May 032012

Nope, I’m not dead, I’m just in kind of a lockup 🙂

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 is widely available now and thankfully it’s no problem getting a decent RAW converter. With the exception of DxO, all major converters have been updated, today finally Adobe’s free DNG converter 6.7 came out, and that’s what I’d need to be able to open the OM-D’s RAW files in Photoshop CS3. The question is, what will I do?

I have bought Corel AfterShot Pro, the former Bibble Pro 5, but I am not entirely convinced of its quality. In areas with fine details it seems to be prone to moirĂ© and other artifacts. I can’t back this up right now and in any case the effects are only visible under close scrutiny, but I still found Capture One Pro (which I have as a 60 days trial version) to produce better results. Capture One Pro is more expensive and I don’t like the workflow that it imposes.

The cheapest solution would be to just go on like I did with the LX5 and the E-P2, use the DNG converter, Camera RAW 4.6 and Photoshop CS3. It would also be a well known workflow, nothing to learn. On the other hand an ORF (Olympus RAW Format) file of the OM-D has on average around 15 MB, the same file converted to DNG is with about 50 MB more than three times as big.I don’t take nearly as many images as Juha, but I usually take many more than I publish, so the size difference is substantial. The problem was always there with DNG, but the higher the sensor’s resolution, the bigger the absolute difference.

And this brings me to Lightroom. I currently use Lightroom 4.2 RC2 and I like its results. The new de-fringing controls are brilliant, the local adjustments are brilliant, and in general I think that I can get excellent results from it, in certain situations even better results than I’d usually get with DNG and ACR 4.6.

Some other things are not about quality but about ease of use. Take for instance this image taken Monday. Playing around I found that going B&W would be a good idea, and I absolutely loved the intuitive way of raising or lowering the tonal values of colors by “scrubbing”. As far as I know this is now standard in Photoshop as well (introduced with CS5?), but for me it was new.

The backside is that every adjustment done in Lightroom is an adjustment not contained in the final Photoshop file. Looking around in the directory, I find no XMP files that could probably contain the adjustments and their parameters. This leaves only one place for them to be stored: the catalog.

For many years I have used iMatch as my digital asset management (DAM) solution, and I could continue to do so, but if I have to export / import / synchronize catalogs between laptop and desktop anyway (at least that’s what I think I need to do to keep my adjustments), using Lightroom as DAM solution would absolutely make sense.

You see, it’s for a reason that I’ve not posted for a few days. I’m agonizing about my future workflow and I want to avoid going into a direction that may turn out as a dead end.

The Song of the Day is “White Room” in the version from Eric Clapton’s “24 Nights” album. Hear it on YouTube.

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