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1 OM-5 initial review
Product images by Brendan Nystedt
The OM System OM-5 is a mid-range 20MP Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera mainly for stills, but with a decent set of video features as well. Although its exterior is a rehash of the older OM-D E-M5 Mark III, its processing has been boosted to unlock computational photography features previously reserved for more expensive cameras.
Since the exterior is nigh unchanged from the E-M5 Mark III, compatibility is maintained with all past accessories including the ECG-5 grip, which makes larger lenses easier to handle for $169.99. The OM-5 will be available for $1,199.99 body-only and $1,599.99 with the 12-45mm F4 PRO lens as a kit.
|What's in a name? The first prominently branded camera from OM System is a dead ringer for 2019's Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III.|
OM Digital Solutions, formerly the camera division of Olympus, is in the middle of rebranding its cameras to 'OM System.' Even though it launched a flagship earlier in 2022, that camera still says 'Olympus' on the faux pentaprism. The OM-5, then, is the first mirrorless camera to fully embrace the new name and put it in a place of prominence.
While this big change spells hope for future cameras in the OM System, this model is hardly a revolutionary new design. In fact, it appears to be an extremely close relative to the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, the model the OM-5 replaces. We really liked the E-M5 Mark III when we reviewed it in 2019, and it's not a terrible thing that this camera is a drop-in replacement for the last one.
|Upgraded processing gives an older 20 megapixel sensor a new lease on life.|
Looking at the OM-5's spec sheet reminds one of the Olympus E-M1 Mark III, the former Olympus compact pro camera. As such, you'll find that model's computational photography features here as well. The faster TruePic IX processor at the heart of the OM-5 is likely responsible for niceties like the LiveND filter simulation mode, face detection AF improvements, and for the first time ever in a mid-tier OM digital model, Starry Sky AF.
Starry Sky AF backs up OM System's claims that this camera is meant for people wanting to capture the great outdoors in their images. This unique feature locks onto the stars very reliably within a few seconds when you press the AEL/AFL button – no eyeballing it with manual focus required.
Unfortunately, the extra processing power hasn't brought the Olympus OM-D E-M1X's subject recognition modes to the OM-5. This would have made shooting wildlife (whether it's a housecat or a bird in flight) much simpler for novices. For now, those advanced AF options are exclusive to the OM-1. It's worth noting as well that LiveND is still limited to 4 EV, as before.
While older Olympus models had tripod-based high-resolution shooting, only a select few were able to compensate for hand shake while getting a high-res shot. This capability has trickled down to the more affordable OM-5, getting 50MP shots while handholding and 80MP ones using a tripod. While it still takes around 16 seconds to combine the multiple images into one, this is great for epic landscapes (assuming the wind isn't blowing trees around too much – while the camera can cope with shaky hands, there's little correction of moving objects).
With the OM-1, OM System made a big step forward with its menu system. The new software has some truly useful features, even telling users why certain options were greyed out and inaccessible. Unfortunately, OM System kept the previous generation menu system in the OM-5.
It's not like the look of the software is a feature that requires faster processors or pricey Stacked CMOS sensors. This is an area where OM could have truly made the OM-5 feel like a newer camera with the latest and greatest interface.
Instead, we're stuck with the aging, labyrinthine system that's been around for a long time. Sure, the OM-5 does have the handy MySet option that lets users pick highly used options for a quick menu. Seasoned users will know their way around, but miss out on the quality of life features that the OM-1 brought to the table.
|Despite a thorough revamp in the OM-1, the OM-5 sports the old menu system.|
The OM-5 has one side-mounted UHS-II SD card slot, which is conveniently located for fast card changes. By putting this on the side of the camera, users won't have to unmount grips, rigging, tripods, or other accessories just to swap cards.
|Despite a premium price, the OM-5 still sports a retro microUSB port instead of USB-C.|
One area where we had hoped to see a change was with the way this camera charges. Recent high-end Olympus and OM System cameras have had USB-C PD charging, which is great since so many other devices now support this high-speed charging standard. Unfortunately, OM System saddled the OM-5 with an old, unidirectional microUSB port, which can trickle charge from a USB power supply or power bank.
Vloggers who like the outdoors might want to consider the OM-5 for its video capabilities. While there's no headphone socket, OM System has removed the 29-minute cap of previous cameras, making longer takes possible.
The OM System OM-5 also natively shoots vertical video at your chosen resolution, just by flipping the camera's orientation. You won't get a reshuffled onscreen interface while in vertical video mode (which might be irritating to some), but we can confirm that these files read as vertical when transferred to a computer. Especially if sharing directly from the camera, this could save users a step when posting to social media.
Finally, the OM-Log400 color profile is available on the OM-5. This Log profile was only available on higher-end cameras before, but it joins the flat profile as another option for those who like to color grade their own video. We expect there to be a LUT made available for this camera once it ships.
One nifty new feature that the OM-5 brings is native USB webcam compatibility. Plug in a microUSB cable, select Webcam in the USB prompt, turn the mode dial to video, and you have a universally-compatible UVC/UAC webcam in this camera. No additional app or weird drivers are required to accomplish this. Simple as that!
When shopping for mid-range mirrorless cameras these days, you have a lot of impressive options to choose from. The high-speed Canon R10 has a bigger sensor and is likely more nimble for sports and wildlife shooting, and the Fujifilm X-S10 is a better all-rounder for video and stills.
Both of these competing models have larger APS-C sensors, likely better high ISO performance, and more modern software (albeit without some of the computational features that OM System has to offer).
For the money, where the OM-5 excels is when taking into account its small size as well as its IP53-rated weathersealing. Where other manufacturers claim a certain degree of resistance to moisture, a certification like this usually costs quite a bit extra.
|OM System OM-5||Fujifilm X-S10||Canon R10|
|MSRP (with kit zoom)||$1,599 (with 12-45mm F4 lens)||$1,399 (with 18-55mm F2.8-4 lens)||$1,379 (with 18-150mm lens)|
|Sensor size||Four Thirds||APS-C||APS-C|
|Image Stabilization (CIPA rating)||6.5 – 7.5 stops depending on lens||5 – 6 stops depending on lens||Lens / digital only, no CIPA rating|
|Weathersealing (Ingress Protection)||Yes, IP53||No sealing||No sealing|
|Burst speed||10 FPS mechanical, 30 FPS electronic||
8 FPS mechanical, 20 FPS electronic
|15 FPS mechanical, 24 FPS electronic|
|Rear display||1.04M-dot, articulated||1.04M-dot, articulated||1.04M-dot, articulated|
|Body weight (incl. battery)||414g (14.6 oz)||465g (16.4 oz)||426g (15.03 oz)|
The body of the OM-5 is virtually identical to the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, making it instantly familiar to Olympus shooters. The series has had twin control dials since the first model was introduced in 2012, and that tradition continues here as well.
OM System's customizability is deep and lets users reassign buttons to their heart's delight. Even the power switch, usually on the left-hand side, can be shifted to the 2-mode toggle to the right of the viewfinder that's easily reachable with your right hand.
The viewfinder and rear articulating screen are carried over from the E-M5 III and are nice to use. The articulating screen now ditches the Olympus branding, making it a bit stealthier, and has the same 3-inch 1.04M-dot LCD touch panel. The OLED viewfinder is contrasty and refreshes relatively quickly, sporting a resolution of 2.36M-dots (1024 x 768 pixels).
Being the midrange option in the OM lineup, this camera treads a fine line between being svelte while offering a good grip. The rear flare and front protrusion make this handle better than one might expect at first glance.
As it stands, while the OM-5 might not accommodate the biggest lenses with ease, smaller zooms and the Micro Four Thirds family of compact primes balance on this body well. OM System is advertising this as being the ideal match for its F4 Pro lenses (including the 12-45mm F4 available as a kit lens) and we're inclined to agree.
In order to keep the OM-5 compact and portable, it relies on the small 8.46Wh BLS-50 battery. On a single charge, this is rated to around 310 shots using the CIPA standardized test method. While this older battery is on the smaller side, at least it's available in abundance, so picking up spares is a cinch.
The first camera that OM Digital Solutions released earlier this year, the OM-1, was a heavily reworked flagship with some really excellent new additions that put the now-independent firm's best foot forward. Unfortunately, the OM-5 is less a mini-OM-1 and more an E-M5 Mark III redux. As the first camera to flaunt the OM System name, this makes it a bit of a disappointment. Even at first glance, there's really not much different here.
As it's in the middle of the OM System lineup, the OM-5 feels the pinch from the high performance OM-1 and the value-focused E-M10 IV, which has a similar 20MP sensor. For those shopping for a smaller companion to their beefy OM-1, having to switch between two completely different menu systems seems hugely inconvenient. For E-M10 III or IV owners looking to upgrade to something newer, it seems like there's just not enough here to justify the cost.
Does that make the OM-5 a bad camera? No! It's as capable as any recent Olympus, and the added features are definitely appreciated. The USB webcam function works quite well, and we've noticed that the tracking autofocus using face detection seems to be a bit stickier than in previous midrange Olympus models.
But there's the feeling that even a couple of low-hanging additions could have made a far better first impression – USB-C PD charging and the switch over to the new OM-1 menu system would have made this feel like a much different camera. As it stands, though it's plenty capable, it feels older and creakier than a $1,000+ camera should.
Taken for what it is, the OM-5 feels nice to use, has a lot of customizability, and works very well with smaller Micro Four Thirds lenses. The OM-5 embodies a lot of what we like about the Micro Four Thirds system. It's nigh impossible to find a compact, weathersealed, IP53-rated camera at this price, premium though it may be. Paired with the large back catalog of equally portable M. Zuiko lenses, the OM-5 still stands out.
All images shot using a production OM System OM-5
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