Focus modes 'A / M' and 'Memory Recall'

Some Nikon lenses, from the upper price range, have a number of specific options for working with the focusing system. One of them is the 'A / M' mode (not to be confused from 'M / A' or 'AM')

A / M mode

A / M mode

The 'A / M' mode stands for 'Manual Autofocus / AF Priority'.

'A / M' enables auto focus with the possibility of manual control, With You can rotate the focus ring at any time, but in order for the lens to start focusing manually, you need to turn the focus ring a certain angle.

Unlike 'A / M', the more widespread mode is'M / A'overrides manual focus and immediately turns off the automationas soon as it registers the rotation of the focus ring.

'A / M' is useful in cases where you can accidentally hit the focusing ring and knock out focusing. In fact, this method is no different from 'M / A'. For a real-world example of how the 'A / M-M' switch works, see the Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm 1: 4G ED VR lens review here. All possible focus mode switches on Nikkor lenses are described. here.

A focus mode switch 'A / M - M / A - M' is mainly found on Nikon's 'longest' telephoto lenses:

  1. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 200mm 1: 2G II ED VR
  2. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 300mm 1: 4E PF ED VR [overview]
  3. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 300mm 1: 2.8G II ED VR [overview]
  4. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 400mm 1: 2.8G ED VR
  5. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 400mm 1: 2.8E ED FL VR
  6. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 500mm 1: 4G ED VR
  7. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 500mm 1: 4E ED FL VR
  8. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 500mm 1: 4E ED PF VR
  9. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 600mm 1: 4G ED VR
  10. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 600mm 1: 4E ED FL VR
  11. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 800mm 1: 5.6E ED FL VR
  12. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm 1: 2.8G II ED VR [overview]
  13. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm 1: 2.8E FL ED VR
  14. Nikon AF-P Nikkor 70-300mm 1:4.5-5.6E ED VR
  15. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm 1: 4.5-5.6G ED VR [overview]
  16. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 120-300mm 1: 2.8E FL ED SR VR [announcement]
  17. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 180-400mm 1: 4E FL ED VR TC 1.4
  18. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 200-400mm 1: 4G II ED VR

Some lenses have another very interesting feature - 'Memory Recall',' Restore focus from memory '.

Memory Recall

Memory Recall

For the lens to 'remember' the focusing distance, just set the desired value and press the dedicated 'Memory Set' button. The location of this button on the lens is shown below. Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 300mm 1: 2.8GII ED VR.

Memory Set Button

The Memory Set button is located on the side of the lens mount

To 'call up' the value of the focusing distance, press one of the 4 auxiliary buttons near the front lens of the lens.

Location of auxiliary buttons

Location of auxiliary buttons

The 'Memory Recall' function can be very useful when working with a tripod, when it is enough to focus accurately on the subject once and 'remember' the distance to it, which will allow, when refocusing on other subjects, instantly return to the previous subject. Suggest your options for using this function in the comments :)

There are many more lenses with auxiliary buttons than there are lenses with the 'Memory Recall' function. On lenses that do not have a switch that sets their function, they usually play the role of 'AF-L'-button (focus lock). Such lenses include, for example, Nikon ED AF-S Nikkor 80-200mm 1: 2.8D.

Some lenses can choose how these buttons work, for example Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 300mm 1: 2.8GII ED VR can set three modes of their operation:

  1. AF-L
  2. 'Memory Recall'
  3. AF ON

All three methods of work are very useful for different types of photography. In addition, on the Nikon N AF-S Nikkor 300mm 1: 2.8GII ED VR, you can enable audio alerts for the 'Memory Recall' function. I suppose that professional photographers have a lot of benefits from various additional 'chips' on TOP lenses :)

Thank you for attention. Arkady Shapoval.

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Comments: 26, on topic: Focus Modes 'A / M' and 'Memory Recall'

  • Dmitry K

    I wonder why only telephones? and what is characteristic of "distant" telephoto lenses .. the idea of ​​using the following: a surfer in the sea catches a wave, periodically falling into the abyss and disappearing from the eye-autofocus wonders "where is the subject?" and frantically searches in the waves of the goreserfer, losing the place of his dive. We press the miracle button and voila, the guy is in focus)) or we observe the bird's nest and photograph it on the way up, the bird dives behind the rock and the focus is in shock. it doesn't matter, we press the button-nest in focus, the bird will fly into it one horseradish ... it remains to come up with a smart tripod, so that when accompanying the object, he remembers where the given azimuth and angle of inclination are, so that, in the style of transmission in the animal world, not to lose that very family of jays, about which the story is in the crowd of the same people sitting on the shore

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Thanks for the example :)

      • Dmitry K

        or else)) you are sitting in an ambush on a tree, waiting for some kind of lady eider from a night club in a drunken and scandalous form, time is night. there is no desire to trust the frame to the automation because the time from the car to the door is just a couple of seconds and the autofocus in the dark you don’t have a fountain, all the money for the lens was gone and there wasn’t enough for d4. From boredom, look through the JVI to the neighbors' houses for disguising girls and collect a collection of nudes for home viewing .. you will gape / stare .. and then Gaga, press the miracle button (fortunately, we’ve got the focus in the afternoon with the sun) and just have time to shoot what we wanted in the form in which it did not want))

        • Dmitry K

          in general, the thought is as follows: in advance to look at an important object and be able to click its beak and refocus on something else without being picked without fear of oversleeping

        • anonym

          You did not participate in amateur performances? A very clear example !!!

        • Razor

          Comments amused, thanks.)

  • ANONYM 998

    Where are all the comments?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Due to obscene language and insults to the side, the user branch was deleted. Why pollute Radozhiva?

  • Dmitry K

    well, looking at night)) shooting woodpeckers in the forest on cameras d4 and d800, which have gone somewhere the priority of the nearest object-autofocus from a fool may think that you are interested in a bitch closer or a driftwood in the distance and then you have to twist the focuser ring yourself, and vision as to sin -7 ... can save such a stray if you aim at a certain distance.
    Although all this is of course sucked out of the finger)) here the canon would have such a lotion, at least somehow replace the FTM with AI servo. although people live somehow without FTM at all

  • Alexander

    Dmitry K, thank you for having fun !!!))) And about the article ... undoubtedly interesting, but for 99% of the population it is of little use due to the cost of lenses and their narrow focus. The function can be useful only when you need to quickly target something without relying on the camera's automation, but on the lens memory. Dmitry here stated that there is nothing to add ...)))))

  • Oleg

    Arkady, I wish you a happy birthday. Good luck in all your endeavors, and SO HOLD !!! Thank you for your work.

  • Dmitry K

    But are there any people working with these lenses here? Do they focus quickly? in the aspect that under normal light, will there be a gain in focusing speed when you click on the miracle button compared to automation? Or is it relevant only if the pipets are dark and autofocus is stupid? if the second then the invention is useless a little less than completely. But if you can win in speed, then yes, it can be useful for sports operators
    Example: we set the limit mode (5m - infinity), and the memory for focusing is 1,6 meters. As a result, you can take pictures of distant objects in an accelerated focusing mode and, if necessary, drag the focus towards you through the threshold of 5 meters for portraits.
    PS if this is not possible, then it would be worthwhile to come up, the only useful application will be))))

    • Denis

      On my Nikkor 70-200… VRII I don’t use “priority” functions (I tried it, but didn’t feel any particular advantage), I completely rely on autofocus. The main thing is that the lens with the camera should “fit tightly” in terms of alignment.

  • Ivan

    Happy Birthday, Arkady. Thanks for the excellent work, your project brings many benefits!

  • Zmitser

    I join in the congratulations!
    I wish Arkady all the best and continue to delight us with your magnificent reviews!

  • kiev_poznyaki

    Arkady, happy jam !!!

  • Sasha

    Happy Birthday! I read all your articles)) from scratch I become a photographer according to your articles! Thanks))

  • anonym

    Oh yes, hello from Siberia!

  • anonym

    If this memory also acts in AF tracking as the beginning of the zone from where to start tracking, then it is very useful. For example long jump. Focused along the line of separation, pressed memory, filming the flight with the follower. A new athlete - again a memory. A minimum of fidgeting and sighting shots.

  • Ibrahim

    Happy Birthday Arkady !! I wish you success!

  • Exhausted

    With well-functioning autofocus, it’s a dubious function. An extra tsucka affecting the cost of the lens. I think that Lady Gaga is not removed at night with a soap box.

    • Dima

      / Timidly pulls his hand / A surfers, surfers, you can soap box ?!
      But seriously: if you are so harsh that you take pictures of Lady Gaga exclusively with a “not a soap box”, then you will not make a big mess of trickery either.

  • Exhausted

    I repeat for the timid - cool autofocus plus a fast telephoto lens plus splurge on D4s ... ..and Lady Gaga is in your pocket.))

  • Stanislas

    “With the 'A / M' mode, not even a dozen lenses can be typed, these only include:” - there is an inaccuracy, since the Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 16-85mm lens just has this mode (A / M).

    • Arkady Shapoval

      You first understand the essence of the matter, look at 16-85, and then talk about inaccuracies.

  • Anton diaz

    If, when shooting a video, there are 2 objects located at different distances from the camera and you need to smoothly, quickly and accurately switch focus from one to another, then Memory Recall is what you need. You “remember” the focus on the second object, then before shooting you focus on the first one and at the right moment (in the middle of the recording) switch to the second one thanks to the saved focus position. Manual focusing at a large aperture is difficult to hit accurately due to the high resolution of the sensor and the sharpness of the optics.
    This use case occurred to me long before I found out about the existence of such lenses. But I would say that it would be more appropriate to implement such an option in the carcass than in the lens.

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