“Seems like another gimmick to me” is my first thought when I heard about what seems to be a regular feature among the new Olympus line of DSLR cameras – the Art Filters. Honestly, it made me scratch my head. There are 6 preset creative effects found in the camera, namely Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale and Light, Light Tone, Grainy Film and Pin Hole. I had the chance to play around with their relatively new mid-range DSLR Olympus E-30, which is the first Olympus DSLR to incorporate the feature and see what these filters can do. I need not travel that far to try out the Art Filters. Here are some shots taken along the streets of Binondo, Graffiti in Intramuros, some shops in Cubao X and also a few high rise from Makati.
I love shooting in Binondo. It’s a perfect place to practice street photography and also food shots. The temples there just had so many details and food are really sumptuous. It’s one of my favorite spots in Manila. I found myself shooting a lot of Pin Hole here and some Grainy Film BW effects.
Cubao X has many interesting shops that have very eccentric designs and items. It’s hip, it’s young and it’s artsy. I dropped by one of the shops and just enjoyed the wall and ceiling collages along with vintage items. Pop Art and Pin Hole does wonders for me here.
Intramuros near the clamshell has very impressive and colorful graffiti walls. I’m sure people would really enjoy their time here getting self portraits by the artworks. I find Pop Art really brings out the colors here.
Makati high rises has a pretty interesting architecture if you get a chance to shoot along the streets. I tried using some Pale Light and Grainy Film BW Filters here.
In the span of shooting with Olympus E-30 and using the Art Filters, I found the feature not as gimmicky as I thought. I actually found it fun to use on some situations. I think Olymus was looking into the market of those users of Toy Cameras like Holgas and Dianas who likes those lomographic “art” effects into their photographs. It has basically the same output except that it is done digitally.
Some people may argue that you can mimic those effects on some photo editing software. That is true but the advantage of doing this in camera is that it applies the effects in relation to the current exposure, making it more real and natural as if you are using one of those toy cameras.
The Art Filters can be fun but there are some caveats when using them. Like a couple of my favorite filters like the Pin Hole and Grainy Film BW takes some time to process. Roughly more than 10 seconds and at that time, I found myself just staring at the LCD screen which can be a disadvantage when there is a sudden opportunity to shoot.
Another disadvantage is that the filters are not that configurable making the effects look monotonous when used on a number of shots. Also, using the filters puts you into a Program mode of shooting and you are not allowed to change aperture and shutter speeds except for the exposure compensation, ISO, and metering mode. It would be a lot better if we can configure the exposure, depth-of-field and also the degree on applying the effects.
Suffice it to say that the Olympus Art Filters found in the new Olympus Cameras like the Olympus E-30, E-620, e-450 and E-P1 (includes art filters for video as well) is a nice creative addition to the camera but would have been better if there’s a degree of customization available and faster processing time. I’m sure it will appeal to lomographers a lot and those who are not really photoshop-savvy.
Personally I enjoy using the Art Filters. Though a bit slow, I find I use the Pin Hole and Grainy Film BW more followed by the Pop Art and Soft Focus which thankfully are pretty fast to apply. When used correctly these Art Filters can create dramatic photos straight out of your cam.
More sample Photos here at my Flickr.