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In Program mode, when you half-press the Shutter button to meter, the camera calculates an exposure and displays the resulting shutter speed and aperture and ISO, if ISO is set to Auto. But there are many are many reciprocal combinations of those exposure parameters that all yield the same overall brightness. This is all explained in Foundations of Photography: Exposure. Flexible Program is a feature that allows you to automatically cycle through all reciprocal combinations for any given metering. With this feature you can meter to get an exposure that gets you proper overall brightness and then use Flexible Program to change to an exposure combination that serves up that same overall brightness, but with the motion stopping or depth of field that you want.
To use Flexible Program I first have to meter, to have some metering settings to adjust, so I have metered here and it says 60th of a second at F4. Now let's say that I wanted to shoot my scene with more depth of field, a deeper depth of field, so F4 would be a little too wide for that. I'm going to just turn my main command dial here, and you can see that it's cycling through every reciprocal combination of shutter speed and aperture that will yield the same overall brightness.
So now I am up here at F11 and my shutter speed has gone down to F8. So without having to leave Program mode, I've taken control of an aperture choice. I am going to go back to where I was before. This is the camera's default metering. So let's say that I'm shooting this scene and I decide that I want a faster shutter speed. Then I could go this way and watch my shutter speed increase. Now, I can only go up to 125 because my aperture has opened to F2.8, which on this lens, at this focal length, is as wide as it can go. Now note that when I have dialed in a flexible program of some kind, it puts an asterisk next to the P there.
As long as that is there, it will adjust my exposure by however many clicks of the dial that I've made here. So next time I meter, it's going to come in with that same level of adjustment. To turn off Flexible Program I just turn this back until the asterisk is gone. Now, if you're not sure where that point is, if you don't remember what direction you went or how far, you can simply turn the camera off and on, and that will take you out of Flexible Program mode. So let's return to the aperture example I gave you earlier. If I was worried about depth of field, I would just dial this down to F11. The problem there is that my shutter speed has gone real low.
I can make up for that with an ISO adjustment, increase my ISO and I pick up some shutter speed. I can also turn on Auto ISO so that as I'm making these adjustments, it's automatically altering ISO to keep my shutter speed up somewhere more reasonable. So that's Flexible Program, a way of getting a fantastic level of manual control without giving up the freedom of Program mode.
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