Panasonic introduced a clever new mode with the Lumix G90 (Lumix G95 in the USA). It’s called Live View Composite mode. If that rings a bell, it’s because it’s very similar to Olympus’s Live Composite mode.
Live View Composite mode is designed to make it easier to shoot long exposures of light painting, star trails, fireworks and traffic trails and such like. It does this by showing a composite image building on the screen while you’re shooting. So with a traffic trail image, for example, you can see when you’ve got the perfect number of trails.
The maximum total exposure time is 3 hours.
How does it work?
The process of using Live View Composite mode is quite simple. First, you take a shot with your desired exposure for the scene. Then you set the camera running and it shoots a series of images with the same exposure time. However, the exposure of the objects in the original scene doesn’t change. The G90 / G95 only records anything that’s brighter than the original part of the image. It works in a similar way to using the Lighten Blend mode with layers in Adobe Photoshop.
Each time the camera takes a shot it refreshes the composited view on the screen. This means that you can see the light trails or fireworks layered into the shot. The camera continues to shoot until you stop it, when you’re happy with what you see.
It’s especially helpful for light painting because you can assess the result as you go along, adding more light where it’s needed but the original scene doesn’t get any brighter.
The fact that the background doesn’t burn out despite the continued exposure can take a bit of getting your head around, but it works.
- Read how to shoot at high frame rates with the Panasonic Lumix G90 / G95
- Read how to shoot V-Log L with the Panasonic Lumix G90 / G95
How to use Panasonic’s Live View Composite mode
It’s easy to use Live View Composite mode on the Lumix G90 /G95, however, I recommend that you take a test image of the scene before you get started. That’s because the screen/viewfinder doesn’t show an accurate view of the scene at the selected exposure until you’ve started the Live Composite shooting process. You need to find the exposure settings that produce an image you’re happy with and use a shutter speed of between 1/2 and 60sec. If necessary, you can use an ND filter to extend the exposure.
Once you’ve found the exposure for your base image, follow these steps:
- Set the camera to Manual exposure mode using the mode dial. Live View Composite mode only operates in this mode.
- Use the rear dial to adjust the shutter speed (lengthening the exposure) until you see LC instead of the shutter speed.
- Press the menu button and navigate to Live View Composite in the 4th screen of the Stills shooting menu.
- Set the shutter speed in the range 1/2 and 60sec.
- Press the shutter release to capture the first image. This is your base image.
- Press the shutter release again to start the recording. The camera will shoot repeatedly with the same exposure time as your first image. After each shot, the on-screen image refreshes to show a new composite of all your images without the background brightening.
- Keep an eye on the screen as the traffic, stars, fireworks or lights appear and move. Once you’re happy with the on-screen image, press the shutter release again to stop recording.
What to check if you can’t select Live View Composite mode
If you find that Live View Composite mode is greyed out, check the following:
- The camera is set to manual exposure mode
- The flash is not set to second curtain flash.
- Burst mode shooting isn’t selected.
- 4K Photo mode is turned off.
- Bracketing is deactivated.
- There’s no Filter selected.
- Silent mode isn’t activated.
- The shutter type is not set to ESHTR.
- HDR mode is not on.
- Time Lapse Shot mode isn’t activated.
- Stop Motion Animation mode isn’t activated.
- Multiple Exposure mode isn’t activated.