Olympus E-M1 firmware update takes aim at shutter-slap blur

by Liam McCabe

posted Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 11:46 AM EDT


Normally we leave firmware news for our Friday roundup, but this one was too interesting to sit on. Olympus just released a firmware update for its flagship OM-D E-M1, which introduces an electronic shutter curtain to reduce the slight blur caused by mechanical shutter impact at certain shutter speeds.

In mirrorless cameras, the shutter remains open while the camera is in live-view mode. With many models, including the E-M1, the shutter closes twice per shot: Once right before the exposure, then again to finish the shot. That motion can cause very slight blurring at medium-fast shutter speeds—between 1/60s and 1/250s, DPReview estimates.


With the version 1.3 firmware update, the E-M1 can instead use an electronic shutter for the first curtain, at speeds slower than 1/320s. Photographer and blogger Ming Thein says that it has made a significant difference in initial testing with his E-M1 cameras. Since the shutter only moves and strikes at the end of the shot, the only thing you can blame the blur on is your own shaky hands.


Some cameras, including the fixed-mirror SLT series and mirrorless E-mount cameras have used this method for a few years, so it’s not a novel approach. But it’s pretty cool to see that Olympus acknowledged the issue, and then fixed it with a downloadable patch. There’s no word on whether this is coming to other Olympus PEN or OM-D cameras, and to be fair it hasn’t been in the wild long enough to spot whether there are side-effects to this approach.

The E-M1 v1.3 firmware update also expands the dynamic range of the microphone, introduces an on/off switch for the volume limiter, adds a new setting to anti-shock mode, and improves operation when the live view frame rate is set to high. The download is available here.

(Via DPReview, Ming Thein)