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Last Article Update:- 12th Jan 2013

Basic Camera Settings

The following article will be interesting to both the traditional photographer as well as the iPad generation photographer. I will discuss the basic camera settings you will apply when configuring your new E-M5. It is important to keep in mind that this is only a basic camera configuration or set-up procedure. While reading through the article don't forget to plan and include your own special needs. Therefore while reading the article, try and experiment with the settings until you feel more comfortable with the camera. From here you can comfortably go ahead and do your own settings. Its good to have the users manual open on your PC when doing these settings, it will help you master the camera settings faster. I will kick of with the "Custom Settings" that start on P86 in the user manual. Next I will go to the "Shooting Menu 1" P111 and then to the "Shooting Menu 2" which is also on P111. Finally I will go to the "Set Up Menu" on P85 in the users manual. Starting on P111 you will find all the different E-m5 set-up parameters plus the corresponding page you can find more information on each parameter.

Camera Firmware Version:-

I bought one of the first E-M5 cameras. At that point one had mixed reactions to the camera, I guess approximately 85% were more than happy and the remainder 15% experienced various problems with the E-M5. Some of these problems were lens related and we saw how Olympus adapted specific lenses firmware to better work with the E-M5. It is extremely important that you keep both your camera and the lenses firmware updated to the latest firmware. You will find more information on the Olympus website on how to check plus update your camera.

How-to:- E-M5 Set-up Menu

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See P26 for more information on how-to set-up your E-M5. The image on the right shows the "Top Level Menu" (Level 1) on the left. The Top Level Menu items, each has 4 or 5 times "2nd Level Menus". As you move the curser up and down the Top level Menu you will see each menu's, name appear on the top of the camera screen. Out the box you will not see the "Custom Menu" on the left side (top level menu). In the "Set-up Menu" you first need to activate the "Custom Menu" so it appears in the top level menu on the camera screen. (Setup Menu > Menu Display > Menu Display (small gears) > On > OK)

To move around between the top level menu and the 2nd or 3rd level menu or backwards do the following. Going down to the 3rd level menu from the 2nd level menu, press the “right” arrow key or the “OK” button. In some cases one has to go to a 4th level to do the final settings. To go down from one level to the next press the OK button or the Right key. To go back up one level press the Left button or the Menu button.

In many cases you will see “INFO” displayed next to a setting on the screen. That typically means you need to press the Info button on your camera to access more settings!!

In this basic set-up procedure, you will set the following parameters:-

- You will learn to Reset the camera back to factory settings
- Stop the Pop Up Help menus from always appearing on the menu screen
- Set the Shutter Button operation mode (how the E-M5 will focus and measure exposure)
- Set Full-time AF to ON
- Set your own preferred Direction of Rotating for the focussing ring on the lens when in MF.
- Select the Focusing Style, multiple focus frames or focus frame groups or single focus frame.
- In the next step you will select what type of Face Recognition you prefer
- Next we will define the functions for the Fn1 and the Fn 2 & other buttons
- Next we will activate the SCP (Super Control Panel) P22
- Next we select a Grid to help you frame or compose your subject correctly in the image
- Select "Live View Boost" to ON - (this will keep the focus frame zoomed when selected!!)
- Up the auto ISO limit to 800 (some are so confident with the E-M5 that they use 1600 or 3200)
- In the next step I set the Noise Filter from mild to low.
- Then we set the Color Space to RGB
- Then we select the Image Quality from Fine to Super Fine
- We select Quick Erase
- We select to shoot in JPEG plus RAW
- Next you can enter your Copyright information
- Then we select the preferred Picture Mode (most important personalization step)
- We set the Image Ratio (personally I like 3:2 but use 4:3 ratio)
- We do some basic selections of what will be showed on the screen
- You will calibrate the camera horizontal and vertical levels metering

Keep in mind that those settings we did not adjust in this article, I personally find good "as is". I never adjust any advanced settings when doing the basic configuration. Typically I will have more than one camera configuration saved in each of the different MySetup memory spaces. As you get the feel for the menu structure by working through this simple exercise you will see other parameters or settings you might be interested to try. This is your camera, set it the way you prefer it to function. Also see this article I wrote on how to work with the Olympus menu

Tip:-Download Adobe "Acrobat Reader", especially those with Mac PC's and always open the Users Manual with Adobe when reading pdf files. The Adobe reader gives an enhanced view with more menu controls.

First you need to prepare your camera "Settings - Menu"

In order to have access to the full setup menu structure you need to turn the Mode Dial to "P" In AUT mode the user only see a part of all the possible adjustments menus available to the user.

-Full Reset the Camera-
(Shooting Menu 1 > Reset/Myset > Reset > Full > OK)
Press the "Menu Button" on the back of the camera,
Select "Shooting Menu 1" and press OK,
Select "Reset / Myset" and press Right Arrow button,
Select "Full" and then OK,
With Reset (Full) selected again press OK
Select "Yes" and press OK.
The camera has now been fully reset back to factory settings

Comment - When resetting the camera there are two options, the basic reset and a Full reset. During the basic reset not all parameters are changed whereas with a full reset the camera is set back to its default state. For more details on what is reset in each mode see the table starting on P111 in the users manual. To make sure you did reset the camera go look at one or two settings you changed and see if they back in the default position.

Do all the settings in the "Set Up Menu" first

In this step we will do the “complete” camera configuration mainly found in the "Custom Menu". I prefer to go directly to the "Custom Menu" first and thereafter to the rest of the camera settings. To do that you need to first select the top level menu, then go down with the curser to the "Custom Menu" and then press OK. If you do not see the "Custom Menu" option in the "Top Level Menu" structure, you need to set your camera in P Mode first and not iAUTO. If you still do not see the "Custom Menu" option in the top level menu structure, you need to activate that first. In the Top Level Menu go down to the "Set Up Menu" option and press OK. Go down to the "Small Gear" sign (Menu Display) just above Firmware Menu and press OK. The top menu (the "gear" menu) should be selected to "ON" If you did everything correct the camera "Top level Menu" screen should now look like the above Figure.

Next step is to select the “Custom” Menu from the top level menu. The Custom Menu has a 2nd level of its own ranging from menu’s *A to *K. Each of these sub menus gives access to important basic settings.

First step is to set all the unique settings in Menu *A (AF/MF)

- Set the Full-time AF to ON
(Menu > Custom Menu > AF/MF > Full-time AF > On > OK

Comment - From working with the E-M5 I found this setting helps me to get better results with my E-M5. This setting lets the camera auto focus on a full time basis. In other words wherever you point the camera, the camera will automatically select a focus point and it will focus on that. This is great for viewing the area in front of the camera plus it helps getting sharper results…..

-Set the Auto Focus and Auto Exposure operation Modes for S-AF-
(Menu > Custom Menu > AEL/AFL > Mode 1 > OK)
In the "Custom Menu" select the "AF/MF" menu and press OK,
Comment - this will take you to the level 2 menu in the custom menu
With "S-AF" selected press OK,
Select "Mode 2 or Mode 1" and press OK,

Comment - You can select between 3 different modes or ways the shutter button will operates when you focus and "auto" expose with the E-M5. Each of these three modes are well described on the specific setup screen. Mode 1 is the very basic mode and perfectly OK to use. My personal preference is Mode 2. With Mode 2 the camera will focus when the shutter is pressed halfway and the exposure is only set when the shutter is pressed all the way. This helps you to independently select your preferred focus point and to then move the camera to the image framing position by holding the shutter in the halfway position. The camera will only measure the exposure once the shutter is pushed all the way. The AF therefore works independent from the AE measurement in Mode 2 See the same options available for C-AF (Continues AF). Personally I select Mode 2 for all three focus modes.

-Set the direction of the Manual Focus Ring-
(Menu > Setup Menu > AF/MF > Focus Ring > “select direction” > OK)
Still in the "AF/MF" go further down to "Focus Ring" and press OK,
Select the direction you prefer and press OK,

-Set Auto Focus Target to "Home" position (HP) :- (If you prefer a single autofocus frame setup then follow this step, if you happy with multi focus frames then ignore this step)
(Menu > Custom Menu > AF/MF > Set Home > Select bottom option - 9 frames > Press Right Button > OK > OK)
The camera screen or view finder is divided into 35 autofocus points or AF "Targets" This step is tricky because it will help you select all 35 AF Frames, the Target Group AF Frame (9 AF Frames) or the Single AF Frame - P44. It will also specify the "Home" or default position of the AF configuration you selected. Also see the article on how to configure the autofocus in the E-M5 for more information.
Lets continue from the above step:-
Still in the "AF/MF" menu go to the "(…) /Set Home" menu and press OK,
If you prefer to use a single point focus then select that here and press the right arrow button,
Now you will see the 35 frames with the single AF in the center. Press OK and the menu will go one step back,
Press OK again and the menu will return to the “::: Set Home” Menu. (At this point you also set the single AF Frame “home” position in the center of the screen.
To confirm that press the right arrow button twice (the 35 AF frames screen) and you will see the single AF Frame in the center plus the top of the screen will be marked HP (Home Position)

Comment - After much trail and error I decided to use the “Target Group AF Frame” (3x3 frames) for normal, day to day or casual shooting and for accurate focussing I will change over to the” Zoom AF Frame” option. The Target Group AF Frame is set up like in the above step and the Zoom AF Frame function I assign to a button as we will do in the next step. To see more information about my focusing methods see these two articles, A & B On the older PEN cameras on could fix the AF frame in the center of the frame. The E-M5 does not allow that with the E-M5 as it did with the older PEN’s. The AF single frame can still move in the frame after applying the above steps, to return it to the center point press the button assigned to the “AF Home” function.

-Set the Face Priority mode-
Still in the "AF/MF" go down to "Face Priority" and press OK,
Once you selected your choice of "Face Priority" press the OK button.
Press the left arrow key or the Menu button to go back to the "Custom Menu"

Comment - You will see that the E-M5 offer several advanced face priority options. In the past I did not use face recognition. Now I have it permanently assigned to the i position. My advice is to cancel face recognition until you decided for yourself what AF configuration you prefer. Face recognition adds more complexity to the AF behavior of the E-M5 and should be introduced at a later stage only. Once you feel OK using the face recognition function you can always come back and activate it.

All the unique settings in Menu *B (Button/Dial)

-Set the Button Function-
In the Custom Menu go down to Menu *B "Button/Dial" and press OK. Press OK on the first menu "Button Function" The first 2 most obvious two buttons that can be adjusted are, Fn1 and Fn2. One can also re-program the video button to do something else. In the past I decided to move the video record function to Fn1 or 2. The reason is the video record button is really well placed on the camera and I use to first assign the “Multi Function” to the Video Record Button (I did not do much video recording at the time and therefore prefered to move the video recording button to Fn-1). Once you assigned the video function to Fn1 you can go ahead and re-assign any other function to the video button.
Fn-1 = Select the “Video” record function to Fn-1 (Today I leave the Video button as is and I assign the Multi Function (P25) to Fn-1)
Fn-2 = "Digital 2x Tele-converter"
As said today I prefer to keep video to the video button and to assign the multi function to Fn-2 and the 2x converter to Fn-1

See the Article I wrote at setting up the buttons on the E-M5

Press the left arrow key or the Menu button to go back to the "Custom Menu"

Comment:- The reasoning for selecting the specific functions for Fn-1, Fn-2 and the record button you will see when you read my article. The Multi Function assigned to the video record button is very interesting. One can select the button to activate the adjustment histogram or one can activate the AF Zoom Frame with it. I leave it in AF Zoom Frame mode in day to day use. One can also set it to enter manual WB or the image aspect ratio. To select one of these 4 options, press the video button while turning the left side knob, camera facing forward.

I do not specifically change the Dial functions, my advice is to have a look at the default functions and familiarize yourself with it.

All unique settings in Menu *C (Release)

For more information about the options in this menu see P87, P43 & P98 in the users manual. What I do like to discuss is the following:
- Rls Priority S set to OFF - I always leave this option to OFF (default) This function prevents the E-M5 from taking an image if the camera is not focussed. If the camera cannot find a proper focus because the subject is to close or whatever other reason, this function will prevent the shutter to release.

Comment - With the first function, “Rls Priority S”, it is key to leave it at its default value “Off”. Reason is it will later assist you with mastering good focussing technique, see my article on this function. The next you could look at is “Half Way Rls With IS”. This will let the camera activate IS when the shutter is pressed halfway. Again see the linked article for more info.

- Next step is to activate the Live Control & Super Control Panel (SCP) views I find the default state of the E-M5 a little strange in terms of the default display of the camera screen. When doing a full reset or when switching on the E-M5 for the first time the SCP is displayed on the camera screen and the image or view finder live view is available via the EVF (Electronic View Finder) To see the live view picture on the camera screen you need to press the small "Live View" button on the right hand side of the view finder. The only way to now see the SCP is to again press the small "Live View" button on the view finder. To change this behavior you need to activate the SCP in the set up menu.
Menu>Custom Menu>D*Disp/Sound/PC>Control Settings………
In each of the Control Settings options, iAuto, P/A/S/M, ART and SCN you need to go and select "Live Control" and "Live SCP" to "ON"
This will allow you to effectively use both the Live Control plus the SCP views. Now you will only once select Live View and for more information on SCP see the article I did on Live View

All unique settings in Menu *D (Disp/xx/PC)

-Select the Camera Control Settings
In the Custom Menu go down to "Menu D" , "Disp/ xx/PC" and press OK,
Go down to "Control Settings" (Camera logo with text;- “Control Settings”) and press OK
Go down to P/A/S/M and press right button on camera
Both options should be "ON" (see P87)
You can set the other options also at this stage (IAUTO, ART & SCN) (Personally I select all to ON)
Also go to the "Info Settings" (Focus logo & Info Settings) and press OK
At Info I set the histogram to ON

-Select the "Thirds Grid" to display in LV (helps with framing images) plus turn off the Mode Guide-
Still in the "Menu D" , "Disp/ xx/PC" Menu,
Go down to "Displayed Grid" and select the 3rd "Grid" and press OK, (personally I prefer the 4 Quadrant grid)

-Selecting the "LV Close Up Mode" to stay in close up mode when selected-
While still in the "Disp/xx/PC menu *D
Go down to "LV Close Up Mode" and press OK
Select Mode 2 and press OK (This setting will help in the following:- Advanced set up article)
Press the left arrow key or the Menu button to go back to the "Custom Menu"

-Setting different time values in the E-M5
While in Menu”D” the last 3rd, to 6th settings adjust different time related functions. I typically set my camera for:-
- Info Off 10 Sec
- Backlit LCD 8 Sec
- Sleep 3 Minutes
- Auto Power Off 30 minutes

Comment:- The reason for selecting some of these functions, you will see when you read my article "How to use the AF Zoom Frame"
At this point you can also select how the histogram should behave, I use 254 for highlight plus 1 for shadow.
On P87 / 88 in the users manual you can check some of the other settings in this section ("Menu D" , "Disp/ xx/PC")
Keep in mind that at any time you can press the Info button for a description of the function you about to set…..

All unique settings in Menu *E (Exp/xx/ISO)

-Set the auto ISO upper limit to 3200 and turn the Noise filter to Low-
While in the "Custom Menu" go down and select Menu E, "Exp/ xx /ISO"
Go Down to "ISO-Auto Set" and select 3200 for the high limit and press OK,
Press the left arrow key or the Menu button to go back to the "Custom Menu"

Comment:- 7th July 2012 - I changed the max setting from 3200 back to 800. The reason is no camera produces top quality at 3200 ISO.
Not even the 5D MKII or MKIII my son use. The E-M5 will quickly select 3200 if it is set on 3200. Rather learn how to best use fast primes like the 45mm in combination with IS and ISO. - Date (1st Aug 2012) I decided to delete the first part of this comment with this update. I again use 3200 for the upper ISO limit and the reason is the E-M5 perform well on 3200 plus the higher ISO setting help a lot at getting sharp images in not well lit rooms or areas. Setting the ISO higher limit to 3200 also becomes a part of my improved AF plan. Comment 16 Dec 2012:- The E-M5 is very quick to select ISO3200 when its available. When doing casual images I found it is not a problem because the E-M5 is doing a great job shooting at high ISO. If however you need critical images then DO NOT use ISO 3200. Rather set the E-M5 to a fixed ISO of 200 or 400 and use a tripod if necessary.

All unique settings in Menu *G (xx/Color/WB)

-Set the Noise Filter to Low-
While in "Custom Menu” go down and select Menu *G, "xx/ Color /WB"
Select the "Noise Filter" and press OK,
Select "Low" and press OK,
Press the left arrow key or the Menu button to go back to the "Custom Menu"

Comment - With the above setting you selected a "Low" setting for the noise filter. This really is personal and you can safely keep the default setting.
7th July 2012 - If you a casual shooter then my advice is to leave this setting to its default value. For the more advanced user setting the filter to low, makes very little difference. LR4 does a great job cleaning any noise that might show.

-Set the “Keep Warm Color” option to “NO”
From the Noise filter setting go further down to setting the auto WB setting to warm option.
The default setting is “ON” and I prefer to have it set to “OFF”

Comment - The purist will say select the “OFF” option while the artist will most probably say set it as is!! The E-M5 uses a very accurate W/B algorithm, capable of doing color above the typical norm set by SLR cameras. So much so that pictures taken in a room at night might look cold to the untrained eye. We have become so use to warm yellowish room colors from other brands that in most cases people has come to like those warm yellowish results. Depends on what you like, this option selected to “ON” will give that yellow warm color and when set to “OFF” a more true color will be selected for images taken indoors.

-Set the Color Space to RGB-
While in Menu *G go further down to the "Color Space" menu and press OK,
Select "RGB" and press OK,

Comment - Personally I choose RGB. I set all my devices to RGB and I then know they all the same in terms of color management. Some will debate on this point. In the past I did calibrate my screen, today I prefer to set all my devices to RGB. While at this point in the set-up menu please look 3 steps up on your camera menu (WBAuto Keep Warm Color) The default value is ON, this will give images a warm and not a cold type of look. If you prefer the more correct look then set this option to Off.

-Adjust the "best" jpeg image quality to SuperFine-
While in Menu *G go further down to the "Set" menu and press OK, (xxSet is just above Pixel Count)
Move the curser 1 position to the right and press the "up" arrow button to select "SF" and press OK,
Press the left arrow key or the Menu button to go back to the "Custom Menu"

Comment - The above setting adjusted the JPEG image file to have maximum details (SF or super fine). Some people say it is not necessary. My argument is that one day I might like to do something with that image and then it could be important to have maximum resolution. To complete setting the image quality you need to complete the 3rd last step in this article.

All unique settings in Menu *H (Record/Erase)

- Select the Quick Erase Option and enter your copyright info-
Go down again to "Menu *H" "Record/Erase" and select the Quick Erase menu and press OK,
Select "Yes" and press OK,
Go Down to the Copyright Setting" and enter your copyright information if you like….
We now done in the Custom Menu, you can press the shutter halfway to leave the menu.

Comment - With Quick Erase selected, the camera will erase the image without warning when you press the delete button. At this point we are completed with the Custom Menu settings. With the E-M5 it is possible to also set up your own preferences for the EVF. All you need to do is to go further down to the EVF menu's and to select your preferred settings. You can read more about the different options on P92 of the user manual.

All unique settings in Menu *K (Utility)

-Calibrate the camera levels scales
The E-M5 has the ability to indicate the horizontal and vertical levels so the user can ensure perfectly aligned landscape images. After much experimentation I believe the auto focus accuracy are linked to the levels functions and it is important to do a quick calibration of the camera levels before using the camera.
(Menu>Custom Menu>K-Utility>Level Adjust)

Comment - First one can reset the level by present OK on “Reset” and secondly one can calibrate the level by pressing the up or down button when in the Reset view, that will allow the user to select “Adjust” When in Adjust place the camera on a flat surface and press OK. The camera will adjust its levels to the flat surface levels.

Final settings or Steps to do

In the next few steps we will complete the basic camera setup. We now done in the Custom menu and will now go back to the top level menu. To do that keep on pressing the Menu button until you see your in the top level menu.

-Selecting the camera "Picture Mode"-
Press the Menu button to go to the 1st level menu, select " Shooting Menu 1" and press OK,
Go down to the "Picture Mode" and press OK,
Go down to option 3, "Natural" and press OK.

Comment - This is most probably the most important place in the setup menu to make important image specific settings. It is in this section that you can dail in permanent sharpness adjustments, contrast, saturation plus graduation. On my E-PL2 the "Vivid" selection gave the best IQ and with my E-P2 I preferred the "Natural" selection. You could decide for the more advanced "iEnhanced" option. This really is a personal preference. This selection will really determine how your images will look like. Experiment until you find what you like most. Personally I found the "Natural" works very well with the E-M5. The iEnhance option also works great - make sure to select the effect of the iEnhance option to “Low” for best results.

- Setting the Image Quality-
Still in Shooting Menu 1, go to the Icon (without description) right below "Picture Mode" and select the Icon and press OK,
With "Still Picture" selected press the Right Arrow,
Next you can select your preferred image format, I normally select "LSF + RAW" and press OK.

- Set the image review time to 2 seconds -
Go back to the Top Level Menu.
Then go down to the "Setup Menu" at the bottom of the menu list and press OK,
Select the "Rec View" option and press OK,
I choose 1 or 2 seconds, you can make your choice and press OK.


The basic camera configuration is now ready. Personally I use this configuration as much as 90% of the time I use my camera. Please go look at the advanced set up articles for any other possible set up choices. There are many more settings one need to take into account when working with the E-M5. The settings I discussed in this short article will help you a lot getting use to the camera plus it can always be used as a basic setup. Any specific setting will then follow onto this basic setup.