Olympus Art Filters, Part 2

A Case Study: Urban Landscape

My other articles related to the Olympus OM-D System.

In Part 1 of this article I was checking how Olympus Art Filters work, applied to a table-top scene with contrasting lights. Naturally, you cannot expect every filter work nicely with every subject, so the results were mixed: some disappointing, some just great.

Now let us see how do Art Filters work with other type of images — an urban landscape. For this, I used a raw image shot as a part of a different project, and applied art filters off-camera, using the latest version of Olympus Viewer. Results should be the same, or at least close.

#1: No Effect, Natural Picture Mode

Camera: E-M1 Mk.II with MZD 12-40/2.8 Pro at 50 mm.

Aperture priority (ESP, -.3 EV): 1/500 s at F/7.1, ISO 200, WB 5400K.

Raw-to-RGB conversion was the same for all images, except for different Art Filters applied. This time filter choice was based on image preview, and I sometimes included multiple versions of nominally the same filter.

#2a: Pop Art I
This looks very bad: gaudy...

#2b: Pop Art II
...and this — just bad. Definitely, not a landscape filter.

#6a: Grainy Film I
Not bad, but nothing really special. What happened to the sky?

#6b: Grainy Film II
Second version, less contrasty and a bit better.

#7a: Pin Hole I
The fake vignetting looks pretentious here.

#10: Gentle Sepia
Any photo software will do this.

#8a: Diorama I
No, still don't like this one. And the blue stripe...

#8b: Diorama II
Another version adds more of selective blur. No cigar.

#11a: Dramatic Tone I
Now, this is quite interesting, but not a work of art.

#11b: Dramatic Tone II
Better in monochrome. Also better than #6a or #6b.

#12b: Key Line
Definitely a keeper — but you have to see it full-screen.

#14b: Vintage II
A fake postcard from the 1940's. But boring.

#15-04a: Partial Color I (Red)
Now we found one that really works here. Nice.

#15-17a: Partial Color I (Green)
The red version worked better with this image.

Generally, I find the results quite disappointing. Maybe because the filters are non-adjustable? One bright exception is #12b (Key Line), where the filter works great on roof shingles. The monochrome #11b (Dramatic Tone II) is also quite nice.

In #12b, the bright blue stripe at the left is quite annoying. No big deal: it was quite easy to put a mask over the offenfing area and largely desaturate it; done.

(To be accurate: I did that on a slightly different version of #12b, but this doesn't matter.)

You can see the results below, cropped down to two different sizes.

Both versions look downright ugly as inserted, 480 pixels wide, into this page. They have to be opened full-screen to be appreciated. Strange.

#12b4: Key Line, edited, slight crop

#12b5 : Key Line, edited, crop

The fine-detail posterization of roof shingles is, in this case, decisive in the appeal of this picture. Too bad it is quite unpredictable: changing the image brightness just a bit, or adjusting the tonal curve may ruin the effect.(So may a change in image magnification; I was quite surprised when the filter applied to the High-Res version of the same image, delivered very different results.)

Will I use Art Filters now?

No. While I enjoyed playing with them once or twice, the novelty wears off quick. I can apply the Key Line filter to one picture per year; anything more will be an overkill.

Besides, these partcular filters are quite simplistic (not to say crude) and, worse, not adjustable. Giving them just one or two parameters (like strength and radial scale factor) would make the filters better, but even more out-of-place on the camera side (as opposed to postprocessing).

Filters emulating different kinds of film could have a fighting chance (I have to check out how Fujifilm does it). They would have to be more subtle and balanced, though — and that's less appealing to the mass market.

My other articles related to the Olympus E-System cameras.

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Posted 2017/06/01 Copyright © 2017 by J. Andrzej Wrotniak