Because the fundamentals of an HDR photograph are combined bracketed photos we'll need a way to easily do this on the EM-5. There are two ways of accomplishing this: the manual way and the easy way.
The manual way
The manual way ignores the most important feature of the camera to make bracketed photos easy, but it still serves an important purpose and may be the only way you can get usable bracketed photos in certain situations.
- Set your camera into aperture priority or manual mode so your shots will have a consistent look to them — outside of exposure. Ensure that the only variable changing from shot to shot is the exposure level.
- Manually adjust the exposure for your over and under exposed shots using the assigned dial.
When doing this, make sure you're mounting your camera on a tripod or have it somewhere where it can't move because you want your bracketed shots to be as pixel similar as possible. Adjusting the exposure between shots without a tripod will move your camera and create more work in post-processing.
The upside to bracketing manually is that you have more control of the exposure levels when shooting. Maybe your photo has some blown out highlights and you need to under expose more than the camera's automatic settings would do, or the opposite could be true for shadows. I find at night or when situations require the camera to be absolutely still due to longer shutter speeds, manually exposing each shot is the only way to go.
The easy way (auto-bracketing)
Built into the camera, the EM-5 is able to automatically bracket your next set of shots. To turn this mode on follow these instructions:
- Hit the menu button to the left of the right thumb grip on the camera’s body and click down to the second camera icon (it’s the camera with a two to the right of it).
- Once here, click over to the right and select ‘Bracketing’ by pressing over to the right to open its options.
I only use exposure bracketing, so press to the right on ‘AE BKT’ and select the set of bracketed photos you’re looking for. Generally, I do 3 bracketed photos with a 1 stop difference in each photo (3f 1.0EV), or five photos with the same 1 stop difference (5f 1.0 EV).
Play around with this and change the set of bracketed photos as you see fit for what you’re shooting. The first number is the amount of photographs taken in the set with the following number representing the difference in exposure value between each photo. A 3f 1.0EV setting will take 3 photos at the following exposure values: starting exposure, -1 starting exposure, +1 starting exposure.
There are two things to note about turning on this bracketed mode. Once you have this on, you're in it until you go back into your settings and turn it off. I love it when taking a lot of bracketed photos, but it can be annoying when you're regularly going from bracketed shots to single shots. Luckily, there are some shortcuts that make this easier that I will describe later. Second, the exposure values in your shots are relative to your starting exposure, so you're given a good amount of freedom to start your photos on whatever exposure value that you would like and the following photos will bracket relative to the starting exposure.
After you're set to have your camera automatically change the exposure after each shot, you need a way to take the bracketed shots as quickly as possible. You can shoot one by one, but I prefer and recommend you shoot using the burst fire mode (Sequential H). Combining this mode with the bracketing settings above will allow you a one-shutter press way to quickly gather your entire bracketed set. From my experience, this is the way to go to generating a great HDR photo while hand holding your camera and shooting in at least decent light. You get a big advantage in that the entire bracketed set will finish shooting in usually less than a second so if something has the possibility of moving, it won't change much in the final photo.