It used to be that on my Nikon D5200 camera holding down the shoot button halfway the viewfinder would show green dots and it would focus nicely.

Now after resetting the camera settings, replacing the battery, trying different focus modes etc. (Manual and automatic) I can never get those green dots to show up.

Instead, only a single red dot is shown. Could the issue be my lense, phtoosensor or the camera's settings? I have very little knowledge of DSLRs.

  • Does the camera focus on whatever thing is at that red dot? Does the lens react at all when you half-press the shutter button? – mattdm Sep 30 '19 at 14:04
  • @mattdm it seems like the red dot doesn't really do anything. Now that you mention it I don't think the lense moves like it used to when half pressing the shutter btn – Taimoor Ahmad Sep 30 '19 at 14:06
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    It'd be good to be sure — can you test? Also, can you describe exactly where the red dot is? If you use the arrow pad, does it move around? What happens if you use Live View instead of the viewfinder? – mattdm Sep 30 '19 at 14:10
  • Can you try a different lens? That would help determine if the problem is in the lens or camera body. – Eric S Oct 2 '19 at 14:16

Sounds like your autofocus area is set to Single Point AF. There's no damage to your camera or lens. Autofocus area can be set as per page 32 in the Nikon D5200 user manual.
Note that autofocus mode Single-servo AF-S does not allow to set an auto-focus area other than Single Point AF.

To achieve the behaviour you want, set your auto-focus mode to AF-A and your autofocus area to Auto area-AF. You might consider getting familiar with your camera by further reading its user manual.


Nikon D5200 doesn't have a focus motor inside the camera body. Instead the motor is in its lens. You can have your lens repaired at a camera repair shop. don't worry about it. It's probably not a big deal.

  • The focus motor might need to be in the lens. What could be called the focus "engine" (the brains of the autofocus system) is NOT only in the lens. You could not take the lens, mount it to an F3 (a manual focus Nikon camera mechanically compatible with lenses that fit a D5200), and expect it to autofocus on its own. – rackandboneman Sep 30 '19 at 14:13
  • @rackandboneman I'm guessing that whatever the "focus motor" is called in the native language of the answerer got translated to "focus engine" rather than "focus motor". After all, in many applications "motor" and "engine" are interchangeable. When speaking about a motor vehicle, for instance, we usually refer to the prime mover as an engine. – Michael C Sep 30 '19 at 21:08
  • Yes, but it seems the assumption here is that a shot AF must definitely be a lens problem - which would come from misunderstanding where the AF parts reside. – rackandboneman Sep 30 '19 at 22:04
  • I don’t see how a dirty image sensor is relevant since it is hidden behind the mirror while focusing. – Eric S Oct 1 '19 at 0:41
  • @EricShain Maybe it's a dirty PDAF sensor? – Michael C Oct 1 '19 at 4:35

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