Camera mode dial show Program and AutoNo, not that kind… The Program kind – as in Program mode on my digital camera. If you really want to get better pictures from your digital camera, learn these reasons why using the Program mode instead of Auto will get better pictures for your memories.

But first – what do the two modes do? And why is Program better? Here’s why:

Auto decides everythingg for you – including ISO, flash power, shutter speed, f/stop, white balance, etc. And it’s always going to give you it’s best guess as to what is right.

Program decides some things for you – but allows you to control white balance, ISO, and flash power. It picks the shutter speed and f/stop for you.

The one that surely ruins most of our pictures is the ISO setting. When ever we use Auto indoors, our Canon Powershot S3 immediately boosts the ISO to “HI” – and makes the pictures super grainy and choppy looking. Kind of like this:

Yuck. Look how choppy and grainy the 800 is versus the 100.

In Program mode the camera always stays on the ISO I’ve chosen for the type of light I’ll be shooting under. I generally want it as low as possible so that my pictures are nice and sharp and don’t have a lot of noise in them so if I’m outdoors it’s set at 100; indoors I’ll use 400 and turn on more lights or use my flash.

I also like to control the flash power – which I lose if the camera is set on Auto. I’ve noticed that our particular camera always overexposes our flash pictures – making them too bright and washing away details. So I intentionally turn our flash power down 2/3 of a f/stop. And get a lot better flash pictures. Now your camera might be different – it might give you great flash pictures, too bright or even too dark. You just have to get familiar with your particular camera and judge for yourself. But when you use auto, boo – the camera blasts away and you might not get the best puctures.

So get your camera off of Auto and onto Program – and you’ll be sure to get better pictures for your scrapbooking! What do you think? Do you use Program mode or Auto?

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About the author

Stan brings to the site a long career in the photo industry from working as a professional photographer to 13 years with Kodak to his present position asDirector or Marketing with Advanced Photographic Solutions color lab.Having spent all his adult life in the photo industry, Stan discovered the wild world of digiscrap through wife Jenn (better known as ScrapKitty Design). Even 12 years of teaching Photoshop and digital imaging to photographers didn't prepare him for the wild and wooly world of digi-crops, so he sticks to teaching classes and writing about photography and PS/PSE on their blog Stan and Jenn are transplanted Yankees in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, and would not live in lake effect snow again if you paid them.


  1. Chari says:

    GREAT Post! I love the P mode!
    I tend to call it “Panic” mode- when shooting babies, or things that won’t sit still!

  2. Susan says:

    Great info. I keep trying the Manual settings on my Nikon D60. Sometimes with good results that I’m pleased with other times well not so much but I know I revert back to the Auto mode when I’m shooting events that I’m too afraid I’ll mess up. I have terrible photos from our daughter’s 10th birthday last fall when I didn’t change back to the auto mode and was experimenting. Note to self – take photos often using Program and the other manual modes but check myself on those really important moments to make sure the photos are what I expect.

  3. Zanne says:

    I use both, but mostly P mode I think.

  4. DrGranma says:

    Haven’t tried the P mode much on my new Samsung HZ35W. When does the new set of sessions start? I do think I need some help in this area.. camera still owns me I think, instead of me owning it. 😉


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