Live Composite in OM Workspace

Live Composite in Olympus / OM System cameras is a quite popular function as it enables the photographer to shoot long time exposure images without over exposing the final result. However this function do have some short comings. As this function adds lighter parts of each image to the current composite. Therefore it could happen that your image gets destroyed by an unpredictable bright occasion. In this short tutorial I would like to show you how you can make a Live Composite image in OM Workspace out of single images back home at your computer. In OM Workspace you do have even more options as when you make it directly in camera.

What you should consider while taking images for Live Composite

In case you would like to make a Live Composite with OM Workspace your workflow is different. Instead of using the Live Composite Mode in the camera you should use the time-lapse functionality in camera. All other settings are identical. Please select exposure time and aperture fitting to your needed total image brightness. The time-laps interval should fit to the exposure time. Means in case you have selected a exposure time of i.e. 5s the time-lapse interval should be long enough that the next image is taken afterwards. Beside this I recommend to take RAW images, this makes the post processing easier.

How to make a Live Composite with OM Workspace

Once you have taken the images and you are back home open Workspace. Select the location where the images you would like to use are stored. Once you have open the folder with the images do following.

Selected images to be used for Live Composite in OM Workspace

1. Select all images you would like to use for the Composite.

Menu to find the composite mode in OM Workspace

2. Select in “Tools” “Composite Images” “Lighten Composite”. A new window will open

Interface in OM Workspace

3. Here you can check the images and decide which image should be in the composite. In addition in case you haven’t made a separate black reference, you can select this here to improve your image quality.

Options in OM Workspace

4. Select “Lighten 1” in case you would like to have an even result. Fitting for star trails for example. “Lighten 2” is more suitable for fireworks.

Generate  preview in OM Workspace

5. By pressing “Composite” you can generate a preview, which will be shown in the list underneath your images.

Export final Composite result in OM Workspace

6. Once you are satisfied, press “Export” to save the result in your image gallery.

Live Composite result with Option "Lighten 1"
Result “Lighten 1”
Live Composite result with option "Lighten 2"
Result “Lighten 2”

Additional options in OM Workspace

As you took single image generating composite image in OM Workspace do have some additional option, which are not available in camera.

  1. You can not only add brighter parts to your images, but also darker. This is helpful when you for example would like to remove bright clouds from your image and generate a deep blue sky.
  2. When you tick the box “Export image at each step” you get also the images which are generates in each step. This enables you to make an animation showing how the image develops. Especially use full in case you do make movies.
  3. In case a in the series of images one image is to bright or not fitting you simply can skip it. You are more flexible in the result.

Your feedback is appreciated

I make those kind of short description for you. Therefore I would be interested in whether you like it or not. Please leave a comment what you are interested in and what kind of content you would like to see next.

Firmware updates in future still for free?

close up shot of keys on a red surface

Small manufactures like Fuji, OM Digital Solutions and Panasonic offers since a while free firmware updates for their flagship models. Those firmware updates doesn’t fix bugs only but add also new functionalities. Whether this will be the case in future or not I would like to discuss in this small blog post. I mean firmware updates which add new functionality. Bug fix updates are not discussed here.

Sunset in Botswana kündigt das Ende kostenloser Firmware Updates bei digitalen Kameras an.

Reasons for free firmware updates

The small companies do have a difficult situation compared to the big three. Limited R&D capacities limit also the capabilities to bring new hardware in the same frequencies as the bigger ones. In case a company is not able to introduce new hardware, those companies are not mentioned in the medias. This ends in less brand awareness. Therefore those companies make less revenue which ends again in less R&D resources. Sounds like a vicious circle
One possibility to break this vicious circle are firmware updates, which add new functionalities. As this is “only” software, R&D need less resources. In addition customers are happier. The firmware adds value to their camera. In the mean time those firmware updates are already sales arguments. That is the reason that big companies are offering such kind of updates as well. Nikon just recently published a functional firmware update for their Z9.

Reasons against firmware updates for free

Not only hardware development needs resources in R&D. Also the development of firmware needs manpower. Despite this firmware will be tested and ties therefore R&D capabilities. Through firmware for free the companies cannot make revenue. Therefore the ongoing hardware sales has to finance the development. In addition the parallel firmware development disturbs the development of new hardware. In most of the cases the same developers are involved. As the market is decreasing also the numbers of sold cameras is decreasing. Therefore prices of hardware increases. Customer will buy less often a new hardware. In addition the innovation steps between each hardware generation are getting smaller. This decrease the interest in new hardware on customers side in addition. The differences between the owned and the new camera are to small.

How does the future look like?

As above described firmware updates for free do have tow sided of a coin. In fact companies do get more brand awareness, but also tie R&D resources. Those are urgently needed to develop new hardware. This potentially delays new hardware this is needed urgently. But new hardware brings higher margins than hardware which is already on the market for a longer time. In addition we all know that the camera market is shrinking. Therefore it will be more and more difficult to generate revenue for all manufacturers. Therefore we will see in near future a destructive competition. Brands will either disappear or bought by other brands. Even though that Nikon recently publishes a functional firmware update for its Z9, this was already mentioned at the launch of the Z9. Already know some of the brands offers only for their flagship model those functional updates.

Über den kostenlosen Firmware Updates digitaler Kameras ziehen sich düstere Wolken zusammen

I’m sure we will see very soon market adaptions. Therefore functional firmware updates will be only available for sales. Even more likely we will also see in the flagship models the strategy to bring new hardware to add new functionality as we do already see in the cheaper models. Sony already do have this strategy and other manufacture will follow soon or later. Otherwise the companies are not able to generate revenue with dropping numbers. Even thought firmware updates prolong the live span of camera hardware, but the companies are earning less revenue.
I’m sure this is a very controversial opinion and I’m curious what you think about this. Leave a comment with your thoughts. I’m looking forward to an active and respectful discussion.

Following might be interesting for you as well

In my blog post “Has the term focal length become obsolete” I share my thoughts about the terminology focal length.

AF customization with the OM System OM-1

The AF performance of the OM-1 has been, compared to its predecessor, dramatically improved. Why and which techology improvements are responsible for the improvement you can find in my blog post “OM System OM-1 AI detection AF“. However you are able to even improve your auto focus performance when us the AF customization with the OM System OM-1

Options for AF customization with the OM System OM-1

Depending on the subject your are shooting, four settings improve your AF performance.

  1. Use your own AF field settings
  2. Adjust C-AF sensitivity
  3. C-AF centre priority
  4. AF home settings

The above mentioned point do have an influence in the auto focus performance. Therefore you should have a look on them. It is important to know, which settings is helpful in which situation.

Own AF field settings

Beside the default AF field settings the user is able to define his / her own presets. Beside size and form you can also define the step size. The step size influence how fast you are able to move the AF fields with in the image area. Therefore this value influences the speed how fast you can react while you are photographing. You can define your AF fields as follows.

Screenshot Om-1 to show where to define the AF Target mode settings

1 Open the menu and navigate in the green AF menu to page 5 and select ” AF Target Mode Settings”

Screenshot of OM-1 menu to show where you can set up the Market mode settings

2 Press “OK” and select C1. Use the right key to open the settings menu.

Screenshot OM-1 menu to show how to make the AF customization

3 Adjust the field size to your needs with the forefinger and thumb wheel. Changing the step size is possible by pressing the “Info” button.

screenshot of OM-1 menu to show how to activate the custom AF target modes

4 Confirm with “OK” button. Press again the “OK” button to activate your settings.

Which settings are useful for the AF customization with the OM System OM-1?

How are those settings helpful to increase the AF performance? Quite simple, it helps the AF algorithm to find the focus when you are using only a part of the image area for focusing. For example when you are shooting birds in flights. Most properly in this case only the upper area is relevant for the AF. When you use in this case AF field which are covering the hole width but only half of the height, then you support the AF.

A second option, is to use only a single AF point. This is helpful when you are shooting small details, like you find in macro images. In addition a single AF point is also helpful when you capture birds in tries.

In case you would like to follow a step by step tutorial you also find this on my Youtube channel here:

Adjust C-AF sensitivity

If you use continuous auto focus you can define how sensitive the AF algorithm. In this case sensitivity means the reaction speed of the AF in case of changes in the image. Adjust the C-AF sensitivity as follows.

Screenshot of OM-1 menu to show where to finde C-AF sensitivity

1 Open the menu and navigate in the green AF menu to page three. Select C-AF sensitivity.

Screenshot of OM-1 menu for C-AF sensitivity settings options

2 Press “OK” and adjust the sensitivity between -2 and +2. Thereby shortens a high value and increases a low value the reaction time.

When do I use which sensitivity?

You use a high value of +1 or even +2 in case you are shooting object with fast changes. For example when you photograph a squirrel. Those small animals are moving quite fast and you never know what happens in the next second. Also the auto focus must be able to adapt fast in such kind of situation.

squirell in a tree


You use a low value of -1 or even -2 in case the auto focus should not be disturbed by changes. One example would be soccer. The camera should focus on the player you have selected, even though another player is running through your image. Same is true in case you are shooting birds in flight, which are partly covered by tries.

C-AF center priority

Especially when you use bigger AF fields the C-AF center priority is a topic. It defines which AF fields are used for focusing. Is the C-AF center priority activated the center AF field is prioritized. This means the camera use only other fields, if changes happens in more than one of the other fields. In case you would like to set AF center priority do following.

Screenshot of OM-1 menu to localize C-AF Center priority

1 Open the menu and navigate in the green AF menu to page 3 and select “C-AF center priority”.

Screenshot of OM-1 menu to show options for center priority

2 Confirm with “OK” and selcht select the AF preset which should use the C-AF center priority.

In which case is the C-AF center priority helpful?

The C-AF center priority helps to avoid that the algorithm uses the border fields to often. This helps you in case your are not sure that you are able to follow an object. Thus you are not able to keep it in the center of your chosen AF fields

AF home settings

In case you fast moving object speed is important. So you are able to react fast. In this case AF home settings is helpful. In case you would like to use the AF home settings do following.

Screenshot of OM-1 menu to show how to set-up Multi selector settings

1 Open the menu and navigate in the yellow gear menu to page 1. Select “Multi Selector Setting”

Screenshot of OM-1 menu

2 Press “OK” and select “Center Button”

Screenshot of OM-1 menu

3 Press “OK” again and select “HP” Confirm with “OK”.

Now the camera is coming back to the standard settings, once you press the multi selector button. In case you don’t like the standard settings you can change them as follows.

Screenshot of OM-1 menu

1 Open the menu and navigate in the green AF menu to page 5. Select “Set Home”

Screenshot of OM-1 menu

2 Press “OK” and define which AF field and which position you would like to have as home settings.

For all of you, who prefer to have a short move showing how to do the settings I also Lada a small movie on my YouTube channel.

E-M1 Mark III und E-M1X

You don’t have an OM-1 and would like to know how those settings are done for E-M1 Mark III or E-M1X? Then you find a small instruction in my blog post “Customize your AF points

USB-RAW processing in OM Workspace useful?

OM Workspace is a RAW file developer, which is for Olympus / OM System camera owners for free. Ist can be downloaded from the OM Digitalsolution website. As it is the OM Digitalsolutions own software it will be renewed on every product launch. Therefore the first one supporting RAW files of a new camera. Beside the possibility to use the computer processor it offers also to utilize the camera processor to process the RAW files. In forums and the social networks it is heavily discussed whether it makes sense to use the USB-RAW processing capabilities or not. With this short article I would like to help.

OM-1 product image

What is USB-RAW Processing in OM Workspace?

A in camera processor has different tasks than a processor in a computer. Therefore concept and design is fundamental different. A camera processor is optimized for the task needed in a camera. Means that the usage of a camera should be possible, without any delay, at all times. For this task the camera processors has special areas, which are optimized for image processing. This means that a camera processor can make image processing much faster than a ordinary computer processor. A ordinary computer processor is optimized for general usage. This is the reason why OM Workspace offers you the option to utilize the camera processor for RAW image development

How can I use USB-RAW Processing?

Preconditions to use USB-RAW processing is that you have installed OM Workspace and have one compatible camera (E-M1 Mark III; E-M1 Mark II, E-M1X und die OM-1) connected via USB to your computer. It is important that you are using the same camera for processing as you have used for taking the images. Also important is that you set the camera mode to “RAW/Control” . In addition it is important that the camera is connected directly to the computer and no hub is used.

After you have startet the software you can activate USB-RAW processing in the icon bar

screenshot how to activate USB-RAW processing in OM Workspace

Or in case you prefer to uses USB-RAW processing all the time you can make the setting also in the option menu.

where the USB-RAW procession option is located in the settings

Now OM Workspace is able to utilize the camera processor to develop your images..

When does it make sense to use USB-RAW processing?

In case you are using the newest version of apple computers, like the Mac Studio, which do have massive computer power, it only makes sense to use USB-RAW processing, if you would get the same image quality as you are getting from in camera JEPG images. For all other scenarios, the development with the camera processor, which is as said optimized for images processing, will be much faster than processing the images with your computer. I do have a MacBook Pro from 2018, the development with the camera processor is 10x faster as with the Intel processor. In case you would like to judge the advantage in your case, make a simple test. I would be happy when you would share your experience down in the comments.

OM System OM-1 introduced

Now it is official. One year ago announce The OM System OM-1 is officially introduced. With the OM-1 OM Digitalsolutions fading the Olympus ear out and introduce not only an impressive camera but also a new product naming. Exactly at the 50th anniversary of the OM-1, the digital grandson is introduced to the market. As in the seventies is also the digital version of the OM-1 compared to cameras, which offers a similar performance, small and lightweight. Nevertheless, it is equipped with technical possibilities, which are so far not available in the market.

Kingfisher taken with the OM-1

Lightning fast time machine

Pro Capture has been introduced together with the E-M1 Mark II back in 2016 and supports you as a photographer shifting back in time. While pressing the release button halfway down, the camera already records images and saves them in buffer storage. As soon as you fully press the button down this buffer storage will be stored on your SD card. This supports you to shoot unforeseeable incidents easier than without Pro Capture.
The OM-1 brings this function to a totally new level. With up to 120 images per second, you are able to record finer details of movement which enable you to catch the perfect moment. At this speed, the camera focuses and makes the exposure metering with the first image and keeps it with the following. In case the subject you would like to capture is moving towards or away from you, the camera should adjust focus and exposure in between. Also in this mode, the OM-1 sets new standards. The OM-1 offers 50 frames per second. This speed is unmatched by any camera on the market. This enables you to shoot any small detail in movement. Of course, you have these speeds also in the normal sequential shooting mode as well.

Starting kingfisher taken with the OM-1
Starting kingfisher taken with the OM-1

New intelligent autofocus system

Such speed values are only possible if your focusing system is blasting fast as well. The autofocus system of the OM-1 is based on a so-called Quad Pixel AF Technology. This technology divides each pixel into 4 sub-pixel, which can be controlled separately. Therefore it is possible to control those Subpixel diagonals, which enables the camera to realize cross-type phase-detection AF points. 100% of the sensor area is covered. Because the sensor can be read out very quickly, the data can be sent to the image processor very quickly. The new, very fast image processor Truepic X does the rest.

This new technology is also the base for improved intelligent subject detection. OM Digitalsolutions is calling it AI detection AF. The subject detection is based on machine learning and is able to detect airplanes, cars, birds also cats, and dogs. There is not only a big leap in the speed and accuracy of recognition, but also a lot has happened in terms of functionality. In the past subject detection was only available in C-AF + Tracking mode, now it is also available in S-AF and C-AF. In S-AF and C-AF the cameras show, as with C-AF + Tracking, if a subject is detected. However, in those modes, the camera only focuses on subjects, if those are within the focusing fields. Especially experienced photographers will be happy about it, as they are getting better control over this functionality.

In case you would like to know more about AI detection AF please read my short blog post “OM System OM-1 AI detection AF”

OM-1 in the forest

Image Quality

in the general opinion pixel count of sensors is equaled with resolution. The OM-1 shows, that this is not correct. Although the pixel count has not been increased, the completely newly developed sensor offers a better detail reproduction than the E-M1 Mark III. This is not surprising as the sensor is a backside illuminated sensor and has a much better noise performance than its predecessor. Most visible is this in high sensitivities, but also visible in the base sensitivities, which offer better data handling. This results in a better detail reproduction in fine structures, which is generally called resolution.

As already mentioned the noise performance of the OM-1 has been massively improved. The OM-1 is roughly 2 f-stops better compared to E-M1 Mark III. My personal impression is that it is even slightly better than 2 f-stops. This means that images taken with 25600 ISO do have roughly the same noise performance as images of the E-M1 Mark III at 6400ISO. You could say that the light sensitivity has been improved by four times. If you have in mind that the sensor area of a Micro Four Thirds sensor is four times smaller than the area of a 35mm camera, you could say that the OM-1 is on the same level as a 35mm camera with a similar pixel count.

But not only noise performance has been improved compared to E-M1 Mark III, also the dynamic range is larger. Roughly 1 f-stop more dynamic range is now available. This enables you to shoot better images of a gorge, which is very bright in the background.

All in all, is the image quality improvement larger than you can expect from a new camera generation and I would say the image quality of this Micro Four Thirds camera is now on the same level as 35mm cameras

Robin in a bush

Reliability personified

Olympus aka OM Digital Solution has been the market leader in dustproof and splashproof cameras since a long time. The OM-1 is even better. It offers an IP53 standard certification and could be used in nearly all weather conditions you can imagine. In addition, it is guaranteed that the camera works down to -10°C. However, this is only the official value as I used the camera in much lower temperatures as well. But this is not all. In addition, the OM-1 comes with a supersonic wave filter, which removes dust from the sensor. For this purpose, the OM-1 is equipped with a mechanical shutter that is specified for 400,000 releases. More than you will need as an ambitious photographer.

Everything is new

Not only sensor and processor is new developed, but also the menu has got a new design. Even more important it also goes a new structure. In my opinion, the redesign is a complete success. Functions are arranged much more logically and the layout means you only have to look to the left when searching. Once you have found the parameter you are looking for, you can see the setting that is currently being used on the right-hand side. The Super Control Panel has also been streamlined and adjusted. The result is a much simpler overview and you can make settings faster.

Conclusion

The OM SYSTEM OM-1 is a thoroughly successful camera. The engineers have not only taken the image quality a considerable step forward but also brought the speed of a camera into previously unimagined spheres. Anyone who still misses something here will be surprised with a completely new operating concept that is very easy to understand for owners of an OM-D and new users can learn very quickly. From my point of view, there are only small things that could be improved.