In the latest of our series on using your smartphone and camera we focus on the abilities of the Olympus Image Share app. Richard Sibley investigates its uses
For and against
+ 20-million-pixel JPEG transferred in 10 secs (Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III + iPhone XS)
+ iOS and Android
+ Supports raw file transfer
+ Extremely straightforward to use and intuitively designed
+ Touch AF
– Requires additional app for GeoTagging
– No exposure changes during video capture
– Touchscreen AF not enabled while video is recording
It’s one of the oldest camera Wi-Fi apps still to be used under its original name, and the Olympus Image Share app had a rather unusual start to life. Announced alongside
a number of Olympus cameras at Photokina in 2012, the original Olympus Image Share required the use of a FlashAir card. Manufactured by Toshiba, these cards are the same size as standard SD cards, but as well as offering data storage, they also contain a small Wi-Fi chip that could be utilised by compatible cameras.
Much like the Eye-Fi cards that appeared around the same time, FlashAir cards weren’t exclusive to Olympus cameras; they could in fact be used by many cameras to make them Wi-Fi compatible. What Olympus added with its partnership with Toshiba was some image-transfer functionality that could be accessed from within the camera’s menu itself, which made the process of getting images from card to smartphone, or tablet, a lot simpler.
Roll on almost eight years, and Olympus Image Share is now on version 4.41 for both Android and iOS. It is quite a comprehensive app in terms of its features, and works alongside the latest range of Olympus cameras to get your images as quickly as possible on to your device.
First things first, I want to give Olympus praise for how easy it is to set up Olympus Image Share and a camera for the first time. The process was as straightforward as it could be, and the instructions provided by the app were very clear, beautifully illustrated and flawless in their execution.
As with most other contemporary cameras, where possible, the Olympus Image Share app uses Bluetooth connectivity to pair a compatible camera and smart device. To make the initial pairing, you press a button on the camera screen which then presents a QR code, which you then scan using the app, and the code contains all of the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi details for the camera you are trying to connect.
From here, the smart device and camera make a Bluetooth pairing, after which the app then prompts you to connect the two devices using Wi-Fi. The advantage of using the Bluetooth connection is it uses very little energy, in both the camera and smart device to which it’s paired. You’ll find it switches over to a Wi-Fi connection when large amounts of data, such as a live view display or image transfer, are required.
Once the QR code has been scanned, everything else is simply a matter of pressing ‘OK’ when prompted by your phone to allow access for the various connections to take place. It took virtually no time at all and worked flawlessly, allowing me to begin the process of selecting the images I wanted to transfer or setup remote shooting within a matter of only a few minutes.
Live view and remote shooting using Olympus OI Share
With the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III and iPhone XS paired together, getting started using live view to shoot remotely was extremely straightforward. Simply hit the Remote Control option on the home screen of the app and a live view shooting screen is presented. Beneath the simple-looking live-view screen is a full complement of exposure and shooting settings that can be changed. As you’d expect, shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, ISO, and white balance can all be tweaked to your liking. As well as this, the burst speed and self-timer can also be adjusted. The exposure mode can be changed from program, aperture and shutter priority, as well as manual, and there is also the option to select any of the Olympus Art or Scene modes.
The virtual shutter button is located centrally at the bottom of the screen, and when pressed I found that there was very little lag between the press and the camera shutter firing. Similarly, the on-screen display was also reasonably responsive to any movements with little lag, and certainly usable in all but the most time-sensitive situations.
It’s possible to use the touchscreen of your smart device to quickly change the AF spot – a function I used a few times during my testing. I found that touching the screen of my iPhone XS quickly shifted the focus point, making it useful for observing a subject, quickly focusing and then firing a shutter. This way of working could also potentially work well in situations where you’d like to work on the sly, with street photography being one such example. Any passerby may think that you are merely using your phone rather than taking an image.
Focusing when shooting video is achieved using continuous autofocus. The focus point can be selected using the touchscreen, but the second that you start recording the focus point is locked to that position and the continuous focusing goes about business as necessary.
Similarly all of the exposure settings are also locked as soon as recording starts. This means that you cannot change the aperture or sensitivity to adjust the exposure while recording, which was something I was particularly impressed with when using the Panasonic Lumix Sync app previously.
Videos can be transferred to the camera, but as usual this is subject to the caveat of whether or not your smartphone or tablet is capable of playing back the video files.
Sending files from the OM-D E-M5 Mark III to an iPhone XS was straightforward using the Olympus OI Share app, with the option to send either single images or batches from camera to phone. There are a variety of different options when it comes to the size of image that you wish to transfer, with the option to share high-resolution 20MP raw images if you so wish. Obviously what you then do with these raw files is very much dependent on your smartphone and whether you have compatible apps installed that let you view and edit them.
Transferring a raw image took approximately 15 seconds, with a full-size JPEG image taking around 10 seconds. There’s also a 3MP option, which is perfect for social media snapshots. These smaller size files took just over three seconds to transfer to my smartphone.
Sadly, tagging GPS data from your phone to your images cannot be done from within the Olympus OI Share app. Instead, Olympus has developed a standalone app for this task called O.I. Track. The app is available for iOS and Android, and works in much the same way as other GPS tracking applications.
O.I Track works by recording co-ordinates at regular intervals. When you start shooting, you connect your camera and the O.I. Track app to make sure that the time is synchronised. Then simply leave the O.I Track app running on your phone in the background and start taking photos. When you have finished shooting, stop the O.I. Track app running and once again connect your camera to the app. By cross- referencing the time an image was taken with the GPS location O.I. Track recorded at that time, the location data is then sent to the camera and embedded in the metadata.
How to Connect an Olympus Camera to Olympus OI Share
1 Search for the app
You’ll want to start by searching for the O.I. Share app from the Google Play or iOS App Store on your phone or tablet. When you find it, download the app on your phone and make sure that you have both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on.
2 Follow the easy setup tips
Opening the app for the first time will present you with an easy setup guide. This will walk you through the steps involved in establishing a connection between your smartphone and camera.
3 Confirm access to the camera
Press the Wi-Fi pairing button on the camera and when asked, give the app permission to share access to your smartphone camera.
4 Establish Bluetooth pairing
Follow the on screen prompts and you should find that your phone makes a connection with your camera via Bluetooth.
5 Connect via Wi-Fi
Once the Bluetooth connection has been made, the app will ask permission to access photos on your device. It will then attempt to connect to the camera via Wi-Fi. When prompted click ‘Join’ to allow the connection to take place.
6 You’re good to go
After a few moments, the connection should have been made and the app will alert you that the connection has been successful. You can now use all of the features of the app, which are clearly listed from the main screen.
Camera How To guide
One of the more useful features of the Olympus OI Share app is the ‘Camera How To’ guide. From within this menu you can download and access the full instruction manual for your camera, so you can look anything up on the go.
There is also a ‘Hints For Use’ section which provides guidance for some of the key camera functions including ‘Functions That Support Your Artistic Intent’, such as Focus Stacking and Live Composite Photography.