Weird Olympus EM-1 problem with WB/flash

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RobertH
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Weird Olympus EM-1 problem with WB/flash

Post by RobertH » May 7th, 2014, 1:09 pm

My son Nicholas recently started shooting with the Olympus EM-1 and he is overall very pleased with the camera (see my review on this forum).

But he has encountered the following seemingly strange problem when adjusting WB for shooting with flash: Because he finds the camera's preset flash WB too cool sometimes, he needs to manually adjust WB using CWB (custom white balance). This works fine except that the warmer he sets the CWB (say, to 10,000K), the cooler the image looks WHEN SHOT WITH FLASH, and vice versa. In other words, to get warmer colors with flash, he actually needs to set CWB to a cooler level, say, 2000K. This wouldn't be so bad if the EVF/LCD monitor were consistent with this upside-down way of adjusting WB. But they are not. In the EVF/LCD 10,000K does look warmer, and 2000K does look cooler (as they should). It's as if the camera is reversing the Kelvin scale when flash is turned on. Warm becomes cool, and cool becomes warm.

I suspect (hope) that there is some sort setting deeply buried in the menu that needs to be switched, turned on, turned off, or whatever, to fix this. I can't imagine that this is intended or normal. It's ridiculous. No other camera we have ever owned has had this problem, and it obviously makes adjusting WB when shooting with flash trying at best. Blue basically means red, and red means blue. It renders CWB almost worthless when shooting with flash.

Hopefully, some of you Olympus users out there will be able to help us out.

Thank you for your advice!

Robert

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Owen
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Re: Weird Olympus EM-1 problem with WB/flash

Post by Owen » May 7th, 2014, 2:51 pm

Normally the flashes are balanced somewhere between 5000K and 5500K to simulate yellow-white light. Why not just set the WB at 5000K when using the flash? If that tends to be too warm, set it to 5500K.

If you're balancing at 10K on the camera, 10K (light source) should look normal, but less than that will look cool. You're setting the WB to match the light source. If the WB exceeds the source it will look cool.

RobertH
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Re: Weird Olympus EM-1 problem with WB/flash

Post by RobertH » May 7th, 2014, 3:52 pm

Owen, thanks.

In the last hour we realized that what's going on is different from what we thought, not as bad perhaps, but still weird. It now seems that the camera disables CWB when used with flash and just defaults to the preset flash WB or something like that. When I tested different WB settings with flash just now, only the PREVIEWS the camera shows after each shot were reversed - low K settings looked warm in the preview, and high K settings looked cool. But the actual IMAGES looked - IDENTICAL.

So, somehow it seems to be mostly a preview issue. The image the camera shows right after you take it is diametrically opposed in WB to the actual image. Not very helpful, to say the least.

Of course, the question still is why 2000K and 14,000 K - when used with flash - look identical in the actual image. The only explanation I can think of is that CWB is disabled when the flash is used and some preset WB is used by default. Because this default is actually pretty close to where it should be, we were under the impression yesterday that the "warm = cold" adjustments Nicholas made yesterday worked.

Anyway, as I said in my review, the EM-1 overall is extremely user-unfriendly. The thing is just so damned counterintuitive in every imaginable way. It it were my camera, it'd have gone back a long time ago. There has got to be a more humane way to take decent pictures :lol:

Robert

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Kevin Price
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Re: Weird Olympus EM-1 problem with WB/flash

Post by Kevin Price » May 8th, 2014, 6:51 am

Hi Robert,

One way to avoid a lot of headache with white balance settings is to shoot in RAW mode, which Nick's camera can do, especially in differing light conditions such as shooting in shade with fill flash. What I like is to use a white balance card, like the WhiBal pocket sized card. Take a shot of it in the same light either before or after shooting your subject. Then use the white balance eyedropper tool in your post processing software and just click on the gray area of the card. That's it, white balance is now set accurately. I've done the custom white balance routine and it's way more difficult.

Here are two shots I took last year some time shooting some rock art. The first image is uncorrected RAW, the second is with just the white balance applied. Took maybe two seconds.

Image

Image

RobertH
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Re: Weird Olympus EM-1 problem with WB/flash

Post by RobertH » May 9th, 2014, 2:13 pm

Kevin, thanks, shooting in RAW is probably where Nicholas should be headed anyway. Way more flexibility for editing that way. He is shooting jpeg right now simply because it's convenient and also saves card and hard drive space (he takes TONS of pictures, remember? :lol: ).

Robert

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