Noise reduction with Ai

Rauschfilter mit künstlicher Intelligenz

With the introduction of the OM-1 more than a year ago, OM Digitalsolution introduced a noise reduction with Ai. This was a measure to support the marketing claim of a 2 f-stop better noise performance compared to the E-M1 Mark III. If the images are processed directly in the camera to JPEG, this is certainly a valid approach. However, there is still a debate about whether this statement is valid. This certainly stems from the fact that most OM-1 buyers shoot images in RAW format and then process them in Lightroom. Since Lightroom certainly didn’t have the best noise filter until the last release, users thus experienced a different reality than the one communicated by the marketing department.

Now, with the latest release of Lightroom, Adobe has also introduced a noise filter based on artificial intelligence. This is highly praised from all sides. So it made me curious which of the two technologies works better on images from the OM-1. I was not only interested in the quality of the disappointed images, but also the workflow and the processing speed.

Noise reduction with Ai in OM Workspace

To use the artificial intelligence noise filter from OM Digitalsolutions you need to download the latest version of OM Workspace. The software is free of charge. However, you need your camera serial number. Otherwise you will not be able to download the software.
Before you do that, please check the system requirements. Artificial intelligence needs some computing power and therefore the noise filter is not available for every computer. If your computer does not meet the requirements you will not find the AI tab (see picture) in OM Workspace.

AI (artificial intelligence) Reiter von OM Workspace unter dem der Rauschfilter mit künstlicher Intelligenz verborgen ist.


As you can see in the picture above, the noise filter is part of the normal image processing and therefore easy to use. The noise filter is not limited to images from the OM-1. According to the OM Digitalsolution website, the following cameras are compatible:

  • OM-1
  • E-M1X
  • E-M1 Mark III
  • E-M1 Mark II
  • E-M5 Mark III

The OM-5 is not on the list. However, since it uses the sensor of the E-M1 Mark III, I assume that it is also supported. Probably the website has not been updated yet. If your camera is not compatible with the noise filter, you will not see the AI tab.

Once selected, you have several options. Firstly, you can decide whether you want to give priority to resolution or noise reduction. On the other hand, you can set the strength of the noise filter in three steps (Low, Standard and High). Here only the graininess is reduced. For color noise the second setting “False Color Suppression” is responsible. Here you also have three levels (Low, Standard and High) to choose from.

Finally, you can activate “Dark Area Color Suppression”. This function reduces low-frequency noise that remains in the dark area.


I own an Apple Macbook Air with M2 processor and judge the speed on this basis. Since the minimum requirements for the AI-based noise filter are relatively high, I think the speed will be similar on other systems. The noise filtering runs pleasingly fast. It takes about 4 seconds.


The noise filter does an amazing job. If the quality of the OM-1 is already very usable up to 6400 ISO, the noise filter raises it to 25600 ISO. I would say you gain about 2 f-stops. I would not use the “Dark Area Color Suppression” function though, it leads to a very strong decolorization of dark areas and can have very unpleasant side effects. Here are a few comparisons before and after noise filtering.

Comparison Noise reduction with Ai
ISO25600 ISO before / after
Comparison Noise reduction with Ai
ISO51200 before / after
Comparison Noise reduction with Ai
ISO25600 before / after

Download the OM Workspace files here.

Noise reduction with Ai in Adobe Lightroom

Workflow and Speed

In Lightroom, the noise filter is also part of the normal image processing chain. It can also be applied at any time, but Adobe recommends using it as a first step.

Instead of a discrete three-step setting, Lightroom has a slider that ranges from 0-100 and can be adjusted with a preview. In addition, the dialog also shows the estimated editing time. The processing takes much longer than with OM Workspace. Doesn’t have to mean anything bad if the quality is better. More about this later.

Lightroom saves the file processed with the noise filter as a new DNG. So the noise filter can’t be activated and deactivated so easily. If you are not satisfied with the achieved quality, you have to start over with the other file. In practice, however, this is not a problem. The original file remains after all.


Lightroom’s noise filter also produces amazing results. After initial viewing, I would even say the results are better than OM Workspace.

Comparison Noise reduction with Ai
ISO25600 ISO before / after
Comparison Noise reduction with Ai
ISO51200 before / after
Comparison Noise reduction with Ai
ISO51200 before / after

You can download the Lightroom files here.


Both software variants deliver amazing results with the artificial intelligence noise filter and deliver at least 2 stops better image quality. The workflow could not be more different. Lightroom is much slower in processing and a new DNG file is created after the application. But the normal Lightroom workflow is available and the noise filter is not limited to Olympus / OMDS files. This is exactly the reason why I find the Lightroom solution better. The OM Workspace workflow is rather sluggish and cumbersome and can’t keep up with Lighroom in the slightest.

What are your experiences? I’m looking forward to hearing from you in the comments.

Focus Stacking in landscape photography

Waterfall on Island

OM System cameras have focus stacking a unique function, which is useful to increase the depth of field in macro photography. But there is another use case for focus stacking, even though the depth of field normally isn’t an issue.

When is focus stacking helpful for landscape photography?

A popular creative means in landscape photography is to place an object in the foreground as this emphasises depth. Always when you do this depth of field becomes relevant in landscape photography, even though wide-angle lenses have a much bigger depth of field than tele lenses. But in landscape photography the distances are enormous. Therefore closing the aperture doesn’t help. Especially as image quality is getting worse when you use a smaller f-stop than 11.

Original without focus stacking
result after focus stacking

What to consider when using Focus Stacking

In my article “Focus Stacking and Focus Bracketing” I write about the needed settings in detail. In opposite to macro photography you have to consider a bit more. As already said above you should avoid smaller apertures than 11. In case you close it further diffraction will decrease your image quality. In addition, most properly you must experiment a bit with the step size. Which one is fitting depends on the lens, focusing distance and aperture. Therefore a recommendation is hardly possible.

Focus Stacking takes the first image on the focus point you have set. The next image is taken from a closer point and the following will be taken behind the first focus point. Therefore you should not fonearestthe the closest distance which should be sharp, but behind. Also here you must experiment to get the result you would achieve.

Focus Stacking in landscape photography original
Original without focus stacking
Focus Stacking in landscape photography result
result after focus stacking

Additional sources for this topic

In case you would like to get more information about focus stacking in landscape photography you find additional information on the web. Following sources, I can recommend.

  1. OM System Visionäre Peter Baumgartern article “Maximum Depth of field” veröffentlicht.
  2. If you understand German the article of Helmut Kruse “Fokusstacking in der Landschaftsfotografie? Ja Klar!” is worth reading.

Why it doesn’t makes sense to define 35mm format as standard.

Panoramasicht vom Fellhorn

In the first years of digital photography only sensors, which were smaller in size than 35mm format (24x36mm2), have been available. As the normal user has been used to use the focal length, and the resulting field of view, at this time industry began to specify the focal length of a camera as equivalent to 35mm. This had the advantage that consumers quickly understood which angle of view a lens depicts on the smaller sensor.

When sensors in 35mm format came onto the market, this nomenclature was adopted. This quickly established a test culture in which cameras with a smaller sensor were compared with the 35mm format. For this purpose, the 35mm format was taken as the standard. The recording of the camera with the smaller sensor was made in such a way that it came as close as possible to that of the 35mm camera.

The consequences

This approach led very fast to statements such as The depth of field of an image depends on the sensor size. What is not correct? Those who are interested in further details about this topic should read my blog post “Four influencing image quality factors of digital cameras”.

However, it usually does not stop with the above statements. The testers often go even further and crop all sensors that are used for comparison to the 3:2 format. Why? If you look at the history of photography, you realize that photography has always had many different formats. Nevertheless, you then hear statements like Despite the same native resolution, the sensor has a lower resolution in the 3:2 format. In my understanding, this is a wrong approach, you could also crop the 3:2 format to the 4:3 format. This would end in a reverse statement. Here’s an example where I took the Micro Four Thirds camera as a reference and cropped the Sony image.

Samle images taken with the E-M1 Mark III
E-M1 Mark III, 40mm, 1/500s, F2.8, ISO200
Sample image taken with the Sony A7 III
Sony A7 III, 43mm, 1/320s, F2.8, ISO100

Alternatives for the 35mm format as standard

After more than 3 decades of digital photography, it is time to stop comparing with the 35mm format. Instead of doing that, we should start to discuss the strength of each format. This would allow the end-user to select the format to their needs. With a Micro Four Thirds camera, you will never make the same images as with a 35mm camera. Just as you will not take the same pictures with a medium format camera and a 35mm camera. For this reason, it makes little sense to use such comparisons in technology. As users, we have to ask ourselves what is important to us to implement our photographic ideas.

In case you have to be as mobile as possible Micro Four Thirds is the camera system of your choice. In case you need to shoot in complete darkness and you need to have the best of the best noise performance then a medium format camera might be the right selection. However, at the end of the day, the photographer takes the image. Technology is just a support for doing things easier than without it, it cannot substitute your creativity.

Short trip to the big five / Botswana part 2

Luftbildaufnahme der Viktoriafalls

Botswana Moreni Game Resort

From the Hwange national park in Zimbabwe, we flew via Victoria Waterfalls to Kasane in Botswana. We were lucky as our pilot made an extra round over the Victoria Waterfalls, which is a very impressive view, even though the water level is not very high in November. From Kasane, we flew to the Moreni Game Resort. Where we could visit the Wilderness Safaris camp Mombo the second camp on this trip. The welcome in the room was with lovely arranged coffee beans very warm.

Welcome in Mombo with a nice image on the bed made with coffee beans

First game drive in Botswana

As in Zimbabwe, we haven’t much time to enjoy the room as we started immediately to a game drive. The Okavango Delta is even more impressive than the Hwange national park in Zimbabwe. Not only due to the animal variety but also scenic. As we have been there shortly before the rainy season, we were lucky to see also nice cloud formations. In the image below we even had the hope that we are getting a thunderstorm and I hoped I would be able to shoot some flashes with the Live Composite mode. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Botswana landscape with rain clouds

Despite the scenic, we concentrate on the wildlife. After a short time, we met a lion family which killed a zebra shortly before. Unfortunately, we missed the hunt, but anyway it was interesting to observe the family hierarchies and the behaviour of the animals.

male lion with cups enjoying a zebra meal
Lion zebra lunch

The family also had offspring who nibbled at the zebra rather clumsily and tried to secure a piece. We spent an hour here and the time flew by. Can’t imagine anything more exciting than observing nature. Some of my friends asked if it was disgusting, but being in the wild and seeing animals in their natural habitat is more than normal. On the contrary, it was exciting to watch.

small lion cup, try to eat zebra the first time

Birds in Botswana

After we had seen enough we went on a search to find more wildlife. As said, we were in Botswana at the beginning of the rainy season and therefore there was almost no water in the Okavango Delta. The few remains of water were very popular not only with water dwellers but of course also with their predators, the kingfishers. One of my favourite animals in Africa. So far I only know the European kingfisher. In Africa, however, I learned to love the kingfisher genus as such and in the places where the fish are trapped in a puddle, it was of course very easy to find this species of animal and could observe its behaviour very well.

kingfisher sitting at the water
Pied Kingfisher

The bird biodiversity in the Okavango delta is phenomenal and a perfect area to use one of my favourite Olympus OM-D functions. Pro Capture is very helpful to capture the exact moment when birds take off. One of the most beautiful birds species is in my eyes, beside the kingfishers, the bee-eaters.

starting bee eater
bee-eater take off
starting bee eater

How to focus on a theme

Have you recognised that, if several photographers do together a photo walk, everyone brings different images back home? This is due to the different experience everybody has and therefore do recognise different things. Means photography has something to do with seeing, which can be learned with different methods. For example by using a theme when you are going onto a photo walk. This will sensibilities you and you will come back with different results than without. How to focus on a theme I would like to describe in the following article.

Another option would be so called picture cards like the “Inspiracles” or “See the bigger picture”. This helps in case you don’t have ideas or you need inspiration.

Last but not least you could deal with a topic for a longer time this will change your perception.

How to focus on a theme: photo walk

Choosing a theme helps you to focus on a special topic and you will recognise motifs, which you otherwise missed. I do this from time to time and recognise after 2-3 hours, that I suddenly see only things fitting to the topic. For example with the photo walk “reflections”. In the beginning, it was hard to find motifs but was improving the longer the photo walk lasted. As we finished the photo walk suddenly I only saw reflections, even though that I was already on the way home.

Sample image of a photo walk with the theme mirror
Mirrored man
Sample image of a photo walk with the theme mirror

Picture cards

The principle of picture cards is pretty simple. On the one side, you find information about the topic and a short description of how to realise it. On the other side examples, which should inspire you. You have two options in case you take images. Either you look through the cards and decide which one you are using, or, in my opinion, the more exciting, you just draw a card and just use the topic you get. In both cases, you will recognise, that it works to focus on one topic.

Deal with a topic

Especially in the last half-year, I recognise, that my way of seeing and how I take images has changed a lot. Due to the Covid pandemic, I have to work home a lot and therefore I went out during lunchtime to go through the park. Always a camera and a lens with focal length with me. The goal was to photograph local birds. In the first days, I heard the birds but was not able to see them. The more I deal with them, the more I saw the birds and was able to take images in the environment without feeding them. The highlight was, as I recognise a little bird while running on a small branch. Keen to know what it is I stopped and recognised that it was a nuthatch, which was flying to its nest.

nuthatch taken in a park nearby me. Recognized it as I was more and more interested in birds
nuthatch taken in a park nearby me. Recognized it as I was more and more interested in birds
nuthatch taken in a park nearby me. Recognized it as I was more and more interested in birds
nuthatch taken in a park nearby me. Recognized it as I was more and more interested in birds