OM-1 Customized Buttons
Nature,  Photo Gear

How I Set Up the OM System OM-1 for Nature Photography

The OM System OM-1 is a highly customizable camera.  In fact, there may be too many options to customize which can cause you to forget what is assigned to what.  More on how to help remember your customized settings later in the blog. In the OM-1, you can customize buttons, dials, fn Lever, custom modes, arrow pad and more. 

I typically photograph nature: birds, wildlife, landscapes, and macro.  The new OM System OM-1 is perfect for nature photography with its small size, light weight, weatherproofing, and how much the camera can be customized.

Here is how I set up and customized my OM-1 for nature photography.  These settings work for me but you should adjust these settings for your subjects and shooting style.

Buttons

Most of the buttons on the OM System OM-1 can be assigned to different functions.  Buttons can be assigned to features using the Gear Icon on the right side of the Super Control Panel or in the first tab of the Gear Menu.

OM-1 Customized Front Buttons
OM-1 Customized Front Buttons

Front Buttons

Focus Peaking – Top Front Button

I use Focus Peaking for manual focusing to see when a subject or part of a subject is in focus.  I mainly use manual focus for macro photography.  Focus Peaking also makes it easy to use 3rd party manual focus lenses.

  • Press and release the button to turn Focus Peaking on or off
  • Press the Info Button with Focus Peaking on and the settings menu (color, brightness, image brightness adjust) will display on the LCD / viewfinder

Focus Stacking – Bottom Front Button

I use focus stacking for macro photography and for landscapes.  In the OM-1, Focus Stacking has been separated out from the bracketing functions so it can now be assigned to a button.

  • Press and release the button to toggle Focus Stacking On/Off
  • Press and Hold the button to have the Focus Stacking menu appear on the LCD and viewfinder

Front Button Organization Notes

I use Focus Peaking and Focus Stacking mostly for macro photography.  These two controls are located together on the front of the camera.

OM-1 Customized Top Buttons
OM-1 Customized Top Buttons

Top Buttons

Live ND – Exposure Compensation (+/-) Button

Live ND is great for blurring moving water like waterfalls, rapids, fountains, etc.  Live ND 64 was added to the OM-1.

  • Press and release the button to toggle Live ND on or Off.  You will not get an error message if the camera is not in Manual or Shutter Priority, Live ND will not be activated
  • Press and hold the button and turn the Rear Dial to change Live ND settings

High Res Shot – Record Button

High Res Shot comes programmed to the Record Button in still shooting modes.  However, you can change that if you desire.  I didn’t use High Res Shot a lot with my OM-D E-M1 Mark III and E-M1X.  I like the easy access to the High Res Shot on the OM-1 and plan on using it more.

  • Press and release the button to turn High Res Shot On/Off
  • Press and hold the button and turn the Rear Dial to change the High Res Mode settings between Handheld, Tripod, and Off

Top Button Organization Notes

I group the 2 computational photography features (High Res Shot and Live ND) together on the top of the camera. 

OM-1 Customized Back Buttons
OM-1 Customized Back Buttons

Rear Buttons

ISO or Magnify – ISO Button

For macro photography, I Zoom In on some subjects with Focus Peaking on for more precise focus.  I really don’t use the Zoom function for landscapes, birds, or wildlife.  I program the zoom function before going out for macro photography and leave it set to ISO for other photography genres.

Magnify

  • Press the button to enter Magnify Mode
  • Use the Arrow Pad or Joystick to move over the area you want to zoom in to
  • Press the button again to zoom in
  • Use the Front or Rear Dial to zoom in and out
  • Press the Off Icon on the lower left of the LCD to exit Magnify Mode

ISO

  • Press the button to bring up the ISO settings
  • Use the Front or Rear Dials to change the ISO
  • Press the button again to exit ISO settings

Subject Detection – AF-ON Button

With the OM-1, Subject Detection can be assigned to a button.  With the E-M1X, this had to be done thru the menus.  This makes Subject Detection easily accessible for nature photographers.

  • Press and release the button to toggle Subject Detection On / Off
  • Press and hold the button and turn the Front Dial to change the subject for Subject Detection

AF / MF – AEL Button

For macro photography, I usually shoot with Manual Focus.  But for some shots (awkward angle, flighty subject), autofocus works better.  This button quickly toggles between manual and autofocus.

Also, if you hold the button and turn the Front Dial, you can change between any of the AF Modes.  For bird and wildlife photography, this is a quick way to switch between single AF and continuous AF, or to turn off tracking.

  • Press and release the button to toggle between Autofocus and Manual Focus
  • Press and hold the button and turn the Front Dial to change the AF Mode

AF Target Mode – Multi-selector (Joystick)

For bird and wildlife photography, this setting will allow you to quickly change the size and shape of the AF area.  For example: switch to a single, small AF point if autofocus has a hard time focusing on your subject due to low contrast, busy background, etc.

  • Press and hold the joystick while turning the Front Dial to change the AF Mode / Area.

Rear Button Organization Notes

I use these features assigned to the back camera buttons for bird and wildlife photography where I need to quickly change settings.  The programmable buttons on the right side of the back of the camera are all easily reached by my right thumb while shooting.  I can quickly change these settings by pressing and holding the button with my thumb while turning the Front Dial.

Function Lever

I have the Function Lever set to Mode 1 where the Front and Rear Dials will change different functions depending on your Shooting Mode.  But, I haven’t really been using the fn Lever much on the OM-1 for a couple of reasons.

  • The Lever is smaller and harder to find on the OM-1
  • I forget to return the lever back to position 1 and instead of changing the Aperture, I find myself changing the White Balance when turning the Back Dial.  This usually happens at the most inappropriate time.
OM-1 Custom Modes
OM-1 Custom Modes

Custom Modes

Custom Modes are terrific for nature photography where you need to quickly change between settings as the conditions or subjects change.  The OM System OM-1 has 4 Custom Modes located on the Mode Dial on the top of the camera.

The OM-1 and E-M1 Mark III have a Hold Setting for the Custom Modes (Shooting Menu1, Sub-menu 1).  The Hold Setting will automatically update the saved Custom Mode with any setting changes that occur while you are shooting in that Custom Mode. 

The Hold Setting needs to be set up for each Custom Mode under the under the Save Settings Menu item.  This is a great setting for bird and wildlife photography where the light is changing throughout the day.

Custom Mode C1 – Still Bird and Wildlife Settings

  • ISO – Adjust as the lighting conditions change.  The ISO setting change is automatically saved to the Custom Mode when the Hold Setting is enabled.
  • Image Stabilizer: Auto
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Shooting Mode: Sequential
  • AF Mode: S-AF (Single Auto Focus)
  • AF Area: Small Target (small single focus point)
  • Aperture Priority
  • Aperture: f/5.6

Custom Mode C2 – Birds in Flight Settings

  • ISO – Adjust as the lighting conditions change.  The ISO setting change is automatically saved to the Custom Mode when the Hold Setting is enabled.
  • Image Stabilizer: Auto
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Shooting Mode: Sequential or SH2 depending on the subject and lighting due to limitations
  • AF Mode: C-AF-TR
  • Subject Detection: Birds
  • AF Area: Middle Sized Rectangle
  • Aperture Priority
  • Aperture: f/5.6

Custom Mode C3 – Pro Capture Low for Bird / Wildlife Action Sequences

  • ISO – Adjust as the lighting conditions change.  The ISO setting change is automatically saved to the Custom Mode when the Hold Setting is enabled.
  • Image Stabilizer: Auto
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Shooting Mode: ProCap or ProCapSH2 depending on the subject and lighting due to limitations
  • AF Mode: C-AF-TR
  • Subject Detection: Birds
  • AF Area: All Focus Points
  • Aperture Priority
  • Aperture: f/5.6 to f/8 depending on lighting conditions.  The smaller the aperture the better the chance to get the entire bird in focus when it moves.  However, you want to make sure you have enough light for a fast shutter speed.  You can also increase the ISO to achieve a faster shutter speed but you will also have a noisier image.

Custom Mode C4 – Macro with Flash

  • ISO – 200
  • Image Stabilizer: Auto
  • White Balance: Auto
  • Shooting Mode: Single
  • AF Mode: MF
  • AF Area: Single Focus Point
  • Manual Shooting Mode
  • Aperture: f/10. Adjust the aperture based on the subject and lighting conditions. I find that f/10 is a good starting point.
  • Shutter Speed: 1/250
  • Flash Mode: Fill In
  • LV Mode: S-OVF.  This is similar to the Live View Boost on the Olympus OM-D cameras where the brightness of the viewfinder / LCD is increased and does not reflect the cameras exposure settings. This is an important setting to help with composition when photographing with flash.

Make sure you check / adjust some of your global menu settings for each custom mode.  Settings Like Sequential Shooting Settings, Card Slot Settings, Info Settings, need to be adjusted for each Custom Mode.

Other Menu Settings

MF Assist (AF Menu, 6th sub-menu)

This will automatically turn on a manual focusing assist function when you turn the focus ring in MF mode.  This will not work on manual 3rd party lenses since they don’t have electrical connectors for communication with the camera

  • Magnify – Off
  • Peaking – On
  • Focus Indicator – On

I turn Magnify to off since I don’t zoom in for all my macro photography shots.

Info Settings (Gear Menu, 4th sub-menu)

This will display useful information in the LCD and viewfinder when the Info Button is pressed. 

Information 1 checked, Information 2 and 3 unchecked.

Information 1

  • Histogram – checked
  • Highlight&Shadow – checked
  • Level Gauge – checked
  • All Battery Information – unchecked since I am not using the battery grip

I use the Histogram and Highlight&Shadow to ensure I have the proper exposure, and the Level Gauge to make sure my composition is level.

Image Stabilizer Handheld Assist (Shooting Menu 1, 8th Sub-menu)

New for the OM-1, Image Stabilizer Handheld Assist will display an image stabilization square when you half press the shutter to focus.  A smaller square within the larger square will move indicating how much you are moving while handholding the camera.

While this might be useful in some circumstances, I find that it interferes with composing the shot.  I keep this turned off unless I need it for a special purpose like handholding a High Res Shot.

OM-1 Custom Settings Cheat Sheet

How to Remember Your Custom Settings

One way I like to use to remember how I customized the OM System OM-1 camera is to create a cheat sheet and use it like you are studying for a test.  This is not for use in the field, memorize it beforehand so these controls become second nature when you are out on a photo shoot.

It is also helpful to locate functions that you use for different photography genres in the same area of the camera.  For example, I set Focus Peaking and Focus Stacking to the 2 buttons on the front of the camera.  I use both of these functions for macro photography.

Written by Martin Belan

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