So often one read new owners complain the E-M5 menu structure is not user-friendly. These statements generally come from reviewers and are then echoed in forums by owners typically new to the Olympus camera. I often think Olympus owners cannot really appreciate what it is new camera owners complain about. If you have been using the Olympus camera for extended periods then just as with other products one start to really appreciate the good aspects of product. Take for example the SCP (Super Control Panel) which has been part of Olympus camera as long as I can remember. All the most important camera parameters are available in one place on the SCP. Another interesting aspect is the real time view one has with Olympus cameras, any exposure adjustments or WB adjustments or any other adjustment are immediately displayed on the camera screen in real time. In the past this was not the case with all manufacturers.
In this short article I will show the reader more about the Olympus menu structure and I think you will agree it good once having had the chance to experience it in a different way. Everything you require during the camera set-up procedure is displayed or available on the camera screen, help is on-hand plus once getting used too the menu structure, most will struggle to use anything else again. This morning I prepared my E-M5 for a new configuration and I was wondering about one or two settings. Reading the info available on the screen at each step, and doing what it suggest I should do plus "calling" for help when needed, it all helped me to set-up my E-M5 without going to the User Manual.
My first Olympus SLR was the E410. It was the first time I were introduced to the SCP. Later I saw different variations of this SCP on other cameras, first manufacturers only displayed camera data and later also used the SCP to give users access to important camera settings on one screen. What I clearly remember was that the E410 was the first SLR camera with a proper Live View (LV) function PLUS the E410 used a proper live update technology with its camera screen. One could go to the WB setting on the SCP, select it with the FUNC button and then select different WB options. With the camera aimed at the scene one could then see the color changes each WB setting made while setting up the camera. In fact the E410 even offered a white bar (white card) across the screen to help the user select the best WB setting against a white object in the scene.
If you do the same with your E-M5 or E-P3 or any other Olympus using SCP you will find it still works the same as with the E410, except the white bar is not present on the newer models. To activate the SCP press the OK button while the camera is switched on. When used for the first time the newer format "Live Control (LV - P24) panel" will be displayed on the camera. Press the INFO button once to toggle the camera to display the SCP screen.
It could happen that the INFO button does not toggle between the LV and the SCP. That only means you did not set-up the camera for SCP use. In the Custom Menu *D you first need to select the Control Setting option plus then the Info Settings option and for each option you need to decide in what situations you like the camera to offer the user the SCP, the LV or both options. With this done you can then select the SCP as described.
Personally I think Olympus implemented the LV screen as an alternative to the SCP as a result of reviewers plus general user feedback. To keep both the older plus new customers happy Olympus then decided to offer the user the choice between one of the two options or both (SCP + LV).
In fact it is very simple and easy. The secret is to learn how the Olympus engineers wanted users to apply the E-M5 menu. They intended the user to follow the on screen information at any given moment to guide users through any set-up or adjustment step. Once you master this simple technique, working with the Olympus E-M5 becomes a real ease. As long as you unaware of this secret, the E-M5 can be a little challenging. Lets look at a few examples.
The image to the left shows the sub menu, the "Custom Menu" highlighted, On the left of the screen you can see the 5 main categories and in the column to the right of the main categories you see the different options of the selected Custom Menu option. This are all relatively normal and true for most cameras. The key to look for in the image (screen), is the "INFO" bar at the bottom of the screen. This INFO bar will guide you to what you can or need to do at any point during the set up or adjustment process. In the image you can see from the info bar the MENU button will take you back to the previous menu position and pressing the OK button will select any option highlighted by the curser.
The first step to the secret working with Olympus is the INFO bar at the bottom of the screen. The INFO bar normally appear during the different set-up menus. It will also appear for example when working with specific functions in the SCP screen. Important is that the INFO bar is always at the bottom of the screen plus it does not always look the same.
The next important thing to know is that any new adjustment is always preceded with a YELLOW color "How-To" Icon. In other words anything with the color yellow can be adjusted PLUS in most cases the camera will show you what button or buttons to use to do the adjustment.
The INFO button on the camera is the final assisting guide working with the E-M5 menu. At any point in the menu help information could be available. Pressing the Info button will activate a help screen. To seek help the user should move the curser to that item where additional information is required, then press the INFO button and if information are available it will be shown in the "Help Box" on the screen.
In the above picture you can see I pressed the INFO button when the curser were on the " …Rls With IS" menu option in the left side image. In the image on the right you can see the "Info box" then pop's up above the menu option PLUS the info bar gets a new button allowing me to cancel the info box. If no help were available no information box will be displayed.
Lets consider another interesting example:- If you take a look at the SCP on the left (Bottom) image, you will see the AF Area are selected (See RED arrow). The next step will be to press the OK button to select the function. The right hand side screen in the image below will then be displayed on your E-M5.
The selected AF area in the center of the screen are the color green and inside the "Info Bar" at the bottom of the screen you will see in white the INFO button will activate the next option and interestingly it indicates what menu group will be selected.
In the image below you will see the AF Area in the center is green plus you will see two Icon Groups in the left bottom of the below image are in the color yellow. The color yellow means it is adjustable parameters. Keep in mind that I said wherever you see something in yellow it means the functions in yellow can be adjusted PLUS the camera will tell you how to adjust these parameters.
In this case you can therefore adjust the face recognition function plus you can adjust the AF Area selection group. That also means that these two functions are closely linked and both will have an impact on how the AF function reacts. To adjust the first function, face recognition, you need to press the left or right arrow keys and to select the AF area use the up or down buttons. Once selected press the OK to confirm your selection and the new function will be saved.
If you read the article and found it interesting you might want to practice an example by yourself. A really interesting example that will test your understanding working with the Olympus E-M5, are setting the camera WB to a manual value of 3300 Kelvin. By using the techniques I discussed in this article you will be able to do that adjustment without going to the Users Manual. If any questions, please do not hesitate to ask in the forum or to write me a mail.