This article is the second of two on Olympus’ Live Time feature.
Live Time is a special long exposure mode for exposures longer than the maximum 60 seconds you can set directly on the shutter dial. It is an enhanced Bulb or Time exposure – you press the shutter to start the exposure and press it again to end the exposure.
The unique feature is that during the exposure, the image on the rear LCD periodically refreshes to show you a preview of the exposure so far. This allows you to inspect the exposure as it slowly builds up and end it when you are happy with it. You can also display a histogram to help you judge the exposure.
A big update on blindly guessing or calculating and hoping for the best. It can save a lot of trial and error getting the correct long exposure. Brilliant!
Enabling Live Time Mode
To enable the Live Time feature on Olympus cameras that support it (I’m using the EM10 Mk I):
1. Switch the PASM mode dial to the M (fully manual) position.
2. Use the command wheel that controls shutter speeed (on mine it is the rear dial but yours could be configured differently).
3. Rotate the shutter command wheel towards the lower speeds (on my EM10, the slowest speed is 60 seconds).
4. Continue past the 60 seconds and Bulb settings until Live Time displays at the bottom of the rear screen or in the EVF.
When you next press the shutter release, the shutter will open and stay open until you press the shutter again.
At periodic intervals, the image on the screen will update itself to show the current exposure. It will start off completely black, then the image will gradually emerge as the exposure continues.
Watch the image until you are satisfied you have the exposure you want, then press the shutter button again to end the exposure.
Before you start – Configure Live Time
Before you use Live Time, you need to set the preview refresh interval (in seconds).
This determines how often the exposure preview is updated during the exposure. It is important because the number of available preview refreshes during the exposure is limited (and variable depending on ISO set) and you don’t want to run out before the exposure ends. The maximum is 24 refreshes when the camera is set to a low ISO.
Choosing the interval
- If you are expecting a short long exposure, you can make the interval low – this will give you lots of preview updates
- If you are expecting a longer exposure, make the interval longer so you don’t run out before the exposure ends. If you do run out, you are back to a basic time exposure where you have to guess the exposure.
At low ISO settings, the maximum number of preview refreshes is 24.
If your expected exposure duration is 24 secs, you could set the preview refresh interval to 1 sec – this would give you 24 refreshes during the exposure, allowing you a fine degree of control.
If your expected exposure is 10 minutes (600 secs), an interval of 30 secs provides less fine grained control but will be enough refreshes to last the whole exposure.
Om my EM10, the menu option for setting the interval is called LIVE TIME and is on the Exp/ISO submenu under the custom menu tab (two cogwheels icon). It has up/down arrows for selecting the interval.
An excellent convenience feature for anyone who regularly makes long exposures and gets frustrated with setting good exposures (even with the aid of phone apps). Recommended.