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Live View Mode

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On some Nikon cameras there are 2 forms of live view, Tripod and Handheld modes. The difference between these two modes primarily has to do with the focusing mechanism used and more generally the shooting process. In Handheld  mode the camera uses phase detect autofocus while in Tripod mode contrast autofocus is used. Generally the difference between these two autofocus methods is as follows:


Phase Detect Autofocus - Faster and more accurate. When shooting in live view the mirror must drop down to focus and then raise again to capture the image. Autofocus takes place while the mirror is down. In Phase Detect mode (Handheld live view) manual focusing is not supported and the focus point is selected as normal with the cameras autofocus system. Handheld mode is only supported on the D3, D3X, D3S, D700, D300, and D300S models.

Contrast Autofocus - Slower and less accurate. Contrast autofocus functions similar to the autofocus on a point and shoot camera by measuring image contrast on the main photo sensor. Because the main sensor is used the autofocus point can be moved to any location on the image. When shooting in Contrast Autofocus Manual focusing can be used and the shutter can immediately fire without first dropping the mirror. Note that contrast autofocus typically requires a subject with adequate contrast and more light than phase detect autofocus.


If there is no Live View Mode selection for your camera then it operates in tripod mode and uses the contrast autofocus.


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