I wrote earlier this week about the release of firmware version 4.0 for the diminutive Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the perks and additional features it's going to bring to our cameras. For that full list of additional features check out my post right here.
This version was announced back in September and not released until November 26th, so Olympus had us all waiting for this one. I would expect, having worked in software testing and IT for well over 10 years now, that the firmware was in development for a much longer period than many of us would have been aware of and of course during it's development it would have been tested thoroughly over and over to ensure it's stability. However it's not uncommon, even for the likes of Apple (as we all know!) that a new release has a couple of bugs here and there and we find ourselves downloading version 4.0.1 or 4.1.0 or some iteration of the update only a week later. After all it's only when it's in the hands of thousands of device users that you can really have every single little fine detail tested as we all use our cameras so differently!
Well, I've downloaded the firmware to my E-M1 and I must say so far; no issues! Now, despite the title of this post possibly alluding to there being some issues with the software - there don't appear to be any at this point. That's not to say however that I haven't come across a few little snags with the download / upgrade process myself and in the various Olympus Facebook groups. So, I thought I'd collate some of them here for you to have a look at so that if you haven't upgraded yet and have left others to test the water for you, here's what you may need to know.
Hiccups with the update
Whilst the update wasn't hard to install, I did have to do a little extra digging to get started because when I plugged my E-M1 in to my iMac I wasn't seeing version 4.0 as an available update within the Olympus Camera Updater Platform. Odd! Reading through some of the Facebook groups I saw quite a few people saying the same and adding that they were on Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 as well as, like myself using a Mac running El Capitan. So, the good news is (hear me out here) is that the issue with the updater not seeing the new firmware wasn't specific to one operating system.
My initial thought was to check out the Camera Updater site to see if there were any issues or to see if there was a new version of the updater itself - which there was!
So, my first step was to download the latest version of the Olympus Camera Updater. This was actually included however as part of the Olympus Image Viewer update. So I had to install that first. (Here's the link to that download: http://support.olympus-imaging.com/ov3download/index/). You need to have the serial number from the bottom of your E-M1 handy to do this.
I followed the simple install instructions. It gave me The revised version of the Camera Updater and I was set! I plugged in my E-M1 and I was away.
When you connect your E-M1 to your computer you are given a few options - the camera wants to know what you intend to do. I selected the highlighted option:
All Options Reset
So I went through the motions and updated my E-M1 to firmware version 4.0. It was impressively smooth and very fast to complete. However, everything had reset! I should have paid more attention and made a note of some of my settings, but after navigating through each and every setting in the menu's it was only about 5 minutes before I had everything just how I like it again: rear dial for the aperture, front dial for the shutter speed, Fn.1 for white balance, Fn.2 for the ISO and the 'lever' disabled. I make use of the directional buttons to adjust my focus point. I of course had to go through other settings as well, such as disabling the face autofocus detection, putting the EVF back to Mono etc. But it didn't take long at all.
Things to be aware of
One of the things I was really conscious of, having ran into this issue with my original OM-D E-M5 was that the USB cable supplied with the camera is the one you're going to need for the update. Although the port on the side of the camera is referred to as a Mini USB port (and it looks just like one too!) it's actually a slightly different version of the port that requires the Olympus-own USB cable. If you haven't got one for your E-M1 you're looking for the 'Olympus CB-USB8'. I daren't link to one on Amazon or eBay because i tend to be a little suspicious of their claims to be compatible with the E-M1. I prefer, as always, to buy the genuine accessories.
Silent Shooting - Shutter Speed Limitations
I remember reading somewhere, but now I can't remember, that the silent shutter mode is limited to a minimum shutter speed of 1/8th. I didn't think much of this, but my brain obviously had it's pen and notepad to hand and locked that information away for later use. So when fellow Olympus photographer Graham Jones got in touch to ask me if I knew why the E-M1 wasn't going any lower than 1/8th - I knew the answer. Just to be clear you can still shoot long exposures and what not using the regular mechanical shutter mode. It's just when you're using the electronic shutter in silent mode that the shutter speed won't go any lower than 1/8th. The advantage though is of course that the electronic shutter can go all the way to 1/16,000th of a second!
Focus Stacking - Compatible Lenses
I've seen a lot of people saying they can't get access to the Focus Stacking feature that was made available in this new release. This is basically (although, incredibly clever and massively useful) where your E-M1 will now take up to 100 photographs of an image at various focus points and your amazing E-M1 will stack them together and create one single image for you. This takes a lot of the heavy lifting away. I can't wait to use this feature; I'm going to go back and re-shoot my Macro Dandelions!
Anyway, the point of me mentioning this is that the focus stacking feature is only compatible with the Olympus 60mm f/2.8 Macro, the 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO and the 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO. If you haven't got one of these three lenses then you're going to miss out I'm afraid.
I will write a post of my own on the Focus Stacking feature, but in my opinion, for now at least, the best write-up and review with some of the best example photographs to illustrate how this works is by Kazuo Unno over on the Olympus.com site. If it's a feature you're interested in you really should take a look.
Not that I'm any sort of authority on the matter at all, but as far as I can tell and from what I can see others saying online - it looks like Firmware Version 4.00 for your Olympus OM-D E-M1 is pretty stable. I'm keeping an eye on the usual places online because of course I want to be sure that my own camera continues to perform as perfectly as it has since the day It arrived. If I come across anything though I'll be sure to update you. The best way to keep up to date with information is to Subscribe to the blog - it'd be great to be able to share new content with you regularly. Join over 200 other subscribers today!
I can't wait to get back out on the streets of London again, this time shooting in silent mode. I know that it'll give me a lot more confidence to point my camera at people a little more directly, just like I can when I shoot my sleeping commuters series!
So if you're waiting for everyone else to test this release - consider it a thumbs up from me!