I am a novice in the SLR photography world and am going to buy my first camera. I intend to take occasional videos. I guess if the AF-motor is screw and gear type, the clicking noise will ruin the videos. Am I correct?

So, what type of AF-motor does this camera have?

If it is a silent wave motor, is the price difference between this model and Nikon D5200 justified? Or you would recommend me to buy the cheaper D5200 and mount a Lens with ultrasonic silent AF motor?


2 Answers 2


The focus motor is a standard gear type. As @MarcinWolny said, this is used on all DSLRs that have an AF motor.

You are right that the sound-track of videos will be ruined if it records the AF noise. But what you do not know is that Contrast-Detect AF will ruin the video track. This system needs back-and-forth movement of the lens to lock focus and this is visible in videos. You also run the risk of the camera focusing on the wrong subject.

Unlike with still photography where missed focus happens between shots, a video records every attempted and missed focus the camera does. Quality videos are done with manual focus for these reasons. So, in other words, the point of how much noise the AF system makes is moot.

Contrary to popular belief, ultra-sonic lenses still make noise. Some more, some less, but they still do and it can get recorded in the audio track. If you are shooting a vista without sounds for example, you will often hear the hum of the ultra-sonic motor. If you shoot a busy scene with people talking and music though, you are unlikely to hear it.

Should you insist to use autofocus for videos, you should either get an external microphone which the D7000 supports or an external audio recording device and synchronize sound by software later. There are plenty of external microphone available, some mount on the hot-shoe (Nikon makes one of these) and some are even wireless.

  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks for your answer. How easy/comfortable/practical is it to do manual focusing on these cameras? I am a beginner, expecting to take 5-20 min footages, from everyday use like birthdays, travel, etc... \$\endgroup\$ Feb 26, 2013 at 14:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is not the camera but the lens you have to be concerned with. Focusing just involves turning the focus-ring, so a lens with a larger focus-ring is easier to adjust. If you need precise focus because you shoot at large apertures, you can look for a lens with a longer throw. There is a compromise though between speed and precision. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Feb 26, 2013 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ BTW: good advice: if you ever are going to invest in a external microphone (if it's a (cold)hotshoe type) - avoid Nikon one. Buy a proper mic. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 26, 2013 at 21:31

It's standard screw type motor, like in most every DSLR.

Ultrasonic motors need to be mounted in the lens barrel: by design they form rings around groups of lenses, which they move to achieve focusing.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is it true that for video purposes I should avoid screw and gear AF motors (because of their noise)? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 26, 2013 at 12:27
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @cybergeek654 for video you most likely want manual focus or SLT camera. DSLRs work in contrast detection which causes focus hunting (CDAF (contrast detection AF) basic principle is focus hunting, that's how it works), and that's very unwelcome issue in video. So in the end if you go Nikon - it shouldn't matter which camera will you choose. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 26, 2013 at 12:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also note that you can use lenses with ultrasonic motor on D7000 too :) The difference between D5200 and D7000 is that with D5200 you are limited ONLY to the lenses with build-in focusing motor (not necessarily ultrasonic), while with D7000 you can CHOOSE nearly any Nikon F lens and it'll work fine (perhaps with louder focusing, but it'll still focus - on D5200 you won't get autofocus with lenses that don't have build-in motor, and majority of Nikon F lenses do not have AF motor). \$\endgroup\$ Feb 26, 2013 at 12:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just to be pedantically clear: DSLRs in video mode (or in live view) use CDAF; normally they use phase detect. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Feb 26, 2013 at 21:00

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