Double Exposures with the E-M5

If you have ever thought about taking double exposures with your digital camera, you would be disappointed with most DSLRs and Mirror-less models. Only a handful handle this feature. I know of 2, the Panasonic G3, and the Olympus E-M5, I am sure there are more. For many years, if you wanted a double exposure, you took two photographs, and added a layer in Photoshop to paste the second photo into, then you could adjust the effect as you liked.

One thing you find out quickly, is that you will need to plan your final result. Your first exposure will need an area that is fairly light in tones where you place the major element of the second exposure. that is, white, gray, or other highlight type area. You have think of two photos that will “Blend” well when viewed overlapping each other.

It is not as easy as you may think. As you are walking around and looking at possible compositions that may work, you will see many that won’t work. You have to consider all the  objects in both photos, AND where they are placed to make it work. Here is an example of using two related photos in subjects. Notice how I placed the RR Sign and Stop Sign, Compared to WHERE I placed the RR tracks, to make it work.

This what I mean by planning your double exposure photograph. The Signs where placed on the left side, so I could the tracks on the left side. With the Olympus E-M5, the camera provides an “Overlay” in a 50% opacity to help you aline the second image. Neat, right. If your camera doesn’t provide an overlay for the second photo, try to find an object in the first photo that you can use as edge, not to cross over in the second one. This is also why I suggest leaving an area in the first photo that does have an overpowering object there, so you can place the main object of second photo in that spot.

Since we are create an illusion, you can have some fun with it. It isn’t 100% necessary to try to avoid unnatural overlaps, that will happen, with every double exposure. Look at the RR Track photo, there are clouds that are a bit low in the right side, but, it just adds to a unique photograph.

To take a Double Exposure with Olympus E-M5

  • Menu/Camera 2
    • Multiple exposure >
      • Frame/2f
      • Auto Gain/ON
      • Overlay/OFF (this is to use saved photos as your multiple exposures)


Once you put the camera in multiple exposure mode, you can not change any other functions until both photo’s are taken. So, adjust these ahead of time.

Enjoy, and if you have cool double exposure you want to share, post in on the Flickr Group I started for the Olympus OMD E-M5,  and I will post it in our “Follower Gallery”

7 thoughts on “Double Exposures with the E-M5”

    1. There is software where you can use 1 picture to create an HDR. But you can also use The saturation tool And curves & the center adjustment To simulate an HDR. But using at least 3 exposures, With around 1.5 exposure difference will give you better results Then using just 1 picture.
      I do have a blog article about HDR. Check my tags And or categories. If you have software That will merge Several pictures into 1, That is basically what you need to create an HDR.

      1. Thanks Arbib, I understand that. However, smartphones such as iPhone can create HDR pictures as a merge from 3 exposures per simple default, without any additional manipulation. I expect an Olympus to provide a similar feature.

  1. Smart phones are no comparison to the High End Cameras that Olympus offers. And Olympus doesn’t need to include a rarely used feature on a camera of this caliber. The iPhone HDR is no where near the quality you can achieve with proper HDR software. Not to be harsh, but, if want GREAT HDR, like any Great photograph. You will need to put some work into it after you capture your subject. Short cuts, are just that. Cutting Short the full needed workflow to get a Quick Result.
    If you are serious about HDR, then get the software needed to achieve the results you want, not, what some automatic quick script Apple puts in their iPhone.

    1. I’ve been expecting this type of response. 😉

      I certainly agree that smartphones cannot achieve the same results as proper cameras can, if only for hardware reasons. However, I disagree respectfully when it comes to the ease of use and accessibility of the user interface. There, cameras have a way to go, which includes offering optional short cuts for those of us who might be happy with the satisfactory results that such short cuts offer in 80% of cases. As for the remaining 20%, we can still use the full feature set.

      1. I believe some P/S may have this feature. Sony has automatic panorama software in some of their P/S. You just pan your camera and it makes a single panorama photo. It can be done, I’m sure. I just don’t see it in a high end camera.. Although those silky Art Filters made their way in the E-M5 ???

  2. great… and thanks for sharing! had no idea this camera could do that, and i just love ‘in-camera’ double exposures.

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