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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 on the various displays around the camera. But there are many reciprocal combinations of those exposure parameters and they all yield the same overall brightness. This is all explained in Foundations of Photography Exposure. Program Shift is a feature that allows you to automatically cycle through all of those 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 Program Shift to change to an exposure combination that serves up that same overall brightness, but with the motion stopping or a depth of field control that you want. After I've metered and I have to meter to get a set of exposure parameters that I can shift, after I've metered, all I have to do is turn this dial and you can see both of these numbers changing. So I'm going to let that time out.
Now I have no metering. I am going to half press and I get 1/100th of a second at F5.6. Let's say I wanted really deep depth of field. I wanted a smaller aperture. I'm just going to turn my Program Shift dial until I get an aperture of F11. Now, my shutter speed has gone way down, so I'm going to have to be careful about handheld shake, but I've managed to get the depth of field control that I want. Or let's say that I meter here, I get 1/100th at F5. 6 and I really want motion stopping power. So I'm going to dial in a faster shutter speed. I'm going to go up to here. Now, I've hit 1/200th of a second and I'm turning and it's not going any farther.
That's because my aperture is open as wide as it will go on this lens at this particular focal length. So if I wanted a faster shutter speed, I would need to switch to a lens that could go to a wider aperture. So with Program Shift as you can see, I can get to pretty much any shutter speed or aperture that I want for the lens that I have currently available without having to go to a Manual mode. This is a great level of control. If you're watching these movies in order, then you've already seen the Exposure Compensation control. Think now about how you can combine Exposure Compensation with Program Shift.
You can meter a scene, and then use Program Shift to get the motion control or depth of field that you want and use Exposure Compensation to apply brightening or darkening. In other words, without ever leaving Program mode, you can have all the manual control that you might need. It's a good idea to practice working with these two controls in combination.
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