What Does the P on My Camera Mean?

Most advanced digital cameras have a dial that lets you choose an exposure method. It's where you find the "Auto" choice along with some icons of various photo subjects (mountains, a face profile) and some letters. One of those is "P" which stands for "Program" exposure mode.

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I call Program mode "adjustable automatic." When you pick this setting, the camera still makes decisions for shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and white balance (aka color correction) like Auto mode does. The difference is you can override the camera's choices if you want to. So you can raise the ISO when shooting in dim light, and you can change to a different white balance setting for better color in your sunset shots. You can even turn on the flash, which does not pop up automatically in Program mode. Two things you can't change are the shutter speed and aperture the camera chose.

Learn about Program mode and other camera controls in my one-day Getting to Know Your Digital SLR Camera class on April 28, 2018, in Missoula, Montana. Click here to register online.