USB-RAW processing in OM Workspace useful?

OM Workspace is a RAW file developer, which is for Olympus / OM System camera owners for free. Ist can be downloaded from the OM Digitalsolution website. As it is the OM Digitalsolutions own software it will be renewed on every product launch. Therefore the first one supporting RAW files of a new camera. Beside the possibility to use the computer processor it offers also to utilize the camera processor to process the RAW files. In forums and the social networks it is heavily discussed whether it makes sense to use the USB-RAW processing capabilities or not. With this short article I would like to help.

OM-1 product image

What is USB-RAW Processing in OM Workspace?

A in camera processor has different tasks than a processor in a computer. Therefore concept and design is fundamental different. A camera processor is optimized for the task needed in a camera. Means that the usage of a camera should be possible, without any delay, at all times. For this task the camera processors has special areas, which are optimized for image processing. This means that a camera processor can make image processing much faster than a ordinary computer processor. A ordinary computer processor is optimized for general usage. This is the reason why OM Workspace offers you the option to utilize the camera processor for RAW image development

How can I use USB-RAW Processing?

Preconditions to use USB-RAW processing is that you have installed OM Workspace and have one compatible camera (E-M1 Mark III; E-M1 Mark II, E-M1X und die OM-1) connected via USB to your computer. It is important that you are using the same camera for processing as you have used for taking the images. Also important is that you set the camera mode to “RAW/Control” . In addition it is important that the camera is connected directly to the computer and no hub is used.

After you have startet the software you can activate USB-RAW processing in the icon bar

screenshot how to activate USB-RAW processing in OM Workspace

Or in case you prefer to uses USB-RAW processing all the time you can make the setting also in the option menu.

where the USB-RAW procession option is located in the settings

Now OM Workspace is able to utilize the camera processor to develop your images..

When does it make sense to use USB-RAW processing?

In case you are using the newest version of apple computers, like the Mac Studio, which do have massive computer power, it only makes sense to use USB-RAW processing, if you would get the same image quality as you are getting from in camera JEPG images. For all other scenarios, the development with the camera processor, which is as said optimized for images processing, will be much faster than processing the images with your computer. I do have a MacBook Pro from 2018, the development with the camera processor is 10x faster as with the Intel processor. In case you would like to judge the advantage in your case, make a simple test. I would be happy when you would share your experience down in the comments.

OM System OM-1 introduced

Now it is official. One year ago announce The OM System OM-1 is officially introduced. With the OM-1 OM Digitalsolutions fading the Olympus ear out and introduce not only an impressive camera but also a new product naming. Exactly at the 50th anniversary of the OM-1, the digital grandson is introduced to the market. As in the seventies is also the digital version of the OM-1 compared to cameras, which offers a similar performance, small and lightweight. Nevertheless, it is equipped with technical possibilities, which are so far not available in the market.

Lightning fast time machine

Pro Capture has been introduced together with the E-M1 Mark II back in 2016 and supports you as a photographer shifting back in time. While pressing the release button halfway down, the camera already records images and saves them in buffer storage. As soon as you fully press the button down this buffer storage will be stored on your SD card. This supports you to shoot unforeseeable incidents easier than without Pro Capture.
The OM-1 brings this function to a totally new level. With up to 120 images per second, you are able to record finer details of movement which enable you to catch the perfect moment. At this speed, the camera focuses and makes the exposure metering with the first image and keeps it with the following. In case the subject you would like to capture is moving towards or away from you, the camera should adjust focus and exposure in between. Also in this mode, the OM-1 sets new standards. The OM-1 offers 50 frames per second. This speed is unmatched by any camera on the market. This enables you to shoot any small detail in movement. Of course, you have these speeds also in the normal sequential shooting mode as well.

New intelligent autofocus system

Such speed values are only possible if your focusing system is blasting fast as well. The autofocus system of the OM-1 is based on a so-called Quad Pixel AF Technology. This technology divides each pixel into 4 sub-pixel, which can be controlled separately. Therefore it is possible to control those Subpixel diagonals, which enables the camera to realize cross-type phase-detection AF points. 100% of the sensor area is covered. Because the sensor can be read out very quickly, the data can be sent to the image processor very quickly. The new, very fast image processor Truepic X does the rest.

This new technology is also the base for improved intelligent subject detection. OM Digitalsolutions is calling it AI detection AF. The subject detection is based on machine learning and is able to detect airplanes, cars, birds also cats, and dogs. There is not only a big leap in the speed and accuracy of recognition, but also a lot has happened in terms of functionality. In the past subject detection was only available in C-AF + Tracking mode, now it is also available in S-AF and C-AF. In S-AF and C-AF the cameras show, as with C-AF + Tracking, if a subject is detected. However, in those modes, the camera only focuses on subjects, if those are within the focusing fields. Especially experienced photographers will be happy about it, as they are getting better control over this functionality.

In case you would like to know more about AI detection AF please read my short blog post “OM System OM-1 AI detection AF”

Image Quality

in the general opinion pixel count of sensors is equaled with resolution. The OM-1 shows, that this is not correct. Although the pixel count has not been increased, the completely newly developed sensor offers a better detail reproduction than the E-M1 Mark III. This is not surprising as the sensor is a backside illuminated sensor and has a much better noise performance than its predecessor. Most visible is this in high sensitivities, but also visible in the base sensitivities, which offer better data handling. This results in a better detail reproduction in fine structures, which is generally called resolution.

As already mentioned the noise performance of the OM-1 has been massively improved. The OM-1 is roughly 2 f-stops better compared to E-M1 Mark III. My personal impression is that it is even slightly better than 2 f-stops. This means that images taken with 25600 ISO do have roughly the same noise performance as images of the E-M1 Mark III at 6400ISO. You could say that the light sensitivity has been improved by four times. If you have in mind that the sensor area of a Micro Four Thirds sensor is four times smaller than the area of a 35mm camera, you could say that the OM-1 is on the same level as a 35mm camera with a similar pixel count.

But not only noise performance has been improved compared to E-M1 Mark III, also the dynamic range is larger. Roughly 1 f-stop more dynamic range is now available. This enables you to shoot better images of a gorge, which is very bright in the background.

All in all, is the image quality improvement larger than you can expect from a new camera generation and I would say the image quality of this Micro Four Thirds camera is now on the same level as 35mm cameras

Reliability personified

Olympus aka OM Digital Solution has been the market leader in dustproof and splashproof cameras since a long time. The OM-1 is even better. It offers an IP53 standard certification and could be used in nearly all weather conditions you can imagine. In addition, it is guaranteed that the camera works down to -10°C. However, this is only the official value as I used the camera in much lower temperatures as well. But this is not all. In addition, the OM-1 comes with a supersonic wave filter, which removes dust from the sensor. For this purpose, the OM-1 is equipped with a mechanical shutter that is specified for 400,000 releases. More than you will need as an ambitious photographer.

Everything is new

Not only sensor and processor is new developed, but also the menu has got a new design. Even more important it also goes a new structure. In my opinion, the redesign is a complete success. Functions are arranged much more logically and the layout means you only have to look to the left when searching. Once you have found the parameter you are looking for, you can see the setting that is currently being used on the right-hand side. The Super Control Panel has also been streamlined and adjusted. The result is a much simpler overview and you can make settings faster.

Conclusion

The OM SYSTEM OM-1 is a thoroughly successful camera. The engineers have not only taken the image quality a considerable step forward but also brought the speed of a camera into previously unimagined spheres. Anyone who still misses something here will be surprised with a completely new operating concept that is very easy to understand for owners of an OM-D and new users can learn very quickly. From my point of view, there are only small things that could be improved.

OM System OM-1 AI detection AF

With the OM-1, OM Digitalsolutions has taken the intelligent object detection, introduced with the OM-D E-M1X to a new level and called it “AI detection AF”. In addition to the additional detection of cats and dogs, both the speed of detection and the accuracy have been significantly improved. I want to briefly discuss which improvements have been achieved and how.

Speed

The OM-1 introduces two new essential improvement for subject detection AF. On one hand side the sensor and on the other hand the image processor 

The new sensor is a backside illuminated stacked CMOS sensor, who has pixels which are divided in four sub pixel. This design brings two essential improvements compared to the OM-D E-M1X. A stacked sensor can be read out much faster and is therefore able to deliver needed information for AF calculation faster. The four sub pixel information can be read out separately and could be utilized as cross sensors for phase detection autofocus. This is the reason why the OM-1 has a 100% sensor coverage of autofocus sensors. But providing the information faster is only one thing. To be able to utilize this data the image processor has to able to process those data. Therefore the new image processor of the OM-1 is much faster as the one in the E-M1X.

Precision

Beside speed accuracy in subject detection is as important. A fast autofocus is not helpful, if the subject detection is working well. The accuracy of the OM-1 subject detection as been improved by two changes. On one hand side the size of the single AF points as been reduced. Therefore, are more AF points available, which leads to a better differentiation between objects, background and foreground. Result is that the camera is not irritated by branches or similar interruptions, which leads to a improved subject detection. On the other hand the algorithm to recognize the single subjects has been improve and programmed directly into the processor, which is thanks to the much higher processing speed able to deliver the focus results in a shorter time. The camera is able to react to changes in front of a lens much faster.

Kingfisher

Functional AI detection AF Improvements

Luckily the improvements of the OM-1 are not only in speed and precision, but also in functionality. In case of the E-M1X the intelligent subject detection is only available when you activate C-AF + Tracking and the hole sensor area. That is the reason that the photographer is not able to recognize which subject will be focused on. Even though the camera focus on the subject which is closest to the selected AF point.

The OM-1 is offering intelligent subject detection also on S-AF and the “normal” C-AF mode. In opposite to the C-AF + Tracking, which is following the focused subject, S-AF and C-AF keeps the position in the frame and reacts accordingly. This enable the photographer to decide which of the functionality fits to his / her needs best.

Conclusion about AI detection AF

The new generation of subject detection as essential improvements compared to the one introduce three years ago with the E-M1X. All aspects, which do have influence in subject detection, has been improved.

Die neue  Generation der Objekterkennung ist eine wesentliche Verbesserung gegenüber der vor 3 Jahren vorgestellten E-M1X. Alle Aspekte, die einen Einfluß auf die Objekterkennung haben, wurden wesentlich verbessert. The interaction of the new sensor, new processor and new algorithms gives you a package that makes it much easier to photograph objects such as birds in flight. This development also shows what we can expect from new camera generations in the future. Instead of just increasing the number of pixels, there will be more and more computational photography, in which the camera provides functions that make it easier for the photographer to achieve results. After all, 20 million pixels, the OM-1 is more than enough to print out the pictures in any desired size and hang them on the wall.

OM-1 details

Interested in details about the OM System OM-1, then read “OM System OM-1 introduced”

Focus stacking and focus bracketing

Normally in photography one tries to separate an object from the background with the help of the smallest possible depth of field. This helps to reduce the viewer’s gaze to draw attention to the important part of the picture. However there are situations in which the depth of field is too small and needs to be expanded. This is mostly necessary when you make macros and you are very close to the object. For this purpose, many cameras from OM Digital Solutions provide focus bracketing and focus stacking. How these two functions work and what differentiates them I want to show you here.

The differences between focus stacking and focus bracketing

In case you are using a camera of the OM-D series focus bracketing and focus stacking differentiate in the following two points.

  1. With focus stacking you can shot not more than 15 images, whereas in case of focus bracketing you can shot up to 999 images.
  2. With focus stacking you are getting a JPEG file, which is stacked out of the different images and each single shot in addition in RAW/JEPG. In case of focus bracketing you just get the single images and not a final stacked one. Those images can be used for stacking in a dedicated software afterwards.

Both methods are suitable to expand the depth of field of your images. Focus stacking is easier to use, as the result can be viewed directly in-camera. In addition, the camera shows you a small frame, which indicates the area which will be lost after the images are stacked. Focus bracketing does make sense in case the number of images available in focus stacking is not enough.

Last but not least it is important to know, that Fokus bracketing can be used with all Micro Four Thirds, which have autofocus functionality. Whereas focus stacking is usable only with compatible lenses. Which of the lense are compatible depends on the camera you are using and is also changing from time to time. Therefore please have a look at the OM Digitalsolutions Q&A website if needed.

The settings

In “camera menu 2” you find the entry “Bracketing”. Select it, navigate to “Focus BKT” and open it with the right key on the keypad.

Select “Focus stacking” to activate focus stacking or select “off” in case you would use focus bracketing instead.

The amount of images you would like to take is selectable in “Amount of images” In case you have selected focus stacking you can select up to 15 images. Otherwise, up to 99 images are possible.

In addition, you can define the focus difference between every single shot.

Which value to be selected depends on the object, aperture and focal length. Therefore you could not tell which is the best fitting one. Best you start with the standard value 5 and change it in case you see issues in the final image. As a starting point, I determine the distance between the focus points when using the M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm F2.8 Macro on the closest focus distance

SchrittgrößeDistance of focus points on the object
10.2 cm
20.3 cm
30.5 cm
40.7 cm
50.8 cm
61 cm
71.1 cm
81.3 cm
91.4 cm
101.5 cm

In case you would like to use an external Flash you can choose the time your flash needs to recharge in the flash charging time.

Attention:

As focus stacking is using the silent shutter, the flash is deactivated. In case you would like to use the flash you have to activate it in the camera2 menu under “Antishock / silent”.

Finally, a small animation of images that were taken with different sharpness settings.

After merging the single images the final result looks like this. Compared to the normal image the depth of field is increased.

Out of 15 images merged result

In case you do have any comments please leave them below.

OM System standard lens comparison


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OM Digital Solutions introduced the M.Zuiko Digital ED 20mm F1.4 PRO today and some of you may ask yourself whether this lens is necessary. OM Digital Solutions is already offering two standard lenses, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm F1.2 PRO and the M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8. Whether the new lens is an option for you is up to you. I made some comparison images to show the different field of view and bokeh of the three lenses.

Field of view differences

The first image shows the field of view of the M.Zuiko Digital ED 20mm F1.4 PRO.

M.Zuiko Digital ED 20mm F1.4 PRO

The following two images are showing the M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm F1.2 PRO and the M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8. For the comparison, I kept the distance equal and only changed lenses. Therefore you can see the different field of view the lenses are offering.

M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm F1.2 PRO
M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8

Besides the obvious difference to the 20mm F1.4, it is interesting that the field of view of the two 25mm lenses is different too. Although the datasheet shows the same focal length and field of view.

Comparison Bokeh

For the next comparison, I tried to keep the size of the fungi the same. This enables us to compare the Bokeh effect of those lenses. Same order as before.

M.Zuiko Digital ED 20mm F1.4 PRO

This image shows how nice the 20mm F1.4 separates the fungi from the background.

M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm F1.2 PRO
M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8

Compared to the 20mm F1.2 the background of the 20mm F1.4 is a bit sharper. Compared to the 25mm F1.8 a bit unsharper. For a better comparison find a crop of the images below.

M.Zuiko Digital ED 20mm F1.4 PRO
M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm F1.2 PRO
M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8

Not only field of view, size, weight and price of the M.Zuiko Digital ED 20mm F1.4 PRO is in between the two 25mm lenses, but also the Bokeh effect. Which of the three lenses fit best to your needs is up to you.

Here you find details about the M.Zuiko Digital ED 20mm F1.4 lens