Did you obtain a brand-new Olympus digital camera over the vacations? In that case, likelihood is good that the following addition to your photographic toolbox might be a Uncooked processor from the likes of Adobe, Seize One, DxO or one in all their many rivals. However is payware and even subscriptionware software program actually essential, when Olympus offers its personal software program freed from cost along with your digital camera buy?

Olympus Workspace model 1.4’s person interface.

On this article, we’ll evaluate the corporate’s Olympus Workspace Uncooked processing software with its well-entrenched payware rival, Adobe Digicam Uncooked, whose algorithms additionally underlie the corporate’s in style Lightroom Traditional software. As in earlier articles on this collection, I am limiting myself solely to picture modifying within the pursuits of preserving issues to a readable size, and will not handle options like picture administration, tethering or printing.

The bottom guidelines

This comparability is predicated upon the newest variations of every software on the time of writing. For Adobe, that is Digicam Uncooked 13.1.1 and Bridge 11.0. For Olympus, it is Workspace 1.4. My laptop is a 2018 Dell XPS 15 9570 laptop computer operating Home windows 10 model 1909.

To make sure neither Adobe nor Olympus had any benefit out of the gate, I’ve aimed to breed, as intently as attainable, the look of already-processed photographs from our galleries, with none prior data as to the recipes behind them.

Adobe Digicam Uncooked model 13.1.1’s person interface.

I’ve chosen photographs from the Olympus E-M1 Mark II to be used on this comparability, because it was the newest mannequin for which we had ample comparability photographs already ready, and its launch value and determination are broadly much like these of the cameras utilized in my earlier producer software program comparisons.

Sharpness and noise discount had been left at their default settings to keep away from overcomplicating issues, whereas lens corrections had been enabled for each purposes. Photos processed in ACR had been saved at JPEG high quality 11, simply as utilized in our galleries. For Olympus Workspace, which provides a alternative of simply three completely different compression ranges, I used the utmost ‘Tremendous High-quality’ high quality.

The primary variations

After all, probably the most instantly apparent variations between ACR and Olympus Workspace are their digital camera assist and price-tag. You already paid for Workspace whenever you purchased your Olympus digital camera, so it is successfully free. Whereas it solely helps Raws shot by the corporate’s personal cameras, you possibly can count on full Uncooked assist for each Olympus digital camera to be accessible just about instantly upon launch.

Each Olympus Workspace and Adobe Digicam Uncooked can extract comparable ranges of element from their photographs. High-quality particulars seem barely crisper in Adobe’s model, however that is all the way down to barely larger ranges of sharpening by default.
Obtain the complete ACR picture right here; the complete Workspace picture right here.
Photograph by Carey Rose

In contrast, ACR comes with a recurring subscription payment. It helps an enormous vary of cameras from many producers, together with each single interchangeable-lens Olympus digital camera made to this point, in addition to many mounted lens fashions. In case your digital camera helps Uncooked seize, ACR can nearly actually deal with it, however that assist can generally take some time to reach after the discharge of recent fashions. It is also extra restricted generally than first-party software program, particularly for older fashions.

For instance, whereas Adobe provides ‘digital camera matching’ profiles for all of Olympus’ Micro 4 Thirds ILCs and Stylus compacts, it isn’t accessible for any of the corporate’s 4 Thirds DSLRs besides the E-5. Neither is it supplied for Camedia, SP- or XZ-series fixed-lens cameras.

A clear, fashionable interface and database storage of edits

Olympus Workspace is a comparatively new providing that first launched in early 2019 alongside the sports-oriented E-M1X, so it is maybe not stunning that it is fairly clear and fashionable, aesthetically talking. And in contrast to some rivals, it would not make the error of storing your edits in your authentic information, nor does it scatter sidecar information throughout your drives. As an alternative, all edits are saved in a single database whose location you possibly can management.

Though it provides each spotlight and shadow sliders, I discovered Olympus Workspace rather more of a problem with photographs requiring important changes like this one. I could not get better as a lot spotlight element, and nothing I attempted would carry the sample within the topic’s shirt with out adversely affecting the remainder of the picture.
Obtain the complete ACR picture right here; the complete Workspace picture right here.
Photograph by Carey Rose

Workspace has a non-modal design and is fairly customizable by way of its structure, which is liberally sprinkled with unlabeled icons. For many the that means is clear, however some are a bit opaque, though an outline is normally proven for those who hover the mouse pointer above them. There’s additionally a wonderful, in-depth PDF person handbook linked from the Assist menu.

Excessive-res 4K screens, touchscreens and pens work properly for probably the most half, although there are quirks

You possibly can’t straight edit Workspace’s keyboard shortcuts, however you possibly can select from just a few completely different preconfigured shortcut teams for a number of the extra commonly-used choices. Most modifying controls are grouped in an modifying palette that, by default, sits on the proper of the display screen. It has a tabbed design and particular person sections below every tab might be opened or closed directly. In the event you depart many open collectively, although, you’ll find your self doing plenty of scrolling seeking controls.

A number of screens are supported, permitting you to view your picture full-screen on one monitor whereas adjusting controls or searching thumbnails on the opposite. You may also evaluate and edit two completely different photographs side-by-side, a characteristic most rivals lack. Excessive-res 4K screens, touch-screens / pens additionally work properly for probably the most half, though there are some quirks.

Workspace makes use of larger ranges of noise discount by default. That yields cleaner-looking photographs than these from ACR, however when seen 1:1 may give its outcomes a barely mottled look.
Obtain the complete ACR picture right here; the complete Workspace picture right here.
Photograph by Carey Rose

The UI can generally show reasonably quirky, although

If in case you have a number of shows of differing decision and also you drag panels between them, the right per-screen scaling issue is forgotten and the panels might be unusably giant or small. And adjusting sliders is less complicated with a mouse as a substitute of contact or pen enter, as a result of you need to double-tap on the slider with a pen or your fingertip earlier than you may make your adjustment.

In most apps, if an adjustment is not accessible you’d count on it to be grayed out, however Workspace would not accomplish that

Nor are these the one unusual UI selections. For instance, preset white steadiness might be adjusted on a magenta-green axis with a set step dimension, but auto white steadiness is as a substitute adjusted on a green-magenta axis and its slider strikes easily, reasonably than in steps. But although it strikes easily, positions in between the steps do not have an effect on the white steadiness in any respect, that means you possibly can have two photographs with seemingly completely different changes which might be nonetheless 100% an identical.

Much more confusingly, the distinction slider may need completely zero impact if the Gradation management is energetic and set to something apart from regular gradation. In most apps, if an adjustment is not accessible you’d count on it to be grayed out, however not in Workspace. With all of that stated, Olympus does present a variety of controls together with a number of most of its rivals lack, corresponding to spotlight and shadow sliders, keystoning changes and even per-color sliders for hue, saturation and luminance.

Once more, ACR seems only a tad crisper, however that is all the way down to larger default sharpening. Just a little unsharp masking on the Workspace picture would make it equally crisp.
Obtain the complete ACR picture right here; the complete Workspace picture right here.
Photograph by Carey Rose

Modest efficiency and really buggy GPU processing

Adobe has carried out a powerful job tuning its algorithms for efficiency, and like most of its rivals, Olympus Workspace struggles to maintain up with Digicam Uncooked. Whereas quick sufficient to be usable, its previews aren’t real-time and last output takes greater than twice as lengthy. Rendering the six-image batch accompanying this text took Digicam Uncooked round 10 seconds, however Workspace wanted a full 24 seconds to finish the identical job.

However that is not the complete story, due to a difficulty I shortly found with preview rendering. By default, Olympus makes use of your graphics processor to spice up efficiency, and previews are rendered in two passes — first at a comparatively low decision, after which a better one.

Olympus Workspace’s GPU rendering did not work properly for me. Generally previews rendered accurately (above left), however incessantly they rendered at low decision (above proper) and stayed that manner. And generally they rendered at an intermediate — however nonetheless reasonably low — decision (beneath). Disabling GPU rendering mounted these points, however made last output a lot slower. Click on or faucet to see full-size photographs.

Regularly although, that second move by no means accomplished, even after the hourglass indicating processing was underway had vanished. And generally, the ultimate move rendered at a reasonably low decision as a substitute, whereas the hourglass image generally wasn’t proven in any respect throughout processing.

Disabling GPU processing mounted all of this for me, and did not noticeably decelerate picture previews. It did, nevertheless, make last output *a lot* slower, greater than doubling the processing time for my six-image batch to round 56 seconds. And it is an both/or alternative which requires this system to be totally restarted, so you possibly can’t simply swap GPU processing on only for the ultimate render however not the previews.

Extra pure outcomes than Adobe, however spotlight/shadow sliders aren’t as helpful

In discussing Olympus Workspace’s person interface, I famous that it had a few vital controls many rivals lack: A pair of sliders for spotlight and shadow restoration. They’re intuitive, however sadly they’re additionally not as highly effective as these in Adobe Digicam Uncooked.

The distinction is delicate, however checking with a ruler software in Photoshop reveals Olympus Workspace’s lens distortion correction to do a barely higher job.
Obtain the complete ACR picture right here; the complete Workspace picture right here.
Photograph by Carey Rose

Neither may get better as a lot spotlight/shadow element as may their ACR equivalents, and on the similar time, I discovered they each affected midtones rather more. A smooth contact is required with each if you wish to keep away from banding and blocked-up shadows. And recovered shadows additionally present very muted colour, whereas ACR did a a lot better job of restoring colour to these lifted shadow areas.

That being stated, I discovered Olympus Workspace to do a fairly good job with picture high quality in different respects. To my thoughts it did a barely higher job than ACR with lens distortion correction, and its photographs additionally tended to look extra pure, with considerably decrease ranges of sharpening specifically. Noise discount ranges are larger by default than these utilized by Adobe, and have a barely mottled, much less film-like look.

Adobe favors a extra consumer-friendly, punchy look by default, with considerably larger ranges of distinction and saturation, though clearly you possibly can tune this to your tastes for those who forego the auto controls. (And aside from a handful of instruments, Workspace largely would not present for one-click auto changes.)

Adobe Digicam Uncooked does a a lot better job at lifting the shadows right here, holding onto colour fairly properly. By comparability, Workspace renders them as if nearly monochromatic.
Obtain the complete ACR picture right here; the complete Workspace picture right here.
Photograph by Carey Rose


Greater than most of its rivals, Olympus Workspace leaves me feeling considerably conflicted. When you’re previous the preliminary studying curve, its interface is clear and approachable, and it provides fairly just a few helpful instruments lacking from a lot of the competitors. And it is actually able to offering respectable picture high quality, albeit not in the identical class as Adobe relating to spotlight and shadow restoration.

I may actually see Workspace being a fairly succesful companion to your Olympus digital camera

However efficiency is a little bit of a weak spot that turns into decidedly extra of a priority if you must disable GPU processing, as did I. It is actually attainable that my important preview rendering points when it is enabled are particular to my chosen graphics card, a 4GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti. The excellent news is that because the software program itself is free, it is comparatively easy for readers to check GPU rendering in their very own setup to see if they’ve any such points.

In the event you’re not stricken by the sort of GPU-specific points that I used to be, and do not typically end up needing to make important spotlight / shadow corrections, I can actually see Workspace being a fairly succesful companion to your Olympus digital camera, and it is onerous to argue with a price-tag of $0. However if you need the best attainable scope to appropriate publicity points, otherwise you’re beset by issues with preview rendering as I used to be, you may wish to give Workspace a miss in the meanwhile.

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Photos for this text had been initially posted on this gallery. Please don’t reproduce any of those photographs with out prior permission (see our copyright web page).

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