What the camera diopter is and why use it
Nikon D700 Diopter

“Some digital cameras have a diopter adjustment that helps improve the clarity of the viewfinder. By adjusting a dial, lever or knob located near the viewfinder, sharpness and focus changes.” – Digicamhelp.com

I am often asked why a person can’t get anything sharp in the viewfinder. My first reply to that question is if the lens is on autofocus, are the captured photos are sharp?

Nikon D700 Diopter
Nikon D700 Diopter

If yes, then don’t blame the camera, read your manual. Who does that right? 98% of the time when you see blurry but the results are great when using autofocus it means your camera’s diopter is not adjusted for your eye. The other 2% of the time there is something wrong with the prism section of the camera which means send it in for repair.

The diopter is either a dial or slider switch located very close to the viewfinder. All SLR camera’s have one and many point & shoot camera’s have one.

Check out “How to Adjust a Diopter on a Camera” on eHow

So what happens if you don’t adjust your diopter? Well, if you are shooting on Manual focus then all of your photos, yes all of your photos, will be blurry. If you are shooting on Auto focus then you will most likely get lucky and find that there is something in focus most of the time. It may not be what you want however.

Canon 7D Diopter
Canon 7D Diopter

Adjusting your diopter is simple and should be done and checked often as sometimes you might accidentally change it. Or, if you lend your camera to someone you never know what they might touch.

Lastly, if you do a YouTube search for “camera diopter” you will see many videos of people showing you just how to do it. If you’re lucky you may even find your own camera.

So I hope that helps. Check your diopter, adjust it and have fun.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,


This Post Has 25 Comments

  1. But how do we do it? I'm pretty sure it is by turning that little knob. ;-) But how do we know it in on the more adequate position? Thanks!

  2. Find something with a lot of contrast. Something that you know the auto focus will lock in on easily. Let the auto focus do its job and then adjust your diopter until it's perfectly crisp for your eye.

  3. Thanks a lot! I have a Canon 50D and my pictures are all getting sort of blurry/noisy when I see them in real size. I'm getting crazy trying to fix it, and so far no success… tomorrow I'll test the dioptry to see if it solves the mystery.

  4. If you're shooting on Auto Focus the diopter won't fix blurry photos. If you shoot on Manual Focus then that could be causing a problem.

  5. I only shoot AF. Oh my. I have no idea of what may be the problem. :-(

  6. No. And I don't live in the US…. :-( Here in Brazil only in São Paulo we have Canon representation and I don't live there… I am so lost…. Really, really thanks for your kindness in answering me.

  7. I wish I could help more. Another thing to check is if you use only one lens it could be that causing your problem. If you have the issue with multiple lenses then it is def. the body. But either way the Diopter only controls what you see in the viewfinder, not what the camera captures. I hope you work it out. Good Luck!

  8. You would mind in taking a look in one of my pictures to see if you have any idea? happened in different lenses, so I think it is the body. And I'm afraid it will be expensive to fix…

  9. Your Flickr is locked so I can't view the image large. If you want to email me the photo I'd be happy to look. I don't like to share my email address in public due to spam but if you click on this link https://scr.im/imgry you will be able to get my email address :-)

  10. Your Flickr is locked so I can't view the image large. If you want to email me the photo I'd be happy to look. I don't like to share my email address in public due to spam but if you click on this link https://scr.im/imgry you will be able to get my email address :-)

  11. THANK YOU THANK YOU… I just got the D700, and thought something was wrong with it! My D300 did not have the diopter knob!! Easy and free fix!!

  12. I’ve been looking at 1.35x anamorphic adapters for my Canon, and I’ve been seeing a lot of people mentioning diopters when talking about these. I’m just not sure of the purpose of diopters for a lens adapter. I have searched the web and this blog entry is the closest thing to an explanation I can find. Any ideas?

    1. Wish I could help with that, but I can’t unfortunately.

  13. Is the diopter linked to focus … ? I see no reason to adjust if using AI Focus …
    What did I miss … ?

    1. The diopter is only how your eye sees through the viewfinder. If not set up correctly, a perfect focus could look blurry to your eye.

  14. If i will set the diopter according to my eyesight & if any one with normal eyesight uses the camera he will be able to see correctly clear image view with correct focus in the same viewfinder i have adjusted according to my need. Please reply with suggestion if any.

    1. By setting the diopter to your eye, it will be out of focus for someone with different vision.

      1. So then a photo will only be in focus for the photographer who adjusted the diopter for their eyesight? I’m still confused- what if I am using manual focus and have adjusted the diopter for my vision- how will the image appear to someone else with different eyesight?

        1. The diopter is only for adjusting the focus within the viewfinder itself. The photo you capture will look the same no matter who looks at it.

  15. My canon 1300d is housed inside a mirror photo booth, we altered the angle of the camera for a children’s party and since repositioning the photos have been soft. My partner moved what I think is the diopter and since then subjects at the front of the photo look clear but if I have a second or third row they are blurred.. is there an optimum setting please ?

    1. The optimum setting for a diopter is when you see clearly through it. It’s totally unique to each person’s eye.

  16. I have an older Minolta DiMAGE Z1. Should I adjust the the diopter while in ‘auto’ mode or when in manual mode?

    1. If you ever look through the viewfinder you should make sure the diopter is set for your eye.

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