Olympus sent me some gear to try out. I’ll share some thoughts as I put the gear through some paces. The kit includes the OM-D E-M1X body and three lenses. For today’s post I used the M. Zuiko 12-100mm f/4 lens as I explored the in-camera Neutral Density filter feature, called Live ND. This lens has a great range with a similar field of view to a full frame 24-200mm lens.

Neutral Density filter

ND filters are one of those products where you get what you pay for. When you buy on the inexpensive side I’ve found there is a colorcast that can be difficult to process cleanly. Unless you create a lot of long exposure images it might be hard to justify buying the more expensive glass.

Why use an ND, anyway?

ND filters enable you to lessen the light that makes it to the film or sensor making it possible to achieve slower shutter speeds to render water or clouds in a different way. You’ve seen the beautiful milky streams or lovely blurred skies that is the way they are created. This look adds interest to images that might otherwise be mundane.

New camera technology

New tech is allowing ND filters to be built into the camera. Olympus loaned me their OM-D E-M1X camera to test out. I am impressed with the Live ND feature and the clean color of the file. The scene was recorded under slightly overcast skies. ISO 64 with the equivalent of five stops of Neutral Density applied. In my opinion, the water rendered beautifully.

Five stop ND camera compensation applied to this image at ISO 64 to get the water flowing softly.

While it’s not a true ND filter, the Live ND feature gives the effect of using an ND filter to still images.

According to the Olympus camera manual, the camera makes a series of exposures and combines them into a single RAW file that appears to be slow shutter. You would think that this would be in JPEG only. Nope! As a result, you get to work with a RAW file for additional control and post-processing. My guess is that the E-M1X dual processors make this possible. In my opinion, this is pretty amazing stuff.

Check out my next post where I convert this file to black and white using NIK Silver FX Pro2.

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob