E-M1 Mark III - Lack in brilliance in HDR?


Mu-43 Regular
May 18, 2021
Tallahassee, FL
Real Name
Pete Staehling
You would got far better results with HDR1 compared to the raw file, if your scene had extremes of light and dark that exceed what a single raw file can capture.
Your scene didn't need HDR.
Try again with something really extreme - a very dark room with no lighting and a small window onto a sunlit view.
Not an expert, but it sounds to me as if what you are saying is that basically what we have seen in the test pictures is a poor test of HDR. Testing it on subjects that don't require it isn't really much of a test.

I was hoping to learn more about how well the E-M1 Mark III hdr handled difficult situations where the range of the raw file was exceeded and how best to use it, and when/if at all.


Mu-43 Veteran
Mar 2, 2013
HDR1 produces a low-contrast high dynamic range image suitable for post-processing. It's not really usable out of the camera, and requires some sort of post processing to get a pleasing image (a curve or contrast adjustment)

I shoot a lot of these, as the RAW output has the same DR and improved noise vs a regular RAW file. I use the low-contrast JPEG as an index marker for the HDR RAW's (so I know which RAW's can have my standard processing and which need m43-specific presets used to avoid noise issues in the shadows). HDR1 is IMHO a substitute for shooting Full Frame, as it gives FF-Level DR and near-FF noise in the RAW file.

HDR2 produces a much more pleasing image, because it's adding a default curve to the JPEG to put some of the punch back in that you lose by expanding the DR of the image.

The challenge with HDR imaging is that you need to work at it to get both a pleasing image and a lot of dynamic range, because stretching the dynamic range without doing anything else simply results in a lower-contrast image (as you see in HDR1 mode).

There is no Easy Button with HDR, at least not with how the Oly's do it.

While they're 'bad' compared to other systems in terms of how usable the JPEG is, the Oly HDR images are actually technically much better than most of the other solutions, which are mostly abusing gain control in some way to fake HDR (Nikon's DRO and Fuji's DR200/DR400 work this way), rather than real multishot HDR from a bracket set as Oly is doing. The Oly file is much more usable in post.
Jan 24, 2013
Harwich, MA USA
Real Name
Marc Sitkin
As an upgrade to my trusty old E-M5 (the first version) I bought myself a brand new E-M1 Mark III two weeks ago. So far I really like the camera as well as the advances in the in-camera processing capabilities (among auto-focus advancement, etc.). Currently, I am on vacation in Iceland and getting accustomed to the new feature on-the-go, so to speak.

Here goes my question regarding the E-M1‘s in-camera HDR processing. First of all, I love the idea of taking a hand-held HDR image which is already assembled by the camera itself. The result, however, is not so intriguing in my opinion. Already on the camera‘s screen, one can see a difference in the HDR picture vs. a regular one. The regular one has way more brilliance in its colors. Here are some example pictures:

First, the unmodified* HDR picture strait out of camera:
View attachment 843961

Next, the same shot as a regular image (same settings expect HDR). Again unmodified* RAW out of camera:
View attachment 843966

*) unmodified means, loaded into Lightroom CC (iOS version) and exported as JPG without applying any changes/presets/etc. to it

As you can see especially in the green of the gras, the colors of the non HDR image is much brighter. Of course, the HDR version shows a nicer blue sky (due to increased dynamic range).

But in post processing - in this case only hitting Lightroom CC‘s ‚auto‘ button - the sky can be recovered from the RAW file as well. Here is the non HDR version with Lightroom‘s ‚auto‘ enhancement applied to it (no further tweaking).

View attachment 843965

Compared to the edited RAW file, the HDR file looks quite dull to me.

Here is my question: Is there some way to tweak the HDR processing settings? Back in the old days, when assembling an HDR image by hand (out of multiple exposures) it was always the ‘challenge‘ that the picture looked natural and not over saturated. Having a dull look to the picture (color wise) was never a problem.

Am I missing something or using the feature wrong? Should I not take the HDR image handhold? What are your experiences with the in-camera HDR processing?

The image was taken at Þingvellir in Iceland.
Not meaning to criticize your shooting by any means, but I don't think you have any need for HDR in the example shown. It's a flat scene, and the dynamic range is probably well within the ability of the camera sensor to render detail in the highlights and shadows.

I've done some shooting in Iceland, mostly film, and the challenge was always building UP contrast. I was there a couple years ago briefly, and the jpgs from my Oly looked terrible SOOC, but a bit of tweaking in the JPG rendering helped a great deal. The RAWS were fine. I'll be going back in August with digital gear, and expect more of the same conditions.


Mu-43 All-Pro
Dec 1, 2013
New Hampshire
Real Name
It's a shame that the camera doesn't save all the bracket'd shots. Unless they changed it, on my E-M1.1 you get the HDR JPG and the middle (properly exposed) shot of the three taken to create the HDR. Then at least you can try the HDR shoot but if you don't like the results could use the auto bracketed ones instead if you wanted to spend the time on it.
On pretty much all the OMD cameras, you can use additional HDR settings to get the bracketed shots without the combining, as you mentioned. They haven't removed that ability. I suppose they could have the camera build you a composite too, but I think that if you want all the intermediate shots, it isn't too bad if you then have to combine them yourself in PP. Right?


Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Apr 22, 2013
San Diego area, CA
Real Name
Using the Auto button in post processing is like using the camera in "P" mode with jpegs straight from the camera. The most important thing with HDR is knowing when to use it and when not to. However you combine the images to create an HDR, requires your changes in post processing to get what "you" want.
Jan 22, 2016
I agree with the person who said that the original test was one that didn't really "need" HDR. You also made a comment about the JPG being not so good for editing. I think it's possible to get the HDR image saved as a raw file (an ORI). I managed to find the setting in May when I needed to save high res shots, and I think I did it before for HDR. Unfortunately, I cannot find it now, even though I know it's somewhere in the menus. The default saves it as a JPG, so that setting (wherever Oly hides it) needs to be changed.

Edit -- See p. 152 of the manual. It says that a raw file will be saved if using the RAW + JPG file setting.
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