How To Focus A Nikon Camera: Premium Tips

Focus first! After all, that’s what makes your pictures sharper & clearer. But how to focus a Nikon Camera? 

Set up the camera’s ISO, Shutter priority, speed & aperture priority first. Get closer to your subject & shoot. It’s easy once you learn to set everything up. However, sometimes more than autofocusing is needed, and you have to go for manual focus or the back button. 

We have held a discussion on in-depth focusing on our article below. If you are interested, hang on with us till the end!

How To Focus A Nikon Camera? 5 Easy Steps To Go! 

Now let’s go to the core level and try to focus on the Nikon camera from the very beginning!

Step 1: Select The File Format 

Before you focus or shoot, set up the file format (NEF or JPEG). It’s best to check the camera’s manual to see if it’s compatible with both or not. 

If your environment offers enough exposure, JPEG images will indeed look good. Are you up for post-processing adjustments? Then raw NEF files will be a good choice.

Step 2: Adjust The Camera’s ISO

First, inspect the light level of your scenery and adjust the camera’s ISO sensitivity accordingly. If you are working in low lights, 1200 to 1600 would be great. 

Setting up a high ISO level is mandatory to achieve an adequate shutter speed. If you are shooting in the morning or afternoon, be very quick. After all, the light continues to change, and you might fail to capture the shot you prefer.

Step 3: Set Up The Shutter Speed & Aperture Priority 

Now you have to set up the camera depending on the scene. If you are shooting a moving subject, select proper exposure & shutter speed. It’s beneficial in the case of wildlife & sports photography

Setting up the aperture priority is necessary to maximize/limit the field depth of your subject. Controlling the exposure is best if you are up for a three-image composite in a landscape photo shoot.

Yes, these steps are indeed complicated. But it’s all about practice. After all, that’s what can differentiate you from a beginner photographer.

Step 4: Be Close To Your Subject 

If you are a total beginner, it might be uncomfortable to shoot from the crowd. 

Remember, your camera is your passport. Just show them your camera, and they will let you be in the front. 

As a newbie wildlife photographer, it might be scary to get so close to insects. However, you have to unleash yourself and overcome the fear. After all, being close to your subject is the key to achieving the perfect shot.

Read more Why is my Nikon camera blurry

Step 5: Just Shoot

Focus on your subject, and change height, angles, and lens. Trust me; every shot will come with different beauty. If the subject excites you, it is definitely worthy of multiple shots.

How To Manually Focus A Nikon Camera?  

Some subjects are so confusing that it’s hard to autofocus even with the most sophisticated camera. If it’s a low-contrast environment, then autofocusing is almost impossible. 

Yes, AF-assist might help a bit to find the focus target. However, water, reflective subjects, and dim light is always a big trouble to deal with. 

That’s why you need to be an expert on manual focusing to deal with these circumstances.

So, how to focus on a Nikon Camera manually? 

Step 1: Adjust The Viewfinder 

Before you start focusing manually, you have to adjust the viewfinder. Otherwise, the subject will seem blurred. Adjust the dial in the upper right corner while you look through the viewfinder. It will sharpen the AF-area brackets and viewfinder data simultaneously.

Step 2: Set Up The Camera & Lens For Manual Focusing 

  • Switch to the manual focus on the lens, which is marked by MF. 
  • Go to the information display control strip & set the camera for manual focusing as well.

Step 3: Find The Focus Point 

Actually, during manual focus, choosing a focal point is not a must. When you set up the position & rotate the focusing ring, the camera automatically focuses it. 

However, if you are up for spot metering, select a focus point. After all, this point will determine the exposure.


  • Click on the multi-selector on the left, right, up, or down & check through the viewfinder. 
  • Keep going on until you find your focus point. 

Step 4: Select The Frame

Determine the frame and keep your subject within it. 

Step 5: Tune Up The Exposure Metering 

Click & hold onto the shutter button for exposure metering.

Step 6: Adjust The Focusing Ring

  • Turn the focusing ring around to bring your subject under the focus point.
  • If the camera is set under the focus point, the green viewfinder lamp will light up. 

Step 7: Shoot

Now just click on the shutter button and take the perfect shot!

How To Manually Focus A Nikon Camera  

What Is Back Button Focus? Is It Advantageous? 

In the back button focusing system, the focusing task is conveyed to the back AF-ON button instead of the shutter button. So, there is no chance of delay, and you can shoot with utmost precision.

It is quite convenient if you need a sharper & clearer image. We would significantly recommend it for low-light photography and fast-moving subjects. 

Many photographers prefer back button focus for macro photography as well. Because, in macro photography, cameras sometimes fail to recognize the subject. The AF-On button locks the focus for you to achieve the perfect composition.

How To Enable Back Button Autofocus? 

If your camera has a dedicated AF-ON button, everything becomes super easy. Most high-end Nikon cameras, including Z6, Z6 II, Z7, and Z7 II feature the AF-ON button.

  • Click on ‘Menu.’
  • Open the ‘Custom Setting’ & choose ‘Autofocus.’
  • Now choose the ‘AF-On’ button for the activation of autofocus. 

Some cameras like Nikon D3500, D7500, D750 & Z50 come with a dedicated AE-L or AF-L button. They also have similar functions as the AF-On button.

Now, what to do if your camera doesn’t have an ‘AF-ON’ button? 

Step 1

  • Open the menu bar and click on the wrench icon.
  • Press on the button menu and disable the shutter button for AF activation.

Step 2 

  • Open the button menu.
  • Select the AE-L/AF-L button and scroll down.
  • Now set it as the AF-ON option.

In the back button autofocus, you can lock it in AF-C. So, just like AF-S, you don’t need to refocus again to activate the shutter.


What is the best focus mode for Nikon? 

Whether you are shooting a static or a moving subject, AF-A mode is indeed the best one.This mode can automatically switch between AF-S & AF-C as per needs. However, in dim lights, manual focusing is always the best option to go. If you want to shoot a video, go for AF-F mode. It can ensure full-time autofocus and track every movement of your subject.

How to focus on a Nikon DSLR manually? 

  • Adjust the viewfinder while you set up the dial in the upper right corner.
  • Go to the information strip and set the camera for manual focusing.
  • Rotate the focusing ring and find your focus point.
  • Keep your subject within the camera frame.
  • Adjust the exposure rate and shoot.

How do I make my Nikon autofocus better? 

If you have a beginner-level Nikon camera, go to the ‘Info’ section. It will let you alter the autofocus as per needs. High-end Nikon cameras come with a specific switch to toggle between different modes of autofocus.

Final Verdict 

Focusing can bring a significant change in your photography. After all, it takes the viewer’s attention specifically on your subject. But how to focus on a Nikon Camera? It’s all about setting up the ISO sensitivity, aperture priority, speed, and shoot. I believe our content has already cleared up your idea on it. So, get ready and take the best shot now!


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