I had an interesting weekend in terms of photography. I didn’t take a single image but I did improve my work and made some substantial breakthroughs. What gave raise to this? Well one of my friends came over and we spent time reviewing our work and suggesting improvements. This was great in terms of development but it also allowed me to discuss some frustrating aspects of micro 4/3 photography with a second person. The most frustrating of these is the colour produced by my Panasonic cameras when converting RAW files.
You see I have long thought that the RAW files from my LX5, GF1 and now GX1 produce colours that don’t seem entirely natural. Greens, reds and blues all seem too strong and saturated. It is however difficult to judge on your own so yesterday was a great opportunity to discuss this with a very knowledgeable photographer whose views I trust. The result was that we agreed the colours were off. Whilst the image at the top is a black and white conversion I am showing the original colour image here together with a colour adjusted version we created.
The original colour image with the defauilt RAW settings is shown above
Here is the corrected image. Notice the orange of the cylinder on the right. In the uncorrected image this is a false orange and is also over saturated. Also notice the red plastic can on the left. In the original this looks raspberry and is too saturated.
To create the colour adjusted image we needed to:
- Increase the colour temperature by 300K
- Shift the Orange Hue and reduce its saturation
- Reduce the saturation of blue in the scene
These are subtle adjustments but they are enough for your brain to pick up that something isn’t quite right.
The reason for these odd colours is not however down to Panasonic but the Adobe software I am using to convert the RAW files. It’s the calibration Adobe bundles with their colour engine that is causing the issue. I have therefore taken the step of purchasing a colour passport checker to use with my Panasonic cameras in future. I hope this will allow me to correct the problem and will report again in the future.
One of the benefits of the Lightweight photography approach is as the name suggests that it’s lightweight. This becomes particularly true where you are engaging in another activity which compliments your photography but which is physically demanding. This is certainly the case with one of my other pursuits, Hill Walking. You need to keep equipment small and light so that you are able to carry it along with other essential equipment for the hills and mountains.
On a few of my recent treks I have found that I am keeping pretty much to using one lens, a 14mm-45mm which is equivalent to 28mm (wide angle) to 90mm (telephoto). There have been a few times where I have thought that I should switch to a wider lens and a few more times where I have thought that I should switch to a longer lens than 45mm. In all of these occasions I have had suitable lenses with me but they have been in my backpack so changing lens means stopping and removing the pack. As this is inconvenient for both me and anyone walking with me, I tend not to change the lens.
On my last outing I decided it was time to perhaps switch to a super zoom lens. I know Panasonic produced a 14-140mm lens which would give the equivalent of 28mm to 280mm (a huge range). Looking up the lens later I found it was around £500 and had a size and weight that was suitable for my use. The lens really would open up a lot of opportunities and be far more convenient for me and there were a lot of reviews from people who were very happy with the performance.
Now it’s not that I distrust the views of others but I am highly critical when it comes to image sharpness and the resolution of lenses so I went looking for some sample images for download. I found plenty of sample images but unfortunately all were JPG; not a RAW file in sight. Looking at the JPG’s, all of them displayed the usual softness that in camera JPG’s usually do. Is this the lens or is it the camera? I suspect it’s the camera but without the RAW file I can’t judge how sharp the lens actually is. I’m also reluctant to splash out £500 to find out if the lens is good or not.
I really want to lighten my equipment further but not at the expense of image quality. My plea then is does anyone have any sample RAW files at 14mm, 75mm and 140mm using this lens, or know where I can find these? If you can help either add a comment to this blog or email me using firstname.lastname@example.org.