Olympus E-M5: Day #2

I downloaded the full Olympus E-M5 instruction guide and prowled through it as I clicked the buttons on the back of the camera to see what each menu item would do.  Oly's advanced cameras are very intricate and the menus are actually a bit frustrating.  They run deep with features, and I find on occasion that to get one feature activated the way I want, I am required to adjust two menu items. This is both good and bad.  The bad is that it takes a long time to figure things out.  The good is that your options are almost limitless.  If you are a prior Olympus dSLR or PEN owners, much of this will come quickly for you.  I can't imagine how onerous setting up the camera will be to owners new to Olympus.

An example of running deep is the activation setting for the "Live SCP" or Live Super Control Panel.  For me, this feature is a keystone to operating this camera because when I activate it on the monitor with a press of the OK button, a grid is displayed showing 21 of the important camera settings, such as ISO, White Balance, and Flash EV Adjustment. The grid is interactive.  You can enter the grid by pressing the OK button or touching the screen.  This gives you access to each feature so you can make your desired adjustments within that feature.  No menu diving required!

To get to the Live SCP setting so that I can turn it on (or off), things get a bit complex. Even after I found the setting, it took a few tries to get back to it a second and third time.  Here's what you need to do (I didn't even count the menu clicks, but it was a bunch): press the menu button to activate the menu > Custom Menu > Custom Menu D > Control Settings > P/A/S/M > Live SCP > off/on.  Based on what I read on the various Internet forums, some owners are still trying to find this option.

Bracketing is an example of needing to adjust two settings.  Just setting the bracketing to the number of shots and the bracketing EV amount is not enough, as you will then be forced to press the shutter once for each bracketed shoot.  I don't know anyone who wants to do this, though I can respect that Oly wants to provide this option.  If you, like me, want to press the shutter just once to activate all of the bracketing shoots, you also need to activate sequential shooting.  To speed things up in the field, most owners find the best solution is to reduce these double settings to one, by creating a customized "myset" that includes both. 

There are then two approaches to turning on bracketing:

The first approach is to use the menu.  This is what I used on the E-620 and E-520. It's only a couple of clicks into the menu. When I want sequential bracketing I go to myset2.  When I want to go back to non-bracketed non-sequential shooting I go to myset1.  On the E-M5 I will continue to do it this way, if I am planning to take a number of bracketed sequences.

The second approach is to set up function button Fn1 with myset2. Mysets don't appear to be available as an option on any of the other function buttons.  That's too bad, as it means I can't use Fn1 for AEL/AFL, which is the traditional location for a AEL/AFL button.  (The Fn1 button is on the back of the camera, on the top right side, and most easily pressed with the right thumb.)  Incidentally, as a function, mysets are not "sticky".  You need to press the function button down and hold it down with your thumb, while pressing the shutter.  This is why the function buttons on the top plate cannot be set to mysets - it's impossible to hold down a top plate function button while also pressing the shutter.  On the other hand, if Oly would allow the myset function to be "sticky" like the AEL/AFL function allows, then you could use it effectively with buttons on the top plate... which I would prefer.

[Edit: I'm not sure I am using the term "sticky" correctly here or not.  The word "toggle" might be more accurate.  What I mean is that the AEL/AFL function can be turned on with one press and turned off with a second press.  So, you don't have to hold it down to have it work. On the other hand, the Myset function turns on as long as you hold the button down and turns off as soon as you release the button.  I've not yet found a way to change this.]

The Fn1 function button is very difficult to reach with the right thumb, in my opinion. 
You compromise your grip when you reach for the button because
your thumb leaves the really nice rubber thumb pad. 

I find that I must bend my thumb into the shape of a "C" so I can
press with the tip of my finger or my fingernail.  It is also very squishy with no
nice click to it.

Learning the Camera

I think the best way to learn a camera is to go through all of the menu items and options.  This trains your fingers as well as your mind. Every time you come to a menu item that confuses you, go to the manual and learn what it does.  I think I now have things the way I want them, based on what I understand to be available and not-available features.  It took about four hours to get to this point.  Contrast that to the Panasonic GH2 which took me about one hour.


Only after spending four hours learning and setting up the camera did I find five very helpful pages in the full manual.  If I were to do it all over again, this is where I would start!

The section I found is called "Menu Directory" and covers pages 111-115 in the English manual.  It is organized exactly like the menus on the camera, with page references to the appropriate pages in the manual.  Once I found these pages, I kicked myself for not looking for them from the very start.  I remember now how helpful similar pages were for me when I owned the long discontinued but highly acclaimed (at the time) Olympus C-8080.

As an example of what I am talking about, page 111 of the English instruction manual is shown below.  It matches the menu items and order of items shown on the camera monitor.

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