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Nikon D90 User's Guide:
Custom Setting Menu: Autofocus

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Nikon D90

Nikon D90. enlarge

September 2008  Top of D90 Users Guide    D90 Review    More Nikon Reviews

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a1 - a7: Autofocus

How to Get Here

Press MENU, go to the left and select up and down to the pencil icon. You'll then see CUSTOM SETTING MENU on the color LCD. Click down to a AUTOFOCUS and click to the right.

What it Does

It sets many options for the advanced AF system.

What I Change

I leave everything at their defaults, except for changing a1 if I need to.

a1 AF Area Mode        top

This selects how the D90 uses its 11 AF areas.

See also How to Use the D90 AF System.

Single Point

You pick the point with the Big Thumb Button, and the D90 uses it.

It won't move.

Use this for fixed compositions where you need to focus on something behind a distraction in the foreground, like this shot:

Katie eating

Baby Katie's first real food.

Dynamic area

You pick a point, and the D90 will magically (and secretly) choose others if the subject moves.

This is a more primitive version of 3D tracking, below. I wouldn't use this on the D90; it's here for old-timers.

Auto area (default)

I use this most of the time.

The D90 magically locates your subject and focuses.

Katie and Dad

Baby Katie and Dad, photo by mom in default Auto-area AF mode.


Use this for sports.

You pick an AF area, and the D90 magically tracks it as it moves up, down, left, right and forward and back!

It really works, and you can see the sensor moving around in the finder!

a2 Center Focus Point        top

This controls the size of the central AF area. This is an homage to Nikon's single-sensor N90s; I don't see this option having much use in the multi-sensor D90.

Normal (Default)

The AF zone is the small area outlined by the sensor in the center of the finder. Use this.

Wide Zone

The central AF zone is much wider. Nikon suggests trying this for a moving subject if the usual modes don't work.

a3 Built-in AF-assist illuminator        top

This lets you deactivate the annoying AF assist light.

Normally it comes on in the dark to help focus. Turn off the AF assist light if you want to keep a lower profile shooting in restaurants.

a4 AF Point Illumination        top

This controls when, or if, the AF points light up in the finder.

Auto (Default)

They light up as they need to. I leave it here.


Always on (when the meter is on).


Always off.

a5 Focus point wrap-around       top

AF point selection normally stops when you hit the edge of the constellation of AF areas.

No wrap (default)

If you keep pressing the selector to the left it stops at the far left. I prefer it this way.


Wrap lets your selection wrap around to the other side of the AF areas!

a6 AE-L/AF-L for MB-D80        top

This lets you choose what the AE-L/AF-L button does if you have an MB-D80 grip when shooting vertically.

a7 Live View Autofocus       top

This tells the D90 how to focus in Live View.

Face Priority

The D90 looks for faces!

Wide Area (default)

Nikon suggests this for shooting hand-held. It looks in wider areas than just the tiny focus points.

Normal Area

The D90 looks only at the small eras of the focus points.

Nikon suggests this for use on a tripod.


My D90 User's Guide continues below.

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Back to Top of D90 User's Guide or Top of Nikon D90 Review









          a Autofocus

          b Metering/Exposure < < NEXT

          c Timers/AE&AF Lock

          d Shooting/Display

          e Bracketing/Flash

          f Controls




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