Shooting more than Auto: A look at P A S M

Have you ever wanted to shoot blurred waterfalls or traffic light trails but didn't know how? The trick is to use your camera's Program (P), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S) and Manual (M) settings. These shooting modes allow creative flexibility by enabling control over shutter speed and aperture settings. And they allow total access to the menu options — unlike the AUTO and Scene modes found in Olympus consumer E-System cameras.

Display Diagram showing where you can find the camera's Aperture, Shutter speed, and ISO

P = Program Mode

The P mode allows you to have more control of the camera. In P mode you can change your settings (including exposure) to what you like, but the camera will set Aperture and Shutter automatically for you.

Ps = Program Shift Mode

In the P (program) Mode, there is a feature called Program Shift. Program Shift allows you to select Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority on the fly while still in Program Mode. When the camera is set to the P Mode, the letter P appears in the upper left corner of the LCD screen. When the main dial or sub dial is rotated to the left or right, the P changes to Ps, for Program Shift (Please note: on most PEN cameras, it is necessary to first press the exposure button, then rotate the dial to enter Ps mode).

Rotating the dial to the left changes the aperture and rotating the dial to the right changes the shutter speed, in either direction maintaining the same auto exposure. Program Shift may not be available when using a flash.

A = Aperture Priority

The A mode allows you to set the aperture manually while the camera sets the shutter speed automatically. Changing the aperture value you can give your pictures different expressions – you can have separate subjects in the front and back of the picture both in focus, or you can narrow the area of the picture that is in focus so the main subject stands out against the background.

S = Shutter Priority

The S mode allows you to set the shutter speed manually while the camera sets the aperture value automatically. By changing the shutter speed you can “freeze” the subject's movement in the picture, or you can deliberately create a blur, giving a stronger sense of motion to the picture.

M = Manual Control

In Manual Mode (M), the user selects both the aperture and the shutter speed. When shooting the moon in the night sky or the multi-colored lights shining in a night scene there is a great difference in light level with the brightness of the surroundings. In manual mode you can shoot without the brightness of the surroundings affecting the exposure of the main subject.

See it in Action


Virtually Adjust Shutter

Shutter - Virtually raise and lower the shutter speed and see the results. Click here.

Virtually Adjust Aperture

Aperture - Virtually open and close the aperture and see the results. Click here.

View Animation

Watch how shutter speed and exposure are affected by aperture in this brief animation. Click here.

Want to Learn More?


Focus on Aperture

Ask Olympus: What are the P, A, S and M modes and how are they used?

  • Professional DictationLifeproof.
  • Shop the Olympus Store