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 (Again!) 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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E-M1 Super Control Panel is Even More SUPER, Now!

Figure 1.  Top left corner shows you information about what you have selected.

The Super Control Panel (SCP) on Olympus cameras is one of my favorite features.  It is very powerful in that it gives you one button access to about 21(on the the E-M1) camera functions to include ISO, White Balance, AF Modes, and many more.  So, why is it even “More Super” on the E-M1?  It’s that little square in the lower right corner that shows you the settings for each button on the camera … but, more on that in a minute.  First, let’s just talk about general use for the SCP.

I don’t know why Olympus doesn’t enable the SCP by default, but they don’t.  So you have to enable it by going into Menu – Custom Menu D – Disp/*))/PC – Control Settings, and here you have to enable it individually for iAuto, P/A/S/M, ART, and SCN.  And I enable it for all of them.  Oh wait … you don’t have a Custom Menu (gear icon)?  Well, that is also NOT on by default for some strange reason.  So go to Menu – Setup Menu – Menu Display, and turn on Menu Display(gear icon).

Figure 2.

Once enabled, you invoke the SCP by just pressing the OK Button while in a shooting mode (not Photo Story or Movie).  If the SCP doesn’t show itself at first, then press the Info Button once or twice until you see it.  Now, you can move around the screen with either the Rear Dial, the Arrow Pad, or Touch Screen (if enabled).  After you’ve selected the function you want to change, you can either turn the Front Dial to cycle through the settings, or press OK which will open up that functions various settings.

Figure 3.

Okay … now, we’re ready to talk about the extra “Superness” (it Should be a word :-).  On the E-M5, if you selected the square in the lower right corner of the SCP (Figure 2), you could use the Front Dial to cycle through each of your customizable buttons settings to see what you have set … kind of a nice reminder, especially at first while you’re still trying to remember what all of those buttons do.  Now, on the E-M1, press OK and you will be taken directly into the Menu system for that Button (Figure 3) so you can quickly change its action if desired.  SUPER!  🙂

Figure 4.

One more Tip:  When making changes to different functions, be on the lookout for an “Info” icon somewhere on the screen (Figure 4).  (You will only see this IF you use the OK button to select the function on the SCP.)  Sometimes, it will show up in the lower left corner, but other times it’s located elsewhere.  This important icon is telling you to press the Info Button to open up a deeper level of settings for that particular function.  In this case (figure 5), pressing the Info Button highlights the little “x2”, indicating that by using the left/right keys on the Arrow Pad you can change this setting, which tells the camera how many shots to take with this timer setting.  Very nice feature!

Figure 5.

The Super Control Panel is a wonderful time saver, keeping you out of the menu system most of the time.  Plus, it’s easy to use whether you’re looking at the LCD or the EVF, so be sure to enable this feature and save yourself some time and frustration.

For more In-Depth information about the Olympus OM-D E-M1, check out Gary Friedman’s book, available at:  http://www.friedmanarchives.com/OlympusE-M1/index.htm

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.