What is Live Composite?

Live Composite is an in-camera function that allows any number of images to be combined into one composite image. The camera does all the work to make the composite and allows the composite to be viewed on the LCD screen as it is “built”.  As far as I know, only select Olympus OMD micro four-thirds (M4/3) cameras have this feature. Let me know if any of you know of any others.

This feature allows any number of photos to be combined without any over-exposure to the base (first) image. Once the initial photo is captured the camera continues to take an unlimited number of pictures (up to 3 hours or dead battery) but only registers NEW light that occurs in the scene.  The exposure can be stopped at any point when the composite image looks good on the LCD. I think this function was designed mainly for making star trail images without having to stack images in post processing. This is a very cool function for star trails, but think of all the other ways in which this function could be used, such as:

·         Night traffic streaks

·         Fire works

·         Light painting of most any subject

·         Lightning strikes

·         Virtually any subject in which light is changing or moving (clouds, water, etc.)

An example of Live Composite is the aurora/star trail image here that I made with an Olympus OMD E-M10 camera mounted on a tripod. In this case, the aurora was not moving much so I let the camera make exposures for about 25 minutes. The slight movements of the aurora made its image expand in the composite during the long exposure, and of course, the movement of the stars was also captured. (OK, I know it is really the earth that moves!) The basic image of the lake shore did not change–only the new, brighter light was added to make the composite. Wow, was that ever a neat trick!

The current Olympus Live Composite function is limited to shutter speeds of ½ second to 60 seconds, so it is best for low light conditions and can be used only in Manual mode.  Maybe the other camera manufacturers will add this very useful (and fun!) creative function in their future models.