A lot of people are still waiting for their pre-ordered Olympus OM-D E-M1II cameras to arrive — in the meantime, a number of them asked to see some high-ISO photographs to judge the camera’s abilities in the realm of astrophotography. After days of waiting, I finally got clear night skies where I live, so took some shots of the constellation Orion. Please bear in mind that I live in the south Denver metro area, so have to deal with light pollution — here’s the view looking south toward Orion from my house (enough sky glow to silhouette bits of a telephone pole and two trees):
For the above image, the EXIF is E-M1II, 12-40mm Pro lens @ 17mm, f/5.6, ISO 1600, 8.0 seconds. This is a SOOC image, by the way — all I’ve done to it is RAW conversion and scaling (to fit my blog’s template) in Lightroom.
But I didn’t only take this one image — I took a series of them, all unguided (i.e., on a still tripod): Continue reading →
In our neck of the woods, we’ve had cloudy night skies recently (at least, since my E-M1II arrived). So I’ve lacked a clear view of stars to test the beast on, but fortunately there are plenty of Christmas lights to work with. Here’s a quick shot from one of the more-colorful nearby houses:
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.
I recently received an Olympus E-M1 Mark II — the idea being that it’ll shortly replace my trusty original E-M1 I purchased a few years back. While I’ve still got both, I’ll be shooting and posting some comparison shots between the two models — but first will be writing a few posts on upgrades and changes in the new model.
First up — setting up back button focusing.
What is back button focusing?
For those unfamiliar with the term, back button focusing refers to separating the focus and expose functions that normally occur sequentially when you depress the camera’s shutter button (focus on half-press, exposure on full-press). If you “move” the focus function off the shutter button, and assign it elsewhere, life is easier when photographing a fast-moving subject (like wildlife) — you can focus once, then concentrate on your timing / composition / exposure. Assuming, of course, that your subject doesn’t change its distance from you significantly as it flits about.
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.
We recently took a family trip to Montreal and Boston — so along with other things, it gave me a chance to put Olympus’ (relatively recent) “Live Composition” mode to work on Boston’s Independence Day fireworks.
For those of you unfamiliar with this, “Live Composite” is a feature of their OM-D cameras that allows you to do something like a long exposure — but without the usual risk that brings of overexposing parts of the image. You set up your exposure settings, start “Live Comp,” then it only updates a part of the image if it has become brighter than before — so you wind up collecting sort of a “high water mark” for each pixel / color.
It’s easier to use than I’ve described it, as for the results, you can see for yourself:
This was my first real experience with Live Composite — I’ll definitely be writing more about it in the coming weeks…