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Programmed exposure

Automatic cameras do all the work for you


Even the most-sophisticated, modern, automatic camera has a “point-and-shoot” mode. Known as the “Programmed Exposure Mode,” it permits the photographer to let the camera do all the work outside of focusing, framing and composition. Autofocus cameras will even take over the focusing.

This fully-automatic mode is also known as “programmed auto-exposure mode” or “programmed AE mode”, and is often designated on the camera as the “P” mode.

The main advantage of a programmed exposure mode is speed. The camera can quickly meter the scene (within milliseconds) and an acceptably-exposed picture can be taken without the photographer having to do anything more than depress the shutter release button.


DECISION-FREE PHOTOGRAPHY, FOCUS AND EXPOSURE-WISE

Photographers who have come to rely on a good-quality, fully-automatic metering and focusing system are able to concentrate on picture composition without worrying about the time needed in selecting aperture or shutter speed, or the taking of an exposure reading. The fully-automatic camera is a boon to photojournalists who must often take a picture when there is no time to even think about exposure, depth-of-field or shutter speed, however it is just as beneficial to the beginner photographer who hasn’t a clue about the workings of a camera, but has a reasonable sense of composition and knows how to point and shoot.

Such decision-free photography is less acceptable in situations requiring critical creative control of focus, selective subject sharpness, intentional blurring, over or under-exposure, or bending of the rules to create unconventional but artistic images or controversial photographs.

When you have little time to time to think about proper exposure, depth-of-field or shutter speed, you may be surprised to find that your fully-automatic camera can almost read your mind.
When you have little time to time to think about proper exposure, depth-of-field or shutter speed, you may be surprised to find that your fully-automatic camera can almost read your mind.

When a scene is
When a scene is "exposure-challenged" with extremely-bright and very dark areas, you may wish to control exposure manually to ensure proper exposure. But, don't be surprised if your programmed exposure camera does it just as well.

Occasionally you may come across extreme conditions under which even the most-advanced automatic exposure system may have some difficulty, such as a severely backlit scene or one with extremes of contrast. In these instances, the photographer would employ another metering system that provides greater personal control.

Such occasions would be rare for most photographers. Today's top 35 mm cameras and digital cameras are so advanced in design that you would be hard-pressed to find a shooting situation that they can't handle in fully-automatic mode. They are really good.


In fact, the one occasion we can think of when a top-quality camera in programmed exposure mode should not be used is when you are a beginning photographer.

A camera that works in fully manual mode is the beginner's best camera. It "forces" the beginner to learn what the fully-automatic camera does automatically, enabling him or her to confidently over-ride it when necessary or just when he or she wants to. It makes the beginner a much better photographer.

A beginner should learn that water absorbs light and should then learn how to properly expose for a water-reflected image without the camera doing it all automatically.
A beginner should learn that water absorbs light and should then learn how to properly expose for a water-reflected image without the camera doing it all automatically.