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Olympus Live Composite mode


  • Olympus were the 1st to introduce this Live Composite mode which is really an automated extension of their multiple exposure mode
  • it allows you to take a sequence of exposures to build up an image by only adding in brightest areas from each exposure to create a final RAW image
  • it is ideal for:
    • star trails
      • set the base exposure for the scene without over-exposing it (but ensure the scene is not too bright compared to the stars) - preferably a wide aperture, ISO 800-1600 and and exposure of a few seconds
      • set number for as long as you wish (if you have the battery power)
    • cloud trails at sunset
    • car light trails
    • airplanes taking off at night
    • shooting fireworks
      • try settings of f/5.6-f/8, ISO 200, 0.5sec with a relative short number of images if the fireworks overlap each other (can try more if they are spatially spread out)
    • lightning
    • shooting flowing water with long exposure appearance but with shorter exposures
    • aurorae
    • doing creative imagery with light painting
  • it is available on all Olympus OM-D cameras except for the original E-M5
  • up to 3hrs shooting is possible but may require 2nd battery or AC power
  • currently only allows lighten blend mode
  • this equates to shooting a lot of images then “stacking” them in an image editor setting the blend mode to lighten, but in this case it is all done in the camera for you.


  • put camera on a tripod and compose scene
  • lock your focus
  • set monitor brightness to lower (under Exp/ISO menu screen) to save battery
  • set exposure mode to manual
  • set aperture, ISO (usually to 200)
  • set shutter speed to Live Comp
  • press Menu button, and in Composite Settings, set:
    • the shutter speed for each exposure
      • need to ensure a single exposure does not over-expose the base image or the bright parts of any one subsequent image - the camera will show the exposure meter value for your base scene image
      • range of composite setting goes from 1/2 sec to 60sec - so you may need to use an ND filter
    • number of composites to shoot
      • you may need to limit the number of composites if bright areas overlap in each image such as occurs with fireworks (this is not a problem with star trails)
  • press shutter release to take 1st base exposure
  • press shutter release again to start the sequence of subsequent exposures
  • press shutter release again to stop the sequence
  • the tricky part is working out the exposure as this will be used for the base photo AND each subsequent image, and, thus although it is easy to get the exposure correct for the base scene, you then have to factor in the brightness of what will happen in the subsequent images such as fireworks, as you do not want each firework to be overexposed, whereas with star trails, you are more likely to run into the problem of underexposing the stars or over-exposing the scene
omd/live_composite.txt · Last modified: 2018/02/08 16:40 by gary1

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