Olympus E-M1 Mk II Tips

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

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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.

Continue reading “Olympus E-M1 Mk II Tips”

Sony Nex-6 (5R and 5T) Setup

The Nex-6 is still selling amazingly well on Amazon, so there must be a lot of new users out there.  If you are and you’re struggling with setting up your brand new Nex-6, then maybe I can help.  A little over a year ago, in collaboration with Gary Friedman at the Friedman Archives, we published a comprehensive e-book about the Sony Nex-6/5R/5T.  Below, you’ll find a short section from the book with a table that will hopefully clarify the available options for you.
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The Nex-5R and Nex-6 boast the ability to reassign (“customize”) a couple of the buttons to help cater the camera to your specific needs. Here’s where new owners get into a tizzy since there are so many options it makes the camera harder to get to know than it should be. I’ve been playing around with different settings over the past few months, and I’ve arrived at what I consider an optimal configuration – and for me, “optimal” means “My most-accessed features are only one or two button-presses away, and that for most field shooting situations, I’ll never have to access the menus ever again!
I’ve outlined those settings in the table below. The table shows all of the settings that are available for each button, the camera default settings from the factory, and the settings I’ve used for my camera.  Of course, most of you will develop your own personal settings, but this might be a good place to start.

** On the NEX-6, if the LCD screen is on the “For Viewfinder” screen, then pressing the Fn Button gives you immediate access to 16 different camera functions, which you can then change their settings. Sony calls this the “Quick Navi” screen. You can’t change which functions appear there, but it is such a complete list there’s really no need. (More on this on page 150 in my book).

# These functions are also already available with other keys on the camera’s Control Wheel.

If this helped and you’d like to see more, just head over to www.FriedmanArchives.com where you’ll find the e-book available at a reasonable price.  And even more reasonably, it comes with a money back guarantee.

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.  🙂

Olympus OM-D E-M1 is Looking Good

E-M1 with the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 Lens

Today, mOlympus OM-D E-M1 finally arrived, but I’ve had little chance to really get into it.  However, I’m really liking what I’m seeing so far … it’s gorgeous!  Before I go any further, let me make it clear that I’m not affiliated with Olympus in any way and I spent MY money on this camera.  But, I’ll also be the first to admit I’m an OM-D “fan boy” ever since I first laid eyes on the E-M5.  Tonight, I just want to touch on a couple of my very first impressions, the improved AF and default functionality.

First, the AF with Four Thirds lenses is HUGELY improved!  I have the 35mm macro and on the E-M5 it is excruciatingly slow, racking back and forth before finally, sometimes locking focus.  But on the E-M1, it generally snaps right in, only occasionally taking an extra half second to chirp back and forth to refine the accuracy.  This is of course, the Phase Detection AF in action and it just works.

The other thing I noticed is how well the extra buttons and switches are set up to offer superb functionality right out of the box with the default settings.  Here’s what’s available with direct access:

  • HDR settings
  • Drive
  • Metering
  • AF Select
  • Exposure Compensation
  • Aperture, Shutter speed, Program Shift (depends on your shooting mode, of course)
  • ISO
  • WB (White Balance)
  • Shadow/Hi Light Control
  • Set Focus Point (Two different ways – I’ll need to decide whether to use the Fn 1 Button or direct access with left/right/up/down buttons.)
  • AEL
  • One Touch WB
  • DOF (depth of field) Preview
Plus of course there are the other standard Playback, Trash, etc. buttons.  I think I count a total of 23 total exterior camera controls.  But the beauty of it is the layout, and I think with a little time and use (for muscle memory), it will be easy to make all of these changes without ever taking your eye from the gorgeous EVF.  Where by the way, you’ll see each of these changes as you make it so there’s never any doubt what settings you’re using.

The E-M1 is a little bit larger than the E-M5, but not much.  Except for the wonderful grip they’ve added.  One thing I loved about Sony’s Nex cameras was just carrying it, and this new Olympus OM-D E-M1 is just like that.  It’s not very heavy and with the new grip it can just hang off your finger tips with almost no effort. (I ONLY do this when it’s securely strapped to my wrist with a Peak Design wrist strap.)

One more thing:  I’ve read likes and dislikes regarding the new On/Off switch, but I think it’s a big improvement.  I love the way Sony and others place it around the shutter button where it is SO easy to flick on or off as needed.  But the old way it was done on the E-M5 was a constant source of frustration for me and like the new positioning much better.  Sure it still takes two hands, but normally I’m raising the camera to cradle in my left hand anyway, so it’s very convenient.

Yeah, it’s expensive at $1400 for body only, but you get a lot of capabilities and now access to over 60 lenses from Olympus alone.  And that doesn’t count the Panasonic, Sigma, and other M4/3 lenses and a staggering array of lenses that can be added with a small adapter.

There are so many nice things about this new machine, that it is going to take some time to sort it all out, but I will … and I’ll be posting my findings from time to time right here … so come on back.  🙂

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”.
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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.