The OM-D has several AF frame options enabling the user to adapt the E-M5 into his or hers own unique style. As I mentioned in other articles, the EM-5 has more than one way one can work with the camera, the so called iPad Mode, the Traditional Photographers Mode and the Casual Photographers Mode. To be honest I do not believe the one is better than the other, the same photographer could end up using any of these user modes at a time.
It will help if you to first read the following articles:-
- Read the "First Things First" article
- Read the "Basic Camera Settings" article
- User settings selected in the Basic Camera Setting article will properly prepare your E-M5 for this article.
Also see P45 and P86 in the E-M5 users manual. Keep in mind that one can configure the E-M5, AF frames for the full 35 frame AF target or one can select a smaller 3 x 3 AF frame target and finally one can select to work with a single AF frame target. Personally I use the 3 x 3 AF frame target, see the article on AF I wrote for more information on why. Many traditional photographers prefer to work with one center AF frame.
With the previous PEN series it was possible to fix a single AF frame to a specific position in the lens view. With the E-M5 that is not any longer possible. Olympus does not give a specific reason why, I personally guess the reason was to comply with the new FAST AF technology used in the E-P3, the E-M5 and the E-PL5. Olympus could only achieve this super fast AF performance by allowing the E-M5 to re-select a better AF Frame position if needed. For example Olympus specify that the camera AF is more reliable when there are vertical lines present in the AF frame. It could therefore happen that with a fixed AF frame there are no verticals lines in the frame at any point in time and the focus performance could therefore go down. The solution was to give the user the option to set a preferred home (HP) position for the AF target, whether that is a single AF frame target or the 3x3 AF frame target. The left button on the four way controller at the back of the E-M5 will take the AF frame target back to the HP when pressed. P86
This is the reason I prefer to use the 3x3 AF frame target. I noticed that the single AF frame would move, also when I selected a "fixed" position like with the previous PEN series I had. The reason is like I said the FAST AF technology. It is also true that the Olympus engineers programmed the E-M5 to first select the center AF frame position and if not good to then only switch to another position. Keep in mind this all happens in absolute split seconds. That means in day to day usage the E-M5 will predominantly use the center position, like in a single AF frame configuration, also when in reality the camera was configured for the 3x3 AF frame target, positioned in the center of the view.
When using the 3x3 AF frame target I guess it was like saying to the E-M5, listen it is OK to seek a better more reliable AF frame position as long as you stay within the 3x3 AF frame target, I was not really happy with a wild selection across all the 35 AF frames. On the other hand if it so happen that the 3x3 AF frame target did move during a focus operation then I could always go and press the left button on the E-M5 and the 3x3 AF target will go back to its home (HP) position. Keep in mind you need to program this HP position - see the basic setup article for more info.
The next point I like to discuss is the Zoom Frame AF. With the E-M5 it is possible to select a different type AF Frame referred to as the Zoom Frame AF. This so-called Zoom Frame AF does a different AF scan to the standard AF Frame and are therefore more accurate than the standard AF Frame plus one has the option of zooming into the AF frame. The size of the Zoom Frame AF can be adjusted in 4 different steps plus the user can zoom right into the AF Zoom Frame. When the user select to zoom into the AF Zoom Frame, the content of the AF Frame will be displayed across the full camera screen.
Zooming into the Zoom Frame AF is different to having the camera configured for manual focus (MF). While in MF the E-M5 can also zoom into the MF frame. Why would one zoom into the MF frame? The first reason is when people use Manual Focus. Magnifying into the manual focus frame has been a standard function with almost every digital camera. Examples are Macro photography or Landscape photography.
I found I use the Zoom Frame AF mode often, especially since I learned how to activate it. Sport or action photography will not benefit much from the Zoom Frame AF configuration. In fact with sport photography I will tend to use the 3x3 focus group arrangement and when using continues focussing I will switch to the full 35 frame auto focus.
The E-M5 offers the user something I call the iPad mode. For a guy like me who has been around, I still struggle with the thought of controlling the camera with a touch screen. Must say it works well on the E-M5 and I start to enjoy this really different way of doing things with my camera. That said I decided to explain the Zoom Frame AF function by using the iPad mode on the E-M5 first. See P93 on how to activate or de-activate the touch screen function.
With the above image you see the "Zoom Frame AF" in all its different screen formats, packed onto one image. In iPad mode, button B (left bottom) determines what mode the AF frame on the E-M5 will have. In its default "B" position the touch screen will function like an extended shutter button. In this mode the screen can be my shutter button and wherever I press on the screen, there the E-M5 will focus plus it will take the picture. Pressing the screen button B will deactivate the touch screen shutter function. Pressing button B a second time will activate the Zoom Frame AF function. Pressing button B again, will take it back to its default state. To adjust the "Zoom Frame AF" frame size, you need to press button B twice.
When button B is in the "default" position, the autofocus frame will have its standard shape when using the shutter button. When using the screen or iPad shutter button the AF frame will automatically go to the Zoom Frame AF mode or shape. You can for example select a point on the screen you like to magnify by pressing with your finger on that point on the camera screen. Once selected the auto focus frame will change its shape to look like the Zoom Frame AF mode. When the Zoom Frame AF mode are selected by pressing button B twice, you will see the following on the camera screen:-
- Button B will display the camera is in Zoom Frame AF mode
- The "Magnify" button will appear in the right bottom corner
- The button size adjustment scale will appear on the right of the screen
- The Zoom Frame AF frame shape will be at the position you selected
By pressing the "Magnify" button, the camera will zoom into the auto focus frame and the Zoom Frame content will display across the complete camera screen. When ready to take the picture, press the normal shutter button halfway to focus on the subject and all the way to take the picture.
In the image on the left you can see the auto focus frame was set on 10 x magnification. The 14 x magnification enables one to select the focus point more accurately. At this point in time its more than what I will ever need. You can select the frame size by moving the slider up and down on the right side of the screen.
I think one should generally take care not to limit the daily use of the camera to only one specific mode. What is really great about the E-M5 design is that every artist has the chance to use and enjoy this camera his own way. Everyone has access to the advance functionality of the E-M5, also those who are not so familiar with photographic terms and theory. The iPad plus its Apps and Art filters opened up so much creative options for users, so does the E-M5’s own “iPad Mode” plus Art Filters. Does it mean only novices will use the “iPad mode” on the E-M5? Absolutely no, personally I will mix the different modes on a daily basis while I use my camera.
I can picture some saying, UH!!, Siegfried what is iPad mode on the EM5? I generally refer to the touch screen operations on the E-M5 as iPad Mode. Take the time to go discover the touch screen functions and you will be pleasantly surprised with what Olympus created with the E-M5 touch screen.
In the basic set-up article we assigned the magnification function to the Fn1 (Zoom) button. The camera is now ready to work with in "Zoom Frame AF" mode using the photographers style. Switch on the camera and point to your target focus area. When pressing the Fn1 button you will see the AF Frame will change to the "Zoom Frame AF" style. Pressing the Fn1 button a 2nd time will zoom into the AF frame and the content of the AF frame will then be displayed on the full camera screen as seen in the above image. Press the FN1 (Zoom) button again and the camera will return to the normal "Zoom Frame AF" screen. To cancel the "Zoom Frame AF" mode, hold the FN1 button just a moment longer and the camera will return to the default AF frame.
The image on the left show the AF frame is in the "Zoom Frame AF" mode. At the same time one can see that the screen shutter mode is active because we did not use the iPad mode to activate the Zoom Frame AF mode. This opens different options using both these functions simultaneously. You will notice that in this mode the screen AF mode will also function when zoomed into the AF frame.
As you can see by this short article Olympus took the mirror-less camera with its contrast autofocus to the next level. Yes, speed is important and these cameras should really have "no" lag, this is a basic requirement. With the added functionality discussed in this article one see the difference it makes when a true camera company with a history design and build cameras make.