What is the P (Program) Mode in Digital Cameras
A great many amateur and novice digital camera users don’t know the difference between Auto (mostly represented by a green camera symbol) and P mode on their camera or simply don’t use the P setting because they don’t know what it does or means. Sticking the camera on Auto, the Point & Shoot mode, is fine for a great many situations, but this article is for those who are interested in finding out what the Program (represented by the letter P), setting is for and what is does – or doesn’t do!
If you want to take more control over, or experiment with your ISO settings, the White Balance settings, the pop-up flash, and to some extent the aperture or shutter speeds, etc. then the P setting may be what you need.
The P mode will switch off the automatic flash, automatic ISO settings, will usually keep your auto white balance, but mostly what the P mode is it tries to find the optimal combination of shutter and aperture to reach the optional exposure (plus the automatic ISO value in some digital cameras). This is usually done by taking matrix measurements and deciding “intelligently” what total exposure will deliver the optimum results, then sets the Aperature and Shutter Speed accordinly.
Some cameras offer a flexible program mode where once it has determined the optimum shutter and aperture setting you have to choice to dial the shutter speed or aperture up or down a few notches without becoming over or under exposed, given the lighting conditions and the selected ISO.
We encourage you to test your digital camera by selecting the P setting and experimenting with changing the ISO settings then taking and reviewing pictures (on your computer screen for best results) at the various ISO settings to see the difference.
Why not try experimenting with your flash settings too, especially fill in flash, by altering the + or – stops to see what gives a better fill in result. You may find that reducing the power of your flash fill in could give a more subtle, flattering result.
If it all get too much, you can always revert back to Full Auto. Full Auto sets everything, including the ISO and flash settings.
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