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The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a highly customizable camera allowing for many personal preferences and considerations for underwater use. Hopefully this article, with collaboration from customers and staff here at Optical Ocean Sales, will give you a starting point for setting up your E-M1 Mark II camera for underwater use.


(Make sure your camera is not in iAuto when going through these steps.)

While the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II does not have a built-in flash, it does come with Olympus' FL-LM3 compact mini flash which is required for optical sync cord flash connection. The FL-LM3 mini flash allows for reliable manual and TTL flash exposure performance with the OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera. Install the FL-LM3 flash onto the camera before installing the camera in the housing. Some housing will allow you switch the flash unit on and off within the housing, but for those that do not, make sure to switch it on before you close the housing.

Using TTL Flash:  Select "Fill in Flash" mode on the camera.

  1. Press OK 
  2. Scroll to flash icon
  3. Select “Fill In”
  4. Press OK

Using Manual Flash: Save battery life by changing flash mode to "Manual Value". 

  1. Press OK 
  2. Scroll to flash icon
  3. Select Manual Value
  4. Press INFO and change flash power to 1/64th power
  5. Press OK


For underwater use, you should turn the off the proximity sensor that activates the electronic view finder (EVF). This will just turn off the auto feature for this sensor. You can still switch between the LCD screen and the viewfinder by pressing the LV button on the left side of the viewfinder. This keeps your camera from automatically switching from the monitor to the viewfinder when the sensor is covered by the camera housing.

  1. Press MENU button
  2. Stroll down to Custom Menu
  3. In Custom Menu scroll down to I: EVF
  4. Select EVF Auto Switch
  5. Select “off”
  6. Press OK

Now you can switch between the EVF and the LCD screen manually, at any time.


Live view boost brightens the LCD screen in dark environments to better visualize the image within the frame before taking a picture. It does not affect the resulting image, only the initial preview for you press the shutter button. 

  1. Press MENU button
  2. Stroll down to Custom Menu
  3. In Custom Menu scroll down to D2: Disp/Remote/PC
  4. Select Live View Boost
  5. Select Manual Shooting
  6. Press right arrow pad to select “On1”
  7. Press OK


On the E-M1 Mark II, the shutter button is very sensitive, if you press down on it (half-press), it will auto focus. Then a full press will take the photo. Performing a half-press while underwater might be more difficult due to gloves and/or the fact that the trigger button turns into a lever with the underwater housings. If you do find this process tricky, you can change the focus to the back-function button 1 - for easier control. It is also useful for shooting fish or other moving subjects against a busy background. Just follow and lock the AF with one button, while firing the shutter with another.

Steps 1-7 will allow back button focus to remain on the AEL/AFL button, but if you prefer to set the back button focus to another button, such as the Fn1 button, follow steps 8-13 as well. 

  1. Press MENU button 
  2. Scroll down to Custom Menu
  3. In Custom Menu Select “A1: AF/MF”
  4. Scroll down and select “AEL/AFL”
  5. Press the right arrow pad on single point autofocus mode (S-AF) *
  6. Scroll down to Select “mode3” 
  7. Press OK
  8. Press MENU button
  9. Stroll down to Custom Menu
  10. In Custom Menu scroll down to B: Button/Dial/Lever
  11. Select Button Function
  12. Select Fn1 Function
  13. Press right arrow pad and scroll down to Select “AEL/AFL”
  14. Press OK

*If you prefer to shoot in continuous autofocus (C-AF), you can use the same steps, except when you get to step 10 press the right arrow pad on C-AF before moving on to step 11. 

The E-M1 Mark II is now set up for the Fn1 button to be used as the Auto Focus and pressing the shutter down will take the photo. The one thing about this set up though is that you will have to continue to press the Fn1 button as long as you want you subject in focus. In other words, to take a photo you must press the Fn1 button to focus then press the Shutter button while still holding down Fn1 to take the photo. This is a nice feature for those housings that have a thumb lever in the back. The nice thing about this set up is that as long as you hold down that back button, the focus will stay on your subject. No more waiting as the camera tries to find the subject again after you take the photo.


ISO: Make sure that your ISO is between 64-400 for macro. It can be set faster 800-1200 for wide angle photography, but you may start to see some noise (grain) in the photos. We do not recommend the use of Auto ISO, except for shooting available light or video, as it will over expose while using external strobes.

MODE: We recommend that you use Manual (M), Shutter (S), or Aperture (A) modes for more control. Shutter mode allows selecting the Shutter speed to allow for how quick the light comes in - with the aperture being set automatically by the camera. Aperture allows changing the size of the Aperture to allow for more or less light to come in with the shutter speed being set automatically by the camera. Manual allows the photographer to perform both Shutter and Aperture changes. Manual allows for ultimate control of the camera, especially important for the best results with strobes and the difficult lighting situations found underwater. Both Aperture and Shutter Priority allow for some control and are a good starting place for newer photographers, or in fast changing situations.

WHITE BALANCE: Use auto white balance (AWB), or go with the underwater white balance mode provided by Olympus. Setting manual white balance is important when shooting video, or when you are shooting available light, or can't get enough light from your strobes on animals or wrecks that are further away.

If you are shooting manual white balance, don’t forget to bring along a white slate or something that is neutral in color. This will allow you to get an accurate representation of what the white looks like at different depths. You can also capture different manual WB by using the right arrow and going to the “Capture WB 1”, “Capture WB 2”, “3”, and “4”. When you are there, press the “Info” button to allow you to “Point the camera at a sheet of white paper” to allow for the camera to know what “white” is and set the white balance color temperature.

Basic Starting Settings: There are no perfect settings for underwater, conditions vary too widely but you might try these to start out with. You'll need to adjust shutter speed to show more or less background (and control the ambient sun light) and aperture for depth of field, while adjusting ISO for overall exposure.

Macro: (using the Olympus mz60mm lens is best): 1/180th sec., f/14-16, ISO 100. Turn your strobes up and move them in close.

Wide Angle: (using the Olympus mz9-18mm or Panasonic 8mm FE lens is best): 1/125 sec., f/8, ISO 200-400+. Turn your strobes up and move them out and point them away from subject slightly.

Please refer to our Handbooks for Better Underwater Photography for much more information about use of strobes and lighting, types of shots and many other topics.