure on the contacts must be very light. Anyway, I'm glad it was not a serious problem.

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