I just got a second hand Nikon D50. This is first reflex camera I ever had. I am trying to take macro of an electrical component in relatively dark room.

These are the settings on my top display:

enter image description here

I switched the objective mechanic switch to manual focus mode. When I press the shutter button halfway, I can still hear the camera do some motor sounds. Almost as if it was trying to focus. And once I press the shutter down completely, nothing happens.

When I press and hold the AE-L/AF-L button before attempting to take picture, it does take it.

Why does it refuse to take pictures and what does holding AE-L/AF-L button have to do with that?

  • 1
    What lens are you using with your D50? Is is a VR (Vibration Reduction) lens?
    – Michael C
    Dec 11, 2017 at 11:11
  • I don't think so. It says DX SWM ED Aspherical on the lens. Dec 11, 2017 at 14:25
  • Show us the full name of the lens?
    – Semaphore
    Dec 14, 2017 at 13:51
  • This is odd but I can tell you the last part. When AF-L is pressed, the camera locks the focus so that it will not attempt to do it later. So, when you take the shot, the fact that AF is not working does not stop it.
    – Itai
    Dec 15, 2017 at 3:15
  • Do you have back button focus enabled? Nov 27, 2018 at 2:21

3 Answers 3


So I took a look into the user manual for your D50 (Which you should have a look into!) http://downloadcenter.nikonimglib.com/en/products/217/D50.html

I'm unsure as to why your camera is acting the way it is, and unfortunately I don't have access to mine to test at the moment. But you should have 2 switches to switch to manual focus mode. One on the camera as you already know and one on the lens. I always just use the one on the lens, and leave the camera one on AF and it works fine. I would be quite surprised if your lens didn't have a A / M switch.

Since I'm not sure what lens you have since there is quite a list of them, read this to learn how to ID your lens: https://www.nikonusa.com/en/learn-and-explore/a/tips-and-techniques/how-to-read-your-nikkor-lens-barrel.html

Afterwards see if you can find your lens manual here: http://downloadcenter.nikonimglib.com/en/index.html

  • I did switch the lens switch to manual. It says so in the question. Dec 14, 2017 at 18:59
  • Oops! Skipped over one word! Does it act the exact same when you have both the lens and the front camera switch set to manual focus? Dec 15, 2017 at 2:51

Working from memory here:

I've had the D50 refuse to take shots at macro distances as well, but it will very much depend on the lens you've got and how you've set it up. The D50 won't take a photo (I think) if it can't focus, unless it's in "M" shooting mode (as opposed to auto) even if you've set the focus switch on the camera to "M", it may be that with the camera in "Auto mode" it's still trying to ensure that the image is in focus.

Help us out with details of the Lens, and what shooting mode you're in. For reference, you may need a lens with specific macro capability, if you're not using one already that is.


I’m not familiar with your camera but it sounds to me like it might have something called back button focus enabled on it. This essentially separates focus from the shutter button. That is what works when you push the al ae button.

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