External power, USB, and your Olympus OM-D camera

USB-C connectorEdited 3/28/2020 to add measured power data for both battery charging and tethered shooting.

Olympus, to their credit, has finally been replacing their old proprietary USB camera cable interfaces with USB-C on more-recent OM-D camera bodies. But until the E-M1X was released in early 2019, this just provided a data interface — for things like firmware updates, and file transfers.

With the E-M1X, Olympus began to use USB-C as a power interface as well — for battery recharging, and for tethered power supply to the camera.¬†Olympus took a middle ground with the E-M5III, using USB for data and battery charging (but not tethered power, and even then using an old-school micro-USB connector). More-recently, the E-M1III followed the E-M1X‘s example in using USB-C for data, battery charging, and tethered power supply.

I’ve recently seen confused exchanges online about the uses and limitations of USB-C with the E-M1III — so as a card-carrying geek, I thought I should attempt to clear things up a bit.¬†But first, you’ll need some background — so find yourself a comfortable seat and a warm beverage, this won’t be a fast read. Continue reading