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By Coroander, courtesy of WetPixel

The E-M5 is a highly customizable camera and there are a lot of considerations (and personal preferences) for underwater use. The article will help you to prepare at least a starting point for configuring the camera for video underwater use.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Settings for Video
(to be used after following the photo instructions)

The following are additions and alterations of the modes used for photography in order to shoot video. These settings are based on the assumption that all the settings from the photography instructions have been set first. It's worth saving the photo settings in a "MySet" for UW stills photography, before setting the camera up for video. Before saving it's a good idea to set the default ISO, shutter speed and aperture you want the camera to go back to when restoring from Myset.

To save under Myset4: Shooting Menu 1 -> Reset/Myset -> scroll down to Myset4, press right arrow -> OK.
(The only difference between saving and restoring is the "press right arrow" used during save and not restore.)

Turn the Mode dial to [VIDEO] before making these changes.


Shooting Menu 1

  • Picture Mode-> Custom

  • Picture Mode -> Natural
  • Contrast -> +0
  • Sharpness -> +0
  • Saturation -> +1
  • Gradation -> AUTO  Personal preference for shooting video. Others may prefer Vivid. Bumping up the Saturation seems necessary to get good colour, some may prefer +2. AUTO Gradation is very important for helping to map the 12+ stops of dynamic range in the sensor to the 8 bit video, but it's only part of the solution.  

Movie <| -> Movie-> MOVIE Full HD [F]
 Highest quality HD video.
Shooting Menu 2

Image Stabilizer Image Stabilizer > I.S. 1Provides horizontally and vertically stabilized video.
Custom Menu

  • A. AF/MF
  1. AF Mode -> Movie -> MF or C-AF 
Using manual focus provides the best control over focus during video, but continuous autofocus has it's advantages and provides smoother focus transitions.

  • D. Disp / ))) / PC
  1. Info Settings -> LV-Info

  2. Histogram -> On
  3. Highlight & Shadow -> Off
  4. Level Guage -> Off
  5. Image Only -> Off
 When looking through the viewfinder we will be able to see a histogram that will allow us to adjust exposure and tone curves appropriately. Highlight & Shadow is not an available option when shooting video.
  • Histogram Settings
  • Highlight Highlight -> 250
  • Shadow Shadow -> 5
 We set the histogram settings a bit more conservatively for video given that we can't shoot raw video.

I. Movie

  • Movie [MOVIE] Mode -> M or SUse Manual exposure mode or Shutter priority mode.

Button Settings:

Custom Menu

B. Button/Dial

Button Function

Fn1 Fn1 Function -> AF Area SelectAllows the Fn1 button to select which AF point(s) are to be used.
Fn2 Fn2 Function -> Multi FunctionWe use Multi Function because it is the only way to access the tone curve adjustment directly. To get Fn2 into tone curve adjustment mode after these settings are complete, hold down Fn2, then turn the dial until Highlight&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;Shadow Control is selected. Pressing Fn2 will now always bring up the tone curve, which can be adjusted using the 2 dials or the 4 arrow keys.
Record [Rec] Function -> Off
 Turning this button Off means that it will function as the autofocus button. Hold the [Rec] button down (thumb level on the Nauticam housing) until focus is achieved. N.B. just a quick depress of this button will not lock focus, it must be held down until focus is achieved. If the focus mode is C-AF+TR, then pressing this button will aquire a tracking target at the autofocus point.
[>] Function [>] Function -> ISO
 Provides direct access to changing ISO by pressing the right arrow key. ISO is limited to between 200 and 3200 for video.
[v] Function [v] Function -> WBDirect access to WB. It is important to get the white balance correct as PP fixes will degrade image quality. Use Underwater, AUTO white balance with a Magic Filter, or a captured WB.


To record video, turn the mode dial to [VIDEO], then press the shutter release to start / stop recording. Note that in some focus modes, recording will not start unless you continue holding the shutter release down until focus has locked.

Getting the correct white balance:
We need to get the white balance correct at the time of recording. While it is possible to adjust this during editing, it will degrade the video quality if significant adjustments must be made.

Pressing the down arrow key will bring up the white balance selection. One option is to select Underwater. Another option is to use a Magic Filter and simply use AUTO. A third option is to set a custom white balance for the depth you are at and the distance you are shooting using a white slate.

To set a custom white balance in video mode is a bit complicated. You have to first switch the Mode dial to M(anual), press OK to get to the SCP, select the WB, press OK, select Capture WB 1 or 2 and press INFO (not OK), point the camera at a white or grey slate, press the shutter, select YES and press OK to set the WB, then switch the mode dial back to [VIDEO].

Getting the correct shutter speed and exposure mode:
There are two useful modes for video, M (manual) and S (shutter speed priority). In both cases, the recommended shutter speed is twice the frame rate, or 1/60 of a second. This provides the most natural looking video. Slowing the shutter speed results in a more dreamy, soft video and increasing the shutter speed lends itself to a crisper, stobing video when there is movement. In Shutter priority mode, shutter speed is fixed, but ISO and aperture will be varied, in Manual you must control aperture, ISO and shutter speed. You can change exposure mode by bringing up the Live Control Panel (by pressing OK). Note that in M mode, exposure adjustments are not possible during recording.

Getting the correct exposure:
Video demands that we get the exposure, contrast, and level adjustments correct at the time of recording. We can't shoot raw, 12-bit video on our stills cameras (yet) and leave these details for the editing room. Fortunately the E-M5 has several features to assist us.

Pressing INFO will turn on (or turn off) the histogram, you can adjust the ISO and exposure settings to acheive optimal exposure, avoiding the orange overexposure or blue underexposure bars. The green section of the histogram shows the exposure at the focus point; a sort of spot histogram that can be useful in some situations.

Pressing the Fn2 button will bring up the tone curve adjustments. You can use the dials or arrow keys to adjust the curve. The curves allow adjustments for optimal recording in high dynamic range situations such as inside caverns, to low contrast situations like large pelagics in the blue at depth. You can see the affect of the adjustments in the live viewfinder. While adjusting the tone curves you can still see the live histogram and you may need to make additional exposure adjustments to compensate for extensive curve adjustments.

Getting control of focus:
Pressing OK will bring up the Live Control Panel (LCP), the arrow keys (or dials) will allow you to move through the menus easily. You can quickly change focus modes using the LCP.

S-AF, MF, and S-AF+MF all focus in the same manner. Focus is achieved by holding the [REC] button (thumb lever on Nauticam housing) down. This is a fast (and consequenly rather bouncy) focus, so altering focus during recording is not ideal. The button must be held down until focus is achieved, releasing the button early will stop the autofocus in some more-or-less random place.

C-AF is continuous auto focus. Pointing the focus point at whatever object you want in focus, the focus is slow, smooth and deliberate and is ideal for focusing during recording.

C-AF+TR is continuous auto focus with tracking. The tracking will often lose whatever it is you want to track, but putting the original focus point back on the subject and pressing the [REC] button will reaquire the target.

Digital Tele-converter:
Using the 8mm fisheye or other wide-angle prime or even for macro video it can be beneficial to have a narrower angle of view. The Digital Tele-converter can be found in Shooting Menu1, and enabling it gives a 2x zoom with no loss in video quality.

Saving the video settings under Myset:
It's worth saving the video settings in a "MySet" now that the changes have been made. Do set shutter speed to 1/60 first so that it defaults to a reasonable value when restoring from these settings. You'll also have to switch the Mode dial to M to use "MySet". To save under Myset3: Shooting Menu 1 -> Reset/Myset -> scroll down to Myset3 and press right arrow -> OK.

To use the saved settings, go to Shooting Menu 1 -> Reset/Myset -> Scroll down to Myset3 or Myset4 and press OK.


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