There is a "set rangefinder on" kind of option in D3100.

Are there any special cases when I "should" set the rangefinder on?

  • Sadly, Nikon choose a poor name for this feature. @Ward's answer is correct though. The range finder is for helping to focus manually. Actually, it is tedious to turn on and off, so I left it on all the time and did not see any ill side-effects.
    – Itai
    Mar 14 '12 at 4:43
  • There you go, I voted you back up :) I do not see why anyone would vote this down other than the 'rangefinder' tag is probably not appropriate here.
    – Itai
    Mar 14 '12 at 4:43
  • @Itai But the feature is named rangefinder. Anyway, I was just interested in knowing the reason of downvote. BTW, I just read this: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/2332/… There are several disadvantages listed with regard to rangefinders, so I was wondering what is it good for? Mar 14 '12 at 4:48
  • 2
    I know it is called rangefinder. Unfortunately, the one on the Nikon D3100 is NOT a rangefinder and those answers do not apply at all to your questions. A rangefinder as in the question you point out is an entirely different type of viewfinder. The confusion is Nikon's fault, not your own.
    – Itai
    Mar 14 '12 at 4:51
  • 2
    The feature does help in finding the correct focusing range, hence it is a rangefinder. It just does it using other methods than the classic rangefinder cameras, hence the confusion.
    – Imre
    Mar 14 '12 at 6:58

I don't have a D3100, but everything I can find says that the electronic rangefinder is a manual focus aid. When the camera is in manual focus mode and you turn on the rangefinder, the exposure meter will indicate which way to turn the lens to focus. So you could turn it on when you want some help focusing manually.

  • Is this a feature of Nikon cameras only? Does Canon have something like this?
    – kazanaki
    Jan 27 '16 at 13:02

I am speaking out of my experience with a D60. Range Finder is helpful only in case of manual focusing. For modes A and S (and possible P), the rangefinder will indicate not just if the subject is in focus or not, but also which way you need to turn the focus ring. In M mode however, you have to solely rely on the focus dot.


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