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the Olympus OM-D system and how to make the most of it


understanding the background and history of the Micro Four Thirds camera system

understanding the basics of photography

which camera to buy

which lens to buy

essential accessories to buy

  • at least one spare battery - and take it with you!
  • protective filter for each lens (this could be a polarising filter or UV) - see below
  • lens cleaning blower brush and cloth

buy a quality polariser filter for each lens

  • unlike the film days you don't need many filters in the digital world, but you DO need to protect the front glass of your lens
  • thankfully, the lens filter size and thus cost is substantially smaller and cheaper with these Olympus cameras than with larger sensor dSLRs
  • my preference is to use a polariser ALL the time when shooting outdoors as:
    • it protects the glass of the lens and saves me being paranoid about putting a lens cap back on which I always end up losing
    • it allows you to use wider apertures in bright sunlight to help better blurring of the background
    • it is essential when taking photos of foliage such as in forests or gardens - you rotate it so that the reflections of the sky on each leaf disappear and you can then bring out the richness of the foliage colour
    • it is very handy when shooting water or glass as it can control the reflections and allow one to see through the water or glass more clearly
    • it is useful in making the sky a lovely darker blue
      • effect is maximal when pointing at sky 90deg to the sun
      • effect may be annoying if using a very wide angle lens and thus you get uneven skies
  • buy a “circular” one not a “linear” one as old style linear ones do not work well with modern autofocus systems - most are now “circular” for this reason (NB. they are all round - the circular does not reference the shape of the filter!)
  • remember to remove it indoors or when shooting in low light as it cuts out HALF your light (ie. 1 f stop) and it will make autofocus harder in low light
  • remove all filters when shooting INTO light sources such as the sun or street lamps at night as these will add to flare and lower contrast (unless you want to achieve that)

other filters to consider

  • consider buying rectangular gradient ND 0.6 filters if you shoot landscapes - these can be used to darken the sky to avoid blown highlights examples are Cokin, Lee
  • consider buying a 3x neutral density filter (ND8) if you shoot flash in bright sunlight and want to use a wide aperture to blur the background
  • consider buying a ND400 filter (really dark 10 stop filter) to allow LONG exposures during day time to capture moving water in a soft blurred manner
    • DON'T BUY “variable ND filters” to achieve this for wide angle lenses - waste of money as cause weird effects

decide how you will carry and use the camera

consider buying a good quality tripod

beginners "Point & Shoot" settings

  • set top dial (“PASM dial”) to iAUTO
    • on the E-M1 there is a central button which locks it, you may need to press it once to unlock the dial
    • this mode over-rides and disables many settings in the camera including the top two adjustment dials BUT not the function buttons which will remain as you have programmed them (or factory default)
    • to make adjustments in this mode, press the OK button and the Live Guide will display which allows a “dummies” approach to adjusting settings (although it is poor at teaching you what is happening!)
    • autofocus:
      • by default, the camera will choose what to AF on (usually the closest subject it finds - or a face if it finds it)
      • you can over-ride this by either:
        • pressing the left rear arrow buttons to select a small area on which to focus, or,
        • you can AF by pressing on the touch screen
  • if iAUTO is not doing what you want, try rotating PASM dial to “SCN”:
    • there are a multitude of SCENE modes from which you can select, and for each the camera will set its own settings to hopefully give you the results you want
    • use the top rear dial to choose a style
    • if you want to change the scene style again, press OK to bring up the selections
  • if you want to have some fun:
    • have a play with the “ART” mode:
      • rotate PASM dial to “ART”
      • there are a LOT of different effects and you can even combine some effects
      • this is great if you are not into post-processing on a computer yet
    • have a play with the “Photo Story template” mode:
      • rotate PASM dial to template icon
      • allows you to combine multiple images into one image with the images next to each other as in a Photo Story
      • not available on the E-M5
  • and of course, there is movie mode:
    • rotate PASM dial to movie camera icon
    • press REC to start and stop movie
  • once you understand photography basics, use Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority modes
    • these modes allow you to have more control over what is important to you for that shot:
      • depth of field (DOF) or how blurry the background is - in Aperture Priority, set a wide aperture, or if you want nearly everything sharp and optimal image resolution, set it to f/5.6
      • if you want motion blur of moving subjects, in Shutter Priority, set the shutter speed to a slower speed but fast enough to avoid camera shake if not using a tripod
  • BUT if you really want to learn how to take photos - use MANUAL exposure mode
    • this will force you to think about shutter speed, aperture and ISO and help you visualise and learn how changes in each of these will effect your imagery for creative effect
    • you can take this further by using custom white balance or even playing with the color creator function on Olympus cameras setting

setting up the camera for your style

removing annoyances

  • Deactivate AF assist lamp to stop annoying flashes from the camera
    • Menu:Cogs:A:AF Illumin. = OFF
    • obviously you need to set this ON for AF to work in darker ambient light - or use a torch.
  • Deactivate beep on AF lock if you want it more discrete
    • Menu:Cogs:D:speaker icon = OFF
  • Turn Quick Erase OFF to avoid accidents
    • Menu:Cogs:H:Quick Erase = OFF
  • Turn MF Assist OFF
    • Menu:Cogs:A:MF Assist = OFF
    • this automatic MF Assist mode which activates magnify mode when you move the MF ring, annoyingly deactivates magnify mode as soon as you stop moving the MF ring which does not give your eyes enough time to check it
    • better to activate magnify manually via Fn2 button!
  • Turn the LCD live view OFF to save battery and avoid distracting those around you
    • this is particularly if you need reading glasses for the LCD screen but not for the EVF
    • eye sensor auto EVF/LV switching = ON
      • press and hold button on R of EVF to bring this menu up
      • when live view goes to the LCD screen:
        • press the INFO button ONCE and LCD goes black as well as the EVF
        • pressing INFO again displays the control panel, and again displays the Live View once more
      • this results in LCD being inactive unless you either:
        • press INFO button whilst EVF inactive
        • press MENU button to display menu system
        • press PLAYBACK button to view images
      • this also results in EVF being inactive unless you bring your eye to the EVF
        • or if you place anything next to the EVF - so not a substitute for turning camera off
      • unfortunately for those who need reading glasses, auto eye sensor switching has the major disadvantage that you CANNOT display a playback image in the EVF
        • putting your eye to the EVF in playback immediately terminates playback and shows live view in the EVF
        • attempting to press the EVF/LCD button in playback to send the playback image to the EVF does NOT work!
        • setting wrench:Rec View to a longer duration will at least allow longer immediate review of an image in the EVF (half-press shutter to end review)
    • the alternative is turning eye sensor auto EVF/LV switching to OFF:
      • has the wonderful advantage that you can display a playback image in the EVF
      • disadvantage is that the EVF does not automatically turn off until camera goes into sleep mode
  • Assign REC button to something else such as DOF Preview to avoid accidentally starting movie recording
  • Deactivate flash WB menu item
    • if using a custom WB, Menu:Cogs G:flash+WB item MUST be set to OFF otherwise the custom WB will NOT be used!!!
    • this obscure menu setting will totally confuse you if you use gels on your flash and want to shoot in custom WB as it will automatically change your WB to the setting in this menu if a compliant flash fires
    • options are autoWB or flash WB or OFF
    • the setting is ignored though when using non-compliant flashes (those not communicating via all TTL pins)

managing the viewfinder and LCD screen

  • if you need a high positive diopter setting, there is a major risk it will magnify direct sunlight entering the rear of the EVF with resultant destruction of the EVF (causes yellow-green blotches where it has burnt the EVF)
  • this has not been an issue with the E-M5's EVF but is an issue with the E-M1 and presumably the E-M10
  • take great care leaving the camera in sunlight

ensuring you get the exposure you want

white balance

ensuring accurate focus

blurring the background

making everything sharp

silent shooting

shooting in the rain

  • most OM-D cameras (except the E-M10 series) are weathersealed - perhaps better than any other camera apart from underwater cameras, and when used with a weathersealed lens, then can be safely used to shoot in the rain without protection as long as you take precautions:
    • ensure hotshoe cover is in place
    • ensure all port covers are securely in place
  • tip:
    • use a weathersealed lens with a fairly long lens hood to keep the rain droplets off the front lens which will otherwise adversely effect your photos and are not easily cleaned off
    • my favorite in the rain is the Olympus mZD 40-150mm f/2.8 pro lens

flash photography


jpeg rendering

long exposure photography

panoramic stitching

maximising image detail

  • in order to get the greatest detail in your image you need ALL of the following working together:
    • excellent optics
    • accurate focus
    • adequate depth of field
    • a shutter speed sufficient to “freeze” the subject motion
    • no camera shake:
      • no mirror shake (OM-D cameras thankfully do not have a mirror so this is irrelevant, dSLR users need to resort to mirror lock up for high magnification circumstances)
      • no shutter shake - enable 1st electronic shutter mode (set AntiShock = 0 secs) to avoid the mechanical shutter being activated before the exposure starts
      • use flash or use a tripod or use image stabiliser with a shutter speed sufficient to “freeze” the camera shake
  • if the above are satisfied then it may be possible to get more than 30mp worth of detail via either:

capturing detail in highlights and shadows

  • all camera systems have a limit to how much dynamic range they can capture - in other words, how dark the shadows can be (without them becoming “blocked”) and still retain detail whilst retaining detail in the highlights without them being “blown”.
  • see high dynamic range (HDR) photography with Olympus OM-D cameras for options of capturing high dynamic range scenes


Olympus Workspace

  • this is the latest Olympus tethering and image editing software

Olympus Viewer

  • software to allow manipulation of Olympus RAW files
  • RAW conversion
  • can apply ART filters
  • required to stitch images taken via the SCENE PANORAMA mode

Olympus Capture

Olympus smartphone apps

  • allows smartphones to remotely control compatible cameras via WiFi
  • cameras include: E-M10, E-M1, E-P5, E-M5 II (but not the E-M5)

On1 Photo RAW

  • a bit of a cross between LR and Photoshop
  • see on1

Adobe Lightroom

  • excellent software for editing your RAW or jpeg images non-destructively but has limitations - no layers, etc
  • unlike Olympus software, can be used on other cameras
  • unfortunately, you now need to pay an annual subscription to keep using the software so consider other options
  • do not need Lens Correction Profiles for Micro Four Thirds system and their dedicated lenses as the RAW file contains this data and Lightroom will automatically read it. 1)

Adobe Photoshop

  • much more powerful than Lightroom as it is also capable of:
    • using layers
    • sequential editing where you have control of the order of edits
    • avoiding use of a single large database and using files instead to store edits
    • edit in LAB mode
    • much more sophisticated brush, subject selection, sharpening tools
  • unfortunately, you now need to pay an annual subscription to keep using the software so consider other options

nerdy stuff

how much has the camera been used and how long should it last?

  • cameras are designed to take a certain number of shots before their shutter mechanism risks failing and needing replacing (usually this means throwing the camera out and buying a newer updated camera)
  • many cameras have shutter mechanisms rated at around 150,000 shots
  • to find out how many shots your Olympus camera has taken, see:

powering your camera when the battery is flat

camera date and time continuously needs resetting

  • the internal camera battery which allows the date and time to be maintained requires charging from a charged main battery
  • if the main battery is flat or you remove it for more than 24hrs, then the internal battery may go flat and when you next turn the camera on, the date and time will need to be reset
  • if you are sure it is not the above issue, you may have a faulty internal battery and the camera may need to be returned to Olympus to fix.
omd/start.txt · Last modified: 2020/05/08 21:22 by gary1

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