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Back Button Focus EM-5

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by JohnD, May 17, 2012.

  1. JohnD

    JohnD New to Mu-43

    Mar 22, 2010
    Kansas, USA
    I just received word that my E-M5 is arriving soon and i'm trying to get familiar. For years i have used back button focus on my D700. I am wondering if this is possible on the Olympus E-M5.
  2. DFP

    DFP New to Mu-43

    May 2, 2012
    It is, but i find the buttons not quite as convenient as on my e510 and e620....however the autofocus, and face detection and near eye focusing lead me to not use it anyway. The live feedback from exposure compensation means you can focus, re compose and shoot, tweaking exposure at the same time.

    I'd be pretty certain the back button would be cery useable, once the muscle memory was developed if it is important to you.
  3. leuallen

    leuallen Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 26, 2010
    Mackinaw, Il
    I have EM-5 and am disappointed with the implementation of back button focusing. I also have a GH2 and prefer its implementation.

    With Olympus if you focus with the button and then press the button again, it refocuses. It is locked to that mode. With the GH2 if you focus with the button and then press the button again, it reverts to half press focus with the shutter button. Pressing again focuses. A big point is that there is an indicator icon in the EVF indication that focus is locked on the GH2. There is none for the Olympus although there is one if you use AEL, a strange omission.

    The advantage with the GH2 is that you can have both shutter button and back button focus instantly available without taking the camera from eye. If you need to refocus with the GH2, simply press the button twice. If you want to use shutter button half press, press once. Withe the Olympus you have to dive into the menu to change. I use both methods depending upon the conditions, so the Olympus is a looser here.

    One other thing about the Olympus. The focusing rectangle is very dim and hard to see. With dark backgrounds I never know where the damn thing is until I focus and it lights up briefly. I wish that is stayed green when focused so that I know I focused.

    You can get around the dim focus box by using the touch screen focus to set the focus box position. The the focus box stays green and is easy to see. It has the added benefit that you can resize it. Great, what's the problem then. Well there is this new feature called Shadows/Highlights where underexposed areas show up blue and overexposed area red in the EVF. This is really great. Makes good exposure quick and accurate. Simply turn towards overexposure until you see red, then back off a click until no red (except for specular highlights) and you are there. No blown highlights. The only real problem with this is that there is no icon in the EVF to tell you that it is active and Olympus has a tendency to change it depending on how you change settings. So you often do not know if it is active or not especially in normal exposure range settings. Well, turning on touch focus TURNS OFF Shadows/Highlights. Damn. So close and yet so far away. I want both.

    I much prefer the handling of the GH2 and the files of the EM-5.
  4. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I must say, that's the first time I've heard anybody prefer Panasonic's back-button focus over Olympus'. :)  If I've chosen to use the back button on my AF lenses, I can't imagine why I would want it to switch back to the shutter button every other time I try to focus... xP The advantage of the Olympus back-button AF over Panasonic's is that you can set focus or exposure at any time. Panasonic cameras want you to set focus first then exposure, for whatever reason...

    More to the point of the topic though, back-button AF is very easy to set up on any Olympus camera and will operate similar to how back-button AF will work on your D700. This is the way I have set up every Olympus digital system camera from the Four-Thirds E-Volt DSLRs to the Digital PENs (this was all written before the OM-D, so I'll add some notes in brackets):

    Go to Menu => Sprocket => Button/Dial => AEL/AFL. There you can set Single AF, C-AF, and MF modes. Mode 3 is the one that assigns any of those AF types to the back-button. If you set MF to Mode 3, then that will still give you MF capabilities with the focus ring, but will add S-AF capabilities to the back-button. If you set C-AF to Mode 3, that will give you continuous AF as long as you hold down the back-button. You can also set S-AF to Mode 3, but in my opinion this is redundant if you have MF set to to Mode 3. You get S-AF + MF by using MF Mode 3 anyways. I just leave S-AF to the default Mode 1 just in case I ever for whatever crazy reason want to go back to shutter-focus. But I never do. ;)  (Which goes back to the Oly vs Panny comparison in the post above... Switching between back-button and shutter-release focus can be as close as two button presses away on an Olympus camera, without needing to follow a pattern.)

    Next, after you have your AF modes set, all you need to do is assign your AFL button, which will be your back focus button. On the PEN cameras this is in Menu => Sprocket => Button/Dial => Button Function, but this is the one part that can vary between models. For instance, on my old E-System cameras there was only one AFL button but it could be swapped to the Fn button so you had two choices instead (if I remember, I think the E-P1 was the same). With the newer PEN cameras your possibilities are much more expandable! On my PEN cameras I set the big red Direct-to-Video button to AFL as my back-button.
    (With the E-M5 the Fn1, Fn2, and Record buttons are all good choices for AEL/AFL, which are all easily accessible from shooting position. The E-M5 has the most custom buttons available to choose from without moving your hand from shooting position of any other camera I can think of. I'd also suggest setting one of these to ISO.)

    Of course, you then need to go through your regular control panel to set your camera to use one of the AF types that you have set to Mode 3, or use Menu => Sprocket => AF/MF => AF Mode to do that.

    And speaking of your control panel... have you learned how to set up the Super Control Panel yet?
    In order to access your shooting options quickly go to Setup => Sprockets => Disp/PC => Control Settings and for every mode turn Live Guide and Live Control to OFF, then turn SCP (Super Control Panel) to ON in every mode.
    When you return to shooting, you will then be able to press OK and get a one-screen quick menu of all your essential shooting options. If another menu pops up (ie, like Remote Commander, Art, or Scene menus) then just press INFO and it'll cycle you back to SCP.

    This has been the same also with all Olympus Digital System cameras from the E-Volt DSLRs to the PENs. The difference in the E-M5 is the ability to use the Touch Screen and front dial to change settings in the SCP, which enhances its capabilities even further!
    • Like Like x 5
  5. leuallen

    leuallen Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 26, 2010
    Mackinaw, Il
    Ned, I can imagine. Shooting quarter mile dirt track cars. Focus on a spot in a corner where I know that a car is likely to hit. There will be action there and probably plenty of dust. The dust makes it slow to focus- no contrast. Hence prefocus. Take shot if car hits mark. Then press back focus button setting shutter focus. Now can get coming down straight away. Or if action occurs elsewhere and I need to refocus, press button to get shutter focus and shoot. Back button focus is to slow for much of the action. I keep the focus point low in the position where I usually frame the car that way I can just frame the shot and mash the shutter. Usually get a good focused shot.

  6. Dave in Wales

    Dave in Wales Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 5, 2011
    West Wales
    WOW, and you don't have an E-M5......'YET' :smile:
  7. Yes, but that's the beauty of the Olympus customisation menus. Each camera follows the same formula, which makes it so easy to transition from one model to the next.
  8. dfatty

    dfatty Mu-43 Rookie

    May 2, 2012
    I think Ned has described how you do it. I initially was not happy with the back button focus on FN1 because it's hard to keep grip and press the FN1 button because it's kind of cramped and because the front grip isn't so great - on my dslr with a good front grip and more space I have no problem with back button focus. But then I moved the back button focus to FN2, which is right next to the shutter release, and it works great for me. After I get a grip for the E-M5 I may try moving it back to FN1.
  9. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I understand what you're saying. :)  Though personally I still prefer the speed of using consistent back-button AF. For your preferences though, I would set MF to Mode 3 and leave S-AF on Mode 1. MF Mode 3 will allow MF as well as back-button S-AF, which would make using S-AF Mode 3 redundant. This way, you can leave S-AF to Mode 1 and if you're using the Super Control Panel you can very easily switch between MF and S-AF to change between back-button and shutter-button focus. SCP will stay on the last option you choose, so if you leave it highlighted on AF Mode then it'll be very quickly accessible to you with two presses of the OK button.

    Hope that helps you get more comfortable with your Oly. ;) 
  10. BLI

    BLI New to Mu-43

    May 19, 2012
    E-M5 set-up?

    Three questions on set-up of camera:
    * is it possible to set up the e-m5 so that highlights/shadows are previewed in the EVF? In other words: so that colored highlights and shadows appear in the EVF, and can be removed/adjusted by rotating the +/- wheel? I thought this was possibe, but so far, they only show up *after* the picture is taken...
    * can I set up the camera such that the monitor shows *nothing*, while the EVF is turned on by lifting it to the eye?
    * can I view taken pictures in the EVF, just like on the PENs with EVF?

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