Olympus E-M1 Mk II Tips

I finally made the upgrade to the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk II …


Last week I finally made the upgrade to the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk II, and so far it’s everything I thought it would be. It’s fast – fast for Turn ON, AF, and Playback, and the Shutter Release feels almost instantaneous. It has great IBIS, and all the features we love about the OM-D line, plus some other great improvements. There’s an improved deeper grip and the menus are a little different, no less confusing than before, and still as deep and complex. But I do like it it and will soon be parting ways with my E-M1(Mk I).

I want to address a couple of the things that seem to be most confusing about this camera. I agree Olympus cameras can be complex and frustrating, even after four years of using and writing about them. But, they are still my overwhelming camera of choice. Partly for that very complexity that allows us so many choices and variations in camera setup.

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Corrected: Olympus OM-D E-M1 (and E-M5II) Back Button Focus

Some reader’s questions enlightened me to the fact that I didn’t have all of the necessary information in this post, so I’ve tried to rectify that.  Sure hope it helps.  🙂

“Back Button Focus” refers to a way to engage autofocus (AF) on your camera separately from the shutter button, and is the preferred technique for many photographers.  The big benefit (for me) is that it allows me to stay in Manual Focus (MF) while retaining the capability to AF if I want to.  In practice, it allows you to use AF and then automatically revert back to MF so you can refine if necessary.  Then, you can expose, compose, and shoot without worrying about the focus changing when you take the shot.  Plus, it enables you to tweak the focus if necessary.  It’s also handy in the studio, so you can focus on your subject and then not worry about possibly changing the focus point every time you press the shutter button.

The beauty of the way I set up my E-M1, is that with just a flick of the Lever, I can easily get back to full AF with the shutter button.  So here’s one way to do it … there are probably others.  Go into the Custom Setup (Gear icon) – Menu B (Button/Dial/Lever) – Lever Function and set it to Mode 5.  The first 4 modes essentially change which dial or button is used to change WB and ISO.  I prefer to do that in either the SCP (Super Control Panel) or set my Right and Down Arrow Keys for those functions.

There are also two other settings required for this to work.  First, you must keep the AEL/AFL Button configured to AEL/AFL:  Custom Menu B – Button Function – AEL/AFL Function – AEL/AFL.  Second, go to Custom Menu A – AEL/AFL, press the OK Button, select MF and press OK again.  Now, set MF to mode 3 and press OK one more time.  If you also like using Back Button Focus when in S-AF, then set S-AF to mode 3, also.  BUT, if you set S-AF to mode 3, you lose the AEL functionality of the AEL/AFL button when the lever is in position 1.

Continue reading “Corrected: Olympus OM-D E-M1 (and E-M5II) Back Button Focus”

Setting Up the Olympus OM-D E-M1 – My Way

This is a rewrite of an earlier post I did months ago about setting up the Olympus OM-D E-M5.

I’ve updated the section on the Arrow Pad settings to reflect how I’ve changed the Lever settings.

The menus of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 provide a deep, but fairly well organized hierarchy of almost all of the functions and settings that can be changed on this camera, and there are many. Some of you may feel that it is too complicated, but I think this complexity is what allows us the ability and freedom to customize this camera to our own personal taste, and that is where much of its power derives.  So while it may take a while to figure out exactly how to set it up to your liking, it’s worth the effort.

I won’t go into all of the available settings, but will cover mainly just the ones that affect the various, customizable buttons that make using the E-M1 a bit easier and faster.  So here are the buttons with my settings and reasoning for it.  It’s been said many times that “opinions are like noses” and everybody has one, so I’d be amazed if any of you set your camera exactly like I set mine … these are just a few of the possibilities.  (Speaking of which, how about one of you math whizzes telling us how many permutations/possibilities there are with six buttons and about 22 available settings for each one.  🙂  Okay, while we wait for the answer to my pop math quiz, let’s get started.

Fn1 Button = [—]HP.  I generally keep my focus set for single target AF since I prefer to choose what I want to focus on instead of letting the camera do it.  Of course, sometimes I need to move this AF point around and this setting gives me an easy way to get it back to center.  (Assuming that Custom Menu A -> [—] Set Home, is set to Single Target AF.)  If I mount an adapted lens that has only MF, then I repurpose this button to Peaking.

Fn2 Button = RAW.  Most of the time, I shoot in RAW.  However, there are some camera settings that require a JPG setting, like Monochrome for instance.  So with this button setting, I can quickly switch from RAW to RAW+JPG and back.

Movie Button = Myset 3.  Okay, this could be any of the Mysets, but #3 just happens to be my HDR preset.  A few of the other HDR settings this will bring up for me are Aperture priority, ISO 200,  RAW, and Continuous H.  I know, it’s so easy to get HDR settings from the front of the dial over the On/Off switch, but it doesn’t automatically change your shooting mode, quality, or ISO from whatever they may be set on.  One very nice thing that you E-M5 shooters will appreciate is that this is a toggle switch so you don’t have to hold it down while taking the shots.

AEL/AFL Button = AEL/AFL.  Imagine that … a button that actually does what it says it will do!  🙂  I like this because in an AF mode, it acts as an AEL button and locks the exposure.  If you’re in MF, pressing it will temporarily turn on S-AF and then revert right back to MF as soon as you release it.  This is commonly known as “Back Button Focus” and can be a very nice way to shoot, even better than S-AF+MF IMHO.

Front Buttons on the right side of the lens:
Top Button = Multi Function.  By pressing and holding this button while turning either the Rear Dial or the Front Dial, you can cycle through four different settings:  Highlight and Shadow Control, Color Creator, Magnify, and Image Aspect.  I like this setting for a couple of reasons.  First, the Highlight and Shadow Control can’t be found anywhere else.  Second, when I mount an adapted MF only lens, this gives me easy access to Magnify as a focusing aid.  The other two settings are nice but are also available on the Super Control Panel.

Bottom Button = Digital Tele-converter.  This setting gives you a 2X magnification of the actual image as long as you have JPG or RAW+JPG set.  With just RAW, you will see the magnification in the display, but the recorded file will be normal.  And while the tele-converter function works pretty well (almost as good as OnOne’s Perfect Resize), I actually prefer to use it as a MF assist function since it only gives 2X instead of the minimum of 5X with normal Focus Assist.

Arrow Pad = Direct Function.  I’ve set the “Arrow Pad” keys to Direct Function. The default setting for these arrow keys is to move the AF point around, but they are “hot” all the time and I kept inadvertently moving them with my thumb.  The Direct Function setting allows me to use the Right Arrow to bring up the Flash Settings menu for quick changes, and the Down Arrow to change the ISO, which I frequently use.  Also in Direct Function, the Left Arrow will activate the AF point selector so you can move the focus point around.  Lastly, the Up Arrow activates the ability to set Exposure Compensation using the arrow keys … but this is a waste for me since I always use the Front Dial for this.  There are only seven settings available for the Arrow Pad keys:  Drive, Flash, Touch Panel Lock, Electric Zoom (for lenses that support it), ISO, WB, and Exposure Compensation.

Update Feb. 19, 2014:  I forgot to talk about using the Arrow Key for ISO.  Yes, I know … this is normally easy to access by putting the Lever to Position 2 and turning the Front Dial.  However, I too often forgot to flip the Lever back up and ended up changing ISO and WB when I was wanting to change Aperture and/or Exp. Comp.  So, in Custom Menu B – Button/Dial/Lever, I’ve set Lever Function to Mode 5, which changes the focus setting between AF and MF as you flip the Lever up and down.

Oh, and one more thing … remember that all six of those buttons have the same settings available (not the Arrow Pad keys), so you can set them up any way you want to.  Lots of flexibility and choice.

There are so many settings on the E-M1 that I could expand this post to several hundred pages, but thankfully, I don’t have to.  Gary Friedman at the www.FriedmanArchives.com has put together a comprehensive manual about every feature and function on the E-M1 with lots of detailed explanations and pretty pictures, too.  If you’re interested, you’ll be able to order the book at his website.

A few photos for your viewing pleasure.  🙂

Back Button Focusing with the OM-D E-M5

“Back Button Focusing” refers to a way to engage autofocus (AF) on your camera separately from the shutter button.  In practice, it allows you to use AF and then automatically fall back to MF to be able to expose, compose, and shoot without worrying about the focus changing when you actually shoot.  Personally, I don’t always want to shoot this way … I may want to have everything (focus, exposure, and shot) happen quickly with a simple press of the shutter button.  But for those times I do want this, here’s how I set up the E-M5.

There are many ways to set up the various customizable buttons on the E-M5, so please just consider this as a guide.  This is just how I do it and I’m sure many of you will find different setups may work better for you.

First, I go into Custom Setup (Gear icon) > AF/MF  > AEL/AFL where I set the modes for focusing to S1/C2/M3.  The numbers refer to different modes, which in this case means Mode 1 for single AF which enables the shutter button to do AEL/AFL.  Mode 2 for Continuous AF, starts focus at a half press and locks exposure and focus when the shot is taken.  Then Mode 3 for MF sets the shutter button to AEL when half pressed and then takes the shot when fully depressed.

The next step is to assign buttons for focusing and for switching between AF and MF.  So get back into the menus, Custom Setup (Gear icon) > Button/Dial  > Button Function.  Once there, I set Fn1 Function to MF and Fn2 Function to AEL/AFL.  And that’s it!  🙂

Now, when I’m in MF, I just press the Fn2 Button to autofocus (after which the camera is still in MF) and then compose and take the shot.  So the camera stays in MF, but momentarily switches to AF when the Fn2 Button is pressed.  The beauty of this is that if you need to tweak the focus, a small twist of the focus ring takes care of it. Very nice!

If for whatever reason I decide to have it all happen with the shutter button, I just press Fn2 and the camera switches into S-AF and stays there until I change it.  I would use this in more fluid situations like street shooting or maybe candids of the grandkids when I don’t want them to pose but rather try to catch them “in action”.
I’ve written previous posts about setting up the E-M5 (Customizing the Olympus OM-D E-M5), but of course that’s always a work in progress as you learn more about any camera.  Also, as you move from one project to another, your requirements may change, so flexibility is the word of the day.  🙂  However, to be able to be flexible and make the changes to your cameras setup as necessary, you must also have a thorough knowledge of what your camera is capable of and how to take advantage of those capabilities.

Setting Up the NEX-7 – Revisited

I recently read somewhere, “Photography is a disease for which there is no known cure.” ( – Author Unknown)  I know I’m afflicted by it and I sure hope it isn’t fatal . . . . . aside from my wife wanting to kill me for exceeding my photography budget! 🙂 

A couple of days ago I “reacquired” the Sony NEX-7. There’s a lot to love there:  A beautiful, black, metal body; 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor; 10 frames-per-second; Terrific EVF (Electronic ViewFinder); and the Tri-Navi control system to give you almost instant access to many of the camera’s functions.  This camera is very customizable with several buttons that can be re-configured to setup this camera to work the way you work.

Many of you may not want your camera setup exactly like I do and that’s okay. We’re all individuals and approach photography with different goals and techniques.  In fact, my settings change from time to time as my current photographic emphasis changes.  But, if you’re new to the NEX-7 or maybe just struggling with the overwhelming customization options, maybe this will help. Here’s how I have mine setup, at least for now.

First, in the Main Menu, go to Setup and about halfway down you’ll find the Function Settings. These are the settings that are accessible using the Function Button (next to the shutter button) and adjustable with the two top Control Dials and the Control Wheel (Tri-Navi Controls).
  • Function Settings 1 > Focus Settings
  • Function Settings 2 > White Balance Settings
  • Function Settings 3 > Creative Style Settings
  • Function Settings 4 > Custom Settings
  • Custom Settings 1  > DRO/Auto HDR (Having Auto HDR and Quality in Custom Settings means they are both accessible at the same place. And since I often shoot in RAW, this makes it easy to quick change to JPEG when I want to use Auto HDR.)
  • Custom Settings 2  > Quality
  • Custom Settings 3  > Picture Effect
  • Function Settings Start > Previous (this just takes me back to whatever I had last changed)
Next, with Soft Key A, go back into the Setup Menu, and select Custom Key Settings. These will change the function of several of the buttons on the back of the camera.
  • AF/MF Button > AF/MF control
  • Right Key Setting > Flash Mode
  • Soft Key B Setting > Focus Settings
  • Soft Key C Setting > Shoot Mode
  • Custom Settings > N/A unless you set Soft Key C to Custom Settings, then you will have several choice to add, here.
With this configuration, I almost never need to go into the camera’s extensive menu system to make a change while I’m shooting, which is a big deal for me since I do tend to change settings quite often.  The possibilities are so varied, that you’ll probably need to do some experimenting with different combinations to find what works best for you, but maybe this guide can give you a place to start.

Please comment and share with us how you have your NEX-7 setup – and why – so we all have the chance to learn another way of doing things.

In a recent blog post, I mentioned that I worked with Gary Friedman (www.friedmanarchives.com) to produce a comprehensive manual about the new Sony NEX-5R and NEX-6.  You can find that eBook about the Nex-6 / 5R at www.FriedmanArchives.com , plus other books about all of the Nex models including the Nex-7, the RX100/M2 and most of the Sony Alpha models.