EM-5 and red flowers

Nov 16, 2012
Real Name
I'm not sure if this is a shooting question or a PP question -- probably both -- but I figured I'd start here.

I've tried to shoot red flowers a few times and have gotten nothing but an oversaturated blob of red. None of the interior detail of the flowers (the shades of red) shows up. Exposure doesn't seem to matter. I did a number of shots of a red rose the other day at varying exposures, and had the same effect. I did some fooling around (blind fumbling) in LR and did recover some of the shades of the petals, but not in colors that anyone would want to look at. It wasn't even one of the deep purply-red roses, just an ordinary red. I've had the same trouble with a hibiscus, which was actually more of an orange-red.

I haven't noticed this issue with red objects that weren't flowers, but now that I think of it, I haven't shot too many things that were true red that weren't flowers.

Any suggestions? I'm fairly new to photography and fairly clueless about LR and post-processing in general, so please dumb down your responses. Thanks!


Super Moderator
Feb 19, 2010
Post some examples, but in short -- exposure has everything to do with this. Your red channel is clipping, and your camera isn't picking up how bright the red is. Shoot in P mode, and set EV to -3, and you'll see that you'll have more red hues back. The 43 chip can tend to clip in the reds easily compared to the other channels, but show some examples for better diagnosis.


Mu-43 Top Veteran
Oct 28, 2013

Could you share an example so that we could help you better - also provide lens info, settings used to take the shot etc...

Accurate 'red's in terms of color accuracy corresponding to the 'red' that your eye sees is one thing. Subjectively nice looking 'red's are another thing. However from your post it sounds like you are not seeing the gentle/subtle tonal changes between reds and you are not able to pick up any of the fine color detail?

If this is the case, (and disclaimer : this advice is being given based on an assumption that what I described above is your actual problem) then :

1. Make sure you are shooting RAW.
2. Expose to the right for your reds ( exposing to the right allows you to capture the maximum amount of tonal information) and then pull down in the post. http://www.pekkapotka.com/journal/2012/6/14/olympus-e-m5-exposing-to-the-right-and-lightroom-41.html There is another embedded link on that site that explains what ETTR does with some real world examples.
3. Is your photo in focus? What shutter speed are you using? Aperture on your lens. Assuming you are using a macro lens or something like, then stop down the lens to maximise sharpness and contrast. Also consider your shutter speed... at slower shutter speeds you can potentially introduce shutter shock which will give the image a slight blur, thus losing details. You can google this and it will be well explained. It is usually easy enough to work around.
4. How are you post processing your images... Usually you will need to play with a RAW file to pull out more details in post.


Mu-43 Legend
Sep 7, 2013
Christchurch, New Zealand
I often have problems with over-exposing the red channel on the E-M5 by accident, even with RAW. Even when I don't, I find the default output for reds to be way too saturated by default. So much so that my default for Camera Raw is to bump red and orange saturation down by -5 on import. If it still looks wrong I'll either bump it down further or start bumping down lightness/luminance on red and orange.


Mu-43 Veteran
Jul 15, 2012
Real Name
Patrick Kristiansen
I too saw reds over the top with the em5. Pulling red saturation and/or luminance down fixed it easily, no sweat.

Patrick K


Mu-43 All-Pro
Feb 24, 2011
Dayton, OH
Underexposing Can Be Helpful

It's difficult to ETTR the Red Channel without an easy way to see just the Red Histogram when you're shooting. If you use spot metering, and place it only on the red flower, then the part of the histogram display highlighted in green will let you know what's happening to your reds. Remember ETTR does not mean push the exposure level all the way up to the right. It means don't go any farther right than where you're about to get clipping.

If you look at the Histogram for these pictures you will see that the Red Channel is centered and uniformly spread across the full range of values. The Blue and Green channels are basically just from the mid tones and below.
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

E-P5 with Zuiko OM 50mm f/1.4, at f/5.6, 1/320 sec, ISO 200, Spot Metering

David A

Mu-43 All-Pro
Sep 30, 2011
Brisbane, Australia
I'm not sure if this is a shooting question or a PP question -- probably both -- but I figured I'd start here.

I've tried to shoot red flowers a few times and have gotten nothing but an oversaturated blob of red. None of the interior detail of the flowers (the shades of red) shows up. Exposure doesn't seem to matter…
I'll assume that you're viewing the image on your computer screen so my comments are based on that.

Lightroom does its processing in a colour space called ProPhoto RGB which has a much wider colour gamut than your screen can reproduce. That's a good thing as far as processing goes, but you can run into this problem if the shades of red (or any other colour for that matter) are outside the range of what the computer screen can reproduce. You lose the tonal gradation in the colours the screen can't display and you just get a "blob" as you put it.

What you can try is this. Turn on "Soft Proofing" and then click the little box in the upper right corner of the histogram. You'll see areas of the image overlaid with a red colour to show that those colours are out of gamut, which means that the computer can't display them (I'm assuming you have your output colour space set to SRGB which is the closest to what the monitor can display}. Go the the HSL pane and select Saturation and use the targeted adjustment tool. Click on one of the out of gamut areas and drag the cursor down to reduce saturation until the red warning overlay disappears, or at least gets as small as it will go. You may have to do this a few times if you have a couple of different colours which are out of gamut. Essentially what this is doing is bringing the colour of those parts of the image back to within the SRGB colour space so that your screen can display some tonal gradation in that part of the image.

You can also try doing the same thing with Luminance as well, or even play around with Hue in the same way using the targeted adjustment tool. You may have to experiment a bit with some out of gamut colours in order to get the best result.

Basically the problem is that the computer screen can't display all of the tones and shades of colour that the camera is capable of capturing and that means that you lose gradation, which helps provide detail, when the colour that has been captured is one that can't be displayed by your screen. The screen does the best that it can but that means that tonal distinctions can get lost. You have to bring those lost distinctions back into the range the screen can actually display if you want to be able to see detail in those areas.

In some cases it doesn't matter. You can get out of gamut areas in shadow zones at times and that usually isn't a problem, in fact you may not even notice that it is occurring unless you turn on soft proofing, because we don't see much detail in the shadow areas, but it can result in the sort of problem you describe in mid tone and highlight areas. I haven't had your problem with reds but I've had the same problem a few times with yellow flowers. It can happen with pretty much any colour because of the limited range of colours which can be displayed in the SRGB colour space.

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