So when I read that the Pen cameras had 'Art Filters', I snorted, rolled my eyes, and chalked it up to another 'useless' feature that modern cameras lumber us serious photographers with.
And then I got an EP-3. And I started using the Art Filters - purely for educational purposes you understand. And I wasn't rolling my eyes anymore (well, not with a few of them at least). In fact, I may use a couple of the Art Filters more often than not - they really are that good.
|Boat Ramp. Olympus EP-3, Grainy B&W Art Filter, 16:9 aspect ratio|
I also enjoy the fact that you can view the results live - in real time - on the back of the beautiful 3" OLED screen on the EP-3. That's how I got the shot above - I saw it on the back of the screen as I was walking along with the camera pointed down. The shadows and shapes stopped me in my tracks, and 'click', I had the shot. I know I wouldn't have got this image had the Art Filter not been on and tracking in real-time. Brilliant!
|Coastline. EP-3, Dramatic Tone Filter|
|Storm approaching. EP-3, Dramatic Tone Filter|
Another feature I'm really enjoying on the EP-3 (and other cameras feature this as well) is the different aspect ratios you can shoot in - from the digital 4:3 standard, to a more 35mm 3:4, a wide-screen 16:9, or a medium-format looking square 1:1. Very cool.
And the EP-3 makes it so easy to 'play' with the art filters by adding filter bracketing. Just decide which filters you want to include, and after you shoot a normal image, the camera goes about processing other photos, applying the art filter modes you've chosen. It does take a while for the camera to process the new images - about 1 or two seconds each - but compare that to the time you would have had to spend doing it in Photoshop, and it's a no brainer!
Other filters I intend to play with depending on the situation include: Pin Hole (adds a dark vignette and slight colour shift), Diorama (pseudo tilt-shift effect), Cross process (self explanatory) and Gentle Sepia (again, fairly self-explanatory). Not only will these be fun to explore on their own, you can also 'stack' certain filters - combining Cross Process with Pin Hole for example. Lots of opportunity for fun images.
The less impressive filters (for me at least) are the Soft Focus (too strong), Pale & Light Colour (too pastel), Light Tone (too wishy-washy) and Pop-Art filters (too trippy). I'm not sure I'll use these at all. And if I don't they can actually be turned off in the Pen's menu system so as not to get in the way.
|Greymouth Wharf. EP-3. Grainy B&W Art Filter|