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Monday, 07 February 2022


Here’s one strong vote of agreement with Walt on the Olympus EM-5, the Mark II in my case. I seethed and griped for years about the menu setup - until I finally found that the single display “super control panel” offered direct access to every adjustment ever needed. All in one place, each with one-click selection. Goodbye to layer after layer of compound confusion. Plus, it could be set to appear simply by pushing the “menu” button.

The other major problem was a camera body which was simply too small for the many buttons crowded on the right rear panel. I kept inadvertently changing things, including the focus point. A $7 dollar cold shoe bracket angled out from the right side fixed that. No more button mashing with the heel of my hand. Later, an inexpensive Vello or Oben grip offered the same solution with a less bizarre appearance.

Then came the big mistake. I persuaded myself I needed 4K video and traded up for a Panasonic G9. Within months, Covid 19 closed down all opportunities to shoot interesting video. The much more interesting and inspiring EM-5 II was long gone. Alas.

I whole heartily agree with Walter C' of Kentucky. That slight slur on the OMD5 is misplaced and to judge a camera solely on its menu and not on any of its other excellent attributes is unfair.
Since retirement I have whittled down my gear to two of these bodies and 6 primes. Olympus 12, 17, 25 and 7Artisan 25, 35, 55. I have always preferred primes to zooms (the Devils lenses) and still prefer to manual focus over auto. I have previously owned a Leica M9 but found the rangefinder a strain on my eyes (varifocal glasses)and headaches occurring because of it.
When I first pick up an OMD5 it was instant "muscle memory" from my OM 1, 2, 4. days of the seventies. Also the heft of these cameras and the size balanced well in my hands with such small well made primes. Those OM primes with a "clutch" 12 &17 can give me manual focus although by wire a good enough option and as of when needed the auto was there.
I tried old Zuiko OM lenses with adapter too but after the initial novelty I found the balance was all to pot, front ended and awkward to justify the unique "smallness" of the package. So I bought a 25mm 7Artisan to try, cheap enough and apart from the de-clicking of the aperture ring found it to be very capable indeed and true to the "smallness" of the system. The new 35 and 55 followed and in 35mm terms I have the 24mm to 110mm covered in three auto and three manual small light lenses all carried in a Billingham Hadley Small.
Yes, "Rose Coloured Glasses" could be behind this but I am of an age where this can be forgiven.
Once you have got over the menu and set it up for "focus peaking' via one of the Art filters and taken off the touch screen and any other superfluous stuff set to A priority and Spot focus and meter and you are 'good to simply go'.
So, that is it, one more for the supporters club OMD5.
No need to worry about wanting the latest camera and gizmos, it is the closest to a modern OM (1-4) you will get and used models can be got for a song.

Oh dear, false news.

The E-M5 and the initial release of the E-M5 II did not have Focus Bracketing. It was introduced in firmware update 2.**

What do you do when a name is inaccurate? Up until then, everyone called the process of taking a stack of exposures at different focal distances, then stacking them for a high DoF composite by the term Focus Stacking

Oly, however had introduced two related, but separate functions. One was indeed like the old term; the camera took 8 shots, combined them in-camera into a single output file. So, that's Focus Stacking in their terminology.

But they also introduced a much more powerful function. One may shoot not just 8, but up to an essentially unlimited number of focus slices***, with control over the focus differential between frames. This outputs all the shots separately, allowing use of various software apps to stack them.

So, what do you call this function and where does it go in the menus? How is it different, conceptually, from exposure bracketing, white balance bracketing and flash exposure bracketing? Not at all, so they called it Focus Bracketing, and added it to the Bracketing Menu.

I know Oly menus get a lot of brickbats for complexity. How do you introduce a whole new function, without giving it a meaningful name, and including it in the menus? I think they did it right.

* The Ctein story is true, only the camera model is wrong.

** Focus Stacking was added in firmware update 4. (Oly also released an updated manual, including all the additions in these updates.)

*** The process stops when the lens reaches infinity focus or the specified number of slices, whichever comes first.

"Why did I need YouTube to locate SS in the @#$! menus?"

Because you won't RTFM?

Personally, I download manuals for all my cameras and have them on my 'phone (and computer, and tablet.)

You don't need to know spend time wandering through the menus; click on the little magnifying glass icon, type in Steady, or Shake, and there you are.

"Probably because the SS controls are buried in the Video menus."

Stupid? Them? Sure, but you needn't be - see above.

All right, enough is enough. Alternate view:

1. Digital cameras are complicated devices, with a vast array of wonderful capabilities never even imagined in film days.

2. To choose and adjust each capability requires menu items.

3. No human (or AI) is capable of designing a menu system that is easily comprehensible to all humans.

“Hi, I’m Aldo Finicio, famed industrial designer from Milan, I was asked by the Nicapolyfupan corp of Japan to design a simple camera that would appeal to the many customers, and potential customers, who find their cameras difficult, even incomprehensible, to use. As I am famous for my ability to design commercial equipment and household devices that are simple and intuitive to use, they, and I, hoped I could manage something that had so far eluded them.

I asked them why these users didn’t simply select the iA, Intelligent Auto and shoot with them just as they do with their iA phone cameras. They said they thought it was because the users wanted to feel they were more serious photographers than that. Why buy a “real” camera and use it like a cell phone?

My first step was research. We surveyed both random customers and people on the web with blogs, reviews, etc. We held focus groups, some with their own cameras and some with mock-ups of various designs.

The results were quite disheartening. Many, many people say they would like a simple camera, and claim they would buy one. The problem is that they all have different ideas of what it should be like.

I have never before admitted defeat, but in the end, I had to agree with everyone on the project that a simple camera design that would please most of the photographers, most of the time, is impossible.

OTOH, I’m happy to be back in Milan, where even high fashion makes more sense.”

So, what’s a poor Moose to do? I work with Oly, Panny and Sony mirrorless cameras. All have huge, at least somewhat arbitrary and arcane menu systems, none of which resemble each other in the least.

Do I rigorously learn, and retain, all the details? No way!* What I do is make them each into 2-4 simple cameras, each aimed at different tasks. As this started with Oly, I’ll use my E-M1 II as an example.

I take time, when not photographing, to go through the menus, selecting how I want my simple camera to operate. I then go into the first menu and set Custom Mode 1 to this set-up. I then leave the camera Mode Dial on C1. When I power the camera up, it always is set up the same way, from exposure variables, to IBIS, to focal points, Fn button assignments, and so on. If I change any variables, when I turn it on next time, it’s back to my default.

Voila, my custom, simple camera is always ready to go. (And ready for redesign, if I wish.)

I also have C2 set to my default focus bracketing choices, and C3 set for critters, but one need not do that. Panny is similar, except changing custom modes is two touches of the LCD, rather than spinning a dial, slightly better, for me.

All three systems have a one button quick menu settings function, for things not already on dials, wheels or Fn buttons. Change something(s), forget to turn it back, and all is back to default next time it’s turned on.

As far as I am concerned these cameras are a wonderful combination of being highly adjustable to personal taste – combined with simplicity in use. I believe all the other major players have something similar.

I have only ever wanted more control of details of operation in main menu systems, never less.

The Simple Camera exists — and — you get to design your own!

* And — as I said, I have the manuals on my phone, just in case. \;~)>

I still use mine too, and never felt blocked by it.

I have an EM10 and occasionally will notice that the digital 2X has engaged, seemingly by itself. Happened within a day or two upon arrival.
I figure the previous owner assigned some button to do this and I have accidentally pushed said button. So far it hasn’t been a huge issue so have decided for now to just visually check the angle of view every once in a while to make sure it hasn’t switched on.

What a strange modern world we live on.

Regarding the word "natch": see Olen Steinhauer's short novel, "All of the Old Knives." You should be pleased.

I just discovered that the OM-D E-M5 was released exactly ten years ago today. https://www.ajatuksiavalokuvauksesta.com

Tim O'Reilly, a publisher for technical books, once remarked that the way you can tell someone is from the internet generation is that they instinctively look up how to do stuff on Youtube. There's no shame in getting your how-tos from a video of someone who's figured it out.

Yes, you can RTFM if you want, but I assure you that humans learn better for how to do by watching someone else do it. You know the phrase monkey see monkey do? It's a primate thing. You're better off if you apply it in your own life than if you fight it.

Luckily, nobody tries to learn how to ride a bike by RTFM.

Also, another vote in favor of the E-M5 series of cameras. I never got along with the color from the Fujis, and even though almost all my friends who still shoot with real cameras shoot with them, I shoot an Oly and a Sigma. Now, as far as that Sigma 30mm lens goes, you could do far worse than having it glued onto your camera at the factory.


See, this is why I had a small learning curve with the Pentax K1 II. The first thing you see on the LCD if you have a non-communicative lens mounted is the choice for focal length. Various choices on the left margin to choose a focal length close to that of the mounted lens, so no ridiculous amount of scrolling up or down to finally get to the correct setting. Then the camera will save that focal length on the left margin for future use. No need to go into a menu. IBIS doesn't have to be turned on either.

If you hit OK without changing the focal length, just hit the Info button when you're in Standby mode. Move to the lower right corner and set the focal length. Again, no menu-diving necessary. The "Info" screen also allows setting of IBIS, ISO, RAW and/or jpeg, various lens corrections, etc. (Kind of like the right-button-click short menu on most computer operating systems.)

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