Thursday, July 21, 2011
Unfortunately, when in an ART mode, most settings are handled automatically, allowing very little control over aperture and ISO and shutter speed, the trinity of essentials. Most fortunately, however, Olympus programmed the portrait mode to function much in the manner I would set it myself, maintaining the lowest possible aperture to best limited depth-of-field and handling the colors in just the warming way I would have treated them in post anyway. Then, to up the effect, the digital equivalent of a softening filter is applied to the resultant image, smoothing over all the harsh details better than I was ever able to achieve with a diffuse filter back when I was shooting weddings. The JPG results are truly beautiful, but seeing as I can't leave well enough alone, I have a tendency to apply my own little touch to the resultant images and much to my surprise find the files very receptive to the effects I apply.
It only came to reason that I should try the tactic on a portrait shot in the appropriate ART mode. The results were glowing, quite literally. In-camera softening of the JPGs already smoothed over the fine details in the skin, the addition of the digital red filter completely eliminated them. Any extra clarity afforded by the RAW was not missed given the sharpness retained in the details that mattered. Having been a RAW guy for so long, it was so nice to find a mode on the camera that eliminated a good portion of the post work I would otherwise have to do the hard way.
No other point to this post, really, just a long thank you to Olympus for designing an extra set of modes that prove incredibly useful to people photographers.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
A friend came to me recently asking me for a patriotic photo to be used for the cover of his flag store's catalog. I was certain I had a fitting shot (which I was unfortunately unable to find before the deadline), so I proceeded to sift through the digital archive of photos I've taken since '04. It was a surreal experience, really, seeing the story of my life as told only incidentally by the photos strewn about the clusters of the disk. I had no idea that my innate inclination to photograph everything I see and do would ever amount to anything more than the select few I published online (and otherwise).
Once past the wall of indecipherable RAW formats that heavily populated all of 2011 and most of 2010, a gorgeous presentation of people photos dominated the theme of mid 2010 to about 2008. All were JPG, out-of-camera images shot with the D40x, and they were all gorgeous as-processed by that camera. They reminded me how much I miss that style of shooting, with no involved and numbing post-process necessary. That was all done beforehand, allowing the publishing process to quickly flow.
More and more the JPG output of my next pro-grade body is scaling the ladder of priority. Panasonic has never had very good JPG processing, only heavily detailed RAW files. For serious, static subjects, that is well and good, but I find my need for such heavy focus on the serious and static diminishing. I'm back to shooting people again, snapping at events and randomly while sitting at Starbucks. I do not want to be stranded in front of my computer for any amount of time to churn those files into usable images when the end result is ultimately only ever going to be a snapshot. Much as I love the G series that Panasonic has produced, impressed as I am by their bodies, their lenses and their image output, they will never be a strong replacement for candid people shooting until their JPG processing engine is heavily overhauled.
My choices are becoming increasingly difficult because I cannot adequately pursue my thematic affections without being invested in two systems. I am forced to choose between them. Panasonic has the best system for architectural and interior shooting, with in-camera correction of all distortion and aberrations in its RAW files so that, once in Photoshop, the hardest tasks are over and it all comes down to the artistic side of RAW processing. No matter what I do, I will always have a soft spot for Panasonic cameras and invest in them accordingly, they're simply that good.
Word in the rumor mill is that Fuji is in talks with MFT standard members Olympus and Panasonic about either potentially joining in the MFT standard or otherwise contributing to it. Panasonic hasn't yet released its scheduled GF1 spiritual successor, and I could only hope in a however unlikely miracle that the gift of Fuji to its potential MFT brethren is its JPG processing magic. If the GF1 successor churns out delicious JPGs then I would certainly love to a be a one-camera-system kind of guy. Today, however, with how things stand in the EVIL camera world, it appears I'll be waiting at least one more year before that kind of magic makes it way into the list of options. For now... choices...