Mode Selector Switch & Multi Selector


Using the Nikon® Autofocus System


Lesson Info

Mode Selector Switch & Multi Selector

The next segment I want to cover are the buttons, specifically buttons and knobs on the camera, like the multi selector here, as well as buttons on the camera lenses. All of this impacts your photography, as well, so let's go through it, help you understand what you need to pay attention to and what you can ignore. The first one, the Autofocus Mode Selector Switch. We've already been using this a lot today. This is right here in the front of the camera. You push in this button here and then you rotate with either your main command dial or your sub-command dial. We've already seen how that works so I'm not gonna really cover much more of that. But there is one more element I haven't talked about and that's the switch. There is actually a physical switch here that you can flip forward or backwards. When you flip it forward, that turns your autofocus off. Now the camera is in manual focus mode. When would you use manual focus? You use that maybe for macro-photography where you physically ...

move the camera forward and backward. Or anytime you're doing video work. Just flip it to M and then just manually focus the lens. Or maybe your lens doesn't even have an autofocus motor or it's an old school, a lens from the 60s or 70s. In that case, it won't even really matter if the switch is flipped or not because that lens, the only way that it works, is manual focus. This next one is important, so I'm gonna show it here on the Nikon D800 and then I'm also gonna grab my other camera, the D500, and show. This is called the multi selector, and a lot of stuff gets done with this little switch here. When the camera is in this setting, in other words, we're in what we'll call hibernation mode, it's just sitting here waiting for something to happen, nothing happens with the multi selector. It's usually just off, but once you wake the camera up, I just push down the shutter with this button, now the camera's awake and now inside you'll see the numbers and the autofocus positions and all that. Now that it's awake, we can actually move your focus sensor positions left and right. In fact, I think I can show that here on the D800, yeah. If you look here on the screen, you can see that I can actually move the focus positions around using the multi selector. That's very powerful and it's also very dangerous. Because, what can happen is, if you're not careful, you might accidentally bump the multi selector and then the next time you bring the camera up to your face, your focus point now is maybe over here on the left or over here on the right. If you're the type of photographer who always wants your focus point to always be in the same position, then position it where you want it, in this case maybe the middle, and then flip the switch to lock, that outer switch there. Go to L, L stands for lock. You have now locked out the movement of your sensor position. It's very helpful, especially if you are a left-eye shooter. I'm gonna make fun of myself here. Let's say I'm a left-eye shooter. I'll have the camera zoom in close to me. What I'm gonna do, I'll do it this way. What I'm gonna do is, I'm gonna pretend I'm shooting through my left eye, I will shoot through my left eye, and watch where my nose hits when I do this. See my nose hits right there on the multi selector? If you have a prominent nose, you will actually move your sensor position while you're taking photographs and that is super annoying. I've done this so many times. I go up like this and I push my face against there. I know you can't see this in the camera, but my sensor's actually doing this, it's going da-da-da-da-da-da across the scene and then it wraps around and goes (zips). So, if you are a left-eye shooter and your nose impacts this, flip that to lock and it will no longer move. That's a valuable tool. It looks a little bit different on the D500, so let me show that to you. The D500 and the D and the D4, they have what's called a sub-selector right here. And they also have a multi selector. A lot of times, you can program these things to actually do the same thing. Both of these can move your focus sensor position. This top one, this sub-selector, can be programmed to do all sorts of different things. You can program this one to be an autoexposure lock, maybe a depth-of-field preview. So you can program this to do lots of different stuff. You can also program it to move your sensor positions. So, if you like moving the multi selector here, great. Or you can move it here. It's a little bit easier to move it down here, it's a little more ergonomic. One final point. The D500, the D5, the D4, the 4S, any of these cameras that have these multi selectors, if you flip this to lock, it will lock sensor movement from this switch and also sensor movement from the sub-selector. So lock applies to both of those buttons.

Class Description

The best photo moments often present themselves to us when we least expect it. Every photographer knows the feeling of lining up what they believe will be the perfect shot, only to realize after the fact that their focus was off. Nikon cameras have a built-in autofocus system for these situations. 

Join Mike Hagan, Nikonians Academy Director, to learn how to make the most of this often-overlooked function of your digital SLR. In this class, you’ll learn:

  • How to set your focus within the menu settings and overall various camera settings
  • How to use autofocus patterns and area modes
  • How to use servo modes and lens configurations
Mike will help you configure the autofocus system for portraits, sports, wildlife, and landscapes. Relying on autofocus will also let you concentrate on lighting and composition, and help you take advantage of those fleeting moments.



Good course! I am a beginner and this course helped me a lot. I agree with some students that a better work could have been done in preparing the presentations. It seems to me that Mike is great in having informal live workshops. However, for recorded classes like the ones we buy in Creative Live, the teaching technique should be adjusted. Overall I am glad I bought this course.

Catherine Lucas

After having my camera D800 for 5 or 6 years and never really got the focussing down I can finally do it. This video should be included with every Nikon sold. I am so happy that I am finally get the fullest out of this great camera, I am more of a visual person. Reading the manual is not the same as actually see it done... Thanks Mike, you rock! I have watched the sequences over and over and learned so much. Thanks. And always welcome when you pass in New Mexico...

Janie Anderson

Thanks, Mike! I will go on tomorrow's shoot with my new Nikon D500, using autofocus with much more confidence thanks to this excellent class. I especially want to master birds in flight, so that module was of particular interest, as was the detailed review of back-button focus.