Olympus OM-D E-M1 User Guide – Updated

HDR1/HDR2 For Those Who Don’t Want To Combine In Post Processing

The first two options with the HDR button are HDR 1 or HDR 2.  The only difference as explained by the Olympus manual is that HDR 2 provides a more “impressive” image.  Again, for those of you that shoot HDR frequently I would still recommend not combining them in camera, you can get a lot more impressive photos if you take the time to do this in post processing.

When using HDR mode the slowest shutter speed you can use is 1 second and the longest available will be four seconds.  The camera will also set the ISO to a fixed ISO of 100 (use a tripod).

Settings To Use If You Will Be Combining The Images Yourself (recommended)

Here are your bracketing options:

Screen Shot 2013-12-21 at 8.44.35 AM

Here is how to shoot HDR:

Set the lever affixed to the HDR button to 1 – then press the HDR button (this will display the options) – Choose HDR 2 (as an example) – You can view the processed image in playback mode.

The HDR settings are fairly expansive and will cover a vast majority of situations out there however there are a few limitations.  The first person to point this out was Michael Myerscough (his website).  Thanks Michael.

I’ve been experimenting with it and combing the manual and the best I appear to be able to do is switch to auto bracketing mode, set up a custom timer with the same amount of shots as brackets and we’re golden. The major issue is that I can only get 0 +/- 2 which as you no doubt are aware covers 90% of shots but not all. Generally I’d just adjust the exposure bias as a cheat to expand the range. That’s not the best as it involves touching the camera which I don’t like doing in the middle of a series of brackets. The major irritant is that in Olympus’s HDR settings they give access to a huge range of exposure steps which would nail any situation but you can’t do that with the internal timer. I’ve tried figuring it out with the remote software but it still won’t shoot the HDR. The best I can do it appears is set it up for the HDR brackets, push the shutter and it rips through let’s say 7 exposures in no time at all so long as I set the shutter to ‘sequential high’. In a perfect world Olympus would update the firmware so the custom timer is available with HDR ( as distinct from auto bracketing).

I hope you found this guide useful, check back to PhotolisticLife for the full review of the EM1 and the new Olympus M Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro Interchangeable Lens.  Enjoy!

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  • as a pl1 user I have a couple of questions regarding video. does the auto grade work in video mode, it does not on the pl1. does the shadow highlight tone adjustment work in video mode

    • I don’t shoot video but I will look into this… in the meantime, if anyone reading this guide has the answers feel free to reply.

    • I’m working on it, I’m hoping to have some additional info by the weekend. I’m glad you liked it.

  • HDR is of the most interest for me …
    I’d love it if you would explain how to assign all the customizations required for HDR to one of the function buttons…

    • I’m working on the HDR update and I should have something by the end of next week. Sorry for the delay.

  • Hi John, this is excellent. I’ve just bought the EM1 and it’s my first Olympus having migrated from Nikon and I was finding a tad confusing. I’m big into HDR and really look forward to hearing from you about this. The particular gripe is that while it’s possible to set up a ‘custom’ timer with multiple exposure using auto bracketing it’s not possible to do it from the ‘HDR’ button. This is a pity given the greater range that setting allows. It looks like I either need the remote from Olympus or to get the remote timer working on my phone. The remote from my phone worked briefly for single shots but seems to have bonded with my mac book instead now. I look forward to hearing if you’ve found a solution. I don’t see the point to setting up on a tripod and then pressing the exposure button to get the first shot. I know the people with NEX7 have it even worse in that they have to hold the button down.

    • Michael,

      Thanks, I’m glad you liked it. Could you give me a little more info about the Macbook interfering with your phone as a remote? Did you try having your Macbook forget the OMD before pairing the phone?

  • Hmm, if that software works it looks like a solution if I can set the timer to take multiple shots. My phone seems to be having a tough time picking up the wifi signal from the camera. I re-installed the app and went through the process again, it worked briefly and then lost contact with the camera. I need to do a bit more research but I’m a bit busy shooting with the camera at the moment. I’d much rather the camera could fire off the timer it’s self in HDR mode, if the phone worked that would be good too. I’m on a Samsung S3.

    • Hmm, I’m not sure because I’m using an iPhone and I don’t have any issues with staying connected. Perhaps you could borrow a friends iPhone or another Android. I don’t have any friends with Android or I’d check it out myself.

  • Thanks so much for this guide – great tips! I’ll be returning to this blog more often, it’s really well done. I’m loving my E-M1 so far. I am coming from an E-PL5 for the past year, and was a Canon man before that. It’s so weird that there is so much great stuff turned off by default, or hidden in arcane places in the software. Oh well – at least they make great cameras and lenses! Micro 4/3 for the win!

    • Thanks! It is crazy that they burry some of the great abilities of the camera deep in the setting. Enjoy and be sure to submit some of your shots to the various challenges we do here on the site through the Submit an Article page.

  • I just tried the RF-902 remote available on Amazon with the EM-1 for shooting an HDR sequence and it works fine. This remote allows you to shoot wired or wireless.

    • i dont understand what you are all talking bout regarding HDR.. If you set the camera to continuous.. and choose bracketing… the way i read the manual, the camera will shoot the bracketed number of shots automatically in a burst consistent with the burst speed. Maybe i am missing something in this conversation ?

      • I was just mentioning that it’s possible to shoot HDR or any bracketed sequence without touching the camera by using a remote. That insures that there is no movement due to pressing the shutter.

      • ahh !.. never thought of doing that with my nikon dSlr and my little remote control.. interesting !!
        thanks and of course, the best for you, Ed and your loved ones in 2014.. Now get off of the computer and open those presents !!!!!

  • Thanks for this site. I just bought an E-M1 after being a long time Canon DSLR (20D and 7D) shooter. I ran into the same HDR issue as is being discussed here so this is good info.

  • Thank you for your great article, I wish you write about multiple exposure settings and problems with it in a future article on the E-M1.

    • I will add that to my growing list of article ideas, right now I’m working on some articles about various photography technique.

  • thank you for this amazing article! 🙂

    i badly need help on what to enter in the focal length under image stabilization.
    i have a 15-50mm. do i enter 15? or 50? i’m confused.

    thank u so much 🙂

  • Got my OMD EM1 on weekend and finding it a little confusing so thankyou for writing such an informative piece 🙂

  • hi John.. i want to be able to quickly get into an action mode when needed. Is SPORTS mode good enough, or should i create a my set with better settings ? have you thought about this ?. i would imagine that i’d use continuous, high farme rate.. maybe set at 1/500 sec and auto iso way way up since catching the action is more important than noise control ?. i have no idea how olympus set up their SPORT mode (excepts for continuous shooting of course)

    • I have not had this issue but I also have not been using the EM1 recently (using the Nikon Df right now). I’d contact Olympus and have them repair it.

  • Hi John, Thanks heaps for your tips – but am having issues with using the camera in A mode – when I do it selects a very slow shutter speed and this is not helping as when I go over S mode and select a faster shutter speed it chooses a very wide open aperture (2.8) I am in borneo and need speed and depth of field but the “auto” setting seem to be crappy? Is there a way in Say S mode to set the default Aperture to say 5.6? This seems like a real downfall of the camera? I am also using the camera in Auto ISO. Ultimately I would like to use the camera in say S mode, with default Aperature of say 5.6 and it adjusts the ISO. Many thanks Mark

    • Mark,

      I’m glad you found the article helpful. The camera in A mode is going to select a shutter speed based on your choice of aperture… so if you choose an aperture of say 5.6 it will compensate by adjusting the shutter speed automagically. If your ISO is set to auto you may be running into an issue here… It sounds like you’re shooting in low light and your camera may be set to only go up to ISO 1600 or something like that in ISO auto mode. If you wouldn’t mind, try switching to manual ISO and increase your ISO to 3200 and dial in the aperture you want in A mode (aperture priority) and see if that increases your shutter speed. Alternatively, you could put your camera in manual mode and dial in the aperture and shutter speed you want, snap a photograph, if your photo is underexposed then adjust the ISO manually. The auto modes are either going to make your aperture the priority (A mode) or shutter speed (s mode) so you’ll want to use Manual mode if you want control of both. I hope that helps. Let me know if you need further assistance, enjoy!

  • John. I just discovered your site and I think it’s just great. I’m expecting the UPS dude to show up at my house with my EM1 any minute now and even tho I’m stuck here at work I’m about to wet myself in anticipation. This will be my first “real deal” Olympus camera and I know I’ll get a lot of great use out of it right away, thanks to your great advice!

  • Thanks for this very helpful user guide. May I add a little quirk I discovered? If you find yourself unable to use the buttons to switch from MF to an AF mode, then you’ve likely slipped the clutched focus ring on the lens to the rear MF position. Simply push the ring forward and the AF mode button on the camera is back in business. I’ve shot Canon gear for years, and Contax before that and never encountered this issue or a clutched focus ring (on the Zuiko 12-40). I like having the option to quickly slip the ring into MF mode – just had to invest an hour in figuring it out!

    • When my new EM-1 arrived complete with the 12-40mm pro lens, I couldn’t find AF either. Then I asked somebody and they told me about the focus ring “quirk”. Although I’ve used Canon lenses for years, I did once have a Tamron macro lens and I recall this had the same action.

  • Thanks for the info, John. I would like to start using HDR, but with the lever in the 1 position and the HDR button pressed, turning the front dial does nothing. HDR remains off. What am I doing wrong?

  • Thanks for the info, John. I would like to start using HDR with my M-1 except with the lever in the 1 position and the HDR button pressed, the front dial doesn’t change anything. HDR remains off and I can’t select HDR1, HDR2, 3F etc. What am I doing wrong?

  • When I frame my image with my EM-1 either with14-40 or 40-150 mm lens, what I see is NOT what I get. Turns out that what I’m seeing through my viewfinder is just a small portion of the final image, which include a lot more around the frame. I find this very difficult to compose properly. What am I missing?

    • Hi Rado, i suppose you changed the image format to 16:9 or something. so you see the desired format (which is cropped) in the vf, but if you shoot raw and transfer to lightroom, lightroom ignores the setting and gives you the full, uncropped picture

  • If you want to show awesome photos and you don’t want to switch off the eye sensor, just turn the monitor a bit off its in-camera position. this shuts down the eye sensor 🙂

  • Wow… thanks for putting together this post about getting started with the EM-1. I purchased the EM-1 today and your guide was super helpful in helping me get started in figuring out the menu system.

  • any updates coming for firmware version 4.0. With so many new features i think its deserves one

    • I would agree. Unfortunately, there are no plans for an update at this time. I’ve been shooting with the Nikon D810, X100T, and the Nikon Df so I have not kept up with the updates. Such is the downside of being only one person. Though, if you are skilled photographer that knows how to write I am always looking for talent to write for PhotolisticLife… You are welcome to take a crack at writing an update. Either way, thanks for dropping by. Have a great night.

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