Anybody else tried night sky with OM1 handheld?
5 months ago

I have been playing around with my OM1, pushing the limits of its features to see what it can and cannot do. One of the things I have been experimenting with is capturing night sky without a tripod.

When I travel, I only take a tiny desktop-sized tripod, which might not work in many situations. It's very useful for me to know if it's possible for to capture starry sky without a tripod, if need be.

The results I got in the last few days were honestly better than I expected, especially given that these are straight out of camera jpegs with zero post processing in phone or the computer. I did however make some minor adjustments in camera for some of these shots, mostly WB and shadow/highlight. I used starry sky AF mode for focusing.

The sky wasn't actually pretty. There were definitely more stars you can see in the photo than with the naked eyes. HHHR.

HHHR. The milky way was barely visible with the naked eyes.

Found a deer feeding in the dark.

Clouds were moving fast that night and HHHR failed repeatedly.

I get the feeling that F2.8 I think is right around the limit.

F4 generally felt a bit too slow to use for this purpose.

Here are my totally non-scientific general impressions/takeaways.

- HHHR offers noticeable bump in IQ, but stars could create obvious artifacts if the shutter speed is too slow. I think the slowest shutter speed you could possibly succeed with is 1 sec (around 12 sec total) with a wide angle lens, but preferably faster. ISO can be as high as 16000, possibly even 25600 with HHHR.

- HHHR will fail to compose if the clouds are moving too fast with slow shutter speeds.

- HHHR also seemed to fail easier when using extreme high ISO in extreme low light, likely due to the loss of detail in each frame that affects the composite process.

- For a single shot, IQ seems to drop off harder above ISO6400, at least for SOOC jpegs in extreme dark.

- With SOOC jpegs, hot spots seem to be inevitable even when using in-camera noise reduction. It shouldn't really be an issue for casual social media posts though, and they can be removed easily in post with DxO.

- F4 just felt a bit too slow. I think F2.8 rests right on the threshold where sometimes it could work and other times it does not. I have not tried any of my F1.7 primes yet so I'm not sure how they would do. 17mm F1.2 delivered the best results (duh). I think 20mm F1.4 is a bit trickier given the longer focal length and smaller maximum aperture, but I think it's doable. I have played around with F4 + very high ISO files in DxO but it did not do too well. I'm not sure if they are salvageable.

- I think if the situation allows for HHHR (no movements in the scene, shutter speed can be under 1 sec, ISO below 25600), then HHHR might be better than single shot.

- If the above criteria cannot be met, then use the single shot mode and try to keep the ISO below 6400.

- I did not see any benefit of using other computational modes (B mode or Live ND). Both of those modes have usable ISO limit that is too low for extreme low light conditions.

- Handheld assist mode should be enabled. Period.

- When using Starry Sky AF, enable the option that will trigger Starry Sky AF only from the AF-ON button but not half-press shutter. This makes is so that you only perform AF once rather than every time you lift the finger of the shutter, which is the default behavior.

Anyway, it's kind of cool that I can slap on a prime, go outside without a tripod, then snap a photo of starry sky and post a decent SOOC jpeg on social media with zero post processing. I honestly did not think that this was possible with a m43 camera so I'm pleasantly surprised. It's nice to know that I can leave my tripod at home and still come home with decent night sky photos if I see an amazing night sky during my travels.