Friday, May 2, 2014

Setting Up The Olympus OM-D EM-5 - From A Nikon DSLR Users Perspective

**(UPDATE 6/14/2015)**
I just wanted to stop by and update this post.  After using the OM-D cameras for some time now, we have upgraded to the EM5 Mk II and also acquired an EM1.
Check out the SETTING UP CAMERA PICTURE MODES section for an additional update to get better control over the image quality from your OM-D JPG and RAW files.

Having just bought into the m43 system, there is a bit of a learning curve getting used to this system.   Going from Nikon to Fuji also had a curve, but not quite as large as this one.  I don't mean handling, as I find that the Olympus handles quickly and surely in an almost DSLR like fashion.

© Olympus

What I am referring to is the output.  When I ran the first batch of images through the OM-D EM5, I was underwhelmed by what I saw.   I couldn't quite understand why the images coming from the camera were not up to par to what I had previously seen in reviews and forums.  I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that I just royally screwed up and I would be returning the gear to the store.  I could not get the JPG files to look like I wanted them to, and I was able to work the RAW files, but  I don't always want to shoot RAW.  I thought that the Olympus JPG engine was garbage.

Before I completely gave up on it, I went back into research mode and wanted to know just how everyone else was getting the fabulous images I've been seeing.

Thankfully, I figured it out and our second trip with the camera gave us way better results.

This is the backbone of any system, and the m43 is no different.  While I can appreciate the flexibility of a good kit zoom lens, the allure of the 12-50/3.5-6.3 is lost on me.   It doesn't really excel at anything and the slow apertures make shooting at the long end( eqiv. 100mm FOV) a pain indoors or in poor light.  It is a nice walk around focal length range and the fact that it is weather sealed is a bonus.
I then went to my local camera store and had a chance to use the Olympus 17/1.8 and the 45/1.8.  Wow!!  What a difference.  In order to get this kind of sharpness on my Nikon's, I'd have to spend in the $1000-$1500 range.  These Olympus prime lenses are phenomenal!  The size and price are worth what Olympus is asking.  Before passing judgement on the m43 system, use it for a while and use it with the prime lenses.
Bottom line - get a good lens for this camera.  I started with the 17/1.8 prime and picked up the 45/1.8 soon after!

Oly 17mm f/1.8

Only Olympus would know why on this planet they would not ship these OMD cameras not setup for an optimal quality output.  OLYMPUS PLEASE LISTEN!!!  Some people go by the JPG quality they get from a camera and setting the factory default to Large/Fine is not the best way to go about it!  These cameras should come from the factory as Large/SuperFine.  I can only think that someone was thinking that they did not want to chew up a lot of room for saving JPG on the memory card.  Let me, the end user worry about dialing it down.
So, go into the Custom Menu, Gear "G" and find the little diamond looking icon on the second screen that has the word "SET" next to it.  Change one of the outputs there to Large/SuperFine.  I set the first one to that and that is all I ever use.
**UPDATE for 6/14/2015**

I also use the "Natural" mode, bump the Contrast up to +1 and leave everything else alone set the sharpness to -1.  I like making my changes in post, so I setup the cameras I use to get the widest dynamic range.  Why -1 on sharpness?  I find that the in camera sharpness settings are a little too much even at 0, which can cause some over sharpening of the noise from the sensor, which looks like excessive grain and JPG artifacting.  I've found that by doing -1 on the sharpness, Lightroom sharpening in post has a lot less distortion of the noise.

If you are a fan of shooting RAW, I highly recommend that you do your initial RAW processing pass in Olympus Viewer 3(OV3) first, save the file as a 16-bit TIFF, then process in your editor of choice after that.  The OV3 pulls way better colors and gains you more detail easier and quicker than Lightroom.  Others might find no difference, they are probably better at post processing ORF files in Lightroom than I am.
Oly 45mm f/1.8

     Command and Sub Command Dials
I did not like the way that these were setup from the factory.  Olympus put the exposure comp on the front dial and the aperture/shutter control on the rear dial.  It made more sense for me to have the most used option right next to my index finger and the shutter release.  I went into the Custom Menu, Gear "B" and selected Dial Function.  It prompts you which mode you want the dials changed for.  I shoot aperture priority 99% of the time.  Went into "A" on that menu and switched what the dials do.

     Function 1 (Fn1) Button
I'm used to my DSLRs having the focus point reset on the OK button.   I like Olympus using the "OK" button for the quick context menu, so I made a decision to use the Fn1 button as the AF point reset.  I have it put the AF point back into the middle of the frame.

     Function 2 (Fn2) Button
For normal shooting, I have come to like using auto ISO, even on my Nikon's that support that function.  There are times, though that you will want to control this yourself.  I assigned the ISO control to Fn2 button.

     Record Button
I don't use the video modes on any of my cameras.  Not that they are not good...I'm just not a video guy.  I want to re-purpose the REC button on the top plate...just not sure what that will be yet.  When I know, I will update this post with the new information.

**UPDATE** - I've assigned the 2x digital teleconverter to the record button.

     Image Stabilizer
I turn this off and only turn it on when I need it.  Its a habit from using DSLRs.  I still am learning the Olympus in body stabilization and I don't know if it makes any difference to leave it on all the time or not.

     Focusing Mode
I went into Custom Menu Gear "A" and setup the default to be S-AF + MF.  This is setup like my Nikon's.  I have AF when I half press the button and immediate manual override of the focus if I want it.  Also, if you buy this camera new, it may not have the newest firmware version.   Update it immediately!  This will give you access to the smaller AF points.  the can be set by activating the AF point selector and then pressing the INFO button.  change it to the "square with the little 's' ".

     Power Features
I set the Gear "D" menu option Auto Power Off to 1 hour.  If I have not touched my camera in over an hour, then I'm probably not shooting it.  It can power off!  :D

I shoot primarily with the EVF, so I have it stay there - no auto switching.

     Lower the in camera noise reduction
Software does it better.