Olympus has updated the firmware for its flagship mirrorless camera, the OM-D E-M1, adding a mode that's designed to eliminate image blurring due to 'shutter shock' by using an electronic first curtain at speeds below 1/320sec. The update also adds more options for audio control during movie recording. It's available to install now, using the 'Olympus Digital Camera Updater' program.

Just to recap, the shutter systems on most mirrorless cameras have tended to work in a different way to SLRs. The shutter is held open during normal live view, and when the shutter button is pressed it closes so the sensor can be reset, then quickly opens again to make the exposure. This process has been blamed for sometimes introducing slight image blurring across a specific range of shutter speeds (usually around 1/60-1/250sec). 

With an electronic first curtain, the exposure is started by a purely electronic process (as the name implies). Some manufacturers such as Canon and Sony have used this for several years, as it can be used to entirely eliminate any vibration from the physical shutter action. Olympus's implementation is however subtly different - the physical shutter still closes and opens as usual, but the exposure is slightly delayed to allow any vibrations to die down, and then started electronically. This is also the first time we've seen it added via a firmware update, and specifically to reduce image blurring.

Olympus has rather played-down the new mode in its release notes for the firmware, simply saying 'A 0 second setting has been added to Anti-Shock mode'. But the camera itself is much less shy in telling you what's really going on:

The E-M1 displays this screen on selection of its new '0 second' anti-shock mode

We actually found the E-M1 to be less susceptible to such problems than other recent Olympus models (most notably the PEN E-P5), but it's still really interesting to see Olympus addressing the issue in this way. We'd certainly love to see a similar update make its way to E-P5 owners. 

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Firmware Version 1.3 (March 31, 2014)

  • Dynamic range has been expanded when using the external mic. The sound level adjustment has been changed to adjust to 21 levels in accordance with this.
  • A function to turn the Volume Limiter on and off was added. When it is on, it automatically limits the mic input volume if sound input volume exceeds the designated level.
  • A 0 second setting has been added to Anti-Shock mode.
  • The camera operation when the Frame Rate of live view is [High] have been improved.