Olympus E510 digital SLR - how I set it up
firmware upgrades are easily done using the supplied Olympus Master software
My method of using the E510:
My default menu settings are:
Picture mode = natural with contrast 0, sharpness -2, saturation 0
I prefer to worry about sharpness in post-processing of my images as ideally sharpness should be done incrementally in post-processing
Gradation = normal
I prefer to worry about this in post-processing of my RAW file if I really need the highlights
file settings = RAW + SHQ jpeg:
if you are mainly doing images for web display or computer display rather than printing then consider using RAW + SQ jpeg instead and setting image size for SQ to 1024x768 with compression of 1/4 (see wrench 1 on menu).
I tend to always capture a RAW file because:
it allows higher image quality when post-processing - you get the benefit of 12bits of tonal range instead of only 8 bits in a jpeg
it tends to be easier to adjust white balance in RAW processing and you get better image quality
it allows you to produce the highest quality jpeg even if you have set your jpg size to SQ
it allows you to regain some lost highlights if needed
unlike earlier cameras (eg. the C8080), capturing RAW files does not significantly slow you down anymore as long as you have a reasonably fast CF card - but they still take up quite a bit more memory space than a jpg.
WB = auto
unless I do a custom WB - see later
ISO = 100
perhaps 200-400 for indoors ambient lighting
perhaps 800 if I really have to but image noise starts to increase
Noise filter = low
higher values results in loss of image detail
Noise reduction = On
this only comes into effect for long exposures and then takes a 2nd exposure without light hitting the sensor (a dark frame) which has the inherent thermal noise which is then automatically subtracted from the original image.
metering = evaluative
I often temporarily change this to spot metering in backlit situations
AF mode = S-AF + MF
for sports or action I may change this to C-AF
[...] AF points = [ . ]
I generally only use the centre AF point as I want to know & predict which point it will be using - see below
ISO limit = 400
EV step = 1/3EV
HQ = 1/8
SQ = 1024x768 1/4
flash compensation + exp. compensation = ON
X-sync = 1/180th
AEL/AFL = S:3 C:2 M:3
this allows me to separate activation of AF from the shutter button
I prefer to move the camera so the centre AF point is on the subject then press the AF button on the REAR of the camera to attain focus, then I can release all buttons, re-compose the camera at my leisure, then when ready press shutter to take the photo.
many professional photographers prefer this "rear button focus" method.
using the traditional S:1 mode where half-press of the shutter button sets both exposure and AF creates potential problems:
if you take finger off the half-pressed state of the shutter after it has set AF then recompose and go to press the shutter to take the photo, it will attempt AF again and may be you do not want this to happen as:
it may delay the taking of the image and losing a photo opportunity
it may now be trying to focus on a different subject (the central subject).
if you leave your finger half-pressed on the shutter to keep the AF:
you may accidentally trigger the shutter while you are recomposing
you lock the exposure and if light conditions change, these won't be adjusted for.
you are forced to focus on the central subject
using C:2 is reasonable as using the rear button can become to cumbersome during action photography as you need to press it to start continuous AF tracking and half-press of the shutter may be easier for most people here.
using M:3 allows manual focus by turning focus ring on lens PLUS S-AF autofocus by hitting the AEL/AFL button so you have instant access to AF when you need it.
RAW+JPEG erase = RAW+JPEG (I tend to erase all files - you may not want this though)
Fn button = custom WB
this is important as it makes doing a custom white balance extremely simple:
just point camera at a white object which is illuminated by the ambient lighting, press the Fn button and the shutter at the same time - a custom WB image will be taken and you just choose Yes to accept it.
remember to turn WB to auto WB when you are finished shooting in that lighting though.
if you are a My Mode fan, you could set it to My Mode
if you like doing DOF preview, you could set it to Preview
Live Boost = ON
usually this is more benefit than not as it helps in Live Preview of dim lighting
turn it off when trying to live preview on the moon as it gets tricked and makes focus on the very bright moon difficult.
AEL/AFL <=> Fn = ON
I personally like to switch these two buttons on the rear around as it is easier to use the Fn button to activate AF than the AEL/AFL button, although this depends on your hand size - in either case you probably will need 2 hands holding the camera to do this with ease, although with practice you can do it single-handed.
IS = IS mode 1
because IS is so good, I leave it on mode 1 all the time - it may shorten battery life a fraction but its worth it.
for panning shots, change it to mode 2
for tripod shots, turn it off.
NB. to set flash exposure compensation, hold down flash button and the +/- button then use the control dial to set it.
use the right flash setting for the desired outcome:
Auto or Auto with red eye reduction:
may be OK for parties, etc but I find these frustrating
it only goes off when light levels are too low to give a shutter speed faster than ~1/60th sec, if flash is up, camera will set shutter speed to 1/80th to minimise motion blur due to ambient light and fire the flash with auto exposure.
if ambient light gives a shutter speed shorter than about 1/80th sec, flash WILL NOT fire and this means you may end up with faces lit by tungsten or flourescent ambient lighting with nasty shadows and perhaps wrong WB which you had not intended => to force flash to fire, set it to the lightning symbol (ie. Fill-in flash).
it's not available in following exposure modes: M, S, night portrait
in AUTO exposure mode on the dial, it will also automatically popup the flash if you have that functionality enabled in the menu system.
lightning symbol (ie. Fill-in flash):
OK, I think I prefer this for most shots as I know the flash will fire if I have it up and shutter speed between 60sec and 1/180th sec.
if I want it to be as a fill-in, I can set flash exposure compensation to a minus value.
BUT, shortest shutter speed camera will allow is 1/180th sec which may lead to over-exposed ambient lit areas unless you use Super FP mode on external flashes (eg. Olympus FL36 or FL50) which allow synchronisation at faster shutter speeds at the expense of a reduction in effective maximum GN.
cannot be set in night portrait mode.
this is the mode to use when shooting moving objects and you want to see motion blur BEHIND the object
you might want to use a slow shutter speed and either a tripod or IS mode 1 for this to ensure non-moving parts of the scene remain sharp (IS mode 2 if you are panning with the subject).
SLOW red eye reduction:
I can't see the difference between this and Auto red eye reduction
I rarely use this as I prefer my blurred part to be behind a moving subject, not in front of it, hence I use SLOW 2.
Manual flash output:
these settings can be very useful if either:
you are getting strange results with auto:
if you want to eliminate sources of error, just keep adjusting the power output to desired effect (unfortunately in the E510, Olympus only gives full, 1/4, 1/16 & 1/64th outputs - what happened to 1/2, 1/8th & 1/32nd - a disappointing decision - maybe that will fix this in firmware)
you want to optically trigger an external flash or studio flash:
set it to 1/64th and it will hopefully be enough to trigger the external flash without casting its own shadows, but it may give some sparkle to the eyes by adding a catchlight which can be very useful if none would otherwise occur.
this mode can be useful as the flash can then be raised and used to assist AF if AF illumination is enabled in the menu.
obviously the flash does not fire during the exposure though.
if you don't need AF assistance and you don't want the flash to fire at all, just leave the flash down and either:
don't have flash popup enabled in the menu
don't use Auto exposure, night portrait, macro, portrait mode or certain scene modes (ie. stick with M, A, S or P exposure modes).
exposure mode dial:
unless I have had a little too much to drink or I am way too tired to think, I personally don't use AUTO, P, S, or the various scene modes as for 95% of my photos I prefer to use A or M.
Aperture priority mode:
this is my main mode I use as I can determine the aperture I want to use depending on how much depth of field I want and how much background blurring, and secondarily I keep an eye on the shutter speed and if it is getting too slow, then I either change my aperture or increase the ISO.
if you shoot HDR with bracketed exposures, aperture should be kept constant for each exposure.
this mode works best for me when using auto flash modes.
Manual exposure mode:
I use this a lot when I am playing with exposure or if it is a difficult scene to auto-expose.
this is my main mode when using external studio flashes, I set a shutter speed for 1/180th to ensure adequate sync then set ISO to 100 for best image quality and then aperture according to studio flash set up (usually f/5.6-8).
Night portrait mode:
sometimes I use this when I can't be bothered thinking for myself when taking portraits with background night scenes using fill-in flash - make sure you use a tripod or have IS mode 1 on.