10 Tips & Tricks For Your OM-System OM-5

Hello hello and welcome back! Here we are again after a bit of a blog hiatus but the time is right to step back in with a whole load of useful tips and tricks for the new updated OM System OM-5 compact digital camera which was released last year. And yes you’ve got it, OM System is the new incarnation of the much-loved Olympus brand, now with a simpler naming system for all the different camera models, which some will be relieved to hear…

I’ve been a diehard Pen user for years now as you will probably know but I’ve opened the door to the OM-5 and found it has quite happily claimed its place as the perfect outdoorsy compact camera; great for the more extreme weather conditions up here in the Highlands, the camera body is lightweight but rugged and durable and fine to take out in the rain and snow with its high spec IP-53 weather-sealing which means it is freeze proof and can easily handle the odd splash and dusty moments… this level of sealing you would normally only get in larger more high-end cameras.

OM System OM-5

Unlike the Pen the OM has an electronic viewfinder and fully articulated screen which is great for getting all sorts of different angled shots, a comfy enough hand & thumb grip, boosted image processing and brilliant handshake compensation, so no worries if you understandably are not taking a tripod with! And most importantly for me, sizewise you can still pop it in either your backpack along with other bits and pieces (snacks, water, extra layers etc) or just a small dedicated cross-body bag.

If you’re shooting video (4K), the great news is the 29 minute limit has been removed (yay!) and there is now a vertical video option too (double yay for those if us who make Reels!). However, as I know I will get asked this, unfortunately there is no headphone jack for monitoring audio. However, if you are live streaming there is an easy Webcam connection via Micro USB.

OM System OM-5

Ideal for  rainy rambles and hilltop hikes and for when you just want to get outside and lose yourself for an hour or two in the healing tonic of nature, photographing the little and large of the natural world. So are my tips & tricks to get you started…

NB: All pictures below taken on the OM-5 with OM System 12-45mm kit lens and straight off the camera with no post production editing just so you can see what you are getting in camera.

  1. TouchScreen Menu
    If you’re coming off Auto the most useful thing you can do is take a little time to get the know the menu system as there’s lots of interesting things going on there… My go-to preferred mode of shooting is Aperture Priority (A on the mode dial) and from here (and all the other Modes apart from SCN and ART) you can press the OK button to bring up a shortcut to the TouchScreen Menu – from here you can access ISO, WB, focus point selection options and grid, image aspect and so on. Have a click into each box and toggle through the options to get a feel for what they do…
  2. Face Priority
    This you will easily find in the TouchScreen Menu and by default it will be on, which is great if you are photographing people as it automatically searches for faces and eyes! If, however, you are not then you might want to turn it Off – if you are really into selecting your focus point the FacePriority function will look for a face & eyes in your shot sometimes conflicting with what you are choosing to select.
  3. Focus Point Selection
    I love taking the time to select exactly where I want my focal point to be as I often like to shoot with lenses that give a lovely depth of field and the right focal point (eg. the exquisite centre of a flower, the edge of a petal or elegant curve whiskers on a cat) can really show the story you are trying to tell with your picture. There is a touchscreen option for this (to enable this tap the little square box in the left hand corner of the screen until it shows a frame outline & a finger!) but I prefer to use the dials as this gives much accuracy and time to decide exactly what you are trying to achieve. Use the TouchScreen Menu to access the focal point grid and then use both front and back dials and Up & Down buttons (next to OK) to navigate your area selection size and position – I like to take it down to a single box and then move that around the screen to where I want. Of course once you have your point, you can then keep the shutter release at a half press to hold the focus and then reframe. Phew, I hope that all makes sense!
  4. Starry Skies
    Now this is fun, you’ll find a button marked AEL/AFL (Auto Exposure Lock/Auto Focus Lock ) and if you’re out at night photographing the sky then this is the button you want press to enable the camera to lock focus on the stars – hurray, this is a great little feature!
  5. Silent Mode
    I have to say one of the first things I do when setting up my camera the way I like it is to turn off the sound! You can easily find Silent Mode in the TouchScreen Menu – find the frames button (simple square frame) and select the one to the right of it which is a frame and little heart – this will only shoot silently when you are on that selection. Or another shortcut is to press the frames/timer half circle button on the ON/OFF dial and select the heart frame (to do this ensure the Silent Mode (heart) is on in the main in camera Menu – press the round MENU button, go to Camera 2, scroll down to Anti-Shock/Silent, select Silent (heart) and toggle from OFF to 30sec.
  6. Remote Shutter Release
    Now this is no different to the Pen and something I use a lot! Great for taking self portraits, group shots and for setting your camera up quietly for photographing any wildlife. For this you need the OI.Share app on your phone and once connected (for me this is the simplest way: press the onscreen Wifi Button on the camera screen, select the OM-5 in your Wifi settings and input password from the camera screen, open the app and wait for the blue connection) click into Remote Control. Here you can press the shutter release on your phone screen, adjust settings and mode as you would on your camera, set a timer and number of shots with intervals as required. For selfie shots I usually set a timer with a countdown of 6 seconds and 10 frame bursts with a few seconds between.OM-5 HDR
  7. HDR
    Now this is a great setting for taking landscape shots and definitely one to have fun with as there are a few different options – I love the results you can get combining multiple exposures – especially on days when it might seem a bit to grey or bleak you can end up with some really moody feels in camera. To access press the round MENU button, go to Camera 2 and scroll down to HDR, press right to access to options which range from 3-7 pictures at different exposures. Choose the one you want, select by pressing OK and then half press the Shutter Release to take your photo. Once you shoot the camera will take a few extra seconds to combine the pictures to give you your final image. I took this picture above on the 7 pictures setting and love how it turned out – this is straight off the camera with no post editing.
  8. Multiple Exposure
    This is another fun feature to try and you’ll find it just below HDR (see above!). Click in, select 2F (frame) and half press the shutter release to come out and take your two shots, the second imposed on the other. Luckily you can see this on screen and really take your artfully inspired time to decide what you want to achieve. This is something I have only tried a few times and feel I could be so much more creative and clever with my shots to get some really fun and exciting results! See my picture above – superimposing rosehips on yellow thistly flowers below… I think this type of shot would make for a lovely Christmas card!
  9. Keystone Composition
    This is a feature I have only recently discovered and is great if you want to correct converging lines, particularly useful for architecture (something I normally do in an editing app on my phone). You’ll find Keystone Composition below Multiple Exposure and once you have selected it ON, half press the shutter release and use the top deck dials to control the onscreen movement.
  10. Manual Focus
    One of the joys of the OM System is the wide array of Micro Four Thirds lenses you can use, and for a truly present and engaged in-the-moment way of photographing, being able to use the lens ring to focus is a real pleasure! For the M. Zuiko 12-45mm kit lens I’m using in this post you would go into the TouchScreen Menu and change the default S-AF (Single Auto Focus) to MF (Manual Focus) and with the lovely range of prime lenses (my all time favourite being the M.Zuiko 17mm f1/7, then the 12mm f2.0 and then out-of-this world 25mm f1/2!) you can simply pull the focus ring backwards to action Manual Focus.

Happy snapping!

Camera courtesy of OM System