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Re: autofocus not working
Are you depressing the shutter button half way prior to snapping the shot you want. Also check to see if any of you setting are changed...if it's on auto and you still are have the same problem then your lens could be dirty.
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I'm out of practice because my camera suddenly stopped working 6 months ago, but I don't recall having a problem with blurry pictures when I used the zoom. Sometimes, it takes a few seconds for a pic to come into clear focus. I think the trick is to just keep working with it.
Simplest answer is that you may have accidentally flipped the focus switch (A/M) on the lens to M. This turns off autofocus for that lens (which you might need to do if autofocus just can't resolve the image). Try turning it back to A.
Another possibility is that you're using an autofocus target different from the one you're expecting. The problem would be apparent regardless of lens choice, by being in focus in a different part of the image. You can press the arrow keys (while holding shutter release down halfway) to change AF targets, or change a menu setting to simply choose the closest target.
The shooting modes have no effect on focusing ability.
The camera would likely detect other focus-related problems (like servo failure).
The simplest thing which might have gone wrong is that you mistakenly activated the macro function. Try taking a picture of, say, a flower from a few inches: if it's sharp, you're employing the camera's macro function and need to deactivate it.
I don't recall the DSC having a manual focus setting, but check it out. If you turned it on, you need to manually adjust the focus through the zoom control in order to get sharp pictures (or turn on autofocus, of course).
Otherwise, the auto-focusing software might be at fault. There are several autofocus settings available; try cycling them all and see if the problem is reversible.
If not, either the autofocus parameters are gone awry - I'm afraid the camera'll need servicing - or maybe a dirty lens is causing the autofocus to malfunction, in which case cleaning it would solve the problem. Frankly, it's unlikely - it would take a really cleverly positioned and greasy fingerprint to fool a modern focusing engine. But you might be lucky, and it's worth a check.
Sounds like the auto focus mechanism in the camera needs to be cleaned and adjusted. The camera can be repaired yourself but it takes a great deal of mechanical know how and knowledge. Several links have already been posted on this issue.
I recommend you take the camera to a repair shop and have it done correctly.
Try checking your settings for the type of shot you are taking and for the type of focus...... type of shot is the dial on the top, and then: 1) menu, metering and also check your autofocus mode 2)menu, autofocus; try the single autofocus, it might be set to continual
Also, you could try updating the firmware in your camera. You do this through the Nikon website.