Troubleshoot Nikon Autofocus Issues

Last Updated on May 7, 2021

nikon dslr camera with wood background

If your Nikon autofocus is not working read on for the most effective troubleshooting steps. No matter if you just changed lenses or you are in the middle of a photo shoot, this guide will help you fix an autofocus that stopped working.

How To Fix Nikon Autofocus That Isn’t Working

Check Settings

Check the settings on both your lens and camera and ensure they are set to autofocus. Often the issue is the lens is set to autofocus but the camera is set to manual. Look for a focus mode on the camera and make sure it is set to autofocus.

Make sure there is not an item in the camera’s custom settings menu that is set to manual as well. It is possible that there will be an AF-ON button that works on the lens. Look for any switches, dials or buttons that are marked AF-ON and confirm you have no AF-ON switch on the lens.

Camera Back Dial

Check your cameras back dial and ensure it is set to camera. It is easy to accidentally switch it to L and this is the lock mode. Many photographers in the middle of a shoot will find they have inadvertently set the back dial to lock, this is a common cause for autofocus not working. I had this problem frequently with my Nikon D810 when using an on camera flash.

Check AEL/AFL Setting

This is another setting that can be accidently set wrong and cause autofocus to stop working. One click of this button will lock the current focus and two clicks will unlock. Check if your focus is locked and if it is simply click to unlock and allow autofocus to resume working.

Inspect Your Lens

If all of these steps have failed to correct your autofocus issue then remove your lens and inspect it. Check for dust, smudges and anything else on the glass and carefully clean your lens.

Also inspect for cracks or damage to your glass or lens body. If your lens was banged, dropped or otherwise damages this can impact the autofocus functionality.

Inspect Your Viewfinder

If all of the above are not causing the autofocus issue with your Nikon then it is time to check your viewfinder for obstructions. Dirt, smudges or even a cracked viewfinder can prevent your autofocus from functioning properly.

Carefully clean your viewfinder and check for damage.

Restart Your Camera

And if all else fails turn off your camera and wait about thirty seconds and turn it back on. It’s the tried and true method for all technology and it often will correct your autofocus issue.

Bottom Line

All of the steps above will help you troubleshoot Nikon autofocus problems and many will solve the issue on their own. If you are still having trouble with autofocus then it is time to take your lens and camera to your local camera shop and have the problem diagnoses.