The Olympus Pens and OM-D have a very powerful and flexible set of configuration options. Finding the right options, however, can be daunting. Reading the manual can help but can also be cryptic at times. I decided to write a series of blog posts to explain some of the finer points of Olympus Pen configuration.
The first place to start is to enable the Custom Menu on the camera. Through the Custom Menu you can configure an unbelievable number of settings to really customize your camera. I own 3 Olympus Pens, the E-PL1, the E-P3 and E-PM2. All 3 work pretty much the same way. The OM-D also has the same menu structure.
Olympus E-PM2 “Mode Dial” (only on the Pen Minis)
Step 1: The E-PM1 and E-PM2 are the low cost cameras that lack a mode dial. The menu above is used only on these two cameras to set the shooting mode. Simply hit the menu button and click over to the “SETUP” option on on the right and hit the OK button to access the menu.
Other Olympus Pens models can directly access the menu without going through this screen. Just hit the menu button.
Olympus E-PM2 Setup Menu
Step 2: Most Olympus micro 4/3 cameras (The Pen and OM-D) have menus that look something like this with 4 icons along the left side. If you have 5 icons, an extra icon with “2 gears” above the “wrench” icon, then you are set. The Custom Menu is already enabled.
If you only have 4 icons, as pictured above, then select the “wrench” icon by clicking down on the round control dial. The control dial is located in the bottom right corner on the back of the camera. It has 4 icons surrounding a center OK button. By clicking on the right side of the control dial, you can now scroll through the menu options on the right. Click down to the “Menu Display” option, as shown above. Then click the OK button.
Olympus E-PM2 Menu Display
Step 3: Clicking the OK button from the previous step should display the screen above. Turn on the top “Menu Display”, the one with the 2 gears, by clicking the control dial to the right. Then clicking up or down on the control dial will turn on or off this option. Click the OK button to set your choice. Once set, you can use the MENU button to back out of this sub menu.
Olympus E-PM2 Custom Menu Display
Step 4: Confirm if the custom menu has successfully been turned on. If all worked properly, you should see a new icon, a “two gears” icon, above the “wrench” icon on the left side, as pictured above. If you select the “two gears” icon, you will see a lot of new options on the right — from menu item A through menu item J.
Congratulations, you now have the custom menu enabled. This is the first step to unlocking the myriad of customization options on your camera.
A reader recently left a comment which asked why I still keep my Canon 7D if I’m so happy with my move to mirrorless.
There is one thing in your reasoning that sounds odd to me, if not contradictory. You think this is the time for most photographers to switch to a mirrorless, but, at the same time, admit that you keep your 7D for some special occasions. Where is the simplicity, if you actually need 2 systems to take care of all the situations?
Before I talk about my case, I should start with the broader market. There are valid reasons for using a DSLR and if you like yours and it serves you well, then by all means continue to use it. However, if you are itching for a smaller camera that takes equally good pictures, mirrorless may be the way to go — it’s worked for me and a bunch of my friends. But don’t misconstrue this statement to mean everyone should switch to mirrorless. DSLRs are old tech, in one sense, but old does not mean bad.
Despite the trend towards mirrorless cameras, DSLRs are not going to disappear. They will continue to be used in certain applications for the foreseeable future. Even Rangefinder cameras (like the Leica M series), which are long past their heyday, are still being sold. So when I say that DSLRs are an ancronism and mirrorless is the future, realize that this trend will take many years and some people will never switch.
Cameras, like life, are a series of trade offs — there are no perfect cameras. If you are an Associated Press photographer and shooting the Olympics, I would not recommend using a mirrorless camera. Pro-level DSLRs are really geared for that kind of shooting. That said, it doesn’t mean that mirrorless cameras can’t shoot sports, it’s just not the ideal camera. Heck, a photo journalist did a bang up job taking photos at the Olympics using his iPhone. Likewise, if you want to do street photography, need a travel camera or want a small everyday camera, DSLRs are not the best choice. It doesn’t mean, of course, DSLRs can’t serve that function, it’s just their size and weight tends to get in the way.
But what If I want to shoot it all, you say, street photography, travel photography, sports, kids and weddings? Well I’m sorry to say that you will need to compromise. You will have to weigh the relative uses of each function and decide for yourself what the main purpose of the camera will be. Yes, it is hard sometimes, especially if you want just one camera to do it all. My friend, Mike, is contemplating selling his Canon 5D and the Fujifilm X100 to get one camera, possibly a FujiFilm X-Pro 1. There will be tradeoffs. He will need to compromise and give up some flexibility to do this. But Mike is an experienced photographer so he is savvy enough to make an intelligent decision.
For me, I decided to take the opposite tack. I don’t struggle to find the perfect camera for all situations since I decided to use multiple, different cameras. Yes, most of what I shoot is now done with my Olympus Pens — they are perfect for the type of photography that I enjoy and post on mostlyfotos. But, I don’t expect my Olympus Pens to handle 100% of my photographic needs. I use my Canon 7D and even point and shoots to supplement my Olympus. And truth be told, while the photography comes first, I am also a camera enthusiast — I enjoy shooting with different types of cameras. That is probably one of the main reasons I keep my 7D around as well as my older Olympus E-PL1s and my Sony NEX-5.
But this multi-camera approach has its downsides too. It is also a compromised solution. I need to learn multiple different interfaces. It costs more money. It takes up more space and adds more clutter. Having that one perfect camera would certainly makes things simpler but it’s something that doesn’t exist for me just yet. Perhaps in the future, as technologies improve and I increasingly specialize on a particular type of photography, I can begin to shed cameras. I may however, struggle to overcome my love of using many different cameras. At least for now, you the reader will benefit from me playing with different models and contrasting their strengths and weaknesses on this blog.
Colonial Williamsburg was a puzzle to me. I’ve heard about the place but never went there, even though I lived on the East Coast. I heard conflicting reports that it was a made up place while some claimed it was a real town. So when I had the chance, I decided to start our winter vacation there. And even after looking at their website and brochures, I still didn’t understand Williamsburg until I actually got there and started exploring.
Colonial Williamsburg is sort of like a theme park for American history. Buildings have been moved and rebuilt to simulate life in the American colonies around the time of the American revolution. But it is also the real deal — the town really did exist from way back. The Governor’s Mansion and Capitol, the centerpieces of Williamsburg, were rebuilt on their original foundations as close as possible to the original specifications. The Courthouse and The Magazine, where they kept the arms, are original structures.
While there are actors in costume, in fairness to Colonial Williamsburg, this is no ordinary theme park — there are no cute mascots and amusement rides. It’s more of a living museum to American History. Also, unlike a typical amusement park, you can get in and walk around in the town without a ticket. Paying the entrance fee entitles the visitor to tours of the trophy buildings and seeing the demonstrations of the craftsman, such as the blacksmith and wig makers. There are no blatant food stands but there are restaurants in recreated Taverns that line Duke Of Gloucester, the main street.
Next to Colonial Williamsburg, there are the Market Square Shops, a shopping area done in the Neo-Colonial style. And beyond that, lies the College of William and Mary. Colonial Williamsburg buses, that allow ticket holders to get on and off at several places, make it easy to get around. The main Visitor’s Center complex is where you can buy the tickets. It also has additional shops, restaurants and is the logical place to get started. Everything is done in a classy way and I have come to realize the price of admission is well worth it.
We spent 2 relaxed days there but there is more than enough to fill 3 days. There are resort style hotels right next to the historic buildings but we opted to stay in a more conventional hotel several miles away. The greater City of Williamsburg is like any small city with the usual sprawl. Drive down Richmond Road and you can find a large selection of standard, new restaurants with modern 21st century food.
The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art museums, both under the same roof, are surprisingly good. The museums are included as part of the general admission ticket. Entrance to the museum was a bit confusing — you can enter the primarily underground complex through the Public Hospital of 1773. Since we were during the winter vacation, there was a magnificent Christmas Tree in the restaurant area.
Colonial Williamsburg is a must for history buffs especially if you are into early American History (the Historic Jamestown settlement is also fairly close). I think the 13-year-old was old enough and knew enough history to appreciate the place. For my 9-year-old, it was more of a stretch. He liked the optional Tavern Ghost Tour we took at night and he was mesmerized by the blacksmith’s handicraft. There are activities geared towards kids that we didn’t strictly follow. Perhaps if we did, our younger son would have like it even more. The Fife and Drum parade down Duke of Gloucester, while not exactly the Disney Electric Parade, did add a nice closure to our stay.
Of course for me, any new place is a chance for photography. I enjoyed Williamsburg and its history but I like the architecture the most. It’s not the big city and there are no shiny lights but finding texture and compositions entertained and challenged me. If anything, I would like to spend more time shooting photographs deliberately but the family schedule didn’t allow for that. My small bag carried two cameras with lenses attached. My new Olympus E-PM2 with the 14mm f2.5 and the Olympus E-P3 with the Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4. That’s it. I also had a Panasonic wide-angle adapter that I can attach to the 14mm but I had no other lenses. This kept the photography gear to a minimum and let me enjoy the experience without being weighed down.
My wife, who doesn’t know much American History, also enjoyed Colonial Williamsburg. We vowed that sometime in the future, perhaps when we are retired, we will return to this place. We can take our time and savor the details especially since we won’t have young kids in tow. Sounds good to me since I’m always up for more photography. I wonder what kind of camera I’ll be using in the distant future.
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As I mentioned in my post several days ago, I been shooting the main Driskill Hotel Christmas tree for four years now. But this year, I shot another one, tucked back in the corner on the other side of the hotel. It’s in the Driskill Bar right near the 7th street entrance.
The place was quite dark and I had some doubts if this would come out. I used my Olympus E-PM2 with the 14mm lens on a table top tripod and put it on a cushy ottoman. I shot three photographs at 2 stops apart and use the HDR bracket option that is new to the E-PM2 — this isn’t available on the E-P3. Just to be clear, the HDR bracket feature just takes the photographs, it does not do any in-camera HDR processing.
I used my standard, subtle HDR processing technique to get it just right. I wanted the Christmas tree lights be bright and festive but still wanted to keep the moody, wood-paneled bar feeling. I’m happy with the way it came out.
I hope everyone has a great Holiday Season. I’m shutting things down here and packing up for a family vacation to the East Coast. I may have one more post coming before I go for the rest of the year.
Click on the photograph to see a larger image and hover over the photo to see the exposure detail.