How to Use a Manual Nikkor Lens on a DSLR

Written by suzette barnard
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How to Use a Manual Nikkor Lens on a DSLR
Older Nikkor lenses can be used with newer Nikon cameras, as long as the camera is set to manual-focus mode. (photographer image by dave verch from

Camera equipment is built to last, and many photographers have old lenses in their collections that predate their digital SLR cameras. Manual-focus lenses, such as those manufactured by the Nikkor brand for Nikon, can be used with Nikon autofocus cameras, but the camera's autofocus feature must be turned off. Because some older lenses aren't equipped with the same sensors and technology as DSLR cameras, the photographer often must also shoot the old-fashioned way -- in the fully manual mode.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Attach the Nikkor lens to the camera.

  2. 2

    Set the lens f/stop, which determines the amount of light coming through the lens, to its lowest value.

  3. 3

    Switch the lens focus mode to "M" for manual. Find the switch on the camera body to the lower-right of the lens.

  4. 4

    Check the camera's light meter to see if it is functioning properly. If not, set the camera's shooting mode to "M" (manual) and select an appropriate f/stop and shutter speed. You may need to experiment with a variety of settings to find the best combination.

  5. 5

    Focus the lens by gripping the focusing ring and twisting clockwise and counter-clockwise.

  6. 6

    Take the picture.

Tips and warnings

  • Don't try to manually focus the lens when the camera is still in "AF" (autofocus), mode. This could damage the lens.

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