New Book! Secrets To The Nikon Autofocus System: Mirrorless Edition

I’m so excited! I just finished my newest book, Secrets To The Nikon Autofocus System: Mirrorless Edition!

If you’ve been struggling with the autofocus on the Z series cameras – or just want to know the secrets of how to get the most out of it – this new book has the answers you’ve been looking for. 
Also, I had considered trying to add the Z series the current DSLR version of the AF book, but the Z series is so radically different that only a complete re-write would do! So, this is a totally new publication with hundreds of pages of new info. New screenshots, new photos, new chapters, new everything!
This book is created 100% for JUST the Z series cameras!
Why keep struggling with autofocus in your Z camera? For less than the price of a lunch date, you can milk every drop of performance out of your mirrorless AF system.When you think about how much you’ve invested in cameras and lenses, it’s crazy not to give it a look, right?

What cameras are covered?

Nikon Z6, Z7
Nikon Z50
Format: PDF e-book (v 1.3.0)
Delivery: Instant download

NOTE – This edition of the book covers Nikon’s Mirrorless Z-Series cameras.
For the DSLR edition,click here.

We’ve all been there before– staring at our Z-series camera, struggling to decide exactly what AF settings will help us nail the tricky scene unfolding in our viewfinder. I mean, let’s face it – the autofocus system in the Nikon mirrorless cameras is one of the most complex AF systems on the planet! There are so many settings, options, and features that it’s easy for anyone to feel overwhelmed – and many of these features are completely new to mirrorless! However, learning to leverage everything the system offers – in the right way – is the difference between consistently tack sharp images and a worn out delete key!

Sure there’s the autofocus section of the instruction manual, but have you looked at it? It’s a joke! The truth is, we’re only talking about a handful of pages. That’s barely enough to get you started!

So, that’s where this new e-book, Secrets To The Nikon AF System: Mirrorless Editioncomes in!

This is over 475 pages of everything I know about the AF system in Nikon’s mirrorless Z-series cameras. It’s far more than just a supplement to the instruction manual, this is a guide that will teach you, step by step, how to really use the system! Each page will instill advice and confidence so you’ll feel completely comfortable each time you adjust your AF settings in the field.

We’ll examine everything from the basics of autofocus to how the AF system actually works inside the camera. We’ll look at all the different AF area modes (like Dynamic, Wide, Auto, Tracking, Pinpoint, etc), I’ll show you new ways to focus that you may never have been exposed to before, we’ll discuss tips for getting the most from the AF system, we’ll go over every custom setting for autofocus – what to use and why, we’ll look at all the AF controls on your lenses, we’ll cover killer focusing tips and techniques, tracking tips, and the top reasons you aren’t getting sharp images! WHEW!

Wanna unlock the full potential of your Z-Series autofocus system? This book is the key! We’ll examine tons of performance and setting tips that will skyrocket your keeper rate. The biggest trick to getting the best AF performance out of the Nikon mirrorless system is knowing what to turn on – and what to turn off – and when do do it! This book takes you step by step through the best settings for any scenario. In fact, there’s an entire chapter devoted to enhancing AF performance and another dedicated to advanced focus and tracking techniques! These are practical, real-wold tips you can use immediately in the field for sharper images.

Oh, and this isn’t some book filled with a bunch of “cookie cutter” settings either. This is written and designed to give you a complete understanding of the AF system from top to bottom. Once you finish this guide, you’ll not only know what all the AF features on your camera do, but more importantly, you’ll understand how they work. You’ll know when, why, and how to use every feature and you’ll always know exactly the right settings for any scene unfolding in your viewfinder!

By the way –  it’s time stop feeling overwhelmed by too much tech talk! This book is written in a friendly, easy to read format that makes comprehension of even the most complex topics a walk in the park. In fact, this book is loaded with explanations, examples, and real world advice the truly cement the ideas presented.

BONUS! Not only is the Z-Series AF system (more than) thoroughly covered, we also look at dozens of advanced techniques for better sharpness! In fact, we even troubleshoot the reasons may not be getting the sharpness you expect in your photos.

Also, while I use my own techniques out in the field and thoroughly share them in this book, I also understand that my way is not the only way. As such, I present EVERY option and let YOU decide which one is the most advantageous for YOUR photography!!!

Finally, I know that the cover and sample photos feature nature photography, but not to worry. Although most of the examples come from my background as a wildlife and landscape photographer, the advice in this book applies to anytype of photography. 

What’s covered? Heck, what’s not? Check it out – and this is only a partial list!

CH 1 – System Basics And AF Modes

  • Tricks for getting in and out of focusing modes
  • The secret to always knowing the right AF mode to use – AF-S, AF-C, or Auto
  • The key to leveraging AF-S to your maximum advantage
  • How AF-C works and why it’s your best friend for action
  • How AF-A works – and how it can betray you
  • What AF-S and AF-C Priority Selection really do
  • How the “movie mode only” AF-F mode works

CH 2 – Alternative Focusing Methods

  • Discover why so many pros are using Back Button Autofocus
  • The killer AF advantage you enjoy with Back Button Autofocus
  • How to set up Back Button Autofocus for ALL current Nikon Zs
  • How to use Back Button AF to get more keepers
  • The three knock-out advantages of using Back Button AF
  • Why Back Button AF isn’t right for everyone
  • Front button AF – without the shutter release! (Killer new trick)
  • Why Front Button AF might be even better than Back Button AF
  • Tricks for using Shutter Release AF with AE/AF Lock
  • Customizing AE/AF lock to work better for Shutter Release AF
  • The alternative AF Q&A that answers every question you have

CH 3 – AF Area Modes

  • Tons of fast, easy ways to swap AF Areas
  • The real advantage of using Single Point AF
  • A killer guideline to knowing when you should NOT use Single Point AF
  • What Dynamic AF is, how it works, and why you’ll love it
  • Why and when you should use Dynamic AF instead of Single Point (or another mode)
  • Learn the limitations of Dynamic AF and when it sabotages your efforts
  • How the Wide AF Areas work
  • The tricks to leveraging the Wide AF modes to your advantage
  • A secret about Wide Area AF almost no one talks about
  • Why Wide AF is better for subjects close to the background or on busy backgrounds
  • How to choose between the Wide (S) and Wide (L) areas
  • The key differences between Wide Area AF and Dynamic AF
  • The secrets to when you should use Wide AF and when you should use Dynamic AF
  • How Auto AF works
  • The best types of subject for Auto Area AF
  • When Auto Area AF can cause headaches
  • How to activate Face and Eye detection
  • When Face Detection is your best bet
  • When Eye Detection is better
  • Dangerous pitfalls of Eye Detection AF
  • How to pick which face / eye the camera focuses on
  • Animal Eye Detect
  • Dangers of Animal Eye Detection with wildlife
  • Tricks for Tracking Mode
  • When Tracking Mode can let you down
  • Where Tracking Mode works best
  • All about Pinpoint AF
  • Where to use – and not use – Pinpoint AF

CH 4 – Manual Focus

  • The best ways to get into manual focus mode
  • Why the Z cameras are the best manual focus cameras ever
  • The secret trick native Z lenses do when you manually focus (game-changer)
  • The hidden trick for getting sharp images using the electronic rangefinder
  • Discover the joys of Focus Peaking
  • How to turn on and customize Focus Peaking
  • Adding Focus Peaking to your “i” menu / buttons
  • Tricks for using built-in magnification for focus
  • The killer customization that allows instant magnification
  • Unlock the power of Split-Screen magnification

CH 5 – Custom Settings For AF

  • Unlock the custom settings of your AF system
  • Learn what the Number Of Focus Points Setting really does (it’s not what you think)
  • Why you’ll bag more shots using Store By Orientation
  • How Limit AF Area Mode Selection makes life WAY easier
  • How Focus Point Wrap Around actually works
  • The key to making your AF point display work for YOU

CH 6 – Additional AF Button Customizations

  • Incredible customizations to your AF system via programmable buttons
  • Full instructions for every covered camera
  • Dialing in AE/AF Lock
  • Why you may love using AE and AF lock on separate buttons
  • Discover how to set nearly any button for AF-On duty
  • Killer tricks with the Multi-selector button
  • The best and worst use for the Multi-selector center button
  • The easy way to zoom into 100% on captured images – you’ll love this

CH 7 – Lens Controls

  • Finally discover the real power behind all those switches on your lens barrel
  • Covers both native Z-series lenses and adapted AF-S lenses
  • Unleash the power of the Focus Mode Switch
  • Finally understand A/M and M/A modes (adapted lenses) – and when to use them
  • How to grab way more keepers with the Focus Limiter
  • Why Nikon’s new Multi-Focusing System is a game-changer
  • Understanding VR modes
  • The real difference between the Lens Focus and Lens Control rings
  • Hidden features to turbo-charge the Lens Control Ring
  • The best way to set your Lens Control Ring
  • Leverage VR and IBIS on the Z cameras
  • How the Z camera’s IBIS works
  • Discover what in-body VR does and doesn’t do
  • What happens when you attach a lens withoutVR to the Z cameras
  • What happens when you attach a lens withVR to the Z cameras
  • Covers all VR / Camera scenarios
  • The HUGE misconception people have about VR on the Z cameras
  • Get the most from your menu driven VR options
  • Add VR switches to the “i”menu
  • Discover the difference between Sport and Normal VR
  • Unleash the power of the Focus Operation Switch (Adapted lenses)
  • Setting up Memory Recall
  • Killer tips for using Memory Recall
  • Unlock the hidden power behind the lens’s AF-L switch
  • Use the lens’s AF-L switch to change AF area modes (really)
  • Jaw-dropping lens function button options

CH 8 – How Your Autofocus System Thinks

  • How Contrast Detection autofocus works
  • Discover how light travels from the lens to your AF sensors
  • Step by step guide to how Phase Detection AF works on your Z camera
  • How your camera tracks a subject
  • The critical thing you MUST know about your AF sensors
  • Why our AF sensors hate horizontal lines
  • The clever field trick to getting the camera to focus when it doesn’t want to
  • The killer advantage our mirrorless cameras have in low light
  • Why maximum F/stop isn’t as important as it was with DSLRs
  • The cool trick your AF does to prevent focus shift issues

CH 9 – Autofocus Fine Tuning

  • Why AF Fine Tuning is sometimes still necessary
  • The difference between front focus and back focus
  • Why a lens that needs AF Fine Tuning isn’t “broken”
  • The dirty little AF Fine Tuning secret no one talks about
  • The critical mistake most people make when AF Fine Tuning based on internet “help”
  • How you can make things WORSE if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing
  • Reasons for and against AF Fine Tuning
  • The secret to handling zoom lenses when AF Fine Tuning
  • Learn how different circumstances can influence AF Fine Tuning
  • Discover the best setup for AF Fine Tuning
  • Understand how the top two methods for AF Fine Tuning work
  • Using FoCal for AF Fine Tuning
  • DIY AF Fine Tuning

CH 10 -Focus And Tracking Techniques

  • Discover the secret to composing with AF points
  • Why proper AF coverage is the key to sharper photos
  • The AF trap to avoid with 3-dimensional surfaces
  • Learn to track like a pro with the Z cameras
  • Uncover tons of practice tips that will help you master tracking your subjects
  • Learn how to “see” around blackouts
  • How a static subject can make you better at tracking
  • The best place to put your AF area when tracking
  • A tracking trick to help the Z cameras get a better lock
  • How viewfinder lag can cost shots – and what to do about it
  • How the best frame advance rate can have a HUGE impact on your keepers
  • When to use Continuous High Vs. Continuous High Extended modes
  • Finally discover what the Focus Tracking With Lock-on custom setting does
  • Learn to leverage Focus Tracking With Lock-on to get more keepers on your cards
  • Tips for knowing when you have Focus Tracking With Lock-on set incorrectly
  • My new technique using Focus Tracking With Lock-On
  • How to shoot “through” obstacles
  • Killer tricks for shooting through glass
  • Learn techniques for shooting through fencing and mesh
  • How to find your subject with a long lens

CH 11 – Tips For Better AF Performance

  • The unlikely custom setting adjustment that can improve AF performance
  • Fast access to that setting via the “i” menu
  • Why using native lenses gives you an advantage
  • The real cost of using the FTZ adapter
  • Speed comparisons between adapted and native glass
  • Killer focus technique to help you nail tricky shots
  • How to coax the camera into a lock when it has trouble

CH 11 – Deep Focus Techniques

  • Learn how to get sharp photos from foreground to background
  • Why F/22 isn’t the answer
  • Learn how diffraction can kill sharpness
  • How to avoid diffraction
  • Discover how Hyperfocal Distance works
  • How Hyperfocal Distance can help keep diffraction at bay
  • Learn how to use Hyperfocal Distance in the field
  • See the difference between Hyperfocal Distance and small F/Stops
  • Why the typical Hyperfocal Distance table is a problem
  • How to get better results with Hyperfocal Distance
  • Adding a bias to Hyperfocal Distance for specific shot requirements
  • Learn about my favorite deep sharpness method – Focus Stacking
  • Why Focus Stacking is the ultimate diffraction killer
  • Use Focus Stacking to get astoundingly sharp images from foreground to background
  • How to Focus Stack in the field
  • Discover Nikon’s Focus Shift Shooting setting for automatic stacking! (Z6/7)
  • Unlock all the Focus Shift Shooting Settings
  • Learn the best field techniques for Focus Shift Shooting
  • How Focus Shift Shooting opens up countless creative options
  • Software for Focus Stacking
  • Step by step instructions for Focus Stacking in Photoshop
  • Compare Focus Stacking to Hyperfocal

CH 12 – Overcoming Tough Focusing Situations

  • The secret to using continuous frame advance for sharp photos
  • How utilizing an edge in the photo can help secure focus when the light is low
  • Why your camera struggles to focus on horizontal lines – and a quick fix
  • When to manually focus
  • How a faster lens or dropping the teleconverter can help in low light
  • Tricks for focusing at night
  • Discover the ideal way to focus a night shot
  • How your nighttime subject itself can help you focus
  • The killer flashlight focusing trick no one knows (no, it’s not lighting up the subject)
  • Using a laser pointer to get focus at night
  • The settings you need to focus on stars right in the viewfinder
  • How Low Light AF will change the way you shoot at night
  • Why you’re gonna love the AF Assist Illuminator

CH 13 – 9 Reasons You’re Not Getting Sharp Photos

  • The importance of realistic expectations
  • Discover the critical camera setting everyone overlooks for sharp images
  • Learn better techniques for camera stabilization
  • Understand how heat distortion can kill your images
  • Why subjects that are too far away are always a disappointment
  • Learn how dirty contacts can sabotage your efforts – and how to clean them
  • The zoom lens technique you must never use
  • How VR can work against you for sharpness – and how to get the most from it
  • Discover when slower AF speeds really cause problems
  • How to test your lens to see if it’s sharp


And that’s only a taste of what you’ll find in this book!

In all, it nearly 475 pages of rock solid, field tested information you can use every time you’re out shooting.

If you’re tired of frustrating soft photos and really want to get the most from the AF system in your Z-Series mirrorless camera, then you just found your new best friend. Here are just a few sample pages to give you an idea of what you’ll find in the book:


Finally, if you’re still on the fence, think of it this way…

So many times we spend countless hundreds or even thousands of dollars purchasing gear that we hope will help us create more powerful images.

The truth is, gear is only a small part of the equation. Amazing imagery comes from YOU– the person standing a few inches behind the viewfinder.

However, when offered an opportunity to improve the part of their photography that could generate a quantum leap in quality, people often hesitate. I know for a fact that my best images were due to hundreds, even thousands of hours spent studying educational materials, not because of the gear.

So, that brings us to price. I’ve tried to make this completely affordable for any photographer – just $20.97 and it’s an instant download.

That’s basically less than a lunch date for a product that could improve your photography exponentially. Heck, even if you only discover ONE new trick or technique that helps you create an amazing image, wouldn’t it be worth it?

Check it out, you could be enjoying this new e-book in just a few minutes.

So, order now and you’ll have the book in a matter of moments!

PS – I’m 100% confident you’ll love this e-book. If you’re not satisfied, let me know and I’ll give you your money back – nothing to lose by giving it a try!

Please tell others about this post:
0 0 votes
Article Rating
This entry was posted in Nikon Gear, Photo Trips, Techniques, Using Your Gear.
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

Steve all I can say is thank you a hundred times. This book is a revelation in itself. I have struggled with what some of the camera (Z6, Z5) functions are even for, or what they mean and you explain one thing after another. Information on acquiring focus lock, the pros and cons of each focus mode area and what best suits them is invaluable. The description on the menu is often so vague, and finally now I know how to use focus sift shooting, it had me baffled. And lastly your advice re BBAF and shooting in AF-C for… Read more »

Todd Mitchell
Todd Mitchell
2 years ago

This book is nearly two years old. Does it adequately cover the autofocus system in the Z6ii. I know the custom menus in the Autofocus area changed some from the Z6 to the Z6ii. Is this up to date enough to accurately cover the changes?
thx in advance!

James Meketa
James Meketa
2 years ago


Finally got V1.1.1.

Your books are great but your website needs work. The Captcha feature cause more harm than good.


James Meketa
James Meketa
2 years ago


I can’t log in to my account, it says the password is wrong but the password reset never works. I purchased Z Autofocus 1.0.0 – is there a free upgrade to V1.3.0?


2 years ago

Is available only in english?

Matthew Ogorzalek
Matthew Ogorzalek
3 years ago

Is the information good enough for the Z5 or will there be a supplement for it?

Steve Smith
Steve Smith
3 years ago

Hi Steve,
I’m planning on buying the new Z6s (II) when it is announced next week (14 Oct 2020). Do you offer a free upgrade service when you cover that system in a new book if I buy the current book, or is it regarded as a completely different camera? Or, should I await your next update?
Thanks in advance.

Venkatesh VT VT
Venkatesh VT VT
3 years ago

Hi Steve .
Thanks for sending the updated Secrets to the NIkon AF system (DSLR version) .Will you be reviewing D6 any time soon ?Based on your review i plan to buy D6 OR Z9(when ever it comes)

hoan luong
3 years ago

Hi Steve,
I do not own yet the Nikon Z-series bodies- may be next year or so. But I do like to read your books. I got mine yesterday. I like your technical/humuristic blended writing style.

Richard Angeloni
3 years ago

Steve, I have a Z50 and I am wondering how much of the book is devoted to that camera vs. the Z7 or Z6. I know the full frame Zs have some enhancements to the focusing system (animal eye focusing) that the Z50 does not have. Thanks!

Richard Angeloni
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

Thanks! I ordered the book the other day and am looking forward to digging in.