Introduction to Camera Modes: Program Mode

If you want to have a little more control over your camera, you can use program mode, which is assigned the letter P. In Program mode the camera will take control over your aperture and shutter speed, but you can also control other elements such as flash, white balance (the color tint in your pictures), and in many cases the ISO (you will learn about this later). You can think of this as a semi-auto mode because not everything is in full auto mode. If you did the last exercise correctly, you noticed that a picture in the dark will turn the flash on in auto mode. In program mode you can tell the camera not to use the flash even if it is dark. In this book you will learn why having some flexibility is great and you will see many things you can do when you are in more control of your camera.

Take your camera again and find the program mode, which is shown with the letter P. This is an important step. One useful thing that you can also learn at this point while using program mode is setting your flash. Sometimes you will need it on, sometimes you will need it off.

Where do you set the flash in your camera? Unfortunately I can’t answer that here either because there are so many camera models and they have this option located in different places depending on the brand and model of your camera. The good news is that it is not that hard to find it. Some cameras will give you flash options navigating through the menu using your LCD screen. Other cameras will have a multi-function button that controls the flash with other features such as exposure compensation, self-timer, and/or continuous shooting (don’t worry about these things now). Many cameras, especially DSLR cameras have a tiny circular button somewhere with any of these icons:
IMAGE of flash icons

Many cameras have flash levels, don’t worry about this now. Just make sure you can turn your flash on and off at any level. If you can’t find a way to control the flash, you need to pullout your manual and find how you can turn it on and off. This is a basic feature you need to learn now.

Image or caption. Sometimes you will want to use flash for certain effects and the camera won’t know that, so Program mode can help you with that.

Exercise: take your camera and 1) set your camera to program mode. 2) Take two pictures as listed below

Picture 1. Take a picture of anything you want inside your house with no flash.

Picture 2. Take another picture of the same subject and also inside your house with your flash on.

Don’t worry whether the picture looks good or not. This exercise is only for you to practice how to control your flash in program mode.

Next let’s talk about aperture mode.


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