Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III with Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens
Olympus / OM System,  Photo Gear

Which Olympus Features Will Work with Non-Olympus Lenses

Olympus cameras are packed with special features like Live ND, Focus Peaking, Pro Capture, etc.  Of One of the questions that I frequently get asked is which of these features won’t work with 3rd party lenses.

I set out test these features on non-Olympus lenses.  For this test, I grouped the lenses into three categories:  Autofocus, Manual Focus Lenses with Electrical Contacts, and Manual Lenses. 

  • Autofocus lenses have electrical contacts that communicate with the camera and also enable autofocus.
  • Manual Focus Lenses with electrical contacts allow the aperture to be changed in the camera and also record aperture information in the photgraph exif data. 
  • Manual lenses do not have electrical contacts and also do not autofocus. 

I recently purchased the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 and Sigma 16mm f/14 lenses during the holidays sales.  I’m interested if I’m missing any features using the Sigma lenses vs. the new Olympus 30mm f/1.4 lens.

Lenses that I used to test the special features in Olympus cameras on 3rd party lenses:

All of the feature / lens tests were completed with the E-M1 Mark III except Bird Detection AF which was done on the OM-D E-M1X which is the only camera that supports this feature.  Not all of the features that I tested may be available on your Olympus camera.

Below are my results for testing both Autofocus, manual focus with electrical contacts and manual lenses with various Olympus’ features.  I’m sure I missed a few Olympus features.  So, if you have a feature that you’d like to know about, leave a comment or contact me and I’ll add it to the blog.

If you don’t want to read the entire blog, I’ve added a quick reference table at the bottom of the blog post.

Focus Peaking Settings
Focus Peaking Settings – Gear Menu – D3

Focus Peaking

Focus Peaking is a feature that helps assist with manual focusing by highlighting the areas of the image that are in focus.

  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens – Yes
  • Venus Optics Laowa 10mm f/2 Lens (Manual Focus with Electrical Contacts) – Yes
  • 7Artisans 50mm f/.95 Manual Lens – Yes
  • Mitakon Zhongyi 20mm f/2 Super Macro Manual Lens – Yes

For manual lenses, you will need to assign focus peaking to one of the buttons on the camera since there are no contacts on the lens to indicate to the camera when the focus ring has been turned. This is also handy when shooting in manual focus mode with autofocus lenses.

Set Up Button Function
Set Up Button Function

To assign focus peaking to a button on the camera, use the Button Function (gear icon) on the lower right hand corner of the Super Control Panel.

Manual Focus Assist
Manual Focus Assist – Gear Menu – A4

MF Assist

MF Assist is a manual focusing aid that will magnify the image, turn on focus peaking, and display a Focus Indicator that displays a scale to indicate the direction and how far you are focused in on a subject.

  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens – Yes
  • Venus Optics Laowa 10mm f/2 Lens (Manual Focus with Electrical Contacts) – Yes
  • 7Artisans 50mm f/.95 Manual Lens – No
  • Mitakon Zhongyi 20mm f/2 Super Macro Manual Lens – No
Focus Bracketing Set Up
Focus Bracketing Set Up – Shooting Menu 2

Focus Bracketing

Focus Bracketing takes a series of images in camera with each image focused at a slightly different point on your subject.  When merged together (stacked), the image will be in focus from front to back.  Focus Bracketing is frequently used for macro and landscape photography.  Focus Bracketing does not stack the images in camera.  Stacking will need to be done with computer software in post processing.  Focus Bracketing can shoot up to 999 images.

  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens – Yes
  • Venus Optics Laowa 10mm f/2 Lens (Manual Focus with Electrical Contacts) – No
  • 7Artisans 50mm f/.95 Manual Lens – No
  • Mitakon Zhongyi 20mm f/2 Super Macro Manual Lens – No
Focus Stacking under the Focus Bracketing Menu
Focus Stacking under the Focus Bracketing Menu in Shooting Menu 2

Focus Stacking

Focus Stacking uses Focus Bracketing but also stacks the images in camera.  Focus Stacking can shoot up to 15 shots.

  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens – No
  • Venus Optics Laowa 10mm f/2 Lens (Manual Focus with Electrical Contacts) – No
  • 7Artisans 50mm f/.95 Manual Lens – No
  • Mitakon Zhongyi 20mm f/2 Super Macro Manual Lens – No

Focus Stacking only works with certain Olympus Lenses.  Here is a link to the Olympus Support Site with a list of all M.Zuiko lenses that work with Focus Stacking.

Exposure Bracketing Menu under Shooting Menu 2
Exposure Bracketing Menu under Shooting Menu 2

Exposure Bracketing (From the Bracketing Menu)

Exposure Bracketing takes multiple images at different exposures. This can be used to ensure you get the right exposure of a photograph or can be blended together to create an image with a greater dynamic range so you don’t have blown out highlights or lost data in the shadows.  In Exposure Bracketing Mode, the images need to be blended using software in post processing.

  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens – Yes
  • Venus Optics Laowa 10mm f/2 Lens (Manual Focus with Electrical Contacts) – Yes
  • 7Artisans 50mm f/.95 Manual Lens – Yes
HDR Menu under Shooting Menu 2
HDR Menu under Shooting Menu 2

Exposure Bracketing / In Camera HDR (From the HDR Menu)

In addition to the Exposure Bracketing feature, Olympus Cameras also have exposure bracketing in the HDR menu.  The HDR menu only has a fixed number of exposure compensation and number of image combinations available.  There is also HDR1 and HDR2 options where 4 images are taken and merged in camera.

  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens – Yes
  • Venus Optics Laowa 10mm f/2 Lens (Manual Focus with Electrical Contacts) – Yes
  • 7Artisans 50mm f/.95 Manual Lens – Yes
High Res Shot Selection
High Res Shot Selection

High Res Shot

In High Res Mode, the camera takes a series of photographs, moving the sensor a tiny amount in each image and then merging the images in camera to produces a higher resolution image.

Tripod

For the Tripod High Res shot, the camera will produce an 80 MP image.  Tripod or Handheld mode can be selected by pressing the Info button when High Res Shot is selected and displayed in the Super Control Panel.

  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens – Yes
  • Venus Optics Laowa 10mm f/2 Lens (Manual Focus with Electrical Contacts) – Yes
  • 7Artisans 50mm f/.95 Manual Lens – Yes

Handheld

For the Handheld High Res shot, the camera will produce a 50 MP image.

  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens – Yes
  • Venus Optics Laowa 10mm f/2 Lens (Manual Focus with Electrical Contacts) – Yes
  • 7Artisans 50mm f/.95 Manual Lens – Yes
Live ND Menu under Shooting Menu 2
Live ND Menu under Shooting Menu 2

Live ND

Live ND replicates the effect of putting an ND filter on your lens to give the effect of long exposures.  This can be used to create smooth, blurry waterfall photographs during the daytime without using an ND filter or even a tripod.

  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens – Yes
  • Venus Optics Laowa 10mm f/2 Lens (Manual Focus with Electrical Contacts) – Yes
  • 7Artisans 50mm f/.95 Manual Lens – Yes
Starry Sky AF Selection in the Super Control Panel
Starry Sky AF Selection in the Super Control Panel

Starry Sky AF

Available on the OM-D E-M1 Mark III only, Starry Sky AF is an algorithm that will autofocus on stars in the night sky.

  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens – Yes
  • Venus Optics Laowa 10mm f/2 Lens (Manual Focus with Electrical Contacts) – No
  • 7Artisans 50mm f/.95 Manual Lens – No
Live Composite Under Bulb Mode
Live Composite Under Bulb Mode

Live Composite

In Live Composite mode, the camera shoots a series of images continuously with the same exposure time.  The camera only uses the first image to record the exposure of the background or foreground.  After the first image, the camera only adds brighter pixels to the exposure producing a single image at the end.

  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens – Yes
  • Venus Optics Laowa 10mm f/2 Lens (Manual Focus with Electrical Contacts) – Yes
  • 7Artisans 50mm f/.95 Manual Lens – Yes

Pro Capture

Olympus Pro Capture Mode allows you to more easily catch action sequences (bird take off, sports, etc.).  In Pro Capture Mode, a predetermined number of images are stored in the cameras memory when you half press the shutter button.  Once the shutter button is fully pressed, the images in memory are written to the SD card along with a preset number of images after the shutter button is pressed.

Pro Capture High Settings Located in the Gear Menu C1
Pro Capture High Settings Located in the Gear Menu C1

Pro Capture High

Pro Capture High can shoot up to 60 frames per second but does not autofocus between frames.

  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens – Yes
  • Venus Optics Laowa 10mm f/2 Lens (Manual Focus with Electrical Contacts) – Yes
  • Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm f/4/ 5.6 – Yes
  • 7Artisans 50mm f/.95 Manual Lens – Yes
Sequential Low Pro Cap Settings - Gear Menu - C1
Sequential Low Pro Cap Settings – Gear Menu – C1

Pro Capture Low

Pro Capture High can shoot up to 18 frames per second but does autofocus between frames.

  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens – No
  • Venus Optics Laowa 10mm f/2 Lens (Manual Focus with Electrical Contacts) – No
  • Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm f/4/ 5.6 – No
  • 7Artisans 50mm f/.95 Manual Lens – Yes*

*You can select Pro Capture Low on the Manual 7Artisans lens while it cannot be selected with the Sigma, Loawa, and Panasonic lenses.  However, you do not get any AF capabilities between each shot on the manual lenses.

Super Control Panel Settings for Bird Detect AF
Super Control Panel Settings for Bird Detect AF

Bird Detection AF

Available only on the E-M1X, Bird Detection AF will identify and track both stationary birds and birds in flight.

  • Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm f/4/ 5.6 – Yes
  • Venus Optics Laowa 10mm f/2 Lens (Manual Focus with Electrical Contacts) – No
  • 7Artisans 50mm f/.95 Manual Lens – No
Face and Eye Priority AF
Face and Eye Priority AF Settings in the Super Control Panel

Face / Eye Priority AF

Olympus Face and Eye Priority AF can detect and focus on a subject’s face and eyes.  This feature can be set to focus on the face or several combinations of face and eyes.

  • Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens – Yes
  • Venus Optics Laowa 10mm f/2 Lens (Manual Focus with Electrical Contacts) – No
  • 7Artisans 50mm f/.95 Manual Lens – No

You can turn Face / Eye Priority AF on with a manual lens but it will not provide any benefit on the manual focus lenses.

Topaz Labs

Summary

Overall, most of the Olympus features that I tested were available on 3rd Party Autofocus lenses.  The exceptions being: Focus Stacking and Pro Capture Low.

For manual lenses, none of the features that require autofocus are available on the manual lenses.  This may be the most significant for macro photography since in camera Focus Bracketing and Focus Stacking are not available.

The manual focus lenses with electrical contact, don’t get you many more Olympus features than the pure manual lens, only adding MF assist.  You will be able to set your aperture using the camera and your aperture will also show up in the photograph’s EXIF data.

Olympus Features and Whether they Work on 3rd Party Lenses

Olympus FeatureAutofocus 3rd Party LensManual Focus Lens with Electric ContactsManual Lens
Focus PeakingYesYesYes
MF AssistYesYesNo
Focus BracketingYesNoNo
Focus StackingNoNoNo
Exposure BracketingYesYesYes
In Camera HDR / BracketingYesYesYes
High Res ShotYesYesYes
Live NDYesYesYes
Starry Sky AFYesNoNo
Live CompositeYesYesYes
Pro Capture HighYesYesYes
Pro Capture LowNoNoYes*
Bird Detection AFYesNoNo
Face / Eye Priority AFYesNoNo

* Yes, but will not focus between shots.

Written by Martin Belan

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How to Create a 360 Degree Star Trail with an Olympus OM-D Camera
Photographing Bees with Olympus Pro Capture
How to use Olympus’ Pro Capture Mode to Photograph Birds in Flight

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