E500 colors are off - what am I doing wrong?

Started Dec 15, 2005 | Discussions thread
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Radu Gruian Regular Member • Posts: 324
E500 colors are off - what am I doing wrong?

I bought an E500 + ZD 14-54mm a few days ago and have been playing with it. Let me start by stating clearly that I AM NO EXPERT! In fact, this is my first DSLR, but I have been shooting with a fairly powerful prosumer cam (Sony F717) for several years, so I think (?) I know what I am doing, but I admit I could also be very wrong about this stuff.

My immediate impression was that E500 is fast and packed with features. So far so good.

Okay. Now I am trying to subject this thing to various ad-hoc photographic tests in order to assess the color response and other characteristics. Here comes the bad part: the color seems very "Olympus". Everywhere I read reviews about this camera, they all say the same thing: "vibrant colors", "accurate reproduction", etc. That simply doesn't match what I am seeing when shooting with this camera:

  • The incandescent WB is way off for all kinds of bulbs I tried at home. It is basically unusable. This seems to be a known problem(?).

  • The fluorescent WB is slightly off for most types of fluorescent lighting (I tried it at a local mall yesterday). It only gets it right in my office at work, and nowhere else.

  • Shooting in broad daylight (outside) gives fairly good colors (see exceptions below), but most photos are underexposed unless I use spot or center-weighted metering, in which case 30%-50% of the scene ends up overexposed. I am using the P mode. (Okay, I admit that the snow in the Northeast can be tricky for a metering system).

  • When shooting a clear winter sky at 8am using Auto or Sunny WB, what I get is a beautiful blue sky with a very slight but horrid greenish (yellowish?) tint. I tried adjusting the R/B and G/M factors under both WB settings, and that doesn't make much of a difference. I also tried using Vivid and Natural colors -- they both seem to suffer from the same problem. Adjusting the saturation and contrast doesn't help much. Now, when I look up, what I see is a deep, saturated blue sky with no traces of green. Perhaps the guys at Olympus/Kodak see it differently.

  • Back indoors, shooting three highlighters/markers of different colors (green, fluorescent yellow, fluorescent pink). The markers are close to a window (partly sunny outside, but not inside), and the room is brightly lit with fluorescent tubes. Admittedly, this is a weird lighting, so to be entirely fair, I am using custom WB. I am shooting in P mode, to let the camera choose its preferred aperture and shutter speed. What do I see? The green marker has a cyan tint. The fluorescent yellow lost its fluorescent look, and the camera shows it as a fairly flat yellow. The fluorescent pink has a magenta/cyan tint. The desk is a medium-dark brown, but in the photos it looks a lighter, yellowish brown.

What am I doing wrong here???

I am really trying hard to like this camera, and the thought of having to return it and buy something else (Pentax? or Canon/Nikon like the rest of the masses?) is not very appealing to me.

On the other hand (and I really DON'T want to start a flame war here), the Pentax colors seem very natural to me (perhaps over-saturated, but accurate otherwise). Isn't E-500 configurable to produce that color response? I thought it would be; it's a fairly feature-packed DSLR after all....

Any help would be appreciated.


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