Manual focus with AF-P lenses

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iljitsch Senior Member • Posts: 1,030
Manual focus with AF-P lenses

I got a Z fc recently, and with it the 16-50 mm kit lens, which is my first AF-P lens. Nikon released a few F mount AF-P lenses the past few years, and it looks like that was only with cheap lenses. But on the Z mount, unless I missed something, it's AF-P only, even on high end lenses where saving a few bucks wouldn't seem like a priority.

Now there seem to be some nice benefits with AF-P: very smooth, precise focussing and very to completely quiet. So great for video.

However, none of these lenses have "real" focus rings. They all still do have a ring that will do manual focus (unless you program it to do something else!), but that ring is not mechanically coupled with any lens elements. Instead, turning the ring just sends data back to the camera which then uses the focus stepper motor(s) to change focus accordingly.

So how are your experiences manually focussing with AF-P lenses?

So far it seems there is a bit of lag, which makes the process slower compared to lenses with good focus rings. (There's also lenses with very thin focus rings that go through the whole range in something like a 45 degree turn, those are definitely even worse.)

Also, turning the ring and then turning it back to its original position doesn't give you the original focus distance back. It even looks like the focus ring has acceleration: move it a little very quickly and focus changes a lot. Move it the same amount slowly and focus only changes a little.

So either Nikon thinks this is all just fine, or there is a reason you can't have a mechanically coupled focus ring with an AF-P stepper motor...

But so far all lenses keep their focus ring, you'd think leaving it out completely would make everything even cheaper. So it seems Nikon does think manual focus (with a ring on the lens) is required for all lenses.

 iljitsch's gear list:iljitsch's gear list
Nikon D7100 Nikon Z fc Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D +7 more
Nikon AF-P 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G VR Nikon AP-F 70-300mm F4.5-5.6E Nikon Z 58mm F0.95 S Noct Nikon Z fc
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