Way to quadruple battery life on the Olympus OM-D EM-5

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by davidzvi, Dec 12, 2015.

  1. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Real Name:
    This was posted over on the mu-43 sister site "photographerslounge.org" by Jock Elliott. I'm posting it here with his permission.

    This comes from Steve Huff photo. A fellow named Jim Huffman was shooting sports with his OMD, and with the help of Olympus tech support, came of with this tweak, which he claims quadruple's battery life because the back screen is off all the time (unless you're playing back or making adjustments) and the EVF is off until the camera is at your eye. I am currently fooling around with an EM-5, have tried this trick, and can verify that it actually does turn the back screen off and activates the EVF only when you need it. I have to wait and see how much this extends battery life.

    Here is what Huffman said:

    "the E-M5 is a battery drain. i have the pistol grip with 2nd battery – but even the combination can’t shoot an all day tournament. the camera dies after 600+ shots… Plus…. the back lcd screen always comes on unless the camera is at your eye. if you want to use the eyepiece, there is a short latency between putting it to your eye and switching. the latency is not great for sports. plus, when you take the camera away from your eye, the back panel lights for a while, creating battery drain. And, the toggle between the two screens drains the battery. I thought – I’ll call Olympus and see if there is any way to:

    1. Turn of the back lcd entirely. This would save on battery life AND eliminate the delay in switching.

    2. still allow for back panel adjustment settings, if desired.

    Well, 2 days later the Oly support guy called back. Viola! no direct way, but you can accomplish the same thing. Let me know if you want the settings, but essentially, you go to the K gear in options, and then into touch screen settings, and turn them off. then go to D gear, control settings, P/A/S/M, and turn off all live control settings. Then turn ON live scp (super control panel). OK, almost done. Hit the button on the ‘prism’ to the right of the eyepiece, and bring up the super control panel. use the OK button to activate any setting you want to change. When done, hit the info button. The screen goes black!

    Now? the camera is essentially an SLR. no rear view at all, UNLESS you hit that button next to the right eyepiece. it becomes the toggle between live view (like before) and a black back screen! I just significantly increased my battery life! if you want to go to settings, just hit the info button. the info button becomes the settings toggle."

    Cheers, Jock

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  2. Robstar1963

    Robstar1963 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 10, 2011
    Isle of Wight England UK
    Real Name:
    Robert (Rob)
    Thanks for posting
    Assuming I've got this right you can have a blank rear screen and still use the EVF eye sensor when set up this way - that's great - I always had the EVF eye switch turned off on my EM5 Mk1 so that the rear screen was not illuminated and had to switch the EVF on manually (and permanently) (and had to switch the EVF on when reviewing photos through the EVF as by default the photos are displayed through the LCD
    This way the EVF will illuminate only when you actually use it
    This is one advantage of the EM5 Mk2 as you can have the rear screen folded in on itself and therefor deactivated and still use the eye sensor for the EVF
    I am a little sceptical about the claim that this increases the battery life by 4 times though.
    If this was the case then the Mk2 would have a vastly greater battery life than the Mk1 which I don't believe it does
    However any battery saving is worthwhile and a huge bonus
    It's a shame that this solution has only now been suggested - 3 years after the camera was released !
  3. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    Real Name:
    I haven't tested it out to determine the amount of savings. But yes any savings help.
  4. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    Real Name:

    all good advice, and (to me as an electronics tech) obvious. I've used this method since I owned my first G1 in 2009, technology is not magic it requires power (thus all the same things are applied to our big screen phones). Other big drains in power are CAF. So turn it off if not really needed (I'm an old SLR user so have pretty much uses OneShot AF 90% of my life and used what EOS called Ai-Servo only when doing motorsports or athletics)
    Set a 30second "sleep" time for your camera
    Adjust settings via the EVF

    Also, worth noting I found that some lenses (such as the Sigma 30mm f2.8) seem to suck power.

    Not useful to many users but of use to some perhaps is that Legacy manual focus lenses use no power. So when sitting in a hide with the camera mounted on a tripod and pre focused on a nest (for instance) you don't even need to look through the view finder ... just sit quietly with the shutter release cable in your hand. A half press when the bird arrives to wake the camera and as you already know whats in the viewfinder click and take when its "right"

    I've gone days on a single battery with hundreds of images in this manner.

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  5. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Hmmm - I tried this back in the day when I first got my E-M5. I'm not convinced for two reasons: a) the back screen is blank, but it ain't off - try looking at the screen in a dark room and you'll see a glow from the backlight; b) I didn't notice any particular improvement in battery life.
  6. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    Real Name:

    I don't know the EM's well, but that's interesting. You are right off isn't always off ... the Panasonic cameras with swivel screens do go "off" properly when rotated and closed against the body. I've not confirmed with all cameras, only on my G1 and GH1 ... I'd have assumed they are still following that philosophy
  7. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Real Name:
    When using the EM5 II on my last trip, I kept the LCD pointing inward and just flipped it out when needed. I did notice better battery life.
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  8. Growltiger

    Growltiger Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 26, 2014
    I have seen a table of power consumption by the different parts of the camera. The changes suggested have only a small effect and are barely worth doing. If they were so impressive Olympus would make the camera work that way in the first place.

    The main thing to do is turn the camera off when not taking a photo, and don't turn the camera on to review your results except when essential, and never waste time deleting photos.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015
  9. hakoch2

    hakoch2 New to Mu-43

    Feb 23, 2014
    I would like to try this, at least feels like it would help.

    I often have my camera on a neckstrap, so it bounces on my chest as I walk along. would this keep the evf proximity sensor active and prevent the camera from going to sleep?
  10. ahinesdesign

    ahinesdesign Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 6, 2011
    NC, USA
    Real Name:
    Tried to set up per the instructions above, but couldn't get EVF and LCD to remain off at the same time. Not sure what I'm missing...

    I normally have my EM5 set up so that I have to manually switch between the EVF and rear LCD using the button on the side of the EVF. I find the eye sensor to be slow to switch at times, and keeps the EVF on many times anyway. I do not notice the LCD being blank but still "on" in a dark room, it certainly appears to be completely off as there is no glow at all. I have not had any issues with battery life, often shoot for several days before having to change/charge the battery. Not sure of average image counts per battery, but shooting 400-500 photos on a single battery isn't a problem at all (and its well above the CIPA rating). Shooting events where the camera doesn't go into sleep mode for hours on end does drain the battery in a shorter amount of time, but I still see the same image count per battery as more casual photography.
  11. Firedogg

    Firedogg Have cash, will spend

    Aug 1, 2012
    Just above Antarctica - Hobart, Tasmania
    Real Name:
    Just some of my observations and opinions based on comments posted above.

    This "tip" isn't new at all. It was posted on this forum 3 years ago, soon after I got my E-M5 (sorry, no idea who posted it back then) and I applied it immediately with positive results. I've been using my E-M5 this way on-and-off for the whole time.

    Yep, exactly the same as the old E-620. This is how I used to shoot all the time. I'm surprised it took Olympus so long to re-integrate this feature.

    Yeah, an increase of 4 times battery life is a little exaggerated. But I do get at least 2-3 times battery life which is a direct result of these adjusted settings.

    Shooting with the LCD on I only got 2-3 hours battery life. But with the LCD turned off, and the EVF only on when my eye is up to it then I get about 6 hours. It's nothing for me go through 4 batteries in one day (1,000+ photos) using the LCD majority of the time. I have always used genuine batteries and definitely notice a big improvement on battery life by having the LCD turned "off". I have read many times that users of aftermarket batteries consistently observe shorter battery life.

    Yeah, I remember seeing that table too. It was very interesting. My conclusion is that the theoretical power usage is not in line with the practical results based on actual use.

    Hmmm, this may seem like a good idea, but just remember that the power switch is a mechanical switch and does have a finite life. 2 real-world cases: My mate still has his E-M5 from the day it was released and has generally always turned the camera on, taken the photo, then turned the camera off. I witnessed him having trouble turning the camera on while we were on holiday earlier this year. It was a worry at the time, but he had the E-M1 with him as a 2nd body so he wasn't too fussed (plus he's given his E-M5 a "flogging" in that time). 2nd case: My E-M5 is now in the same boat, with the camera not turning on or off sometimes. The switch feels different (the switching action is less positive) and I now realise the body is on it's last legs. It would seem that trying to save power in the short term can cause irreparable problems in the long run (And my E-M5 has also had a good work-out in its life).

    As my E-M5 has lived on a neck strap for half its life, and a shoulder sling for the other half, I wondered the same. I have my camera set to sleep after 5 minutes, and power off after 30 minutes of inactivity. I've done some tests over the years and in my case even when the EVF is active the camera will follow the sleep and power settings (ie. sleep after 5 min's and power off after 30 minutes). This may just be the way I've set my camera up.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2015