Take control of your photos with program shift

Make P for Professional work for you

There are way too many jokes about photographers who use their cameras in Programmed automatic exposure mode, even more about photographers teaching other photographers to shoot in “P for Professional” and always use f/5.6.

Surely that’s not possible? Well actually it’s indeed very possible to shoot in program mode and choose either the aperture or the shutter speed you actually want, not what the camera designers think you should be using with that specific lens, focal length, lighting etc. The trick is PROGRAM SHIFT, and it’s in each EOS camera that can shoot in programme mode – so all of them.

Program shift – your turn for input

When using Program (P) mode, the camera meters the scene and from a preset program line selects a combination of aperture and shutter speed for the measured brightness. Program is clever in that it also takes in to account the lens you have fitted and will help avoid camera shake by choosing wider apertures and faster shutter speeds for longer lenses.

Once the camera has metered, and locked the exposure, you can remove your finger from the shutter button and move the main control dial to change the combination of shutter speed and aperture.

Turning the main dial to the right increases the shutter speed and opens the aperture, turning it to the left closes the aperture and slows down the shutter speed. The combination of aperture and shutter speed you select is maintained while you recompose the frame and even refocus.

After the picture is taken the program shift amount is cancelled and the camera will again start by giving you it’s best choice of shutter and aperture. Think of it as taking another step on the road for beginners learning to take better pictures.

If you are shooting with continuous high speed drive set then the program shift is retained for the set of images in the burst.

And that is how you can shoot in Programme mode and choose to shoot at f/5.6…



About the author

Full-time photo tutor and photographer. I love to share my knowledge and skills to make photos, videos and teach others. I write books and articles for photo magazines and I always have at least one Speedlite flash in my camera bag