I get a lot of questions about Lightroom and even more about Olympus Viewer 3. Color is important to photographers. Details are important to photographers. Nobody wants to sacrifice quality by using a software that can’t deliver. Then again, using a workflow or program that can’t deliver is just as bad. I want to share some images and let you decide for yourself what is right for you. My workflow may be quite different than yours. My color preferences may be quite different than yours. As always, make your decision for you, to ensure you are getting the results you want. Lets dive into this.
Lightroom has been around for quite a while. I criticized it heavily up until version 3 or 4. It just wasn’t there yet. By version 4 lightroom had really sorted out well into a very strong workflow system with solid raw development. I have always shot with various brands of cameras. Especially since I work in the commercial photography world, I occasionally have to shoot with gear different from my main setup. I also own, or have owned gear from Canon, Fuji, Olympus, Leica, Phase One, and Hasselblad. I have shot with gear from Panasonic, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony as well. Having a workflow program that could handle different camera files and not require me to use different software for each was amazing. It works. A lot of people just use one system though. And for those situations…why use lightroom? Or why use the manufacturer’s software. It is free after all.
In these scenarios using Olympus Viewer 3 software may be just fine. It offers metadata and metadata presets. It offers raw development. It offers folder browsing and tagging. It offers export and conversions. So what’s the problem.
OV3 is slow and non-intuitive. Image editing from shot to shot is not nearly as smooth and functional as Lightroom in my opinion. It is also not as easy on the eyes. Layout and movement within the software is not nearly as refined in my opinion. Processing images is slow…and I have a pretty hefty workstation. When I have a LOT of images to go through, it becomes a giant time-eater to work in OV3. Most people i’ve spoken with share this experience. (Yes I know lightroom has had its share of performance issues…but it works a LOT better than OV3)
OV3 has something that draws most people to it though. Olympus Color. Each manufacturer has its signature color palette, and Olympus is known for their excellent color. JPG shooting from an olympus is great for this reason. (I still recommend only RAW…) With color profiles, you can get these JPG color palettes on the raw file. OV3 has all of these settings built in the raw developer. Photographers that want these colors have thought they need to use OV3 to keep these colors in the RAW environment and that Lightroom can’t match them since the Adobe color profile is very different.
Well…not so. Adobe releases color profiles that “match” the olympus ones. In the develop module under Camera calibration is a dropdown with color profiles. If you have my Presets, then you have already seen my quick presets to activate these. But do they really match? Can lightroom obtain the same color results as Olympus’ own software?
Let’s find out! These files are all straight from the camera with no adjustments made. The only thing done is to select the correct color profile in each software.
Click on the photos if you want to see a larger version!
These next two images are more of a look at the overall scene and details.
Blue is where the strongest difference is to my eyes between lightroom and Olympus viewer. You can see this is VERY close.
In this last image you can see there is definite difference in the way Moire (or false color) is rendered on the screw threadings. Take a close look once you click to open the image up.
So that is plenty of examples. I personally find that the colors represented via Lightroom’s color profiles virtually match the Olympus colors. It is so close that any difference is not worth the hassle of the workflow I give up. I also find that the details in Lightroom are by default a little softer and can be sharpened cleaner to individual taste. I found OV3 gave me more artifact looking details in general. I preferred Lightroom’s detail rendering personally.
In terms of Moire…both show it. Each shows it different. For me its a draw.
Do I like one or the other? To me I can obtain the same results from either. The colors are so close. At the end of the day, I stick with lightroom. What are your thoughts? Have you tried both? Any other observations I haven’t brought up here? Again, this wasn’t a which is better in terms of software use…but more a comparison to see if lightroom can provide the same color looks. What has your experience been with either?