1) I am an employee of Olympus Malaysia. I am reviewing the Olympus OM-D E-M1 from a photography enthusaist’s point of view. I was given the liberty to perform the gear review as usual.
2) This is a user experience based review.
3) The images were shot with JPEG (Large Super Fine) and no post-processing was applied, except resizing with ACDsee7 (with Powerpack).
4) General camera settings, Noise Filter = OFF, Contrast/Saturation/sharpness = 0, White Balance = Auto (with an option maintain warm color = OFF), Gradation = Normal
5) Color Creator applied to all images.
This is Part 4 of my Olympus OM-D E-M1 review. If you have not done so, please go to Part 1 here (click), Part 2 here (click) and Part 3 (click)
Special thanks to friend Khong for taking this shot of me in action! Image taken with E-M5 and the new M.Zuiko 12-40mm F2.8 PRO lens.
All images were taken with Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko lenses 12mm F2 and 45mm f1.8, unless otherwise mentioned.
None of the images above were post-processed. The color cast was added via the Color Creator, BEFORE the shot was taken, and fully previewed through the Live View, either through the electronic viewfinder or the LCD backscreen. You can see different colors creating different ouput for similar subjects under same lighting condition.
LEFT: the standard color picker.
RIGHT: Olympus Color Creator: It is Adobe Color Picker built into your camera
In the Olympus OM-D E-M1, there is an interesting new feature, called Color Creator. Before we go on talking about this new Color Creator, allow me to quickly discuss about the importance of color in photography.
We often emphasized on a few important factors when deciding how good an image is: the typical being high ISO noise control, dynamic range, sharpness, white balance accuracy, etc. Nonetheless, color has always been an important characteristic of any image, and can affect how the audience view your image. Colors can create a certain mood or expression for an image, if applied or controlled appropriately to correspond to the photographer's intention. Warm color will suggest a different feel than a cold photograph. A successful photograph usually has strong consideration of color balance and tones that evoke certain emotion or sends a particular feeling that relate strongly to the idea of the image. Knowing the importance of color itself, many modern digital photographers have spent much time tweaking colors in post-processing to get the "look" that they have in mind.
So what is this Olympus Color Creator and how does it help with color control of the camera?
The Color Creator is built in camera "color picker", based on the color circle/wheel and you can select whichever color within the wheel to add as a color cast into your image. The color cast can be further fine tuned, by adding or reducing the saturation/intensity of the color cast. The Color Creator can be activated by pressing the assigned shortcut button (you can choose one of many), and incidentally, there are two control wheels on the camera, thus you can conveniently use the front dial to select the color by rotating through the color wheel picker, and the inner dial will adjust the saturation of the color cast added onto the image. Do take note that while you are adding the Color Creator, you have FULL control over the basic camera settings such as shutter speed, ISO and Aperture, as well as White Balance. The Color Creator output is saved as a JPEG, and you can opt to have a RAW file where the original unprocessed image will be saved without the effects of the Color Creator.
Please do not confuse Color Creator and White Balance. In White Balance, you can control the temperature of the image, and can be set separately from the Color Creator. Color Creator, from a perfectly white balanced image, will add a color cast.
Lets see some images with Color Creator in action! As I mentioned, controlling or adding colors to images can create a whole world of possibilities, when the photographer intended to emphasize on certain feel or message through the image. I shall do my best to write down my rational of doing so in each image shown here.
I added "orange" and boosted a bit of saturation, to produce warm and fuzzy feeling. Warm color is associated to feeling safe and comfortable.
For this shot, I wanted to create some "cinematic" effect, hence yellowish green cast was added. Another reason why green/yellow was added, was the prominence of red and blue colors on the screen (red and blue shirts), hence the color cast will harmonize the whole image very well.
I saw this man walking along the newly constructed building wall panels. The urban characteristics can be further enhanced with the "cold tone", where steel and glass futuristic look is usually associated with blueness. Strong desaturation and cold blue cast added to create this effect.
In this image, besides the man, the main subject was the vegetables he was carrying. The color of vegetable is usually GREEN, and I want that color to dominate this image.
This was originally a very flat shot. The pigeons were black and white, while the roof was brown, white and grey. Sky was cloudy and white. Adding a color cast, I chose red/purple, created a completely different image, something more dramatic and alive, than the initial uninteresting image.
When I was standing at the top of a building, I suddenly have a feeling that I was in the movie "The Matrix". My idea was to add green/blue cast to replicate that Matrix tint. However, it was not that successful, as the image turned out whiter than I expected. I still liked this image though!
I am sure all this color casts added via Color Creator can be easily applied through post-processing, and someone with very good PhotoShop Skills can do even better. I do not use photoshop, and I am not that great at post-processing. I prefer to spend a lot more time out there shooting, and do less post-processing. I still process my images (non-review blog entries) and I strongly admit that post-processing is an integral, crucial part of digital photography workflow, which must not be neglected. At the same time, I also do not intend to waste so much time working with my computer. The action and photography opportunities are waiting out there, and if I can do as much as I can with the camera, the question is, why not?
Now, it is easy to see that the Color Creator has a lot of potential and power to create some really interesting images. On the other hand, it is also important to know what you are doing! Knowing what color to choose, and how to apply them in what kind of shooting condition can really benefit the shooting with Color Creator, and not just add any color blindly to any scene. I am saying, some thoughts are needed to carry out proper execution, and if you do not have a concept of what you wanted to accomplish in your image, the color you added may work against your image output.
What I did, was asking myself these few quick questions before adjusting the Color Creator: 1) What is my main subject/idea/message in the photograph I am shooting? 2) How does color improve that main subject, what color is associated with the main subject? 3) what kind of emotion/feel I wanted to evoke? Cold, warm, hot, neutral? As I was asking these questions, my fingers were already busy twisting the two dials to finally get to the color I was satisfied with for the particular image I was shooting.
For the first time, shooting color on the street has become fun again! I am sure many of you have noticed how I have strong preference to black and white images lately. if only Olympus has Color Creator much earlier!
It was a grey sky morning, and everything was looking flat. After walking for a while I started sweating and being in a humid country, sweating while walking was common. When I saw this man, I wanted to show how hot I was feeling at that time. So I added strong orange cast to this image.
Again, I was asking myself what is the main subject of this image, and it was the man sharpening the knife. Steel and the sharpener were neutral in color, so I made the whole image looked as neutral as possible. I eliminated the warmth, but I did not want the image to look cold either. Thus I added slight blue cast and some desaturation.
Another attempt of the Matrix feel. Darn... failed attempt! Though I do like this portrait shot.
I just cannot seem to get the "matrix" effect right!
Another attempt of neutral color tones, since the chopping knife and board were my main attention for this image.
As I mentioned before, sky was flat, with dull white. I wanted a blue sky so I made the sky blue! Well, obviously it was not the same blue sky as a clear day, but hey, somehow I am loving this blue sky!
The umbrellas were arranged with strong color combinations, thus increasing the warmth and saturation can add much punch, making the color pop even more.
Adding color cast can completely change the feel of an image. I was trying a few colors and I find the red cast worked well with this subject. Yes when I did not know what to do I made a few trial and error attempts! People here were friendly and accommodating.
The color red and purple were strong in this image, because they were the primary colors of red onions and dried chillies. I have an option to further amplify the colors, or tone them down. I worked against the colors and desaturated them, creating a flatter image overall tone. Sometimes, paying attention to consistency in image series can make a difference, so can adding creative variety! It is about how to make things different.
In contradiction to the previous image, I chose to enhance the strong colors in this image, but boosting saturation, and lifting up the strong red cast, which blended well with the peppers, tomatoes, brinjals and red onions.
My favourite style of presenting my black and white images, has always been with an added warm color cast. I spend time post-processing my black and white images to create that particular look. Now, I do not have to do that anymore! It can be done by toning down the saturation to near zero, and then I can add just a bit of whatever color cast I want!
Warm colors are normally associated with feeling safe, and comfortable. I wanted this when I see these children, being innocent as they were.
This baby was looking a little uncomfortable being wrapped around the tower, and to emphasize on the discomfort I added green cast to throw the image out of balance.
Leaves and vegetables, green, with desaturation. By now it is quite predictable what i am doing with the Color Creator right? I am starting to repeat myself!
For portraits, generally I would go for softer color tones!
For testing the Color Creator feature in the Om-D E-M1, I went to Pudu Wet Market with a group of friends, Khong, Shaun and Steve. Shaun brought along an OM-1, the first of the OM series camera, and we have the oldest and the latest OM camera with us today.
Anyone who is considering to get the E-M1 as a street shooting camera will be happy to find out how I love it! It is basically everything that the older E-M5 can do, and so much more.
I was so fixated with the Matrix cinematic greenish tint that I kept trying until I finally got it right. So here are some photos of the group, with my Matrix effect done with the Color Creator!
Steve, Khong and Shaun
Steve, Me and Khong
I apologize again for not being able to fulfill my promise to blog my review series in the original promised order. But rest assured I am doing my very best to get it done.
For those of you in Malaysia, you can PRE-ORDER the new amazing Olympus OM-D E-M1 from Olympus' Online Store here (click).
Please support me by "liking" my FACEBOOK PAGE (click).
You may also read my FULL user experience review blog entries of other Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses at Gear Review Page here (click).