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Wireless control of Olympus OM-D E-M1 with OI.Share app

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.

Ingredients

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. 
  1. 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.
  2. Click the Scan button.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. You'll now get another confirmation dialog, warning you that this is going to change settings on your iPhone. Click Install Now.
  7. If you have an access passcode defined for your phone (and you should!), you'll need to enter it now. 
  8. 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.
  1. Click the iPhone home button to go to the home screen.
  2. Click on the Settings icon.
  3. Select Wi-Fi in the Settings list.
  4. Turn Wi-Fi on, if it's not turned on already.
  5. 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.

Next time

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.
  1. Turn wi-fi on in the camera by clicking the Wi-Fi "button" on the back of the touchscreen.
  2. On the iPhone, go to Settings / Wi-Fi and select the network profile for the camera.
  3. Open the OI.Share app.

All in all, this is a sweet cooperation between camera and phone. 

Comments

  1. Thanks so much for clarifying a thoroughly mystifying process!

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    Replies
    1. THANKS Caroline! Yes, it's a shame it's mystifying because it really works quite wonderfully once you know the trick. Yesterday I was out in East Texas in the beautiful middle of nowhere shooting some folks riding horses. I was able to transfer pics from my E-M1 to my iPhone, then send the pictures to one of the folks I photographed using my iPhone's cellular connection. Very futuristic! Hope you have fun with it. – Will

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  2. Hello! Do you know if this app lets you shoot in something of a tethered fashion? I can't seem to find this info anywhere. What I'm thinking is shooting with the camera and having the images download to the device as you shoot. Ideally this would be to a full blown laptop but curious about the Android/iPhone capability. Olympus has (it seems to me) lagged badly in tethering capability. Thanks!

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  3. Irwin: YES. You could indeed use OI.Share as a surrogate for tethering. I mean, what I'd really like is to be able to shoot with my E-M1 connected to my computer, with the pictures appearing in Lightroom 5. But since Adobe only supports Canon and Nikon — and even then only a limited number of camera models — using OI.Share isn't a bad alternative. You'd certainly want to install OI.Share on your iPad, so you could see the images larger. I just gave it a quick test and the jpeg moves from the camera to the iPad very quickly — maybe 1 sec, maybe less. So that's not bad. But for me there would be a couple of problems. With OI.Share you're controlling the camera from the iPad and THAT just about absolutely means that the camera must be on a tripod. (With "real" tethering you can move around with the camera.) And with OI.Share you can't make any changes to remote, optically triggered flashes, the way you can from the back of the E-M1 normally with remote flash enabled. But otherwise, this might work and I might try it myself at my next portrait session!

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    Replies
    1. The other "gotcha" that I ran into which was really confusing is that since the iPad does not know how to decode ORF (Olympus Raw File) format if you are shooting RAW then the images wont show up on the iPad even as a "cant read" image. This was pretty confusing (particularly with the redisplay of the QR code every time time you start wireless even though you don't need it) until I switched to RAW+jpg and the images started showing up fine.

      It is very unfortunate that to get the wireless function working you lose the ability to compose in camera and use the camera as you can in a true tethered mode but this does serve the purpose of doing a check-up of the final image on a larger screen before committing. It all feels pretty cludgy but it's definitely a step above sneaker-net with the SD card.

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  4. I've been using the E-M1 OI.share for some time with great success. The latest update of my Android Galaxy s4 to Kit Kat (Android ver 4.4.2) has crippled the ability to save or share images on my camera. It always gives a "failed to save" error now. All the other remote functions still seem to work though and that is the most important thing to me.

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  5. I might add ... the OI.Share app works slightly differently with the E-M10. (1) I see an option for (a) controlling only the shutter release AND (b) for controlling the camera (as you describe above). (2) this shutter release option offers control over bracketing and HDR modes that are not (yet) available to the E-M1.

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  7. Holy moly! I was struggling before I read this. I couldn't have done it without you! Thanks!

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  8. I have the app on my mobile and tablet. Whenever it says cant find camera I just tap it again and usually third try it connects. I don't ever go to WiFi settings.
    On my phone, the camera images are crystal clear in live view.
    On the tablet they are quite blurred. Once I take the shot they show up clear. Any ideas?
    I have an OMD EM10 with the EZ lense. I've just found the zoom control on the app, hidden to the left of the screen on a pull out.
    Dick D

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    Replies
    1. Richard:
      I ran into the blurry preview too.
      Clicked cogwheel / Remote Control / Live View Quality and changed from the default Speed Priority to Image Quality priority.
      Clear preview.

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  9. Richard: Not sure why things seem sharp on your phone and blurred on your tablet. My guess is that it's a matter of the different resolutions on the devices and the problem of transferring a lot of data over wifi. Could be that the phone and the tablet are, in fact, receiving exactly the same data, but that the data LOOKS sharper on the more compact display of the phone than on the tablet. I'm sure you've experienced the surprise of thinking that an image is nice and sharp when you view it on the camera's rear monitor and discovering when you get it on the computer that in fact it's pretty soft. But beyond that, dunno. :-(

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  10. My iPhone4 does not focus on the QR code on the back of the camera. Does anyone have any ideas to correct this.

    Thanks, Bob

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  11. Bob, I have an iPhone 5 so, sorry, I can't test it. For what it's worth, my experience with the phone and these codes is that you have to make sure that the phone isn't TOO close (closer than its minimum focusing distance) and you have to be sure to hold the phone very still. But I am pretty sure that there's a way to enter the QR code manually as a number. I'm not doing the process right now but I am pretty sure that there's a number on the back of the camera and that there's a way in the O.IS app to type that number in. Good luck. — Will

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  12. Thanks for your advice. i was able to setup the connection by joining the camera's WI-Fi through the phone settings/Wi-Fi and entering the password that is displayed on the camera.

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  13. Bob, glad to hear that it worked. And I hope you like working with the O.IS app as much as I do. — Will

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  14. Have you used geotag feature? I did yesterday, and while I did get coordinates on images, they all had same despite some being about 2 miles apart.

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  15. Thanks, very useful for setting up my new E-P5. Agree 100% on tbe "connecting" display

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  16. Thank you very much for these detailed instructions. I was finally successful in setting the wifi fonction.

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  17. There doesn't seem to be any way of recording video from the camera using the remote app. Is this your experience?

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  18. Richard: I don't shoot much video so I just checked with camera, iPhone and the Olympus app. I moved the camera's mode dial to movie mode, then connected to the app, and it appears that you're right, it's not possible to control the shooting of video from the iPhone.

    I can't personally see many ways that this would be useful. If I wanted to take video (say) of me playing with my dog, I guess I'd put camera on tripod, start recording video, then walk around in front of the camera and try to position myself in the right place. When I was done, I'd walk around and turn the video off. Later I'd edit out the walking parts at the beginning and end of the clip.

    In any case, the OIS.Share app looks like it's designed for still photos only. And for that it's pretty decent.

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    Replies
    1. As of June 2016, I am able to tell the camera to record a 15-second video. But that's it - no zooming during filming. I was hoping to use the camera at a funeral, where I could set it up on a tripod, then be able to start/stop the video remotely, zoom in and out, etc.

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  19. I just started using this and noticed that not all my images are being imported from the camera to the iPad. Any idea why this is happening?

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  20. I have it working well on my E-M10, but is it really true that the only focus mode for anything other than iAuto is MF? It takes away from the total hands off experience. Hopefully I'm missing something.

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  21. Thanks for writing such detailed instructions. I was confused when the QR code remained on my camera screen. I thought I was doing something wrong.

    In your article you mentioned not having attempted connecting two devices at once. Have you since been able to accomplish this successfully? I would like to connect both my iPad and iPhone with LiveView. They are both set up successfully to connect individually, but I don't seem to be able to connect both at the same time. Thanks again!

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  22. Thanks for such detailed instructions. I was confused when the QR code remained on my camera screen. I thought the camera was broken.

    In your article you mentioned that you had not attempted connecting two devices at once. Have you since been able to do this successfully? I am trying to connect both my iPhone and iPad in LiveView. I can't seem to figure out how to do this. I can connect them individually, but they seem to lock each other out if one is connected. Any suggestions? Thanks again.

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  23. Jess, glad you found the article helpful. I love the E-M1, and this is a great feature. The iOS app is well done, but the UI on the camera needs a lot of work!

    As for connecting to one camera from both iPhone and iPad, yes, I have now tried it — and I too was unsuccessful. I confess 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. If you get this to work, please let me know.

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  24. Thanks Mr Porter great article.
    I've got the Android version and Olympus Stylus 1.
    I got everything working fairly easy but couldn't get rid of the Barcode thing off the cameras display when in remote mode.
    Now I know why .
    Thank You

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  25. I'm using an iphone5 and have been able to follow these instructions up until the "Install" feature where it fails by notifying me that the "profile is not signed" ?? Has anyone else come across this problem? How do I have my profile first 'signed' to avoid this and be able to "install" ?? ...appreciate your help

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    1. Nina, I'm using OI.Share on an iPhone 5 myself, but I didn't have that problem, so I'm not sure what to say. Maybe someone else will offer a suggestion...

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    2. I am having the same problem with an iPad. I can find nowhere to enter a key/code/password or whatever "signed" implies, not that any clue is offered as to the nature of this all-important signature, and no hint in any of the documentation as to what to do next. To say that Olympus documentation is a disappointment is to be extremely and undeservedly kind to it.

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    3. It's been a while, hopefully you found your solution! I had the same message but found out, you needed to connect to the SSID provided instead of your wifi!

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  26. Thanks for the great instructions for the OI share App. I can get my EM1 to take photos remotely and I can see these photos in the Rec View in my camera. I cant get them into my iphone 4s however. There is nothing in the Import Photo section of the App and they are not in Camera Roll. Can someone help step by step please.

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  27. @grob1: Okay, let's try to be clear here. When you use the OI Share app on your phone to control the camera, you can SEE what the camera sees on your phone, but the camera takes the photo. So the photo is stored on the camera's SD card initially. Now, if you ALSO want to have it on the phone, when you review the photo on the phone, in "Rec View" (on the phone), at least in iOS 8 on an iPhone, there's a share icon in the lower right corner that you can use to copy an individual photo to your photo library. Sorry, don't know what this looks like on Android but I assume it's in the same place. The 'share' icon in iOS looks like a document rectangle with an arrow exiting the top of the rectangle.

    Now there's another way to copy the photos to your phone.

    1. Get back to the OI Share app's Home screen (e.g. click Home in Rec View or camera view)
    2. Click Import Photos
    3. Click Select (top right corner of screen)
    4. Tap on the photos you want to copy to your phone
    5. Click Save (bottom right corner of screen)
    6. In confirmation request that appears at bottom, click 'Save to Camera Roll'

    When you're done importing, the app will advise you that you can turn the camera off. DON'T DO IT if you want to keep taking photos!

    Hope this helps.

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  28. Hey I've worked it out myself but it might help someone else. I need to have remote control mode in the OI Share app set to Live View not Remote Shutter.

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    1. Ah, right you are! You've been digging into the app's Settings — something I didn't talk about. (I assume that people start with the defaults.) But it's useful that you bring this up, since this page seems fairly popular among people struggling to figure this app out.

      So here's a clarifying addendum. You can use the OI Share app in two ways: in "remote shutter" mode, or in "live view" mode.

      My article talks about using it in Live View mode, which is the default. In Live View mode, you leave the camera on a tripod and do just about everything else on the phone. The back of the camera shows the wifi connection screen and basically you can't do anything with the camera directly. You compose the photo on the phone (moving the camera on the tripod if necessary) and you adjust the exposure settings on the phone. Then you tap the shutter button on the app screen to take the phone. After you've done this you get a reduced resolution jpeg on your phone for review — and if you wish to save images (jpegs) to your phone, you can.

      The alternative is 'remote shutter' mode. In this mode, the phone is simply an alternative to a classic remote shutter release. You'll now be able to use the camera's EVF or LED screen to compose the photo. You'll be able to use the camera's buttons etc to change shooting modes, change settings — pretty much everything. You can even click the shutter on the camera to take a picture in this app mode, but the point of using the app in this mode is so you can take your hands off the camera and use the camera to trigger the shutter.

      Why would you use 'remote shutter' mode? Same reasons you'd use any remote shutter release: so you can trigger the shutter without touching the camera. You'd want to do that because the camera's out of reach, or because you're using a slow shutter and you don't want to move the camera, etc.

      THERE'S A LOT MORE TO THIS APP than my article touches on. Poke around in the settings and experiment with the other options. It's a pretty useful complement to a wonderful camera.

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  29. Raw photos cannot be imported to a phone.

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  30. Question: Can video recording be started and stopped using the Wi-Fi remote? All I see mentioned are photos.

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    Replies
    1. @David A: The OI.Share app does not support video. This generally makes sense to me. The app assumes that the camera is mounted on a tripod and that you simply want to control when the camera takes a shot. If you wanted to shoot video of (say) a school pageant, you could put camera on tripod, switch into video capture mode — and simply hit the "record" button when you're ready to record. NOTE: OI.Share app can do a couple things besides the 'normal' single shot. It can do fast multi-frame capture. It can also do time-lapse. But no video.

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    2. I'm late to the party but thanks for this step by step tutorial. Your last section about getting back to normal was a big help. The persistent QR code screen was driving me nuts. I was sure I'd messed up; great relief to know it wasn't me after all.

      Delete
  31. Thank you! Seeing the QR code and "connecting" on subsequent attempts to connect my iphone and camera really confused me!

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  32. Thanks! Awesome!
    One tweak, could you put the sentence, "camera will continue to display that stupid QR..." in giant flashing letters at the top of the article?
    I wasted 30 minutes trying to figure out why it wanted me to scan when I had already set up my profile, and why the only option was to disconnect the Wifi. If finally figured it out, then continued your article...and there you were giving me the answer!
    Its unbelievable how stupid the engineers who program this are, and its unbelievable they never run it by an uninformed user before they release it to see what is going to confuse people. A little effort on their part could save thousands of people huge amounts of effort.
    Anyway, thanks for YOUR efforts!

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  33. The blog post that keeps on giving. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. THANK YOU! :-)

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  35. Marvellous piece. Thank you. The app will not work with RAW files, by the way. Took me a long time to find that out!

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  36. Thanks for an understandable explanation and tutorial. The Olympus manual was totally useless.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I had the same problem but after reading your explanation everything became clear and it works really well. Thanks

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  38. The QR code foxed me completely but having read your blog iPad and camera are now working in tandem. Thanks for the help.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hi! Can one connect the em10 with the smartphone somehow also outside the WIFI range (eg in the forest, in the field)? Using eg mobile data internet? Thanks

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    Replies
    1. @GZSYLM: Yes, you can connect the camera to your phone using the O.IS Share app no matter where you are. The app turns your phone into a short-range mobile "hot spot" and the camera connects to the phone. This is why, when you're using the O.IS app, you cannot connect your phone to the Internet: it's because the phone is now acting as a wifi transmitter, not as a receiver.

      Delete
  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete

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