Nikon D800 User Manual (en)

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Focus Lock
Focus lock can be used to change the composition after focusing, 
making it possible to focus on a subject that will not be in a focus 
point in the final composition. If the camera is unable to focus 
using autofocus (
0 91), you can also focus on another subject at 
the same distance and then use focus lock to recompose the 
photograph. Focus lock is most effective when an option other 
than auto-area AF is selected for AF-area mode (
1
Focus.
Position the subject in the 
selected focus point and press 
the shutter-release button 
halfway to initiate focus. Check 
that the in-focus indicator (
I) appears in the viewfinder.
2
Lock focus.
AF-C focus mode (
0 91): With the 
shutter-release button pressed 
halfway (q), press the 
AE-L/
AF-L
 button (w) to lock both 
focus and exposure (an AE-L 
icon will be displayed in the 
viewfinder). Focus will remain 
locked while the 
AE-L/AF-L 
button is pressed, even if you 
later remove your finger from 
the shutter-release button.
AF-S focus mode
: Focus locks 
automatically when the in-focus indicator appears, and 
remain locked until you remove your finger from the shutter-
release button. Focus can also be locked by pressing the 
AE-
L/AF-L
 button (see above).
Shutter-release button
AE-L/AF-L button