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Friday, January 3, 2020

Color Basics: Guide to Olympus Creative Color - Part 6

Last Updated: 5 Jan 2020

Long term Olympus photographers are use to Olympus introducing new technologies and unique functions. One of the best examples, in body image stabilization (IBIS). Knowing that Olympus did not invent IBIS, photographers appreciate what Olympus achieved with IBIS. Has anyone expected that the 3-Axis version in cameras like the E3 or the E510 would one day be that one feature most photographers would love to have. Will Creative Color be Olympus next reference.

When we study the brief history of Olympus Creative Color we learn the following:-
  1. The first camera to introduce the unique Color Creator was the EM5 II. 
  2. The older EM1 was next to receive the Color Creator after the V4.0 upgrade. 
  3. The Pen F then added the Color Profile and the MonoChrome Profile.
  4. Next Olympus replaced its image editing software Viewer 3, with WorkSpace
  5. WorkSpace then introduced a more advanced version of the Color Profile function
  6. Olympus New Menu SCN Modes now in the EPL9, EM10 III and the EM5 III
  7. The new SCN Modes offers a new experience applying Creative Color Features.
For a great introduction to this article and color, pls see this short video by Robin Wong.

The Pen F is Olympus most powerful Creative Camera with a number of unique creative color features. I revisited the Pen F press release when it was launched in 2016 and I thought the paragraph below was appropriate.

The Pen F press released said: "The new Monochrome and Color Profile Control offers a way to truly enjoy adding a film photo touch to images while looking through the viewfinder as you select a film type, develop, and then print images just the way you like. This new feature makes this the perfect camera for those who love to create original photographs as you envisioned."

Edited in Photoshop, the EM5.1 w 12mm f2 lens, f6.7, 1/350th, ISO200

The Pen-F was the reason I wrote my original 5 Part, Basic Color series on Olympus. Reviewing these 5 articles in December 2019, I decided to update them and also add new information. I also decided to add this article as part 6 to the original 5 part series.

Many photographers think "sensor size" when asked about image color. Others say color is key and they will correct white balance when in the field while others report they only correct WB when editing raw files. Another group see white balance as a part of the creative process and prefer to have each images "creative" color ready out the camera.

The above Color Wheel summarizes most OMD and PEN creative functions. I believe mastering the general or this Color Wheel will improve photographers creative skills.

You welcome to download the above Color Wheel and to print it or upload it to your mobile phone. You will also see the color wheel mirror the Color Creator in the camera. One could therefor refer to the camera Color Profile or Creator when considering color harmonies like opposite colors.

On the left you see part of the Olympus WorkSpace editing window. Each of the Olympus camera color functions are also part of WS. Studying the Pen-F one could ask, but how many "color" variation can one create with the Pen F? We know a standard 8 bit jpeg has 16 million color variations.

The Color Profile has 12 different colors (bits) to select from, each with 14 levels. When you look at the different color variations one can build with only the Color Profile, you will find it is several million more than the standard jpeg file. This does not take in account the Color Creator or any of the other OMD or PEN unique functions.

It was difficult for me to first see the wow factor when I tried the Pen-F. It was only when I started working in WS that I realized the wow factor. The camera screen is unfortunately not powerful enough to justify the camera full color scope. You really need to practice in WS to familiarize yourself with the scope the Color Wheel has to offer and to overcome the camera screen limitations.

Olympus Creative Color Functions

In this article we take a look at the different Creative Color functions found in Olympus cameras. We will look at "general" functions like Curves, Contrast and Clarity. I also added general tips on how to apply these tools in both WS and the camera. If you new to the general artist Color Wheel or working with color, pls see this video. first.

Think of photography as "painting" with color. Like a painter 
you will work with your camera and color to creatively 
set White Balance, the Color Creator, Color Profile 
or the Monochrome Profile functions.

The Color Wheel and WB:- Olympus cameras offer 4 options to set the White Balance. Auto (AWB), presets, custom (CWB) and using a 80% gray (one can buy these) or white card. The graphic on the left explains these options, the Color Wheel at the top (AWB) and presets, next the familiar CWB graphic and at the bottom I added the WB color scale to the color wheel so you can better visualize it. I also added the Olympus WB compensation sliders to the color wheel. You will find the the Green / Magenta slider on the horizontal axis and the Blue / Amber slider at +30 degrees from the vertical.

WorkSpace and WB:- As said Olympus has the same 4 options to set WB with or without compensation (the two sliders). The first option is AWB, then presets, the 3rd to enter a color temperature and the 4th option is to select a gray or white point on the image.

The Camera and WB:- The camera has the same 4 WB options. Selecting AWB, presets (Sunny, shade, clouds...), then dialing in a Kelvin color temperature (CWB) and the final option, recording the WB with a 80% gray or white card. WB compensation is also available with these options, except with CWB.

It is important to know that the image WB will impact the full color range. The correct WB balance all colors to a neutral, removing any one color to dominate or cause a color cast.

The artist (painter) will use his or hers color palette to mix colors to creating a new color. Example, mixing two primary colors creates a secondary color or mix Cyan and Yellow to give Green. When the artist require more cyan or magenta he or she will add more cyan or magenta to the mix.

The WB Fine Tune sliders in WorkSpace or the camera will add or subtract color from the image. These Fine Tuning sliders, is a good place to start to familiarizing yourself with WB. When using these two sliders to add or remove color, keep in mind the final color will be the "sum" of these two sliders. See the image and (point X) below.

How: How-to select and fine tune WB?

First use any of the 4 methods to select the camera (neutral ) WB. Let's add more orange or red (cast) to the "neutral" WB. You can do this with the WB Fine Tune sliders or you could add the cast with the Color Creator.

Example: A little further down I added an image of the Color Creator and the SCP. On the SCP you will see the WB fine tune settings (A+/-0) (G+/-0).  To add a red/orange cast (point X) on the color wheel, go to the camera SCP and move the curser to (A+/-0), press OK. Now you see these two WB Fine Tune sliders. Dial in +5 at (A) and -3 at (M ). But I cannot see these sliders? See if you have CWB selected and select AWB or a WB preset instead. But I cannot see (M)? It is difficult for me to say exactly where these sliders are on the color wheel.

It could be the (G) green slider goes from one side of the color wheel to the other (magenta), as I have shown on the color wheel. The same for (A) amber. It could also be, these sliders looks like the color creator adjusting only green or amber, adding more green/amber or subtracting green/amber. The next question is by how much? Take in account these are "fine" tune sliders. When looking at these WB fine tune sliders, Green (G) on the one end and (M) magenta on the other or its only adding more or less of green, always use the color wheel as your visual guide. Adding more green will also influence the opposite color (reduce the opposite color) as will reducing green impact the opposite color. So whether the WB fine tune sliders looks like the above color wheel or more like the color creator, the only way to really know is try and practice.

Now there are one more option to add a red cast to the image. Will you guess what? By simply using CWB and dial in a color temperature that will add a red cast to the image.

The video below is a great example of working with color and opposite colors or targeting a specific color in the image. The presenter does use layers which unfortunately is not part of WorkSpace. What is really interesting in this video is to see the color wheel in action plus an he shows an excellent practical application of color. The question is, can you translate this know how and apply it on your camera? The good news is, it is possible, you need to practice a lot but the reward is so awesome....

It is also important to know that WB and the WB Compensation (sliders) works different than the Color Creator or the Color Profile. Each one of these functions has a different roles.


- WB and the Fine Tuning sliders work similar to how the artist use the Color Palette
- The Color Creator creates a color casts and will also influence Opposite Colors - see Part 3
- The Color Profile adjust ONLY the target color. Other colors are not influenced - see Part 4

One final comment on White Balance. If you have a mirrorless Panasonic like the G9 or GH4 go see the "color wheel" in these cameras. How-to? Press the WB button on the camera and you will see the WB presets, an up or down arrow with a function each, and a "square" image of the color wheel. Select the right arrow to go to the color wheel. With Panasonic it seems that when the camera color wheel is used as WB fine tune, it does confirm my presentation of the color wheel.

Olympus Pen-F with 17mm f1.8, 1/160th, f6.3, ISO200

Color Creator:- Think of the Color Creator as a bag filled with color filters. In fact the Color Creator has 29 of these filters. The VIVID setting adjust each "filter". It is important to know that these filters (colors) are active the moment you select a color, also when the Vivid setting is zero. For more details on the Color Creator see Part 3 of my Basic Color series.

Apart from applying straight forward color effects it is good to study and refresh your knowledge on opposite and complimentary colors. Example, one can increase magenta by reducing greens. See part 3 of my series on Basic Color. The SCP info will change with each creative function you select. Example, with the Color Creator you will see no additional options, but when selecting the Color Profile, you will see the options (S) Saturation and (C) Contrast in the SCP.

The Color Creator does exactly what it says, it adds color to the image and that impacts the opposite color. Think of cancelling the warm glow in a room lid with artificial light. Selecting a cold (blue) color to create a blue cast will reduce the (Yellow) warm color component.

How will you improve your Color Creator skills? As with the example on WB, try different scenarios and practice. Example, set the camera WB to daylight. Using the Color Creator, add blue to create a cold or blue color cast or add orange to create a warm or orange color cast. Also practice with opposite colors and practice how you can add a color cast and also change the opposite color. See the effects when you change the intensity of the color (filter).

Also practice your color skills by manually simulating WB using only the Color Creator. Practice creative WB effects with the Color Creator, this is a great way to improve your feel for color. I used the color creator in WS to edit the two images below.  See if you can simulate a similar look and feel using one of your own images.

ART filter used with Color Creator, Curves and Vignetting tool

MonoChrome Profile & Monotone Picture Mode:- Before digging into the Olympus mono chrome Profile, I like to make a general observation. When referring to film simulations one often hear people talk about film profiles like Kodak ColorChrome 25. Many of these older film roles are not true mono chrome (mono color) roles. In those days each film had a unique look in terms of color and grain. Today it is popular and photographers like to mimic these old film roles.

Interesting to see photographers interest in creating the old film role look, especially when you think how much time is spend on forums talking about camera specifications and the perfect image.

Another unique image look we often saw in 2017 and 2018 were pastel colors. Used with Instagram, pastel colors gained huge popularity amongst young photographers. It is possible to mimic both these types profiles with the Pen-F. Other Olympus cameras like the OMD series lack the color profile tool but still has the ability to apply powerful color effects. When editing EM10 III, EPL9 or the EM1.2 images in WS one does have full access to the Color Profile using these camera models, raw files.

By definition a monochrome image use only one base color. Think of a black & white (neutral) image or a sepia (orange) image. See the orange monochrome range marked on the above color wheel. One could also select green, red or any other color as monochrome base color. OMD and PEN cameras as well as WS offer up to 5 monochrome base colors, Blue, Sepia, Purple, Green & Neutral.

Olympus cameras offers 2 Monochrome modes or functions. Almost all Olympus cameras has the "MonoTone" Picture Mode. The Pen-F also has the 2nd MonoChrome Profile function. These 2 functions are both based on the same concept. The difference with the Monochrome Profile is it has more color filters to select from plus one has better control on each selected color.

MonoTone Picture Mode:- When selecting the monotone Picture Mode, you also can select a "base" color (T) in the SCP. Try to select the base color filter (F) on the SCP. You will find more info on the web explaining why photographers use different color filters when working with B&W or monochrome images.

MonoChrome Profile Tool (Pen-F):- Select the Monochrome Profile using the Creative Dial. You can now select the monochrome base color (T) in the SCP. You will also see a unique grain filter in the SCP. You can select one of 3 grain levels. When on the go and you like to re-activate the monochrome profile, flip the Function Lever.

The MonoChrome Profile function has 9 colors to select from and to fine tune the image, each with 4 intensity levels. The SCP has pre-programmed monochrome presets to select from.

One can adjust or tune each of these factory presets with the monochrome profile tool plus functions like curves. The question is often asked, how do I reset my camera back to the "factory" profiles? Answer: Go to each of the adjustments you made and press and hold the OK button for one or two seconds. This will reset each adjustment. It is a step by step process to go back to the original factory settings. 😞  I hate to give the doom sayers out there something to complain about....

Olympus Pen-F with 17mm f1.8, 1/250th, f9, ISO200

The above images was edited with Workspace using the Monochrome Profile. You will see I used a blue base color and I used different color filters in both the main and in the inserted image. In this example, the filter effect is best visible in the trees. The green filter increased the "exposure" in the trees whereas a blue filter darkens the trees.

Below is a street scene I did using the MonoChrome Profile. See the setting I used inserted on the image. I edited the Pen F raw file in WS, in this example.

Olympus Pen F with 17mm F1.8 - f5, 1/25, ISO80

The next image is an example of using the MonoChrome Picture Mode. Only the Pen F raw files has access to the MonoChrome Profile in WS, Interesting. The answer, get a Pen-F?

Pen-F Color Profile:- The Color Profile is probably one of the most powerful color tools, available on the Olympus Pen-F. No other brand has this level of flexibility. What I find interesting, Olympus further expanded this tool from Viewer 3 to Workspace. For more information on the Color Profile see Part 4 of my Basic Color series.

The Color Profile is different and does require a little time to master. Any adjustment will change only the selected color. Unlike the artist who mix different colors to create new colors, the photographer will work with the Color Profile to alter specific image colors saturation, hue and luminance when changing the image look and feel. It takes time to develop a feel for working with the Color Profile. My advice is, do not give up, keep on practicing, this is a rewarding process.

It is good to improve your general color awareness skills. Always practice when you enter into new environments, identify dominant colors, select color harmonies and which color combinations could work well together. Think which of the colors will you tune in each new situation.....

Study the different color harmony templates in part 3 of the basic color series. Select 2 or 3 of these templates that will be your own unique color signature. Examples could be primary, analogous and complimentary colors. Apply these templates when evaluating new environments.

How-to: Create your own Profiles:- It is possible to have a system to create your own profiles. See part 4 of the my basic color series. I am also working on another article to show another interesting way of creating your own color profiles.

Ways to find inspiration:-
- Identify and follow interesting and great photographers.
- Always be on the lookout for potential images.
- Try software like DXO FilmPack, find that new look you like
- Follow other photographers' work on Instagram
-Always have your camera with you

When you discover a style or image you like, take a similar looking image with your Pen-F. Next step is to create your own profile using the image you liked as master.

How-to:- Open both the master and the test images in WS. Before making any adjustments in WS, study both images. Study each image for dominant colors and the differences in colors. Build a summary of which colors you need to change to get to the master image look. With each step you plan list the function you think you will need like the Color Profile, Creator or other. Keep in mind the Color Profile in the camera only adjust saturation and not hue or luminance like in WS. What other color characteristics should you look for? Always consider saturation, contrast or exposure compensation when working with Pen F profiles.

The Color Profile tool default setting is neutral. Negative saturation adjustments will create pastel colors (less saturation) and positive adjustments more bright or saturated colors.

Other OMD & PEN Creative Tools

Olympus Pen F with Lumix 14-140mm, f7.1, 1/100th, ISO80 (Color Profile Tool)

Many photographers are unaware that in-camera adjustments only apply to jpeg images and not to raw files. You can therefor safely experiment and play with the camera jpeg file to create your own personalized style in the camera. I often read people preach on forums, I do not use jpeg files, I need maximum DR and Oh I need perfect pictures....bla bla bla, think of this, they also fail to describe the perfect artist? 😂😂

My advice if I may, use both jpeg + raw in your camera. The raw file will be your untouched digital negative and the jpeg file your playground. Play in that playground as much as you like and when you find that secret recipe to create the perfect jpeg file in the camera, pls tell me.....

In this article we will discuss other creative functions available in both the camera and in WorkSpace. Example: Workspace has two curves functions and the camera only one. This is important because any camera profile you create in WS will only accept the curves function also available in the camera.

You therefore always need to check, are you building a profile for WS or are you creating a profile in WS you like to use in your camera. Profiles targeted for WS has more options to tweak the image, whereas profiles created for the Pen F or the EM1,2 will have less options.

Highlights & Shadows:- Most of the recent OMD and PEN cameras has the more powerful version of the curves function. Mid tone has now been added to the Pen F and other newer Olympus cameras. Mid tones are adjusted separately from shadows and highlights. Keep in mind, all these adjustments are combined into one final adjustment. This makes the Olympus in-camera curves function really powerful. Many brands copied Olympus but cannot adjust Mid-tones.

Saturation, Contrast & Clarity:- From my first Photoshop Elements training, we were taught, it's not good to use the saturation or the contrast sliders. We were taught not to sharpen the image in the camera. That said, now knowing that most sharpening tools like unsharp mask, effectively increase contrast, I have been using the contrast slider more. In 95% cases it's enough to use only +/- 1 or to use curves to increase contrast. Also keep in mind the raw file is not impacted.

The Olympus ART Filters:- When editing in WS one can select an ART filter and then apply a Color Profile on top of that. Unfortunately this is not possible in any of the Olympus cameras, currently available. One can also use curves and contrast and clarity all at the same time in WorkSpace. In the camera one can also use the WB compensation sliders to further tweak ART filters. It is worth trying, you will be surprised with the results you can get.

Planning & Developing your own profiles:- Developing your own image look or color profiles basically consist of two parts. The first step is to work on color. This could include unique WB settings, selecting a specific ART filter to be the base and finally using the Color Creator when working in WS. The second step is to tune your image style using curves, saturation, contrast or clarity. Keep in mind there are two kinds of profiles, you could develop one for in-camera use and one for WorkSpace. Profiles developed for WS will have more options than those prepared in the camera.

The above examples were tweaked with curves and illustrates the different image effects one can get with the curves function. One could also combine anyone of the above curves shapes with the contrast, or saturation sliders. A step by step Pen F profile creation could look something like:-

1. Apply any pre-planned color effects with the color creator or the color profile tool.
2. Then add curves depending on the effect you want - see above examples
3. Finally apply contrast, saturation, sharpening or clarity

Another method is to use color cards to create profiles. Color cards based on existing tools like DXO FilmPack. I am working on another article to discuss this technique.... Watch the News....

As said, when you prepare and build profiles in WS, make sure to use only those functions that are also available in the camera. A good test to determining if your profile building skills are improving is to plan your editing steps while you taking the image. The ultimate is to know exactly what you plan in WS, the moment you take your next image.

Olympus EM1 with 14-140mm f4-5.6, f6.3, 1/15th, ISO1600 (Completely edited in WS) 

Keep in mind, one cannot adjust Clarity or Saturation in the camera while taking images? One should always exclude these adjustments when building in-camera color profiles in WS. That said, one can  adjust saturation when the camera is set to image editing. Saturation will therefor not be part of any color profile. There are cases when it's good to have the ability to reduce saturation, especially when on the go and looking for a pastel look.

Those Content Creators requiring a pastel look will therefor reduce the image saturation with the in-camera image editor, prior to uploading the image to the web.


I hope this relatively short article was helpful. To add additional information at this point would be too much, I therefore decided to write separate articles on specific features in the future...

My goal with this article was to help you see that there are more creative tools than only the Color Creator and Color Profile functions. It is really when all these different functions work together that one realize the full power of what I like to refer to as Olympus Creative Color. Probably the most exciting aspect of WS is its ability to create and save interesting color profiles.

Edited in WorkSpace w MonoChrome Profile, Pen-F w 17mm f1.8 lens, f6.3, 1/60th, ISO500

It is true that one can do all this in Lightroom or Photoshop. In fact it is sometimes easier to edit and build profiles in Photoshop. Workspace has a different workflow and one needs to get use to editing images in WS. The benefit working with WS is it will improve your skills creating profiles with the OMD or the PEN. Below is one final example done with the EM1 II.

Olympus EM1 II images edited in WS

The first image was done in bright and the second image in pastel tones. I used the same WS profile for both but with different saturation settings. With the 3rd image I used a harmonious color template. In this case I used 4 analogous colors (Yellow to Green) as my targeted colors. This style of image editing, using harmonious color combinations have the advantage that the selected or focussed colors are always harmonious. For more info see my 3rd article in my color basics series.

Olympus EM1 MKII with Lumix 35-100mm f2.8, f7.1, 1/100, ISO200

Olympus EM1 MKII with Lumix 35-100mm f2.8, f7.1, 1/100, ISO200

Olympus EM1 MKII with Lumix 35-100mm f2.8, f7.1, 1/160, ISO320

Additional links:-

- Rob Trek has a dedicated MFT channel. He recently started a series on WorkSpace. Link
- The M43 Forum - See this great forum for discussions on M43 gear and WS. Link
- Here you find information on WorkSpace. Link
- We had a interesting discussion on DPReview on Color Profiles. Link
- Interesting article by Mirrorless Camera on the Pen-F creative functions. Link

Monday, December 2, 2019

Image collection Olympus EM1,2 and Panasonic GH5

Both great cameras. Both complex and diverse cameras with great configuration freedom to be set to exact photographic or application needs. One cannot really claim the one is better than the other, the choice for one or the other will purely depend on application. Images of the EM1.2 were taken with the GH5 with 25mm F1.4 Leica and those of the GH5 with the EM1.2 with the 25mm F1.4 Leica. I edited these raw files in DXO Photolab 3.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

In memory of Olympus 12MP Mirrorless Cameras.....

Olympus EM1,2 with 25mm, f1,8 - f4,5, 1/160, ISO200

Olympus Pen EP-3 with 12mm f2.0 - f7.1, 1/800, ISO200

Olympus EM1,2 with 25mm, f1,8 - f4,5, 1/160, ISO200

Olympus Pen EP-3 with 12mm, f2,0 - f2,2, 1/60, ISO1000

Olympus EM1,2 with 25mm, f1,8 - f4,5, 1/160, ISO200

Olympus Pen EP-2 with 14-42mm - f6,3, 1/250, ISO200

Olympus EM1,2 with 25mm, f1,8 - f4,5, 1/160, ISO200

Olympus EP2 with 14-42mm Kit Lens - f7,1, 1/200, ISO200 (Raw edited in PS)

Olympus Pen EP-2 with 14-150mm - f5,6, 1/200, ISO250 (ART Filter used)

Olympus EM1,2 with 25mm, f1,8 - f4,5, 1/160, ISO200

Olympus Pen EPL-1 with Lensbaby

Olympus EM1,2 with 25mm, f1,8 - f4,5, 1/160, ISO200

Olympus Pen EPL2 with 14-150mm - f5,0, 1/100, ISO200


Olympus E620 with 9-18mm - f22, 1/80, ISO100

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