Pentax hyper-manual and hyper-program exposure modes
Pentax’s ingenuity with these exposure modes, set their cameras apart from other cameras. It is a super-easy and intuitive way to work with Manual and Program exposure modes. So it is good news that Pentax has continued doing this with their latest camera, the flagship Pentax K-1 (B&H / Amazon), in addition to all the other features of this camera.
When Pentax brought out the Pentax Z-1 / PZ-1 in the early 90’s, they re-thought the way a camera’s exposure modes should to be implemented. What they came up with was inspired. Their new camera had the usual range of exposures modes we all know, such as Shutter Priority (Tv) and Aperture Priority (Av). But Program mode became Hyper-Program; and Manual mode became Hyper-Manual. Sure this sounded gimmicky, until you handled the camera and realized what they achieved.
Hyper-Program worked like Program mode, except that if you dialed the shutter button, it would immediately change to Shutter Priority (Tv), as you change to specific shutter speeds. Similarly, if you dialed the Aperture dial, then the camera instantly changed to Aperture Priority mode (Av), as you set the aperture. No need to switch mode dials on the top of the camera. You just turned either the aperture dial or shutter speed dial to change between the modes at will. And if you wanted to return to the usual Program mode, you just hit the * (star) button. Intuitive and simple. (And no, this is completely different than Program Shift.)
Hyper-Manual worked a similar elegant magic in how you controlled the camera’s manual exposure mode. Let’s say you rely on your built-in meter in this scenario. If you use any other camera in manual exposure mode, you have to dial the shutter button and aperture button to get to the correct combination for proper exposure. With Hyper-Manual, you just hit the * button, and the camera entered a combination of settings for you, depending on where you pointed your camera. This combination of settings could be according to a Program-mode line, or according to the shutter speed your camera happened to be at; or the aperture your camera happened to be at. (This was set deeper in the menu according to your preference.)
How it works in real use
Let’s say you knew you’d be working at f2.8 .. then you’d just hit the * button and the appropriate shutter speed was entered for you. Perfect for working with the camera’s spot-meter. If you’ve ever tried to spot-meter with a long lens on your camera while hand-holding it, AND looking at your metering display .. then you know how tough it is. But with Hyper-Manual mode, you just hit the * button while looking precisely where your spot-meter is aiming. Much faster. You just hit one button with your thumb, and you’re set.
Now, should you decide you have the correct exposure, but want to change your shutter speed or aperture, then you hit the Exposure Lock button, and change either the aperture or shutter speed .. and the other setting will follow in relation to the metering value that was entered.
With any other camera, let’s say you have 1/500th @ f2.8 but you want 1/200th @ f4.5 .. then you’d have to turn both dials by the same amount of clicks. But with Hyper-Manual mode, you lock the exposure combination, and just change the one dial. Either one. Doesn’t matter.
The way these two modes work is such an incredible stroke of genius, that any camera that doesn’t have those two modes, is severely hampered already. I wish every camera manufactured would adopt Pentax’s Hyper-Program and Hyper-Manual modes.
Hyper-Program vs. Program Shift
I’ve seen comments on various forums, and one of the questions that pop up every so often from various people, is whether program shift isn’t the same as Hyper-Program.
No, it isn’t. Here’s the difference:
With Program shift, your aperture and shutter speed is changed as you shift it. ie, with Program shift, a combination of 1/125th @ f5.6 will become:
1/100th @ f6.3
1/80th @ f7.1
or, the other way around, this combination becomes:
1/160th @ f5
1/200th @ 4.5
As you can see, the shutter speed and aperture vary simultaneously. This might be implemented differently for different camera makes and models, but this is how Program Shift is generally done.
With Hyper-Program, when you touch the shutter speed dial, the shutter speed is fixed at whatever you dial it to. In other words, it becomes Shutter Priority / Tv.
When you touch the aperture dial, the aperture is fixed at whatever you dial it to.
In other words, it becomes Aperture Priority / Av.
And back .. you can flip between Tv / Av and Pgm at will like that.
So … very different from Program Shift.