Custom Mode Dial
Nature,  Photo Gear

How to Use Custom Mode Settings on your Olympus OM-D Camera for Bird Photography

Several Olympus OM-D cameras have Custom Mode Settings on the Mode Dial on top of the camera.  This makes it really easy to switch between different settings in your camera due to changing conditions. 

See the table at the bottom of the blog to see which Olympus OM-D cameras have Custom Mode settings.

Custom modes are perfect for bird photography where things can change really quickly like a bird fly by or a bird taking off.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III Custom Modes
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III Custom Modes

Custom Modes are easy to set up on Olympus OM-D cameras.  The Reset / Custom Modes is the first entry in the Shooting 1 menu (1st menu) making it really easy to find. 

Before going out on a bird photography outing, I will set up the initial settings for the conditions / lighting I expect based on the time of day I’m going out, weather conditions, etc. It is important to adjust the Custom Settings as the lighting conditions change during your photo shoot.  For example: if you start out at sunrise, you will want to lower your ISO as the sun gets brighter later in the morning.

Here are the steps to set up Custom Modes on your Olympus OM-D Camera.

Assign Custom Mode
Assign Custom Mode
  1. Adjust your camera settings to your liking for the Custom Mode
  2. Press the Menu button
  3. In the Shooting 1 menu, select Reset / Custom Mode
  4. Press down on the Arrow Pad to Assign to Custom Mode
  5. Press right on Arrow Pad to Select the Custom Mode Number
  6. Press right on the Arrow Pad, Select Set and Press OK

I use 3 Custom Modes when going out for bird photography:

  • C1 – Still Bird Photography Settings
  • C2 – Birds in Flight Settings
  • C3 – Pro Capture Low for bird take offs.  I use Pro Capture Low because it focuses between each frame where Pro Capture High does not.  Pro Capture Low still can shoot up to 18 frames per second.

It is important to keep the settings assigned to the same Custom Mode number.  That way you will have the Custom Mode assignments committed to memory and can quickly change modes in the field.

Topaz Labs

Here are the settings that I use for each custom mode but you should adjust for your own preferences:

C1 – Still Bird Photography Settings

  • ISO – 640 – 800.  I normally go out early in the morning.  I adjust the ISO down as the light gets brighter
  • Image Stabilizer: Auto
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Shooting Mode: Sequential Low Anti Shock
  • AF Mode: S-AF (Single Auto Focus)
  • AF Area: Small Target (small single focus point)
  • Aperture Priority
  • Aperture: f/5.6

C2 – Birds in Flight Settings

  • ISO – 800-1000.  I check the shutter speed when I get out in the field by pointing the camera to the sky and checking the shutter speed.  I then reset the ISO and re-save to Custom Setting C2.
  • Image Stabilizer: Auto
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Shooting Mode: Sequential Low Anti Shock
  • AF Mode: C-AF (Continuous Auto Focus)
  • AF Area: 5 Target Group.  (Looks like a plus sign +).  Some people also like the 9 target group.  Try both and see what works best for you.
  • Aperture Priority
  • Aperture: f/5.6

C3 – Pro Capture Low for bird Take Offs

Usually the same as C2 Birds in Flight Setting except:

  • Shooting Mode: ProCap L
ModelNumber of Custom Modes
E-M1 Mark I0
E-M1 Mark II3
E-M1 Mark III4
E-M5 Mark I0
E-M5 Mark II0
E-M5 Mark III1
E-M10 Mark I0
E-M10 Mark II0
E-M10 Mark III0
E-M10 Mark IV0

Written by Martin Belan

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