5 Dos & Don’ts On Using Olympus OM-D Cameras

Here is a quick video I have made recently to summarize some common mistakes I have observed some photographers do while using their OM-D cameras, some done unintentionally, and also adding some additional tips on optimizing the use of the camera. Some of the recommendations are subjective, you may choose to disagree with them, but I did find them working well for me.

Here is the list of what I have discussed in the video, if you prefer to read instead of watching a 10 minutes long video:

All cameras (not just Olympus OM-D) has instant playback enabled, allowing quick preview of the previously shot image. While a lot of people need the acknowledgement to confirm that the previous shot was successfully taken, the short display time is interrupting the shooting process, and it stops the camera for that very brief period of time. This is even more true for fully electronic devices, using EVF and LCD screen. The quick display can be timed so badly that I did miss some shots happening real life because I need to half-press the shutter button to get rid of the playback. I suggest fully disabling instant playback, and only review your shots as necessary, when nothing crucial is happening while shooting.

The 2×2 function lever was introduced in Olympus PEN E-P5, and has made it into almost all Olympus OM-D cameras ever since. There are two function positions, 1 and 2. When set at position 1, the camera’s  command dials (front and back dials) behave normally, as the camera should, controlling the basic exposure settings such as shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation (depending on P, A, S or M modes). When the function lever is switched to position 2, the command dials control different set of settings, by default these settings are white balance and ISO. The problem I had was the switched being changed involuntary, sometimes  happening while inside the camera bag. Imagine a situation I need to change my shutter speed, instead of quickly adjusting the shutter speed with one of the dials I may have accidentally adjusted the white balance. This is problematic because once I realize the mistake, I need to correct the mistake first, eg correcting the white balance to the original setting, then switch the lever to the correct position, before finally getting to adjust what I wanted to adjust in the first place – shutter speed. The additional 2-3 steps to get to what I wanted to do, just simple shutter speed change, simply because of the wrong position of function lever, has caused me to miss some critical shots. This was frustrating so I have since then permanently disabled the function lever.

I wonder if anyone wanted me to explore the M.Zuiko 12-200mm lens more?

While this is not a secret anymore, and should be a common knowledge, I find that still quite a number of people  believe that by using the EVF on the OM-D camera, they will save more battery than LCD Screen. This belief originated from DSLR, which was true because using optical viewfinder (with no electronic components) uses no power, hence not using the LCD screen on a DSLR, you save battery. This is no longer true for mirrorless cameras with EVF, especially Olympus OM-D. The EVF has twice as much resolution and refresh rate, that they will suck the battery dry much faster than LCD screen. I suggest getting more batteries as spare and use EVF or LCD screen as you feel comfortable for each situation, and should not worry about battery life. But in the case that you have one battery left for a long duration of shoot, and you are doing all you can to conserve battery life, using the EVF all the time is a bad, bad idea.

I originally did not see this as an issue, we all know digital zoom will not give you the best results. However, the reason I put this into the list, is because I have quite a large number of people complaining to me that the images from their OM-D cameras were terrible in quality, has poor resolution, were not as good as even their smartphone cameras! I thought, wow, how bad can it be, when I inspected their images, truly they did tell me correctly, the images were blur, not sharp and blotchy. When I checked their cameras, very often the main cause is the teleconverter being switched on. Half of them did not realize they have enabled this accidentally, the other half did not know that digital teleconverter will cause severe image degradation. Instead of getting, say 16MP full resolution, you get practically only equivalent of 4MP output. Please, do not use the teleconverter. Trust me on this.

Lastly, make sure you did not turn ON the noise reduction setting. The noise reduction in Olympus camera is not exactly noise reduction, it is actually Dark Frame Subtraction method, a two step image shooting process (actual image + dark frame) to effectively remove hot pixels (due to image sensor heating up) during long exposure shooting. For E-M1 Mark II, after about 4 seconds or longer shutter speed is engaged, if you set noise reduction to auto, the dark frame subtraction method kicks in, and it will double the time  you shoot an image as the camera also captures a dark frame with the same shutter speed you have specified. This helps in long exposure, and necessary to ensure images are clean and free of “hot pixels”. However, in normal shooting circumstances, say you are dealing with normal shutter speeds (1/60th, for example) if you intentionally turned the noise reduction setting on, the camera will take two frames as well, resulting in double the time the camera needs to capture one photograph. This will significantly delay shot to shot performance, with noticeable longer “blackouts” between frames. I don’t recommend turning the noise reduction OFF either, just set it to Auto, and the camera is smart enough to figure out when to enable it. Just don’t turn it on. The OM-D blazing speed will be crippled if you do so.

I hope you have found these tips useful! If you have more tips, please do share with everyone in the comments!

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