How to Operate a Digital Camera in P Mode

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Updated July 26, 2022

If you are going through the various settings of a digicam, you may wonder how to operate a digital camera in P mode. Many of the best digital cameras offer this functionality, after all. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about P mode.


  • A digital camera’s program mode, otherwise known as P mode, is a setting that offers some automation, though less than auto mode.
  • Generally speaking, the program mode automates aperture size and shutter speed, while allowing the shooter to set the ISO speed, depth of field, and several other settings.
  • You should use program mode when speed is of the essence, but you still want some creative control over exposure settings.

What is P Mode?

P mode is a settings mode found in most DSLR cameras that automates many of the adjustment criteria to help get a sharp image free of noise. This mode is also known as program mode. If you are looking to learn how to minimize glare on a digital camera or simply how to achieve good shots quickly, the P mode is a good place to start.

Insider Tip

Once you understand how to correctly adjust ISO speed, program mode will be an extremely useful ally.

How Does P Mode Work?

The specifics vary depending on the make and model of your camera, but the P mode, or program mode, generally takes control of the aperture size and the shutter speed, while allowing manual control over depth of field, ISO speed, and focal length adjustments. It is something of a mixture between a fully automatic mode and a full manual mode. It can help save time if you are looking to get a quick shot in, or it can be the answer to the question of “how to protect a digital camera from freezing rain,” as you’ll be able to snap your shot and put the camera away before it becomes ruined.

Keep in mind that P mode is vastly different than setting the aperture on a digital camera or getting long exposure. Those are different modes and techniques.

When to Use Program Mode

Generally speaking, whenever you want to get a quick shot without sacrificing too much creative control, it is time to enable program mode. Let’s say you are shooting still shots under artificial light, you can enable P mode to control aperture and shutter speed while adjusting the ISO and framing the shot on your own. This will save you a considerable amount of time, while still allowing a good measure of creative freedom.

Other Camera Modes

Program mode is not the only useful mode typically found with digital SLR cameras. There is a manual mode, which allows the user to finely tune any and all adjustments. There is also shutter priority mode, which automates some settings but allows the shooter to set the shutter speed. Finally, there is aperture priority mode, which allows the user to set the aperture size while automating shutter speed and related settings.


Remember, program mode automates shutter speed and aperture size, so if you are not getting a good exposure, these settings may need manual adjustment.


What are the different camera modes in digital photography?

There are various different camera modes in digital photography, including manual mode, shutter priority mode, automatic mode, landscape mode, macro mode, and aperture priority mode. They are typically accessed via the mode dial.

What is the best camera mode?

There is no best camera mode, as these shooting modes are useful in different situations.

Where can I set the camera mode?

You can do this in the settings menu or via a dedicated mode dial. Check the instructions that accompanied your camera.

STAT: On most DSLRs and SLR-like bridge cameras, the mode dial is located at the top of the camera, to one side of the flash/viewfinder hump. (source)

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