Difference between the P Mode and the Full Auto Mode in Digital Cameras

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The P Mode and the Full Auto Mode in Digital Cameras
The P Mode and the Full Auto Mode in Digital Cameras

All digital cameras, may it be a DSLR or prosumer digital cameras, there is a dial button to camera’s modes. The dial most often encountered is that for the PSAM and Auto Full Auto Modes. But what are the different between the P and the Auto Mode? They’re very similar in that they can be used for shooting with automatic settings without having to worry about setting the shutter speed, aperture, and light meter. But even though they both automatically determine the aperture and shutter speed, these two modes have several differences.

In the P Moe, the built-in flash won’t trigger automatically when photographing in low-light conditions. The camera will automatically adjust the aperture to its widest settings and slow the shutter speed to achieve the appropriate lighting exposure. If you want to activate the flash, you’ll need to manually activate it by pressing the flash button that’s usually situated besides the built-in flash. The advantage we get when using the P mode over the Full Auto is that we can shoot without the flash (and still the camera automatically sets the necessary settings) while in low-lit environments where using the flash would be deemed intrusive, like when shooting in a theater or concert hall.

While in Full Auto mode, if the camera is presented with a low-lighting condition, the built in flash will pop up automatically and the shutter speed will be set at around 1/60s or 1/30s.

In Full Auto Mode, the value of ISO, white balance, and light compensations are determined entirely by the camera. In the P Mode, on the other hand, we can manually set those values manually.

Full Auto mode
Full Auto mode

P mode
P mode

– Manual ISO settings is very important. When we have control over the ISO value, we can shoot in low light without the use of the flash if the ISO is set to a high enough level. (This will, however, have the drawback of the appearance of noise in the resulting photo. But there are ways to overcome noise.)

– In Full Auto mode, the white balance will be set at AWB (Auto White Balance) that will make the photo appear natural. But the AWB can be less favorable, like when we want to photograph a sunset in a warmer tone, or a sunrise with a cooler tone. These different tones can be achieved by toggling the custom white balance.

– Exposure compensation allows us to adjust the brightness of our resulting photographs. By setting the value at -1, our photos will appear darker, while a +1 value will brighten the photograph. The function of these compensations are highly useful when photographing silhouettes or sunrise/sunsets.

So which of the two is better, p mode or full auto mode? The better one is the one you’re most comfortable using. If you feel more comfortable with Full Auto, then go for it. If you still want a bit of control of the settings while still have the camera think for you, then the P Mode is best for you.
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