What is the difference between AF-S and AF-P?

What is the difference in autofocus between AF-S and AF-P lenses from Nikkor / Nikon? Which autofocus system has which advantages and disadvantages in comparison?



AF-S was introduced in 1992.
An autofocus motor integrated into the lens drives focusing.
The integrated motor is an ultrasonic silent wave motor (SWM).

In contrast to earlier autofocus motors, this motor was the first to distinguish itself by its quiet noises during focusing. In addition, the system was faster and more precise than previous systems.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor DX 18-55mm 1:3,5-5,6G VR II Objektiv*
  • Ultrakompaktes Standard-Zoomobjektiv mit hochwertiger Optik für digitale Nikon-Spiegelreflexkameras mit Bildsensor im DX-Format
  • 195g leicht und in Transportstellung nur 59,5 mm lang, nicht mitdrehendes Filtergewinde für 52 mm Filter



AF-P was first introduced in 2016. You could say it is the quieter evolution of AF-S.
Here, too, an autofocus motor integrated into the lens drives the focusing.
The integrated motor is a modern stepper motor, which is driven by a pulse (hence the name “P”).

Compared to the earlier AF-S standard, AF-P lenses offer even quieter operation and are therefore particularly suitable for filming or focusing in applications such as wildlife photography, where loud noises should be avoided. In addition, AF-P lenses can not only be operated by a switch on the lens housing, but also by the camera controlling the lens digitally, for example from the menu.

Nikon AF-P DX Nikkor 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Zoomobjektiv*
  • Bildstabilisiertes Standard-Zoom-Objektiv für das Nikon DX-Format
  • Neuartiger Schrittmotor für einen leisen und schnellen Autofokusbetrieb


The predecessors AF and AF-I


AF-S and AF-P were preceded by other predecessor systems, which I will not forget in my enumeration:



AF was introduced in 1986 and is the Nikon original autofocus system.
The AF motor was not integrated into the lens, instead a motor integrated into the camera controls the lens.
Anyone operating this type of lens on a camera (3000 and 5000 series) without an integrated AF motor cannot use autofocus functions because neither the camera nor the lens have a motor.



AF-I was introduced in 1992 and integrated the autofocus motor into the lens for the first time. Due to the motor built directly into the lens, the autofocus could work much faster than before.



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