Olympus PEN E-P5 Review
Image processing options
The E-P5 offers a wide range of image processing options, from the fine-tuning of its JPEG output, through the the now-common but Olympus-originated Art Filters that offer special effects either at the point of shooting or after-the-fact.
Shadow and Highlight curves
The E-P5 offers the same ability to adjust the highlight and shadow response of the camera's tone curve as the OM-D E-M5 does. However, rather than offering the OM-D's handy in-viewfinder tone curve diagram, the P5 requires you to press the exposure compensation button, then the INFO button, then use the left and right buttons to adjust the shadow response. Pressing INFO again changes attention to the highlight portion of the curve. It's a far-from-elegant system, and we found it so cumbersome that we much preferred using these controls when re-processing Raw files, rather than for adjusting while shooting.
|Shadows -7, Highlights 0||Neutral tone curve||Shadows 0, Highlights +7|
Pop Art (II)
Grainy Film (II)
Pin Hole (III)
Cross Process (II)
Dramatic Tone (II)
Olympus was the first manufacturer to offer at-the-point-of-capture special processing effects on a high-end camera, with the introduction of Art Filters on its E-30 mid-range DSLR. Since then the company has continued to add filters and variants of those filters, to the point that the E-P5 offers 12 Art Filters, each with a series of options such as color tints and image frames. All the filters can be previewed as you're shooting and they can all be applied when shooting video, though some slow the frame capture rate, resulting in sped-up playback.
One big advantage of Olympus's implementation is that, unlike most other manufacturers, you can save RAW files while shooting with Art Filters. This means you can experiment away without risking ruining a once-in-a-lifetime shot, just because the camera was set to 'Watercolor'. The filters are also available in the PASM modes, so you get full creative control if you want it. However to get access to all the different variations you have to be in the Art Filter shooting mode.
In-camera RAW conversion
Olympus cameras have long offered in-camera Raw conversion, although in a form so clunky as to be near unworkable. But that's now changed, and the E-P5 offers a much-improved implementation - instead of having to modify all of your camera's settings before embarking on the conversion process, you can now adjust and preview the most important parameters as you go along. It's still not perfect, but it's far better than it used to be.
|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 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. Likewise with Art Filters - the camera uses whatever variant you're currently using, but if for example you want to switch between Dramatic Tone I and II, you have to exit the raw conversion process and change the settings in Art Filter mode.
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