Calibrating the viewfinder for proper focus

edited May 2012 Posted in » Nikon D3100 Forum
So I've been noticing recently while having to manually focus a 50mm f/1.8D that 90% of the time the lens will appear super sharp in the viewfinder, but not be in focus in my actual image. Is there a good way to calibrate the viewfinder so that I can get a good idea of what's in focus and what's not? I'd like to avoid using the live view as much as possible, and the green focus light is sometimes too much to pay attention to while trying to frame a scene. Thanks!

Edit: Essentially what I'm wondering is if the diopter adjustment is going to help with this, or if that's simply for the in-eye interface focus.


  • The diopter adjustment wheel by the viewfinder is only to help you see the scene clearly according to your particular eyesight. Some people have slightly off-vision without glasses and want to see clearly through the viewfinder. This has nothing to do with the outcome of the shot itself.
  • I realize this, my question was if it would help with actually setting focus with the viewfinder or not. Unfortunately for me it does not, as it just enlarges or shrinks my view and does not affect my perception of focus. Guess I'll just have to stick with the rangefinder.
  • Howdy @timthetortoise - The D3100 has a relatively small and somewhat dark pentamirror viewfinder which makes it difficult to determine focus...whether you have the diopter perfectly calibrated or not.

    To make things even more difficult, there's no depth of field preview button. So you're best bet is to use 'Live View' whenever appropriate or train your eye to focus manually using the optical viewfinder. Happy shooting!
  • edited December 2012
    I see I'm not the only person with this issue! I wear multi-focal (progressive, no-line) eyeglasses and have been having issues setting the viewfinder properly. I took probably 100 pictures the other day playing with the calibration. I finally decided on one setting that may or may not always work for me, but I will try the live view option next time I want to do something besides auto focus! Thanks!
  • edited December 2012
    If your trying to manually focus and the viewfinder is not focused for your vision, you're a dog chasing your tail.
    Zoom in on a blank wall and use the viewfinder focus wheel to focus the little squares to match your eyes.
  • edited February 2014
    I normally wear my contacts while shooting, but this weekend is a glasses wearing weekend as I'm sure some of you can relate to. I have read to not shoot with your glasses on so I took off my glasses and tried to adjust my diopter, but unfortunately my vision is too bad for the dial to help. Now my problem is how to get the dial back to normal. I don't see any marking on the D3100 next to the dial and I can't find anything in the users manual that says what the dial looks like at normal. Please help.
  • edited February 2014
    Check out page 22 of your manual to help you adjust the viewfinder for best clarity.
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