The Olympus Image Share or “OI.Share” app for smartphones allows you to do some very neat things with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera, like control focus, shutter and other settings, download photos to your phone, and geo-tag your photos. The only problem with this partnership between camera and phone — at least for me as a micro-four-thirds and Olympus novice — was getting it to work.
The documentation provided in the app and in the user manual for the camera is typically bad. I wrote this blog article from the notes I started making as I was trying to sort this out for myself. I hope I save somebody else an hour and some worry.
To get started you’ll need to have an EM-1 and a smart phone with the OI.Share app installed. I’m using an iPhone 5 running iOS 7 and version 2.1.1 of the OI.Share app. I downloaded the app from the App Store.
Addendum 7 January 2015: This article was first published a little over a year ago, in December 2013. I just went through the process again with the article in front of me. Using iOS 8 on my iPhone, what I see now doesn’t exactly match what I describe below, but the differences are minor (mainly, I’m seeing more confirmation screens).
“Easy” Setup, chapter 1
Okay, it’s not really very easy. The good news is, you don’t have to do this more than once.
Start on the camera. On the back of the EM-1, in the upper left corner of the rear display, you’ll see the word “Wi-Fi”. If, like me, you’ve never used a camera that has a touch screen, it might not be obvious that this is a button.
Just tap it once.
You’ll briefly see a screen that says “Wi-Fi Starting,” and then you’ll see a screen titled “Private Connection.” On the left it will say “Connecting to your smartphone” and some other stuff. On the right, you’ll see one of those QR code things that are now so popular with the kids.
“Easy” Setup, chapter 2
Now, you switch to the OI.Share app on your phone.
- At the bottom of the main screen for the app, you’ll see a tab with an icon of a camera and the wi-fi icon. At this point you’ll also see the word “Off”. Click that tab, then click the Easy Setup button.
- Click the Scan button.
- Move the phone so that its camera lens can see the QR code on the back of the camera. Adjust the positioning of the camera and phone so that the code comes close to filling the box shown on the phone and hold everything still. You don’t have to click anything here; when the code comes into focus, it will be read by the app automatically.
- Next, you’ll see a setup info screen showing you the SSID of the camera and your pairing password, along with buttons labeled Try Again and Install. Click Install.
- Now the iOS takes over. You’ll see a confirmation screen (originating inside the iOS Settings) asking you to confirm that you want to install this “profile.” Click Install on this screen.
- You’ll now get another confirmation dialog, warning you that this is going to change settings on your iPhone. Click Install Now.
- If you have an access passcode defined for your phone (and you should!), you’ll need to enter it now.
- You’ll now see a Profile Installed screen. Click Done at the top right.
You’ll now land back in the OI.Share app and you’ll probably see an alert saying “Unable to find the Olympus camera.” Don’t panic. This is kind of a stupid response for the app to give you at this point, but it’s normal. All you did in steps 1–8 above was install the camera’s profile on your phone. Now you need to access the profile.
Taking control of the camera from the phone
At this point, I gather from my reading that things may be different for Android users. I don’t have an Android phone handy to try this on, so I’m just going to describe what you do on an iPhone.
- Click the iPhone home button to go to the home screen.
- Click on the Settings icon.
- Select Wi-Fi in the Settings list.
- Turn Wi-Fi on, if it’s not turned on already.
- If you’re doing this within range of a wi-fi network that you’ve used before (like your home network), that will probably be the active network. But you should see your camera’s profile listed where it says “Choose a Network…” The profile is a long, ugly string of letters and numbers that begins “E-M1..”Click on the profile and wait a second or two while the phone connects to your camera.
At this point, I want to point out two things.
First, the wi-fi network that connects the phone to the camera is a local “micro network” and doesn’t get you to the Internet; it just gets you to the camera. So, when you choose the camera as your network, you lose access to the wi-fi network you had been connected to — say, your home network, or the network at the coffee shop — and that means you lose wi-fi access to the ‘Net. You cannot eat your cake and have it, too. With a smart phone you can still access the Internet using your cellular connection. Let me add that, of course, wi-fi doesn’t have anything to do with making phone calls. Even while you’re using your phone to control the camera, you can switch and use the phone to make or take a call.
Second, look at the back of the camera. It still says “Connecting…” But something has changed. Above the word “Connecting,” you’ll see a green wi-fi icon. This wasn’t the case earlier but there is now a numeral “1” next to that wi-fi icon. That 1 indicates that one device is connected to the camera. I have not attempted to connect to the camera from my iPad at the same time as the iPhone but I presume that, if I did, I’d see a “2” on the back of the camera. [Addendum 7 January 2015: I have now attempted to connect from iPhone and iPad at same time. I didn’t try very hard and perhaps I’m missing something, but after connecting on iPhone, when I try to connect from iPad by selecting the E-M1 network in Settings/Wi-fi, the iOS throws up an alert saying “Unable to connect…” I can’t actually think of a good reason to connect from more than one device simultaneously so this isn’t a big deal to me.]
And you’re now ready to rock and roll.
Using the OI.Share app
So go back to the OI.Share app. You’ll now use the options on the app’s home screen to have your way with the camera. You can click Remote Control, or Import Photos, or Edit Photo, or Add Geotag. These functions are fairly easy to understand. I want to mention only the Remote Control function.
When you click Remote Control, your phone will show you what the camera sees. At this point, things can get a little tricky. If you need to reframe the shot, move the camera. But otherwise, you’re controlling the camera entirely from the phone.
You might notice that the view on the phone seems blurry. Tap on the image to focus at that point.
|Out of focus.
|Tap the screen to focus.
At the top of the screen, you can change the camera’s shooting mode. Switch to A (aperture priority) and you can then tap on the aperture setting display and change the aperture. Change to M (manual priority) and you can control everything. You don’t need to touch the camera or change the camera’s mode dial to do this! You really are completely in control from your phone. I think this is pretty cool.
Tap the camera button to take the photo.
After you take a photo, your image will be displayed on the iPhone in “Rec View”. At the bottom of the phone’s display, you’ll see a camera icon (click to return to controlling the camera) or the download/share button. If you click the download/share button, you’ll be asked if you want to Save to Camera Roll. This seems unnecessary to me, because there’s no other option besides cancel. Click “Save to Camera Roll” and wait a second or three while the image moves from the camera to your phone. The app will now advise you that the image has been imported and suggest that you turn off the camera. Don’t do it! It will, in fact, turn off the camera, but if you want to take another photo, you want to leave the camera on. Even if you don’t, turning off the camera from the phone may confuse you later, because it does not move the camera’s on/off hardware switch to off. During my initial confusion about how all this worked, I thought I’d broken my camera. The switch said the camera was on, but it wasn’t responding to me at all. I recommend you click “Close” instead, and return to the camera control screen.
When you’re done shooting, click the iPhone home button to exit the app.
Getting back to normal
I want to say this clearly, because this confused me and it might confuse you. The entire time that you are using the OI.Share app, your camera will continue to display that stupid and unnecessary QR code and the even stupider and more misleading text that it is “Connecting to your smart phone.”
So let me say it again: Once you’ve selected the camera’s network profile from the iPhone Wi-Fi Settings panel and you see the “1” appear on the back of the camera next to the wi-fi icon, you are no longer “connecting”. You are now connected. If I’d written the camera’s firmware, I’d have switched the entire display on the back of the camera at this point to show something else, like an icon of a smartphone and some text saying “Control the camera with the OI.Share app on your phone.” But I didn’t write the firmware, so just be aware that that’s how it works.
When you’ve exited the app on your phone, you can tap the “Stop” button on the back of the camera screen (or click the Menu hardware button) to turn wi-fi off in the camera. From that point on, the camera is once again autonomous.
Finally, if you want to restore the phone’s access to the Internet via wi-fi (say, to upload some photos to your Flickr or Google+ account), go back to Settings / Wi-Fi, and select your home or office or coffee shop wi-fi network.
Once you’ve got the profile installed on your phone, next time you want to use the phone to control the camera, here’s what you do.
- Turn wi-fi on in the camera by clicking the Wi-Fi “button” on the back of the touchscreen.
- On the iPhone, go to Settings / Wi-Fi and select the network profile for the camera.
- Open the OI.Share app.
All in all, this is a sweet cooperation between camera and phone.