The Olympus E-M1II and long exposures

Some of you may recall that when the original Olympus E-M1 was released 3 years ago, quite a controversy was stirred up by its handling of long exposures.  Basically, the noise level for the E-M1 was much higher than that for it’s much cheaper predecessor, the E-M5.  At the time, I was able to compare an E-M1 and E-M5 side-by-side, and wrote up the results for public scrutiny.

So, now that the E-M1II is available (if only in limited quantities so far), I thought it’d be interesting to compare my copy of it to my E-M1 that helped make such a stir (while I still own it).  I’ve also got an E-M5II on hand, so thought I should throw it into the mix as well.

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A long exposure of the Eiffel Tower’s sweeping light beams at night:


It’s likely not obvious, but I took this shot using Olympus’ “Live Composite” function — I love how it lets me make images like this without having to use a neutral density filter, or (diffraction-blurring) small apertures.  The full settings with an Olympus OM-D E-M5II and M.Zuiko 40-150mm lens were f/3.5, 60mm, ISO 200, exposures of 0.8 seconds each.

The night’s reflected brilliance

Captured on a photowalk through the Denver Botanic Gardens:

The night's reflected brilliance

Every year in December, the Denver Botanic Gardens puts on a “Blossoms of Light” show — it’s always a great display, although generally also a bit cold. But if you bundle up and carry a spare battery in your coat’s inside pocket, you’re good to go!

Oh yes, and don’t forget a tripod too — this is a 2.5 second exposure (at ISO 800 for minimal noise). Fortunately there are plenty of turf areas along the paths, so you can set up a tripod without blocking traffic or damaging the plants. But no commercial photography (i.e., stock shots for Getty) unless you want to fork over a $350 fee to the Gardens…

Riding the rails

The tracks (rails of the Denver metro light rail system) glide by as we head home…

Riding the rails.jpg

I’d seen images like this before — but via film. I wanted to see what it took to make an image like this with my digital gear. After some fiddling, I found that an exposure of 1/30 second or longer works just fine — so long as the train is up to full speed (about 60 miles/hour, or about 95 kilometers/hour).

If you look very closely, you can see some subtle reflections from the inside of the train (since there’s no way to get my camera outside the window for this image). I’ll have to spend a little more time in Photoshop cleaning them up. Still, I like how this turned out. The rail tops are nice and sharp, and the rail ties are blurred out, but don’t overlap.

I’ve noticed one odd thing, though — because the rails are at an angle to the image’s edges, the image always looks crooked to me. I *know* it’s rectangular, but it always looks skewed. This must be some sort of illusion, I’ll have to look it up…

Originally posted to the old blog on June 25, 2008; on Flickr over here.