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Program mode
I'm a relative newcomer to DSLR photography and have this burning question that I can't figure out. Why would you ever need Program mode? Program mode lets you pick a pair of Shutter speed and aperature that go together to give you proper exposure. Raise shutter speed, increase aperature, etc. Why couldn't you just pick either Shutter priority or Aperture priority to accomplish the same thing?.

For example, If I wanted a fast shutter speed, I could use Program mode until the shutter speed was 1/2000, and the aperture would change accordingly to something kind of big. Or, I could use shutter priority to do the same thing. What is the difference? Am I missing something kind of important? Thanks for anyone's help who is willing to answer...

Comments (17)

I totally agree with you...I have never used P mode, and I see it as something akin to the Auto modes. Essentially, a P mode is Auto mode which allows you to use flash at will (i.e. manually), plus the ability to choose your own sharpening/contrast/etc settings..

- I use A mode when I need control of the Aperture- I use S mode when I need control of the Shutter- I use M mode for special occasions.

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Http://www.flickr.com/photos/96953368@N00/..

Comment #1

Absolutely agree. I use S mode even for landscapes. It alters my aperture just as surely as A mode!.

The only scenario in which P mode makes sense is in the way Pentax has implemented it. Alter the front thumb wheel to change aperure and the rear one to change shutter speed. Not sure why others have not followed suit..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #2

I think the idea is you can use Program mode as Auto with more control without going quite as far as priority mode. If you want to override the selected shutter/aperture you can, assuming you'll be doing that occasionally..

Its like Auto with the training wheels off..

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Comment #3

Davteague wrote:.

I'm a relative newcomer to DSLR photography and have this burningquestion that I can't figure out. Why would you ever need Programmode? Program mode lets you pick a pair of Shutter speed andaperature that go together to give you proper exposure. Raise shutterspeed, increase aperature, etc. Why couldn't you just pick eitherShutter priority or Aperture priority to accomplish the same thing?.

For example, If I wanted a fast shutter speed, I could use Programmode until the shutter speed was 1/2000, and the aperture wouldchange accordingly to something kind of big. Or, I could use shutterpriority to do the same thing. What is the difference? Am I missingsomething kind of important? Thanks for anyone's help who is willingto answer..

Program mode makes the camera pick both the shutter speed and aperture, allowing you to ignore them. Dandy for very fast situations or for newbies who don't understand it. What's confusing you is that Program can be overridden to behave essentially like aperture or shutter priority..

Let's say you have a correct exposure at 1/125 f/8 Then it gets two stops darker.With aperture priority, it switches to 1/30 f/8With shutter priority, it switches to 1/125 f/4.

With program, it switches to 1/60 f/5.6, or whatever it's program dictates. If you override the program by changing the shutter to 1/125, the camera will change the aperture to f/4, just like shutter priority...

Comment #4

If you are talking pentax, which I am and own, the program mode can do something automatically that nothing else will. and that is give you the best IQ possible with a certain condition being met at all times. you, the user, has the control of that condition..

The one thing aperture or shutter priority is doing is setting the other while you set the first one. but what it is not doing is giving you best possible picture while the camera is doing it. YOU are deciding that you want f8.0 or 1/125 but that may not give the best pic. which means of course that you have to adjust it to get the best pic at the brightness conditions. in P or program at all times the the best pic is being made but with the condition that you set also met..

What condition? the following are possible: MTF, shutter speed, aperture, DOF. depending on the camera others may be possible. the default is MTF. the way mtf works is that the camera in auto or program, either is being affected by the program line selected. the camera as the light level rises from dark keeps the fstop at wide open till about 1/60 then lets the fstop rise as well. this continues untill the lenses reaches max IQ fstop which is going to be f5.6-f11.0.

Then the fstop will also rise. the whole point of this is to put the camera and lens into a normal shutter speed(1/60) then put the lens at it's best performing IQ setting and keep it there as long as possible, as the light level rises. this would give the maximum possible IQ the fastest from a dark starting situation..

The other program lines work the same way but the emphsis is on the other subjects. what was described above is the MTF only..

It is for this reason that I let my *istD run in auto almost all the time,with matrix metering. the program line is giving me the best possible pic IQ as fast as it can as the light level rises. if I do not want the selected settings I simply move it to P and set my own with either wheel knowing the combo will still give the correct exposure but it may be at sacrifice in IQ. I have been shooting slr/dslr for 38yrs. in that time I have found that setting the expopsure is just a mechanical exercise. I can do this fairly easily.

With the program line set to MTF I know I am getting the best possible IQ in the conditions that I have to shoot in. if I have a situation that requires more dof or a faster shutter speed then that is what P is for..

The program lines can be set via the menu. I leave mine at the default the mtf for max IQ..

If I have a situation that requires a special dof or shutter speed then it is possible to change to aperture or shutter priority. an example would be at an indoor hockey game and using shutter speed priority or any other sporting event..

Many times on these forums I read of people who state that they leave their dslrs in aperture priority all the time. fine if that is what they want to do. but at the same time they should know the that the best possible IQ may be at another set of settrings that they do not use. but the program line guerentees that the best possible IQ under the available light conditions will always be set in the fstop and shutter speed...

Comment #5

The description you made is correct. I found that some cameras have different program modes (like Fuji that tries to maintain the shutter speed not the aperture) but Canon, Sony and Nikon have this way of doing.VictorBucuresti, Romaniahttp://s106.photobucket.com/albums/m268/victor_petcu/http://picasaweb.google.com/teodor.nitica/..

Comment #6

In program mode, you are usually limited to a smaller range of f-stops and shutter speeds than in A or S priority. In addition, the ISO range is probably limited. I almost always use A priority and use the Auto mode when I just want to get a snapshot and quality and composition are not very important. You know, like times when your wife is yelling "just take the %&#@ picture!"..

Comment #7

Chris Elliott wrote:.

Absolutely agree. I use S mode even for landscapes. It alters myaperture just as surely as A mode!.

The only scenario in which P mode makes sense is in the way Pentaxhas implemented it. Alter the front thumb wheel to change aperure andthe rear one to change shutter speed. Not sure why others have notfollowed suit..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/.

If I follow correctly I think that's the way my A700 works (but reversed,front wheel shutter,rear aperture), but they didn't follow Pentax, the Minolta 9xi (film) did that in 1992...

Comment #8

AlphaDSLR wrote:.

In program mode, you are usually limited to a smaller range off-stops and shutter speeds than in A or S priority. In addition, theISO range is probably limited. I almost always use A priority and.

I'm not reading your words right or something. How does P give you a smaller range of EV levels that it can cope with vs A or S?.

Here's my slant:.

Http://anandasim.blogspot.com/2008/07/pasm-thing.html.

Anandahttp://anandasim.blogspot.com/http://olympuse510.wikispaces.com/http://picasaweb.google.com/AnandaSim/http://www.flickr.com/photos/32554587@N00/..

Comment #9

GaryDeM wrote:.

The one thing aperture or shutter priority is doing is setting theother while you set the first one. but what it is not doing is givingyou best possible picture while the camera is doing it. YOU aredeciding that you want f8.0 or 1/125 but that may not give the bestpic. which means of course that you have to adjust it to get the bestpic at the brightness conditions. in P or program at all times thethe best pic is being made but with the condition that you set alsomet..

I consider aperture to be everything, the most important setting to think about before taking a photo. Therefore I do not use P. Using P is like saying you don't care what the aperture is and the camera will oblige by giving you shallow DOF for a low light landscape and when you want shallow DOF in bright conditions, you'll get deep DOF. Yea, P gives you the best results for IQ. Right...

Comment #10

Wmsson wrote:.

GaryDeM wrote:.

The one thing aperture or shutter priority is doing is setting theother while you set the first one. but what it is not doing is givingyou best possible picture while the camera is doing it. YOU aredeciding that you want f8.0 or 1/125 but that may not give the bestpic. which means of course that you have to adjust it to get the bestpic at the brightness conditions. in P or program at all times thethe best pic is being made but with the condition that you set alsomet..

I consider aperture to be everything, the most important setting tothink about before taking a photo. Therefore I do not use P. Using Pis like saying you don't care what the aperture is and the camerawill oblige by giving you shallow DOF for a low light landscape andwhen you want shallow DOF in bright conditions, you'll get deep DOF.Yea, P gives you the best results for IQ. Right..

You did not understand much of what I wrote if you think that I do not care for dof. I most certainly do. by the way, in normal outdoor conditions the fstop is in the f8-11 area which is just right for max dof before diffraction kicks in. and you know what it is all done for me..

And auto or P does give the best possible IQ for the existing light conditions. absolutely true. but I said nothing about leaving that as the combo to be used, I said that was what P was for to change the combo to something more suitable to the situation. the later is what I use to change the combo to what I want if I am dissatified with the chosen settings. I also check the chosen combo before every shot to sure that I approve. you know I get the idea that you think that if the dslr sets f8 and a 1/250 the pic looks worse than if the user sets f8 and a 1/250.

And it is an awful lot faster for the camera to set it than if I do. that is how you miss shots, fiddling with the dials. letting the camera set the combo and that leaves me to worry about what I shoot not how. after 38yrs with slr/dslr I know how. I certainly do not need the excercise in turning dials..

Comment #11

Whai I was meaning was...You probably will not get an ISO over 400 in the auto modes. Since the Program mode picks a combination od aperture/shutter that is the correct exposure, all you can do is shift it. There is a limit it that mode of how far you can shift it within the ISO range the camera will allow in the Auto modes. In the A or P priority modes along with setting your ISO instead of the camera assigning it, you have a lot more control over your shots and a wider range of shutter speeds and f-stops...

Comment #12

We all have our ways of looking at it, but my thinking is:.

Use A mode if the aperture is important and/or you need to keep the same aperture between a series of shots..

Use S mode if shutter is important and/or you need the keep the same shutter speed between a series of shots..

However, put your camera in P mode if you're just "walking around" and shooting different stuff here and there cause you can pick any combo you need at the moment with a simple twist of the Main Dial..

Me, I'm probably in P mode 90% of the time...

Comment #13

I have the pentax *istD. it has an iso range from 200-3200. it is available in any mode I use it. there is no problem at all with selecting any iso..

The below pic was taken at the niagara falls butterfly conservatory at iso 1600 in auto. 1/350 f5.6. subject in focus background out of focus..

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The shot below at the U of michigan mathei indoor conservatory was f7.1 1/400 iso800 on auto. the f7.1 was enough to get the flower but throw the background out..

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Same location f5.6 1/400 iso 800. flowing in focus but background thrown out of focus all auto..

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Same location f10.0 1/640 iso800 auto..

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Please note that the fstops selected f5.6 f7.1 and f10.0 are all in the best performing range for IQ all done automatically. and that is what I meant. this left me to concentrate on getting the subject centered. there was either no cropping or less that 5% on all shots. this is because I was spending my time fiddling with dials. almost all my shots are not cropped, I do not need to. they are centered and fill the frame...

Comment #14

AlphaDSLR wrote:.

Whai I was meaning was...You probably will not get an ISO over 400in the auto modes. Since the Program mode picks a combination odaperture/shutter that is the correct exposure, all you can do isshift it. There is a limit it that mode of how far you can shift it.

Ok, understand what you are saying now. My Oly E-510 DSLR has Auto ISO maxed to 400. I can lower the ceiling but the ceiling is 400. For good reasons, most of us don't like ISO 800 and above. This ceiling applies to PAS..

Within the ISO range the camera will allow in the Auto modes. In theA or P priority modes along with setting your ISO instead of thecamera assigning it, you have a lot more control over your shots anda wider range of shutter speeds and f-stops..

Ok, but not on my DSLR..

My Kodak P880 has auto ISO with P up to ISO 400. There is a 800 but that's manual select for PAS and that is not full res. In A and S, there is no auto ISO - you can dial in ISO 400 if you want. The Kodak doesn't look very nice higher than ISO 100..

Anandahttp://anandasim.blogspot.com/http://olympuse510.wikispaces.com/http://picasaweb.google.com/AnandaSim/http://www.flickr.com/photos/32554587@N00/..

Comment #15

Paul_kew wrote:.

Chris Elliott wrote:.

Absolutely agree. I use S mode even for landscapes. It alters myaperture just as surely as A mode!.

The only scenario in which P mode makes sense is in the way Pentaxhas implemented it. Alter the front thumb wheel to change aperure andthe rear one to change shutter speed. Not sure why others have notfollowed suit..

I stand corrected! The review of the Pentax K10D describes it as as unique feature!:.

"The unique Pentax 'Hyper-Program' really is as useful as the name suggests. It is clearly a normal program exposure mode but turning the front or rear dial quickly switches the camera into shutter priority (front dial) or aperture priority (rear dial) modes. To return back to full Program mode just press the green button beside the shutter release. This shockingly simple but effective method of going between the three exposure modes is genius".

Http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/pentaxk10d/page5.asp.

Either way I still do not understand why others have not copied this feature!.

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #16

AnandaSim wrote:.

AlphaDSLR wrote:.

In program mode, you are usually limited to a smaller range off-stops and shutter speeds than in A or S priority. In addition, theISO range is probably limited. I almost always use A priority and.

I'm not reading your words right or something. How does P give you asmaller range of EV levels that it can cope with vs A or S?.

On a Nikon D80 for example using matrix metering and P mode the maxim brightness the cam can respond to is 16.3 EV at ISO 200 not the 20 EV available in other modes which means that settings f/13 at 1/750th through to f/16 at 1/400th are not available to cope with really bright sunlight and any shot taken will be overexposed (as the cam will warn you)..

It is worth noting that the same restrictions apply to all scene modes on the D80..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #17

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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