Road Train !!!!!!!!!!

by Russell McMahon

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When using a film camera, it’s possible to create photographs that are the result of multiple exposures, by not winding the film on before taking the next shot. Is there a way of achieving the same result with a digital camera?

I’d like to be able to take multiple incremental shots and then either have them automatically combined in camera, or in post processing.

I know I can create a similar effect by using a long exposure, like the one below (shot with 10 second exposure), but this is quite limiting in what can be achieved and makes composition quite difficult.

enter image description here

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4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Note that this is called multiple exposures, not incremental.

A good number of digital cameras of all sizes do this: Most Pentax DSLRs (K-5, K-7, K20D, K10D, K-r, K-x), the Pentax Q, all third generation Olympus ILCs (E-P3, E-PL3, E-PM1) plus the OM-D E-5, most mid-to-high end Nikon DSLRs (D300S, D700, D3X, D3S), the Canon 1D X, a number of Fuji ultra-zooms (like the S9000) and the Olympus ZX-1 which is the smallest camera to have this feature.

Honestly, doing this in software is extremely easy and much more flexible by using Photoshop layers (or equivalent) with various blending operators. The only time one would do it in camera is if you absolutely need to get the alignment blending exactly a certain way. This will be tedious on any camera which is not a Fuji because they are the only ones which let you undo the previous step in case it does not appear as desired.

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Pentax DSLR cameras have supported it since at least K10D (can't comment on earlier models as I haven't owned any of them), don't know about other brands. Certainly it is very easy to do with any photo editor that supports layers, just set the opacity of the upper layer to less than 100% and the lower layer will show through it. Alternatively you can try other blending modes if supported by your photo editor for stylistically different results.

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Some Nikon cameras (the D5000 for sure) lets you combine two exposures in the in-camera retouch menu also. –  ElendilTheTall Feb 22 '12 at 9:05

One of the advantages of doing multiple exposure shots with a digital camera is that you can fix it all up in post processing. When you do it in post processing you have great control over how the images layer.

Check out this multiple exposure shot I made last summer during a parade.

enter image description here

To get the shot I mounted my camera on a sturdy tripod and just shot with a remote trigger during the parade. Then when I got home I went through the several hundred shots looking for a good few to combine. I brought them all into Photoshop and placed them all in the same image, using one layer for each image. I carefully pixel aligned them. Yes, even thought it was on a tripod the shots were 1 or 2 pixels off from each other.

Then I changed the relative opacity of each layer to get the affect I wanted. You have tremendous control here, control you would only dream of with a film camera.

Indeed, you can ever create multiple exposures with shots taken from different times, deciding after the fact that you wanted to do it at all! In the above shot, I went to the parade knowing I wanted to do this, but I could go through my photo library right now and put some multiples together...

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  • Nikon D80, D90, D5100, D7000, D300/700/800 and D2/D3/D4 all have multiple exposure mode. You can take 2 or 3 shots. There is an "Auto Gain" setting which will average the exposure values, or you can switch that off and it will add the exposures together instead.

  • Nikon D5100 also has in-camera HDR. You take two shots at different exposures and it combines them to get more detail in highlights and shadow.

For both of the above, you set the number of exposures in the camera menu, then switch the multiple exposure setting to ON, then press the shutter twice. After the second (or third if you select 3 shots), it will process them into a single image.

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The D1 series, D2 series, and D3 series can do multiple exposure, too. Presumably the D4 and D800 as well. –  Dan Wolfgang Feb 22 '12 at 12:15

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