Customizing your E-M1 Mk.II

Make it work your way

My other articles related to the OM-D cameras

See also: The E-M1 Mk.II Cheat Sheet and setup file (v.1.11).

Table of Contents



Traditionally, Olympus cameras offer unequalled degree of customization and tweakability. This allows us, photographers, to set them up in a way meeting our preferences, taste, and working habits, at a price of complexity, and often confusion, of the customization process.

The E-M1, especially in the Mark II incarnation, has more shooting and setup options than any other Olympus camera up to date: about 300 various settings. This makes the process more painful, confusing, and error-prone than for other models, and this is why you really may need this write-up.


Conventions used

The settings and preferences available can be roughly divided into three groups; to make my job easier and to avoid repetitiveness in the text, I'm going to color-code them as follows:

  • Red: General preferences, user interface customization, and some other settings which would usually be set just once and then left alone.

    Examples: button binding, EV step in adjustments.

  • Yellow: Some picture-taking settings which may be adjusted for a given shooting session (or, rarely, a part of it), but not really often.

    It is essential that you develop a habit of resetting these to defaults as soon as they are no longer needed, and to check them every time you turn the camera on; otherwise you may experience some surprises.

    Examples: drive mode, AF mode, white balance.

  • Green: Shooting parameters likely to be adjusted quite often, sometimes from one frame to another.

    These do not really customize your camera, but it is handy to keep some reasonable defaults stored in one of the custom slots, so that your camera is more or less ready when you switch.

    Examples: aperture, exposure compensation, AF point selection.

  • Blue: These are menu entries unrelated to preferences or camera settings; most often to perform some operation, or to access some information.

    Example: Card formatting, pixel mapping, firmware version lookup.

  • Sub-menu headers: these do nothing except branching into a submenu; listed here (in default black) just to make navigation easier.

Unavoidably, there will be some overlap between the first three groups, so my color coding is just a general guidance, not a strict rule.

A gray box like this denotes my gripes, remarks, and suggestions, most often related to the user interface. You may skip these, if you wish, without losing any useful information.

First, some general remarks on the subject.

A good thumb rule of user interface design is that the more often a given option or setting may be accessed, the easier that access should be. Therefore, an ideal design of camera's UI would be something like this:

  1. One-time settings: from the menu system;
  2. Session settings: from the Control Panel (or other easily-accessible screen UI);
  3. Shooting settings: from the direct, external interface (buttons, dials, levers), with an easy status lookup in [2] above.
  4. Non-settings: a separate menu branch or another interface distinct from the settings one.

To some extent, Olympus designers try to follow these rules, but not always hard enough. This, together with often arbitrary assignment of an option to a particular menu branch, is responsible for 80% of pain and confusion we experience accessing the camera's options.

Most of the remainder is due to bad English and clumsy or inconsistent naming. When I show the original menu interface text, it is framed.

To avoid textual repetitiveness, I've introduced some tags which may appear next to a function/setting name:

  • [BF] or [F] denotes that the setting is returned to a factory default at both Basic and Full Reset or at Full Reset only.

    These resets are done from Item 1.1 in the menu, see below.

  • [C] — the setting is saved as a part of a selected Custom Setup (see 1.1 below, again).
  • [JPG] means that a given setting affects only the process of raw-to-RGB conversion, after the picture has been taken, but before a JPEG file is saved to the memory card. If an image is saved as a raw (ORF) file, you may set the parameter when that is being converted in postprocessing.

    The value set is, however, stored in the ORF file and will be used if, during the postprocessing with Olympus software, you choose the As Shot option.

  • [SCP] — the option can be set from the Super Control Panel.
  • [scp] — the option cannot be set from the Super Control Panel, but the selection is shown there.
  • [But] — the option can be set from the direct (button/dial) interface.

In this walkthrough I'm following the order in which the preferences or settings are listed in the menu system. While this is not the most logical or task-oriented order, it will save you a need to traverse the menu tree many times.

Many menu item names are shown in two versions. The second one, in a frame like this, is exactly what you see in the menu (icons and/or text, English version); the first one is my translation into, hopefully, something more meaningful, descriptive, or just proper English.

NOTE: Upgrading the firmware no longer will require going through the whole setup again. With the E-M1 Mk.II, the Olympus Update application saves the camera status (including custom slots), then updates the firmware, and, finally, loads the status back. (Just recently, this has been added to the firmware of the E-M5 Mk.II and Pen F, a welcome change!)


0. Settings not in the Menu

These settings are not accessible from the menu system. This makes the menu structure simpler. Still, you may want to adjust them before storing the setup in one of the Custom Modes.

0.1. Exposure Compensation [BF] [C] [scp]

This may change from one frame to another, but you need a default value to be used after a quick switch to a custom mode. Zero makes best sense here.

Use the Exposure Shift to calibrate autoexposure to your liking.


0.2. Flash Mode [BF] [C] [SCP]

As the camera has no built-in flash, I would keep this at (Always On) and change as needed when the flash is mounted.


0.3. AF Target [BF] [C] [SCP] [But]

The used AF target pattern can be chosen as: Single Spot, Square (3×3), Cross (3×3), or Full Grid.

As Single AF is my customization default, Single Spot is my preference here: I like to have a say where in the frame the focus is actually set.

Some patterns can be excluded from the sequence of available choices; this is done in Item A1.6.


1. Shooting 1
1 Shooting Menu 1

This menu consists of two distinct parts. First, has a branch performing camera reset and custom setup operations. Second, a number of branches used to set some basic shooting parameters or to switch between shooting modes.


1.1. Reset & Custom
Reset / Custom Modes

There are no option settings in this submenu. It contains two kinds of reset and custom mode save/restore operations, discussed elsewhere.


1.2. Picture Mode
Picture Mode [BF] [C] [JPG] [SCP]

This sub-menu allows you to adjust a number of Picture Modes, each being a set of image-processing parameters. From here you can also select the mode for the camera to use. Both functions can be accessed more conveniently from the Control Panel.

There are four basic color Picture Modes, one monochrome, and one — user-defined. Each of these (with some exceptions) stores a combination of contrast, sharpness, and saturation adjustments, plus a choice of Gradation between Normal, Low Key, High Key, and Auto

  • Three "traditional" Olympus Picture Modes (named Vivid, Natural, and Muted); each stores its own combination of contrast, sharpness, and saturation, as well as a selected Gradation
  • The Portrait mode offers and stores the same adjustments. It also moves up the mid-tones and shadows. Possibly, it may do more, but it remains undocumented.
  • The Monochrome mode has contrast and sharpness adjustments, plus a Filter setting, simulating color filter use in B&W photography. The choices are Yellow, Orange, Red, Green, or None. In particular, the first three darken blue skies (red being the strongest).

    Images in this mode can be tinted to Purple, Blue, Sepia or Green, or left black-and white (Neutral). I recommend postponing this to the postprocessing stage, if ever.

  • To set or adjust the Custom (user-defined) Picture Mode, you first choose a "parent mode" from the above, and then adjust image parameters.

Now the messy part begins. Olympus also adds to this menu not only two extra Picture Modes, brilliantly named i-Enhance and e-Portrait (of course, not explained in the manual), but also all 30 Art Filters.

For crying out loud, these already have their own Mode Dial slot, where they sit quiet until needed (if ever); why bringing them into the middle of image adjustment parameters?

To keep your sanity, use menu Item D1.3 to exclude Art Filters from the Picture Mode sequence. Unfortunately, they will also become inaccessible through the Mode Dial, although they still can be all selected for Art Bracketing.

I would also recommend getting rid of the vowel-Modes, unless you want to do some experimentation with them.

Now we are ready to adjust the parameters for each individual Picture Mode left on our list.

The e-Portrait mode offers no adjustments, so we leave it alone, if present, while i-Enhance has an extra parameter named Effect, which can be set to Low, Standard, or High.

The contrast, sharpness, and saturation values you choose for a given mode are not absolute; they are applied on top of a base offset assigned by the designers to each mode.

The undocumented base values are shown in the first column, followed by my recommended adjustments (Adjust), and by the resulting absolute settings (Total). Gradation is shown only if it differs from the default Normal.

Picture Mode Parameter Base Adjust Total
Sharpness 0 -1 -1
Contrast 0 0 0
Saturation 0 0 0
Effect Standard Standard
Sharpness +1 -2 -1
Contrast 0 0 0
Saturation +1 0 +1
Sharpness 0 -1 -1
Contrast 0 -1 -1
Saturation 0 0 0
Sharpness -1 0 -1
Contrast -1 -1 -2
Saturation 0 -1 -1
Sharpness -1 -1 -2
Contrast 0 -2 -2
Saturation 0 -1 -1
Sharpness 0 -1 -1
Contrast 0 -1 -1
Filter None Orange
Picture Tone Neutral Neutral
Parent Mode Natural Natural
Sharpness 0 -1 -1
Contrast 0 -1 -1
Saturation 0 0 0
Gradation Normal Auto

The Custom mode inherits from its parent the base (offset) values, but not any adjustments. In my setup it is identical to Natural with Auto gradation enabled.

Larger sharpness adjustment I'm using in Vivid brings the absolute sharpening to the same level as in Natural. I found that higher settings can produce visible artifacts.

Treat my preferences largely as a matter of taste, possibly a starting point to your own custom setup. Still, it is unlikely that you will need to adjust any parameters upwards.


1.3. Size & Compression
[BF] [C] [JPG] [SCP]

Here you choose how the image is saved to the memory card. There are three basic options:

  1. Raw (ORF) file;
  2. JPEG file in one of the possible combinations of pixel size (Large, Medium, Small) and compression/quality (Superfine, Fine, Normal, Basic);
  3. Both [1] and [2] above.

To make things more complicated, the four size/compression combinations available in [2] are set in menu item G.1, and the actual pixel sizes of Medium and Small — in G.2 (Large is always the full pixel resolution).

Then I defined all my four combinations (see Items G.1 and G.2) as L SF, one of them as the preferred format. Now I cannot accidentally switch to anything else: all I can store are highest-quality, full-resolution L SF JPEGs or raw files.

Actually, instead of nine menu options (eight containing a choice of one of four JPEG formats), just three would be enough, with another menu to choose the JPEG flavor. (This would affect the SCP interface, either requiring an extra field, or making JPEG parameters not accessible. Fine with me.)

A less drastic modification could allow to define fewer than four JPEG formats, hiding the undefined ones .

Besides, in 17 (!) years of using this system on various Olympus cameras, I've never used anything other than L SF, so, to tell the truth, I consider all this effort wasted anyway.

All this said, I think your real choice will be between Raw, JPEG, and Raw+JPEG, with JPEG using the L SF size/compression combination. Which of the three to choose is a very personal decision and I'm not going into any disputes on the subject. Still, if you are not quite sure what to choose, have a look at my old, but still perfectly valid, article on raw files.


1.4. Aspect Ratio
Image Aspect [BF] [C] [JPG] [SCP]

The native (full-sensor) μFT aspect ratio is 4:3. These proportions are generally most pleasing for most horizontally-framed images and, after inverting to 3:4, for almost all vertically ones. This is also best fit for standard print sizes — with a prominent exception of 4×6" (10×15 cm).

Other ratios are provided here, which is done by cropping and does not affect raw images. These ratios are:

  • 3:2 — more pleasing for many landscapes; best fit to the 4×6" print format;
  • 16:9 — used in HD video, all TV sets and most monitors; again, works well with wide vistas;
  • 1:1 — a square; requires a different approach to image composition; that's why some photographers like it;
  • 3:4 — inverted native ratio: shoot vertically-framed pictures while holding the camera horizontally.

Obviously, if you are shooting in the 4:3 aspect ratio, you can crop the image to any other ratio in postprocessing; nothing is lost if you change your mind.

For this and other reasons, most users choose and stick to it; so do I most of the time (but not always).

One argument in favor of cropping the image at the shooting stage is, that the finder preview is shown cropped, which greatly aids in composing, removing all guesswork.

Also, if your choice is 3:2, the cropped finder image fits best with EVF style 1 or 2 (see Item I.3).

If you are using the Raw image format, you get the cropped finder view, but the actual cropping is postponed till the postprocessing stage, where you can choose the aspect ratio "as shot" or change your mind.


1.5. Digital Tele
Digital Tele-converter [BF] [C] [JPG] [scp]

When this option is active, the camera uses only a central part of the image to be viewed and saved (after resizing the crop to the full, nominal resolution). The effect is like doubling the focal length at the expense of reducing the pixel count from 20 to 5 MP, followed by upsampling back to 20 MP.

If needed, this can be easily (and better) done in postprocessing, at the expense of no enlarged view in the finder. I strongly recommend turning this feature Off and forgetting about its existence.


1.6. Drive & Lapse

This is a sub-menu with just two entries.

1.6.1. Drive Mode
[BF] [C] [SCP] [But]

Here you can set the drive mode to one of the following:

Single Frame 2s 2s Self-Timer
Steady Single Frame 2s Steady 2s Self-Timer
Silent Single Frame 2s Silent 2s Self-Timer
L Sequential Low 12s 12s Self-Timer
L Steady Sequential Low 12s Steady 12s Self-Timer
L Silent Sequential Low 12s Silent 12s Self-Timer
H Sequential High C Custom Self-Timer
H Silent Sequential High C Steady Custom Self-Ti mer
H Pro Capture High C Silent Custom Self-Timer
L Pro Capture Low High Res

No, I'm not inventing this: there may be up to 20 entries in this menu; the same in the SCP or direct button/dial interface!

You may use one of the Settings sub-menus (Item D1.4) to remove any of the choices from the sequence shown, but it helps just a little bit; we will return to this painful subject when we discuss that menu.

For the time being, let us note that this mess affects only the shooting process, but not the initial setup, in which Single Frame seems to be the only reasonable choice.

This submenu, with functionality duplicated both in Control Panel and button/dial interface, could (and should) be safely removed from the menu system. The long sequence of drive modes would still have to be fixed even then.

Some of these drive modes use shutter in special ways (shutter modes); here is a brief introduction:

  • Steady Shutter a.k.a. Anti-Shock. In this mode exposure starts by electronic gating, without mechanically opening the shutter (which is already open). This greatly reduces a possibility of camera-shake blur.
  • Silent Shutter: the exposure is both started and ended by electronic gating, therefore the process is, yes, you've guessed right, completely silent, in addition to the camera being more steady, see above.
  • Pro Capture: When the shutter button is half-down, the camera starts shooting at a very high rate, keeping up to 14 most recent frames in a buffer and discarding any older. On a full press it starts writing the buffer out, while keeping on shooting. This way, we can capture the action which happened just before the button was fully pressed.
  • High Res —shutter fires eight times and all exposures are combined into one frame of a higher resolution.


1.6.2. Time Lapse
Intrvl. Sh./Time Lapse [BF]

This submenu is used for switching to the time-lapse sequence shooting mode and for setting its parameters. In camera setup, obviously, it should be set to Off.

I think the Time Lapse mode should be added to Item 1.6.1 above, so only parameter setting would be left here.

For time-lapse shooting, in addition to choosing On, you will have to set a number of parameters. In the original naming by Olympus, these are:

  • Number of Frames (up to 999)
  • Start Waiting Time — the initial delay
  • Interval Length — time step between frames
  • Time Lapse Movie — enables stitching of sequence frames into a movie clip
  • Movie Settings — define movie resolution (HD, Full HD, or 4K) and frame rate (5, 10, 15, or 30 FPS, with the top value depending on resolution).


2. Shooting 2
1 Shooting Menu 2

Another grab bag of functions and settings likely to be used or changed quite frequently.

2.1. Bracketing
Bracketing [BF] [C]

The E-M1 Mk.2, like other recent cameras by Olympus, allows for bracketing in quite a number of parameters. Choosing Off here disables bracketing in all of them, and this is the natural recommendation for camera setup.

This does not close the subject, though, as it is nice to have a fully-defined bracketing setup, which can be activated with one press of a button. Without any doubt, the best candidate for that is exposure bracketing.

This camera boasts no less than 7 kinds of bracketing: exposure, flash, ISO, WB (twice: in two color dimensions), focus, and art. Of these, only exposure bracketing is really useful (although flash and ISO bracketing may have some practical applications); the others are either worthless or should not be considered bracketing at all.

This is not the place for a full discussion of bracketing in the OM-D series. I will only say that this implementation is full of perhaps the worst design decisions Olympus made in a long time. We will come back to this issue one day.

To pre-set the exposure bracketing, select On and then AE BKT. Fron the next menu, choose a combination: how many frames and with what step in exposure. When I bracket, I usually shoot three frames with a spacing of 1/3 EV, but in this kind of setup I decided for 3 frames and 2/3 EV. Now, back to the On/Off choice and select Off. Done.

Or, if you want to play it really safe, use 5 frames and 2/3 EV.

Now, to turn the pre-configured AE bracketing on ot off, just short-press the bracketing button.

Which button is that? It depends. You may assign a button to this function in two ways.

  • Activate the button-switching option in Item B.4.2. Now, whenever the Fn Lever is in position 2, the front knob button (usually accessing drive modes) will access bracketing: toggle (short press) or setup (long press).
  • If you do not want the lever to affect how knob buttons work, you still can assign one of the other buttons to this function, see Item B.1.

The bad news is that turning the bracketing on does not put the camera in a serial drive mode. You have to do it yourself, or — release the shutter an many times as needed, counting the frames yourself.


2.2. High Dynamic Range
HDR [BF] [C]

This is related to exposure bracketing: a number of frames is shot with varying exposure shift, and these frames are used to produce one HDR JPEG file.

Again, in the camera customization setup this will be set to Off, activated only on a session or frame-to-frame basis as needed.


2.3. Multiple Exposure
Multiple Exposure [BF]

This enables superposition of multiple exposures in one image — something you set for a single shooting session, or even a single picture. In the default setup it should be, obviously, Off.


2.4. Perspective Correction
Keystone Comp. [BF] [C]

Off again.


2.5. Shutter Modes
Anti-Shock [] / Silent []

This is a sub-menu dealing with two special shutter modes, in which the exposure starts or starts and ends with electronically (gating), as opposed to mechanical opening/closing of a shutter curtain. See Item 1.6 for a description.

Here you set up the availability and parameters of these modes; the decision on actually using them is made by selecting a particular Drive Mode.

This is why I would consider moving this branch to the Customization menu.


2.5.1. Steady
Anti-Shock [] [F] [C]

Here you can disable this feature, or enable it and set the delay between pressing the shutter release and the start of the exposure: from 0 to 30 seconds. My selection is. at present, 1/4 s.

If you disable the Steady shutter mode, then all Drive Modes using it will also be disabled, regardless of their inclusion in the sequence defined in Item D1.4.


2.5.2. Silent
Silent [] [F] [C]l

Like above, here you can set the shutter opening delay or disable this mode (which will also remove all dependent drive modes from the sequence, overriding any settings in Item D1.4 ).

My choice for the Silent mode is Off.


2.5.3. Silent Noise Reduction
Noise Reduction [] [F] [C]

You can disable Noise Reduction specifically for the Silent shutter mode. Do it. (See also Item E1.7).

This item should be moved to become a part of Silent Mode Settings (2.5.4).


2.5.4. Silent Mode Settings
Silent [] Mode Settings [F] [C]

Three options here, each presenting an On/Off choice:

  • Beep
  • AF Illuminator AF Illuminator
  • Flash Flash Mode

For all three Off makes best choice as a customization preset — just in case if I ever restore the Silent mode.

The choices are spelled out as Allow and Not Allow. Simple On/Off would be better.


2.6. High Res
High Res Shot [F] [C]

Here you decide on including (or not) High Res (see 1.6) to the sequence of available Drive Modes, not on actually using it in a given case.

If you decide to keep this option open, you also set the initial shutter release delay (4 or 8 seconds seems to make sense) and the spacing between the eight component exposures, allowing the flash (if used) to recharge. The latter is applicable only to non-dedicated flash units; if you use an Olympus flash (or none), keep it at zero.


2.7. Remote Flash
RC Mode [BF] [C]

Set it to On only if you are using the Olympus system of multiple, remotely-controlled flash units. Most people will keep it at Off.


3. Video
Video Menu

I don't do videography, therefore I don't feel competent to write on this subject. You have to look elsewhere for information and advice.


4. Playback
Playback Menu

This menu contains no settings — it is used to access operations related to playback and editing of pictures already taken. Parameters used in those operations are tweaked as all others — in the Customization menu (D1.2).


5. Customization
Custom Menu

This is one huge monster of a menu, and navigating it sometimes may be a challenge. Fortunately, it contains mostly one-time setup (Red) items, and therefore, once set and tweaked, it should be seldom, if ever, revisited,

This menu contains far more options than all others combined, so for easier navigation it branches into 20 (yes: twenty!) submenus, from A1 to J2.

Technically, these are not submenus, as after reaching the end of one, further scrolling moves you to the next submenu; this works more like bookmarks (or pages) in a flat list.


A1. Focusing 1

The first of three (!) pages used for customization of the focusing process.

A1.1 AF Mode
AF Mode [BF] [C] [SCP] [But]

You can choose between S-AF (Single AF), C-AF (Continuous AF), MF (Manual Focus), S-AF+MF (manually-adjusted), C-AF+TR (tracking), and Preset MF (using a previously-defined value). For initial setup, S-AF may be most practical, although you may want to define a separate custom mode for action shooting, using (among others) C-AF or C-AF+TR.

Placing this in the Customization menu must be a misunderstanding. This is just a shooting parameter, which may change from one session to another, or even more often — no different than Drive Mode (1.6.1) or Size & Compression (1.3).

As this functionality is also available from both Control Panel and direct interface, the best solution would be just removing it from the menu system at all.


A1.2. AE & AF Locking

This is one of the more important settings in the camera customization process.

It is used to define how the camera's AE and AF functions work when the [Lock] button and/or the shutter release are pressed.

This choice is made independently for each basic focusing mode: single, continuous, and manual. In each case you choose one of the pre-packaged combinations.

Switching between SAF, CAF, and MF is not done from here; you can do it either from the Control Panel or with use of a direct button.

The factory-default presets used here make good sense. Still, if you know what you want, they may be worth changing to your taste. (Another option is to follow my advice, skip the details and jump straight to my recommendations, which are not much different.)

Here is the list of available options.

In the table, [Lock] means pressing the button, and [½] — pressing the shutter release half-way down (intentionally or on the way to a full press). "Not locked" means that the function (AE, AF) continues to update the readings until the exposure, i.e., until the mirror goes up. Factory defaults and my recommendations are shown with ticks in columns (F) and (W).

Focusing Mode F W Autoexposure Autofocus
Single AF S:1

Locked with [Lock], otherwise with [½] Locked with [½]
S:2 Locked with [Lock], otherwise not locked
S:3 Locked with [½] Established with [Lock] and then not active
Continuous AF C:1

Locked with [Lock], otherwise with [½] Tracked while [½] is half-down; not locked

Locked with [Lock], otherwise not locked
C:3 Locked with [½] Tracked while [Lock] is down, then not active
C:4 Never locked (updated until exposure)
Manual Focus M:1

Locked with [Lock], otherwise with [½] Not active
M:2 Locked with [Lock], otherwise not locked

Locked with [½] Established with [Lock] and then not active

Note that options S:3, C:3, and M:3 are almost identical: the camera stays in manual focus mode, with AF "on demand", activated when [Lock] is pressed. (C:4 is an additional flavor of this, with AE updating till the end.) The only differences are that in C:3 (and C:4) the focus is tracked while [Lock] is held down, and that the focus ring on the lens will be operational only if one of the "+M" modes (or MF) is active, or if the given lens has an all-time, mechanical focus coupling (like the 12-40 mm MZD).

Another pattern is that the autoexposure is handled identically in S:1, C:1, and M:1; this is also the case between S:2, C:2, and M:2, as well as between S:3, C:3, and M:3.

A closer look shows that the arrangement is not arbitrary, and all these options can be useful for some users in some situations.

It makes sense to choose, for each focusing mode, the option best fitting your needs and working habits, and then forget about it. Changing the lock arrangement on the fly seems like a bad idea, as it would inevitably lead to confusion and unintended camera behavior.

Recommendation: The factory defaults, [S:1 C:2 M:1], make good sense, so you will be just fine keeping them. My personal preference is [S:1 C:1 M:3] which makes SAF and CAF modes similar, and which allows me to use AF on demand in the MF mode by pressing the [Lock] button. I found this very useful, especially for tripod work.


A1.3. AF Scan
AF Scanner [BF] [C]

When the AF system cannot establish focus, it scans the whole focus range again. This behavior can be limited or disabled here.

There are three options; in original spelling they are:

  • mode1 — scan disabled
  • mode2 — scan enabled just once
  • mode3 — multiple scans enabled

Of these, mode2 seems, to me at least, the preferred general-use choice in initial setup.

Adding names like mode1 to a project using entirely different naming convention (capitalization, spaces) is like walking in public with your zipper fly open: it doesn't do any real harm, but you just don't do it, at least not knowingly.

It shows lack of respect for software users and development teammates. Worse, it is an indication that the software QA department is not paying attention, so it is likely that there may be some real problems in the software.

Of course, more descriptive option names, like Off, Once, and Multi (or just On) would be even better.


A1.4. C-AF Lock
C-AF Lock [BF] [C]

This is a protection against the camera refocusing in the C-AF mode when something crosses the field of view (like people passing between the camera and the subject). It simply disables the focus adjustment if the change is large and sudden.

The setting is entered as a whole value from -2 to +2. Negative values are referred to as Tight, positive — as Loose. At higher values switching to a new AF target happens more easily.

For most users, the default zero setting makes sense here.


A1.5. AF Limits
AF Limiter [BF] [C]

Autofocusing will be made faster and more reliable if the AF search is narrowed down to a preset distance range.

For example, shooting a baseball game we may want to set that range to be from 10 meters to infinity, while for a butterfly session — from 20 to 80 cm (this may depend on the lens used, too).

This sub-menu serves two purposes: it allows you to predefine three distance ranges, but also to choose one of them (or none) to be applied.

Focus-limit activation is definitely a shot-by-shot or session-level setting, therefore I would greatly prefer having it moved to the Shooting 1 menu (or even to the SCP, with a direct interface option). AF range setup would then stay here, although increasing the number of presets to four (or even five, but not more) would be nice.

Obviously, this option will be set to Off in camera customization, but I also have the three distance ranges predefined, to be activated as needed. These ranges are:

  • 0 to 1.0 m
  • .8 to 3.0 m
  • 2.0 to 999.9 m (infinity)


A1.6. AF Targets
Settings [BF] [C]

Here we choose, which AF target patterns will show up in the sequence displayed when the used target is being set (Item 0.3).

My setup includes, in addition to Single Spot (which cannot be hidden), Full Grid and Square. So far I haven't found any use for the Cross pattern, but maybe one day I will.


A1.7. AF Target Outline
AF Area Pointer [BF] [C]

If the actually selected AF pattern is Single Spot, Square, or Cross, its outline (corner points) can be discreetly shown in the viewfinder or monitor, very much like etching on a classic SLR groundglass. Here we define if and when it happens: Off (never), On1 (full-time) or On2 (release button half-pressed).

As the outline is not distractive at all, full-time (On1) is my recommended choice.

Wrong option naming, again. On, Off, and Release (or similar) would be more informative.


A2. Focusing 2

Second page of settings related to Manual/Auto Focus.


A2.1. EVF Touch Target
AF Targeting Pad [BF] [C]

With this enabled, you can slide your finger around the monitor screen (inactive at the moment), to move the AF target around while the eye-level EVF is being used. (This is different than tapping the active monitor to set the target!)

Setting this to On is not enough to activate this feature: you also have to enable the touch screen in Item J1.4 (the status of the screen-touch icon at bottom-left does not matter here).

I've given this option a try and I can say that moving the AF target around with a thumb squeezed between my cheek and the monitor is not my ideal way of doing things, to say the least.

Anyway, as I have the entire touch interface disabled (in J1.4), this setting does not really matter. Just to keep things neat, I keep it at Off.


A2.2. Set AF Home
Set Home [BF]

Here you define the AF settings to which the camera will revert when the [AF Home] often shown as function is executed.

This function, by default not assigned to any button, can be bound, as many others, to a button of your choice (see Item B.1).

It should not be confused with another functionality: long-pressing [OK] while in the AF Area Select interface (by default, bound to [Fn1]). That will only reset the AF target position.

Three parameters, as listed below, can be memorized here (each can be also disabled). As I am using mostly the Single AF, my recommendations will suit that mode; you may have to modify them if Continuous AF is your preference.

Note that these three settings are not saved as a part of Custom Modes.

This is a strange design decision, and I can't imagine a rationale behind it. It would, for example, make a perfect sense to have two custom modes: one for stationary subjects and one for action, each with a different Home setup.

The outcome is that, in order to get full and quick access to this part of the AF functionality, we will need to assign two buttons: one to AF Area Select (by default: [Fn1]) and one acting as an AF Home toggle.

Maybe an option for the long [OK] press, mentioned above, to act as an AF Home toggle, would help here?


A2.2.1. AF Mode
AF Mode [BF]

The choice is between all six modes as listed in Item A1.1 or accessible from the direct interface. For most users, S-AF will be a safe, reasonable choice.

A2.2.2. AF Target

Among available target patterns, for Single AF a single-point target is my preference. For any of the continuous AF modes, a larger one may make sense.

A2.2.3. AF Target Position

Centered AF target as Home is the only sensible choice, this deep in a rarely-accessed customization menu. I just can't imagine why would I want to have it any other way.


A2.3. AF Area Config
Custom Settings [BF] [C]

This allows you to configure the AF Area interface, used to set the shape and location of the AF target as well as face detection preferences. (It does not set those parameters, only defines the interface used to do it.) You can define one or two interfaces and choose the one to be used.

Actually, the only choice you make is which dial controls the target shape; the other one will be used for face priority.

A needlessly complicated and confusing design. One binary choice would be enough.


A2.4. AF Illuminator
AF Illuminator [BF] [C]

If you don't shoot in near-darkness, and if you find the red AF light distracting (like I do), then set this to Off.


A2.5. Face Priority
Face Priority [F] [C]

With both AF and Face Priority active, the latter will take over whenever it detects a human face in the frame, regardless of the current AF Area settings.

As the face-detection techniques improved a lot in the last six or eight years, I wouldn't any longer be afraid to include Face Priority in my customization. If so, the Near Eye i mode would be my choice.


A2.6. AF Adjustment
AF Focus Adj. [BF] [C]

Stay away from this, unless you really, really, really know what you are doing. But then, what would you be doing here?


A3. Focusing 3

The last of three pages devoted to that subject.


A3.1. Preset MF Distance
Preset MF Distance [BF] [C]

The focus will be set to this value whenever you switch to the Preset MF mode. The factory default of 999.9 m (infinity) makes sense, but is wasteful compared to using the hyperfocal distance.

The firmware knows the current focal distance and the aperture about to be used. Adding to that the user-chosen resolution tolerance (Circle of Confusion size) of one, two, or more pixels, it can compute the hyperfocal distance for this combination.

For a 25 mm μFT lens at F/5.6, the hyperfocal distance is 7.5 m (using the classic CoC of F/1440).

Setting focus for that distance, we would get satisfactory sharpness from ½ of it (here: 3.75 m) to infinity. Setting it for infinity, the sharp zone will only start at hyperfocal (7.5 m). Really, a waste.

A Hyperfocal MF mode would be a great (and cheap!) addition.


A3.2. MF Assist
MF Assist [F] [C]

The camera may be set up to activate viewfinder magnification (see D2.4) and/or peaking (D3.2) automatically every time the focusing ring is moving. Nice, because you do not have to enable these features explicitly.

Initially, I kept them both On, but when I started actually using manual focus, the automatic finder magnification turned to be a hindrance rather than help. This is why now I have magnification Off and peaking On.


A3.3. MF Clutch
MF Clutch [BF] [C]

The Manual Focus Clutch is one of the extra features of the premium MZD Pro lens line. With the camera set to AF, it allows you to switch to MF and back by pulling or pushing the lens focus ring, with the distance scale showing or hiding as needed. Fast, convenient, and intuitive.

Still, if you rarely use manual focus, you may choose to disable the clutch, to avoid accidental focus mode switching (it happened to me more than once).

The menu options to do that are Operative and Inoperative. Why not On/Off?


A3.4. Focus Ring
Focus Ring [BF] [C]

This option sets how you turn the Manual Focus ring to get to infinity: or . Obviously, it works only with lenses using fly-by-wire, electronic focusing.

Set this to counter-clockwise, as this is how mechanically-coupled Zuikos work, and forget about it.

Using a system with some lenses focusing in one direction and some in the other, just to get the first group consistent with legacy Nikkors? Now we get inconsistency not only between different systems, but even within one of them. This option only makes the menu tree more convoluted.


A3.5. Bulb & Time Focus
Bulb/Time Focusing [BF] [C]

Use this to enable or disable manual focus adjustment when a Bulb or Time exposure is under way. Not that it matters, but I keep it at Off.

I can think of some pretty exotic scenarios where a long-exposure enthusiast will appreciate having an option to re-focus during a long exposure. Perhaps one of the next projects to do?


A3.6. Lens Resets
Reset Lens [BF] [C]

If set to On, the camera will reset the lens (infinity, short focal) when being turned off. (This works only for lenses with power zooming and/or focusing.)


B. Direct Controls
B. Button/Dial/Lever

Before you get any deeper into this chapter, consider this.

The order of topics in this article follows that in the menu tree, so sometimes you read about tweaking some function well before you read what it does; some settings may depend on others, introduced only later — you must have noticed that already.

For the time being at least, we have to live with the way things are, but if this is your first reading, you may consider jumping over the remainder of this chapter straight to C1 (Drive Modes), and return here later.

This camera control system allows the user to access many settings or functions without a need to go into a tree of options, arranged as a traditional computer menu tree or otherwise.

There is nothing inherently evil about menu-based control systems; actually, they are about the only tool making it possible to access large numbers of options or functions. Imagine a camera with 200 buttons or other external controls for direct access to 200 different things. How fast and efficient.

About 95% of user's interaction with a camera involveS just 5% (or fewer) functions or settings. These should be identified and considered for direct access. The best example is — yes, you've guessed this right! — the old faithful shutter release.

The number of directly-accessed features should remain limited, preferably less than a dozen, to avoid memorization problems. This is even more important with re-assignable controls, with no labels showing the purpose of each (or, worse, showing wrong ones, because the controls were re-assigned).

I could go on this until the cows come home, so back to the E-M1 Mk.II.

The Mk.II interface consists of the following: 18 buttons of various kinds (7 can be re-assigned, plus two partly so), two dials, a lever (making some of the interface modal), and three special-use controls (shutter release, on/off switch, mode dial). Except for the last group, all provide a visual feedback from the monitor: you use a control, and the screen shows what's happening.

An additional re-assignable button is included on MZD Pro series lenses; the optional HLD-9 power grip adds an arrow pad and two "regular" buttons.

The functionality of the lever, control dials, and some of the buttons can be re-assigned by the user, and this is what this chapter is about.


B.1. Button Binding
Button Function [F] [C]

This branch of the menu is used to assign functionality to most of camera's buttons. All of these come with some defaults pre-assigned, and these defaults make very good sense, therefore I would think twice before introducing any changes.


Bindable Functions

Before we start messing around with our buttons, let us see a quick (?) list of Bindable functions. (Some of these, exhibiting non-regular behavior, will be discussed separately.)

Function names (leftmost) are color-coded in a way similar to described above, depending on how often they are likely to be accessed: rarely (or never), moderately (session level) or often (individual shots).

The Type column shows how the function works when the button is pressed:

  • Act — performs an immediate, one-time action
  • Tog — toggles some on/off setting
  • W — turn dial with button down to enter an adjustment
  • Scr — opens a new user interface
  • * — refers to long-pressing a button.

Additionally, I marked the background for some functions, reflecting my, possibly subjective, thoughts on binding them to buttons:

  • Green: already bound by default; I'd recommend leaving it as is;
  • Blue: potentially useful, but already easily accessible by other means;
  • Silver: not really useful, don't bother.

The tick mark shows that my recommended setup binds this functionality to a button, but does not specify how. The binding will be shown in detail later.

Function Shown as Type Description ?
Off Off - To avoid an accidental change, or to keep one button for quick, one-time assignments.
Multi-Function Multi Function - Short-press invokes the top function, long press allows to name a new top function from a list.

AF Area AF Area Select Scr Select AF pattern and position, set face priority mode.

Record Video REC Act Not needed to do videos: use mode dial instead.
AE/AF Lock AEL/AFL Act As defined in Item A1.2

Monitor View Selection Tog If EVF Eye Sensor (I.1) is On, toggles between monitor view and SCP; if Off — between monitor view and EVF.

Reference WB Act Takes a gray card sample, stores result in chosen slot.

DoF Preview Preview Tog Toggle on press or on hold-down, see Item D2.5

Stop AF AF Stop Act Sorry, can't figure this out or find a good description.
AF Home Home Act Reset (optionally) focusing mode, target, location.

Bracketing BKT Tog
Enter or leave the bracketing mode as previously set, or change settings as in Item 2.1

Switches to MF and back (last used AF), or changes AF mode
AF Limits AF Limiter Tog
Apply limits On/Off; long press: choose from predefined limits
Preset MF Preset MF Tog
Switch to Preset MF and back to last used focus mode; long-press to change the latter
IS Mode IS Mode Tog
Toggle IS On/Off or change the IS mode.
Exp Compensation Exposure *W Why would I want to give up the default, no-button arrangement?
High Dynamic Range HDR Tog
Toggle HDR on/off, set HDR mode.

Image Quality RAW Tog
Toggles between Raw+JPEG and sole JPEG in the saved output or allows to select that combination.
Test Picture Test Picture Act Take a test picture, save some card space: exactly .005% of what I have on my camera.
Underwater Tog Enters underwater mode, then toggles between UW Wide and UW Macro; long-press restores non-water settings
Digital Tele Digital Tele-converter Tog This is a feature I consider useless. Binding it to a button?
Perspective Keystone Comp. Act Doing this in postprocessing gives much better results.
Magnify Magnify Tog There is no option to toggle both with one button.
Peaking Peaking Tog
Show Level Gauge Level Disp Tog This is the smaller of the two levels available; the same as in Item I.6 (and only in EVF).
Dials: ISO/WB ISO / WB Scr These enable ISO and WB adjustment with dials. Useful if your lever assignment (Item B.4.1) is different than Mode 1.
Dials: WB/ISO WB / ISO Scr
S-OVF Display S-OVF Tog The Simulated Optical Viewfinder mode. Frankly, I can't see any real difference it makes.
Enter lens info Lens Info Settings Scr Again, I'm not sure how the entered information is used.

The table does not include functions you can bind only to the arrow cluster buttons, hardwired to the knob buttons, or those used only in the Multi-Function slots; they will be dealt with separately.

Button recommendations

These are not really recommendations, but rather my personal preferences. Still, you may use them as an example and starting point in your own customization.

The following table should be (almost) self-explanatory, given the legend:

  • — Default binding, retained

  • — Default binding, removed

  • — New binding added

Function Shown as B.1.1
AF Area AF Area Select

Multi-Function Multi Function

Record Video REC


Monitor Toggle View Selection

Reference WB

DoF Preview

Stop AF Stop AF

AF Home

IS Mode IS Mode

As you can see, I'm keeping four factory defaults, having added or modified another four assignments:

  • Replacing DoF Preview with IS Mode on the lower front button.
  • Replacing Reference WB with AF Home on the upper front button. At long last, I have my panic button.
  • Replacing Record Video with Reference WB, moved there from the upper front button. it is more accessible this way.

    In my book, Reference WB is one of the neatest camera features available, much more accurate and dependable than the commonly used TTL measurement, whether based or not on image data. It works as good as an incident light meter (even if 90% of camera users does not know what that is).

  • Replacing Stop AF with DoF Preview on the lens button. While at my usual working aperture of F/5.6 or wider, DoF preview is not very meaningful, I'm feeling better having it — if only on premium lenses.


Multi-Function Button

This button may have from one to eight functions assigned. At any given moment one of them is designated as "top"; it will be invoked when the button is pressed. When you hold the button down while turning either control dial, the next function on the list will get the top status.

Which of the functions listed below will show on the list, depends on the choice you make in Item D1.5, also shown in the last two columns of the table.

Function Shown as Type Description Factory Wrotniak
Hi/Lo/Mid Levels Highlight & Shadow Scr A fancy way to enter three numbers (Midtones is hidden in a second screen). Not removable
Color Creator Color Creator Scr Opens Color Creator setup screen.
This is the only way to get there!

Aspect Ratio Image Aspect Scr Also accessible from SCP and the menu

S-OVF Display S-OVF Tog See Bindable Functions above

Peaking Peaking Tog

Magnify Magnify Tog

Dials: ISO/WB ISO / WB Scr This looks to me like the worst possible way to access the WB/ISO settings.
Dials: WB/ISO WB / ISO Scr

Not much of a choice. Levels a.k.a. Highlight & Shadow is hardwired on the list. If you want to use the Color Creator, include it (activating it also in Items D1.3 and D1.5); this is the only access you will ever have to this function.

Well, throw in S-OVF; maybe playing with it you will see a difference; I'm afraid, however, that this will become a Trinket Button, with stuff you rarely (if ever) need.

There must be some explanation, but it remains a secret: why there are so few functions bindable to the Multi-Button? Why this seemingly random selection? Why, for example, the Aspect Ratio is in, but not Image Quality?


Arrow Pad Buttons

These buttons are re-assigned in a different way than the others: first you make a choice for the whole cluster, and depending on that — for the individual (arrow) keys. The assignment holds when the camera is in the picture-taking mode.

The first choice, shown in the menu as , is between the following:

  • Off — all arrow keys disabled
  • AF Area , bringing up an overlay with the full AF Area interface, like in Bindable Functions
  • Direct Function — now two of the arrow buttons, and , can be assigned to any function from this table:
Function Shown as Type Description Remarks
Off Off .
Flash Mode Flash Mode Scr Accessible via 2 .
Power Zoom Electronic Zoom Act Zoom by wire with arrow buttons; only with some lenses; sometimes seems unpredictable (?) .
Touch Screen Lock Lock *Tog Will override the setting in J1.4 .
Underwater Tog See Bindable Functions above .
Exp Compensation Exposure For compatibility with some Pen or compact cameras? ?
See Bindable Functions above .
Dials: ISO/WB ISO / WB Scr See Bindable Functions above .
Dials: WB/ISO WB / ISO Scr

For a number of reasons, I prefer to keep my arrow pad out of the redefinable control business, therefore setting its assignment to Off.


B.2. Dial Binding
Dial Function [F] [C]

Control dials by themselves (i.e. without any button being pressed) are used to adjust some of the basic picture-taking parameters, one per dial. When we choose to use a gadget Olympus calls the Fn Lever, the number of controlled parameters rises to four. This is the most common setup of the lever; it will be discussed in the next section; here let us only remember that the lever may be in one of two positions, referred to (how appropriately!) as 1 and 2.

This table shows the parameters assigned to dials as per factory default configuration and then — in my preferred setup.

I would strongly recommend leaving the dials at factory settings for the Menu and Playback modes, so I'm even not showing these modes here.

Mode Shown
Lever Factory Binding Wrotniak Binding
Rear Front Rear Front
Program P 1 Ps
Aperture Priority A 1 FNo FNo
Shutter Priority S 1 Sh Sh
Manual M 1 Sh FNo FNo Sh

While the original dial setup makes a good sense and is perfectly usable, there is a rationale behind every change I've made.

  • The assignments of WB and ISO have been swapped: this is because I change ISO more frequently, and I find a thumb dial easier to operate than a forefinger one.
  • The consistency has been restored by removing exposure compensation from the Manual setup. Besides, that would work only if you use the Auto ISO option in the Manual exposure mode (see Item E1.5), making it no longer manual.
  • Program Shift (Ps) has been removed from the Program mode. At this moment the camera provides no information how much of a shift and in which direction is already applied, which makes the whole shift feature rather useless.
  • Swapped aperture with shutter speed in Manual. That's because I'm spending most of the time in Aperture Priority, and it is nice to have the aperture control where I'm used to.


B.3. Dial Direction
Dial Direction [F] [C]

There are two dial setups there: one for a dial controlling program shift, and another for everything else. Because I don't have a Ps dial in my setup, I have to deal only with the latter.

The choice is between two options, inventively named Dial1 and Dial2. In the first one, the controlled parameter value (F-number, shutter speed, ISO) increases when you turn the dial anti-clockwise (thumb to the right, forefinger to the left). This is the option I chose, although it does not really matter.


B.4. Fn Lever
Fn Lever Settings [F]

The Fn Lever is a relatively new addition to the Olympus set of tricks; it debuted with the E-M1, in 2013. It is a small, mechanical switch, which can be set to one of two positions; logically it does not differ from a lockable button: it stays in place until switched back.


B.4.1. Fn Lever Use
Fn Lever Function [F]

The lever functionality can be selected as one of the following.

  • Off — actually, I was close to disabling the lever on the original E-M1, and I won't be surprised if you do that.
  • mode1 — the basic reason for which the lever was introduced (the others are afterthoughts); switching the camera between two states, differently responding to basic controls. We will discuss this in detail a little later.
  • mode2 — a variation on the AF Home theme. The camera maintains two independent copies of the AF parameters (AF Mode, target shape, target location), and the lever is used to switch between them. Very much like "what happens in Fn-two stays in Fn-two".
  • mode3 — allows you to switch to the movie mode regardless of the mode dial position.
mode1 and others should be renamed to something following camera-wide naming conventions and, possibly, more meaningful.

None of these options bring anything new to the table. While Olympus is touting this as a major development in camera interface design, it really is just a better-looking, lockable button.

There is nothing wrong about getting an extra button, especially a lockable and good-looking one; let's just get the proportions right.

Having two extra parameters accessible via control dials is, obviously, nice. What is not, is the interface modality this introduces. And this modality, regardless of how cool it looks in the beginning, sooner or later turns evil.

Your subject's face is in a patch of sunlight and you need to dial in an extra 2/3 EV of exposure compensation. Oops, you just raised the ISO by two notches, to 800 instead! Five minutes ago you were setting that to ISO 200 and forgot to move the lever back to Position 1. Now, quickly: move back the ISO, turn the lever, add compensation — too late.

of these reservations, I decided to use the mode1 option, especially with the extra benefits described in the next section. I just have to develop a habit to move back to position 1 as soon as I'm done with the adjustments requiring position 2.


B.4.2. Switch Knob Buttons
Switch Function [F]

With this option active, lever position 2 changes not only the dial action, but also the effect of pressing the two non-assignable knob buttons (far left, next to the power switch).

Condition Front Button Rear Button
Option Fn Lever Function Shown as Function Shown as
Off or 1 Drive+HDR /HDR AF+Metering AF/
On and 2 Bracketing BKT Flash

With no other direct access to flash and bracketing, my recommendation is to take an advantage of this capability: On.

The bracketing button work in two ways: short-pressing toggles that feature, while long-pressing opens a setup screen.


B.5. Power/Fn Lever
Fn Lever / Power Lever [F]

This feature allows you to use the Fn Lever as camera's power On/Off switch, and not in one, but in two configurations (differing in which position is On). While it is active, the regular power switch is disabled, and the regular Fn Lever functionality remains inaccessible.


How do I set...

All this customization business may leave you quite disoriented at first. That's why I'm including this little reference table. It shows how to access various settings and functions, using the external control system as reconfigured to my recommendations.

and stand for the rear and front, respectively, buttons on top of the fake knob, next to the power switch.

Setting Direct controls SCP
Lever Button Dial
Exposure Compensation 1 - -
Aperture 1 - -
Shutter (S Mode) 1 - -
Shutter (M Mode) 1 - -
ISO 2 -

WB 2 -

Drive Mode 1

HDR 1 -
AF Mode 1

Metering Pattern 1

Flash Mode 2

Flash Compensation 2

Bracketing Type 2 -
Bracketing Frames 2 -
AF Area -

Reference WB - -

Monitor View - - -
AE/AF Lock - - -
AF Home - - -
IS Mode - - -
Highlight & Shadow -
Color Creator -
S-OVF - -
DoF Preview - - -

Some settings not accessible from the direct interface still can be accessed from the Control Panel: Picture Mode, Card Usage, Image Size/Compression, and Aspect Ratio. I'm not missing them much, as I need only (and rarely) the first two, and then the SCP access is still quite speedy and convenient.

There is also a grup of functions and settings which are left without a reasonably convenient access. Most are not really useful; I'm still having some doubts about Peaking and Magnify (which I remember using maybe once a year).


B.6. Power Zoom Speed
Elec. Zoom Speed [F] [C]

Affects only power zooms, and of interest mostly to videographers. Normal must be a sensible choice, I guess.


C1. Drive & Release
C1. Release//IS

The term "drive" or "drive mode" refers to the way in which the consecutive pictures are taken when the shutter release is pressed:

  • Single-frame, or S — the camera takes one picture; for another one you have to let go and press the button again;
  • Continuous, or C — the camera keeps taking pictures as long as the release button is pressed, stopping only when you remove the pressure, or when (and if) a a pre-defined number of frames was shot in one sequence.

    Many cameras, the E-M1 in this number, allow you to choose the speed of Continuous mode as High or Low, with the actual frame rates (FPS) corresponding to these being pre-set as a part of camera setup (see Items C1.3 and C1.4).

Another term, Release Priority, refers to the arrangement when the camera will take a picture when the shutter release is pressed even if the AF system wasn't able to set the focus.


C1.1. Single Release Priority
Release Priority S [BF] [C]

My recommended setting is Off, the factory default: the picture will not be taken until the AF system finds focus. (Obviously, this is not applicable in the MF mode.)


C1.2. Continuous Release Priority
Release Priority C [BF] [C]

I'm using On (default) here: the picture is taken (almost) immediately even if the focus has not been found yet.


C1.3. Set Low Drive Rate
L Settings [BF] [C]

C1.4. Set High Drive Rate
H Settings [BF] [C]

Here we define what we really mean by Low and High frame rate in sequential shooting. Steady and Silent shutter modes were briefly explained in Item 1.6, and so was Pro Capture.

Max in the table is the maximum number of frames in a sequence (Off means unlimited); Pre is the number of pre-release frames kept in the Pro Capture buffer.

Item Speed Shutter Shown as Factory Wrotniak
Rate Pre Max Rate Pre Max
C1.3.1 Low - / 10 - Off 6 - 24
C1.3.2 Silent 18 - Off 6 - 24
C1.3.3 Pro Capture 18 8 25 15 12 36
C1.4.1 High - / 15 - Off 15 - 60
C1.4.2 Silent 60 - Off 15 - 60
C1.4.3 Pro Capture 60 14 25 15 12 60


C2. Image Stabilization
C2. Release//IS

The in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system by Olympus is, as far as I know, the best IS solution on the market, and even in the last years it kept improving steadily.

The most visible change in recent years was making it work in tandem with in-lens IS, incorporated in some Pro-line lenses (at this moment just two: the 12-100/2.8 and 300/4.0).


C2.1. IS Mode
Image Stabilizer [BF] [C] [SCP]

Trying to compensate for any camera movement is not always a good thing. The photographer may be intentionally panning the camera, following a moving object to reduce its motion blur, at the same time adding such blur to the steady background.

The most common case is when the camera, in landscape orientation, is panned horizontally. In this situation we would like the IS to compensate only for the vertical component of the camera motion, leaving the horizontal component alone. This is what IS modes are for.

The following IS modes for still photography are available:

  • Off
  • S-IS Auto — detects panning and disables the appropriate component of IS
  • S-IS 1 — always applies IS to both components
  • S-IS 2 — for panning along the longer frame dimension
  • S-IS 3 — for panning along the shorter frame dimension

While switching between modes can be best done with a dedicated button (used as a toggle or, with a dial, as a selector), or via the Control Panel, in the camera customization process I've set this to Auto.

This setting may change from one session (or even frame) to another, therefore it should not be treated as a part of camera customization. It should be moved to one of the shooting menus or, even better, removed from the menu system at all.


C2.2. Continuous Shooting IS
Image Stabilization [F] [C]

Competing for the engine resources in the Continuous Drive Mode, IS may be affecting the serial frame rate. Here you can define which is more important, choosing between FPS Priority (rate) and IS Priority. I don't think it really matters, so I keep the factory default: FPS Priority.


C2.3. IS on Half-Press
Half-Way Rls with IS [F]

With this set to On (the default and my choice), Image Stabilization will be active while the shutter release button is held half-pressed. (Normally it activates just at the moment when the shutter fires.)

This helps a lot, reducing viewfinder shake with longer lenses (above 100 mm or so), and/or with viewfinder magnification used. It also shows well the effectiveness of the IS system.

Undocumented feature: This option also makes IS active when the view is magnified, regardless of the release button.


C2.4. Lens IS Priority
Lens IS Priority [BF] [C]

This is applicable only to non-Olympus lenses in the μFT standard; read: those by Panasonic, with in-lens IS (OIS). Depending on this setting, one or the other IS system will be used on lenses without an IS On/Off switch:

  • On — the lens IS
  • Off — the body IS

In either case, the camera's IS Off setting (C2.1) turns the stabilization off.

On lenses with an IS On/Off switch, that switch alone defines if the lens OIS is used. If not, the in-body system will operate as usual.


D1. Interface Options
D1. Disp//PC

In various places within the interface, you pick an option from a list of those available, or just switch between options from such a list. If that list is too long, the process may become slow and cumbersome.

The submenus in this branch (except for the first one, D1.1) are used for the sole purpose to make these lists shorter, faster to use. They do not pick any options; just define what choices will be available when the actual picking (or switching) is done.

Of course, if you remove (hide) an option from a list, it becomes unavailable in camera settings until restored from here. Be warned: this may sometimes be quite confusing!


D1.1. Shooting Interfaces
Control Settings [F] [C]

Here we choose which interfaces will be available, depending on the mode the camera is in.

You bring those interfaces up by pressing [OK] when viewfinder/monitor is active, and switch between them (if more than one are enabled) using the [Info] button.

The table shows (F) factory defaults and (W) my recommendations (the gray background shows the options that can't be used).

Interface D1.1.1
Live Guide

Rather useless
Live Control

Duplicates some of the SCP functionality
Live SCP

Like "regular" SCP, but on a live background
Art Menu

An obvious choice — if you use Art Filters at all

Please note that for every mode I defined just one interface. Except for Art, this is the good, dependable Super Control Panel, just thrown on a live background.

Actually, for these modes I could have removed all interfaces with no loss of functionality: instead of pressing [OK] to get to the Live SCP, I can always press the Monitor button to get into the classic SCP version.


D1.2. Playback & Viewing
/ Info Settings [BF] [C]

As above, here we decide what views will be available in various contexts.


D1.2.1. Playback Views
[BF] [C]

These options are available when you replay images full-frame, i.e. without magnification. Switching is done with the [Info] key.

Option/View Factory Wrotniak Remarks
Image Only

Full, clean frame

Small thumbnail, exposure data, RGB histograms
Luminance histogram on the background of full frame
Highlight & Shadow Areas out of range marked in color
Light Box Split screen, magnify, one half scrolls through frames

Additionally, there is one non-removable view, showing the full frame with serial number, date/time, aspect ratio, and size/compression. Actually, I would gladly get rid of this one.

The histogram and highlight/shadow views are largely redundant, as this information is also shown in the detailed info view.


D1.2.2. Magnified Playback Views

When you magnify the image with the control dial, pressing [Info] will keep switching the display between up to 3 states:

Option/View Factory Wrotniak Remarks
Magnify Frame

Full frame, with an outline of area to magnify
Magnify Scroll

Magnified area, scrollable over frame
Select Frame

Magnified area, will show the same location of next file

Factory defaults are right; I need all three views.


D1.2.3. View Overlays
LV Info [F] [C]

From these we select information overlays to scroll through when using the viewfinder or monitor.

Option/View Factory Wrotniak Remarks
Image Only

Nothing beats this one!

Best aid for adjusting exposure compensation.
Highlight & Shadow Somewhat redundant if I have the histogram.
Level Gauge See also Item I.6.

A different view, obtained by a different choice from the same set of available overlays.
Highlight & Shadow
Level Gauge

I wonder, what was the logic behind insertion of this shooting-related item between two others, both dealing with playback?


D1.2.4. Index/Calendar
Settings [F] [C]

These are display grids, available when you zoom out from full-frame playback.

Option/View Factory Wrotniak Remarks
4 A square matrix of thumbnails;
5×5 seems like best compromise between compactness and readability, but your taste may differ.

My Clips


I keep it, but never used it.


D1.3. Picture Mode Options
Picture Mode Settings [F] [C]

The items selected here will be shown in sub-menu 1.2, also in the scrolling list called from Control Panel and in the Art Menu interface.

There is one more menu using these items: it is used to specify modes and filters included into Art Bracketing. That menu, however, always lists all items, not just those selected here.

Mode/Filter Factory Wrotniak Remarks
1 i-Enhance

Olympus says nothing about what this actually does.
2 Vivid

The classic Olympus Picture Modes.
Natural is not shown here, because it is hardwired to be non-removable.
3 Muted

4 Portrait

5 Monochrome

6 Custom

I'm still not sure what to use it for.
7 e-Portrait

Another undocumented feature. What does it do?
8 Underwater

Obviously, if you need it, you need it.
9 Color Creator

I've included it here just to try it our.
... ... 28 Art Filters ...

I'm not showing this list here, no way!

Disabling all Art Filters here removes the clutter in other places of the interface, where I want to switch between Picture Modes without having to scroll through dozens of them.

It also removes them from the scrolling Art Menu interface. They remain accessible, though. The Art Bracketing option still remains there; use [Info] to get inside it and select the filters you want to apply: one or twenty. Of course, saving a raw .ORF file and applying filters in Olympus Viewer works even better.


D1.4. Drive Mode Options
Settings [F] [C]

Yet another monster menu used to shrink other menus (a meta-setting?). Here you choose what will show in sub-menu 1.6.1 and in scrolling lists accessible from Control Panel or via the Drive /HDR button.

If you disable the Steady or Silent shutter mode (Items 2.5.1 and 2.5.2, respectively), then the related drive modes will be excluded from those sequences regardless of their status in this menu.

Drive Mode Shown
Factory Wrotniak Drive Mode Shown
Factory Wrotniak
Single Frame Always On 2s Self-Timer 2s
Steady Single Frame Steady 2s Self-Timer 2s
Silent Single Frame

Silent 2s Self-Timer 2s
Sequential High H

12s Self-Timer 12s

Silent Sequential High H

Steady 12s Self-Timer 12s
Pro Capture High H

Silent 12s Self-Timer 12s
Sequential Low L

Custom Self-Timer C

Steady Sequential Low L Steady Custom Self-Timer C
Silent Sequential Low L

Silent Custom Self-Timer C
Pro Capture Low L

High Res


D1.5 Multi-Function Options
Multi Function Settings [F] [C]

Here we choose the functions among which the Multi-Function Button (if defined) can switch. The options available, factory defaults, and my recommendations are shown in a tabular form in the section devoted to that button.


D2. Monitor & EVF
D2. Disp//PC

This menu branch deals with the visual aspects of the EVF and monitor display: brightness, color, frame rate, etc. — as opposed to interface aspects, defining what is being shown and when.


D2.1. View Boost
Live View Boost [BF] [C]

With View Boost active, the displayed live image is optimized for viewing; without — it looks more like the captured picture will look, affected by under- or over-exposure.

More exactly, there are three options here:

  • Off — boost disabled, image reflects exposure;
  • On1 — boost enabled, image optimized for viewing;
  • On2 — enabled, drop in frame rate for darker scenes (not really clarified in the manual).

Depending on the exposure mode, different boost options can be applied:

Exposure Mode Factory Wrotniak
Manual On1 On1
Bulb/Time On2 On2
Live Composite Off Off
Others Off Off

Note that Others includes P, A, and S autoexposure modes, where you probably do most of your shooting, therefore it is the most important of these settings.

While I have no experience whatsoever with Live Composite exposure mode, all other defaults make perfect sense, so I'm keeping all factory settings.


D2.2. Art Mode View
Art LV Mode [F] [C]

A similar decision has to be made when we take a picture using an Art Filter. Surprisingly, there is no option to disable the filter in viewing; the choice is only between

  • mode1, showing the effect more accurately but with a possible drop in frame rate, and
  • mode2, showing less of it, but with less/no slowdown.

The factory default is mode1. I left it unchanged, because I have all Art Filters disabled anyway.


D2.3. Frame Rate
Frame Rate [BF] [C]

The choice is between Normal and High. The latter must be coming at a price, so I'm keeping the default Normal, which seems just fine.


D2.4. Magnify View
LV Close Up Settings

Two options relating to view magnification are handled in this branch.

D2.4.1. Magnify Mode
LV Close Up Mode [F] [C]

Here we decide what happens when we half-press the shutter release while toggled into magnified view:

  • mode1 — the magnified view ends, selection box still displayed, AF not active;
  • mode2 — magnification persists, AF activated.

mode1 is the factory setting, and I'm keeping it, even if I no longer have this function bound to a button.

D2.4.2. Magnify Boost
Live View Boost [F] [C]

If this is set to On, the brightness of magnified view will be changed for better visibility. This is the default as well as my preference.


D2.5. DoF Preview

Two options, related to Depth-of-Field preview (which I decided to keep in my configuration, but only if the lens button is available).

D2.5.1. DoF Preview Toggle
Lock [F] [C]

With this set to On, the button assigned to DoF will act as a toggle, which is also my preference.

D2.5.2. DoF Preview Boost
Live View Boost [F] [C]

The default is On.


D2.6. Flicker Reduction
Flicker Reduction [F] [C]

According to the manual, under artificial light the viewing system may exhibit some flicker. While I'm largely ignorant in this area, I would think this happens rather with luminescent light (as opposed to incandescent), as its intensity varies at the AC rate (50 or 60 Hz, depending on the country.

Anyway, this effect can be suppressed (most probably by changing the display refresh rate), and this menu item provides related options: Off, 50 Hz, 60 Hz, and Auto (auto-detect). Just set Auto and forget about it.


D3. Viewing Aids
D3. Disp//PC

These are gadgets which make your viewing experience more civilized both on the EVF and monitor.

D3.1. Grid
Grid Settings [F] [C]

The optional graticule which may be displayed in the monitor and EVF can be quite helpful in composing the frame and keeping the lines straight. I use it all the time. You can set some of its attributes:

D3.1.1. Color
Display Color [F] [C]

The choice is between Preset 1 and Preset 2, with each of those use-definable as RGB plus opacity. I am using unmodified Preset 1 (almost black).

Note: This also affects the AF Target outline (Item A1.7).

D3.1.2. Type
Displayed Grid [F] [C]

You can choose Off (default) or one of predefined grid/scale layouts: .

My choice is the first 3×3 version, but this is really a personal preference.

D3.1.3. Use in EVF
Apply Settings to EVF [F] [C]

With On selected, the same grid will be overlayed in the EVF, and that's how I like it. Take your pick.

Note: with this option selected, the menu Item I.5. will become inaccessible. If you want your grids to be different, set this to Off and define the other grid there.


D3.2. Peaking
Peaking Settings

Three settings here:

D3.2.1. Color
Peaking Color [F] [C]

Red is the factory setting and also my choice.

D3.2.2. Intensity
Highlight Intensity [F] [C]

While Normal is used out of the box, I prefer High.

D3.2.3. Brightness Boost
Image Brightness Adj. [F] [C]

Makes the view more readable with peaking active. I prefer this at Off, which is also the factory setting.


D3.3. Histogram
Histogram Settings [F] [C]

Here you define the luminance values (0..255) starting from which down or up the histogram ends will show in red, signaling possible loss of shadow or highlight detail.

The factory settings are 0 and 255; I really prefer them moved a little away from these extremes, so I'm using 2 and 252.


D3.4. Mode Guide
Mode Guide [F] [C]

These are the hints showing when you turn the Mode Dial. If you need them, you should have bought another camera (or just read any book on photography published within the last 50 years). Off.


D3.5. Selfie Assist
Selfie Assist [F] [C]

What is a selfie? Off.


D4. Connectivity
D4. Disp//PC

Connections to the outside world (at least most of those).

D4.1. Beep
[BF] [C]

Audible autofocus confirmation. The default is On, and so is my preference.


D4.2. HDMI

This is the connection to a high-definition TV. It uses the camera's dedicated HDMI socket. There are three settings here, and I have them, respectively, at 1080p (output resolution), Off (controlling the camera from external device) and 60p Priority (the U.S. standard).

These are the settings related to still photography. Those related to video are in the video setup menu (not discussed here).


D4.3. USB
USB Mode [BF]

This is what you use to connect to a computer using the USB Type C socket. Here you choose the USB mode the camera puts itself into when it detects a USB connection.

  • Auto — shows a menu with all other options to choose from;
  • Storage — most typical connection; makes the camera a storage-class device, so the computer can access it as another disk drive,

    Olympus Updater has to run with the camera connected in this mode.

    Olympus Viewer can import images from the camera connected in this mode.

  • MTP — to be used with Windows Photo Gallery (why would I ever do that?)
  • Print — output directly to a compatible printer. I never used this, nor met anyone who did.
  • — connecting to a compatible software (with camera controls remaining operative).

    Olympus Capture has to run with the camera connected in this mode.

  • PCM Recorder — external video-recording device.

If you are going to use Olympus Capture, then Auto should be your choice; otherwise just set this to Storage.


E1. Exposure

These are options and settings related to exposure (auto and manual), with two extra items dealing with noise of two different kinds.


E1.1. Exposure Shift
Exposure Shift [F] [C]

This is an extra correction, added to any exposure evaluation done by the camera. It does not show in any other place in the interface, so it can be seen as a meter calibration. It affects all modes of auto-exposure, but also the readout showing how much the current manually-set exposure differs from recommended (metered).

Actually, this is not a single value but three; one for each metering pattern: matrix (ESP), center-weighted, and spot. They are set in 1/6 EV increments.

The factory settings for all three are zeros. My preferences are:

  • Matrix: -1/6 EV
  • Center-weighted: -1/6 EV
  • Spot: 0

As I'm using the ESP metering 98% of time, this means I'm taking pictures which are by 1/6 EV darker than Olympus would like me to.

My correction for the original E-M1 was the same, but with the Four Thirds SLRs I've been using -1/3 or even -1/2 EV. Maybe it was Olympus metering which changed, maybe — my preferences and working habits?


E1.2. EV Step
EV Step [BF] [C]

Any changes of exposure, entered by the user, are made in discrete steps of shutter speed or aperture (F-number). These changes are often expressed in terms of EV (exposure value) units, where 1 EV corresponds to doubling (or halving) of the exposure; effectively, of the light reaching the sensor (assuming the same subject in the same light).

The E-M1 allows the shutter speeds and F-numbers to be changed with step defined in the camera setup as 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV; this means that in order to double the exposure, we have to make 3, 2, or 1 such step, respectively.

The most common step used is 1/3 EV; that's the factory setting and what I am using.

A step of 1/2 EV used to be common until 60.70 years ago, and some people like to use 1 EV because the changes are faster to make.

The step value does not affect AE accuracy, as the AE-controlled variables (two in P, one in A and S modes) are adjusted in a stepless way. Their displayed values (including those in EXIF) will be rounded to the nearest step.


E1.3. ISO Step
ISO Step [BF] [C]

A similar parameter, but this time describing the ISO sequence. The default here is 1/3 EV, but my chosen value is 1 EV, which seems to be more common and to which I'm used.


E1.4. Auto ISO Params
ISO-Auto Set

This menu branch is used to define how the ISO value changes with changing exposure if the Auto ISO feature is enabled.

Base ISO is the value which will be used as long as the resulting shutter speed is higher (exposure shorter) than the Slow Shutter parameter (P and A modes). If that shutter speed is reached, ISO will increase until the shutter becomes fast enough. There is a limit to that increase, however, at the Top ISO. When that value is reached, ISO stays there and exposure time starts increasing again as needed.

E1.4.1. Base and Top ISO
Upper Limit / Default [BF] [C]

These two parameters are used as described above. The factory values of ISO 200 (Base) and 6400 (Top) make sense and I am using them too.

E1.4.2. Slow Shutter
Lowest S/S setting [BF] [C]

This is the speed above which the AE system tries to keep shutter speed (in P and A exposure modes), raising the ISO if needed, as described above.

A numeric value can be set (from 30 to 1/8000 s), or you may choose Auto. In such case, the value will be determined by the camera, based on the current focal length used.

Auto is the default and my preference for the rare occasions when I may be using the Auto ISO setting.


E1.5. Auto ISO Use
ISO Auto [F] [C]

The Auto ISO feature availability can be set in two ways, and the choice is being made here:

  • P/A/S — available in shutter- or aperture-priority and in Program mode; the feature works as described in the previous section.
  • P/A/S/M — additionally, Auto ISO can be also activated in the Manual Exposure (M) mode.

That mode then becomes no longer manual; it should rather be called Shutter-and-Aperture Priority (SA): you set both these variables and the camera attempts to change ISO so that the picture is properly exposed.

While P/A/S/M is the factory setting, my preference is P/A/S — I don't want to lose the option of a real manual exposure.


E1.6. Noise Filter
Noise Filter [BF] [C]

This filter removes the random (non-static) noise from recorded images during the raw-to-RGB conversion. It always leads to some detail being lost, even if the result may look more pleasing than the original.

The process should not be confused with Noise Reduction, described in the next section. For more on the difference, refer to my Noise in Digital Cameras article.

There are four values to choose from: Off, Low, Standard, and High. The first one does not disable the filtering entirely, just sets it to some base value. How these presets work also depends on the ISO setting.

As the noise level is greatly affected by ISO and by sharpening applied, the filtering should take into account these parameters. Then, adjusting the noise filter every time they are changed would be difficult and error-prone, so some compromises should be made here for simplicity.

On this camera (like on other recent Olympus models) I've set NF to Low. This seems to work best for my adjusted Natural mode, so I never change it for anything else.

The default Standard setting is too fuzzy for my taste. My advice: start from that combination, adjust it to your liking, make that your customized preference, and forget about it.


E1.7. Noise Reduction
Noise Reduction [BF] [C]

This option turns on the low-light, static noise reduction which is done by subtracting a "dark frame" from a taken picture (again, see my noise article). This can be set to On, Off, or Auto. In the last case NR will be activated only at longest exposure times (usually above one second, depending on the ISO setting).

When you switch to the sequential drive mode, noise reduction will become temporarily disabled, to avoid the extra delay between frames.

As my small study shows, the static noise levels in E-M1 Mk.II are greatly reduced compared to the original Mk.I, and the Auto setting is too eager to activate the dark frame subtraction (which takes extra time).

Based on that study, my recommendation is to keep the Noise Reduction at Off, activating it manually only for exposures which use ISO above 800 and, at the same time, last 30 seconds or longer.



E2. Long Exposures

This branch deals with long exposures which are timed by the user, not camera. There are three kinds of these:

  • Bulb — exposure starts when the release button is pressed, and ends when the pressure is removed;
  • Time — pressing the release button starts exposure; pressing again ends it;
  • Composite — like Time, but after the initial part of exposure, only the fragments of image which are bright enough are added to the picture.

Disclaimer: I haven't used this exposure mode yet, so any discussion of it must wait until I do.


E2.1. Bulb & Time Limit
Bulb/Time Timer [BF] [C]

This is the maximum exposure time, after which any Bulb or Time exposure will terminate, regardless of any user action or inaction. It can be set from 1 min to 30 min from a selection of discrete values.

My setting is 8 minutes, the same as default.


E2.2. View Brightness
Bulb/Time Monitor [F] [C]

Here you can adjust the brightness of viewing the partial image while a long exposure of any kind is under way. This is done within ±7 steps of unknown meaning and magnitude.

The factory setting is -7 and so is mine.


E2.3. Live Bulb
Live Bulb [F] [C]

"Live" in this context refers to viewing the emerging image during the exposure. Here you can disable it, or set time spacing between view updates (.5 to 60 seconds). The number of updates per exposure is, however, limited and depends on the ISO.

I have this at Off which also is the factory setting.


E2.4. Live Time
Live Time [F] [C]

The same as above, but for Time exposures. The factory setting is .5s, mine — 4s. Not that it matters; this will be probably set differently for each picture (or session).


E2.5. Composite
Composite [F] [C]

What you set here is the exposure time for image updates which will follow the initial base exposure in which the updates will possibly be overlaid. This can be set between .5 and 60 seconds.

The base exposure is computed by the camera in some undisclosed manner.

I don't think this value is critical, so I keep it at the factory preset of 1 second.


E3. Metering

Options regarding light-metering pattern for the auto-exposure system.


E3.1. Metering Pattern
Metering [BF] [C] [SCP] [But]

This is usually a one-time choice between ESP (matrix) and center-weighted metering. Usually you do not switch between these two; it is rather a matter of general preference than a choice for a particular scene or situation.

The choice is available via a direct button anyway, but it will not be of much (if any) use in my recommended setup: set the metering pattern default to either ESP or center-weighted (whichever you prefer), and assign the spot mode to the Autoexposure Lock.

The factory setting is ESP, and my recommendation is the same,


E3.2. AEL Metering
AEL Metering [BF] [C]

This is used to switch to a particular metering pattern when the measurement is triggered by pressing the Lock button.

The choice is between center-weighted metering and three spot modes, including HI spot-highlight and SH spot-shadow. There is also an option called Auto, to keep whatever pattern was set, without switching.

Note that there is no explicit option to switch to ESP metering. I agree with that: locking a matrix reading does not make much sense. Still, if you've set the general-use pattern to ESP and the AEL one to Auto, then an ESP reading will be locked — smuggled-in, so to say.

Don't even try to find things like this in Olympus manuals. This is why writing this piece takes me forever.

Also, the option name Auto is misleading. It suggests that the camera makes some decision here, while really it doesn't. Something else, like No Change or As Set would be better.

Interestingly, Auto is the factory default here, and that, combined with the previous default (see above), establishes ESP as the AEL pattern — an option which is otherwise not available. What is going on here?

My own preference and recommendation is, by far, Spot metering.

Spot metering only makes sense with exposure lock, and the lock makes most sense with spot metering. Remember the spotmeters from yesteryear?


E3.3. AE Spot at AF
Spot Metering [BF] [C]

You may force the AE-metering spot to be attached to the AF spot. Both functions have to be explicitly in their respective single-spot modes; the spot-on-lock arrangement described above does not count.

This setting did not exist on the original E-M1. A related yet different one was present on the E-Series SLRs.

More exactly, it is not one but three separate, independent options; one for each of the three spot-metering modes. The factory default activates all three.

As I use spot metering only with AE lock, for me this setting is irrelevant. If you plan on using spot as an explicit metering mode, think twice before activating this feature.


F. Flash
F. Custom

Just a few flash-related parameters.

F.1. Sync Speed
X-Sync. [BF] [C]

This is the fastest shutter speed which the camera will use with flash. While the shutter will work with flash up to 1/250 s just fine, this setting allows you to put the limit at a lower speed.

The factory preset is 1/250 s and I don't have any reasons to change it. Yet.


F.2. Slow Speed Limit
Slow Limit [BF] [C]

This is the slowest shutter speed the camera will use or not with flash; can be set from 1/250 to 40 seconds. The following rules, depending on exposure modes, define the process:

  • Program, Aperture Priority (shutter speed set by camera): the slow limit is in effect, but will be extended all the way to 60 seconds if any of the three slow flash modes, like SLOW is on.
  • Manual, Shutter Priority (shutter speed set by the user): the camera has nothing to say; no low limit.
My setting is 1/60 s (default).


F.3. Add Compensation
+ [BF] [C]

When using a strobe, you deal with two distinct exposure compensation parameters. One is the "regular" compensation, used in ambient light photography. It seems that it affects the exposure regardless of the flash, by changing aperture and/or shutter speed, within the available range.

The other one is the flash compensation, affecting the light burst duration and therefore energy dissipated, or flash exposure.

Here you can choose, how the two compensation values work together. There are two options:

  1. Both are stored and used independently, as described above; changing one we affect the fill (flash-to-ambient) ratio.
  2. The flash compensation gets the other one added to it. This means that non-flash compensation affects the overall brightness, but not the fill ratio. The latter will be affected when you use some flash compensation value.

Both options provide exactly the same functionality; the only difference is in their intuitiveness, where one or the other will have some advantage, depending on whether you are more often changing the fill ratio or adjusting the overall brightness (2).

The factory preset, Off, activates the first option, to which I also decided to switch quite recently.


F.4. Flash WB
+ WB [F] [C]

The camera may switch automatically to Auto WB or Flash WB WB when it detects flash being used. Not knowing what is the real difference between these two, I decided to stick to the factory setting, Auto WB.


G. Quality and Color
G. /WB/Color

Two settings related to image size and compression, some to White Balance, and the oddball item dealing with vignetting.


G.1. Quality/Size Options
Set [BF] [C]

Elsewhere in the menu system (Item 1.3) we can pick a setting from four selected combinations of compressed image quality (Superfine, Fine, Normal, or Basic) and pixel size (Large, Medium, Small). Here we define which four out of twelve possible combinations will be choosable.

With storage being abundant and cheap, I see no reason to use anything else but the Large/Superfine L SF combination, with or without the Raw option. Because the other three cannot be disabled, I've set all four the same way. At least I will avoid my friend's horror story (see the next section).


G.2. Pixel Count
Pixel Count [BF] [C]

In the same Item 1.3 we use the Medium and Small image sizes. Here we define what these terms really mean.

This becomes completely irrelevant if you do not use those sizes in the setup. I don't. Just in case, however, I picked Medium as 3200×2400, and Small as 1280×960 pixels.

Years ago a friend of mine spent a full evening on pictures of his products for a printed catalog. Only the next day he discovered that somehow he managed to set the camera to 1024×768 pixels (not saving raw files). That's the only case I know of someone using less than full resolution.


G.3. Vignetting Correction
Shading Compensation [BF] [C] [JPG]

Vignetting (or, as some want it, "shading"), can be easily corrected at the Raw-to-RGB conversion stage (although I suspect some of it is handled already at the stage of raw image readout). Here you turn this correction on or off.

Some purists consider this "cheating" and would have preferred the correction applied in the lens design. Bad news: only some of the effect can be removed this way.

So far I have this at Off (default), just to see vignetting on the lenses I'm using, but I would recommend turning it On.


G.4. White Balance Adjust
WB [BF] [C]

This is a menu branch with 13 items, each allowing you to set an adjustment to one of the WB presets. Each adjustment is really a pair of two numerical corrections, applied along the Amber-Blue (A) or Green-Magenta (G) axis.

If, for example, you decide that your pictures shot under the Cloudy preset are usually too warm in color, you may move the Amber slider for this preset down by a notch or two, and watch the results over the next few weeks to see if you like them more this way.

Defining, applying and verifying these corrections is a tedious and dangerous process. My recommendation would be to leave everything as it is.

Additionally, the menu allows you to choose the WB preset for your customization default. Auto makes sense here.


G.5. All WB Adjust
[F] [C] [JPG]

Here you can define a global color correction, applied in all WB settings or modes on top of all other corrections.

I never had a need to do it on any of more than a dozen Olympus cameras I've used, so I would recommend leaving this alone.


G.6. WB Keep Warm
Keep Warm [BF] [C] [JPG]

With this option activated, the Auto WB function will leave some of the warm tint in images shot at low color temperature (incandescent light, or daylight near sunset). I like it this way, so my preference is On (opposite to the factory setting).

To get the late-afternoon light the way I like it, I just avoid the Auto WB setting, using just the Sunny (5300K) option.


G.7. Color Space
Color Space [BF] [C] [JPG]

There are two common standards used in RGB images to represent various colors: sRGB and Adobe RGB. The worst choice you can make here is to choose Adobe RGB when your computer hardware and software has not been prepared for it. Therefore stick to sRGB unless you really know why you need the Adobe standard and are ready for the consequences.


H1. Saving Files
H1. Record/Erase

Most of the options here are related to the file system on two cards the camera uses.


H1.1. Card Slots
Card Slot Settings

Here we define how the cards are used.


H1.1.1. Card Usage
Save Settings [F] [C]

The two cards can be written to in a number of ways:

  • Standard — writing only to currently designated card;
  • Auto Switch — as above; when full, switch to the other;
  • Dual Independent — every frame written to both; each card has its own size/quality;
  • Dual Same — as above, but using the same size/quality;

Each of the two Dual options has two versions: one allowing a file to be written only if there is enough room on both cards, and another, requiring enough space on just one card. (The versions are denoted with a down- or up-arrow, respectively.)

So far, I've been using two configurations, which, I think, make most sense:

Fast Auto Switch with an extra-fast card in Slot 1:
  • 32 GB SDHC UHS-II/U3 (2000×/300MB/s)
  • 128 GB SDXC UHS-I/U1 (633×/95MB/s)
Safe Dual Same with two identical high-capacity cards:
  • 2× 128 GB SDXC UHS-I/U1 (633×/95MB/s)

Frankly, the speed of the first configuration is wasted on me, as I don't do videos or any massive serial shooting. On the other hand, in spite of the 14 years since the last time a camera card died on me (remember SmartMedia?), it may happen at any moment. In this setup I can store 10 thousand or so SHQ JPEGs in duplicate, erasing both cards only when all files are safely backed up on my home network.

So, if you don't shoot video ant want to hear just one, simple recommendation, use the Dual Same option and something similar to my Safe configuration. If you do more than an occasional video, use Auto Switch and a configuration similar to my Fast.

Last February I paid around $60 for a twin pack of these 128GB cards and about the same for a single 32GB U3 card. Fifteen years ago, running out of space when traveling over Japan, I paid more than $200 for a 200MB Compact Flash. Compare.


H1.1.2. Photo Save Slot
Save Slot [F] [C]

This is the primary slot for saving still pictures as described above. If you use one of the Dual save options, this option will be disabled; otherwise I set it to Slot 1.


H1.1.3. Video Save Slot
Save Slot [F] [C]

The primary slot for saving videos.


H1.1.4. Playback Slot
Slot [F] [C]

This is enabled only for Dual save modes. When you view pictures on two cards, deleting some of them on one or the other, you will create a mess. A real mess.

My advice: name Slot 1 as the playback slot and forget Slot 2 exists. Use it only to recover a lost or accidentally deleted picture, and from time to time delete all files or reformat.


H1.1.5. Save Folder
Assign Save Folder [F] [C]

You may change the three digits in the default 100OLYMP folder name so that it becomes more informative, like 110OLYMP.


H1.2. File Naming
File Name [F] [C]

Olympus cameras use a naming scheme with a single, fixed character up front, then one-character (1..C) month code, 2-digit day, and finally — a 4-digit frame number. Here we choose how that number is defined:

  • Reset — starts being incremented from the largest number found on card(s), or from 0001 if none;
  • Auto — increments the number of the last shot (crossing over to 0001 after 9999).

Reset is the factory setting, but I prefer Auto, as it provides images with ordinal numbers regardless of the date, folder, and card used.

If a card is not empty and contains, in the currently used folder, a file with a serial number above the current counter, the latter will be moved up.


H1.3. Edit File Name
Edit File Name [F] [C]

"Edit" is too big a word. You may change the file name syntax a bit, and it is done separately (and differently) for sRGB and Adobe RGB files.

For sRGB, you can change any of the first four characters of the file name to any digit or uppercase letter. Usually, however, you will not want to do it for characters 2..4 because normally they contain the date, which is nice to have. So, in practice you are limited to changing one fixed, single-character prefix to another. I give a new prefix to each new camera; with this one I am at X.

For Adobe RGB files you can only change characters 2..4. For the reasons I just mentioned, this comes at a price not worth paying.

My recommendation: just forget about this option.


H1.4. DPI
dpi Settings [F] [C]

This value will be embedded into any image files the camera writes. It is completely meaningless.


H1.5. Copyright
Copyright Settings [F] [C]

Here you set three text fields: Copyright Info, Artist Name, and Copyright Name, whatever that means. They will be stored in appropriately named EXIF items inside the image file.


H1.6. Lens Info
Lens Info Settings [F] [C]

The camera keeps a list of lenses with no electronic data exchange; from that list you may pick one you are using with image stabilization.

Picking is done from here; so is entering new lens data.


H2. Erasing Files
H2. Record/Erase

Some options regarding file deletion from cards.


H2.1. Quick Erase
Quick Erase [BF] [C]

An option to delete files without a confirmation prompt. Default and my setting: Off.


H2.2. RAW+JPEG Erase
RAW+JPEG Erase [BF] [C]

Which of the dual-save files will be deleted when requested: Raw. JPEG or Raw+JPEG. Default and my choice: Raw+JPEG.


H2.3. Erase Confirm
Priority Set [BF] [C]

When a delete operation is being confirmed, either the Yes or No button will be highlighted, depending on this setting, so that selecting this answer takes just one button press (selecting the other requires two).

The factory setting is No, mine — Yes.


I. Viewfinder

Neat: a bunch of viewfinder (EVF) options in one menu.


I.1. Eye Sensor
EVF Auto Switch [F]

The camera has a proximity sensor, detecting the presence of your eye (or any other body part) at the eyepiece. This can be used to turn off the monitor screen and activate the viewfinder. My setting is On (the default).


I.2. EVF Adjust
EVF Adjust

This menu item provides access to two EVF adjustments:

I.2.1. Auto Luminance
EVF Auto Luminance [F] [C]

Automatic brightness adjustment. I'm not sure how it works with other, similar adjustments, scattered over this menu.

Anyway, I keep it On (default).

I.2.2. Color & Brightness
EVF Adjust [F] [C]

Interestingly, to see this screen you must look through the EVF. There are two sliders here: one to adjust color temperature and one for brightness. (The latter will be disabled if Auto Luminance is on.)


I.3. EVF Style
EVF Style [F]

There are three styles available:

  • Style 1: a narrow, blue strip at the bottom contains all status information; the viewing area is above. In the 3:2 aspect ratio that area fits exactly the remaining space; in 4:3, narrow strips at the left and right remain.
  • Style 2: like above, except that the status strip is black.
  • Style 3: the viewing area extends over the whole finder, with the status information superimposed over it.
The style to choose is just a matter of personal taste. The factory setting is Style 3, my preference — Style 2 (in spite of somewhat reduced magnification).


I.4. EVF Views
Info Settings [F] [C]

Pressing the [Info] button will switch the EVF between a number of views, differing in what additional information is overlaid over the viewing area. Views you can enable in this sequence are:

  • Basic Information
  • Custom1
  • Custom2

This is in addition to the view with no overlays added, which is always included, so that you can have between one and four different views to use,

What exactly is shown in custom views? This is set from the same screen, and in either case the available components include:

  • Histogram
  • Highlight & shadow
  • Level Gauge
As I find the Basic Information view rather useless, my recommended setup includes two extra views: Custom1 (Histogram) and Custom2 (Level Gauge).

I'm even considering getting rid of Custom2, because I already have a smaller version of the gauge bar (horizontal only) showing up when I touch the shutter button (see Item I.6).

Some people will possibly prefer just one custom view, containing both the histogram and gauge; it is not really that overcrowded.


I.5. EVF Grid
EVF Grid Settings [F] [C]

This option becomes accessible if only if the one in D3.1.3 is set to Off.

Please refer to Item D3.1 for how the grid attributes are set.


I.6. Mini Level Gauge
Half Way Level [F] [C]

With this option activated, half-pressing the release button will replace the exposure compensation bar with a mini version of the level gauge (the horizontal bar only).

I like this a lot, as it allows me to do a last-moment adjustment of the horizon angle (more accurately: the camera roll angle) without cluttering the display.

Factory setting and my preference: On.


I.7. S-OVF
S-OVF [BF] [C]

Activate this to enable the S-OVF (Simulated Optical Viewfinder) display. The downside is that the viewfinder will be now showing a full-time status icon overlaid on the viewing area.

This setting becomes irrelevant if S-OVF is assigned to a button, as it will be toggled anyway. You can use the Multi-Function Button functionality for that, so that no button is used for a rarely-accessed feature.

Default and my recommendation: Off.


J1. Utility
J1. Utility

A rather random mix of options to set and operations to perform.

J1.1. Pixel Mapping
Pixel Mapping

Use this occasionally to map out the few bad pixels which may show on your sensor. In addition to doing it every three or six months, it may be a good idea to take a test picture (with the lens cap on) before any major shooting session, to avoid cloning out the buggers in postprocessing.


J1.2. Long-Press Time
Press-and-hold Time [F] [C]

Here you define how long needs a button to be held down to be considered long-pressed so that a function assigned to long-pressing that button is activated.

Actually, this is not a single setting but seventeen independent ones. No, I am not kidding; this is for real.

Luckily, the factory setting for all seventeen is the same: .7 second, which seems to be a reasonable value; therefore I would leave it alone.


J1.3. Level Calibration
Level Adjust [F]

Use this only if you are sure your camera's level gauge is off mark. There are two functions which can be performed from here:

  • Reset — return to factory calibration;
  • Adjust — use the current camera orientation (both angles) as the new reference.

How you set up the camera horizontally in both axes is a different story. For starters, try using a flat, horizontal surface of a building, as long as you trust your local construction standards.


J1.4. Touch Screen
Touch screen Settings [F]

Very nice: you can turn the darn thing Off.


J1.5. Menu Recall
Menu Recall [F] [C]

One of the more recent quality-of-life improvements to the Olympus menu system, and one of the most useful ones. Depending on this setting, when you enter the menu, it will open at:

  • Reset — the top menu screen
  • Recall — the last-visited menu branch or selection.

The second option works best if the last exit from the menu was by half-pressing the shutter release; as opposed to multiple backstepping with the [Menu] button.

The return location is persistent even if the camera was turned off.

Obviously: On (default).


J2. Power
J2. Utility

All items directly related to power supply and usage.


J2.1. Battery
Battery Settings [F] [C]

In addition to defining which battery is used first if you have the HLD-9 Battery Holder attached, you can check here the battery status; not just the charge left, but also number of pictures since it was replaced and, most importantly, the level of degradation, so that you know when to take a second mortgage to get a replacement.


J2.2. Backlit LCD
Backlit LCD [BF] [C]

The monitor backlighting uses considerable power, therefore it may be set up to turn itself off after 8, 30, or 60 seconds of inactivity, or not at all, if set to Hold (factory default, but see the next item).

Shorter time-out means more energy saved, but I find it difficult to live with less than one minute.


J2.3. Sleep
Sleep [F] [C]

The camera will go into low-power sleep state after a set time of inactivity. This can be set to 1, 3, or 5 minutes, or disabled.

In this state the monitor is turned off, and all undergoing operations (usually: open UI activities) are canceled. The camera will then wake up when any button is pressed or a dial turned.

The factory setting is 1 minute, but I've been using 3 minutes so far. Still, I believe 1 minute to be a good choice for someone using a camera for picture-taking (as opposed to playing with).


J2.4. Auto Power Off
Auto Power Off [BF] [C]

After some time in sleep state, the camera will turn itself off for real; you will have to flip the power switch to bring it back.

That time-out can be set to 5 or 50 minutes, 1 or 4 hours, or disabled. While the factory value is 4 hours, I'm using one hour — not that it really matters.


J2.5. Quick Sleep
Quick Sleep Mode [F] [C]

Now, this is a Super-Saver (not to say: Draconian) energy mode and, surprisingly, I can live with it. Besides, it will become active only when you turn monitor viewing off (by switching to Control Panel).

If you turn this mode on, you can also set two timeout parameters: one for the monitor backlight, and another for sleep state. In any case, when you bring the camera to your eye and the EVF is dark, just touch the shutter button.

While usually I keep this option at Off, I have tried some parameter combinations and I think I could live with 5 seconds for the monitor and 10 seconds for sleep.


J2.6. Eye-Fi
Eye-Fi [F]

I don't have an Eye-Fi card, so I will not comment on this one.


6. Maintenance
Setup Menu


6.1. Card Format
Card Setup

This allows you to format the selected card, or just to delete all files from it.


6.2. Date & Time

You do this just once.


6.3. Language

More than thirty languages supported.


6.4. Monitor Adjust
[F] [C]

You can adjust the color temperature and brightness, also switch between Vivid and Natural display modes.

What I don't quite understand is how did this setting end up as an oddball in this menu, instead of Menu D.2?

Well, my best guess is "historic reasons". That's what we say in the industry instead of "I was too lazy to spend five minutes on fixing this". Some Olympus cameras had, by default, customization menus hidden, and the designers still wanted to provide a quick access to this (as well as the next) feature.


6.5. Rec View
Rec View [F] [C]

This parameter determines for how long a picture is displayed (monitor or EVF) just after being saved. It can be chosen out of a dozen or so of discrete values, ranging from .3 to 20 seconds.

Obviously, it does not belong to this menu (anywhere but here!), see the boxed comment above.


6.6. Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Settings [F] [C]

I have used this to pair the camera with my cell phone, in order to use the latter as a remote, with the help of the OI Share Android application.


6.7. Firmware

Shows the version number of camera's firmware. As of this update, mine is 1.3.


What Next?

The article is done. I still do the maintenance on it from time to time, mostly limited to fixing typos, syntax, or page layout.

My other articles related to the Olympus E-System cameras.

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This page is not sponsored or endorsed by Olympus (or anyone else) and presents solely the views of the author.

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Posted 2017/04/30, last updated 2017/07/14 Copyright © 2017 by J. Andrzej Wrotniak