Who wants a smarter P mode?

JohnJohn Posts: 134Member
edited April 2013 in Nikon DSLR cameras
If we look at consumer cameras we see program or auto exposure modes with a lot of build in artificial intelligence.
For example: the camera might adjust the shutter speed based on the focal length used.

But if we look at expensive "pro" bodies we are suddenly confronted by the most basic P mode available.
It just gives us an average aperture/speed combination based solely on the amount of light hitting the surface.
With all the information available to the camera (focal length, range of depth under the different focus sensors, color/scene recognition algorithms,...) the camera should be able to give us a much better stating point.
For example:
- The camera detects a lot of movement of the subject (when using continuous auto focus) or the camera detects that you are using a long tele lens => the camera suggests a short shutter speed; sufficient to stop the motions.
- The camera detects a face close by (using it's color metering sensor and lens cpu) and the rest of the image in the distance => the camera suggests a wide aperture opening to throw the background out of focus and create a soft bokeh.
- The camera detects a gradual increase in distance of the objects under the auto focus sensors as well as colors that imply a landscape foto => The camera extrapolates the best aperture value to have the entire image sharp (or as sharp as possible) without getting motion blur due to camera shakes.
...

My point is that, with all the information available to the camera, the suggestions of the program mode could be a lot more intelligent and useful.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that this is an absolute must without which we can't take decent pictures. I do perfectly fine with the current P, A, S and M modes at my disposal. It's just that a more advanced P mode might be handy.

Would it be a tool for lazy photographers?
Perhaps... But I don't see that as a bad thing.
I also think that some people might be against the idea from a puritanical perspective.
Some photographers still believe that "real photographers" use manual exposure (preferably with an external light meter) and manual focus.
I personally enjoy taking advantage of whatever technology exists to give me a helping hand.
(Ever photographers a bunch of births in flight at short distance, with a long tele lens, while trying to use manual focus and manual exposure? I'll stick with the automated camera function when the situation calls for it. ;) )

Would it be perfect?
Of course not. There will always be situations where we'll want to override the camera. In my example of the facial portrait we might decide to use a small aperture because it's a vacation shot and we want the Eifel Tower in the back to be sharp as well.
But is would be more often a good place to start then the suggestions of the current program mode.


I'm not trying to complain here. I love my Nikon gear. I just want to know what you guys' and girls' take on the subject is.
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Comments

  • CorrelliCorrelli Posts: 135Member
    I think this is handled more by the various scene modes on the lower end cameras.

    But I have to admit that I never used P mode so far. Out of habit I use A mode most of the time and M only on very special occasions.
  • ElvisheferElvishefer Posts: 329Member
    Some photographers spoke against autofocus when it came out, but when autofocus became smart enough, the arguments against it became ridiculous.

    Perhaps the same will one day happen with a P mode.

    It will be difficult though, as it would have to understand the photographer's artistic vision before the shot.
    D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 24-70mm f/2.8, 14-24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4G, 200mm f/4 Micro, 105mm f/2.8 VRII Micro, 35mm f/1.8, 2xSB900, 1xSB910, R1C1, RRS Support...

    ... And no time to use them.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    The newer cameras in the lineup (D800 forward) have a "smarter" auto-ISO which can take into account focal length which when used with P,S,A or even M is a pretty handy tool.
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    I like to have control of all my setting...be it aperture, shutter speed and specially the ISO. That said, 95% of all my photo's are in M-mode, while the rest is mainly A (4%) and S-mode less than 1% of the time. I have never used the P-Mode...and don't plan to either. That my "take on the subject."
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • Benji2505Benji2505 Posts: 517Member
    edited April 2013
    I never used P-mode and I am more and more shooting all manual incl. focussing.
    I have a feeling that P-mode is like plastic surgery - it looks pretty afterwards, but it's all the same average later on and every individualism is gone.
    Post edited by Benji2505 on
  • M35G35M35G35 Posts: 3Member
    To me it would be great. The DSLR today is a very sophisticated computer. Not provoking an argument as I understand people are artistic, I am the opposite, technical. Technical people have a tougher time coming up with an artistic photo. That said, (to me) manual mode today is obsolete. You are basically turning an expensive camera into just some chips and glass. That is defeating the purpose of a modern day DSLR. I would really appreciate more development in the P mode. Me personally, I use A most of the time. As my mom said, each their own.
  • AdeAde Posts: 1,071Member
    Manual mode is far from being obsolete.

    Photographers often have definite artistic or technical reasons to shoot at specific apertures (e.g., for depth of field) and shutter speeds (e.g., for sense of motion).

    The only way to control both is to shoot in manual mode and set the camera to take the picture the way you intend it to be taken, at that specific aperture and shutter speed for that particular image you are photographing.

    Unfortunately P-mode can't read your mind and doesn't know what your intended photographic vision is. All P-mode can do is to suggest a "safe" middle-of-the-road starting exposure.
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    Manual mode is far from being obsolete.

    Photographers often have definite artistic or technical reasons to shoot at specific apertures (e.g., for depth of field) and shutter speeds (e.g., for sense of motion).

    The only way to control both is to shoot in manual mode and set the camera to take the picture the way you intend it to be taken, at that specific aperture and shutter speed for that particular image you are photographing.

    Unfortunately P-mode can't read your mind and doesn't know what your intended photographic vision is. All P-mode can do is to suggest a "safe" middle-of-the-road starting exposure.
    Exactly! Well said.

    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • blandbland Posts: 811Member
    I use P mode on my D800 when using a speed light indoors to shoot party's and etc. It always nails the shot, never a worry of not getting a shot to come out. Just put your ISO on 100 and fire away.
  • GodlessGodless Posts: 113Member
    I have never used the P mode and I never will. Silly to let the camera decide more than 1 variable at a time IMO.
  • GitzoGitzo Posts: 174Member
    Ten replies so far; Let me explain why you are NEVER going to see Nikon (or Canon) build a "high-end", professional grade D SLR with NO manual mode; Nikon (and Canon) are HUGE businesses which design, build, and market photographic equipment to MILLIONS of people, world wide; just like all big businesses, one of the main reasons these two particular camera manufacturers are still IN business, ( and are selling more cameras world wide every year than all other camera companies put together ), is because they "understand" their market; (most of the time) You're looking at this issue from an individual perspective; they can't afford to do that; there are "how many" billion people "out there", and X % of all those billions are going to buy "some kind" of a camera this year, and the same thing repeats every year; no company can design and build a custom made product for every customer; If they do, I can assure you, it's going to be VERY expensive!

    Take a close look at Nikon's complete "line" of cameras; they even make two of three different "grades" of "point & shoots"! then about how many D SLRs between the ( I don't pay enough attention to the "mirrorless" say $600 to maybe $1,100 lineup, to even know what they call them); but by the time they came out with the D 80, then improved it into the D 90, they sold millions of them, got millions very "interested" in photography, and now, just a few years later, many of these same people are buying D-800,s !

    All while this has been going on, we have always had one more VERY important "market segment"..............
    working professional photographers ! Unlike the average "hobbyist", the pros KNOW exactly what they're going to be taking pictures of, and they have a very clear idea of how to take those pictures, and they also know exactly what camera "features" they need, and which new features will (and will not) be useful to them.

    The reason it looks like, from your perspective, that Nikon doesn't "know what they're doing", is because you're an individual; as I've already pointed out, no company can cater to individuals. Take a close look at Sony; huge company; they make......almost everything ! They come out with all sorts of "innovative things"; now take a close look at how many cameras they sell each year to the pros; a drop in the bucket ! I have probably bought half a dozen products all together from Sony; I can't say any of them were "crap", but I also seriously doubt if I'll ever buy another Sony product. Their products just don't "inspire" me. My prediction is........you will see professional grade D SLR's with NO "P mode", before you'll ever see them without "M" mode; because many experienced photographers, and almost ALL pro photographers would tell Nikon "see ya later" if they even thought about making a new pro body without a big "M" knob on it.

    Here's yet another very good example of a very big company that decided they were "so big" that THEY didn't have to "build what the customers wanted"..........instead, they decided to "tell their customers what they needed"; "They" used to be the "8oo pound gorilla"........now, "they" are more like the 20 pound monkey, and if they don't change their ways, they may very well find themselves being like last years dinosaurs.......I'm speaking of course of General Motors. I don't think you'll see Nikon make the same dumb mistake GM made, (and to a lesser degree, are continuing to make ).
  • SquamishPhotoSquamishPhoto Posts: 608Member
    Quotation mark overload! Head asplode!
    Mike
    D3 • D750 • 14-24mm f2.8 • 35mm f1.4A • PC-E 45mm f2.8 • 50mm f1.8G • AF-D 85mm f1.4 • ZF.2 100mm f2 • 200mm f2 VR2
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,089Moderator
    Slow down on those ellipses man! They mak my eyes go 8-} !
    Always learning.
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    I like the "P" mode - every once in awhile I hand the camera off to a friend. ;)

    I'll just say what many are thinking - Someone bought a camera that is too big for their britches! ;)

    There is nothing wrong with what the OP proposed, and people shouldn't pile on him. I don't think P is where to put it, but have it as another setting. Basically the OP is thinking an "auto" setting that turns the body into a rather large, compact digi cam. It could be useful for snapshots with some.

    I often think that I would love an "Instagram" settings for when I'm with friends. That is probably more with my X100 with my Eye-fi card in it and connected to my iPhone.

    Personally I think if you need/want fully modes, and your camera doesn't have it, you bought the wrong camera and need to move to a lower model. There are sooooo many people who listen to marketing/sales person's and get talked into a higher cost camera that is not suited for them. You are not doing yourself any favors if you don't buy within your ability. The only caveat is for students/people who are actively learning to become a pro.

    Camera's are just like clothes, buy stuff too big, and you will always look sloppy. Buy the right fit, and you will always look good.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • GitzoGitzo Posts: 174Member
    @ TTJ...... I agree with you completely; and I wasn't criticizing the OP for what he was saying; I was merely explaining what the reality of marketing is; I hear people every day wondering "why doesn't so & so company make this or that; most companies are smart enough to make what a lotv of people will buy; the one's that aren't that smart usually go out of business fairly quickly. Hey, I wish Nikon would make me a 400mm f 2.8 and sell it to me for about $500, but I don't have much hope that it's gonna happen anytime soon ! Maybe if we all got together and pestered them long enough, they might make us all one, seeing as how we're all such loyal Nikon lovers ?
  • CorrelliCorrelli Posts: 135Member
    I think the 3D color matrix exposure meter is a first step into that direction. To achieve the smart P mode a lot more image analysis has to be made to decide what type of scene mode is required. But with algorithms getting smarter and processors getting faster it is only a matter of time before such a mode hits the cameras. I would guess that it will be "tested" first on P&S and entry level DSLRs. It it will come to the professional line I have no idea. That is what my crystal ball tells me... :)
  • JohnJohn Posts: 134Member
    Just to make sure there's no confusion as to the nature of my post:

    I'm perfectly happy with my D800 and it definately wasn't an upsell by some sales person. I've been taking pictures for the last 20+ years. The reason I bougth the D800 was because the superlative sensor performance combined with the excellent quality of the Nikkor optics.
    One of my first real camera's was a fully manual, analogue film camera. So, I know my way around aperture, speed, manual focus, light metering issues,...
    I mostly shoot nature photography (in aperture mode) and portraits (in aperture mode in the field or in manual mode when using studio lighting with an external light meter). For exposure compensation I use the exposure compensation on the camera when in the field, so I don't revert to manual exposure in that case.
    Don't worry, I know my camera and am perfectly capable of using it. :)

    All that being said I do think that a smarter P mode will make our lives easier.

    @Godless:
    Using P mode doesn't mean that you have to let the camera deside. The camera makes a suggestion. That's just a starting point. A simple scroll of the scoll wheel will just as easily adjust your aperture/speed combination as when you were in aperture or speed mode. The only difference is the starting point.
    If you were at f8 in aperture mode and you wanted a portrait with minimal depth of field you would have to scroll to f2.8. If you had an advanced program mode that was capable of recognising that you wanted to take a portrait picture the program mode might have decided to put the aperture at f3.5. That's a much better starting point. You can take the picture as suggested and have a good result (suppose you only have a second or two to make the shot) or you can go to f2.8 without having an hour of scrolling work.
    Ok, I'm overstating my case. But the point is that the improved P mode shouldn't e a perfect mode that we blindly follow. But it could be a better starting point.

    @Gitzo:
    I'm not advocating a camera without M mode. That would be bad... I can see quite a few shot that I could not have made without full controll over both aperture and speed (while completely ignoring the build in light meter)
    A smarter P mode would have no negative impact on the sales as far as I see it. People who don't need it still won't use it. But every once in a while some photographer will enjoy the rather good suggestions and use P as a starting point. I can envision it being a handy mode when walking around in a city on a holiday trip.

    @TTJ:
    Yes, what I suggest does indeed resemble the auto mode on the consumer camera's. But not as a "you have to take the picture with these settings" mode. More as a "here's a suggestion based on all the technologie in this high tech camera which will probably be a good starting point in 95% of the photo's you take".

    I must say that I find the reactions on this forum eluminating. There appears to be a lot of opposition to anything that looks like the camera makes a choice. It's simular to what I saw a long time ago with the introduction of auto focus.

    I personally like to retain full control but I'm not opposed to the system aiding me with advice and suggestions.
    (Or doing stuff for me when I tell it to)
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    What is "P" mode? :))

    OK, I do use this on rare occasions...but, with some other control features like minimum shutter speed with auto ISO. For walk around shooting, something I do a lot of (AKA snapshots) P mode is sometimes just a nice easy way to grab some shots. But, my suspicions are, for those of us who have been around since the 1940's, have shot so many thousands of images with no "P" mode, it may be easier to use the manual controls just so we know what is happening.
    Msmoto, mod
  • rmprmp Posts: 520Member
    When I am serious, I use the A mode. I use the P mode as my default setting. Then when I make a snap shot, at least I get something. I do believe the P mode is "smart" and getting "smarter" with each generation. A knowledge base of 30,000 photos is a pretty through reference. I also like to use the P mode as a snap shot for reference settings before I go to the A mode for final "artistic" settings. And, Yes, I love auto-ISO.
    Robert M. Poston: D4, D810, V3, 14-24 F2.8, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 80-400, 105 macro.
  • JohnJohn Posts: 134Member
    I could be wrong (or remembering incorrectly) but the technical information that I read (by Thom Hogan and Nikon) stated that the 30000 images knowledge base are used for the exposure calculations. (Which works wonderful in most situations)
    P mode is a very simple reference table that just gives you an aperture/shutter speed combination based on the exposure value measured by the internal light meter.

    So exposure value (= light amount) X will always result in aperture Y and shutter speed Z; no matter the subject, lens focal length, movement of the subject,...

    Al least that's how I understood it.
  • ElvisheferElvishefer Posts: 329Member
    Perhaps an evolved P mode would be something like the Lytro camera?

    That would be neat. Instead of averaging a scene, the camera would try to capture all the possibilities.

    Example: find a face in a photo -> focus on the face -> capture a frame with a small aperture and associated speed/iso -> take the same shot with a large aperture -> maybe take a few brackets of each -> look for other recognizable subjects in the photo -> rinse and repeat.

    A tech-heavy solution today, but perhaps not in a few years.

    As corelli says, more processing power, more memory more speed... a lot becomes possible that would have been laughed at as impossible a few years ago.
    D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 24-70mm f/2.8, 14-24mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4G, 200mm f/4 Micro, 105mm f/2.8 VRII Micro, 35mm f/1.8, 2xSB900, 1xSB910, R1C1, RRS Support...

    ... And no time to use them.
  • AdeAde Posts: 1,071Member
    edited April 2013
    I've been using the Lytro for the past year. The Lytro was retrofitted with manual controls via firmware update, which made a big difference.
    Post edited by Ade on
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited April 2013
    Elvishefer: The most recent bodies released by Nikon have the capabilities in recognizing faces and focusing on them. However, have the sensor/computer within the body to guess as to what the proper f-stop the photographer is trying to shoot at is something I find very challenging for the camera body to accomplish.
    Post edited by Golf007sd on
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • mikepmikep Posts: 280Member
    i dont understand P mode at all (except when giving someone else your camera to play with)

    P mode lets the camera chose the aperture, and that is simply a no-go-area as far as i am concerned. whats next? let the camera chose the subject and the framing? ... no, imo you must chose what you want in and out of focus by yourself.

    i usually use aperture priority for day to day stuff, with spot meter, and then choose where to meter off for the desired exposure.

    lastly on the subject of lytro ..... i dont understand this camera at all. if you want selective focus, shoot at f16, and then blur whatever you like in post. small aperture + post is much more powerful than a lytro. but more to the point, what do we end up with? a 100mp lightfield camera that shoots at 100fps? just take the entire scene and select your frame and focus and crop later ?

    at any rate, lytro is still dependent on a lens, i wonder if they could end up making a lensless lightfield camera ? :s im sure the technology has a very long way to go, its interesting to watch, but doesnt appeal to me personally at the moment ... lytro simply doesnt make very good images yet.
  • AdeAde Posts: 1,071Member
    Lytro is an engineering marvel. Selective focus is not the point -- it is just one application of a light-field camera.

    In traditional photography, what we get is a 2-dimensional image, capturing the points where light rays fall on the film or sensor.

    Lytro captures the light rays themselves (conceptually "before" they hit the sensor), in a 4-dimensional representation. So it captures more information than a traditional photograph, subject to resolution limits.

    Having that extra information opens up possibilities we've never had before. Yes, like being able to "refocus" an image. Because we have data about the light rays, we can accurately recompute the focal plane. This is very different from applying "blur" in Photoshop (which almost never looks right).

    The ability to recompute the focal plane has another benefit: macro photography. With a typical macro setup, there is a minimum focus distance and very narrow depth of field (requiring apertures like f/32 and specialized lighting to compensate.) With Lytro, the minimum focus distance is practically zero and the focus field can be recomputed. Amazing!

    Aside from refocusing, we can also take the same light field data and reconstruct a 3-dimensional rendition of the image. That's pretty cool (to me at least).

    With Lytro you don't cede creative control just because you can refocus. You still think about depth-of-field (refocus range), shutter speed and ISO. You still make decisions about lighting, composition, color, etc.
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