Olympus OM-D E-M1 RAW … What Works … What Doesn’t

Like many of you, I prefer to shoot in RAW.  The well established reason is that it gives me more information to work with in post processing … more latitude in “tweaking” the image if necessary.  My second choice (when I have to) is RAW + JPG.  It’s a second choice because then I have twice as many files to deal with plus, it sucks up more memory on my SD card and on my computer.  But, of course, some cameras in some cases force you to shoot JPG.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 actually does a pretty good job of automatically changing the image quality setting to one that is compatible with whatever camera function you’ve selected … but, not always.  In Gary Friedman’s recently released, excellent book about the E-M1, you will find a table showing you how the camera behaves with different settings.  So, below you’ll find a short excerpt from his book that will hopefully clear up what the camera does in those different situations.

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Excerpt from “The Complete Guide to Olympus’ OM-D E-M1” by Gary L. Friedman

The E-M1 offers many advanced bells-and-whistles, which are not all compatible with RAW mode. And the ones that don’t support RAW, will (sometimes) silently switch to RAW+JPG (LF) shooting while you use them and then switch back when you’re finished. Which features are incompatible with RAW, and how does the camera behave for each? A comprehensive table appears below:

So, here’s what you really have to remember … a RAW file is always a RAW file and few of the fancy camera settings (except exposure, of course) will apply. The camera may show you the effect in the EVF/LCD, but the RAW file will NOT record that effect. So for those cases where the camera does not automatically switch to RAW+JPG, it is only showing you a preview of what the effect “could” look like.
Fortunately, the Olympus editing software, Olympus Viewer 3, will let you apply all of the in-camera effects to a RAW file on your computer, after the fact. Those include Art Filters, Picture Modes, Color Creator, and Highlight & Shadow Control.

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You can find a great selection of camera and photography books at The Friedman Archives.


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Setting Up the NEX-7 – Revisited

I recently read somewhere, “Photography is a disease for which there is no known cure.” ( – Author Unknown)  I know I’m afflicted by it and I sure hope it isn’t fatal . . . . . aside from my wife wanting to kill me for exceeding my photography budget! 🙂 

A couple of days ago I “reacquired” the Sony NEX-7. There’s a lot to love there:  A beautiful, black, metal body; 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor; 10 frames-per-second; Terrific EVF (Electronic ViewFinder); and the Tri-Navi control system to give you almost instant access to many of the camera’s functions.  This camera is very customizable with several buttons that can be re-configured to setup this camera to work the way you work.

Many of you may not want your camera setup exactly like I do and that’s okay. We’re all individuals and approach photography with different goals and techniques.  In fact, my settings change from time to time as my current photographic emphasis changes.  But, if you’re new to the NEX-7 or maybe just struggling with the overwhelming customization options, maybe this will help. Here’s how I have mine setup, at least for now.

First, in the Main Menu, go to Setup and about halfway down you’ll find the Function Settings. These are the settings that are accessible using the Function Button (next to the shutter button) and adjustable with the two top Control Dials and the Control Wheel (Tri-Navi Controls).
  • Function Settings 1 > Focus Settings
  • Function Settings 2 > White Balance Settings
  • Function Settings 3 > Creative Style Settings
  • Function Settings 4 > Custom Settings
  • Custom Settings 1  > DRO/Auto HDR (Having Auto HDR and Quality in Custom Settings means they are both accessible at the same place. And since I often shoot in RAW, this makes it easy to quick change to JPEG when I want to use Auto HDR.)
  • Custom Settings 2  > Quality
  • Custom Settings 3  > Picture Effect
  • Function Settings Start > Previous (this just takes me back to whatever I had last changed)
Next, with Soft Key A, go back into the Setup Menu, and select Custom Key Settings. These will change the function of several of the buttons on the back of the camera.
  • AF/MF Button > AF/MF control
  • Right Key Setting > Flash Mode
  • Soft Key B Setting > Focus Settings
  • Soft Key C Setting > Shoot Mode
  • Custom Settings > N/A unless you set Soft Key C to Custom Settings, then you will have several choice to add, here.
With this configuration, I almost never need to go into the camera’s extensive menu system to make a change while I’m shooting, which is a big deal for me since I do tend to change settings quite often.  The possibilities are so varied, that you’ll probably need to do some experimenting with different combinations to find what works best for you, but maybe this guide can give you a place to start.

Please comment and share with us how you have your NEX-7 setup – and why – so we all have the chance to learn another way of doing things.

In a recent blog post, I mentioned that I worked with Gary Friedman (www.friedmanarchives.com) to produce a comprehensive manual about the new Sony NEX-5R and NEX-6.  You can find that eBook about the Nex-6 / 5R at www.FriedmanArchives.com , plus other books about all of the Nex models including the Nex-7, the RX100/M2 and most of the Sony Alpha models.