Once the battery is charged up and you’ve attached a lens you’ll want to start with the EVF/LCD settings you’d like.  The way the camera comes is the scene will be in your EVF and the LCD will be your Super Control Panel that you can access by pressing the OK button.  This is odd because the LCD is able to accept touch input in any other setting so if you’re wondering why the LCD isn’t recognizing your nubs then mystery solved.

(Read below for the HDR instructions…  Finally!)
(Want to know what the best lenses are for the EM1?  Check out the list here.)

Change LCD View

Most people like having their EVF (electronic view finder) and LCD Screen switch back and forth between scene preview depending on where their eye is (if they get close to the viewfinder then the preview switches to the EVF and when they pull away it goes back to the LCD).  You can achieve this by pressing the little button to the left of the viewfinder.

Enable Super Control Panel Over LCD Live View

Olympus ships the camera to you set to pull up the Live Control menu when you press the OK button while using Live View.  The Live Super Control Panel is much better and puts all the crucial controls right at your finger tips (literally).  To enable this option here is what you do:

Menu – Custom Menu – D – Control Settings – Choose the Exposure Mode You’ll Be Using (I choose P/A/S/M) – Press the OK button on the Box Next to Live SCP

Now when you press the OK button while the Live View is on the LCD it will bring up the Super Control Panel (if you left the Live Control menu checked in the settings then it will be the first one that shows up, just press the INFO button and your Super Control Panel should show up.

Turn Off Proximity Sensor

The proximity sensor is what tells the camera to move the Live View from the LCD screen to the EVF when your mug gets close to the viewfinder.  This is all well and good until you try to show your friends some of the awesome shots you got and every time you put your potato wedge fingers close to the screen it triggers the sensor and the screen goes dark because it thinks your face is close.  Alternatively, if you leave your camera on while strapped around your neck the camera will think your face is close and keep the Live View on in the viewfinder burning up precious battery juice.  To turn off the proximity sensor do this:

Press and hold the little button next to the viewfinder – Select Off

Customize The Buttons and Dials

Whenever I use a new camera the first thing I like to do is make it mine by customizing every button and dial to suit my workflow.  With the EM1 you’ll quickly realize there are enough programmable buttons in strategic places that you’ll rarely have to dig into the cameras menu.

To change the button designations here is what you’ll do:

Menu – Custom Menu – B – Choose the Button You’d Like to Customize

Once in the you’ve accessed custom menu B you’ll notice about 10 different buttons on the EM1 you can customize as well as what function is currently assigned to them.  I can’t tell you how to set yours up (we all like things our own way) but I will say the first thing I did was set the Fn2 button to my ISO selector for ease of use (I’m not a fan of auto ISO).

Customizing the dials works the same way and can be found in the same menu.  I like the way the dials are set up as is so I don’t have any recommendations for alternate settings.

Image Quality Control

This section is for those of you that like to shoot using the JPEG format rather than RAW.  If you shoot 100% in RAW then you can disregard this section for the most part.

Turn Warm Cast in Auto White Balance Off (recommended)

The first thing I noticed when using the EM1 was the warm cast auto W/B gave my images.  You really notice this when photographing things like red flowers that will end up looking over saturated.  If you’d like to turn off the warm cast you can do so like this:

Menu – Custom Menu – G – Scroll Down To Keep Warm Color – Select Off – Press OK

Auto ISO Adjustments

One of the great things the EM1 has going for it (there are many) is the 5 axis image stabilization that allows you to hand shoot scenes at slower shutter speeds than you’d have been comfortable with any other camera.  With that being said, you will still find times where you need to bump the ISO up to keep shutter speeds from dropping below what the 5 axis stabilization can compensate for.  The EM1 handles up to ISO 6400 really well from my initial testing.  Auto ISO comes preset with a ceiling of 1600.  Here is how you adjust the presets:

Menu – Custom Menu – E – ISO Auto Set – Choose the Highest You’d Like to Go (I use 4000 but I don’t really use auto ISO… ever)

Selecting the Best Quality JPEG File Type

Olympus gives us a bunch of options for the quality of JPEG we’d like to use.  My opinion is I didn’t spend $1,400 for a camera to take small compressed images with.  If you feel the same way and would like the absolute highest quality JPEG images from the EM1 then you’ll need to follow these two steps:

1.) Menu – Custom Menu – G – Select the First Option that Says Set – Under the Number 1 Change the box next to L to SF


2.)  Menu – Shooting Menu 1 – Select the Fourth Icon Down – Still Picture – Choose L SF – Press OK

(L SF stands for Large Super Fine and refers to the size of the JPEG as well as the amount of compression, SF has the least amount of compression of all the JPEGs)

Noise Reduction

If you don’t do a lot of post processing then I would probably recommend leaving the cameras noise presets as they are.  If, on the other hand, you like to have a bit more control of the final image then I would recommend adjusting the Noise Filter to Low.  This is how:

Menu – Custom Menu – E – Noise Filter – Low (or off)

Turn Off Image Stabilization for Tripod Mounting

It’s a good idea to turn off image stabilization while the camera is mounted on a tripod because the act of trying to stabilize the camera can actually introduce micro shake to the camera while it’s mounted.  Here is how to do that:

Menu – Shooting Menu 2 – Image Stabilizer – Still Picture – Off

Image Sharpening

If you decide to turn the noise filter down to low or off you may want to reduce the amount of sharpening as well, this is personal preference.  Here is how:

Access the Super Control Panel by Pressing OK – Select the Icon that Has an S and a + – Sign on Top of Each Other – Select -1

WiFi Settings – Pairing Camera to Smart Phone

One of the new, much appreciated, additions to the EM1 that the EM5 was lacking is the addition of WiFi.  You can now easily pair your smart phone to the EM1 by using the Olympus Image Share app for AndroidiPhone, iPad, and the iPod touch and control most of your cameras manual settings.  Here is what you do to pair your phone:


Open App Store – Search for the Olympus Image Share App and Download it – Open the App and Press the Use Now Button – Line up the Square Outline with the QR Code on Your Camera – Close the App after You’ve Downloaded the Package (it will have EM1 and a bunch of numbers in it) – Go to WiFi Settings on Your Phone and Select the WiFi Network that Matches the Package Name You Downloaded – Once Connected Open the Olympus Image Share App Again – Select Remote Control


Menu – Playback Menu – Connection to Smartphone – Scan Code With Smart Device

If you are not planning on using the WiFi setting you can turn it off and possibly preserve a little battery power by doing this:

Menu – Setup Menu – WiFi Settings – Off

Time-Lapse User Guide

To set up the time-lapse function do this:

Menu – Shooting Menu 2 – Time lapse settings – You can either turn it on and press enter or select on and hit the right arrow to change the settings

If you decide to change the settings you’ll find Frames (the number of shots you want your time-lapse to consist of), Start Waiting time (a timer that tells your camera when to begin the time-lapse), Interval time (the amount of time between each shot), and time-lapse movie (on will compile the shots into a movie at the end).

Once you’ve got the time-lapse up and running you can hit the menu button mid time-lapse and it will cancel the process… if you’re impatient.  Enjoy!

Note:  If you will be doing time-lapse photography for extensive periods of time and need extra power you have two options, either the HLD – 7 battery grip or the optional power cord (AC adapter AC-3).

HDR User Guide

You’ve got a couple of options with HDR, you can either have the camera exposure bracket a few images and combine them manually in post processing (recommended) or you can have the camera do it for you.  The image you see in the viewfinder will differ from the final processed image so don’t worry if you don’t notice a difference when you are framing.

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:

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!

There is also much more about the E-M1 that should be talked about. One thing I did not even touch on in my E-M5 review is “Live Time” which I believe was called “Live Bulb” on the E-M5. To activate live time, just go into Manual mode and twist the exposure dial all the way until you see “LIve Time”. Then you can set your aperture and ISO. For really long exposures of the night sky you could set your aperture to f/22 and ISO to base ISO. Press the shutter and then watch as your exposure develops like magic right in front of your eyes. When the exposure is where you want, press the shutter again. There is nothing like it from any other camera manufacturer. I previously showed some light painting we did in Ireland with the camera and the possibilities are endless:

Live Time in Action

In camera HDR mode

I am not a fan of HDR but there is no denying there has been quite an HDR movement in the past few years. MANY love it and while 99% of the time, in camera HDR is lousy, on the E-M1 it is not horrible. I would never use it but for those that like to dabble in HDR, the settings here make it as easy as taking a normal photo. The sample above was shot in HDR1 mode.


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