Shooting fireworks with the OM-D EM-5 mark II

Capturing fireworks can be tricky – it’s dark, everyone’s excited and had a few glasses of bubbly… challenging!

On most other cameras, I’ve usually used manual mode with a smallish aperture (f5.6 – f8), and long shutter speed. The only drawback is it usually takes a while to get the shutter speed right for the conditions.

On newer Olympus OM-D models, you can use Live Composite mode which is perfect for fireworks displays. We were up on a 5th floor balcony overlooking Munich for New Year’s Eve – a perfect spot to try it out!

Live Composite will take multiple individual shots and composite them into a single image, but only adding new bright areas to the final picture.

How to

You’ll need a tripod or sturdy place to position your camera with a clear view of the fireworks.

Then, turn the mode dial to M and set the aperture to f5.6 or thereabouts. Increase the shutter speed until you see “Live Time” and then turn again to “Live Comp” (if your camera doesn’t have Live Comp, Live Time is also worth playing with, but you’ll need to keep in mind that it will increase the overall brightness of the image.

You’ll probably also want to set focus manually, so you don’t have to rely on autofocus in the tricky low light.

If you go into the menu, there is also an option to adjust the intervals between shots exposure duration per shot, which should be set to around 1/2 sec so you don’t get overexposed areas in your images (most of mine below are slightly overexposed due to not finding this setting until later).

Tip The EM-5 mk II needs you to take an image first to get ready for Composite Mode, so remember that you’ll need to click the shutter twice for it to start capturing.

Let it capture a few frames and be careful not to touch or shake the camera. Once you’re satisfied, just press the shutter again.

Perfect firework photos made easy!

Links (affiliate)

Olympus OM-D E-M5ii on Amazon

Olympus OM-D E-M10ii on Amazon

Updated on January 4th with correction on the exposure per shot setting. Thanks to boxerman for the feedback.


Also published on Medium.