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”

E-Book for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

There’s a brand new e-book already out, all about the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II.  Professional photographers Gary L. Friedman and Tony Phillips have collaborated to quickly release this new book, and it’s another good one!  You’ll find it provides the shortest learning curve for this infinitely configurable camera.

The book is very well written in the usual easy-reading style you find in all of the camera books from The Friedman Archives.  In its 430 pages, there is great coverage of virtually every button and function on the camera, with lots of photos, examples, tips, and tables.  Speaking of tips, here are a couple of good ones straight from the book:

I’ve read several camera books by both of these guys and always appreciate the thoroughness and depth they provide.  I highly recommend this book for new (and experienced) E-M5II shooters.  Plus, with the money-back guarantee, you really don’t have much to lose.  So head over to The Friedman Archives for all of the details.

And don’t forget to look around while you’re there.  Gary has many outstanding images, and there are books about virtually all of the recent major cameras from Olympus, Sony, and Fujifilm.

Last Minute Opportunity to Attend Photography Seminar – Oct. 18-19

There are still some openings for one of Gary Friedman’s widely acclaimed High-impact Photography Seminars.  I realize this is very short notice since the two-day seminar begins tomorrow at 10:00 AM in Los Angeles, but here is your chance to learn the secrets to taking “Wow!”-type images and what is really important in photography.

Gary’s well known website, The Friedman Archives, is a great place to view his amazing images from all over the world, pick up a great ebook about your camera, or sign up for one of his seminars.

You can find out all of the information about the seminar and sign up for it here:

The full two-day seminar is only $125 and will be held in Los Angeles:
Acme Theatre (Yes, that’s the real name)
135 N. La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036

E-M1 Firmware 2.0 Brings Live Composite Feature

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 came with a feature found on no other OM-D camera (or possibly any other camera), and that feature was called Live Composite.  It’s a way of “sort of” doing time lapse photography, but with each successive image added to all the previous images, much like using the Lighten Blending mode to merge layers in Photoshop.  Now, FW 2.0 brings this great function to the E-M1.

With this first image, I used Live Composite with the overall exposure set to underexpose by a couple of stops.  Then, I just slowly added soft light to the parts I wanted to brighten, all the while watching the image develop in real time on the LCD.

To use Live Composite (LC), you have to go to Manual and pass through all of the slow shutter speeds, past Live Time and Bulb.  Once you’re in LC, you’ll be able to adjust your shutter speed by pressing the Menu Button to access that menu.  However, before you go to LC, I suggest doing some test shots in manual to determine your base or starting exposure.  Once this is set and you begin the LC exposure, the dark areas won’t increase in brightness, only parts of the image that are brighter will be added, and only up to the set exposure.  I know this is a little confusing, but as soon as you use it once or twice, it will become very clear.  One other tip … you should use a tripod for this.

In the above photo, the image on the left shows the result after 22 exposures (46 seconds), while the right one shows after 49 exposures. The only increase in brightness is from light painting that I did with a flashlight. This also shows the display you will see on your camera, showing total elapsed time, your set shutter speed and number of exposures, plus a histogram to help you judge the correct (desired) exposure.

Live Composite should be a great tool for capturing star trails or car light trails. Or, how about getting that smooth look on flowing water or fast moving clouds. I think it’s perfect for light painting, too, but just use your imagination to come up with lots of new applications and then be sure and share your ideas with the rest of us.

This is a very brief introduction, but I go into more detail in an ebook I’ve written, a comprehensive guide to Firmware Update Version 2.0 for the Olympus OM-D E-M1.  It’s now available for FREE download at The Friedman Archives.  If you’d like to get it, please send an email request to Gary Friedman.

Two Years and STILL a Best Seller … the Sony Nex-6

It’s hard to believe that the Sony Nex-6 has been out for almost two years and it’s still at the top of the Compact System Best Sellers on Amazon!  And what’s more, it’s still at number ten when looking at All digital cameras.

When I wrote the book about the Nex-6 (sorry, shameless self-plug), I knew it was (is) an excellent camera.  But in the last two years, there have been some terrifically competitive cameras released by Olympus, Panasonic, Samsung, Fuji, and even Sony.  The Fuji X-E1 with kit lens can be found for around $600 these days.  Yet, the little Nex-6 continues to thrive.  The Sony A6000 bumped the pixel count up to 24MP and improved the autofocus, yet the Nex-6 is still selling better.  I wonder why?

Plus, when you look at the top ten of all digital cameras, you see that Sony has three of those, with the other seven spots filled by Nikon, Kodak (Kodak ?!?!), Canon, and Olympus.  Amazing!

Do you think the “Mirrorless Revolution” is finally catching on?

For you Nex-6 shooters, to what do you attribute the amazing success of that wonderful little camera?

And for those of you who may be new to the Sony Nex-6, if you’re having any questions about various features and how they all come together in a logical way, help is available at The Friedman Archives.  Gary Friedman and I co-authored a comprehensive book all about the Nex-6/5R/5T.  We’ve had great reviews and even offer a money back guarantee if you don’t learn at least one thing.  🙂

REAL High Speed Sync Flash with the Fujifilm X100s

Modern digital cameras come with so many great features and generally inadequate manuals, making it difficult sometimes to really understand all of those features and how they can interact to produce great images.  And the Fujifilm X100s is no different … Except there is help available.  Tony Phillips at The Friedman Archives has written an extensive and comprehensive book to cover all of those features in detail.  Below is an excerpt from Chapter 1 in “The Complete Guide to the X100s” by Tony Phillips.



In the introduction to this book I told you I loved this feature.  For one, they are deadly silent – a pretty good feature for street and documentary photography.  More importantly, they allow the camera to sync with flash at much higher shutter speeds than a focal plane shutter can, entirely changing your ability to compete with ambient light.
FLASH – Real High Shutter Speed Flash Sync
Landscape photographers talk about the golden hour.  The hour around dawn, or dusk when light takes on an almost magical quality.  Paradoxically cameras are optimized for “normal” daylight, and yet images taken under those kinds of hard-light conditions seldom seem as wonderful as their counterparts shot in the golden hour (or under the influence of a photographer with a keen eye for light and the knowledge of how to achieve it from their equipment).
Until now, that is. The leaf shutter lens in your X100S will change your ability to compete with ambient light.  Add the in-built ND filter to the mix, and an external accessory flash or two, and you’ll find yourself balancing flash with daylight to achieve the most wonderful light in outdoor situations.
It’s all about light ratios in relationship to ambient light. The type of real high speed sync (RHSS) available with a leaf shutter is not at all like high speed sync (HSS) as you may know it.  There are limitations placed on flash power delivered using HSS, brought about by the way the flash power is output (pulsed) during the period in which the shutter is open.  These limitations not only do not apply with a leaf shutter and RHSS, you actually get more punch from your flash unit than you would if it were attached to a regular focal plane shutter camera.  This is a pretty big topic, and I discuss it in much more detail starting on page 367.  In the meantime, feel free to dial up your shutter speed to 1/1000th of a second, and head outdoors for some shooting.

Want shallow depth of field with that?  Turn on the ND filter! Figure 1-42 demonstrates how this all comes together.  The high shutter speed (1/1000th) cuts ambient light giving me rich colours in the sky and trees.  The ND filter means I can shoot wide open (f|2 in this case) so only the cluster of roses in the foreground is in focus.  Add in the EF-X20 flash for some fill, and you produce a pleasing result in awkward lighting conditions.
So, for more great tips and techniques (almost 500 pages worth) head over to The Friedman Archives and check out Tony’s great book that can transform your understanding of the X100s and help you get great images from your camera.
In the interest of full disclosure, I need to tell you that I have also written for The Friedman Archives. I co-authored the book about the Sony Nex-6 and helped Gary Friedman with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 book.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 RAW … What Works … What Doesn’t

Like many of you, I prefer to shoot in RAW.  The well established reason is that it gives me more information to work with in post processing … more latitude in “tweaking” the image if necessary.  My second choice (when I have to) is RAW + JPG.  It’s a second choice because then I have twice as many files to deal with plus, it sucks up more memory on my SD card and on my computer.  But, of course, some cameras in some cases force you to shoot JPG.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 actually does a pretty good job of automatically changing the image quality setting to one that is compatible with whatever camera function you’ve selected … but, not always.  In Gary Friedman’s recently released, excellent book about the E-M1, you will find a table showing you how the camera behaves with different settings.  So, below you’ll find a short excerpt from his book that will hopefully clear up what the camera does in those different situations.

Excerpt from “The Complete Guide to Olympus’ OM-D E-M1” by Gary L. Friedman

The E-M1 offers many advanced bells-and-whistles, which are not all compatible with RAW mode. And the ones that don’t support RAW, will (sometimes) silently switch to RAW+JPG (LF) shooting while you use them and then switch back when you’re finished. Which features are incompatible with RAW, and how does the camera behave for each? A comprehensive table appears below:

So, here’s what you really have to remember … a RAW file is always a RAW file and few of the fancy camera settings (except exposure, of course) will apply. The camera may show you the effect in the EVF/LCD, but the RAW file will NOT record that effect. So for those cases where the camera does not automatically switch to RAW+JPG, it is only showing you a preview of what the effect “could” look like.
Fortunately, the Olympus editing software, Olympus Viewer 3, will let you apply all of the in-camera effects to a RAW file on your computer, after the fact. Those include Art Filters, Picture Modes, Color Creator, and Highlight & Shadow Control.

You can find a great selection of camera and photography books at The Friedman Archives.