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Thread: P Mode question

  1. #1
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    Default P Mode question

    (Before I start, yes yes yes, I should start using A mode, S mode, or even M mode. )

    I have been using the P mode quite often when walking around town. I prefer not to concern myself much with the right combination of aperture, shutter and ISO when we're on our trips - what with the two kids running around, thinking about where to go for lunch/dinner, any spot I missed, etc. (Or call me lazy ) Also, isn't P supposed to mean "Professional" ?

    Kidding aside though, I am generally satisfied with the results, and switch to A mode only when I am consciously controlling the depth of field or I really want to hit that sweet spot and I know the light is good. My question is - how come when I'm in P mode, the camera more often than not sets the aperture wide open? I noticed this on the E-PL1, E-PL2, and even the Panasonic G3. I don't think I've had duds with all three models? (I mean what are the chances all three are duds?)

    And I don't mean indoor shots - I mean morning-noon-afternoon strolls, with the sun usually at its strongest. If not wide-open, it's usually just up to about three stops. It's very rare that it goes up to beyond 5.6, and I would say 80% of the time it is from f/1.7 to about f/4 (for the Panny 20mm). I'm also on auto ISO, max limit of 1000. I tried it just now, cloudless spring Boston noon sun (I don't think it gets brighter than this), and it's setting it between f/3.5 to f/5.6.

    Is this a common/expected occurrence? Thank you.
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  2. #2
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    Default

    I've wondered the same question, and my conclusion is that there are tiny gnomes inside the camera that are always pulling the aperture blades open.

    The best shot you take is with the camera that you have with you.

  3. #3
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    I would guess it's to keep the shutter speed up and ISO down.

    Fred


  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredlong View Post
    I would guess it's to keep the shutter speed up and ISO down.

    Fred
    That'd be my guess as well.

    On the topic of the "P" mode, which I have never really used in any cameras, are there any real advantages of using "P" over aperture priority?

    At least on the GF2, they both look the same to me! Turn the control dial to change the aperture, while the shutter speed is fixed (1/60 for the 20/1.7 lens) assuming the ISO is set on auto.
    OMD EM5, GH2
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  5. #5


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    P = Perfect

    Some manufacturers would publish their program lines. Check your manual and that should indicate the criteria for programmed exposure. Of course with Auto ISO, that gets a little tricky.

  6. #6


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    Quote Originally Posted by Armanius View Post
    That'd be my guess as well.

    On the topic of the "P" mode, which I have never really used in any cameras, are there any real advantages of using "P" over aperture priority?
    When you do not want to be bothered with either aperture or shutter speed settings. Like when drunk at a party. P = Party mode


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hikari View Post
    When you do not want to be bothered with either aperture or shutter speed settings. Like when drunk at a party. P = Party mode
    LOL!

    But then, how does it differ from "auto"?
    OMD EM5, GH2
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  8. #8


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    Bumping up ISO is always a "last resort" to keep the shutter speed up. When the light starts to get low, the camera first slows down the shutter speed until it reaches a pre-defined point where the camera will not go any slower (to avoid shake and blur). Once it reaches that point, it then needs to retain the minimum shutter speed by opening the aperture wider to let more light in. Once the aperture is opened up as wide as it'll go, if the camera still needs more light to retain the minimum shutter speed, then that's when it starts bumping up the ISO.

    iAuto is simply an automatic Scene Mode selector which picks a scene mode for you based on what it sees in the frame - ie, a face could mean a portrait, a moving object could mean sports, low light could mean night scene. If you are in iAuto or a manually selected Scene Mode, then the minimum values for different factors may change, though the general process is still the same. For instance, in sports mode the camera will stop at a faster minimum shutter speed before moving onto the second step of opening the aperture, or for group shots it may have a defined maximum aperture where it'll stop early and move onto the last step of bumping ISO (to maximize DOF).

    So the general process for dealing with failing light is... slow shutter as much as needed... reach minimum shutter speed, start opening aperture... reach maximum aperture, start bumping ISO.

    Honestly, the camera's methods are not very different from my own. The difference is that I have better judgement of what's really in the scene and what my purpose is for the photo.
    Last edited by Ned; April 18th, 2012 at 11:23 AM.
    Olympus E-3 | Olympus E-PL2 PEN | Olympus E-PM1 PEN | Zuiko ED 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 SWD | Zuiko 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 | Vivitar 100mm f/2.8 Macro | Carl Zeiss Sonnar 135mm f/2.8 | Konica Hexanon 50mm f/1.4 | Konica Hexanon 85mm f/1.8 | G.Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 | Zuiko 35mm f/3.5 Macro | Zuiko 25mm f/2.8 | KMZ Jupiter-3 50mm f/1.5 | E.Zuiko 200mm f/4 | Zuiko 75-150mm f/4 | Olympus EC-14 teleconverter | VF-2 and VF-3 Viewfinders | EMA-1 Mic Adapter | Olympus FL-36R and FL-50R speedlights

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  10. #9
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    Thanks for the explanations. I suppose one day I might venture to something other than A, S or M!
    OMD EM5, GH2
    12/2 14/2.5 20/1.7 25/1.4 75/1.8 14-150 45-150 45-200
    My FlickR!



  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Armanius View Post
    LOL!

    But then, how does it differ from "auto"?
    One diff is that P will not fire the flash unless you pop it up.
    Olympus PEN -=- Fujifilm X
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