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Raw and Raw Conversion

Supplied software

The E-M5 comes with the familiar Olympus Viewer 2 (Version 1.2, Mac/Windows) and the curiously-named Olympus [ib] (Windows only). Olympus Viewer 2 is an update of the older Olympus Viewer raw conversion software that came bundled with the very first E-series camera, the E-1, and [ib] is a more beginner-friendly platform for photo organizing and tagging, as well as some basic JPEG and raw editing.

  • Olympus Viewer 2 - Image browser and raw/JPEG image editor, with video editing capabilities.
  • Olympus [ib] - launched alongside the E-PL1, [ib] combines a photo database with a series of features for editing and searching images, including face recognition and geotagging (Windows only).

Olympus Viewer is a capable and versatile image editing platform that can be used to make adjustments to the E-M5's JPEG, raw and Motion JPEG video files). The range of adjustments for raw files is impressive, and as well as the usual core white balance, sharpness and NR sliders, Viewer 2 also allows you to apply any of the camera's various color and filter modes to RAW files directly. You also get access to a range of editing functions not available in-camera, including perspective correction and lens aberration corrections (for chromatic aberration, vignetting and residual distortion).

You can also edit Motion-JPEG movie clips shot with the E-M5 (note though that AVCHD .MTS movie files can't be edited). The range of options is fairly small though; clips can be trimmed or merged with other movies, individual frames can be extracted and saved as stills at actual size, and fade in/out effects can be added to the start and end. It's fairly basic stuff, but enough to edit clips together and prepare a composite movie.

In Viewer 2's browser view, you have various sorting options, and from here you can tag and rotate images. To open an image in the editor, simply double-click. The range of editing options in Olympus Viewer 2 is impressive, both for raw and JPEG images. It replicates everything that you can do in-camera, and adds plenty more besides.
There is also a comparison view that lets you view images side-by-side. Here we're comparing a tweaked raw conversion to the original version. Motion-JPEG format movie files can be edited too, although adjustments are limited to clipping, adding fade in/out, and frame extraction. AVCHD movies can't be edited.

Olympus Viewer is a more-than-capable converter that's probably one of the best 'free' programs supplied with any camera. It has a few irritations - it's rather slow to preview any changes you make, and has a bad habit of displaying a coarsely-pixelated preview until you 'let go' of adjustment sliders when viewing at 1:1 - but the results are sufficiently good that many users may well find it the only raw converter they need.

For more detailed information about Olympus [ib], take a look at the Photographic tests (raw) page of our Olympus E-PL1 review.

RAW conversion

As is normal in our camera reviews we like to compare the supplied raw conversion software, any optional manufacturer RAW conversion software and some third party raw converter. In the case of the Olympus E-M5 we used the supplied Olympus Viewer 2 as well as Adobe Camera RAW 6.7 Beta.

  • JPEG - Large/Fine, Default settings
  • Viewer 2 - Olympus Viewer 2
  • ACR - Adobe Camera Raw 6.7 Beta (at default 'Adobe Standard' setting)

Sharpness and Detail

One advantage of shooting raw is that it can enable a more convincing rendition of fine detail. The E-M5's in-camera sharpening is relatively unsubtle, and can be prone to giving visible halo artefacts around high contrast edges. This kind of wide-radius sharpening is distinctly destructive of very fine detail.

Shooting in raw and applying careful sharpening can therefore be advantageous if you want to extract the maximum possible detail from the camera's output. The conversions below show better rendition of the very finest low-contrast detail by Adobe Camera Raw. Olympus Viewer 2 by default gives visually identical output to the camera's JPEGs, and while it can be tuned to give better results by careful tweaking of sharpening settings, it never quite matches ACR in this regard.

Adobe ACR 6.7 Beta Raw -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 200 studio scene 100% crops
Olympus Viewer 2 Raw -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 200 studio scene 100% crops
JPEG out of camera, Super Fine setting, manual WB (all other settings default)
ISO 200 studio scene 100% crop

Resolution

Once again, Olympus Viewer 2 gives identical results to out-of-camera JPEGs when both are set to default (or equivalent) settings. There's very obvious halo artefacts around the numbers of our chart, but the lines themselves are rendered impressively cleanly with no moire. You can reduce the haloes (but not eliminate them entirely) by turning down the sharpness settings, without significant detriment to the actual resolution. Meanwhile switching to Adobe Camera Raw gives similar results in terms of actual resolution with our high-contrast test chart, but there's a hint of colour moire.

Adobe Camera Raw 6.7 Beta Olympus Viewer 2
 
JPEG Large/Fine

Real world advantages

One of the selling points of the E-M5 is its excellent JPEG engine, the usefulness of which is bolstered by the ability to re-process with alternative settings, in-camera. However, taking the Raw files onto a computer makes it easy to adjust white balance, brightness and noise reduction on large numbers of images.

Post-processing of Raw files also allows you to tune the sharpening and noise reduction of your image to suit the particular subject. Here we compare a shot taken at base ISO with noise filter off but otherwise default settings. Here the blue background appears to have confused the camera's white balance (which is totally understandable), and rendered the image too 'warm.' Running the file through Adobe Camera Raw allows us to set a more accurate white balance and tailor the sharpening to the specific image.

Setting a sharpening radius of 0.8 pixels and the sharpening amount to 39, you can pull a lot more fine detail out of the image. For a portrait, you may not want to emphasise quite this level of detail, but shooting Raw gives you that option.

E-M5 with Sigma DN 30mm F2.8, ISO 200, F2.8
JPEG (Noise Filter Off, Sharpness = 0) Raw + ACR 6.7 Beta
100% crop 100% crop

The other thing Raw allows you to do is tailor the amount and type of noise reduction used to suit the image. Noise characteristics can depend on the light-source of the scene (natural light includes more green and blue illumination than tungsten light, for instance, so won't produce such noisy images at the same capture settings), so it's handy to be able to carefully tailor the noise reduction to get the best out of each image.

E-M5 + M ZD 45mm F1.8, ISO 6400, F1.8
JPEG (Noise Filter On, Sharpness 0) Raw + ACR 6.7 Beta
100% crop 100% crop

Raw files for download

Here we provide raw files from the sample shots we take, to allow you to apply your own workflow techniques and see for yourself the benefits of shooting in raw mode.

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Comments

Total comments: 8
larryr
By larryr (3 months ago)

It is the only one listed in the camera feature search with a viewfinder as waterproof,but it appears to be only weather resistant, ie don't dunk it in water(or clipped to your life jacket while whitewater kayaking).

0 upvotes
saradindubose
By saradindubose (7 months ago)

OLUMPUS OMDE5 appears to be an interesting camera - I am specially attracted to its weathersealed body and lens ( which I think is very essential in a country like I NDIA) - that was the reason why I had purchased PENTAX K10D years ago. One thing which is bothering me is its made in China tag. I am an architect and basically interested in landscape and nature photography - I travel a lot . Can I am have some inputs from those who are using OLYMPUS OMD E5?

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Vaqas
By Vaqas (6 months ago)

As a hobbyist, I have been using OMD EM5 for more than an year now and I love it. Here are some of my clicks. There are mostly landscapes and outdoors sports shots.
https://www.facebook.com/VaqasPhoto
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaqasmalik/

4 upvotes
Liberator
By Liberator (6 months ago)

I recently got E-M5 and very happy with it. By no means I'm pro photographer but with my new 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens is great combat and have been talking great picture. I use Toshiba Flash Air to use with my iPhone/ipad too. I mostly to landscape photos and it has not let me down.

1 upvote
photohounds
By photohounds (6 months ago)

It is an excellent little shooter.
THe EVF is quite good and KILLS OVFs in low light. THese were taken with one ..

http://http://photohounds.smugmug.com/Performing-arts

The CaNIKSon shooters told me that they got VERY few 'keeper' pics with their FF sensors. I get a few 'looks' while shooting, but they soon shut up when RESULTS are compared.

Anywhere it's really dark, you'll appreciate being able to SEE.

I also own the EM-1 and have yet to put it through its DIM light paces.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Chad Hogan
By Chad Hogan (10 months ago)

I'm on the hunt for a new camera and weighing up my options just now.. I'm fairly new to the game though and a bit naive in all honesty! Is the EM5 much better than the Canon EOS 7D as this comparison...

http://versus.com/en/olympus-om-d-e-m5-vs-canon-eos-7d

suggests? What features make this camera great and what one would you go for?

Thanks, Chad

Comment edited 14 seconds after posting
1 upvote
TheRabbit
By TheRabbit (9 months ago)

Hi, I didn't see any answer yet, so I asume nobody saw your post yet. I'll try to help you (maybe you didn't choose yet). This comparison isn't very good in my opinion (for example, it compares 9 fps vs 8, but you have to take in account that is with fixed focus. With continuous focus is much slower and less accurate...). I had a 60 D (same sensor, and image quality as the 7D with different features) and I have now the EM-5. I can tell you it has some advantages (if you think smaller and cheaper very good lenses are important advantages; for me, it is essential), but you will have to sacrifice some speed and easyness of handling. The best way is to read the full review of both cameras and to determine what are YOUR priorities. Don't forget to look at the sample images, as the two cameras have different outputs and it's important if you don't like to spend time in post processing. You will find very nice and helpfull reviews on this site (in my opinion, one of the best). Good luck!

3 upvotes
coroander
By coroander (7 months ago)

I sold my 7D and lots of expensive L glass after buying the E-M5. The E-M5 is much smaller, it's images are sharper (no anti-aliasing filter), while the 7D has a very strong anti-aliasing filter (much stronger than any of the other Canon cameras with 18MP sensors) and the E-M5 has more dynamic range. It's also not nearly as prone to banding as the 7D is when pulling details from shadows. The 7D is a bit more ergonomic, but it's much larger, and it's lenses are significantly larger. And the reason i sold it is because it's so heavy. The E-M5 is very fast focusing, but for indoor sports (subjects moving towards or away from the camera) the 7D wins. Both cameras are metal bodied and weather sealed. Both have 4 channel, 3 group remote flash triggering. The E-M5 also has tilt screen and touch screen (touch point to focus and take image.)

1 upvote
Total comments: 8