Program mode auto exposure (P)

Program mode auto exposure (P) is a good alternative to the fully automatic mode and allows the user to determine important settings.


  • Alternative to fully automatic mode enabling more types of settings
  • Many photographers use the standard program for 99% of the images captured
  • Very convenient
  • Camera settings need to be checked

Use, possibilities and problems

  • The camera automatically adjusts diaphragm and shutter speed
  • ISO setting in this mode can be adjusted by the photographer depending on lighting and place. This is possible on all cameras that offer this mode
    • ISO rate should therefore be checked and be set according to the required shutter speed. An eye should also be kept on the camera’s image noise if ISO setting is higher
  • On numerous cameras, a program shift can be used
    • Despite having program mode auto exposure, diaphragm or shutter speed can be adjusted for next image (usually by using the camera’s dial)
    • This setting then automatically resets after a short period of time for further images
  • Program mode auto exposure is then available again for diaphragm and shutter speed settings
  • A very important creative mode as it allows the photographer to control the camera’s settings without renouncing basic auto settings for diaphragm and shutter speed


  • Camera doesn’t automatically reset certain settings such as exposure compensation, ISO rate…

 –  Checking camera settings

  • ISO rate (too high? too low? or set to ISO auto?)
  • Exposure compensation (+/-) to O?
  • Image quality

As a large number of settings can be adjusted, it is not possible to list every single one – if you are unsure about changing other settings, all camera settings can be reset over the camera’s menu.

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