Mele Kalikimaka, 2010

Merry Christmas, everyone! Or Mele Kalikimaka, as we say here in Hawaii. Today was an absolutely gorgeous day here in East Hawaii, just perfect temperatures, sunny, with lovely trade winds. Pretty much just the same as last year. Although I get a bit wistful around Christmas, thinking about places with snow and imagining all the old winter rituals, it only lasts a few seconds in weather like this…

This was the view from my morning coffee, in the shade of a large rambutan tree in the back yard. I have been shooting almost exclusively with the Olympus EP-1 since I got it a few weeks ago on a bargain price, and am beginning to get a feel for its capabilities and how it compares to shooting with the Panasonic GH1 and before that the Ricoh GX100, my two other “go-to” cameras. One of the things that intrigued me about the EP-1 was the vaunted Olympus color JPEG processing. As I have mentioned before, for a variety of reasons I rarely shoot RAW, even if I will do post-processing, so in-camera JPEG processing is much more important for me than it is for a lot of other photographers. Although I wasn’t disappointed with the Panasonic’s output, I just kept hearing from the Oly fans how much better the “Oly colors” were. Well this morning I decided to try to see for myself. From my spot, I shot a series of photographs with each camera at 28mm EFL. The EP-1 and the GH1 both used the same lens. All cameras were set to auto-iso, program mode, no exposure compensation (those aren’t typical settings for me, but I wanted to start with something sort of auto-everything as a baseline comparison). Here are the results.

Christmas Day 2010, Hawaii (GH1, standard) 

Key: R20101225-100818-sRGB

Panasonic GH1, AWB, Program mode, Multi-segment metering, “Standard” setting

Christmas Day 2010, Hawaii (GH1, dynamic) 

Key: R20101225-100803-sRGB

Panasonic GH1, AWB, Program mode, Multi-segment metering, “Dynamic” setting

Christmas Day 2010, Hawaii (GH1, vibrant) 

Key: R20101225-100739-sRGB

Panasonic GH1, AWB, Program mode, Multi-segment metering, “Vibrant” setting

Christmas Day 2010, Hawaii (EP-1, natural) 

Key: R20101225-101453

Olympus EP-1, AWB, Program mode, Multi-segment metering, “Natural” setting

Christmas Day 2010, Hawaii (EP-1, vivid) 

Key: R20101225-101441

Olympus EP-1, AWB, Program mode, Multi-segment metering, “Vivid” setting

Christmas Day 2010, Hawaii (GX100, standard) 

Key: R20101225-101112

Ricoh GX100, AWB, Program mode, Multi-segment metering

I shot these with the “color” processing options that I would be most likely to choose from (usually I shoot the GH1 on “standard” or “vibrant” and the EP1 on “vivid”. At least for typical outdoor scenes, to my eye there is no great distinction here by the Oly camera in terms of JPEG output. I think the color of the grass matches the real thing best to my eye on the GH1 “vibrant” setting. The EP-1 and the GX100 tended to run just a bit warm on the AWB, and the EP-1 shots are approaching clipping more than the GH1 in the highlights. That said, the photos from the latter two cameras do match my “experience” of the morning a little more closely because it did feel very bright and “golden colored”. Also, the little Ricoh availed itself well with a much smaller sensor, but a very sharp lens; at least in typical web sizes it matches up well in sharpness with the others.

It’s interesting to see the results. I will need to do a more controlled test, with a white card and some additional colors in the reds, yellows and oranges to make a final decision about it. But other things are swaying my opinion about shooting with the EP-1 to a greater degree than these subtle color issues. I’ll talk some more about that soon.

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