Saving an Olympus OM-D E-M5 file part 2: BLOWN highlight recovery.

Saving an Olympus OM-D E-M5 file part 2: BLOWN highlight recovery.

About a week or two ago I published a post showing how robust a file from the Olympus E-M5 can be if you underexpose it. It was easily brought back with the hidden shadow detail coming right back and though it did have a little bit of noise, it was pretty cool how easy it was to bring back a file that would usually be thought of as un-salvagable with the earlier micro 4/3 bodies. Many e-mail and said “no way you can do that with an overexposed file”! I assumed Β they were right as it is much harder to bring back details that have been blown out by extreme overexposure. I can’t even bring back detail in my M9 files when I blow them out, so I figured there would be no way to do so with an Olympus Micro 4/3 E-M5 file.

I found a shot that was extremely over exposed and all I did was open the raw file and pull back the exposure slider all the way to the left. The results are below…not bad! Not perfect, but not bad!

click the images for larger versions

…and one more version below that a reader converted form my RAW file by using a beta version of a new RAW converter called Photo Ninja. Seems to have worked quite well as now you can see details in the mountains as well. That smudge in the upper right-ish side is a smudge on my car windshield. But looking at the before and after is pretty remarkable.

Them ore I use the little OM-D the more I am impressed with it. I have found nothing negative to say about the camera and there is a reason there is now a 1-3 month wait for it at dealers. I also found that the 25 1.4 Panasonic lens is AMAZING on the OM-D. Better than it was on the E-P3. There is no more “rattlesnake” sound and the focus is super quick and the lens is crazy sharp, even wide open. It is now THE lens that is plastered to my OM-D. I prefer it to the Voigtlander 25 0.95 and it’s less than half t he cost. I plan on doing an update on this lens once I get some decent shots to show with it on the OM-D.

A in cam B&W with the OM-D and 25 1.4 – my dog hates to model these days so he always turns his head away when he sees a camera

Anyway, happy Thursday to all! Just wanted to post this for those who are still thinking about the OM-D E-M5.


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  1. Please let us know when the rest of us can get access to Photo Ninja!
    t did an amazing job on your photo!

    Linda Matlow

  2. Great try out Steve, I am very impress by the OM-D sensor. That blown out highlight you just shown is near impossible to recover and you have just recovered that!

  3. Steve question I’m a little confused about lenses on the Olympus does the Panasonic 25mm need an adapter?if so how do THESE lenses work on the OMD Also will you be able to ever use Leica glass on this baby thanks in advance

    • The Panasonic 25 1.4 is a micro 4/3 lens so no adapter is needed. Olympus and Panasonic make micro 4/3 products so they are all interchangeable. Just make sure you buy the “micro 4/3” versions and not “4/3”. No adapters needed. Yes, you can use Leica glass with adapters but keep in mind the 2X crop factor. A 35mm will be like a 70mm.

  4. True testament you’ve had the camera one month ? And you can’t find anything wrong with it guess I better order one this cameras photos seem to have a nice texture feel to them correct me if I’m wrong cheers Steve another company that owes you stock options except they are in finacial trouble

  5. Following your review of OM-D I’ve bought it for myself and am very pleased with this camera.
    Lightning quick, nice IQ, very handy body. Even kit lens 12-50 is more or less fine. Of course 25 from Panny would be much better, but my already bought one was lost somewhere in transition from buyer to me. So I will need to buy one a little bit later.
    So again – thanks for your reviews and they are extremely helpful.
    And always a fun to read one.

    OM-D is great! πŸ™‚

  6. Steve, that’s amazing. Makes me now realise that I should be using a better package. What application are you using to do this?

  7. That is very impressive Steve. Thank you. Any chance to see some accidentally overexposed files from X2?

  8. I would happily trade my SLR Magic 50mm f0.95 lens for one of these =o] Oly has a hit on their hands here, i wonder What Panasonic will come up with in return. At least the 25 1.4 is available again, the EM-5 seems like it’ll be a while before more units hit the store.

    • Amazon has a couple of dealers selling the chrome body only – but at $1299 instead of the $999 price it should be. Other than that, it appears none are available.

  9. Wow that is amazing! I brought back several underexposed shots from my E-M5 from last weekend and was impressed with the result, but I thought there was no way to recover blown highlights based off my experience with the E-PL1. The 25/1.4 is also my lens of choice on the E-M5.

    I just ordered the 45/1.8 and was debating if I will really need the sexy 75/1.8. Hope Olympus loans you a copy of that so I can make up my mind;)

  10. I really enjoy your site Steve, I don’y have any intention of buying any of these cameras but it’s a real good read. My M8 still does everything I need it to so I’ll keep shooting.

  11. Steve,

    Do you prefer the 25 1.4 over the panasonic 20 1.7. I bought the OMD based on your recent review and am trying to decide between those two lenses. Can’t wait for the new write up on the 25 1.4!

    • Hi Jeff,
      I have both. I have a tough time choosing which lens to go out with. Both of them are amazing. If you shoot more people close-up, choose the 25/1.4 and if you like pure street photography, go with the 20/1.7. Nothing beats the 20/1.7 on the street.


      • Thanks Mo.

        I am mostly interested in it for people close up. That helps a lot…

        • Hi Jeff,

          If you’re interested more in close-ups of people, wouldn’t the short telephoto 45mm f1.8 lens be better suited to you? By all accounts it’s a very high resolving lens and one of the more affordable m43 lenses available.

          And Mo, thanks for the testimonial for the 20mm f1.7 – I’ve bought it secondhand but haven’t a body to use it on yet… I’m still holding out to see what Panasonic (or Olympus) will release as their “Pro” m43 camera. If the OM-D had a variable angle LCD I would have ordered it without hesitation. As it stands, as an interim travel kit, I think I’ll plump for the Lumix G3 (a curiously under-rated camera, even though it seems likely the OM-D uses the same sensor, albeit modified).

  12. Based upon the glowing reviews, a month ago I placed and paid for an OM-D along with a couple of lenses. The lenses arrived the other day but no camera. Now the NY dealer (who shall go unnamed) wants me to review the lenses! I will, if I can find an adapter for my Oly Pen F 1/2 frame camera.
    Hopefully, the camera will arrive before Hell freezes over or I go to that darkroom in the sky.

  13. Probably the dog has some self-respect, and feels he’s (she’s?) not being properly compensated for his services.

  14. Steve, I should probably thank you since I bought my OM-D after reading through your blog about the m4/3 system. At the time, your review on the OM-D wasn`t up and I was just lucky enough to find one (and this one only) at a store during my vacations in San Francisco. I couldn`t be happier as the OM-D has everything I need and I brought back to Brazil some real nice shots!

    Learning curve on this camera is really amazing as I can truly see improvements on my shots from day 1 through my last day shooting. This is what I was searching for, so it really psyched me up to study and shoot more and more, and for this it is already worth every dollar!!

    As Olympus is not a popular brand here and in Brazil import taxes are insane (i.e an E-P3 is not even on Olympus` official catalog, but is found at USD 1700,00 on the BM!), I`m in deep concern on how to get more lenses to add on. I know B&H ships to Brazil, and although I never made any purchase of this kind I`m planning on doing soon.
    If you could make a revisit on your favorite m4/3 lens (12mm; 25mm; and 45mm) on the OM-D, would be a great help and I think your readers would have an even more complete OM-D E-M5 review!

    Regards from Brazil!

  15. Ordered the Olympus 45 1.8 from B&H via your link last night. It has been hard to get a hold of. This Panasonic 25 1.4 is on my wish list! πŸ™‚

  16. Other than the fact that I’ll probably have to go out and buy it, I’m looking forward to your Panasonic 25mm update.

  17. Pretty impressive Steve. I accidentally overexposed by about the same amount a Canon 5D mk11 file last year also shot in RAW but wan’t able to retrieve it. Wish I had been using the OM-D! (not that it was out then of course :-))

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