Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Shooting With Art Filters

Ever since the Olympus E-30, Art Filters have been introduced to DSLR as an instant one touch in camera processing capability to instantaneously transform ordinary looking images into artistic results. The similar feature was also included in all current Olympus PEN line-ups, and of course the latest DSLR Olympus E-5, which I am currently using. I have to admit I am not really a fan of the Art Filters, and I do not really believe in letting the camera handle my post-processing job. If I were after certain artistic effects I would rather do the processing myself after shooting.

Nevertheless, having the Art Filters in the camera, and not using it is like having that free chocolate bar when you purchase a box of instant coffee and not eat it. Hmmm, that was not a very good example, but you get the idea. Hence, I decided to go out one day, and just shoot primarily with the Art Filters. This basically went against my usual photography style, and normal presentation of final images. Yes, it is something different, and I say, why not?


A light bulb under broad daylight.

Sitting at the ledge.

A man with only one arm.

I was told by a friend that my current blog entries have started to become "repetitive" and my images somewhat look more and more redundant. My response was: I needed to go through this repetitive process until I find the "breakthrough". I am afraid I have not found my breakthrough yet. Knowing this in mind, the experimentations, or rather a fun session with the Art Filters is a break from my repetitive and redundant photography style. Do cut me some slack, even in the beginning of any world renowned photographers, they did not just wake up one day and suddenly decide, hey, I want to be a world renowned photographer today.

Apart from Dramatic Tone Art Filter, this was the first time I have tried the other Art Filters in the camera extensively. The ones that I find of any use, and would actually consider are Pinhole, Grainy Film, and Cross Process. Sad to say, I find most of the other Art Filters rather, erm, useless. Of course, this was definitely open to individual preferences. Another good point to note is that the processing speed on the Olympus E-5 while applying the Art-Filters has been increased dramatically, and there was almost no lag (provided you use a high speed CF/SD card). I know the lag in the current PEN series was quite annoying, but surely, this will be improved in the next PEN line-up, perhaps the E-P3?


"I put my face on my hands..." Better Days, Pete Murray

Out of the TV into the world of B&W.

Sleepless on the streets of KL.

PINHOLE Art Filter

I really have no idea what that is.

The heavy vignetting can suck out the subjects at corners of the screen, hence composition must be done carefully for this art filter.

Cloths hanging outside the door.

I did find myself enjoying the Art-Filters. They provide fast, fuss-free and thoughtless results, almost instantly, with just one push of a button. They create effects that even a very good photo-editor would take probably 5-10 minutes to achieve for one image. Will I constantly use the Art-Filters in my ordinary shooting? No, I do not really see how Art-Filters can help, or enhance my style, in most of the genres that I am exploring in: macro, street, food, events and weddings. The Art-Filters just feel out of place. I am definitely still more comfortable doing my own post-processing, because I can have full control of what I want to accomplish in my final image output.

But, at the end of the day, where was the fun of it?

True, I admit it was fun using the Art Filters. Sometimes, we should just throw the technicalities aside, we should ignore our ordinary shooting style, we can just forget what we thought is good photography for a while, and just have fun. Just point, and shoot. No, I am not saying we must do this a lot, but maybe once in a blue moon, when we find ourselves wanting to do something crazy for a while. Art Filter is the answer. They represent everything that I am not.

POP ART Art Filter

Gotta love the strong colours.

Not an everyday sight on Malaysian streets, I must say.


Genuine smiles from the young. I think at certain age, we have lost the ability to smile straight from our hearts.


Gotta love the pseudo-HDR effect.

I think if I were to keep one Art Filter and throw away all the others, I will not hesitate to say I want the Dramatic Tone to stay.

I am aware there is a new breed of photographers, the users of micro 4/3 system (especially the Olympus PEN group) growing, and PEN strongly pushed the capabilities and uniqueness of their Art Filters amongst the users. It caused such a huge wave that even Canon has to somehow plagiarize incorporate the Art Filters into their latest DSLR, Canon 60D.

Do share your thoughts on the Art Filters. Should they be included in a DSLR, a professional equipment, and if you say no, why not? Do we really need Art Filters at all? Can you live without the Art Filters? How did Art Filters change your shooting style? How did it help improve your photography vision? I would really love to hear from you.


  1. love the shot of the foreign lady

  2. hey Gerald,
    Thanks mate !! I love that shot too

  3. Robin, after cropping the image of the kwai loh is still so sharp....unbelievable camera and lens la..

  4. HEY! I love your photos and it has brought such inspiration to me. Can you pleease come to Twitter? :D Jason (also known as Jason Mumbles in the blogging world) wants you to come to Twitter too. Maybe to share photography tips to us? :)

  5. I have a E620 and enjoy shooting with the art filters. If you play with them enough I think you can get a vision of when you want to use them and when you want to be more conventional. Also, I don't seem to enjoy post processing and these can be a short cut for me to get the look I want without spending alot of time at the computer. Also, I tend to be more of a black and white shooter so these bring me out of that mode and I use color more. I would like to see more black and white art filters though!

  6. Hi Koonyik,
    Eh, that one is not cropped photo. I used a zoom lens 40-150mm to get near. Thats why it is so sharp ahahaha.

    hey Clarissa,
    Thanks a lot !! I appreciate your kind words.
    Aiyaks... this Jason and his evil plans to get me into twitter...
    I can share my photography tips with you any time, lets have a more personal/face to face interaction. Lunch or teh tarik sessions trumps twitter.

  7. Hi Brian,
    I actually do think that the Art filters can be useful, but they are limited to certain usage at specific shooting circumstances. I love the B&W too, however I prefer to process my own B&W photos, mainly because the grainy film simply destroys too much details. The whites are washed out into nothingness, same goes to the black. Sometimes, it is all patch of white on the face you cant even see the eyes and nose of the person, this is not really something I am looking after in my final output.
    I do very minimal, and fast post-processing, and have come to accept it as part of photography. Just basic cropping, exposure correction, and slight color tweak if necessary.
    Olympus should include customization options for their Art Filter. For example, pop art... how much saturation? Grainy Film, how much grain and how much contrast? If we can control those, even just by a little bit, I think the Art Filters would be more flexible to use in more situations.

  8. I say "sure, why not?"

    I think the art filters are fun to use in the E-5. In the E-30 the processing took too long and the fun just wasn't there. When I'm in rush, or if I know I wont be able to be at my cpu for sometime, I can use the art filters.

    I do think that the Canon 60D is a blatant Olympus imitation. I'm sure it's a great camera, but the 270 screen and filters just seem too obvious.

  9. Hi Ian,
    You nailed your point there nicely, when there is no time, the Art Filters do come in handy.
    Agreed, 60D is nothing but imitation, shameless indeed, why could they not invent something new, or innovate on those two things.

  10. I love your blog and if "redundancy" is what this is, then bring it on. :). I agree with you: refinement and practice are necessary for breakthroughs. Keep up the great work. Please! :)

    I shoot in RAW and JPeg with a 620 and find the pin hole filter is usually my go-to. Pin hole with B&W is always a good classic for portraits or candida of my kids...shows off the eyelashes. ;).

    I have Aperture 3, but rarely use it. The software that came with my Olympus works great since I'm not heavy into post-processing. Plus, you know, it helps when the camera translates the light as well as Olypus does; not a lot of editing needed. Love that "M" setting!

    Cheers! Keep up your awesome work!

  11. That's "candids" not "candida". Ewww...big difference. Spell-check: hollah!

  12. Robin, I don't think using those "art filters" doesn't make a picute a work of art. :) Personally I don't like such pictures, there is a statement somewhere: "look my picture is ART" but no filter can turn a so-so or bad picture into art. You know that well :)


  13. Bartosz Dawidowski12/09/2010 05:07:00 AM

    Whoops. The first sentence should be like this:

    Robin, I don't think using those "art filters" makes a picture a work of art.

  14. Hello Yerttle,
    Thanks for the compliments. My friend was suggesting me to find something fresh, which was a good advise. Nonetheless, that breakthrough is not an easy thing to accomplish.
    I like Pin-Hole too, though I would think that it was not that difficult to achieve similar results in post-processing. Nonetheless, I have not used Aperture 3 before because I am running on PC. And yes, I do use Olympus Viewer 2 software. It worked wonders for me too.

    Hey Bartosz,
    Art Filters were placed there to aid the photographers to achieve certain effects without the hassle of post-processing after shooting. This can be an advantage, saving lots of time, while the user can concentrate more on shooting.
    I do agree, that using the Art Filters do not necessarily turn a picture into Art. The artist must know what he/she is doing in the first place.

  15. It's nice to see you've showed examples of Oly's art filters in action. They do give a lot of punch in your photographs when done properly. You're right, the DRAMATIC TONE alone is a sell out asset of the E5. I can see you're having alot of fun with your new toy. I hope you'll develop a website so we can share our photo with each other and the rest of the die-hard OLY fanatics to the world!!!

  16. Hello again Eric !!
    It is nice to hear from you again.
    Thanks for the compliments. I really do enjoy this E-5 a lot !!
    About that website which I have suggested earlier, I am not the right person to initiate it. I have the ideas, and I will be more than glad to help. However, someone else must take up the challenge. I will give my fullest support.