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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Olympus Workspace, the new Olympus Image Editor

Ever asked, what is the minimum functionality a good image editor should include? In this article I list the changes Olympus implemented, going from Viewer 3 to Workspace. Does Workspace answer the minimum functionality one would expect from an image editor? We will test and discuss some of the new functions in Workspace.

Listed below is the base functionality a basic image editor should include:

 - An image viewer and Organizer,
 - RAW file editor/developer,
 - Basic Image editor (no partial image editing),
 - Image manipulation - Full Layers integration, basic Selections, Filters and Text editor

The image editing software included with the new camera typically includes the first 3 of the above options while excluding advanced image manipulation. Adobe Photoshop Elements is one of the best known editing packages to include basic image manipulation as well as advanced image editing.

Olympus Viewer 3 and Workspace includes the first 3 options. In the past Viewer 3 did include a basic text function. Olympus removed the text function from Workspace. The fact that Olympus left out basic image manipulation will discourage many photographers from using Workspace as a goto editing tool. One of the main reasons Olympus photographers use Viewer 3 or Workspace is the fact that these two packages has the full Olympus color engineering or image look. Many photographers will do basic RAW editing in Viewer 3 or Workspace and then transfer the processed  JPEG or TIFF file to Photoshop.

Olympus Viewer 3

Image editing software is a personal choice and something each photographer should investigate. The organizer/image viewer specification will  differ from photographer to photographer. Example, some photographers experience Lightroom as slow while others love working with Lightroom.

Most editing software like Photoshop does not include Olympus color data. The only way the photographer can benefit from Olympus color, is to use Olympus Viewer 3 and now Workspace. You will find that many photographers use Viewer 3 or Workspace for this reason only. They will do their basic image editing in Workspace and then export the processed files to Photoshop.

Olympus Workspace

Short summary of high level changes Olympus implemented in Workspace?

 - A new fully customizable User Interface
 - A new image viewer look and feel that is responsive and fast
 - The new image organizer has great image organizing functions and sorting tools
 - Workspace has a completely redesigned editing area or concept (See below)
 - A number of editing functions has been removed (See below)
 - Basic video editing function has been added
 - Workspace is faster than Viewer 3 and it works well (needs a capable graphic card)
 - A new PDF User Guide is now included, accessible via the help menu
 - Olympus Capture is now compatible with Workspace
 - Workspace automatically recognize camera files and will add or remove functions
 - Keyboard shortcuts now available to improve speed
 - In general the image zoom function is much quicker showing detail zoom views
 - One can now import images via a Wi-Fi connection to the camera
 - Images can be added to collections - the same image in different collections possible

What has not been included in Workspace?

 - Social media options removed and MyOlympus community integration not included
 - Layers, this while Olympus cameras have partial layer functions with Multiple Exposures
 - More powerful color profiles functionality (including flexible profile sharing option)
 - The new "RAW" editor color wheel only available to 3 cameras (EM1 2, EPL9, Pen F)
 - Compatible and Workspace equivalent mobile phone APP with sync and sharing options
 - Olympus Capture tethering has not been fully integrated into Workspace
 - Basic Text, selections and masking options have not been included

Olympus EM1 II with Lumix 7-14mm, ISO200, f8, 1/250, FL9mm (RAW edited in PS CC2019)

Workspace consolidates different editing menus/areas found in Viewer 3, into one editing space. This simplifies the image editing process. When working with RAW files, different Olympus cameras will activate different functions unique to the each camera. Example the Pen-F will activate the new Color Wheel function while the older EP-5 raw file will have no access to the new Color Wheel. To access to the new Color Wheel function the user needs to first process and save the RAW file into a jpeg file and then go back and edit the jpeg file. All jpeg files have access to the new Color Wheel.

Editing functions removed from Workspace?

- The "Optical" Auto Tone Correction Tool (This was a great tool in Viewer 3)
- Insert Text function
- Gamma adjustment tool
- False Color Suppression tool

New or improved Workspace editing functions?

- Clarify and Dehaze sliders are NEW
- Color Profiles moved from the Picture Modes menu to the NEW Adjust Color Menu
- The NEW Adjust Color Menu now includes Saturation, Luminance and Hue adjustments
- The previous Color Creator and Monochrome Profile stayed in the Picture Modes menu
- NEW noise removal tools has been added, only apply to the EM1 II, E-PL9, EM10 III
- NEW Clone stamp tool - basic functionality only

Olympus Workspace different editing views

Workspace layout options.

See the above image. The screen layout on the left is perfect for large desktop monitors. When used on a 15" laptop it is not that practical. The screen layout on the right demonstrates the flexibility one have in terms of workspace layout. It is possible to select one of 5 different screen layouts. The screen layout on the right works well on smaller laptops. It is also possible to set set workspace to work across two monitors.

The new image viewer as well as the zoom function is now fast and responsive. Image detail in the image viewer is now better than Adobe Bridge CC. It is now practical to use Workspace as your main image Viewer. It is possible to assign Adobe Photoshop as your preferred external image editor. It can then be launched from Workspace. Other external image editors can also be assigned to the external editor button (EX).

Workspace and Capture Wi-Fi connectivity.

I tested the Wi-Fi function on my iMac and my laptop. The first step is to setup a connection between the camera and the PC. Activate Wi-Fi on your camera and then add the camera Wi-Fi network to your PC networks. When the connection is made the camera SD card will appear in Workspace and one can then simply select new image files and Workspace will import them from the camera.

What I did found is the Wi-Fi connectivity to Capture did not work on my EM1 II. Today this option is exclusively for the EM1X.

Also interesting is the integration between Olympus Capture and Workspace. One would expect Capture to be a part of Workspace. Workspace and Capture will only "integrate" when they both open at the same time. Workspace will see Capture is open and it will then show a Capture tab in the folders window.

Workspace Video Editor

Workspace Video Editing

Workspace has extreme basic video editing tools included. When opening a video file for the first time, the camera has to be first connected to the PC. Thereafter all video files linked to that camera can be opened.

The above two windows are basically the Video Editor inside Workspace. One can cut video files and also save them into a project folder. Next these "cuts" will be connected using the window on the right. A basic fading option is also available. One can also select a "image" frame from a video file and then export that as an JPEG image. No color or tone or white balance editing functions are open to video files or available in the video "editor".

Viewing video files in Workspace works well, they fast, detailed and sharp. The viewer is quick to go through video files, to cut them and to save the cuts into a project folder.

Today there are several good video editing options on he market. I personally like Adobe Premier Elements. Elements is a powerful video editor and a great way to start with video. Another option is Final Cut Pro and its associated add-ons. iMovie is similar to Adobe Premier Elements and is also easy to work with.

Workspace Image Editor

Image Editing in Workspace

My first impressions of the image editor was not positive. I have tried several RAW files over a few days and I could not get the same result I was use to getting from Viewer 3. The above image shows the same RAW file edited in both Workspace and Viewer 3. Both with "similar" editing steps and both screen copies. One would expect them to look the same. See the two examples below. Again I used the "same" settings on both Viewer 3 and Workspace, keeping in mind Viewer 3 does not have the clarity setting like Workspace.

Olympus EM1 II with 12-40mm f2.8 at ISO400, 1/100 and f7.1

You will see Viewer extract more detail from the RAW file. The noise filter was set to Off in both cases. These images are screen copies I then dropped into Photoshop so I could add the text. Both RAW file views were copied from Workspace and should be the same on your PC screen. I used the same point in Viewer 3 and Workspace to set a custom WB. The image was taken early in the morning from a moving ship.

See the above image. Again I used "similar" settings in Photoshop RAW. In addition I used layers in Photoshop to up the color contrast a little. Photoshop extract more image information and image details from the RAW file. At this stage I find it easier to work with the JPG file created from a RAW file in Photoshop than working with JPG created in Workspace or Viewer.

The above two images are the same RAW file I opened in Viewer 3 and then in Workspace. In both cases I applied no adjustments, I immediately saved (processed) them into JPEG files. They should therefore be exactly the same.... As in all cases, practice makes perfect. That said, it will be great if Olympus could check the color "logic" in Workspace, especially the white balance adjustment tools.

The default Workspace color management setting, use the PC color space. Even though it shows more options for selecting another colorspace, I could not access these options. It seems Olympus has not opened this function.

While editing the image below in Workspace, I selected the before / after function and this purple view appeared on the screen. It does seem as if the software does not drive the PC color card 100% correctly......? This is strange. I discussed this on a forum and several other users experienced the same purple effect!!

Olympus EM2 II with 12-40mm f2.8

I did set the printer color setting to also use the PC colorspace. It should not make a difference to the screen display but I did get the feel it was? Try it for yourselves....

The image below shows the new color tool in action. I used complimentary colors (blue & Yellow) to slightly increase the color contrast in the image on the left. This is a lovely tool and the options are endless. I am very hopeful for this new function. I wrote a 5 part series on the Pen-F creative dial, and the visionary step Olympus took when they introduced the Pen-F creative dial. This is probably one of the most exciting developments Olympus did in recent years.


Workspace has a lot going for it. It also has several things Olympus needs to work on. At this point I am a little cautious. Like all things, practice makes perfect. I think it is important to experiment with the white balance settings and to become comfortable using the different WB options in Workspace. The white balance setting in RAW is the starting point for any other color adjustments.

Here a few improvements Olympus could plan for the next update:-

 - Colorspace - open the color space settings so we can try for ourselves
 - Improve/tune the color processing engine / Color Space settings in Workspace
 - The Clarity and Dehaze settings are great - they need to work better
 - Both Viewer 3 and Workspace does not seem to extract max image detail from the RAW file
 - Speed is much better. It is good excellent in the "View" mode but still slow in "Edit" mode?
 - Social media, Mobile Phones, Wi-Fi integration - all needs desperate improvements
 - Do not block some cameras from using the color functions in RAW, pls open it
 - Color profiles sharing, upload/download to cameras like the Pen-F to improve MUCH
 - Mobile phone App - Sync with Workspace - color profiles sharing should be so easy!!
 - The PDF User Manual is a great idea - pls add more info, especially for the new functions
 - Full Layers, gradient filtering plus Tex functions....this will make a day & night difference
 - The ability to show the AF & tracking point on the image (to assist selecting best images)
 - Like Olympus cameras pls add a info window when pointing the curser to a function.....


- See this article by Robin Wong on Workspace

Images prepared with Workspace

Olympus EM5 MKII with Lumix 12-35 f2.8, ISO200, f6.3, 1/400

Edited in Photoshop CC

Olympus EM5 MKII with Lumix 12-35mm f2.8, ISO200, f6.3, 1/320

Olympus EM1 MKII with 12-40mm f2.8, ISO200, f8.0, 1/400

Olympus EM1 MKII with 12-35mm f2.8, ISO200, f8.0, 1/320

RAW file Edited in Photoshop CC (Used layers plus RAW filter)

Olympus EM5 MKII with 25mm f1.8, ISO200 f8.0, 1/320

Olympus EM5 MKII with 25mm f1.8, ISO200, f8.0, 1/250

Olympus Pen F with 12mm, f2.0, ISO400, f2.0, 1/13 (Handheld & JPEG edited)

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