Back in September 2015 Olympus announced that they would be working on a new firmware release for the simply stellar Olympus OM-D E-M1. At the time of writing the E-M1 is considered Olympus' 'flagship' camera in the Micro Four Thirds range, despite both a couple of mark 2 bodies being released more recently (the E-M5ii and the E-M10ii) and both packing features that the E-M1 just doesn't have (yet). That is at least until the end of November 2015 and the release of Firmware version 4.0 for the E-M1!
[If you already know what this superb firmware release will bring to your E-M1 - scroll on for the link to the firmware download and instructions on how to update your camera body]
What does Firmware 4.0 Include?
The E-M1 was released back in September 2013 and has since had a few semi-major and minor releases that have added some neat features to it. Most notably for me at least was firmware version 3.0 that took the already best-in-class focussing performance and made it even better. If there was ever any doubt that the E-M1 was the best auto-focussing mirrorless camera available (and still is!) then firmware version 3.0 firmly cleared things up and removed that doubt! If you're reading this right now and haven't already upgraded to 3.0 - do it now!
But you could argue, after looking at the features that firmware version 4.0 is set to bring that it will be the biggest yet. It's set to include:
- Focus Stacking
- Focus Bracketing
- Advanced Focus Peaking
- Silent Mode
- Improved Anti-shock Mode
- Advanced Olympus Capture
- S-OVF (Simulated OVF)
- 4K Time Lapse Movie
- Live Composite on OI.Share
- MF Clutch Disable
- Menu Cursor Position Memory
- Various video features mentioned at the bottom of this post...
As a stills wedding photographer by trade some of the movie-related functions will be largely lost on me and so I've instead opted to include them as something of a footnote in this post rather than looking at those here. (Sorry videographers - it's just not my thing!)
I typically don't get overly excited about firmware updates and I can't recall ever having blogged about one before, but I must say from that list that the silent shooting mode, the 4K Time Lapse Movie Mode and the focus stacking and focus bracketing are huge for me! I find it very exciting. They're what I would call practical, usable features. Things that many E-M1 owners are actually going to make use of on a regular basis.
When I'm photographing a wedding in a church - Silent Shooting is something that will come in real handy - and this isn't like DSLR 'Silent' shooting mode where it's just a bit quieter - silent means silent! Check out the noise - or rather lack of - that the E-M5ii makes in silent shooting mode! (I've skipped the video 20 seconds in)
One very interesting thing about the silent shooting mode is that it's being delivered through an electronic shutter. Eliminating the physical shutter mechanism will of course mean that there won't be anything to make that 'click' noise when shooting. As a byproduct - the physical restraints limiting the maximum shutter speed to 1/8000 are gone too. So, in silent mode you'll now be able to shoot at 1/16000.
Pretty impressive eh! Try that on for size DSLR shooters! (yes, that was a dig!)
I would say that this is a breath of fresh air to the OM-D E-M1. However, even at the age of 2 (which is apparently a long time in camera years) the E-M1, even without the features that Firmware version 4.0 brings, is still an amazing camera that I would hold up against anything on offer from Fuji, Panasonic and to an extent even Sony, when it comes to the ability of the body. Never-the-less, the fact that firmware version 4.0 is free to all us E-M1 owners and isn't simply an incrimental, bug-fixing update, but rather a feature-rich overhaul of the camera is something you simply can't say no to.
Requirements for the update
You're going to need your Olympus CB-USB8 Cable (USB Cable). This is the one that came with your camera. Despite how the port on the side of the E-M1 looks - it's not in fact a generic mini USB port..
Where to download
To be able to download the latest firmware to your E-M1 you'll need to have the latest version of the Olympus Camera Updater Software. You can download that right here (55Mb). From there it's all done through the updater direct to the camera. Install the software, connect the Olympus USB Cable and then follow the instructions on screen. Olympus have prepared instructions.
How to update
There really isn't any sense in me re-inventing the wheel here, so your best bet is to take a look at these simple steps over at the Olympus support site: http://bit.ly/olympus-camera-updater-instructions
Other additional features of Firmware version 4.0 for Videographers:
Those other video features I mentioned are as follows. As you'll see from this list, firmware version 4.0 doesn't focus purely on still image making at all and in fact adds some (again) very practical features to the E-M1 that will make it a much more viable camera for videographers. Although, those serious about video are still surely more likely to go for one of the cameras from the other company that make Micro Four Thirds cameras - such as the Panasonic GH4
- Movie image stabilisation with 5-axis optical IS and digital IS
- 24p (23.98p)/25p Frame Rate
- Movie Info Display
- Movie Rec Start with Release Cable (RM-UC1)
- Time Code Setting
- M-IS1 and M-IS2 supported
- Slate Tone
- Synchronised PCM Audio Rec with Movie Rec
- M.Zuiko Premium + 14-42mm EZ movie aperture support
Keep up to date for a post-install review of Firmware version 4.0 and for confirmation of when it has been released
To stay up to date with the release of firmware version 4.0 and to be among the first to know if the release is stable and good for installation on your E-M1 subscribe today!
Update - 26th November 2015
The Firmware has now been released and is available for installation. Looking around the various Olympus groups on Facebook there don't appear to be any issues or blips with the release and so far all is good.
For my post-install review check out my post 'Olympus OM-D E-M1 Firmware Version 4.0 Installed'