Olympus USB RAW Data Edit - New Feature Explained

Olympus added a new feature - USB RAW Data Edit in the latest update to Olympus Workspace (Version 1.1), their proprietary post-processing software. USB RAW Data Edit is activated by connecting the camera to the PC/Laptop via USB cable, and the Truepic VIII Engine in the camera will be utilized to boost the Raw files processing while running Olympus Workspace on the PC/Laptop. This feature is currently only available for Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and E-M1X, and only applicable for RAW images shot with the connected same camera.

I have done a quick video (WATCH HERE) to briefly explain what USB RAW Data Edit is, demonstrate how it works and also show my real life usage of the feature to deliver a set of photographs in my recent shoot.

Here is the step by step guide to enable USB RAW Data Edit

1) Olympus Workspace - latest version 1.1 (as of writing) installed on your PC/Laptop
2) E-M1 Mark II (firmware version 3.0 and newer) or E-M1X (firmware version 1.1 and newer)
3) USB cable to connect the camera to your PC/Laptop - use the one supplied in the box

1) Start the Olympus Workspace on your laptop/PC
2) Connect the USB cable from camera to the laptop/PC. 
3) Turn on the camera
4) Select the option "PC-RAW"
5) Once connection is established, there is a pop-up notification on Olympus Workspace. Follow the instructions
6) Select the folder where your images are at. You may also choose to edit the RAW files inside the SD card in the camera, and export it out to the laptop/PC. 
7) Select the images you want to edit, do your post-processing, and export to the desired location

Bear in mind that when USB RAW Data Edit is used, some features in Olympus Workspace are unavailable. Features such as Color Edit, Dehaze and Clarity are not applicable anymore. All the crucial and basic adjustments (Exposure Compensation, White Balance, Crop, Highlight/Shadow, Sharpness, Contrast, Gradation, Keystone Compensation, Picture Mode, Art Filters, etc) remained unchanged. 

I have done some tests with the USB RAW Data Edit, and I am very impressed. 

Olympus Workspace, while being a huge step up from the predecessor Olympus Viewer 3, is still sluggish when it comes to exporting images. On my home workstation desktop PC which is running on quite a decent specification (AMD FX-8350 8-core processor, 16GB RAM, SSD and Radeon RX580) , it takes about 3-5 seconds or longer to export a single RAW file to JPEG. On my portable laptop (Lenovo Miix 510, running on Intel Core i3, 4GB RAM and SSD), it is even worse, it takes about more than 10 seconds to export just one RAW file. The improvements on previewing speed, overall smoother operations were fantastic but the exporting process was still a pain. I am shooting events and wedding photography commercially, and I need to deal with hundreds, sometimes thousands of photographs, so you can imagine the nightmare when it comes to exporting the final images. 

This is the main reason I am currently using Capture One Pro for most of my post-processing work, it takes about 2 seconds or less to export a single RAW file. 

With the new USB RAW Data Edit enabled for Olympus Workspace, the boost of speed was incredible. I could export a single RAW file in merely one second or less. You heard that right, instead of my workstation PC speed of 3-5 seconds, or my portable laptop's speed of more than 10 seconds, using the USB RAW Data Edit on my laptop which I have tested, it took me less than 1 second to export a single RAW file. Even with multiple RAW files selected, the speed remained the same, 1 RAW file per second. 

This is a massive jump in terms of productivity!

Honestly this was not really a surprise, considering how fast the Truepic VIII Engine in the camera is. 

The Truepic VIII allows the camera to shoot up to 60 frames per second! Surely processing a single RAW file per second is probably not even maximizing the full potential of the processor. 

What does all this mean and how can this benefit me as a commercial photographer?

Most commercial photographers will carry a laptop or portable device for quick edits on location. I prefer to work with a more portable solution, meaning I want my laptop to be as slim, small and light as possible so i can carry it around without worrying about it weighing me down or slowing me. That also means I have to compromise some performance. I acknowledge that there are powerful and high performing small form factor laptops out there, more suitable for handling heavy image processing tasks, but these laptops are also incredibly overpriced. I have a decently powerful PC workstation at home to handle a bulk of my heavy load when it comes to post-processing. The laptop is for quick edits and previews for clients, when necessary. 

Even with my underpowered Intel Core i3 (6th Gen) processor and minimal 4GB of RAM, a coming to 3 years old laptop now, with the USB RAW Data Edit, I bypass the laptop's weaker processing capability and utilize the camera's superior Truepic VIII Engine, maximizing processing speed to even faster than any other commercially available post-processing software! The blazing speed cuts down my operation time significantly, say a task that requires me maybe about 20-30 minutes, I could probably get done within 5 minutes!

I fully understand that Olympus Workspace is not the most powerful software for post-processing, not allowing use of layers or radial filters for higher level processing. Nonetheless, if speed is your priority, nothing is faster than this feature at the moment, yet at the same time you can still perform extensive fine-tuning to your photograph, fixing the white balance as well as recovering a tonne of shadow and highlight details. This is still highly advantageous in comparison with shooting JPEG - once your image is overexposed or shot in bad white balance, that's it, the image is ruined beyond salvation. 

my current humble laptop - Lenovo Miix 510 which is sort of like a Microsoft Surface Clone

One more advantage I can think of while using USB RAW Data Edit, is not having to fully import the files onto your Laptop/PC before you can start editing. Most post-processing softwares require "importing" process to access the raw files, and generate previews for thumbnails and quick viewing. However, that step of transferring RAW files to the laptop can also be time consuming, depending on how many images you are dealing with, and regenerating previews can also be a redundant step. Olympus already has their own preview image included in the RAW file, using Olympus Workspace it recognizes the embedded preview JPEG, saving time for regenerating previews. Not only that, you handle the RAW files inside your SD card while the camera is connected to your Laptop/PC without needed to physically transfer them out!

You plug in the USB cable, you start Olympus Workspace and you can immediately start working on the images. If you want the fastest workflow for fast edits, I just cannot think of anything this fast. And the best part - you don't need a powerful laptop/PC to enjoy this feature! The same performance can be enjoyed with lower spec/budget laptops, just like the one I am using. 

If you have Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II or E-M1X, the option to use USB RAW Data Edit is available to you. Why don't you give it a try? Even if you are not a professional photographer, I believe in spending less time working on your images on your laptop/PC, and spend more time going out to shoot more! The fun is being outdoor with the camera in your hand, having shutter therapy!

1 comment:

  1. Robin
    Have just tried editing using camera connected to pc for the first time
    When I display raw file actual sie and try any edit i immediately lose actual size and much smaller image displayed. Cannot crop at all. I am obviously doing something wrong.