There’s been some discussion online about ways to use the Olympus E-M1II‘s dual slots, so I thought I’d write up how I use them — in the hope that this is useful for other owners of the camera.
So, first off, three things:
- The camera’s two slots have different speeds. Slot 1 (the “top” one) is capable of handling UHS-II cards but is backwards compatible with earlier cards, and Slot 2 (the “bottom” one) is capable of handling UHS-I cards. This is a new thing (to Olympus) with the E-M1II, so earlier models don’t have this capability, and only time will tell what later models will have it. If I’m reading the card specs correctly, the fastest UHS-II card will be 3 times faster than the best UHS-I card.
- You can use the two slots in any of six different modes for stills, plus a separate choice for video. Note that your selections are “captured” by custom modes, so you can use the cards differently for each of the 3 custom modes plus your normal mode — if you’ve got the cognitive “real estate” to remember all these permutations.
- You’ll need to make changes in two places in the menu system (maybe three, depending on how you set up your camera), but they’re logically separate so pretty easy to keep straight.
Let’s start by telling the camera how to use the two card slots for stills. Under the “Gear” menu, pick H1, and within it the top item (“Card Slot Settings”). The six different choices are:
- Standard — you write everything to one card.
- Auto Switch — you write everything to one card, then switch to the other card when the first ones full.
- Dual Independent “Down” — you write everything to both cards (with card-dependent image quality settings), and if one gets full, you can no longer write to either card.
- Dual Independent “Up” — you write everything to both cards (with card-dependent settings), and if one gets full, the other continues in use until it’s full.
- Dual Same “Down” — you write everything to both cards (with the same settings for both cards), and if one gets full, you can no longer write to either card.
- Dual Same “Up” — you write everything to both cards (with the same settings for both cards), and if one gets full, the other continues in use until it’s full.
Since the two slots have different “speed limits,” I like maximizing the potential of each. So the “Dual Same,” “Standard,” and “Auto Switch” options don’t do much for me. Meanwhile, I like the idea of using both cards in parallel — just in case one card has a media failure or is later lost. So I always use “Dual Independent ‘Up'” here.
But if you’re following along, there’s one more thing to be tweaked — we need to tell the camera to save RAW to the fast card slot (1), and JPEG to the less-fast slot (2). So, go to the “Camera 1” top menu, pick the image quality setting (3rd item), and choose RAW for slot 1 and your choice of JPEG quality (I use LSF, Large Super-Fine) for slot 2. You might also need to visit “Gear” / G / Image Quality (1st line of G) to make LSF available to you here.