Too many focus "modes" on Z5

Started Mar 21, 2021 | Discussions thread
beatboxa Veteran Member • Posts: 8,397
Re: Too many focus "modes" on Z5

BAllenLawson wrote:

I can't seem to keep straight "Focus Mode" and "AF-Area Mode" and "Release Mode", and all the permutations of each, for my new Z5.

I've watched a dozen videos on setting the camera up, literally read the entire manual (side note, there are over 800 uses of the word 'mode') and I'm still befuddled and frustrated. Perhaps I need a dictionary/ thesaurus indexed to a "Z5 for the complete idiot" book. I had no trouble mastering my old D90, or the subsequent Olympus OM-D and it's notoriously complex menu system, but the Z5 has me frustrated to the point I'm thinking of selling it.

Perhaps it's the Nikon terminology (what the hell does "single servo AF-S" mean?), perhaps the camera is simply too sophisticated for me (before purchase I posted a question whether the Z was difficult to learn and I was assured it was not), perhaps my expectations are too high, or too low. This is part rant, of course, but also a request for advice and guidance.

Simple. Just think of things in terms of the space-time continuum...

AF Mode = "When does the camera focus?"

  • AF-S = "Single" = One time. Once it gets focus, it stops trying to focus.
  • AF-C = "Continuously." It never stops trying to get in focus.
  • (AF-A) = "Auto." Let the camera pick AF-S or AF-C.
  • (AF-F) = "Full-time. Video-only. AF-C, without you pushing the AF button.

AF Area = "Where does the camera focus?"

  • You pick = Pinpoint, Single Point, Dynamic Area
  • The camera picks = Auto-Area, Wide Area (Small or Large)

Cheat Sheet here . Deep dive here .

^ That's Autofocus.
After you've focused, you take a picture by pressing the shutter button...

Release Mode = "Drive mode" = "What does the shutter button do?"

  • Single = take 1 picture
  • Continuous = take many pictures, while you hold the button down
  • Self-Timer = take 1 picture, but delayed a few seconds.


  • If you are taking a picture of a still subject where you want to place the AF box, you can use AF-S + Single point + Single Release. Or if it's a person, you can try Auto-Area instead of Single point.
  • If you are taking pictures of something coming directly toward you (but not side-to-side), you can use AF-C + Single point + Continuous Release. AF-C so the autofocus keeps up with the moving subject, single point because the subject is in the same place in the frame, and continuous release so that you take a bunch of pictures and can pick the best one later.
  • If the camera is on a tripod and you want to take a picture of yourself with a group, use AF-S + Single point + Self-Timer and then quickly run!
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