Olympus OM-D E-M1 Review
In-camera Raw conversion
The E-M1's in-camera Raw conversion capabilities are identical to the E-P5's with the added ability to apply whatever Color Creator settings are enabled when the file is processed. Unlike previous Olympus cameras with in-camera Raw conversions that would only apply current image settings to a Raw file, the E-P5 and E-M1 both allow you to access the most important image parameters. Unfortunately, some settings remain tied to the current shooting mode, but it's a big improvement over the old system.
|When browsing through images in playback, pressing 'OK' calls up a mini-menu of options. First on here is in-camera RAW conversion ('RAW Data Edit').|
|You can choose to convert at the current settings (which can be useful when shooting in RAW only), or choose one of two sets of Custom settings. This is where you can change key processing parameters and preview them before conversion.
If you're feeling arty but indecisive, you can also choose ART BKT and convert to all of the various Art Filters in one go.
|In Custom, you can experiment with processing parameters, and preview the result at any time by pressing the red Record button. The options include Picture Mode (including Color Creator and Art Filters), White Balance, Brightness, Highlight Tone, Shadow Tone, Aspect Ratio, and Noise Reduction.
You can also choose the colour space and image size/quality you prefer.
|Pressing 'Record' previews your result. Press 'OK' and the camera shows this final confirmation dialogue before proceeding with processing.|
|Once done, the camera shows this cryptic, but very useful screen. Press 'Reset' and the camera reverts the file to its original settings, but crucially, keeps you at the same place in playback. This means you can continue browsing and reconverting files more easily.
Press 'No' and you can instead admire your newly-converted variant, which gets placed at the end of the playback file list.
The ability to tune and preview your conversions is great, but some options such as sharpening remain mysteriously unavailable here - the camera will instead honour whatever settings you currently have set for shooting. So while you can apply the new Color Creator control during in-camera Raw conversion, you can't actually change its settings to experiment with different effects as part of the process - instead you have to exit Raw conversion, change the Color Creator settings, and try again, which isn't exactly a fluid workflow. Likewise with Art Filters - the camera uses whatever variant you curently have set.
Raw conversion and fine detail
As it stands, the E-M1 turns out some very nice JPEGs, with pleasing color rendition and sharpness, but being perfectionists, we can't help tinkering with Raw files ourselves. While in-camera Raw conversion is convenient to have at hand, there's still a significant benefit to adjusting the file yourself in post-processing software.
|The above image was recorded in Raw and converted with Adobe Camera Raw 8.2. A sharpening of +60 was applied, with +50 masking. Chromatic aberration was also corrected.|
|Here's the result at 100% of the ACR raw processing and sharpening. There's a nice level of definition retained in the leaves.||The same file was converted from Raw in-camera with Standard noise reduction and Natural color processing mode applied. Contrast is a bit more harsh.|
Processing the E-M1's Raw files out of camera presents another benefit in terms of noise reduction. More finely tuned noise reduction can be applied in software like ACR 'to taste,' with better results as opposed to the E-M1's default JPEG noise reduction.
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