What You Need to Know about Your Olympus OM-D’s Weather Sealing


We all know that our Olympus OM-D cameras (all except the E-M10) have excellent weather sealing.  But did you know all of the various components that affect the level of this sealing?  Most are fairly intuitive, but still it never hurts to be reminded of what all needs to be in place to help keep the insides of our cameras nice and dry.

For the E-M1, Olympus produced a small manual that covers all of this and more, and it can be found here:

Essentially, this manual tells us that all of the covers need to be in place and free of any debris that might interfere with the sealing.  Sure, we all know that … right?  Of course we do, but some might be easy to overlook or just forget about in the “heat of battle”.  Those might include the Power Battery Holder Connection cover, X-Sync Socket cover, Accessory Port cover (E-M5 and E-M1), and Hot Shoe cover.  And someone might yell at me if I forget to mention the battery door, SD card slot door, and various input port covers.
They go on to say that the camera may be damaged if lenses that are not Weather-Proof are used, and warn against submerging the camera or rinsing it under running water.  Also, you’ll find additional recommendations for cleaning the exterior of the camera.
And finally, you’ll find this notice at the end:

Service Advisory:

Product damage caused by sand or liquid contamination will void the original warranty and any extended warranties if applicable. In most cases Olympus service will not be able to repair the camera. In these situations, the camera would be deemed beyond reliable repair and returned without servicing.

Bottom Line:  Be careful out there.  🙂

Light Painting is Easy with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (E-M5 and E-M10, too)

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 (and E-M5, E-M10) were made for Light Painting.  They give you a feature not found on any other camera that I know of, and that is Live Bulb / Live Time.  Using either of these allows you to watch your image develop in Real Time (almost like developing prints in a dark room back in the “good old days”).  And then you can end the exposure when you think it looks right.

Light Painting is not only easy but a lot of fun and it can yield some unique images for you.  Basically it entails setting up in a relatively dark location so you can use a longer shutter setting, long enough to give you time to selectively illuminate your subject to achieve your desired result.
I won’t go into details here because I wrote about it twice last year.  First using the Fujifilm X100, and later with the Olympus PEN E-PL1.  I not only talk just a little about technique but point you to some great websites about it, too.

The beauty of using this technique with the OM-D is centered in two features known as Live Bulb and Live Time.  (The settings for these two are found in Custom Menu E.)  In a nutshell, these two functions tell the camera to periodically update the live view on the LCD monitor, allowing you to track the exposure in “almost” real time.  Then when it looks right … you end it.
The menu settings allow you set the desired interval for the camera to update the live view, but keep in mind the number of updates is limited.  So you need to space them out to make sure it will cover your needed exposure time.  Also the higher the ISO, the lower the number of allowed updates.

My favorite of the two modes is Live Time for one simple reason.  It lets you start the exposure with a simple press of the shutter button and then end it the same way.  With Live Bulb, you must hold the shutter button down (or use a cable remote with locking ability) for the entire time.

Previously, getting a good exposure while light painting was a function of luck, experience, and trial and error.  Now, with the Olympus OM-D E-M5, we have a tool that can greatly shorten the learning curve and help you get the best exposure the first time.  🙂

By the way, if you’d like more about the nuts and bolts of these features (and Much more), take a look at Gary Friedman’s comprehensive new book about the Olympus OM-D E-M1, available in just a few days at The Friedman Archives, www.friedmanarchives.com

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.

Paranoia … it’s Alive and Flourishing!

Most of you wouldn’t be familiar with these lyrics:  “Paranoia strikes deep, into your life it will creep …”.  It was from a popular song written in 1966 by Buffalo Springfield called For What It’s Worth, but it still rings true, today, as I found out in a local grocery.

I live in a relatively small neighborhood and sometimes I take my camera out for a walk.  Often, I’ll stop by one of the local stores to see what’s interesting, photographically speaking.  What I like about the super markets is they have great lighting and are full of all kinds of detailed patterns and bright colors – perfect for photography.  And the one I frequent most seems to be struggling because there are almost never very many people there so it just makes it easier to take photos relatively unimpeded … usually.

This morning was different.  I was wandering around snapping a few photos, some of their “secret” stuff like apples and apricots, when I was approached by a manager asking what I was doing.  So I told him and showed him the last few shots which were very colorful (apples) and competely benign – not incriminating in any way.  He said they have to be careful and on the “lookout” for competitors and/or journalists, but then was nice enough to tell me I was okay and maybe just ask in the future.  Okay, I guess I can understand that, but still ….

So, what is going on in our society?  I’ve noticed other times when people would look at me with that concerned frown on the their face as they wondered, “Who’s the guy with the camera and what is he up to?”  I’m not “up to” anything.  I’m just a photographer out looking for some interesting images.  If I were doing something nefarious, I wouldn’t use a nice camera, I’d use an 8MP iPhone, get great images and no one would ever know – or wonder.  Maybe it’s just that I look intimidating.  A 63 year old with a slight (very slight 🙂 paunch, grey hair, not tall and obviously not in great shape is a scary sight.  Yeah, that’s got to be it.  hehe.

I guess I’ll just start asking permission but then that makes me think of a couple of quotes:
“If you can’t take the answer, then don’t ask the question.”
“It’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.”

Y’all have a great day!

The apples and the balloons were shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M5, using the Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 lens.

Musings from Castle Pines

As a society, I think we’re getting just a little bit spoiled … especially here in the good old U.S of A.  And I’ll be the first to admit I’m as bad as anyone.  For instance, when I need to get our one and only car serviced, Big O Tires is kind enough to offer me a ride home so I don’t have to wait in their lounge. So far, I haven’t taken advantage of this courtesy, but then I only live about 300 yards from the shop.  🙂

Another wonderful convenience is the “drive-thru”.  Virtually all of the fast food chains have one and even one of our local Starbucks Coffee Shops is willing to oblige anyone who is just in too big a hurry to take the time to park, walk inside, and wait in that line.
Actually, on a side note, I’ve felt pretty “inconvenienced” ever since we left Florida back in 1973.  Not far from our house was a drive-thru where you could get milk, bread, eggs, and even a six-pack of beer if you were thirsty.  I haven’t seen one of those wonderful services since.

As I sat there at a small table on the Starbuck’s patio, I happened to notice a small camping trailer driving by.  It was really cute, shaped like a tear drop and probably no more than about 15 feet long.  I probably should have done this image in color because it was mostly shiny aluminum with some very bright orange trim all around.
I sure would like to get up in the mountains for a week or two of camping, hiking, and fishing … oh, and photography of course!

Most of these images were taken with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 using either the 14-150mm zoom or the Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7.  The last one of the Advenir Apartments office was with a Sony Nex-6 and Sony 10-18mm f/4 zoom lens.

Customizing the Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Update – Using the Power Battery Holder

NOTE:  If you’ve upgraded to the E-M1, my post about its setup is here:

This is the 2nd update to this post, so I hope it doesn’t become too confusing.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 w/Power Battery Holder (HLD-6)

I love the OM-D … it’s an awesome little camera.  Now, with the Power Battery Holder (PBH) on it, it’s even awesomer!  Bigger, but better.  In a nutshell, the PBH gives a better way to grip the camera with both normal and portrait (vertical) handgrips.  Plus, it allows you to add an extra battery, thereby doubling your shooting time, and it gives you two more customizable Fn (Function) Buttons.

The PBH comes in two pieces, the hand grip and a separate battery compartment which also has the vertical grip and Fn buttons.  Above, you can see the OM-D with both of them mounted.  Below, I’ve shown the camera and the two parts separated.

First you add the hand grip to the camera and that is actually my favorite way to use the PBH.  Personally, with the battery holder added it just makes the camera a bit too big and heavy for normal use.  But, when you need the extra power, it’s great.  Below, is the camera with just the hand grip and you can see that it really doesn’t add much height to the camera – only about 7/16″.  But what it does do for you is give you a terrific hand grip wrapped around the right front that has it’s own shutter button and front control dial.  It’s a feel much like the Nex-6 or Nex-7 if you’ve ever held one of those cameras, and it makes the camera very easy to carry.

Now, when you need that extra battery, you just add the battery holder to the bottom of the hand grip (unfortunately, it can’t be added to the camera without the hand grip).  Then, in addition to the extra battery, you’ve just added the vertical grip (with shutter button and front/rear control dials) for doing portrait work, and  two more Fn buttons, B-Fn1 and B-Fn2.  These buttons can be programmed to do totally different things from the other buttons on the camera.  I have mine set so that B-Fn1 moves my AF point to the home position, and B-Fn2 turns on the Digital Tele-converter.

Below, you can see the various controls on the battery holder.

The one switch we haven’t discussed yet is the “Lock” switch.  When in the Lock position, it locks out the Shutter and Fn Buttons on the battery holder to prevent accidental actuation.  And I might add that the shutter button rests directly against the meaty part of my palm so I accidentally actuate it fairly often.  I really, really wish though that Olympus would make it so that it ONLY locked out the shutter button so we could still have access to the two Fn Buttons down here.

Just a couple of more things to know about this:

  1. When it is attached, you must remove it to change the battery that is in the camera.
  2. However, you do have the ability to tell the camera which battery to use first.  So I set it to use the PBH battery first and then I can just change that battery when it gets low, keeping the internal battery in reserve.
This thing is fairly expensive at USD $299, so you have to either really want it or need it.  Plus, it does make the camera considerably larger in bulk and heavier as well.  So while it adds a lot of functionality, it does come with  some costs … monetary and carry-ability.

Previously posted information is below.


I recently had breakfast with a friend who also has the Olympus OM-D E-M5. We had a good time talking about our experiences using this great camera and sharing some of our own personal settings. As I was talking about the way I had customized the various buttons, it occurred to me that I rarely used the “Video” button which I had set to engage AEL. Instead of pointing the camera in a different direction, engaging AEL, and then reframing to take the shot, I find it so much easier to just look through the EVF and adjust the exposure to where I want it using the “Sub Dial” (the front dial that surrounds the shutter button).

So, I “re-purposed” the video button to engage Manual Focus, a setting that comes in very handy at times. I had previously set my autofocus to the S-AF+MF setting which allowed Single Autofocus with a Manual Focus override if I turned the focus ring on the lens. The problem with this for me was that it is just too sensitive. If I just brushed the Focus Ring, then the display would instantly zoom in (another setting I like for manual focus), requiring me to wait a few seconds for it to return to normal so I could compose the shot.
So now, my normal Focus mode is S-AF (Single Autofocus). However, if I feel the need to use Manual Focus (macro for instance), I merely push the video button to engage MF and then as soon as I turn the focus ring, the camera digitally zooms in for me (I usually use the 5x setting) so I can fine tune the focus before shooting. Then, one more push of the Video button puts me back in my normal Autofocus mode of S-Af.
I rarely shoot video, so this works well for me. If you frequently shoot video, then it may not be the best setting for you. That’s a part of the beauty of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 … there is so much flexibility in the way it’s various buttons can be customized so that it “works your way”.
The menus of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 present a deep, but well organized hierarchy of all the functions and settings that can be changed on this camera, and there are many. Some have written that it is too complicated, but my feeling is that this complexity is what allows us the ability and freedom to customize this camera to our own personal taste. So while it may take a bit of study to figure out exactly how to set it up to your liking, the end result is well worth it.
I’m not going to delve into all of the available settings, just the ones that affect the various, customizable buttons and make our lives as photographers easier.  So, let’s start on top:

I’ve set the Fn2 button as the “Home” button and it moves the AF point back to center which is where I use it about 90% of the time. This way, on those rare occasions when I move the AF point around the screen, it only takes one quick push of Fn2 to get it back to center.
I almost never take movies, so I’ve rededicated the “Record” button as my AEL button, and further customized it to use Spot Metering when AEL is invoked this way. Plus, I’ve set it so that it takes one push to set AEL and another push to deactivate it.

On the back of the camera, I’ve set the “Arrow Function” 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 ISO menu for quick changes, and the Down Arrow to change the Drive Settings, which I frequently use. Also in Direct Function, the Left Arrow will activate the AF point selector so you can move the point around to any of the 35 points or select All Points which allows the camera to automatically select a point based on what it perceives in the photo. 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.

The other change I’ve made back here is to the Fn1 Key which I set to activate “Myset1”. The E-M5 allows us to memorize 4 different sets of camera settings for different situations. So far, I’ve only set Myset1 to be used for AEB (Auto Exposure Bracketing).
Here are the other major settings that are called up when I press Fn1, activating Myset1:
  • Aperture Mode
  • ISO 200
  • Sequential High Speed (9 fps)
  • AEB set to bracket 5 images with 1 EV spacing between each one
This way, any time I get the opportunity to shoot an HDR (high dynamic range) image, I can push (and hold) Fn1, and fire off 5 quick bracketed shots. Then, as soon as I release Fn1, I’m back to my original settings.
Of course, all of these settings are easy to change so don’t feel like you have to get it set exactly right the first time. Go ahead, make some changes and experiment a little. Soon, you’ll figure out what works best for you.
Note to Olympus: I sure wish you would make the Fn1 Button cycle through the 4 Myset settings so we could easily jump from one to another instead of having to use the menus to choose the one we want. I think it would be much more useful this way.