BY DAISY DICKINSON
You’ve just unpacked your shiny new Olympus camera. It’s a pretty exciting time, and while I’m sure the only thing on your mind right now is grabbing a lens, flipping off the lens cap and getting out shooting – there are a couple of quick things to consider which will help you get the most from your kit, straight out of the box!
At your fingertips: Super Control Panel Menu
Lengthy to say, but so easy to use; there’s a slightly-secret function on every Olympus camera which gives you speedy access to some of the most-wanted settings, all at your fingertips. Only secretive because you won’t find it preset. The Super Control Panel Menu, or SCPM can be accessed when pressing the OK button on the back of your camera and allows you to control ISO, white balance, metering, aspect ratio and much more.
To set it up and kick yours into gear simply press Menu, scroll to the cog icon, then across into C1; clicking Control Settings. In each shooting mode, scroll through and select LV-SCP. That’s it! Exit the menu system and try clicking OK, you’ll now have a panel of functionality at your fingertips!
Easy Does It: Auto White Balance
If you’re new to photography – or even if you’d just like less to think about when shooting – utilising your Olympus camera’s auto white balance mode is going to save you a bunch of time, and should help make sure your images are looking their best. These days, technology has moved on so much that automatic functions like auto white balance can often give you results that are as good as if you’d set them manually.
So do yourself a favour while you’re getting to grips and access the SCPM, and slide over to select WB Auto. The camera will then meter and choose the best setting for your shooting conditions, leaving you free to concentrate on your subject.
Frame Up: Aspect Ratio
When you start shooting, chances are you have a rough idea about what you want to do with your images and how you might want them to look. You can set the aspect ratio – or frame size, of your pictures all in-camera. Using the SCPM, slide down and to the right and select Aspect, here you can choose from 4:3, 16:9, 3:2, 1:1 or 3:4. The best place to start is shooting in 4:3, this will ensure the best quality images for the Micro Four Thirds sensor. Also have a go in 1:1, which will give you instantly square images, perfectly Instagram-ready!
Size Matters: File Output
Maybe you’re going to be uploading your images straight to Instagram to exist only in a tiny square on the internet, or perhaps you’re planning on printing large-scale shots to adorn your walls. Wherever you’re putting your pictures, consider the resolution you want to shoot them at, remembering you can always scale down using editing software, but you can’t scale up!
On the SCPM, scroll down and find the camera icon with an arrow pointing at it. Here choose between a number of recording modes. Not sure what all those letters mean? RAW offers the highest quality, and ability to manipulate to the maximum after shooting, but as they are not compressed, they are larger than jpegs, and require software to process them. LSF is Large Super Fine, and the best place to be for high-quality, straight out of camera jpegs if you don’t plan on much post-processing. As you scroll across you’ll see the camera highlights the file size above for you, making it easier to choose. You can also shoot RAW and jpeg at the same time, too.
The Right Light: Exposure Compensation
Such a handy function for beginners and pros alike, exposure compensation allows you to override the camera’s light meter to lighten or darken an image. So, if you’re shooting away happily on one of the excellent priority modes but feel your shot would improve by a little more dark or a little more light, simply dial up or down the compensation.
On OM-D E-M10 models you can set this to one of your dials on the top of the camera through the menu, and on your PEN E-PL models, press up on the circular mode dial on the back, then arrow left and right to adjust – it’s easy!
Get Connected: Built-In Wi-Fi
Without a doubt one of the most convenient features on current Olympus models, and one you’ll wonder how you ever lived without, built-in Wi-Fi makes it so easy to transfer your shots from camera to your phone or tablet in seconds. First, make sure you’ve downloaded the Olympus Image Share App to your device, then simply turn your camera on, and tap the Wi-Fi logo in the top left of the screen, following the instructions to hook up your device by scanning the QR code, or navigating to the camera in your device’s Wi-Fi settings.
Once in the app you’ll be able to select and download your shots. You can choose the file size too, so if you’re only putting them online, opt for the smallest resolution. Amazingly, you can also use your device as a remote control for taking shots – which I find super handy for getting those self portraits in and being fully in control.
Be Inspired: Join a Community
You’ve discovered that the Super Control Panel Menu is your best buddy on your new toy and have grasped a bunch of techniques at your fingertips, but what about inspiration? A great way to get the creative juices flowing is by joining a community, and the Olympus family offers just that.
Make sure you’re following the team on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and keeping up here on Image Space with all the latest goings on, from blog content, to video tutorials, and live sessions, and if you’re stuck with any technical troubles, check out the FREE 1-2-1 sessions here.
And for something to challenge your new camera with straight away – why not try a 365 project? With no rule that says they have to start on the first of January, a 365 project simply means shooting a new photo everyday. A great way to keep yourself focussed, and try new ideas. I started a new one this year, which you can see here – so why don’t you start one today?