Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Olympus Viewer 3 compared to ACDSee Ultimate 8

I recently saw an Older video comparing the default output of  Olympus Viewer 2 to Lightroom 4. 

Click to see original video

In it, the poster, came to the conclusion that OV2 should be used for initial raw conversion, then export a tiff file for import into Lr4.  While the default output of OV2 came closer to what a finished jpg would look like, 

But I was curious about the newest OV version of OV3 (Which comes with every new Oly camera, BTW).  For the last 2 years or so, I have been using ACDSee Pro, and now am using ACDSee Ultimate 8, which I like very much for orf files.

So I decided to compare OV3 to ACDSee Ultimate 8.  Note that this information applies to ACDSee Pro 8, as well.  Compared to OV2 and Lr 4, the differences are MUCH closer to each other than OV2 and Lr4.  I made the default versions exported them to tif files and then compared them side by side in ACDSee Ultimate 8.  OV3 has this same 'side by side' feature, I could have used it, but I know ACDSee better and selected it by default.

Above, the ACDSee  version is on the Left, while the OV3 version is on the Right.  Notice that the two are very similar, though the OV3 version has a tad bit more contrast and has some noise control added to the final image.

Above, the difference in increased noise control and detail sharpening between ACDSee Ultimate and OV3 is pretty clear.  If you don't want to do any post processing, OV3 offers a pretty good default image, overall. But if you think of the out of camera image as a starting point, you might not want to see the detail sharpening and noise control added at this point.

Above, there is greater highlight detail in the ACDSee version than there is in the OV3 version.  There is nothing "wrong" with the OV3 version, it's just that it has made certain assumptions about what you want in the final image that you might have to undo if you are using OV3.  ACDSee offers a bit more of a blank slate, I think.

Above, I 'cheated' a bit, and selected something other than the 'default' values for OV3.  Instead I changed the "Picture Mode" in OV3 from "As Shot" to "Natural".  This brings the OV3 version much closer to what ACDSee offers as the default version.

Above, however, OV3 still seems to add a bit more contrast and NR to the image than ACDSee does.  

My analysis

I think you already know what I think.  I prefer the ACDSee version as a starting point for further editing.  On the OTHER hand, for those situations where the default values are 'good enough'  OV3 is more than adequate.  Although I would ask you why didn't you just shoot jpgs in the first place!  That will give you the same thing!

As far as flexibility and power goes, I think ACDSee Ultimate 8 has it all over OV3.  I found OV3's user interface 'reasonably' easy to figure out, but I found the controls kind of 'jumpy'.  In other words, I could make BIG changes with the controls pretty easily; but once I had to start worrying about small changes and moving the controls in small, controlled increments, OV3 became very difficult to use.  If you need fine control, I don't think you will be all that happy with OV3.

That being said, OV3 is a rather good product, especially since you get it for the cost of an Olympus camera.  If you are careful, you can do very good work with it.  But I think most people will prefer to eventually move on to something else.


  1. OV essentially produces the same output as the in-camera jpg and it's default settings 'As shot' mimic the settings on the camera. If you select 'Monotone' in camera, you will get exctly that in OV by default.
    As far as OV3 vs. ACDsee comparison goes, in many of my shots I can clearly see more detail resolved in ACDsee. In general, I really love ACDsee. However, there is one thing that's driving my mad - reds. Wherever there is a larger chunk of red, such as a flower, it tends to get oversaturated and clipped. Lowering the saturation of red does help, but it's not a perfect cure and I can't recover all the detail as some of it is simply clipped. You can see an example here - I uploaded a RAW file and 2 jpgs - one developed with OV3 and the other with ACDsee Ultimate 8.

  2. Hmm! I've never noticed that the reds are uncontrollable in ACDSee Pro and Ultimate. I've always found that the Red slider in ACDSee's Color EQ to work wonders for me. I rarely use the saturation and vibrance sliders

    1. One last thing, I took the liberty of downloading the ORF file you posted to see if I found it difficult to control the red, I found that sliding the red slider in the Color EQ tool to a -22 to something quite nice in my eyes.

    2. Hi Glenn,
      Thanks for taking the time to do that. I appreciate that. I've now done the same and the result is not satisfactory for me unfortunately. There are still some small areas which are just blotches of red without any definition. If you look at the histogram you will see the red channel is overexposed, which, surprisingly, is not the case when I open the file in OV3. Therefore, I tried the 'Highlight Enhancement' slider to recover that detail (had to dial in the maximum of 99). I also dialled in -33 eV on 'Exposure' and finally I got rid of the clipped reds on the histogram. With these settings the image is too dark and I had to use Light EQ to selectively brighten it. Now the end result is close to perfect (for my taste at least). Unfortunately, I can't save that as a preset for all images. It can only be applied to the problematic photos with reds and I'd still need to adjust the sliders for each photo. I wish ACDsee would alter their default rendering instead. I don't expect ACDsee to produce the same colour as OV3, because that's rather impossible, but they could do something about those reds being clipped. I tried Lightroom for a short while and this issue was not there.