Artists need their work copied properly for reproduction. I often hear form other photographers that micro four-thirds cameras are not up to the task. I disagree.
With new technology now in play, I’m revisiting an article I wrote on the subject. Technology has improved with the Olympus OM-D E-M1X and Lumix G9.
Micro four-thirds cameras
Anyone who has been following me for any length of time knows I am a fan of micro four-thirds mirrorless cameras. As a Lumix Ambassador, I was able to grow with the format as the camera manufacturers added features. One thing that was lacking occasionally for me was access to a larger file when photographing artwork.
Not to say there weren’t ways to workaround the limitation of a 20MP file. Multiple images could be captured and stitched together to increase the file size. The problem with that was the camera needed to be moved between exposures. Then additional time was needed in post-production stitching the resulting captures together.
High Resolution modes
Olympus and Panasonic have pushed technology with the creation of large files from a small sensor. In the Olympus cameras this is called High Res Shot. In Panasonic cameras, such as the Lumix G9, look for High Resolution Mode. When mounted on a tripod the camera shoots eight frames offsetting each frame by approximately half a pixel. As a result, the camera can then process those captures into an 80MP file.
Where the system falls a little short is not being able to use flash.
When using constant light, this system works for both Panasonic and Olympus camera systems. My problem was I didn’t have enough power with constant lighting for a short enough exposure. The result was fighting color correction in post. Different color ambient light would sneak into the files leading to inconsistency. As a result, this made for lots of extra color correction work.
Olympus High Res Shot to the rescue
The problem was solved for me when with the High Res Shot in the E-M1X (B&H | Amazon), which I have on loan from Olympus. The E-M1X allows for a delay between the taking of each exposure (yay!). I used a two-second delay and that allowed the flash to recycle between each of the eight captures. With this is the ability to use controlled strobe at 1/50s, negating the ambient light and giving me the controlled color of a flash (1/50s is the fastest sync speed in this High Res Shot mode).
X-Rite Color Checker
As before I am using the X-Rite Color Checker. I have added a hook over the canvas and hang the checker in front of the art. An image is made with the color checker in place, and then removed for subsequent captures. Additional paintings may be photographed with no need to photograph the color checker again unless the lighting has been changed.
Color correction is applied to the image which contains the color checker. Through Adobe Camera RAW or Lightroom, those same adjustments can be applied to the other work exposed under the same conditions speeding the final workflow.
Yours in Creative Photography, Bob
P.S. — I neglected to mention that I used the M.Zukio ED 12-100 f/4.0 Pro lens (B&H | Amazon) for this shoot. I was amazed by the rendering of the file with no distortion. Normally I wouldn’t even consider using a zoom lens due to slight barrel or pincushion distortion.