Last month, Olympus released firmware updates for E-M1 and E-M5ii with the brilliant marketing slogan, “Download your new camera.” They weren’t kidding!
The image pictured here is the last shot in a series of 14 shots taken in rapid succession using the new Focus Bracket function. Focus bracketing was added to the Bracketing options in the Camera 2 menu. To access it, go to Camera 2 –> Bracketing –> Focus BKT and turn it on. There you will need to enter the parameters of how many shots you want taken, from 2 to 999(!), set the focus differential from 1 (narrow) to 10 (wide), and, if you’re shooting with strobes, you can even set a recharge time to wait between shots.
Once you’ve made your settings, back out of all them using the menu button. (I found that was the most certain way to ensure the settings “took.”) Your camera should now automatically switch to high burst, silent mode. To begin, you should be focused on the nearest point in the scene you want sharp. In fact, it may be wise to focus even closer than that. Best at this point to trigger the camera via remote, and watch the magic happen.
The camera will now take images in rapid succession, changing the focus by the increment you entered. No matter how many images you ask it to take it will stop when the focus hits infinity. There is not much documentation provided so experimentation is in order (how many shots are optimum for the scene, how narrow is narrow, how wide is wide, etc.). A set of shots taken at f2.8 will need more slivers front to back than the same scene shot at f8.
When you’re finished, you can load the files into Photoshop layers, select all the layers, auto align them using automatic with nothing else checked, and then auto blend them using Stack Images and Seamless Tones and Colors. You may need to adjust some of the masks that are automatically generated.
The resulting image below needed some help for the white baby carriage. Maybe the tones were too close to the background. It was easy enough to find the sharpest layer for the baby carriage in Bridge and unmask that layer. For reference, this series was shot at f11 and was about 12 inches from front to back. Understand that this is just a demonstration, and not a good real world example. If you have a busy background, a good deal of extra work could be needed in post. But the added functionality opens up new worlds of possibilities.
Follow this link for updating the E-M1 or this link for updating the E-M5ii. Also, if you look for the latest version of the product manual for your camera, you will find a new section giving at least a little information about the update.