I bought a Nikon D5000. Back then I didn't know anything about photography, but it sounded like a really good intro camera. And so far it has been. I don't mind the DX format, and have invested in enough DX glass to see no reason to upgrade to FX anytime soon (but that's a whole other discussion). But now to the heart of the matter.

I am thinking about upgrading my body. Maybe to a D7000, or whatever ends up replacing the D7000 here in the relative future. The main reason I am thinking of upgrading is my camera's lack of in-body focus. When I bought it I was assured by the sales person that it wouldn't be an issue, that lenses without integrated focus motors were a dying breed, an outdated technology. But now I have been noticing that there are still a lot of nice lenses, especially some higher end or specialty prime, that do not have in lens focus motors, which would make sense because (as far as I know) all high end cameras had in-body motors.

So, are we heading to a future where all lenses have the ability to AF, or will there still be lenses aimed at professionals that do not have them, based on the assumption that the camera they have does have an in-body focus motor. I also had another though that, theoretically, not having to integrate a motor into the lens would cut down on cost, therefore leading to cheaper lenses. Under that theory a body with an built in AF motor would pay for itself. Of course I realize that the price of an object isn't determined by how much it cost to make, but by how much people are willing to pay for it, so that isn't always the case. I did some research, and found some other questions on here about it, so it doesn't seem like either AF system has any inherent advantages over the other, so it seems like it would really be based on targeted customer (professionals are willing to spend more on lenses, and should have a body with built in AF already).

But, back to the point, the question is, will most (if not all) new lenses come with in lens AF, or will there always be lenses without it, making upgrading to a new body strictly based on that a wise decision?

  • \$\begingroup\$ This might fall in line with the "crystal ball" policy, in that we cannot predict the future. I'm not sure, maybe someone can answer this. See: meta.photo.stackexchange.com/questions/130/… Also, the new D600 would be an upgrade that does include an autofocus motor. It might not be a replacement for the D7000, but it certainly is an upgrade from it. See also this related question: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/17093/… \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Sep 18, 2012 at 21:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah but the D600 is FX, that's a whole other bag of worms. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18, 2012 at 22:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ D90 has a focus motor, and I don't find mine to be particularly dated even though it's no longer sold - so maybe pick one up second hand if you're looking for a cheaper option? \$\endgroup\$
    – James
    Sep 18, 2012 at 22:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TaylorHuston - ... D600 ... worms ...: Maybe. A DX lens on a D600 will give you a 10.5 megapixel DX crop and allow you to use existing lense. AND all the old Nikon lense from the depths of time will be usable. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18, 2012 at 22:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't believe this question can be answered...if the original point is to predict what Nikon will do in the future with its camera bodies. Were not Nikon, and we don't have any official Nikon reps here. Even assuming we did, its generally the policy that major companies like that don't try to let the public know their future before it actually occurs anyway. Stan has provided a good answer, however I don't believe this question, as speculative as it is, is a good fit for our forum. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Sep 18, 2012 at 23:03

1 Answer 1


It has been a long time since Nikon (or anyone else) has released a new lens for the Nikon mount that didn't include an autofocus motor. The future is lenses with their own focus motors -- they're faster (in general), quieter and usually more accurate than body-driven AF lenses.

However, that doesn't do much about the existing inventory of lenses. If you want a wide-angle prime lens that costs less than a thousand dollars, you are looking at going off-brand or at the f/2.8 body-driven AF Nikkor "D" series. Sure, the newer, faster AF-S lenses are better in a lot of ways, but when faced with $400 versus $2000, you have to start asking yourself some serious questions. If there are slower AF-S lenses produced in the future, the motorless bodies will handle them well, but in the meantime you're stuck without an in-body motor. The AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 D is considerably cheaper than it's AF-S G equivalent (it's not just the motor; the optical design is different for bokeh-related reasons as well). And there are a lot of good, older body-driven lenses on the used market that have been superceded by models incorporating their own motors.

If the existing stock of body-driven lenses doesn't appeal to you, then you won't really need a body with an AF motor. There won't be a revival in that technology. But if you want to be able to use older or still-current body-driven lenses (and save a few bucks on glass), then the little screwdriver thing is important.


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