Image of grog
Greg's Olympus focus assist
Greg's photography pages
Greg's photo albums
Greg's photos
Greg's photo index
This article is derived from my diary entry of 11 February 2020. Since then I have changed my mind about some details, so please refer to this document, not the diary entry.

Getting things in focus is still a challenge. The Olympus OM-D cameras make things easier, but the functionality has some unexpected quirks, and the documentation doesn't help much. Much of the information here is not mentioned at all in the manuals. This article tries to explain how to set the cameras that I have (E-M1 Mark I, E-M1 Mark II and E-M5 Mark III) to use the functionality. My assumption is that other Olympus cameras offer similar functions.

There are two aids: focus peaking and image magnification. Focus peaking highlights the sharp areas of the image in the viewfinder, exaggerating the sharpness of parts that are in focus, and magnification, well, magnifies a portion of the image, in this case by a factor of 3, 5, 7, 10 or 14.

Enabling the functions

There are two different ways to enable both focus peaking and magnification:

I've found that it's best to enable focus peaking with the focus ring and also optionally with a button. On the cameras with two buttons to the right of the lens (E-M1 Mark I and II) I assign focus peaking to the lower button and magnification with the upper button. On the E-M5 Mark III, which has only one button in this position, I assign focus peaking to it, and assign magnification to the ISO button at top right on the back of the camera.

Setting MF mode

On the E-M1 Mark I and the E-M5 Mark III, there are two manual focus modes: straightforward manual focus using the focus ring (MF) and S-AF+MF (“single autofocus + manual focus”), where autofocus works normally, but you can then correct with the focus ring. This is available in menu A or A1, but it's probably easier to set it from the SCP. This is the same functionality as on all older Olympus models, including the DSLRs.

On the E-M1 Mark II there are two separate settings, also in menu A1: AF Mode and AF+MF. AF+MF enables or disables the +MF functionality on all focus modes (with the obvious exception of MF). I leave this turned on.

To add to the confusion, the back button focus mode works even for MF on all cameras: in menu A or A1, select AEL/AFL, MF and mode 3. With this setting, you can autofocus normally by pressing the AEL/AFL button, and then possibly adjust focus and shoot without further camera involvement. Many cameras call this autofocus. I find mode3 very useful. Olympus apparently agrees: on the E-M1 Mark III it's the default.

Focus peaking settings

There are a number of Peaking Settings in menu D (E-M1 Mark I) or D3 (E-M1 Mark II and E-M5 Mark III):

All of these settings can be modified by a particularly complicated set of tricks: after turning the feature on (including with the focus ring), and before doing anything else, press INFO. A small menu appears, where you can set the parameters above. This also prevents the camera from resetting the peaking mode after one second in automatic peaking mode.

Another thing that resets focus peaking is pressing the shutter button. If you enabled it with the button, it turns on again when you release the shutter button. If you enabled focus peaking with the focus ring, it stays off. It's not clear why it does this: it makes it difficult to half the shutter half pressed and stay in focus.

Magnification settings

As mentioned above, I've assigned the function “magnify” (the magnifying glass symbol) to the upper button to the right of the lens on the E-M1s, and to the single button on the E-M5 Mark III.

To use magnification, at least this way, press the button. A green frame appears in the viewfinder, indicating the area that will be magnified. You have three choices:

On the E-M1 Mark I (firmware 4.4) selecting magnification turns off automatic focus peaking; I can only enable it with the dedicated button. This doesn't happen on the other cameras, and I think it's a firmware bug.


In summary, I have:

Greg's home page Greg's diary Greg's photos Copyright

Valid XHTML 1.0!

$Id: Olympus-focus-assist.php,v 1.2 2020/04/22 05:30:17 grog Exp $