For some time now I have had the feeling that Adobe Camera Raw is not doing justice to the files hat come out of the Olympus E-M1 Mk2. Straight from the camera with Adobe’s RAW conversion (Lightroom or Photoshop) they always look noisy and over saturated and usually I have to do some work to get them back to something that I like. Sometimes though, it takes more time than I want to spend on a photograph, occasionally I’m still not satisfied with the final result.
Last weekend it all came to a head when I noticed that everything I had shot at High ISO (3200 – 6400) looked incredibly noisy, as for the skin tones, I thought they all had jaundice.
Just recently Olympus released a new version of their RAW Converter, the previous one was incredibly slow and clunky, so I never used it. Lightroom has always been my goto software for developing RAW files, I’ve been using it since version 4.
Interestingly Olympus were demonstrating their Workspace software at the Photography Show last weekend and it did seem a lot faster with a better designed interface.
It had to do a better job than Lightroom so I decided to give it a go to see if it could do anything different with the files from the E-M1 Mk 2
Definitely a marked improvement, not as much noise, maybe not quite as sharp as the Lightroom version. But I can always add sharpness far easier than I can take noise away.
So with that in mind I decided to process a few photographs from the photography show at the NEC.
A little background though. The models weren’t posing for me. They are there to work for companies who are demonstrating lighting equipment, techniques, etc. Usually lots of photographers will gather around these demonstration, camera equiped with a telephoto lens and take some photographs. You’re not close to the model, lighting and angles might not be ideal, but it’s a good opportunity to photograph something different. In the main I’m a landscape photographer.
As far as I’m aware I can use these photographs for my blog as I’m not making any money from it. If you are one of the models featured here and want me to take the photograph down I will. Alternatively if you would like me to add your name to the photograph I’m quite happy to do this.
My process was to do the RAW Development with Olympus Workspace with finishing touches completed in Affinity Photo from Serif. My contract with Adobe is due to end in May, so I’m looking to drop them altogether and continue with the Olympus/Serif workflow.
After years of using Lightroom I find it quite strange and not so intuitive but it is early days. I must say though, there are some things I am used to doing in Lightroom that just can’t be done with this new workflow, so I can see some compromises coming. And here’s one that evident straight away. Some of the photographs are missing a watermark. In Lightroom it’s automatic. With Affinity Photo I have to remember to brush it on, and as you can see I’ve forgotten to do it in several instances
In the photograph above I was 5 metres away from the model so had to zoom in quite a bit. The image was soft but a double pass of High Pass Sharpening around the eyes and lips makes it look a lot sharper. I don’t normally sharpen everything, otherwise you bring out all of the blemishes on the skin.
Lighting on this was terrible. The Queen of Hearts, was walking around one of the big camera manufacturers demo stand for their cameras. There was harsh overhead and side lighting, lots of shadows were there shouldn’t be and she never kept still, walking from one side of the stand to the other.
My final photograph. I used the same technique described earlier to get the photograph ready for publishing. but in addition I used the Glamour Glow and Darken/Lighten filter from the old NIK Color Efex to soften the skin and adda bit of a vignette.
So that’s it from me. I really need to work on using this new software and see if I can create a new workflow that I’m happy with.
Until next time – Mike