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suggested settings for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III Micro Four Thirds camera


  • the Olympus E-M1 Mark III adds a range of significant improvements over the earlier versions which makes optimizing its use importantly different to prior cameras depending upon what you use it for

Using it as a webcam

  • 2 options:
    • use USB cable + Olympus Capture software + OBS Studio and virtual cam plugin, or,
    • use HDMI cable with a USB-HDMI video capture card

Using it for hand held walk vlogging

  • this camera has perhaps the most watchable hand held vlogging straight from camera footage of all current cameras once you get it configured correctly, and it is much lighter than a full frame mirrorless combo.
  • try mating with a Panasonic 12mm f/1.4 lens
  • consider Manual exposure mode with auto ISO
  • Cinema 4K appears to give the nicest results but does limit you to 24p so you will probably need a ND filter to allow you to use the f/1.4 aperture and a more acceptable 1/48th sec shutter speed
  • try setting AF speed to -1 to + 1 as desired and sensitivity to +1
  • for best image out of camera perhaps avoid OM-LOG
  • set a picture mode to what you desire eg. turn down sharpening, contrast, saturation
  • unfortunately at present, you cannot use the custom modes optimally for video so set the function lever to change to movie mode (mode 3)
  • you can create 1 video profile for slo-mo and 1 for regular recording, then in the quick menu at the bottom right you can switch from 1 profile to another with just 1 or 2 clicks.
  • try adding the digital IS but be aware you get more cropping
  • you will need to use the histogram rather than zebras to assess exposure
  • turn the screen brightness to +7 in the wrench menu when outside to see the proper brightness.
  • some grade with a Fuji LUT
  • use a fast UHS-II SD card in the UHS-11 slot to avoid video being broken up into smaller files - some cards will split at 1.7Gb others at 3.5Gb (eg. SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS1) while maximum size is 4Gb

Getting the exposure correct

  • the camera has excellent exposure metering but this will generally try to give an exposure so the subject is rendered as a 18% grey mid-tone in the image - if your subject is brighter or darker than this you need to use exposure compensation or resort to manual exposure
  • in general for digital cameras, and especially cropped sensor cameras, you generally should “expose to the right” so that your subject is in the higher exposure values where there are more data values available to provide a smoother tonal rendition as well as reduce noise levels
  • if you want to manually expose - see using manual exposure with the Olympus OM-D cameras
  • the camera's exposure can change rapidly if it detects a human face it will expose for the face but as soon as the face is not visible, it will resort to its normal exposure mechanism

exposure metering modes

  • most people just leave metering at the default ESP Evaluative Metering which compares the scene with that in a database and determines the “correct” exposure - see ESP exposure metering in Olympus digital cameras
  • in difficult scenes where the subject is lit differently to the scene and is a small part of the scene, spot metering mode with use of AEL may be a better option
    • there are 3 spot metering modes:
      • normal - the meter will assume a 18% grey mid tone if aiming at Caucasian skin you may need exposure compensation of +1EV
      • Hi - the meter will expose assuming the selected subject is a highlight tone
      • Lo - the meter will expose assuming the selected subject is a shadow tone

how the camera displays exposure

  • a major benefit of mirrorless cameras is that the EVF can almost provide a WYSIWYG image with regard to exposure albeit within some limitations such as:
    • the EVF and the histogram, shadow/highlight warnings are based upon an 8 bit jpeg rendition of the current set exposures within the range of +/- 3 EV under or over-exposure
      • once your exposure is outside of this range your image stays the same either generally dark or generally bright
      • your RAW file will actually have over 1 EV more highlight data which can be used to recover highlights that exceed the 255 value in the histogram/highlight warnings of the jpeg
      • the contrast and colours displayed are based upon your white balance setting and the Picture mode, both of which affects the jpeg output and how the camera determines exposure but not the RAW output
  • you can display a Live Histogram with or without Shadow/Highlight warnings via:
    • Menu:Cog:D1:Info Settings:LV-Info and adjust the options in Custom 1 or Custom 2, ensuring these are ticked so you can cycle through them with the INFO button
  • you can adjust the Histogram and Highlight/Shadow warning levels via:
    • Menu:Cog:D3:Histogram settings

Setting it up for weddings and portraiture work

  • face and eye detect AF tracking
    • thanks to the much improved face detect tracking, most pros are now feeling confident enough to rely on it for much of their work and here is how to optimize this if you are shooting a lot of portraiture
    • for this we will use the lever to select S-AF vs C-AF and the AFL/AEL button to start AF
    • plus we will assign the two front buttons to:
      • 1) turn Face AF on/off
      • 2) ability to select a face from multiple faces
    • in the menu:
      • cog:A1:AEL/AFL choose: S-AF mode 3 and C-AF mode 4 and set Half Way AF to OFF
      • cog:B1:Fn Lever Function to mode 2
      • cog:B1:Button Function: set top front button to Face Priority and set bottom front button to Face Selection
    • now with the camera in lever 1 position, set AF mode to S-AF then move lever to the 2 position and change AF mode to C-AF - now this will be remembered whenever you change the lever button
    • you are set to go!
    • Don't forget to press the AEL/AFL back button to get AF each time!
    • Whenever you want to focus on something other than a face, just use your front button to toggle Face AF off.
    • if you subject is moving then put the lever to 2 and hold down AEL/AFL back button to track their face/eye.
    • if not being able to half-press shutter button to AF troubles you then there is an easy solution to have your cake and eat it too:
      • set cog:A1:AEL/AFL choose: S-AF mode 1 and MF to mode 2
      • have your lever 1 position in AF mode = MF and then you can use the AEL/AFL to lock AF as above, but now you can just change AF mode to S-AF and your camera will operate as most cameras do with half-press shutter button AF

using studio flash

  • Olympus cameras have several ways of “connecting” to flash units or studio strobes:
  • preventing an overly dark viewfinder in indoors flash work:
    • most studio photographers using flash or studio strobes will work in Manual Exposure on the camera and setting ISO, shutter speed and aperture to desired settings and then relying on the flash/strobes to provide the correct light output via whichever mechanism they choose to use (manual flash exposure or TTL flash exposure)
    • the problem with this is the camera will use these manual settings and display a dark viewfinder as it is only attempting to show the ambient exposure and this is generally well under-exposed
    • to address this there are two options:
      • turn Live BOOST ON in Menu:Cog:D2:Live View Boost set Manual Shooting to On1
        • this turns WYSIWYG mode OFF and the LCD and the viewfinder will display an optimised image instead
      • or, use S-OVF but this will only work for the EVF not the rear LCD:
        • assign a button to S-OVF and toggle it on
  • setting up tethered shooting to your laptop

optimizing for manual focus work

  • unfortunately you can no longer assign one of the top buttons to turn MF on/off
  • you can assign the +/- button to Multi which will give you quick access to Magnify and Peaking options
  • set cog:A1:AEL/AFL choose: MF to mode 2
    • with your AF mode = MF , you can use the AEL/AFL to lock AF

optimizing for sports, wildlife and other quickly moving subjects

  • unlike its big brother, the Olympus OMD E-M1X pro sports camera it does not have an AI AF tracking mode for trains, motorbikes and motorcars but it still has awesome AF tracking capabilities
  • consider assigning a “sports mode” to one of the custom settings which can be rapidly accessed on the PASM dial

optimizing autofocus

  • consider setting it up as for weddings as outlined above if you are a back button AF type of person
  • using the in-camera AF limiter to avoid focusing on foreground or background crowds or other subjects

birds in flight

Using auto ISO in Manual exposure mode

  • this is a very useful mode as it gives you full control of aperture and shutter speed so you know you wont get subject blur or camera shake even if the light level drops and you can set your desired depth of field and background blur level as well but you still have the advantage of automatic exposure which is really helpful in rapidly changing light conditions
  • to adjust exposure compensation you have two options:
    • assign the top button to exposure compensation (which is the default setting)
      • then you just hold this button down and rotate the rear dial
    • or set it in another PASM mode then revert back to M
  • fine tune auto ISO by:
    • Menu:Cog:E1:ISO-Auto Set:
      • Upper Limit eg. 3200 or 6400 or what ever you are comfortable with
      • Lowest shutter speed setting (not relevant in Manual exposure mode though): AUTO or you can provide a shutter speed
  • if your auto ISO in the viewfinder is blinking
    • this means your ISO limits are preventing it from giving you the exposure you want

Settings for night, fireworks and astrophotography

  • ensure your viewfinder is not too dark:
    • turn Live Boost ON via Menu:Cog:D2:Live View Boost:
      • set Manual Shooting to On2
      • set Bulb/Time to On2
  • how to achieve accurate focus at night
    • if you are shooting stars, then the new feature to use is Starry Sky AF
    • for other subjects, consider:
      • make your AF point more visible in low light
        • go to Menu:Cog:D3:Grid Settings:Display Color and set to Preset 2 with R 180 and alpha 100%
      • using preset MF
        • this is great for subjects at a fixed distance
        • lock focus once then create a preset in the camera for that distance
        • this is better than just doing a manual focus as it ensures this becomes locked in so you don't accidentally move the lens focus ring and defocus it
      • using AF limiter to assist with AF
        • this will stop the camera hunting on closer focus distances and make AF acquisition faster
        • set closest distance to near your subject (for stars this would be almost infinity)
      • use magnified view MF
        • the image stabiliser working with magnified view allows you to gain accurate focus in many situations where AF will fail
        • ensure you have MF Assist Magnify turned ON in the menu, or you have assigned magnify to a button
  • set ISO to your desired setting eg. 3200
  • set a custom WB or perhaps sunny day WB
  • set file type to RAW
  • you may wish to set a self-timer to minimize shake if the exposures are short or you are using a telephoto lens or telescope
  • long exposures add thermal digital noise to your image, these are easily removed via either:
    • setting Menu:Cog:E1:Noise Reduction to AUTO (default) - this will automatically take a “dark frame” of the same exposure duration and automatically subtract it from your RAW file, but this does double the time it takes to take your photos
    • or you can turn this feature OFF and create a dark frame manually with the lens cap in place and use this in Photoshop as a Dark Frame to subtract from all your RAW images manually.
  • PASM set to either:
    • M - this will allow timed exposures up to 60secs
      • 10-20secs is probably best for astroscapes with wide angle lenses
    • B - this will allow even longer exposures with various options via the rear dial:
      • BULB but requires use of a shutter release lock mechanism
        • optionally you can view the exposure as it develops via go to Menu:Cog:E2: Live BULB = ON
        • press Menu to select how frequently the display should be updated with the exposure
        • press shutter to start exposure and press it again to stop it - no need for a remote release
      • LIVE COMPOSITE which is great for star trails, fireworks, etc see Olympus Live Composite mode
        • go to Menu:Cog:E2 and adjust Live Composite Timer to set the maximum time for the cumulative exposures to run (up to 6hrs - if you have AC power or sufficient battery)
        • press Menu to select your base exposure duration, subsequent exposures will only add anything that is brighter than in the base exposure
        • press shutter to start exposure and press it again to stop it - no need for a remote release
photo/olympusem1iii_settings.txt · Last modified: 2020/06/04 01:10 by gary1

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