With the OM-D E-M1 Mark III, Olympus introduced the new Starry Sky Autofocus feature. Starry Sky AF has two focus modes: speed for handheld and accuracy for mounting on a tripod. Wait a minute – handheld autofocusing of the stars in the dark. I had to try this out.
I set out to photograph the Big Dipper, part of the constellation Ursa Major. I was using the OM-D E-M1 Mark III and the Olympus 25mm f/1.8 lens.
First, I tried the speed mode handheld. The photograph at the top of this blog post was taken handheld. Here are the settings: Manual Mode, f/2.8, ISO 1600, 2.5 second exposure.
It worked amazingly well, the Starry Sky AF + the image stabilization of the OM-D E-M1 Mark III really allows you to take handheld Starry Sky images with pinpoint stars. I did take 4 exposures handheld and only 2 had nice pinpoint stars, but 50% is not bad when handheld in the dark.
Next I tried the accuracy mode on a tripod (second photo in the blog). Here are the settings: Manual Mode, f/2.8, ISO 1600, 6 second exposure. I was able to take longer exposures using the accuracy mode and a tripod, but I think you’ll find the two photographs (handheld and tripod) quite comparable.
Starry Sky AF is also very easy to use.
- In the A4 sub-menu under the custom menu, select either Speed or Accuracy in the Starry Sky AF Settings selection.
- In AF Mode item in the Super Control Panel select Starry Sky AF.
- In the AF area, select a 3X3 grid. This will give Starry Sky AF to have a better chance to find a star in the AF area.
- Compose on your subject and press the AEL/AFL button to activate Starry Sky AF.
- A green dot will appear on your LCD when the stars are in focus.
- Press the shutter button to take the photo.
I’m really impressed with the new AI features that Olympus is putting in its OM-D line of cameras that leverages the In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) in its bodies. Head out tonight and try Starry Sky AF.
I enlarged the stars in the big dipper in Photoshop to highlight the constellation. Check this blog out to find out how I did it.
Written by Martin Belan
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