How to Use Auto and Auto Flash Off on Your Nikon D5200 - dummies

How to Use Auto and Auto Flash Off on Your Nikon D5200

By Julie Adair King


In Auto mode, the Nikon D5200 camera analyzes the scene in front of the lens and selects the picture-taking options that it thinks will best capture the image. All you need to do is compose the scene and press the shutter button.


Auto Flash Off mode does the exact same thing, except flash is disabled. This mode provides an easy way to ensure that you don’t break the rules when shooting in locations that don’t permit flash: museums, churches, and so on.

The following steps walk you through the process of taking a picture in both modes. Remember that these steps assume that you’re using the viewfinder, which is the best option in most cases.

  1. Set the Mode dial to Auto or Auto Flash Off.

  2. Set the focusing method, Release mode, and other basic settings.

  3. 3.Looking through the viewfinder, compose the shot so that your subject is within the AF-area brackets, labeled in the figure.

    The camera’s autofocusing points are contained within the area indicated by the brackets.


  4. Press and hold the shutter button halfway down.

    The following occurs:

    • Exposure metering begins. The autoexposure meter analyzes the light and selects initial aperture (f-stop) and shutter speed settings, which are two critical exposure controls. These two settings appear in the viewfinder; in the figure, the shutter speed is 1/250 second, and the f-stop is f/13.

      The autoexposure meter continues monitoring the light up to the time you take the picture, however, so the f-stop and shutter speed values may change if the lighting conditions change.

      The shots-remaining area of the viewfinder also changes from showing you how many more pictures can fit on your memory card to how many can fit in the camera’s buffer — the figure, for example, shows 24. This number is important only when you’re shooting a burst of continuous images, so don’t worry about it for single-frame shooting.

    • In Auto exposure mode, the flash pops up if the camera thinks additional light is needed. You can set the Flash mode to Auto (normal) or Red-Eye Reduction mode. Or you can disable the flash by changing the Flash mode to Off. Just press the Flash button while rotating the Command dial to adjust the Flash mode.

    • The cameras autofocus system begins to do its thing. In dim light, the AF-assist lamp on the front of the camera shoots out a beam of light to help the camera find its focusing target.

  5. Check the focus indicators in the viewfinder.

    When the camera has established focus, one or more little rectangles within the AF-area brackets flash red for a split second. Those rectangles represent autofocus points. Then just a single black focus point remains to show you the final focusing area selected by the camera. For example, in this figure, the camera selected the center focus point.


    In the display at the bottom of the viewfinder, the round focus indicator, labeled in the figure, lights to give you further notice that focus has been achieved. By default, the camera also emits a beep when focus is set. (You can disable the sound via the Beep option in the Shooting/Display section of the Custom Setting menu.)

    Note that if your subject is moving, the light may blink on and off as the camera adjusts focus to track the subject. However, if the focus light blinks continuously, the camera can’t achieve focus (and won’t let you take the picture). Make sure that you’re not too close to your subject; if problems persist, you may need to switch to manual focusing.

  6. 6.Press the shutter button the rest of the way down to record the image.

    While the camera sends the image data to the camera memory card, the memory card access lamp on the back of the camera lights. Don’t turn off the camera or remove the memory card while the lamp is lit, or you may damage both camera and card.

    When the recording process is finished, the picture appears briefly on the camera monitor.

Here are a few important points about working in the Auto and Auto Flash Off exposure modes:

  • Exposure: In dim lighting, the camera may need to use a very high ISO setting or very slow shutter speed when flash is disabled. Unfortunately, a high ISO can create noise, a defect that makes your picture look grainy. And a slow shutter speed can produce blur if either the camera or subject moves during the exposure.

    If you spot either problem, enable flash or add some other light source.

    If the camera can’t select settings that will properly expose the picture, the f-stop and shutter speed values blink, and a blinking exposure meter appears as well. If you’re shooting in the Auto Flash Off mode, changing to Auto and enabling flash typically provides a solution, however.

  • Autofocusing: As with all the fully automatic modes, the camera uses the AF-A Focus mode. Focus is locked as long as you hold the shutter button halfway down unless the camera senses motion and adjusts focus as needed to track your subject.

    For the AF-area mode, the Auto Area setting is selected by default. In that mode, the camera selects which autofocus points to use when establishing focus. Typically, focus is set on the closest object. If you’re having trouble getting the camera to focus on your subject, the easiest solution is often to switch to manual focusing.