Program Mode Question from John Nesser

Posted Jun. 6th, 2016 by Daniel J. Cox

Ever since reading your 2011 blog post regarding Nikon’s flexible P mode I have used it off and on with great results. As you said, it is basically A and S rolled into one (for the most part). That said, I have the following questions:
1) The difference between A and P flex is that given the same lighting conditions, either works the same for exposure. Should the light change, A would still keep the aperture that you set whereas P could possibly shift A. Is that correct?
2) Does P flex mode work with auto ISO? What about with back button focus? I have use it with both but sometimes wonder if it works properly with auto ISO and back button focus.
3) The reason for question 2 is that several famous photographers now sing the praises of shooting in auto ISO and manual. I have not tried this yet so comments or advice are appreciated. Hence wondering if P flex and auto ISO are compatible.

All good questions John.

1). Yes, if the lighting changes so will your camera but it’s both Shutter Speed and Aperture that change. If you require that you camera’s Aperture stay in one place, Aperture Priority would be the way to go.

2). Yes, Program Mode works with Auto ISO. How far it goes depends on whether you have a High End Limit set for the ISO which I do, though I almost never shoot in Auto ISO. Yes, Program Mode also works with Back Button AF.

3) Yes, there has been a trend for some photographers whereby they set their Shutter Speed and Aperture and let the ISO float, so to speak, by way of Auto ISO. It’s an interesting concept but can only be accomplished with professional results if you are shooting a full frame sensor camera that produces little noise at high ISO’s. That said, even the best full frame cameras have quality ISO limits. When I was shooting my full frame Nikons, I was always shooting at an ISO I would choose. It all comes down to the particular camera you’re using and how much you are prepared to deal with noise. I personally want to be a bit more in control of my final image.



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