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Olympus Viewer vs Lightroom vs Darktable

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by prophet, Nov 21, 2014.

  1. prophet

    prophet Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 10, 2014
    On his blog, Robin Wong recommends the use of Olympus Viewer over other software. I am wondering if there really is a difference in the way RAW files are processed. Apart from the personal skills in post-processing, what's the difference quality-wise between the softwares?
  2. lightmonkey

    lightmonkey Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 22, 2013
    there is far less subtlety in olympus viewer. besides being clunky to use, its options for many things are low-medium-high or discrete point from 0-5 , instead of finer granularity with slider controls in lightroom.

    is there a difference in algorithm? surely there must be. but LR gets me to the end point i need in an easier manner
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  3. jo45800

    jo45800 Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 23, 2013
    I find a lot of differences between LR and Olympus viewer, now I tend to convert my raw in OVF and then load the jpegs in LR. Because even if LR has now olympus colors profiles, I think it's not as acurate as the colors in OVF. And the jpegs from ovf (to my eyes) seems to be sharper and with less noise.
  4. kirschm

    kirschm Mu-43 Regular

    May 4, 2014
    I shoot RAW only and use both, LR and the OlyViewer...

    I use LR for 'real RAW processing'.

    OlyViewer only in case I want to see (mostly for simple test shoots) what the JPG engine would have given me. Simply speaking: OlyViewer cannot do more things than the Oly internal JPG engine... but LR can do... but this exactly is the big advantage of the OlyViewer... you can limit your shooting to RAW only... and in case you need for what ever reason ever JPG ooc... you can simply get them out of OlyViewer from your ORFs...
  5. Brian Beezley

    Brian Beezley Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Olympus Viewer 3 provides many options and adjustments not available in the control screens of my E-PL2. I started to list them, but there were too many. I do believe colors from OV3 RAW and camera-generated JPG are the same, however.

    When I compare OV3 and RawTherapee on noisy images, OV3 always yields markedly lower noise, especially color blotching, even when I have disabled all processing in OV3. I think the program is doing some things it's not telling us about. I have tried several times to identify a sharpness hit from this hidden noise reduction, but so far I haven't been able to spot any. There must be some trade-off, however.

    I start RAW processing with OV3 to obtain the color accuracy and lower noise. Then I do additional processing with other programs that have more advanced sharpening and local-contrast algorithms, such as Image Analyzer and RawTherapee.

    OV3 is slow (very slow on some computers), rather clunky, has bugs, and does not offer the most advanced processing algorithms. But I really like its basic RAW conversion.

    • Like Like x 1
  6. kirschm

    kirschm Mu-43 Regular

    May 4, 2014
    Therefor I used the expression "Simply speaking"... but anyway I could imagine to use OlyViewer as my standard RAW-converter for most cases, but I am at least missing 2 basic features that LR has... those 2 sliders I use in each and every RAW processing:

    (I only have the German version of LR, so my translation might be misleading):
    1) "lowering lights" (as long as they are not blown out into pure white)
    2) "brightening shadows"

    If OlyViewer had those 2 features, I think I could live without LR.
  7. Brian Beezley

    Brian Beezley Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I use Gamma Correction in OV3 to brighten shadows. Tone Curve will let you adjust highlights or shadows. There is also "Highlight & Shadow Control" but it is only available for RAW files generated by newer cameras. RawTherapee features sophisticated recovery of blown highlights.

    • Like Like x 1
  8. kirschm

    kirschm Mu-43 Regular

    May 4, 2014
    Ah, good to know... need to check this (PL7)...
  9. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    What Olympus Viewer has going for it is that Olympus know what the "secret sauce" of their naturall/muted/portrait/vivid/dramatic and other modes are and Olympus Viewer is therefore the only RAW converter that lets you get exactly what each of those modes would give you as an out of camera JPEG, at least without you having to put in a fair amount of work trying to duplicate the out of camera JPEG result. If what you want is to be able to get results like those out of camera JPEGs with the option of a lot more control over the result, then Olympus Viewer is going to be the easiest, quickest, and most reliable route to that result.

    Other RAW converters including Lightroom don't have access to that proprietary information. Lightroom offers a number of camera profiles that are intended to give a result something like the camera modes but I haven't seen anyone say that Adobe really nailed it. Adobe's default mode, Adobe Standard, gets panned regularly as not delivering the kind of colours people want but I actually think it delivers reasonably accurate colours and while I've tried the other Adobe profiles and the Huelight profiles I have always ended up back with Adobe Standard as my default profile and starting point.

    What you will find if you open the same RAW file in both Olympus Viewer and in Lightroom using their default settings is that the images you see in each are going to different, perhaps even very different. That's because no RAW conversion program shows you the RAW image because there is no RAW image, just sensor data that needs to get a fair amount of processing before it starts to look something like what you saw when you took the photo. Every RAW conversion program has a different idea on what kind of processing should be applied before showing you an image that you can use as a starting point. Comparing those initial images with default processing tells you nothing about how good or bad an application is at RAW conversion. What counts is how much control the program gives you over the finished result and how easy you find it to get the kind of result you like as a finished product. In my view Lightroom gives you a lot more control than Olympus Viewer. I think it also has a longer and steeper learning curve and that isn't what a lot of people want but the longer I use Lightroom and the more I learn, the easier I find it to get the results I want. For some reason I never really felt happy with Olympus Viewer but many people swear by it. That's a matter of personal preference in a number of areas including interface and working styles.

    I also have a suspicion that the initial default image presented to you when you open a file does influence how you process the image and what kind of a result you end up getting and that may well explain some of why I've never really been happy with Olympus Viewer because I tend to like a different kind of result to the Olympus JPEG modes.

    What I will say is that there are quite a few different RAW conversion programs out there and every one of them has users who swear by it and others who swear at it. There is no consensus opinion on which is the best but there are a lot of differing personal preferences. Olympus cameras come with a free copy of Olympus Viewer and Adobe offer demo versions of Lightroom that you can try, as do a lot of other RAW conversion applications. There are even some freeware applications available. Try Olympus Viewer and also try Lightroom and perhaps even some other programs. Be aware that the controls in each program have differences, both in name and in how they work and what they do at times. There is a certain amount of skill and experience involved in getting the most out of any of these applications but it is possible to get a feel for each by trying them out. I think that's the sort of thing you need to do rather than simply adopting the one that someone else says is the best. I have no doubt that they believe it's the best and are being honest about their opinion but even if you really like the results that person gets using their preferred program that doesn't mean that you would like the results you get with it for your photographs or that you would find working in that application easy and/or enjoyable. You aren't them and your images aren't their images. Try, compare, and make a decision based on your own experience rather than someone else's opinion. You may end up coming to the same conclusion as them but there is always the possibility that you'll come to a different conclusion.
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