Advanced Techniques

Program AE mode

Written by Digicamhelp Editor

Program AE is a useful, often overlooked, digital camera exposure mode that lets your creativity come into play in a simple and reliable way.

Digital camera Program modeFor any given scene, there are usually multiple combinations of aperture and shutter speed that will deliver a correct exposure.

Most digital cameras have Program AE mode, indicated by a P on the camera mode dial. P Mode is an automatic digital camera exposure mode that gives you more control than full automatic mode.

When in P mode, the camera selects the shutter speed and aperture automatically, but allows the user switch between those combinations once the exposure has been evaluated. The changes can be made when half-pressing the shutter button. This is known as Program Shift.

Program Shift

Program Shift is useful because it lets a camera users creativity come into play in a simple and reliable way. It makes the selection of various aperture and shutter speed combinations easier for the photographer, while still ensuring accurate exposure.

For instance, a scene can be photographed with an f-number of f/2.8 and a shutter speed of 1/500 seconds. It can also be shot with an f-number of f/5.6 and a shutter speed of 1/125 seconds.

The first settings combination allows for a shallow depth of field and makes it easier to photograph moving subjects. On the other hand, the latter settings ensure that more of the scene is in focus. But both images will be exposed similarly.

Check your manual for camera-specific instructions for using this very powerful, often overlooked, tool for photographers who want more control than offered by full automatic mode.