In December Olympus and Atomos have announced availability of ProRes RAW for Olympus OM-D EM1X and EM1 MKIII and Atomos Ninja V recorder.
This is the PDF of the Atomos release and this is the Olympus firmware update release in PDF.
This is definitely a step forward for ProRes RAW and also for the micro four thirds standard after the setback of Olympus withdrawal.
There has been very little information on the features and limitation and despite a few videos posted by Atomos and independent creative agencies nobody could really understand how the whole thing worked.
The video from Kauas a Finnish creative agency is here
It contains a lot of very dark scenes and the equipment used for the filming is suboptimal with lenses having a minimum aperture of f/2.8 which is clearly insufficient for the purpose.
I am always surprised when companies do such basic mistakes Olympus could have provided this agency with their f/1.2 primes and the clips would not be so noisy.
Atomos however has made test footage available for testing here.
So with those clips and my final cut pro expertise on HDR and ProRes RAW I got the opportunity to have a go at the sample. A short video illustrates the logic and the dynamics of working with such files:
When you use Olympus generated ProRes RAW files you are able to adjust the ISO/Exposure offset. What This seems to do is to move the black point of the clip without stretching the footage.
Adjustment of color temperature that would have been useful for underwater video is not available. Take into account that the adjustment correct temperature but not white balance as it does not have a tint slides.
As of today as per Apple technical note 211277 only Panasonic and Z CAM offer control of color temperature in post processing. So I would recommend to focus on those brands if you are particularly interested in this capability.
Another limitation of Olympus implementation is the crop factor. ProRes RAW reads individual pixels 1:1 so to the crop factors are:
- C4K 1.26x
- UHD 1.35X
This is because the pixels to 5184 horizontally are cropped to 4096 and 3840. Frame rate is limited to 25/25/30 fps.
Other issues include blanking of the camera EVF and LCD that will only show settings and nothing else and a limitation of internal audio recording to 16 bits. If you need 24 bits you need to plug the microphone into the Ninja V.
Overall I did not get the impression that this footage would really move things forward and right now I believe a 10 bit Log or Cine Gamma implementation that can accomodate things like sharpening and noise reduction will produce similar or even better results.
Will this make you want to buy an Olympus camera for this capability? Almost certainly not when you can buy a Z CAM and have more controls and options.
Will this make some people that already have an Olympus device buy a Ninja V instead of buying another camera altogether? I think some will however the majority of Olympus shooters are still focussed and right now there are not even many options for cages and mounts due to the lack of penetration in the video segment.
Nevertheless this effort should be commended because there are no glitches in the implementation like it happened with Nikon Z series and moves the goal post forward for the MFT segment. I expect Panasonic will have to release ProRes RAW for their new BGH1 that has the potential to be a very interesting device.