How to Switch Between Autofocus (AF) & Manual Focus (MF) on the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm ƒ/2.8 Zoom Lens

Here’s how to switch between Autofocus (AF) and Manual Focus (MF) modes on the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm ƒ/2.8 zoom lens.

Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm ƒ/2.8mm Zoom Lens Front Element
Text & Photos By David Coleman
Last Revised & Updated:

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This is something that originally had me stumped. So I thought it worth posting a quick note here in case anyone else ran into the same issue.

Olympus is now OM System

In 2020-21, the photography business of iconic camera brand Olympus was spun off and sold. The core remaining Olympus brand is focusing on medical and scientific products. The camera and photography side was then rebranded as OM System, with the first cameras and lenses under that brand coming out at the end of 2021.

I was recently out shooting with the Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm ƒ/2.8 lens, and when I took it out my camera bag it was in manual focus mode. And I couldn’t find a way to switch the Olympus 12-40mm lens from manual focus to autofocus. I was looking for buttons or switches on the lens. I looked for menu settings on the camera. I even had to do a web search to confirm that there wasn’t a version of the lens that was manual focus only. It had me stumped.

The 12-40mm lens doesn’t have a button or switch. Instead, you use the focus ring itself.

While I’m referring here to the 12-40mm lens, several other Olympus/OM System lenses have the same type of mechanism for switching between manual and automatic focus.

To put it in autofocus mode, slide the focus ring away from the camera body until it clicks in place. Like this:

Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 Zoom Lens Focus Ring in Autofocus Mode
This is switched to autofocus, with the focus ring clicked forward (away from the camera).

To switch to manual focus, slide that same ring toward the camera body. That will also expose the focus distance ruler printed on the lens barrel’s surface. Like this:

Olympus M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 Zoom Lens Focus Ring
This is switched to manual focus, with the focus ring clicked backward towards the camera and exposing the focus measure marks.

So it turns out that the solution is very simple. And, when you know about it, it’s actually quite intuitive. But if you don’t know about it, it’s not immediately apparent–at least, not to me–because it’s not the way that most other lenses do it. Not that it matters, because it’s not like there’s another option on this lens, but it’s not my favorite implementation of the toggle because I’ve found it too easy to accidentally toggle it as I’m pulling the lens in or out of my bag and there’s no locking mechanism.

Anyway, I hope this saves someone else some temporary confusion!

OM SYSTEM M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO II

There’s now a newer version of this lens: the OM SYSTEM M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO II. It works the same way.

These shots show what it looks like on the newer lens:

OM SYSTEM M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO II Manual Focus Autofocus Switch
This is in autofocus mode. The narrower ring (middle of the frame) is in the forward position and obscures the distance measurement guide.
OM SYSTEM M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO II Manual Focus Autofocus Switch
This is in manual focus mode. The focus ring (middle of the frame) is back and exposes the distance measurement guide.

Related: Olympus / OM System Lens Filter Size Chart

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David Coleman

I'm a professional photographer based in Washington, DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and many places in between. I've been shooting for 30+ years, and my photos and time-lapse videos have appeared in a bunch of different publications, from major newspapers to magazines and books, billboards, TV shows, professional sports stadiums, museums, and even massive architectural scrims covering world-famous buildings while they're being renovated. You can see some of my travel photography here and here.

Discussion

  1. Oh, you saved me! I have yet to play with my new OM-1, as it’s been one thing or another to figure out! But this had me stopped in my tracks! I searched for a button or something! Anything to take it off Manual focus to use all the gadgets! I took the camera in a bag to the zoo, but put it back in when I couldn’t understand and had grand kids to juggle! Sooo frustrating! But, you just gave me the simple answer, Thank you!

    Reply
    • Glad it was helpful!

      I haven’t had a chance to play with the new OM-1 yet, but I have one lined up soon and am looking forward to it. The original film OM-1 was the first SLR I ever used, way back when, so I have a soft spot for them.

      Reply
  2. Thank you so much, I’m using the 40 – 150 F2.8 Pro and the same thing happened to me at an engagement party, had to pack that lens away, which was so disappointing, its such a great lens.
    Looking at getting the 12 – 40 Pro, sounds like its also a fantastic lens.

    Reply
  3. Perfect! Thank you. I had used this lens and was super happy with it and then all of a sudden my photos weren’t in focus. I realized it was in manual focus but couldn’t figure out how to return to auto.

    Reply
  4. Thankyou so much! I’ve been downlading manuals, asking people and getting nowhere other than frustrated!
    Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou

    Reply
  5. Thank u sooo much had two days out with the camera starting to get very frustrated, went and reset factory setting, been thought all the menus and some tutorials…. Bring back a printed manual… So thanks a lot for your post… Was beginning to wish I had bought it from a shop so I could take it back… Your a star..

    Reply
  6. Thanks muchos! I had this problem the other day while taking pictures and could not figure it out what I did. It ruined my day photographing. Appreciate your tip!

    Reply
  7. Does it matter which mode the M/Auto ring switch is in for removing and installing the lens on an OM-D E-M1?

    Thank you,
    Gordon

    Reply
  8. Walked out this morning with this (new) lens on a (new) Lumix body. Immediately stumped that I couldn’t autofocus! You just made it all clear, thank you!!

    Reply
  9. Unbelievable that so many hours have been lost searching for a solution to something that should never happen. I’m surprised I haven’t accidentally moved that ring until now. And there is no way I would ever have thought to slide the focusing ring up and back. Thanks for the help!

    Reply
  10. Lost 1/2 a day on this and this post saved me instantly. Tethered my camera for the first time and Olympus Capture wouldn’t give me a drop down menu for auto-focus, it was permanently set to “MF”. Which ironically had me saying “MF” quite a bit ;-) 2 seconds into reading your post and it’s fixed and I am on my way again. Thank you!!

    Reply
  11. Good on ya. Thanks for that. Just got my new 12-40 pro and yep – was getting confused alright. But – all good now! Cheers.

    Reply
    • Yes was stumped all day on both my 12-40 and 70-150 that ring worked.Had both lenses for 4 years no problem just recently I must have been inadvertently been leaving the ring on the wrong setting. Kudo’s for the great type you saved me a lot of time and such!

      Reply

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