I have just recently started using a modern AE camera. Not only does it have manual, autoprogram, shift program, aperture priority, and shutter priority, but it also has the usual five vari-programs: portrait, closeup, landscape, sports, and night portrait. Yet with all of that, I nearly always set it to P, which is the shiftable program. I keep my thumb on the "command" wheel, or whatever it's called, and never have to take my eye from the viewfinder. The shutterspeed and f-stop selected by the meter are both visible in the display, and both are controlled by that one wheel. As I'm composing, I'm thinking about what's more important, the shutter or aperture. And I just roll the little wheel, and shoot. It has become second nature in no time.
You see, in modern AE cameras, program shift mode is just manual mode with a safety net. Instead of you mechanically "matching the needle" by rotating shutterspeed knobs and/or aperture rings, the camera measures the EV for you AND sets a middle-of-the-road shutterspeed/f-stop combination. But deviating from the camera's suggestion is effortless. It's not a lazy, amateurish way to use a camera; it's a modern, efficient way to use a modern, efficient tool.
Aperture priority mode and shutter priority mode are the real "automatic" modes. You choose one parameter, and let the camera choose the other. That is called delegating authority, and is a perfectly valid way to shoot, if you have the experience and confidence to relinquish control. I prefer to stay in P mode, though, where I always know what's going on.
Hope this helps. ---Scott
"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it."