Comparison of the Olympus Pen-F Monochrome Profiles

I’ve been shooting pictures with my new Olympus Pen-F camera this week. (, Amazon UK) You can read my First Impressions of the Olympus Pen-F Camera, and see some sample photos.

Today, the weather was very nice, so I went outside to take some photos in my village. I wanted to compare the three different monochrome modes in the camera, because I very much like black and white photos, and it’s a feature that I plan to use a lot.

You can set up the camera to bracket photos, and if you do this with the Art filters, you can choose the three different monochrome modes. To do this, go to the menus, then the second shooting menu. Choose Bracketing and turn it on, the go to the right and choose ART BKT and turn that on. Then go to the right again and select the presets you want to use (and deselect those you don’t want). You can have lots of presets automatically applied to any shot, these aren’t additional shots, like when you bracket for exposure or aperture, but it’s all internal processing from your image. I shoot RAW + JPG, so when I do this, I get four photos.

Here’s just one example of the different monochrome profiles. The first shot is the color shot, then the three next photos are monochrome profiles 1, 2, and 3. I haven’t made any alterations to the photos. Note that I’ve turned off grain for all three profiles; by default a couple of them have grain on.

Olympus describes the first profile as neutral, and it is, soft and smooth. The second is the high-contrast profile, modeled after Tri-X Pan film, and in some shots the contrast is excessive, but here it looks fine. The third shot is meant to look like infrared film; in some photos it does have that look, but not so much here. However, the clouds contrast well with the sky, as if there’s a red filter.

Of the three photos here, I prefer the house in the second profile but the sky in the third. It would be possible to combine these in post production, and since they’re exactly the same photo there’s no problem aligning them. But I find the first photo to be very well balanced, with a softer look.

These black and white profiles are one of my favorite features of this camera, and the ability to bracket all three – together with a RAW file – is very useful. I’ve yet to tweak the profiles, other than turning off grain – I’m not a big fan – but I’ll look into that soon.