Camera Mode – P for Panic Mode

Camera Modes

OK, it doesn’t really stand for panic, but it can be thought of that way. The P mode on your camera sets everything in fully automatic, so all you have to think about is composing the shot and pressing the shutter release button. So if you have been playing around with camera settings and that shot of a lifetime comes along and you don’t want to mess it up, you can set your camera to P to get the shot.

This means the camera will select an ISO setting, Shutter Speed and Aperture for what it thinks is the best exposure for the conditions it can detect. Most cameras will allow you to override certain settings in P mode if you think it’s needed.

The P mode can be useful for people who are new to photography and don’t want to use any of the manual settings, and it can be good for getting that spur of the moment shot so you don’t have to worry about any camera settings and you just want to record the moment.

Using the P mode is fine, but exploring the other modes, giving you more control over the image, will help you produce better quality work and understand photography a lot more.

12 thoughts on “Camera Mode – P for Panic Mode

  1. Hi Bryan. I’m glad you like the articles. If you have any specific questions or areas you would like me to cover, please let me know and I will do my best to help you out.

  2. Another excellent article, can you explain how P mode might differ from a camera other automatic settings ? Although I expect that may differ from camera to camera ?

  3. Hi Garry, first thanks for the site, is very useful and a good tool for the ones interested in learning but that we cannot adjust to the tight courses schedules.
    One question, which it goes in the same direction of Bruce’s one. Whats the difference between Auto and P mode? Thank you.

  4. I think the differences are sometimes camera dependent, but I think on most cameras, the fully auto mode is just that, the camera does everything except compose and press the shutter button. P mode does allow some form of manual override, so you can change the settings the camera chooses in P mode if you want to tweak the exposure a little. How much override is, I think, going to differ from camera to camera.

    The other camera auto modes Bruce mentioned, like portrait, or landscape, or sports all have slightly different settings. So for sports, the camera will try and select a faster shutter speed to capture the motion, whereas in landscape mode, the depth of field is more important, so it will choose a smaller aperture (larger number). So although it’s still an automatic mode, it does use settings that are more suited to the type of picture the camera thinks you want to take.

  5. Hi Garry,

    I am not a professional photographer but its my passion and love to use different tricks all the time. Am using Canon 550D with 18-55 & 55-250 lenses. Just wanted to ask you which mode and setting you will prefer to capture a sunrise & sunset. Would be very happy if can help me with this. Also if you can suggest me which wide angle lens i should use.


  6. I too haven’t used the P mode and need to shoot a family birthday on the weekend. As my folks don’t really like their photo’s being taken, I want to be quick and just take shots randomly. So this will be my first time. My preference for shooting is A mode, where you have more control over DOF. My question is: If I am using an Olympus Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 and the lighting will be ok as it is a lunch time party and the Lounge Room is quite well lit, will I need to bump up my ISO – or stay on Auto ISO – also, what about flash, I have read all sorts of things about flash, where in some indoor conditions its not the best! – what flash setting would be best if required? Me confused, so if you could help out before this weekend – 4th Aug – I will very happy! – Cheers

  7. Hi Nikki. Auto ISO should do the bumping up of the ISO when it needs to, but you are obviously relying on your camera to make the decision for you. Your best bet is to get some test shots in before everyone arrives and see what sort of shutter speeds you can get without flash. If it’s fast enough to capture sharp images then that’s one problem solved. With that lens you are using, which equals about a 90mm in dslr terms, you are going to have to get quite close to get the shots. Do you have a slightly longer lens which will help you take the shots without getting noticed so much? I think the key is to get some test shots in early, maybe sacrifice a bit of noise by bumping up the ISO so you get the sharper images.

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