Program mode , when and why using it ? Locked

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Klaus dk
Klaus dk Veteran Member • Posts: 8,310
Enough

I think enough photographers use P mode to justify its existence, and there's no risc that manufacturers will be removing it.

For those who don't see its usefullness, nobody's forcing you to use it, for those of us who do, no fear, it'll stay.

The OP is now informed how some people use it and why.

Could we just agree to disagree?

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Q-ball
Q-ball Regular Member • Posts: 214
Re: Enough

I originally replied to the OP and not you so I am not sure what point you are making.

I posted my opinions in reply to the OP's comments and question -

"I mean if we want to control the aperture or the schutter speed we use the A or the S mode, and for the rest of the option the camera takes care of, ...

What's the practical uses of the P mode ?" -

and how I came to those opinions.

In reply to Franco D's example in his post to me I explained why P mode is not practical for me.

If you disagree with what I posted that is fine. All modes will have their pros and cons for photographers.

I haven't posted what anyone should or should not do. I posted how and why I do and don't do some things.

FrancoD Forum Pro • Posts: 16,290
Re: Enough

Most people don't use most things, so it is more interesting to find out why some do rather then why they don't.

Here is a silly example .

I want to know what is the use of saffron.

Now why would I want to hear from the vast majority of people that don't use it ?

Much more usefull to find out from those that do why they do.

BTW, I have neveer used P but I remember liking the idea of P shift when Pentax came out with it and I demonstrated that to a lot of customers. . I do use saffron

Chris R-UK Forum Pro • Posts: 21,784
Re: Enough

FrancoD wrote:

Most people don't use most things, so it is more interesting to find out why some do rather then why they don't.

Here is a silly example .

I want to know what is the use of saffron.

Now why would I want to hear from the vast majority of people that don't use it ?

Much more usefull to find out from those that do why they do.

BTW, I have neveer used P but I remember liking the idea of P shift when Pentax came out with it and I demonstrated that to a lot of customers. . I do use saffron

I also use saffron, but only when a recipe calls for it.  It isn't the sort of thing that I can afford to experiment with, so I would be really interested in knowing how and when you use it. 

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Chris R

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Klaus dk
Klaus dk Veteran Member • Posts: 8,310
Re: Enough

FrancoD wrote:

Most people don't use most things, so it is more interesting to find out why some do rather then why they don't.

Here is a silly example .

I want to know what is the use of saffron.

Now why would I want to hear from the vast majority of people that don't use it ?

Much more usefull to find out from those that do why they do.

BTW, I have neveer used P but I remember liking the idea of P shift when Pentax came out with it and I demonstrated that to a lot of customers. . I do use saffron

I respectfully disagree. If someone don't use saffron because they've experienced an allergic reaction or other unpleasantness, I'd think it is relevant.

I also think it's relevant to hear from people who don't use P mode for whatever reasons they have. I think that the worry some may have of not getting the optimum exposure is relevant, although I personally think it is somewhat overstated, but never the less it should be taken into consideration by people who wonder if or why P mode is for them.

I think we sometimes forget that in matters of taste and habits, we can't be right or wrong, but we can have our reasons. Sharing those reasons with beginners, making it possible for them to make their own decisions is an act of kindness. Getting at each others' throaths over it, is a lose-lose proposition, IMHO.

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FingerPainter Forum Pro • Posts: 10,493
Re: Program mode , when and why using it ?

tclune wrote:

Tbamed wrote:

Hi,

I've read and viewed a lot about the use of the P mode, I've even encountred some confirmed photographers who are using it, however, I stilldon't understand why we use it ?

I mean if we want to control the aperture or the schutter speed we use the A or the S mode, and for the rest of the option the camera takes care of, ...

What's the practical uses of the P mode ?

The real question seems to be, "why have a separate aperture priority and shutter priority mode in addition to program mode?

The answer to that seems to be, in part, "because A and S modes will keep the same aperture and shutter speed respectively from shot to shot, while P mode can reset either or both between shots.

Q-ball
Q-ball Regular Member • Posts: 214
Re: Enough

Klaus dk wrote:

FrancoD wrote:

Most people don't use most things, so it is more interesting to find out why some do rather then why they don't.

Here is a silly example .

I want to know what is the use of saffron.

Now why would I want to hear from the vast majority of people that don't use it ?

Much more usefull to find out from those that do why they do.

BTW, I have neveer used P but I remember liking the idea of P shift when Pentax came out with it and I demonstrated that to a lot of customers. . I do use saffron

I respectfully disagree. If someone don't use saffron because they've experienced an allergic reaction or other unpleasantness, I'd think it is relevant.

I also think it's relevant to hear from people who don't use P mode for whatever reasons they have. I think that the worry some may have of not getting the optimum exposure is relevant, although I personally think it is somewhat overstated, but never the less it should be taken into consideration by people who wonder if or why P mode is for them.

I think we sometimes forget that in matters of taste and habits, we can't be right or wrong, but we can have our reasons. Sharing those reasons with beginners, making it possible for them to make their own decisions is an act of kindness. Getting at each others' throaths over it, is a lose-lose proposition, IMHO.

On this one, I agree totally with you

Ysarex
Ysarex Veteran Member • Posts: 3,109
Re: Program mode , when and why using it ?

Q-ball wrote:

Ysarex wrote:

Q-ball wrote:

Tbamed wrote:

Hi,

I've read and viewed a lot about the use of the P mode, I've even encountred some confirmed photographers who are using it, however, I stilldon't understand why we use it ?

I mean if we want to control the aperture or the schutter speed we use the A or the S mode, and for the rest of the option the camera takes care of, ...

What's the practical uses of the P mode ?

I "affectionately" refer to P mode as Pointless mode, but yes, it does have it's uses for some people and their particular situations. I refer to it as "Pointless Mode" because if camera manufacturers decided for whatever reason to remove it, it would not affect me in any way at all.

If you just need nice looking, ready to use sooc snapshot jpegs then P mode should do a reasonable job without necessarily optimising the exposure (amount of light that falls on the sensor per unit area) to minimise visible noise.

If you have fast moving action in the scene you want to freeze and/or are panning while shooting then P mode most likely won't give you want you want.

Personally, I never use P mode because I prefer to set the aperture and shutter speed I want directly rather than have to hope P mode will pick them for me on its first guess saving me from having to fiddle with Program Shift to hopefully set the exposure I want to minimise visible noise.

Program mode has made it's selection the instant you turn the camera on.

Far more often than not P mode gets it wrong because it has no idea what dof I want and what my blur requirements are.

If someone has very flexible dof and shutter speed requirements then maybe P mode might guess satisfactorily on its first guess.

Program mode always gets it wrong first turned on. That doesn't matter. It's simple and fast to use program shift to set the parameters you want.

It then waits for you to bring your eye to the viewfinder. I personally prefer to use just one same and simple control wheel to set either the ideal shutter speed or f/stop

How do you tell that one wheel to change the shutter speed to your ideal shutter speed without changing the aperture and vice-versa?

For example, if in your mind you know you need 1/2000s to freeze the motion in your scene, how do you tell the wheel to set shutter speed to 1/2000s?

You just turn the Program shift wheel to set that shutter speed or f/stop as you prefer. On my camera turning the wheel left speeds up the shutter and turning it right slows down the shutter.

Of course the f/stop changes at the same time -- very nice and convenient feature that.

Once Program shift is engaged the camera remembers and stays with the newly set parameters for the next shot.

as needed to get the optimal exposure

What are you optimising for?

I optimise the exposure to minimise visible noise within my dof and blur constraints without blowing important highlights.

I place the diffuse highlight at the sensor threshold and expose for maximum recorded data (taking into consideration my requirements for DOF and motion rendition).

I require instead of wasting time twiddling separate shutter speed dials and/or aperture rings while watching the meter to try and set an exposure manually.

I have my index finger on the shutter speed wheel (right next to the shutter release button) and my thumb on the aperture wheel on the back of the camera. I can change both aperture and shutter speed instantaneously and easily and it's like having both aperture and shutter speed priorities at my finger tips at the same time.

Then your camera is as well designed to use manually as mine is to use in Program mode. AND THIS IS THE CRUX OF THE MATTER. I have my right index finger on the EC wheel on the front of the camera and my right thumb on the Program shift wheel on the back of the camera -- as fast and efficient as possible. Sounds like your camera is designed to do as well in manual -- mine is not. All of my lenses have aperture rings and to use the camera in manual I have to turn those rings (otherwise set to A). My shutter speed dial is on the top of the camera (legacy style) and moves in 1 stop increments. To get 1/3 stops I have to both turn that top dial and then turn the back thumb wheel.

None of this is any big deal as my other reasons for choosing the camera are higher priorities. The point is I can set any reasonable exposure that meets the requirement to optimize the exposure just as quickly and easily as you can in manual, but with my camera the way it's designed manual would be slower to use.

Usually I'm on to the next shot while a manual shooter would still be twiddling.

That depends on the skill and experience of the photographer, does it not?

I've seen P mode shooters fiddling with Program Shift as I move on to the next shot.

It depends on the photographer's experience using their camera and the design of the camera's controls. You're no faster or more efficient using manual on your camera as I am using Program mode on mine. Sounds likes it's a wash. Given the unique design of the controls some cameras may be more complicated to use one way or the other.

But that's just the way I prefer to do my photography.

No problem as obviously everyone will have their own individual preferences.

Just do whatever suits you best as I do.

That's right. Program mode gets the photographer to the same exposure parameters as does manual mode so there's no difference of consequence and it really comes down to learning to work with the camera you chose and being happy with the way it's designed to operate. So there's no reason to disparage one over the other as you originally did.

To answer the OP's original question Program mode is another alternative approach for the task of setting the desired exposure parameters. It's practical appeal is that It can be very efficient and quick (given the camera's design) if you want and learn to use it.

But that is just the way I prefer to do my photography.

For other people, TMMV

The OP asked - "What's the practical uses of the P mode ?"

I posted my opinions in my first post and how I came to them. I can't be any fairer than that

I acknowledged some people find P mode useful while pointing out why I do not.

Ysarex
Ysarex Veteran Member • Posts: 3,109
Re: Enough

Klaus dk wrote:

FrancoD wrote:

Most people don't use most things, so it is more interesting to find out why some do rather then why they don't.

Here is a silly example .

I want to know what is the use of saffron.

Now why would I want to hear from the vast majority of people that don't use it ?

Much more usefull to find out from those that do why they do.

BTW, I have neveer used P but I remember liking the idea of P shift when Pentax came out with it and I demonstrated that to a lot of customers. . I do use saffron

I respectfully disagree. If someone don't use saffron because they've experienced an allergic reaction or other unpleasantness, I'd think it is relevant.

I also think it's relevant to hear from people who don't use P mode for whatever reasons they have. I think that the worry some may have of not getting the optimum exposure is relevant, although I personally think it is somewhat overstated,

I think it's misunderstood rather than overstated. I think some people believe that Program mode relinquishes control. Program mode provides just as precise control of the exposure parameters as does manual within the constraint of setting any kind of reasonable exposure. On my camera for example that "reasonable exposure" constraint is a total range of 10 stops +/- which I think is more than "reasonable."

Using the camera in manual you're still bound by the exposure requirements of the sensor and the requirements to render acceptable motion and DOF. Program mode instantly puts you in that ballpark and gives you complete control to then fine-tune the parameters as you see fit.

but never the less it should be taken into consideration by people who wonder if or why P mode is for them.

I think we sometimes forget that in matters of taste and habits, we can't be right or wrong, but we can have our reasons. Sharing those reasons with beginners, making it possible for them to make their own decisions is an act of kindness. Getting at each others' throaths over it, is a lose-lose proposition, IMHO.

Autonerd Senior Member • Posts: 2,678
Re: Program mode , when and why using it ?

Q-ball wrote:

I refer to it as "Pointless Mode" because if camera manufacturers decided for whatever reason to remove it, it would not affect me in any way at all.

So really it should be called "Pointless for David1961 Mode".

P mode should do a reasonable job without necessarily optimising the exposure (amount of light that falls on the sensor per unit area) to minimise visible noise.

I don't think that's necessarily the case. Set to P mode, my camera generally keeps ISO as low as possible (assuming I've left it on auto). So while it won't maximize exposure in the ETTR sense, it will get as much light on the sensor as possible at settings that are conservative in terms of shake and reasonably large DOF. Again, ETTR aside and assuming no tripod, I'd say the P exposure is usually within a stop or less of maximizing the light on the sensor.

Of course it has no idea what one wants for DOF or motion freeze/blur, so limits your creative control -- but in terms of minimizing noise, I find that P works pretty well. I consider P mode a tool in my shop, albeit one I don't use often.

Aaron

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Ysarex
Ysarex Veteran Member • Posts: 3,109
Re: Program mode , when and why using it ?

Autonerd wrote:

Q-ball wrote:

I refer to it as "Pointless Mode" because if camera manufacturers decided for whatever reason to remove it, it would not affect me in any way at all.

So really it should be called "Pointless for David1961 Mode".

P mode should do a reasonable job without necessarily optimising the exposure (amount of light that falls on the sensor per unit area) to minimise visible noise.

I don't think that's necessarily the case. Set to P mode, my camera generally keeps ISO as low as possible (assuming I've left it on auto). So while it won't maximize exposure in the ETTR sense, it will get as much light on the sensor as possible at settings that are conservative in terms of shake and reasonably large DOF. Again, ETTR aside and assuming no tripod, I'd say the P exposure is usually within a stop or less of maximizing the light on the sensor.

Of course it has no idea what one wants for DOF or motion freeze/blur, so limits your creative control

That's why modern cameras include a shift function as part of Program mode. I use my camera in Program mode with no limits to creative control. Keeping the camera in Program mode if I want a specific shutter speed or specific f/stop I set them.

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but in terms of minimizing noise, I find that P works pretty well. I consider P mode a tool in my shop, albeit one I don't use often.

Aaron

Autonerd Senior Member • Posts: 2,678
Re: Program mode , when and why using it ?

Ysarex wrote:

The point is I can set any reasonable exposure that meets the requirement to optimize the exposure just as quickly and easily as you can in manual, but with my camera the way it's designed manual would be slower to use.

This is one of the rare times that Q-Ball/Kaspah/David1961 does have a valid point, but for some reason he never really delves into the "why".

First, I agree that program shift is often way quicker than manual. When I have P selected I sometimes use it as a surrogate Av or Tv mode (twiddle the dial to get the Av or Tv you want with a single twiddle of a single dial -- very quick).

However, the point I believe David/Q-Ball is making is that using the program shift for one value picks a corresponding value based on the light meter reading. Let's say P mode picks 1/60 @ f/16 @ ISO 100, but you want shallower DOF. You can twiddle the dial to f/5.6 and you'll get a shutter speed of 1/500 (if my math is correct).

There is a school of thought that involves ignoring the meter and setting the aperture and shutter speed as you want them, regardless of meter reading, and either raising ISO (low light) or checking the histogram to ensure highlights aren't blown (lots of light). So you might shoot that same photo as above at 1/125 @ f/5.6. The .JPGs for this shot will look under/over exposed, but the data is there and .RAW processing can produce a good-looking photo with less noise.

When David talks about an optimized exposure, he's (usually) talking about getting as much light on the sensor as possible without blowing out the bright bits.

P mode will produce a perfectly usable exposure, and I find that, with my camera at least, I can get close to maximizing light on the sensor in the automatic modes, and furthermore I can get perfectly good photos even if I don't. But, to each their own.

Bottom line is that with digital you don't really need to be able to "nail" the exposure the way you did with slide film.

Aaron

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Bob
Bob Veteran Member • Posts: 3,461
Wow!

Only here in DPR do experienced photographers argue over something as basic as P mode.

P is full auto.  Camera picks a reasonable combination of aperture and shutter for those people who don't know how to (or care to) (or have time to) set those.

OP: All good now?

OP Tbamed Regular Member • Posts: 225
Re: Wow!

Bob wrote:

Only here in DPR do experienced photographers argue over something as basic as P mode.

P is full auto. Camera picks a reasonable combination of aperture and shutter for those people who don't know how to (or care to) (or have time to) set those.

OP: All good now?

It doesn't explain what it lets you do

To sumup , in Pmode, it still possible to set Aperture or shutter speed in this mode whereas it is not on the auto mode, however, it is not stored, it may change, to get the value fixed , one must choose between the A or the S mode ...

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PhotoTeach2 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,666
Re: Program mode , when and why using it ?

Tbamed wrote:

tclune wrote:

The real question seems to be, "why have a separate aperture priority and shutter priority mode in addition to program mode?"

Now, it is !?

You are misunderstanding what he meant when he stated that.

First of all, P mode is an excellent mode to use as your "walk-around" mode. P-mode (especially w/ "auto"-ISO) allows your camera to QUICKLY take a shot in (virtually) ANY lighting. So it is great for "grabbing" a quickly evolving situation.

The Aperture and Shutter-Speed, (and ISO if in "auto-ISO") are derived as per algorithms built into the firmware of the camera. They are (99%) "OK" for most situations.

However, there are times when you want/need a specific SS or A. You do have an option in P mode called P-SHIFT and you can quickly change the (combinations) of SS & A so that a specific SS or A is showing, (for that one specific shot).

That indeed may be the quickest way for (one) specific shot. But note that your preferred SS or A may not be consistent between different shots.

If you are in a shooting-situation where you want a lot of shots to be at a specific SS or A, then it is best to use either S/Tv or A "priority". Either will "lock" your preferred SS or A.

If you want total control over BOTH S/Tv and A, then you have to use Manual.

Note that you still have a choice of fixed-ISO or auto-ISO in any mode, for your choice of control.

Autonerd Senior Member • Posts: 2,678
Re: Wow!

Tbamed wrote:

To sumup , in Pmode, it still possible to set Aperture or shutter speed in this mode whereas it is not on the auto mode, however, it is not stored, it may change, to get the value fixed , one must choose between the A or the S mode ...

Yes, correct, specifically if you want to keep one value or the other constant between shots.

Aaron

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Ysarex
Ysarex Veteran Member • Posts: 3,109
Re: Program mode , when and why using it ?

Autonerd wrote:

Ysarex wrote:

The point is I can set any reasonable exposure that meets the requirement to optimize the exposure just as quickly and easily as you can in manual, but with my camera the way it's designed manual would be slower to use.

This is one of the rare times that Q-Ball/Kaspah/David1961 does have a valid point, but for some reason he never really delves into the "why".

First, I agree that program shift is often way quicker than manual. When I have P selected I sometimes use it as a surrogate Av or Tv mode (twiddle the dial to get the Av or Tv you want with a single twiddle of a single dial -- very quick).

However, the point I believe David/Q-Ball is making is that using the program shift for one value picks a corresponding value based on the light meter reading. Let's say P mode picks 1/60 @ f/16 @ ISO 100, but you want shallower DOF. You can twiddle the dial to f/5.6 and you'll get a shutter speed of 1/500 (if my math is correct).

There is a school of thought that involves ignoring the meter and setting the aperture and shutter speed as you want them, regardless of meter reading, and either raising ISO (low light) or checking the histogram to ensure highlights aren't blown (lots of light). So you might shoot that same photo as above at 1/125 @ f/5.6. The .JPGs for this shot will look under/over exposed, but the data is there and .RAW processing can produce a good-looking photo with less noise.

Add in EC to the Program shift function and you can set the same exposure -- exact same parameters -- shutter speed, f/stop and ISO.

I don't set my exposures relying on the meter but rather I rely on the highlight clipping warning. In Program mode using both the shift function and EC I can set the specific exposure parameters I want.

When David talks about an optimized exposure, he's (usually) talking about getting as much light on the sensor as possible without blowing out the bright bits.

P mode will produce a perfectly usable exposure, and I find that, with my camera at least, I can get close to maximizing light on the sensor in the automatic modes, and furthermore I can get perfectly good photos even if I don't. But, to each their own.

Bottom line is that with digital you don't really need to be able to "nail" the exposure the way you did with slide film.

Aaron

Autonerd Senior Member • Posts: 2,678
Re: Program mode , when and why using it ?

Ysarex wrote:

Add in EC to the Program shift function and you can set the same exposure -- exact same parameters -- shutter speed, f/stop and ISO.

Agreed. At that point I'd probably use manual mode. Although on my auto-only film cameras, this is pretty much what you do -- set your aperture, then twiddle the EC dial (which often times is also the ISO dial) to get the desired exposure.

Aaron

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Q-ball
Q-ball Regular Member • Posts: 214
Re: Program mode , when and why using it ?

Ysarex wrote:

Q-ball wrote:

How do you tell that one wheel to change the shutter speed to your ideal shutter speed without changing the aperture and vice-versa?

For example, if in your mind you know you need 1/2000s to freeze the motion in your scene, how do you tell the wheel to set shutter speed to 1/2000s?

You just turn the Program shift wheel to set that shutter speed or f/stop as you prefer. On my camera turning the wheel left speeds up the shutter and turning it right slows down the shutter.

Of course the f/stop changes at the same time -- very nice and convenient feature that.

And that is one of the reasons why P mode will on most occasions not give me the optimal exposure, as I showed with FrancoD's example, to maximise the exposure within my dof, blur and highlight preservation requirements in order to minimise visible noise.

It might choose the widest aperture that gives my dof, which I don't want to change, but the shutter speed could be way off what I need for my blur constraint.

Just do whatever suits you best. All modes will have their prose and cons.

I posted earlier where I see P mode can be useful for some photographers while explaining why I never use it.

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