I was given the opportunity to try out the OM-D E-M1 Mark III along with the M. Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO, 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3 and the 60mm f/2.8 Macro lenses. You can check out my first impressions of the camera here.
I’ve had more time to play with this camera, left my Canon 6D at home and only used the Olympus since I received it about four weeks ago.
One of the features I looked forward to trying was the Live ND shooting capability using the three different lenses. I don’t photograph a lot of long exposures or use the ND filter I have very often. The fact that it’s all in-camera was very appealing to me. I don’t like to carry anything extra if I don’t have to, so that meant my filters stayed at home.
What is Olympus Live ND shooting mode?
Olympus has replicated the use of ND filters (neutral density), in-camera. One of the really great features of this is that you can set the live view mode to show you the effect you’re getting before you press the shutter. I must admit, it’s a bit trippy when you’re looking through the viewfinder. It’s quite helpful though, as it allows you to determine if you need a faster or slower shutter speed to get the long exposure effect you want.
Note that while this is great for long exposures, it won’t actually darken your scene like traditional ND filters. It’ll just create that long exposure effect that ND filters help to create.
When I first tried this out I did not use any sort of tripod or stabilization. The black and white image here was handheld at .5 seconds. When I was using the 100-400mm lens, hand-holding was not really an option when using the Live ND function, which makes total sense.
Ease of use
I am the type of person who learns by figuring it out myself before heading to Google or instruction manuals. It was not difficult to figure out how to use this function. It’s as simple as turning the ND option on or off and then choosing which setting you want to use.
The ND settings range from ND2 (1EV) to ND32 (5EV). You also have to turn on the LV simulation to see the effects as you are photographing. All of these are easily found in the menus.
The second time I went out to play with the Live ND shooting, I brought my Platypod Ultra with me to better stabilize the camera. The location I went to was public botanic gardens, so no tripods were allowed.
Fun to use
For me, this is playtime. I really enjoyed taking this out and seeing what I could do with the Live ND feature. Especially as someone who doesn’t typically photograph long exposures.
Live ND makes it easy and fun. I didn’t have to figure out my focus, before/after putting on the filter. There was no math involved — yay! You don’t have to worry about dropping that expensive ND filter and having to replace it.
Would a serious long exposure photographer find flaws in it? I’m sure they would and likely it wouldn’t allow for as much creative control as they would want. Part of the having fun with this is photographing subjects that are not your usual long exposure subjects. This bowl of water with flowers in it that you could spin? Perfect to try out the Live ND feature with.
Fellow author, Bob Coates, also checked out this camera and feature. Read what he had to say here. Seriously, if I needed a new camera or were in the market for a nice travel camera this would be in my bag.
All through October 2020, Olympus has huge savings on some of their latest cameras, including the OM-D E-M1 Mark III.