User Guide: Getting the most out of the Olympus E-M5

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Things to know about movie shooting

There are a couple of quirks in camera behavior worth knowing about if you're going to shoot movies with the E-M5. These aren't so much about settings changes as trying to explain undocumented behavior. Once you understand exactly how the different buttons have and interact, you may find you're able to achieve more than you might expect with the camera's movie capabilities.

Movie behavior

A lot of the camera's AF behavior in movie mode is rather clever and (you might be spotting a theme by now), is not really documented in the E-M5 user manual. The first thing you need to know is that whatever AF mode you specify when in movie shooting mode (or in Custom Menu A, 'AF Mode' - 'Movie') is the one you'll get when you hit the REC button, whether you're shooting from Movie mode or a stills shooting mode.

Autofocus and Function button behavior:

Also worth knowing is that C-AF behaves differently when in movie mode. Depending on which lens you use (and it's particualrly good with the 12-50mm F3.5-6.3), the camera will perform a slower focus change, rather than racing to find the subject. Also worth knowing about is the 12-50's L-Fn button, which is set to be AF-Stop, by default. Holding the button down stops the camera trying to refocus, and when you release it, the camera will try to focus slowly and smoothly to the new subject.

As mentioned earlier, only four of the functions that can be assigned to Fn1 are available in movie mode (AEL/AFL, Off, Digital Teleconverter and AF Area Select). Setting it to Off, or to any of the settings from stills mode, will cause the Fn1 button to act as focus acquire/hold while shooting movies. Digital Teleconverter and AF Area select are only available until you hit the REC button - once shooting has begun, Fn1 has no effect. AEL/AFL will work during movie shooting if the camera is in movie mode - press REC from a stills shooting mode and it has no effect.

Being able to use AEL during movie shooting is useful, as it's the only way of influencing exposure as you shoot. However, the ability to perform AF-acquire/hold can be useful too. Unlike the dedicated AF Stop option that can be applied to L-Fn, pressing the Fn1 button causes the camera to try to jump quickly to the new subject and releasing it causes it to do the same again.

The 12-50mm F3.5-6.3's lens function button can be configured to be AF-Stop, a function we'd really like to see available on other function buttons.

The interesting thing is that the two buttons can even be used together. Once focus has been held, whether by the L-Fn button, Fn1 button or a half press, you can hold the L-Fn button and release the other buttons. Release the L-Fn button and you get a a smooth attempt to refocus. However if, when holding L-Fn, you press and hold the Fn1 button then, when you release L-Fn, the camera will attempt to perform a fast jump back into focus.

Another knock-on effect of Fn1 acting as AF acquire is that, if you shoot with C-AF+TR in movie mode, the Fn1 button tells the camera to start tracking whatever is now in the selected AF area (chosen before the movie shooting was started).

Letting the Fn1 button be AF acquire does mean that you lose AEL, but that can be assigned to Fn2, if you need both features. It means you lose the handy Multi-function feature from stills shooting but, if you're recording video in which you need to be able to lock exposure and control refocusing, it's likely that you're mainly focused on video shooting.

Overall the E-M5 is a very capable camera, even without delving around in the menus but, depending on how you want to shoot, you may find some of these hints and tips make it even more enjoyable to use.

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Total comments: 262
By PeterNMIF (May 8, 2012)

Wrong image on configuring auto ISO.

Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (May 8, 2012)

No, it isn't. The image relates to the second aspect (defining the shutter speed at which the camera increases the ISO).

Narek Avetisian
By Narek Avetisian (May 8, 2012)

I've got 2 questions:
1. The HLD-6 battery pack/holder has a AC power adapter, AC-3, as an option. Does it provide a standard jack or a proprietay one? I found that AC-3 costs almost $300 - tooooo much for just a simple power adapter, i think.

2. Is it possible by any way to shoot video with FL-600R flash with video LED light on while using the EMA-1 audio input accessory on? Thing is that EMA-1 blocks the hotshoe.

P.S. thanks for a great article!!!!!

Timur Born
By Timur Born (May 8, 2012)

Since the FL-600R is not available for me yet and I could not find a manual I don't know the definitive answer. But as a 'standalone' unit coming with manual controls and being powered by its own batteries I don't see why it should not be possible.

By ppotka (May 8, 2012)

1. HLD jack is proprietary, I guess. Never seen like that, but isn't it the same with any cell phone etc...

2. You can use FL-600R video light manually off camera. It is supplied with a small table stand which has tripod thread underneath..

Narek Avetisian
By Narek Avetisian (May 8, 2012)

thanks ppl

By efg40 (May 7, 2012)

Very helpful! Thanks!

BTW, the first picture on the movie page has the Fn1 and review buttons switched. Is this the English driving version? ;)

1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (May 7, 2012)

Ah! That was a shot of the pre-production camera we had when preparing the preview (the button functions were swapped pretty late in the process, I believe).

By efg40 (May 8, 2012)

Now it looks like mine. :)
Smart swap on their part.

By rocklobster (May 7, 2012)

Image stabilisation in the viewfinder would be a Godsend after trying to frame shots using an old 200mm tele on my E-PM1. I imagine that with IS built into the lens that this is standard on Panasonic M4/3 cameras - correct?

Vlad S
By Vlad S (May 8, 2012)

Yes, on Panasonics if the O.I.S. is turned on, then it's on during the preview as well as during the shot, and this setting was available from day 1. In the earlier models there was an option to have it off during the preview, and on during the shutter release, but now this option has been removed.

I actually often use O.I.S. for manual focusing, and turn it off for the shot, so I was very surprised to learn that Olympus did not have it available during the preview.

By Mouser (May 13, 2012)

Vlad S - Just curious... *why* do you use OIS to focus and then turn it off for taking the shot?

By drkhrse (May 7, 2012)

The link from page 2 to 3 goes to the preview home page, the url is instead of
thanks for all of the great info!

Comment edited 36 seconds after posting
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (May 7, 2012)

Oddly that's not how it works for me, but I've made the link less ambiguous, so it should now work.

Isabel Cutler
By Isabel Cutler (May 7, 2012)

Very, very, helpful. Having had the e-pl1 and the help of "The Olympus Pen E-PL1 for Dummies" were big helps in understanding the options in the E-pl1. I thought the E-PL1 menus and buttons were daunting until I got a GH2. Now with the EM5 coming, with even more options, at least I'm prepared!!! Thank you very much for this helpful guide.

By pdelux (May 7, 2012)

great job!

By PJInTheUSA (May 7, 2012)

Thanks. A really outstanding feature I would like added to the OM-D is the ability to buy one. I find this the biggest impediment to use.

Dolan Halbrook
By Dolan Halbrook (May 7, 2012)

Thanks! I'll definitely be playing with some of these settings when I get home.

Domagoj Batinic
By Domagoj Batinic (May 7, 2012)

regarding EVF. i have E-M5 and without changing any EVF settings when i have it hanging around my neck EVF is not always on,because camera goes to sleep quickly ( a minute or two). so it's not really draining the battery (firmware of the camera is 1.0)

By J4Hug (May 7, 2012)

Thanks Richard, excellent idea ...... and considering the customerisation possible with the camera you may need even more pages as work-a-rounds of other different aspects are identified.

1 upvote
By SDPharm (May 7, 2012)

Any chance this will be extended to other cameras? One for the GX1 would be nice (although it's pretty easy to use already).

By SkiHound (May 7, 2012)

Thank you. Don't have my E-M5 yet but this will give some very useful places to start configuration. Very nice!

By boyzo (May 7, 2012)

Thanks Richard...
Just got my OM-D yesterday and its great love to shoot with it.
I have the extra grip wonderful addition :)

By Mssimo (May 7, 2012)

sorry..but we need a guide on how to get a e-M5 before we know how to use it ;)

1 upvote
Don Wiss
By Don Wiss (May 8, 2012)

I just stopped by at Focus Camera to hold one. They had none on display, but he did have some in stock. Getting back home I find on their website they list the black body with the kit lens as being in stock.

I wanted to hold one as I have a contact that is arguing it is too small and I should wait until the June or September ones come out. Presumably he's referring to the next Panasonic models.

By win39 (May 7, 2012)

Wow. What a good idea. You guys develop all that experience with the cameras and sharing it is awesome. There was a little of that in the NEX-7 review with the settings. Maybe more?

By msusic (May 7, 2012)

Wow, nice guide.
I'm very impressed by the level of customization available.

M Jesper
By M Jesper (May 8, 2012)

Well what did you expect for €1300, a Leica ? ;)

1 upvote
By erichK (May 8, 2012)

I suspect that it is probably that same high level of customization that is flumoxing people..Adn the problem with the thick, detailed manuals that feel so good in the hand is that they also require a lot of resources to update and correct, should you want to add a new feature, or enhance or change an existing one.

Allen Ballard
By Allen Ballard (Jun 30, 2012)

Just finished a couple of days with the camera and the manual, and I thank you for this article. The manual is just plain awful and, like someone else, I definitely had second thoughts about whether I really wanted to keep the camera. All I want to do is shoot and basically be able to change focus, quality, iso, white balance, and metering and all of this is complex with this menu system. Just sold my G1 x in anticipation of buying this and must say that the G1 x with its external buttons is a lot easier to use than this Om-D Having said all of that, I do like the camera!

By BigFarley (Aug 16, 2012)

Thanks for the great info... was very helpful

Great camera only just got it... can't wait for sun rise...

By radamo (Aug 21, 2012)

Mine is coming today. Can't wait to take this baby out for a test run. Thanks for all the great info here. Really appreciate it.

Total comments: 262