Live composite and ND filters?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by travelbug, Apr 1, 2016.

  1. travelbug

    travelbug Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2014
    I don't have an omd yet but one of the compelling features I look forward to is live composite which seems like a game changer in terms of long exposure photography.
    However I see a lot of people with the new omds still use ND filters and don't seem to use this feature. Why so? Are the shots using live composite, say to take long exposures of clouds or waterfalls, not as good as the traditional way?

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  2. alan1972

    alan1972 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jun 23, 2012
    Malaga, Spain
    Alan Grant
    The minimum exposure time for each individual exposure within a live composite is half a second, at least with my E-M10. That is fine for night photos, but for daylight it often means you either need to stop way down or you need an ND filter anyway. In that situation I am not sure that live composite offers much advantage over a single long exposure.

    Also the results are not always the same. If you have a mix of light and dark clouds for example, live composite will make it look like the light parts are moving and the dark parts fixed. That may or may not give a pleasing result. Similarly people in a scene wearing a mix of light and dark clothes can produce weird effects.

    One advantage that may not be fully appreciated is that you can see the exposure developing on screen no matter how many frames it goes on for, unlike live time for example. You can also drop a black cloth over the lens at any point during the exposure and know for sure that those frames will be discarded with exactly zero impact on the final image, then remove the cloth while the shot continues. I have used this to avoid an exposure being swamped by a passing car headlight, for example. These things were not obvious to me when I started.

    I love live composite and would now be reluctant to buy a camera without it. But I have not really gone beyond the advertised use of light trails at night. I think it has great potential if it could be developed further with faster base shutter speeds or the ability to choose a different blending method than "lighten". But I have no idea if that is possible.
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  3. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    There are basically three problems with live composite. Two have already been mentioned - it requires a shutter speed which generally requires an ND anyway, and the lighten blend mode is not what you want for a proper long exposure - it's great for long light trails/painting, fireworks, star trails where you don't want to overexpose the foreground, but not very good for general, balanced long exposures. What is required for those is some sort of mean or median blend.

    The third problem is that there can be small gaps in trails, if the subject is moving too fast across multiple composite frames.
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  4. travelbug

    travelbug Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2014
    i got my omd and tried live composite in clouds. although its not your typical long exposure look, the result i found interesting and unique. i still think there is a place for live comp in daytime long exposures, but yes it would be nice to have a median blend mode.

    live comp 2.jpg
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  5. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Wow, that's a really awesome picture. I kinda like the effect with the clouds!
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  6. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror! Subscribing Member

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    If I would have used an nd filter the water would have been smooth...instead I removed the filter and opted for a .5s composite, which was probably going for a few seconds.

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  7. travelbug

    travelbug Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2014
    personally, ilike it. the water/surf still conveys motion and volume and still has some of that misty/creamy look, although a longer exposure could have smoothed it out more. also like the saturated/rainbow effect of the shoreline.
    however, i think your better off layer-masking the grass to get rid of that blurriness.
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  8. DoofClenas

    DoofClenas Who needs a Mirror! Subscribing Member

    Nov 9, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    Wouldn't that require that I took a shot with a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the grass?
  9. travelbug

    travelbug Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2014
    Yes. That would require you to take a normal shot before or after your long exposure and layer - mask it in photoshop.

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  10. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2013
    I use both methods. Kinda depends what I'm looking for or what the scene is like. Live composite is easier and always avail (in case you forget your filter). For waterfalls I'd prob stick to ND, but I have seen cool results with Live composite with leaves in the water creating swirls. I tried to replicate sans leaves, but wasn't as good as I'd like, but I was just messing around and there weren't enough leaves in the water. It's a different look though.

    IT works great for street light trails...sometimes you do get breaks like someone else mentioned.

    Here is the same scene shot about 24 hrs apart. First one is Live Composite, second is 10 stop w/same lens 9-18. I had just gotten this lens and was testing it out. 2nd one I was going for the cloud movement thing, but there were no clouds for the first one, so I used the LC. Both F13 (no worries about diffraction...prints came out great)


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