From Green Camera to Manual in 9 Easy Steps, Part 6 – Program Mode

DSLR Program Mode

DSLR Program Mode

To get away from the “Green Camera” mode and Scene modes while still letting the camera make most of the exposure decisions, switch to Program (“P”) mode. Program mode is very similar to the “Green Camera” mode in that the camera is choosing the aperture and shutter speed. Where these two modes differ is in the amount of options that you have to choose from in the menus. Once you switch to Program mode you can change the ISO and White Balance. Changing either of these may seem insignificant but it is in fact a step forward.

The limited control over the camera that you gain by switching to the Program mode is most apparent in the menus of your camera. Some options that were greyed out and inaccessible are now available for you to change. In fact, you may see new menu options that you have never seen before. Take a look at these new options and see which, if any, you would like to use. By looking through the menus and choosing the different options that are available you can decide how the camera makes some of the choices it does. Depending on the camera you have, you can select the way the camera’s light meter evaluates a scene and how its image processing engine processes your images.

Did you know that you can choose different Aperture and Shutter Speed combinations in Program mode? Different manufacturers have different names for this like “Flexible  Program” or “Program Shift.” By turning a dial you can choose the Aperture and Shutter Speed that will work for what you are photographing. Are you photographing sports or children running around in the back yard and want to freeze the action? Select a Shutter Speed of 1/250 of a second or faster. Do you want to make a macro photo of the first rose in your garden? Choose an Aperture of f16 or f22. Find Program mode in your owner’s manual to see how to change the Aperture and Shutter Speed your camera will be using and you are starting to take control of your camera!


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