What does "i-Enhance" do?

Started 10 months ago | Discussions
EspE1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,153
What does "i-Enhance" do?

As for the discussion in a resent thread about the (too?) many options available in our cameras (AKA "complexity" etc), and how much of this one really uses or ought to use or need to know about at all in the first instance, https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4474934, I came to take a somewhat closer look at my EM-1 today. Thinking about some functions I don't use myself -- but may at least for the most part have some kind of knowledge that "there's something there" that may come on handy. So during the next days of home-quarantine I ought to become better aquainted with some of this, like e.g. Live Composite which is important stuff that opens up new possibilities.

Anyhow, one of the reasons why possibly useful functions in the camera are not utilized by me, is sometimes that I don't know what the function really do because the information in the manual is sparse and very seldom inform users what situations a functions is intended to be ueful for. A good examples is the picture mode "i-Enhance" .

The manual informs that i-Enhance "Produces more impressive-looking results suited to the scene."

OK ...? That sounds like something that actually ought to be always used .... at least by us who tries not to spend lives in front of the PC doing PP of Raw files, I guess... I tried, by the way, to switch the camera from A-mode (which I nearly always use) to "iAUTO" (which I've never used), and saw that the picture mode was set from Natural to i-Enhance).

One can see that when shooting with i-Enhance the resulting image has colors with more "pop". But does it do anything that cannot be set by saturation and contrast? Does the function treat the image somewhat more intelligently like applying such enhancements more selectively to various parts of the image or ....?

In short:

Q: Does anybody know more precisly what the i-Enhance picture mode really do to the image?

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Olympus E-5 Olympus E-M1 Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200mm 1:2.8-3.5 SWD Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm F2.8 Macro Olympus E-1 +17 more
Alexander Meredith
Alexander Meredith Senior Member • Posts: 1,045
Re: What does "i-Enhance" do?

I don't but Andrzej Wrotniak (Olympus guru) does:-


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Nikon D7500 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 10-24mm f/3-5-4.5G ED Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm F2.8-4E ED VR Tamron 100-400mm F4.5-6.3 +1 more
OP EspE1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,153
Re: What does "i-Enhance" do?

Alexander Meredith wrote:

I don't but Andrzej Wrotniak (Olympus guru) does:-


Thanks a lot, Alexander!

Very informative on several aspects of Picture Modes and the link is much appreciated. Together with Wrotniak's preceding article, also on the subject of Picture Modes, https://www.wrotniak.net/photo/m43/em1.1-picmode.html, this (almost, see below) answers not only the question I posed, but also several related and possible follow-up question originally arising in my mind. (Thanks, Wrotiak!)

However, it's a shame that such information is not provided in a proper manner to their camera buyers by Olympus themselves, who has first-hand knowledge of all this, but leaves it to others (amateurs) to discover, clarify and inform.

One remark on i-Enhance, though:

In his second article Wrotniak writes that:

"The i-Enhance Picture Mode does not seem to do much, if anything, beyond slightly increasing contrast and saturation — just compare these three images with the next row. Obviously, the increase in contrast comes at the expense of shadow detail and/or burnt-out highlights."

This could be compared with what he stated in his first article on Pictures Modes (based on E-M1):

"As I discovered in the E-Series SLRs, each of the three numeric parameters (Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation) consists of two parts. One of them (hidden) is implied by the Picture Mode, the other is whatever the user enters as a correction. The totals can be checked with use of a better EXIF data reader, like Phil Harvey's ExifTool.

Here are the base values for the common Picture Modes; they seem to be the same across all models and identical to those used in the E-30. (Of course, even if the values remain the same, their actual effect may be tweaked from one camera model to another.)

i-Enhance: sharpness, contrast and saturation all at 0
Vivid: sharpness and saturation at +1, contrast at 0
Natural: all at 0
Muted: contrast and sharpness at -1, saturation at 0
Portrait: sharpness at -1, others at 0

The zero base values in the i-Enhance mode may be a bit misleading; these values can be still affected, if indirectly, by different processing applied. The same may be true for the Portrait mode, where, I suspect, the mid-tones may be moved up a bit.
All this means that, for example, the Natural mode with sharpness and saturation entered as +1 should give results identical to Vivid with these two at 0."

Reading this, and watching the actual effect of i-Enhance on images, one may still wonder whether i-Enhance could possibly also do some nudging in the Gradation.

(What i learned besided this, is that I should look closer into the use of the Auto gradation instead of only relying on the Normal setting.)

I'm then left with only one more question regarding Picture Modes:

Q: What on earth does the (numbered) slanted linear symbol used in the E-M1 menues for the various picture modes depict??

(To me it looks like the handle of a spade ... But I notice that it has been replaced in the E-M1 mk ii with a somewhat circular symbol. A color circle?)

 EspE1's gear list:EspE1's gear list
Olympus E-5 Olympus E-M1 Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 50-200mm 1:2.8-3.5 SWD Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm F2.8 Macro Olympus E-1 +17 more
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