P is for Program (or Plonker)...

Discussion in 'Photography Forums' started by julian_fraser, Jan 18, 2008.

  1. julian_fraser

    julian_fraser
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    Hi all. I was reading an article in February's Practical Photography magazine written by David Noton when, while "contemplating exposure modes" he stated the following:

    As a newcomer I'm aware that there are times when Shutter Priority and Aperture Priority are absolutely essential in order to "force" a particular setting on the camera in order to achieve the desired effect, and I am trying to use them more and more as I gain a fuller understanding of when I need to use them, why I need to use them and most importantly - how! (I've got a notepad in my camera bag where I've started noting down shutter speeds and f/numbers for particular effects, taken from Hints'n'Tips sections of magazines and the very helpful posts on this site)

    But having read Ken Rockwell's user guide for the D40 here he gives an awful lot of detail about setting up the camera in Program mode in order to get the best out of the camera. He even states that he shoots in this mode most often.

    I have followed Ken's guide and do use Program mode for general shooting unless I am shooting in conditions (or for a result) that dictate using another mode.

    Is using Program mode "cheating"? Is it for Plonkers?

    Discuss.
     
  2. Brammers

    Brammers
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    I think that A&S mode take so little knowledge over and above P mode that it makes P mode largely irrelevent. I've taught people to shoot in A mode in 30mins before - it's so simple - choose the aperture for the effect you want and make sure the shutter speed is sensible. S is a little less common, but it's the same.

    Is it useless? I do know one guy that calls it 'panic mode' - shooting festivals in rapidly changing light it can react faster than you can if you suddenly need to stop down or open up the aperture - especially powerful when you've got an automatic flash too.

    But it really is not the way to learn to do different effects, and the way it works with flash in low ambient light conditions is horrible!
     
  3. senu

    senu
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    I use P a lot of the time ( And im most ( definitely not) a Plonker or Cheat :D)
    Why?

    Im not a "purist".:zonked: And Ill do anything for an easy life... and I actually get good results with it. Maybe not the very best but hey , life is not a Photocontest AFAIK ;)
    . If I dont like its chosen settings I just shift the dial to A or S , such is the simplicity of digital. You can see right away how you fared:devil:

    It is a lot more versatile than Auto ( that is cheating :eek:) and unless you are particularly concerned about the use of fast or slow shutter speed , Small or large aperture for creative output, you can get the image instantly and being digital if you don't like it try a range of settings in Aperture or shutter priority Modes
    There are times when you want to take the picture..right now., this instant Period
    If you get it wrong , Aperture or Shutter priority modes are less forgiving Certainly if you get it right with them the Picture might be a rather more outstanding
    It can be argued that using Manual focus and manual mode and an off board light meter is "Proper photography.".:oops:
    My point: All the modes have their place and the Program mode is there if you don't feel like doing a quick mental on your feet
    It also exists to help you when learning to compare the difference in your settings with A and P ( or Manual) and the Cameras
    You can get good images with all the modes as long as you learn you kit well
    Photosnobbery amuses me:rotfl:
     
  4. Tobers

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    If I'm concentrating a lot, I usually use aperture priority. Often, if I'm doing street stuff, I'll more likely use P as things change so quickly.

    However, the more I photograph, the more I find myself in Av more and it is starting to become quite instinctive. Also, after reading "understanding exposure" by whatsisname, it makes an awful lot of sense. You need to think "what do I want this shot to look like", set the aperture accordingly, and you're sorted.

    I'd encourage you to use it and you'll find it easier & easier the more you practice.

    edit: I use shutter priority when doing sports stuff. I'll go for say 1/640th and let the camera sort the aperture and then bump the ISO up when it's got no more aperture left.
     
  5. Yandros

    Yandros
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    I very rarely use Program mode. Having said that, I don't do street or event photography particularly, which from the sounds of things is when most folks here are resorting to it. For action shots I use shutter priority of course, and for everything else it's aperture.

    One reason I'm not a big fan of program mode is that I use VR lenses more than any other, and I know I can push the shutter speeds abnormally low - scrounging a couple of stops more than P mode would usually choose.

    I also tend to play around with various apertures for each shot, and choose the best one at my leisure back home.
     
  6. mpritch

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    I have never really used P mode as I don't actually understand what it does - ie what it uses to determine the parameters it sets :rolleyes: I came from an old film camera (non canon) which had only AV / TV and M

    I like to have one specifc - a bit of pre-determinded control - either aperture, or shutter speed, and that depends on what I am shooting. I know then how the camera is set up and will have less suprises. I tend to keep the ISO as low as poss and only increase as and when.

    I don't think P is for plonker - if it gets you the shot you want then I can't see why statements like this are made.

    Saying that, I am in a inspired mood recently so trying to learn stuff I think I should know, hence I have been using manual alot - it is forcing me to slow down and think what I'm trying to do. For example I can't remember the sequence of shutter speeds / aperture stops in thirds (only full stops) so instead of dialing in under or over exposure using exposure compensation, I do it manually on the aperture or speed so I'm forced to learn the sequence. It's sort of working.

    Mark
     
  7. theo cupier

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    Dopey n00b (Plonker) question:

    What's the difference between P mode and fully Auto? They both seem to be "the camera does everything for you" mode, so what's the difference?
     
  8. cedmondson

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    If you've bought a camera with multiple modes - some of which offer higher levels of automation you've paid for that functionality so use it if you feel happier doing so. I guess many people will use P (or similar modes) at the outset before realising what benefits other modes will give. But IMHO using manual - or for that matter AV / TV - without some idea of why or how it might produce a better picture is utterly pointless.
    Far better to get comfortable with 'P', then to get curious about other possibilities than to feel compelled to start at the deep end for the hell of it.
    Just my 2p.
     
  9. ryart

    ryart
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    The vast majority of photographs I took as a professional were with cameras without any form of built in metering, so everything was based on separate meters. Now I'm retired I use a Canon 400D (among others) and leave it set on P. Why? I've spent enough time worrying about exposures and now want to enjoy taking photographs; the inbuilt P mode invariably comes up with a good balance of shutter speed and aperture for the sort of pictures I take. If I'm after a particular effect than I can always alter it.

    By leaving the camera in P mode it is ready to go and if a picture presents itself I can shoot quickly without having to first check what shutter or aperture the camera is set to.

    I have nothing at all against those that enjoy using aperture or shutter priority, or even manual. If you are learning the fundamentals of photography then it is an excellent idea to avoid the automatic modes. It all comes down to doing whatever gets you the results you want or need.
     
  10. richard plumb

    richard plumb
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    isn't P actually pretty close to aperture *and* shutter priority in modern cameras?

    eg you whack it in P and the camera goes 'f8, 1/250 second'. You don't like that, you want to get less depth of field, you just whizz the dial, and its actiing like aperture priority, with the shutter speed responding to keep the exposure right.
     
  11. Tobers

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    That's a very good point actually. I always reset my camera to P and low ISO after taking some pics so I can grab a surprise shot immediately should something come up. I very rarely switch my camera off either. I just let it go to sleep and a press of the shutter button wakes it immediately.
     
  12. HMHB

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    I've used P mode quite a few times, especially when I want to force the onboard flash to fire in a dark forest !
    Otherwise I use Av and Tv, I use Av for when I need the highest possible shutter speed, so I set the Aperture at the smallest value that I can for the long end of my lens, and I use Tv when I want to have a large depth of field, so my Shutter speed is set to 100 and that then allows me to handhold at the short end of my 70-300.
    I often forget which way round I've got them, so I remember A for Action and T for Terrain :D
     
  13. U'R'ss

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    Yes, it's not just stuck in a P auto mode you can still change the settings
     
  14. Yandros

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    Yeah, though that not classic Program Mode, that's Flexible Program (P*). I've never liked that much, as it seems more hard work than Aperture/Shutter. It's just that bit more vague than A/S....."work it out for me, but in general I like a teeny bit wider aperture please!" Too wishy washy for my taste.
     
  15. U'R'ss

    U'R'ss
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    work it out for me

    Yeah lazy Sunday afternoon, I'v got no time to worry :)
     
  16. salubrious_k

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    I use Av 80-90% of the time and M the remainder. I've really got to consider using Tv more, I'm aware it can be pretty useful at times, but I'm just not used to using it. I personally don't bother with P, I find it a bit limiting for my photographic style, but I guess I love playing with the DOF.
     
  17. Manic78

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    Complete newbie type comment but.....

    Do you come away with images you're happy with?

    If so, that sounds good enough to me. By all means try working with the other modes, but if you really want to grab the shot and you're confident with P then use it.
     
  18. senu

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    P mode is not implemented the same in all Brands
    In Canon, Whilst in fully Auto you cant shoot RAW, or change ISO ,exposure compensation, AF mode .AE mode. or pretty much anything unlike any of the Exposure modes including P.
     
  19. julian_fraser

    julian_fraser
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    Lots of interesting views, not a bad little straw poll really.

    Thanks everyone. I think on the whole I don't feel such a fraud now if I take a decent photo in P mode (after all, I have set up the other variables within that mode). And the point about being ready to shoot without having to check your settings is a very valid one.
     

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