In-Camera Effects in an Affordable, Compact Package
By Joe Farace
There is no doubt that the wonderfully versatile E-3 is Olympus’ professional standard-bearer, so where does the E-620 fit into their product line-up? The E-620 is a throwback to the glory days of Olympus film SLRs exhibiting the precision and jewel-like design of the legendary OM-series of cameras, wrapped up in a digital package that’s oh-so this millennium. For openers, the E-620 combines a 12.3-megapixel imaging chip with the Art Filters introduced with the semi-pro E-30. Like the Live View feature that was launched with the E-330 and continues with this new camera, I expect in-camera special effects filters to become standard on other manufacturers’ models (and that those mfgs will act as if they invented it).
Fun with Filters
The E-620 offers six in-camera Art Filters that are easily accessed by the nice analog knob on top the camera. When you spin it to ART/SCN, the 2.7-inch swivel-LCD screen displays a list of the filters. Using the other jewel-like analog control knob on top or the camera’s four-way control on the camera’s back, you can scroll down the list that also displays example photos.
Pop Art enhances colors, making them more vivid and deeply saturated and was one of my favorite filters to use when capturing images that needed a little extra impact.
Yes, you can use the Pop Art filter for portraits. I decided to take Mary to the source of all true Pop Art—a comic book store. While the filter can make skin tone look too saturated, I hedged my bets by simultaneously capturing both RAW+JPEG files. This gave me a (RAW) color photograph and a Pop Art image (JPEG) that I layered together in Adobe Photoshop, then used the Eraser tool (at 50% opacity) to lightly brush Mary’s face, allowing half of the normal skin tone to show through, while punching up her hair, clothes, and the comic books. ©2009 Joe Farace
Soft Focus creates the familiar soft focus effect that works with still life or portrait subjects. Since there is no way to control the degree of soft focus, one way to use this filter may be to simultaneously capture RAW+JPEG images and apply the soft focus JPEG file as a layer to the unaltered RAW file so you can control the amount of soft focus by changing that layer’s opacity or the area of soft focus with a mask.
Using the Soft Focus Art Filter has some advantages over softening in post production, mainly that you can see it now and show your subject the results. You have little control over how much soft focus is used, but the traditional methods such as aperture selection and focal length still apply, and I found the filter works great in strong light as with this portrait. Exposure was 1/640 second at f/11, ISO 200, and this is how the unmanipulated file looked directly off the memory card. ©2009 Joe Farace
Pale and Light Color uses muted color tonalities, and photographers who are fans of on-camera filters, who I suspect will be big fans of all of the Art Filters, might liken this to Cokin’s Pastel filter.
This photograph of balloons shows how the Pale and Light Color Art Filter works to create soft, pastel colors. When using Art Filters, you can adjust some aspects of the image’s exposure to enhance the filter effect, such as white balance, exposure compensation, ISO, flash intensity, and wireless flash control, but I found that exposure compensation was the most used control. ©2009 Mary Farace
Light Tone subdues highlights and shadows and both areas are rendered softly (but not soft focus) while maintaining detail. Users of Tiffen’s Contrast filters will like this filter’s ability to control contrast.
The Light Tone Art Filter is also a useful tool in macro photography when you don’t or can’t use flash to control contrast. Here the decidedly non-macro but eminently useful Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 lens was used with an exposure of 1/320 at f/7.1, ISO 200.
Grainy Film recreates the grainy look and high contrast tonality of black and white film and produces images with a decidedly dramatic feel. This is a great effect for studio and fashion photography as well as adding gritty reportage looks to street photography. It could even be used as a bold look for portraiture.
With contrasty subjects, the Grainy Film Art Filter, deliberately overexposed, can take on the look of a photograph made using Kodalith in the traditional darkroom. Exposure was 1/500 second at f/9, ISO 200 with a plus one-stop exposure compensation. Kevin Kubota’s (www.kubotaworkshops.com) sloppy borders effect was added to complete the analog darkroom look. ©2009 Joe Farace
Pin Hole Camera reproduces the color tone and the vignetting of photos made with a toy camera, so it’s more of a digital Holga effect than a true pinhole. The illustration, for example, was made at an aperture of f/9 while my Zero Image (www.zeroimage.com) pinhole camera has an aperture of f/256 or thereabouts.
The Pin Hole Camera Art Filter can add some drama to an otherwise normal-looking scene. Here it was used with an exposure of 1/400 second at f/9, ISO 200, to add some pizzazz to a photo of a sculpture of Chief Little Raven who was the principal chief of the Southern Arapaho tribe. ©2009 Joe Farace
In Live View mode you can see the effect of a filter before capturing an image, making it easy to apply the right Art Filter to the right subject, because only one can be applied to an image, and only at the time it’s captured. The examples you work for the kind of subject matter I photograph. You may find other subjects that will be enhanced with any one of the Art filters and when doing your own explorations, look beyond the obvious.