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What are the P, A, S and M modes and how are they used?
The P, A, S and M modes are shooting modes. These modes allow the photographer creative flexibility by enabling more control over shutter speed and f-stop settings. The shooting modes enable total access to the menu options, unlike the AUTO and Scene modes found in Olympus consumer DSLRs. They are also the modes required for use with E-System flash accessories.
Briefly, the shooting modes and their applications are as follows:
- P (Program shooting) – This mode allows shooting using an aperture and shutter speed set by the camera. However, the Program Shift function allows some creative control. When powered on with this mode selected, the E-30, for example, displays P in the upper left of the Control Panel screen. Rotating the main dial or the sub dial changes the P to Ps, which is Program Shift. This permits the selection of a shutter speed or aperture other than the default while maintaining the same exposure. If a higher shutter speed is selected, a wider aperture will be set. If a slower shutter speed is selected, a smaller aperture will be set. In effect, it is an AUTO mode that accepts input from the photographer. In AUTO mode any changes to the default menu settings return to the default settings when the camera is turned off, whereas in P mode any changes to the menu settings are retained at power off.
- A (Aperture Priority shooting) – This mode allows the aperture to be set manually, thereby giving the photographer control over depth-of-field. This mode also uses Program Shift, so the photographer can select any aperture in the range of the lens using the main dial or sub dial. The camera compensates for the exposure by changing the shutter speed automatically as the f-stops are changed. If the shutter speed/aperture combination will result in under- or overexposure, the exposure values in the viewfinder and on the Control Panel screen will blink.
- S (Shutter Priority shooting) – This mode allows the shutter speed to be set manually, thereby giving the photographer control over stopping action or reducing camera shake. This mode also uses Program Shift, so the photographer can select any shutter speed in the range of the camera body using the main dial or sub dial. The camera compensates for the exposure by changing the aperture automatically as the shutter speeds are changed. If the shutter speed/aperture combination will result in under- or overexposure, the exposure values in the viewfinder and Control Panel screen will blink.
M (Manual shooting) – This mode allows the photographer to set the shutter speed and
aperture independently. Program Shift is not applied in this mode. Manual mode is invaluable to
photographers using studio electronic flash systems and manual hot shoe electronic flashes because it
allows the user to set the correct sync speed for flash and set an f-stop determined by a flash meter
reading or testing. It also allows for use in exotic photographic situations such as scientific and
engineering photography beyond the parameters of the camera firmware.
The manual shooting mode is also used when OM-Series lenses are mounted on an E-System DSLR using the MF-1 OM Adapter. Since these lenses were designed for use on a 35mm SLR, they have no way of exchanging exposure data with the camera body. Therefore, shutter speeds must be entered manually and the f-stops much be set on the lens itself by hand. Exposures are determined either by using a light meter or shooting test shots.
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