Five Things You May Not Know Your OM-D Can Do

As you may know if you read this blog much, I’m pretty hooked on micro four thirds in general and the Olympus OM-D in particular. One gripe I do have about the OM-D however is that the user manual sucks! I don’t have a problem that it only comes in electronic form (though I think it’s a bit cheapskate for a camera costing this much) however what I do have a problem with is that the indexing is rubbish and their is no hyper-linking so finding out about a particular feature or how something works is extremely hard, if not impossible. There has to be some money made by someone to produce a well indexed, well laid out book, that has an e-book format available with good hyper-links, to aid the rapid finding and understanding of information. In the meantime here are five things I have found out through trial and error or that others have passed on that you might not know.

  1. Use of art filters in manual mode. Art filters are one of the features I never thought I would use much on a camera however I really love the OM-D ones. The usual/most straight forward way of selecting these is via the mode dial (on the top left of the camera looked at from the back). If you select art filters in this way then the camera is put into aperture priority mode (i.e. you select the aperture, the camera selects the shutter speed). This is fine for most situations however to obtain ultimate, manual control you need to select filters from the menu. Go to Menu/Shooting Menu 1/Picture Mode. By default picture mode is set to Natural however if you scroll down you will see all the art modes are available here as well. You will also find some of them have more options available. For example Grainy Film has two type of grain whilst Soft Focus has White Edge or Star Light effects. Selecting filters in this way means you can set the mode dial to manual and retain full control. Great if you’re working in the studio with off camera flash.
  2. Changing the layout in the EVF display. I find the default layout of the electronic viewfinder display to be not that complete or useful. The default is set to Style 3 and there are two other styles you can select. To change go to Menu/Custom Menu/Built-In EVF then select Built-In EVF Style. You will see there are three options with Style 3 selected by default. Style 1 and Style 2 give a nicer layout along the bottom of the viewfinder showing, from left to right: battery status, exposure mode, shutter speed, aperture,  exposure compensation, white balance, ISO and image number. You can add further information to the display by pressing the Info button multiple times.
  3. Setting image stabilization to work on half shutter press. The 5-axis image stabilization (IS) in the OM-D is one of the great differentiating features of this camera in my opinion. By default this works when you fully depress the shutter release. However you also have the option of engaging the IS when pressing the shutter half way. This is useful if you have a long lens you are having trouble framing the subject with because you can’t keep it still. To switch to this mode go to Menu/Custom Menu/Release then select Half Way Rls With IS. By default this is Off but if you select On you will enable the IS when you half depress the shutter. The downside of this is there is a slight whirring noise as the IS kicks in.
  4. Changing the default battery. If you have the additional power battery holder (PBH) attached all/most of the time like I do then by default the camera uses the battery in the PBH first and you may find yourself just using that battery most of the time, not giving the camera battery opportunity to discharge occasionally.  You can change the order in which the batteries are used at Menu/Custom Menu/Utility then select Battery Priority. You will see PBH Battery is selected by default. You can change this to Body Battery.
  5. Change the image aspect. By default the image proportions from the OM-D are 4:3 (hence the fact it’s a four thirds sensor right?). However you don’t have to live with that. Going to Menu/Shooting Menu 1/Image Aspect allows you to additionally select  16:9, 3:2, 1:1 or 3:4 image proportions. Yes, I know you can crop to these proportions during post processing however it’s sometimes nice to use different formats to guide you when framing an image. I particularly like 3:4 as it gives you portrait orientation without rotating the camera whilst 1:1 (i.e. square) provides a nice alternate, ‘polaroid’ type image.

Like any complex piece of technology the OM-D requires some investigation and practical use to really get to know well. There are loads of things I have still not got to grips with but the more I learn about it the more I love this camera.

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