Bald Eagle in Flight with a Fish
Bird Photography,  Photo Gear,  Wildlife

Top Olympus OM-D Tips and Settings for Bird and Wildlife Photographers

Olympus OM-D cameras are terrific for bird and wildlife photography.  Their small size and light weight make them easier for travel, hiking, and hand holding your gear for extended periods of time.

Olympus OM-D Cameras also have quite a few settings that can make your bird and wildlife photography easier and better.  Here are some of my favorite settings and tips for bird and wildlife photography with Olympus cameras.

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Recenter the Focus Point

When shooting birds and wildlife, you will probably be moving the focus point around the screen to ensure the eye and head are in sharp focus.  To quickly get the focus point back to the center, do a long press on the Joystick or OK button.

Custom Mode Dial
Custom Mode Dial

Use the Custom Mode Dials

Setting the Custom Mode Dials on the top of your OM-D Camera for different bird and wildlife photography situations can help to ensure you don’t miss the shot.  For example, if you have different settings for stationary birds and birds in flight, you can set each of them to a Custom Mode Dial Setting and quickly change between settings. 

Check out my blog on using Olympus Custom Mode Settings for Bird Photography to learn more and see how I set up my Custom Mode Settings.

Bring Exposure Compensation back to Zero

While shooting if you have changed your exposure compensation settings, doing a Long Press on the OK button will quickly bring exposure compensation back to zero.

Level Gauge and Histogram
Level Gauge and Histogram

Configure the Info button to see the Histogram, Level, and Blinkies all at the same time

By default, you will need to press the Info button multiple times to display the Level Gauge.  You can customize the Info settings to show both the Histogram, Level Gauge, and Blinkies (overexposed and underexposed areas of the image) on the first press of the Info Button. 

Live Info Custom Settings
Live Info Custom Settings

  • In the Cog – D1 Menu – Info Settings – LV Info,  uncheck – Image Only and Custom 2.
  • Check Custom 1 and in the Custom 1 menu check the Histogram, Highlight & Shadow, and the Level Gauge.
  • Use the menu button to back out.

The Histogram, Level Gauge, and Blinkies will now  appear on the screen with the first press of the Info button.  If you don’t want one of those featuresa to appear when the Info button is pressed, simply uncheck that item.

Silent Shooting Mode
Silent Shooting Mode

Use Silent Shooting Mode to Increase the Shutter Speed

In normal Continuous Low mode the fastest shutter speed you can select is 1/8000 of a second.  I normally shoot in Continuous Low Mode for bird photography as Continuous Low will focus between each frame where Continuous High will not.

There are times when a faster shutter speed is necessary, photographing hummingbirds for instance.  By switching to Silent Continuous Low mode (L with the heart icon) you can shoot up to 1/32000 of a second.  This mode uses the electronic shutter that allows it to shoot faster at faster shutter speeds.

If the Silent Shooting Mode is not enabled, you can enable this shooting mode in the Cogs – D1 – Shooting Mode / Timer settings by checking the box by the Silent Shooting Mode icon.

The Maximum Shutter Speed and availability of Silent Shooting mode will vary by Olympus camera model.  Here is a summary for the Olympus cameras that I own.

  • E-M1X – 1/32000 of a second max
  • E-M1 Mark III – 1/32000 of a second max
  • E-M1 Mark I – 1/16,000 of a second max
  • E-M10 Mark II – 1/16,000 of a second max
  • E-M10 Mark III – Silent Shutter Mode only available in Aperture Priority or Program Mode

Disable Instant Playback / Auto Preview

For bird and wildlife photography, you will most likely be shooting in Continuous High or Continuous Low modes.  These modes will shoot at 10 – 60 frames per second (Continuous High Silent Mode can shoot at 60 fps).

Turning off the Auto Preview so the last image taken doesn’t show on your LCD screen can speed up your cameras processing.

To turn off Auto Preview, go to the Spanner or Wrench Menu – Rec View and turn it off.

Northern Shrike Take Off
Northern Shrike Take Off

Use Pro Capture Mode for Bird Take Offs and Landings

Olympus Pro Capture mode is a great way to get birds in flight photographs, especially for smaller birds.  Pro Capture can be used to greatly improve your success rate for bird take off shots.

The way Pro Capture works is when you half press the shutter button it records images to memory and when you fully press the shutter button it writes the images in memory to the SD card.  This will help to ensure you don’t miss that take off sequence.

You can configure Pro Capture with frames per second and the number of frames that it records both before and after the shutter is fully pressed.  Visit my blog on How to Configure and Use Pro Capture for Birds in Flight photography to learn more.

UHS Speed Class
UHS Speed Class

Buy the right SD Cards

With bird and wildlife photography, you will want to shoot at a high number of frames per second (fps) to make sure you capture the action.  Make sure you buy SD Cards with a UHS Speed Class of 3 so writing to the card doesn’t slow you down.

UHS Class 3 supports write speeds of 30 megabytes per second while SD Cards with a UHS Speed Class of 1 only supports write speeds of 10 megabytes per second.

The UHS Speed Class is indicated by the number inside the U on the SD card Label.  Visit my blog on Choosing SD Cards for Olympus cameras to learn more.

Written by Martin Belan

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