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Where is the Noise in High ISO with the Olympus OM-D E-M1X Micro Four Thirds Camera?

As I continue evaluating the Olympus OM-D E-M1X Micro Four Thirds Camera that Olympus has loaned me for 2 months free of charge (and with no obligation at all to write these reviews) one aspect I will be studying is how usable high ISO images are with this camera.

I have been shooting full-frame digital since I purchased my first full-frame camera back in 2002 with the $8,000 Canon EOS-1Ds, an 11.1 megapixel camera. And simply because of the physical size difference between a full-frame sensor and a four thirds sensor, full-frame sensors by and large have less noise at higher ISO’s and thus are better in lower light situations.

But how big of a difference is the noise in higher ISO’s?

If you believe everything you read in internet forums, people are saying anything over ISO 800 is basically non-usable with four thirds cameras. This was concerning because I am often shooting ISO 800 or higher with my Sony a7R3, particularly with wildlife, and if this Olympus camera couldn’t handle higher ISO’s I would lose pretty much all interest in the Olympus system.

So I went out to a local zoo the other day to get some test shots at higher ISO’s. And this writeup is about my reflections from that day.

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Hello Olympus OM-D E-M1X

I am pretty psyched!! Last week Olympus me some loaner equipment at no charge to test and put through the paces over the next couple months – and what a kit I received!!

The brand new Olympus OM-D E-M1X body with the following lenses: M.Zuiko 300mm f4 IS Pro with 1.4x teleconverter, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f2.8 Pro, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 Pro, and the M.Zuiko 7-14mm f2.8 Pro.

In the past week so far I have been testing this on some wildlife and landscape shots along with some HDR images and I am looking forward to seeing how it compares to my Sony a7R3 system.

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The New Luminar 3 with Libraries – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

On December 18, 2018 Skylum will be releasing their long awaited DAM (Digital Asset Manager) for Luminar. Called Luminar 3 with Libraries, this will be a free update for everyone who currently owns Luminar 2018 on Mac and Windows.

Originally, it was first talked about being released in 2017. Once that didn’t happen it was next anticipated to be released in early 2018. That didn’t happen either, but now here it finally arrives a couple weeks shy of the end of 2018.

Has the long wait been worth it? Let us find out.

 


Quick Note Before We Get Started

I will be doing a number of free webinars showing off the new Luminar 3 with Libraries between now and December 22. I will update this blog post here once I confirm the dates and I will also be posting it on my Facebook Page as well as in my free-to-join Luminar/Aurora Facebook Group. These will be my own webinars, put on by yours truly 🙂

Join me in one of these webinars to see what is new and to ask any questions you have!!

Two New Webinars have been added, for Saturday, December 15, and Monday, December 17.

Details and signup are here.

Want to join my Newsletter? Sign up here.

The Good

Since it’s arrival in 2017 Luminar quickly started replacing ON1 as my #1 goto program for enhancing my photographs. At the time, I was still using Capture One Pro and, to a much lesser extent, Lightroom for my RAW files. After some initial adjustments to my RAW file I would send a 16-bit Tiff file to Luminar to finish it off and give it my signature look.

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Macphun's Luminar - now available as a FREE TRIAL

Macphun’s Luminar Now Available – Try it For Free

Macphun today launches Luminar, it’s newest photo editing software for the Mac. It is their first all-in-one editor and includes some key features such as a RAW converter & processor, non-destructive workflow, customizable workspaces, layers, 38 filters, and much more.

Macphun's Luminar - now available as a FREE TRIAL

 

I have been using a beta of Luminar for a few weeks and have been very impressed. Be sure to read my Luminar Preview here! Image quality has been fantastic and I have really been enjoying the workflow and tools available.

But don’t just take my word for it – there is a FREE TRIAL available so you can see first-hand how impressive the program is and be sure to let me know how you like it, what your favorite features are, and even let me know what is missing from this v1.0 software in the comments below!

I will be having more to say about this software in the near future so be sure to stay tuned – including an announcement coming real soon on a new Luminar online course I am getting ready to produce 😉

Be sure to join my Luminar and Aurora HDR Users Group on Facebook!

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The New Luminar from Macphun – A Preview

UPDATE: Now you can download a FREE TRIAL of Luminar!

 

Be sure to join my Luminar and Aurora HDR Users Group on Facebook!

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Macphun, the (currently) Mac-only photo software company that is behind popular photography editing programs Aurora HDR 2017 and the Creative Kit (which features programs such as Intensify, Tonality, Snapheal, FX Photo Studio, Focus, and Noiseless) has a brand new program coming out November 17, 2016 called Luminar. I have been working with a beta version for a couple weeks now and here is a quick preview with my initial impressions.

Also included in this preview is my exclusive video interview with Kevin La Rue, the V.P of Macphun regarding Luminar. Look for the interview towards the end of this preview!

Luminar Workspace

 

Luminar is a brand new program and is Macphun’s first all-in-one photo editing solution.

It features:

Innovative Adaptive User Interface

The Luminar user interface is built around the idea that every photographer is different, and therefore their photo editing needs are different too. Users can choose from 4 default interface variations, designed for: quick image fixes, photo enhancement with presets, an intermediate level of control, and advanced editing.

Built in RAW converter

Luminar so far in my testing has done a very impressive job in RAW processing from my Sony a7R files. Shadow recovery is way better than Lightroom and on par with Capture One Pro, with fantastic color and low noise.

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Workspaces & Filters

Luminar is the first Macphun editor to introduce Workspaces – innovative collections of tools most suitable for a specific type of photography. Default Workspaces will cover Portrait, Landscape, Street, and Black & White Photography. In addition, users can create an unlimited number of custom Workspaces, as well as import Workspaces from other photographers.

Over 35 Imaging Filters

Luminar 1.0 will feature over 35 innovative imaging filters, from classic Tone & Exposure, to Bi-Color, Photo Filter Emulation, Cross-Processing, Detail Enhancement and dozens of others. Each filter category includes a set of precise controls, which can be adjusted to create countless different looks.

Convenient descriptions and previews of the effect are available with each filter too. Some of my favorite right away are the Adjustable Gradient, Advanced Contrast, Image Radiance, Channel Mixer, Color Contrast, and Orton Effect filters. 

Luminar Filters

Users can save a group of pre-adjusted filters to create their own one-click preset, or for convenience, choose from over 50 pre-defined presets. With categories ranging from Outdoor to Portrait, Street to Drama, there’s a preset for every photography style.

Innovative non-destructive editing and powerful selection tools

The new Luminar for Mac introduces a new editing workflow. Users can change the order of applied filters at any time in the editing process, therefore totally changing the look of their photo. With the new History feature users can check all steps of the editing process, and go back to any step at any time.

The new selection tools in Luminar include: adjustable editing brush, radial and gradient masking, as well as masking with a single layer and masking with an independent filter.

Together with the powerful blend modes, layers and filters, these masking tools allow users to easily perform even the most complex edits.   

Luminar Masking

One thing I really like about Luminar is the ability to create a mask on any individual filter. This allows you to paint-in the effect you want to the specific part of the photo you want. No need to create a separate layer – just grab the brush tool and click on the filter you want to create the mask from and paint away.

What else is in Luminar?

  • Essential photo fixing tools, including spot healing, crop & transform, clone & stamp, noise reduction and other.

  • Complete photo enhancement toolset, including exposure & contrast controls, saturation, vibrance, clarity, sharpness, polarization, and more.

  • Creative color controls & adjustments, including bi-color, split toning, selective luminosity, saturation & hue controls and more.

  • A myriad of photo filters, including cross process, glow, orton effect, monochrome, soft tone and more.

  • Layers with blend modes and layer masking

  • Custom Textures with blend modes

  • Works as a standalone software, plugin & extension

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My Preview Conclusion

As the version of Luminar I have been using for the last few weeks is a beta I will withhold giving a more in-depth review until I am able to test a final shipping version. So I won’t go into detail on missing features, as I already sent Macphun my list of things missing and will wait to see what gets added between now and the final shipping version. In certain situations I noticed some undesirable results in image processing that I made them aware of – which is normal in beta testing – so I won’t give an official grade on image quality either at this point.

I will say however, in regards to image quality, I am for the most part quite impressed with the results from RAW files from my Sony a7R. Results that in many cases equal, if not exceed, what I have come to expect with Capture One Pro and which are far better than what I see in Lightroom – especially in shadow detail.

Having a completely customizable workspace is wonderful, and there is a large amount of filter effects you can use to completely enhance your photographs.

Luminar is not here to replace the Creative Kit nor Aurora HDR 2017. While some features overlap with the Creative Kit, some still remain exclusive to the Kit while others are exclusive to Luminar. Watch my video interview with Kevin La Rue, the V.P. of Macphun below for more info on this.

In conclusion, based on what I have seen from the beta I have I would definitely recommend purchasing Luminar or at the very least I would be sure to download a free trial once it becomes available on November 17. Macphun appears to be very committed to Luminar and I would expect to see any missing features not available in the v1.0 release to be strongly considered for future versions. I will certainly be bugging my contacts at Macphun to add features I notice are missing 😉

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Special Pre-Order Savings Now through November 17

Luminar is available for pre-order now at a discounted price of $59 for all new users, and just $49 for anyone who already uses has Macphun photo software. The pre-order offer also includes a bonus pack of photo training videos and a course on building a photography business from Will Burrard-Lucas, an award-winning UK based wildlife photographer with over one million Facebook fans. Laminar will be available to download on November 17. Read more about Luminar on Macphun’s blog here and pre-order it here.

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Exclusive Video Interview with Kevin La Rue

The last week of October I had the opportunity to interview my friend Kevin La Rue, the V.P. of Macphun. This interview was primarily for those who purchased my Mastering Aurora HDR 2017 Online Course, as we talked quite a bit about Aurora and Macphun.

But we also talked about Luminar. The video below contains the edited par of the video where we discussed Luminar.

FREE Webinar this Thursday October 6

Join me this Thursday, October 6 for a “Behind the Scenes” with Aurora HDR 2017 FREE live Webinar, brought to you by Macphun!

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Watch as I show you some of my favorite new features of Aurora HDR 2017, which was just released last week. This webinar will also include a questions and answers period!

The one-hour live webinar is scheduled for 12:00 PM PDT and you must register in advance to reserve a spot, as space is limited.

See you on Thursday!

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P.S. Be sure to check out my review on Aurora HDR 2017 here and take a look at my Mastering Aurora HDR 2017 Online Course.

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