Focus can be adjusted automatically, manually, or using touch controls. How the camera focuses is governed by your choice of focus mode and AF-area mode.

Choosing a Focus Mode

The focus mode controls how the camera focuses. The focus mode can be selected using the Focus mode items in the i menu and the photo and movie shooting menus (0 Focus Mode, Focus Mode, Focus Mode).

At default settings, the focus mode can also be selected by holding the Fn2 button and rotating the main command dial (0 The Function Buttons (Fn1 and Fn2)).

Option Description
AF-S Single AF For stationary subjects. Press the shutter-release button halfway to focus. If the camera is able to focus, the focus point will turn from red to green; focus will lock while the shutter-release button is pressed halfway. If the camera fails to focus, the focus point will flash red. At default settings, the shutter can only be released if the camera is able to focus (focus priority).
AF-C Continuous AF For moving subjects. The camera focuses continuously while the shutter-release button is pressed halfway; if the subject moves, the camera will predict the final distance to the subject and adjust focus as necessary. At default settings, the shutter can be released whether or not the subject is in focus (release priority).
AF-F Full-time AF The camera adjusts focus continuously in response to subject movement or changes in composition. When the shutter-release button is pressed halfway, the focus point will turn from red to green and focus will lock. This option is only available in movie mode.
MF Manual focus Focus manually (0 Manual Focus). The shutter can be released whether or not the subject is in focus.

Autofocus

The display may brighten or darken while the camera focuses and the focus point may sometimes be displayed in green when the camera is unable to focus. The camera may be unable to focus using autofocus in the following situations:

  • The subject contains lines parallel to the long edge of the frame
  • The subject lacks contrast
  • The subject in the focus point contains areas of sharply contrasting brightness, or includes spot lighting or a neon sign or other light source that changes in brightness
  • Flicker or banding appears under fluorescent, mercury-vapor, sodium-vapor, or similar lighting
  • A cross (star) filter or other special filter is used
  • The subject appears smaller than the focus point
  • The subject is dominated by regular geometric patterns (e.g., blinds or a row of windows in a skyscraper)

Turning the Camera Off

The focus position may change if you turn the camera off and then on again after focusing.

Low-Light AF

For improved focus when lighting is poor, select AF-S and choose On for Custom Setting a11 (Low-light AF).

AF-Area Mode

The focus point can be positioned using the sub-selector (0 The Sub-Selector) or multi-selector. AF-area mode controls how the camera selects the focus-point for autofocus. The default setting is Single-point AF, but other options can be selected using the AF-area mode items in the i menu and the photo and movie shooting menus (0 AF-Area Mode, AF-Area Mode, AF-Area Mode).

At default settings, AF-area mode can also be selected by holding the Fn2 button and rotating the sub-command dial (0 The Function Buttons (Fn1 and Fn2)).

Option Description
3 Pinpoint AF Recommended for shots involving static subjects, such as buildings, in-studio product photography, or close-ups. Pinpoint AF is used for pinpoint focus on a selected spot in the frame. This option is only available when photo mode is selected and Single AF is chosen for Focus mode. Focusing may be slower than with single-point AF.
d Single-point AF The camera focuses on a point selected by the user. Use with stationary subjects.
e Dynamic-area AF The camera focuses on a point selected by the user. If the subject briefly leaves the selected point, the camera will focus based on information from surrounding focus points. Use for photographs of athletes and other active subjects that are hard to frame using single-point AF. This option is only available when photo mode is selected and Continuous AF is chosen for Focus mode.
f Wide-area AF (S) As for Single-point AF, except the camera focuses on a wider area, the focus areas for Wide-area AF (L) being larger than those for Wide-area AF (S). Use for snapshots or photos of moving subjects that are hard to frame using single-point AF, or in movie mode for smooth focus during panning and tilting shots or when filming moving subjects. If the selected focus area contains subjects at different distances from the camera, the camera will assign priority to the closest subject.
g Wide-area AF (L)
h Auto-area AF The camera automatically detects the subject and selects the focus area. Use on occasions when you don’t have time to select the focus point yourself, for portraits, or for snapshots and other spur-of-the-moment photos. The camera gives priority to portrait subjects; if a portrait subject is detected, an amber border indicating the focus point will appear around the subject’s face or, if the camera detects the subject’s eyes, one or the other of their eyes (face/eye-detection AF). This frees you to concentrate on composition and your subject’s expression when photographing active portrait subjects (0 Face/Eye-Detection AF). Subject tracking (0 Subject Tracking) can be activated by pressing the J button.

s: The Center Focus Point

In all AF-area modes except Auto-area AF, a dot appears in the focus point when it is in the center of the frame.

Quick Focus-Point Selection

For quicker focus-point selection, choose Every other point for Custom Setting a5 (Focus points used) to use only a quarter of the available focus points (the number of points available for Wide-area AF (L) does not change). If you prefer to use the sub-selector for focus-point selection, you can choose Select center focus point for Custom Setting f2 (Custom control assignment) > Sub-selector center to allow the center of the sub-selector to be used to quickly select the center focus point.

Face/Eye-Detection AF

When photographing portrait subjects with Auto-area AF, use Custom Setting a4 (Auto-area AF face/eye detection) to choose whether the camera detects both faces and eyes (face/eye-detection AF) or only faces (face-detection AF). If Face and eye detection on is selected and a portrait subject is detected, an amber border indicating the focus point will appear around the subject’s face or, if the camera detects the subject’s eyes, one or the other of their eyes (face/eye-detection AF). Faces detected when Face detection on is selected are similarly indicated by an amber border. If AF-S is selected for focus mode, the focus point will turn green when the camera focuses.

Focus point

If more than one portrait subject or more than one eye is detected, e and f icons will appear on the focus point, and you will be able to position the focus point over a different face or eye by pressing 4 or 2. If the subject looks away after their face is detected, the focus point will move to track their motion.

During playback, you can zoom in on the face or eye used for focus by pressing J.

Face/Eye-Detection AF

Eye detection is not available in movie mode. Eye and face detection may not perform as expected if:

  • the subject’s face occupies a very large or very small proportion of the frame,
  • the subject’s face is lit too brightly or too poorly,
  • the subject is wearing glasses or sunglasses,
  • the subject’s face or eyes are obscured by hair or other objects, or
  • the subject moves excessively during shooting.

Subject Tracking

When Auto-area AF is selected for AF-area mode, pressing J enables focus tracking. The focus point will change to a targeting reticule; position the reticule over the target and either press J again or press the AF-ON button to start tracking. The focus point will track the selected subject as it moves through the frame (in the case of portrait subjects, focus will track the subject’s face). To end tracking, press J a third time. To exit subject-tracking mode, press the W (Q) button.

Subject Tracking

The camera may be unable to track subjects if they move quickly, leave the frame or are obscured by other objects, change visibly in size, color, or brightness, or are too small, too large, too bright, too dark, or similar in color or brightness to the background.

The Touch Shutter

Touch controls can be used to focus and release the shutter. Touch the display to focus and lift your finger to release the shutter.

Tap the icon shown in the illustration to choose the operation performed by tapping the display in shooting mode. Choose from the following options:

  • W: Touch the display to position the focus point and focus (if a face is detected, the camera will focus on the face closest to the selected point). Focus locks while your finger remains on the display; lift your finger to release the shutter. Available only in photo mode.
  • V: As above, except that lifting your finger from the display does not release the shutter. If auto-area AF is selected for AF-area mode, the camera will track the selected subject as it moves through the frame; to switch to a different subject, tap it in the display.
  • X: Touch shutter disabled.

Taking Pictures Using Touch Shooting Options

The shutter-release button can be used to focus and take pictures even when the W icon is displayed to show that touch shooting options are active. Touch shooting options can only be used to take pictures one at a time and cannot be used for manual focus or to take photographs during movie recording; for burst photography or to take photos during movie recording, use the shutter-release button.

The camera may fail to focus on faces or eyes selected using touch controls when eye detection is enabled, in which case it may be necessary to use the multi selector.

In self-timer mode, focus locks on the selected subject when you touch the monitor and the number of shots currently selected in self-timer mode will be taken starting about 10 seconds after you lift your finger from the display.

Manual Focus

Manual focus can be used when autofocus does not produce the desired results. Position the focus point over your subject and rotate the focus or control ring until the subject is in focus.

For greater precision, press the X button to zoom in on the view through the lens.

When the subject is in focus, the focus point will light green and the in-focus indicator (I) will appear in the display.

Focus distance indicator

In-focus indicator

In-focus indicator Description
I Subject in focus.
F   Focus point is between camera and subject.
  H Focus point is behind subject.
F   H Camera unable to determine whether subject is in focus.
(flashes)

When using manual focus with subjects not suited to autofocus, note that the in-focus indicator (I) may be displayed when the subject is not in focus. Zoom in on the view through the lens and check focus. Use of a tripod is recommended when the camera is having trouble focusing.

Lenses with Focus-Mode Selection

Manual focus can be selected using the controls on the lens.

Focal Plane Position

To determine the distance between your subject and the camera, measure from the focal plane mark (E) on the camera body. The distance between the lens mounting flange and the focal plane is 16 mm (0.63 in.).

16 mm

Focal plane mark

Focus Peaking

If focus peaking is enabled using Custom Setting d10 (Peaking highlights), objects that are in focus will be indicated by colored outlines in manual focus mode. Note that peaking highlights may not be displayed if the camera is unable to detect outlines, in which case focus can be checked using the view through the lens in the display.

Area in focus