We Review the New OM-5 Mirrorless Camera. Spoiler: It’s Not Another OM-1.

We Review the New OM-5 Mirrorless Camera. Spoiler: It’s Not Another OM-1.

The new OM-5 camera may, at first look, take you by surprise. However, you may have noticed that OM Digital Solutions (OMDS) knows what they are doing. As their first anniversary arrives, they yet again deliver another excellent camera for a specific type of photographer.

Some years ago, I went into a camera store to buy a full-frame DSLR. When I picked it up, I found it cumbersome, and the ergonomics for me were awful. I have large hands and long fingers, but all the buttons seemed to be in the wrong place. On the next shelf was a diminutive Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. Strangely, it fitted me perfectly. I ran some test shots through it, and the image quality was more than fine. I liked the colors and the creamy-smooth bokeh of the 45mm f/1.8 lens.

This is a small camera that packs a big punch.

As my commercial photographic needs changed, I swapped the E-M5 with a friend. Two camera generations later, the OM System OM-5 hits the shelves. I am tempted by it because part of me misses that great little camera. OMDS is specifically aiming its new camera at a particular need. It's not me, the event or commercial photographer. Neither is it me working as a professional seascape photographer who gets up at five in the morning to capture the blue hour and sunrise.

Handheld at ISO 1,250, straight out of camera. An hour before sunrise.

This camera is aimed at those who walk around observing life and record it with their photographs. It's also designed for the adventurer for whom a small, light, robust camera can be pulled from a pocket to snap the mountains, waterfalls, or eagle perched on a branch. It is designed for street and lifestyle photographers who need something discrete and easy to use. This camera will be perfect for the working person whose business requires quality images of buildings, products, or services and the artisan who wants to display their work online. It will also appeal to parents wanting to preserve memories with better definition than they get with their cell phones. It will also suit bloggers and vloggers who want something stylish and easy to use.

The OM-5 in the middle is reminiscent of the small film Olympus OM cameras like the one OM-2 SP (right). Although much larger, the OM-1 and 12-40mm lens combination on the left is still far smaller and lighter than other mirrorless system cameras.

So, what was the first thing I did when I got my hands on this camera? I took it to the beach to capture the sunrise! I had two cameras with me, the other being my OM-1, which sat on a tripod. The OM-5 was small enough to slip in my coat pocket, and I fitted a Black Rapid wrist strap into its new, reinforced female screw thread at the camera's base plate; that was a weak point of the previous Olympus E-M5 Mark III.

I barely took a photo with my favorite camera, the OM-1, because I had so much fun with the OM-5.

Weather-sealed to the same IP53 standard as the OM-1 and the 12-45mm f/4 PRO lens fitted to it, I had no qualms being on a windy, sand-blown beach with the sea spray in the air.

Just like its predecessors, the camera felt comfortable in my hands. The button positions still felt familiar to me, and I could operate them with gloves on, albeit thin gloves. Its fully articulated rear screen enabled me to view the scene from any angle. That is important because I often take low-angled shots and don't want to lie in the wet sand.

Straight-out-of-camera JPEG. Despite shooting directly into the sun, detail can still be seen in the sanderling scuttling along the shoreline. Raw images had more recoverable detail.

I started shooting in low light to push its performance. With the 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization giving 6.5 steps of compensation, I could handhold the camera and take one-second or longer shots. That feature was also particularly handy as I was shivering on that chilly, autumnal beach.

The OM-5 has many of the other system's unique features built into its armory, not least the Live ND feature that saves you screwing an ND filter to the front of the lens. So, combined with that superb image stabilization, handheld long-exposures are possible. It also has Handheld High-Res capabilities, allowing the capture of super-fine detail in a 50-megapixel image. On top of all that, there is the Live Composite mode, which only adds new light to an image. That's ideal for light trails, lightning photography, and light painting.

The sensor has 121 points of phase detection autofocus. All the focus points are cross-type, which improves the ability of the camera to lock onto subjects no matter how they are oriented in the frame. I found the focus to be fast and accurate. There are six different focus targeting modes. I almost always use a single point, but groups of points become helpful when shooting moving animals and birds.

Shot at 1/8th of a second.

The OM-5 has face and eye detection; although I didn't have the opportunity to try this out, I've used this camera's predecessors with the same feature at weddings and events and found it effective.

A great feature of the OM System is the Starry Sky autofocus. As I live in an area of dark skies with little light pollution, this feature is a boon for taking shots at night when I cannot see to focus.

The OM-5 can also bracket and combine up to five different exposures and process them into one high-definition raw file. It also has in-camera focus stacking, great for macro-photography – the OM system is a firm favorite of many macro enthusiasts – and landscape photographers shooting handheld in low light and needing a wide aperture.

There are functions on this camera that I won't use, but the folk at OMDS have done their research and know what its customers want. One of these is the art filters feature. They can apply 16 different effects to the image. Then, the color creator enables the photographer to control the hue and saturation of the individual colors in a scene. Similarly, for beginners, 22 scene modes set the camera for the picture you want to shoot. That is a great learning tool as one can discover the recommended camera adjustments for any shot and then copy and adapt those settings in the future.

Taken at 0.6 seconds handheld with the lens zoomed to 45mm at f/4. Given this is an equivalent field of view to 90mm on a 35mm camera, the image stabilization is astoundingly good.

If you produce video, the OM-5 produces 4K 30p movies and can shoot using OM-Log400. (If you don't know what that is, simply put, it give a little more editing latitude). It also allows vertical video shooting, so it's great for producing reels for viewing on mobile devices. You can also link this camera to the fabulous LS-P5 PCM sound recorder.

Half-second exposure, 42 mm, f/10, handheld at ISO 1,250.

The OM-5, like the OM-1, will also shoot tethered to a computer and allows for simultaneous image storage on both the computer and the camera, which I recently learned isn't a feature available with some other makes. OM System isn't a brand that usually jumps to mind for studio photography. However, Gavin Hoey specializes in portraiture and uses OM System gear, and I do some product photography in a studio using the OM-1. The OM-5 would work just as well for that. Tethering is also another valuable feature for indoor macro photographers.

This image was shot using  the new OM System 40-150mm f/4 PRO lens, the camera was set to ISO 1,250.

One feature I am glad is still available with this camera is its ability to use it as a webcam. I need to transmit a high-quality image to my clients when running online training. Since giving away my old E-M5 Mark II, I've used an old E-M1 for this function. The smaller, lighter OM-5 is far better suited to that, however.

The camera also has USB charging, negating the need to haul multiple chargers around with you for all your different devices. As for battery life, I shot raw plus large JPEGS, half of which were in silent mode, and that produced 2,340 files, so 1,170 individual presses of the shutter button. The temperature was under 43° F (6° C) for most of those, and I used half of the battery's charge.

Being a smaller body, this camera is best suited to the range of slighter M.Zuiko f/4 PRO lenses, though I tried it with my 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens, and it was still nicely balanced.

The recommended ISO 200 produces the cleanest image, of course, but with modern noise reduction technology not used in these sample images, far higher ISOs can produce crisp results.

What I Liked and What Could be Improved

As I said at the start of this article, the folk at OMDS know what they are doing; their business has turned around and is succeeding since escaping from Olympus. This is excellent news. Instead of flooding the enthusiast market with a confusing array of cameras with different functions available on some and, disappointingly, not others, they have chosen to introduce fewer high-quality camera models within each price bracket with a wide range of useful features they know particular groups of photographers want.

I can already hear a few naysayers griping that it doesn't have the stacked sensor of the OM-1, and it only has one memory card slot, or it doesn't shoot as many frames per second, as if 30 fps isn't enough. But if you need that kind of performance, you buy an OM-1. This camera is aimed at a different market.

Half-second exposure, handheld, ISO 1,250, cropped by about 50%.


If there is one thing I think they should have changed, if they could, it was having a USB-C port instead of a micro-USB. I say "if they could" because I suspect that would involve not using common body and chassis parts from the E-M5 Mark III that are shaped to fit micro-USB. Wholly redesigning the body would not be a good move environmentally because there would be more waste. Keeping it the same would also mean less cost for the customer. For me, it's not a deal-breaker.

The camera also uses the older menu system, which some reviewers don't like. I never had a problem with it; I found it far more intuitive than other brands' menus, and I am not alone in thinking that. Furthermore, there are many more features to discover in the OM System menus than in most cameras. That might be daunting for beginners, but this is a camera for photographers at any level of experience.

Small enough to slip into my coat pocket.

While the OM-1 suits a professional photographer like me, the OM-5 will meet the needs of those for whom photography is an essential but secondary feature of their other activities. It's an advanced, versatile camera, not as complex and feature-packed as the OM-1. But it doesn't need to be; it targets an entirely different market. For example, I wouldn't recommend the OM-5 for dedicated wildlife photographers as the OM-1 is better suited for capturing birds and animals. However, the OM-5 is the perfect camera to slip into a coat pocket, rucksack, or drybag in a canoe. It's small enough to be equally at home in an office drawer, a handbag, or a briefcase. It's stylish too. They know how to make good-looking cameras.

I am impressed with its performance and am contemplating getting one as a second camera for events and photography, where I want to have a low profile. Coupled with a small, fast lens like the 25mm f/1.8 or the 45mm f/1.8, this will perform perfectly well for low-light shooting at indoor evening events; my old E-M5 Mark II is fabulous for that, and this camera performs even better. It also has wireless and Bluetooth connectivity, so images can be instantly uploaded, negating the need for that second card.

The camera felt solid and durable. Combined with its compactness, weatherproofing, and incredible dust removal system – I've never had to clean the dust off any of my cameras' sensors – this is a superb camera for me to slip in my pocket when I go on holiday or for my early morning bike rides. I'm impressed.

All sample images were straight out of camera JPEGS using different in-camera settings, although some horizon leveling was applied in OM Workspace. The camera was loaned to me to review by OMDS.

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20 Comments
Tom Reichner's picture

Ivor,

I particularly appreciate the title that you gave this article. It is not worded to be manipulative, trying to get the viewer to do what he/she may not want to do otherwise (meaning click on the article). Rather, it is a straightforward description of the content of the article. I feel respected when titles are written that way. Thanks for that.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Thanks Tom. It's a balance that's hard to achieve between having a compelling title and not being accused of writing a clickbait one. To me, so long as the content of the article is informative and interesting, that's the most important thing. What I learned in various marketing and IT training courses over the years is that clickbait is those articles that say "You won't believe what XXXX looks like now," etc, and then 50 clicks later you finally get to see, and you are not surprised at all. Sometimes, we get accused of clickbait when the title is just compelling. But, those who complain are a drop in the ocean compared with the thousands that read the articles.

Sadly, straightforward descriptions are not compelling for readers. As writers (everywhere) get paid for the number of people that read the articles, we want titles that attract readers. Negatively toned headings get more reads too. If I write a title saying a camera is awful and another saying it is great, the negative one will get more reads. I guess it's because a lot of people like to gripe and put the daggers in; it's a sad world in which we live. So, if I had added some emotive words to the title, that would have attracted more readers. If I had said something bad about the camera in the title then that would have attracted more readers too.

Saying that, nobody is forced to read any article, and nobody is paying to read them either. (When people complain, I suggest they ask for a refund.) I think most people have the intelligence to differentiate between quality writing, as you get on Fstoppers and some other photography sites and true clickbait found on low-end websites.

Thank you again for the comment.

John Nixon's picture

Excellent review. I love the form factor of the E-M5 / OM-5 cameras and I was looking forward to the release of this one. However, for me, the sensor is a deal breaker and I (probably!) won’t be ordering one.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Thank you, John. I guess this isn't a camera aimed at your corner of the market, but I think that there is a lot more to a camera than the sensor since they have become what I consider to be good enough. All cameras on the market for the last three or four years have sensor performance that is suitable for most photography. So manufacturers are looking at other ways of attracting new customers. OMDS have done that with this camera.

If photographers need even better sensor performance then the obvious choice is to upgrade to the OM-1. In extreme conditions, the OM-1 does do better with noise control at even higher ISOs, but I found the Om-5s performance far more than just adequate even when shooting on the beach an hour before dawn. Lots of people bought the E-M1 III and the E-M5 III and they were pleased with the image quality, so they will be with this camera too.

The OM-5 does things those cameras could not do. I pushed it to its limits in low light and it did a better job than my E-M1 Mark II or Mark I, and my much missed E-M5 II, and I am still selling photos taken with those cameras, and the Mark II I still use as my second camera at weddings. Even my wife's E-M5 mark I takes more than adequate photos in most circumstances.

It's the improvement in additional functionality due to the new processor, that is the big upgrade with the OM-5 compared to previous cameras. I think OMDS is leading the way, as Olympus always did, with pushing other features than pixel count and dynamic range.

Although not shown in the review, I fed some much higher ISO pictures through ON1 NoNoise and the results were great.

If one needs a small, robust camera that takes great pictures can be pocketed or carried in a handbag, briefcase, rucksack, or canoe, then this will be a great choice. If you need the additional AI functions and an even greater dynamic range, then the OM-1 is the answer.

I'm probably going to buy an OM-5 because I really want that convenience when I go on a hike or bike ride, and I'll sell my E-M1s. I'll probably have it hanging on my belt as the second camera to my OM-1 when I am shooting weddings or events. I'll use it for street photography that I've neglected since selling my E-M5 II, and take it when I travel overseas. If I already owned an E-M5 Mark III and was happy with it, then the upgrade might not be so appealing, but I don't, so it is!

Glad you enjoyed the review and thanks again for taking the time to comment.

Tom Reichner's picture

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Ivor Rackham siad,

"I'm probably going to buy an OM-5 because I really want that convenience when I go on a hike or bike ride"

Don't you already have a small Olympus camera? Is this OM-5 really THAT much smaller than what you already have, that it would make an actual difference on whether or not you take the camera with you on a hike or bike ride?

I recently got a smaller, lighter lens to complement my big heavy one, and it does make a big difference in portability, and increases my ability to take it with me to more places. But we're talking 6 pounds instead of 12 pounds, and 15 inches long instead of 21 inches long. A difference that is big enough to actually be tangible.

To me, an inch bigger in size, or a half pound lighter in weight, isn't enough to have any effect at all in the ease of carrying something around or tucking it into a pocket. But I realize that people are different, and what I see as an inconsequential difference may be a very meaningful difference for someone else.

So I would like to know just how much smaller and lighter this OM-5 is than what you already have, and why you think that difference will be enough to get you to take a camera with you when you would otherwise leave it at home.

.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Hi Tom, the OM-5 I used could fit in my trouser and cycling cagoule pockets. The OM-1 can't, but it can fit in my outdoor winter coat pocket. I've put the dimensions below in reply to Nigel Voak. MFT is, overall, a far smaller system than full frame, especially when it comes to lenses, but the body of the OM-5 is that much smaller and lighter it is a lot more portable still.

Nigel Voak's picture

I owned the original EM5 and it was a faithful companion on many hikes in our Apennines and on my travels. It replaced an aging DSLR outfit, and at the time it seemed and was a revolution in camera design. Certainly, IBIS opened many doors, and I was able to photograph in situations where it was impossible before. I stuck with this camera for five years.

I agree that the EM5/OM5 is a good choice for travel and hiking, where one does not want to be weighed down with gear. Coupled with the two Panasonic 2.8 zooms, it fits the bill. I find the Olympus 2.8 zooms not quite as well suited. I had the 7-14 and I found it a heavy beast of a lens and it probably seeded my dissatisfaction with the system.

The M43 system in the years after I bought my EM5, seemed to lose its way a little. A system that seemed to be aimed at lightweight travel and recreational uses, seemed to have FF ambitions with heavy bulky stuff like the EMX1 and the 2.8 zooms. With the expensive long lenses that appeared just before the transition to OM, it seemed they were aiming more at the nature niche.

The OM5 is the latest iteration of the original EM5, some things seem to have improved, a slightly better sensor and some things seem to have made the EM5iii and maybe the OM5 a difficult choice. I was set to replace my worn out EM5 with the latest version, but I started reading cases of tripod mount failure and went elsewhere for this and other reasons. I believe the OM5 shares the same outer casing, so maybe this fault has not been sorted. The tripod mount issue smelt of cost cutting.

In the end I went for a Nikon Z7 and the remarkable 24-200 zoom for travel (on a budget I could have chosen the Z5). I can carry just one camera and lens and I get high-definition FF quality at the same weight as an OM with the 12-100 zoom. On the social media I visit, several of my acquaintances have followed similar paths away from M43.

With the lighter and more compact FF mirrorless systems, I just wonder how relevant M43 these days.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Thanks for the interesting comment.

I have the Olympus 2.8 zooms and the 7-14 certainly isn't one made for hiking with, but it is a great bit of glass optically. The Olympus 12-40 f/2.8 outsides the Panasonic 12-35 in having a longer maximum focal length, plus the Pano has non-linear focus control, so not as good for video work.

You are right that the 7-14 f/2.8 isn't a small lens, but the optical quality is fabulous and I use it a lot for landscape work, especially now that the OM System cameras have Live ND filters, which negates the need for having custom-made slide-in filter system for the bulbous front element. It's not a lens for hiking with, but for me it's a super bit of weather-sealed glass nonetheless, especially for my coastal work.

Although the EM-X is a larger camera than the other MFT cameras, it is still considerably smaller than the full frame DSLRs it competes with, and the far smaller long lenses than full frame systems offer, giving considerable advantages to wildlife photographers. You are also correct that the MFT system is especially well suited to wildlife and macro, but there are plenty who use it for other genres too. Besides seascapes and abstract, I use it for Wedding and event photography, as does the royalty and wedding photographer John Nassari. Gavin Hoey uses OM System cameras for film and studio work. Tom Ormorod is an amazing landscape photographer.

The Z7 is a fine camera and there are significant differences between it and the OM System cameras. It's what is important to you.

Z7. ......................................OM5 ..............................OM1
675g.................................... 414g...............................510g
134 x 100.5 x 67.5 mm ........125 x 85 x 50 mm .........135 x 92 x 73 mm
$2996.95 (Z7ii) .....................$1195 ...........................$2,199
5 stops of IBIS...................... 6.5-7.5 stops IBIS..........7.5-8 stops of IBIS
Full frame ............................. 2 x crop......................... 2 x crop
45 MP....................................20 MP (50 with Hi Res)......20.4 (up to 80 with Hi Res)

The IBIS advantage is significant because of the crop factor on the MFT system.

Besides the Live ND, there are also all the other computational photography advantages of the OM System, including Live Time, Live Composite, and high-resolution images using sensor shift.

The lenses you compared are quite dissimilar. The Olympus 12-100 is an IP53 weather-sealed lens with an all-metal construction and a continuous f/4 focal length. The Nikon has weather sealing, though not to the same standard, and has a variable f/4-f/6.3 aperture, and weighs slightly more despite it being plastic.

Your information about the tripod mount isn't correct. The OM-5's has been upgraded and reinforced. I confirmed this with OMDS when I borrowed the camera.

As for people migrating systems, I am sure there is movement in both directions. In MFT groups there is a constant stream of people switching to OM System and Panasonic. The sales of the OM-1 were unprecedented and took OMDS by surprise because there was such a big jump; they ran out of stock a few times. Sales are up and the business has gone from making a huge loss under the management of Olympus to a healthy profit. Similarly, their 150-400 mm PRO lens now has a long waiting list because they cannot make them fast enough to keep up with demand. So, I think there are plenty of folk who know MFT is relevant, including the 50 or so manufacturers of different camera and drone systems that use it.

It is, of course, down to subjectivity, personal preference, and what the cameras are best suited for. All systems have advantages and disadvantages, and what we consider to be important is the system we choose. Put any camera in the hands of a good photographer and you will get great shots. OM System, Nikon, Canon, Sony, Panasonic, Leica, and Pentax: all of them produce great cameras. I am grateful there is a variety of manufacturers out there as too much dominance by any single brand can only be bad for photographers.

Tom Reichner's picture

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Wow, Ivor - so much great and useful info in this comment of yours. Thanks!

It's interesting just how tiny these cameras and lenses are. I hike regularly with my new-to-me Sigma 60-600mm lens, and it is far far bigger than any of these cameras with lenses. So I wouldn't necessarily say that ANY of these Olympus lenses are "not for hiking with". Even the ones that Olympus people say are heavy or big are actually super tiny little miniatures compared to what most photographers use when they go beyond 400mm.

I hope that some day soon 3rd party lens manufacturers put just as many resources into making lenses for these cameras as they do making lenses for the "big 3". I mean, if this little system became just as popular and widespread as Canon or Sony, then there would be an amazing array of highly specialized lenses available in native mounts, not to mention many different makes and models of underwater housings to choose from.

Seems like the new people running the company are on the right path. If they continue, and the total sales start to get up to what Canon and Sony numbers, then it'll be really interesting to see what all becomes available for these cameras.

.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Thanks Tom. I do feel a certain responsibility to clarify or expand on points that readers want to know and feel haven't been covered fully in the article. I could have rabbitted on for another 2000 words when I wrote it and covered a lot more technical information, but I think most people want to know how it is to use a camera and why they may or may not want it. Any camera produced these days takes good photos and so it is things like ergonomics that make a big difference.

Tom Reichner's picture

Ivor,

One of the primary reasons why you are my favorite FStoppers writer is because of the way you interact with the readers who leave comments. It is that engagement that makes me want to read your articles and leave comments on them.

Nigel Voak's picture

Just a couple of points.

You say: "You are right that the 7-14 f/2.8 isn't a small lens, but the optical quality is fabulous, and I use it a lot for landscape work," . For me I wanted a small light hiking and travel kit. I believe Panasonic hit the target better with the superb 12-35 2.8 and 35-100 2.8. These two very compact and lightweight lenses were very good optically and I feel much closer to what the M43 was aimed at. I regretted selling the Olympus 9-18 which had very could colour rendition. and was lightweight too. I could carry these lenses all day on a mountain hike. The 7-14 soon got left at home.

My other point is that I made a weight comparison when it was time to retire my EM5. An EM1 + 12-200 weighs very much the same as a Nikon Z7 with 24-200. There are just a few grams difference between them. I also bought the Z14-35 which is also very similar in weight to the 7-14. Weight is very important for me as I hike a lot in our Apennines and the better EVF, better colour and tonal transitions with the FF sensor tilted my choice towards Nikon. I know with Hi res you can match the MP, but this needs static subjects to work well.

As much as I enjoyed the M43 system, I feel it got left behind somewhat as sensor M43 progress faltered as time went on. I believe the appearance of the Sony FF mirrorless cameras really put the first nail in the M43 coffin and now that Canon and Nikon have now their own lightweight FF mirrorless cameras, unless you do long lens nature, I cannot personally see any advantage in adopting this system, both technically and logistically. I have a little LX100 which "small camera" duties at family events and such, where I can slip this camera in my pocket.

Jake Lindsay's picture

It makes zero sense to not put in the new updated menu system which pretty much everyone agrees is a major improvement. Not to mention it messes with cohesiveness within the brand.
Micro USB is a joke. It's outdated, slow, and becoming obsolete. If you're truly worried about the environment and the raw materials used to produce these machines you should be mad at omds. There's no reason to produce this camera when the E-M5iii exists. Apart from a mostly unnecessary improvement in weather sealing everything this does could have been done with the em5 via software updates. Same evf, same lcd, same sensor, blah blah. Complete waste of the Earth's precious resources, imo.

Ivor Rackham's picture

Its predecessor was widely praised and this is an improved version of that, so I see little reason to complain unless you were specifically planning on buying this camera specifically because of the USB port or menu. Are you an OM System user? I don't think this camera is aimed at existing E-M5 III owners so much but giving an even better choice fo people moving to the system.

There hasn't been a camera built that couldn't be improved on. There certainly have been other higher-end cameras with far bigger problems, like severe overheating (EOS R5), inconsistent focus (A7 R4 and Z9), failure to connect to a PC through USB, and so on.

I agree that the USB-C port would have been better, but it was probably down to fitting with existing compatible parts, and therefore saving on manufacturing costs and therefore price. It's a minor thing and not worth making a big noise about. Actually, I rarely use the USC port on my cameras, only for the webcam feature for streaming live video. At all other times, I use wireless/Bluetooth and remove the card or battery from the camera. Consequently, it makes little difference to me.

As for the menu, there are a lot worse out there. Or should I say that others get a bad press. The problem is that someone moans about a subjective thing like that and everyone jumps on the bandwagon. Loads of people say the Sony menu is dreadful, but to me it is just different from the Canon/Nikon menus. It's more about what people get used to. The Olympus/OM System have a lot of functions that other cameras don't, so are more complex. Those functions are down to the upgraded, faster processor.

Despite a couple of disadvantages, it still takes great photos and fits in a pocket. That's most important to me.

James Edward's picture

This is such an "almost" camera for me. I think it was really let down by a lot of rumors circulating about it having the same sensor as the OM-1 (after all, previous "5" cameras had the same processor as the M1). That said, that was always going to be crazy given the massive price increase of a stacked sensor.

Ivor, as you say in your review, this is a very solid camera. When compared to the M5 III it has several marked improvements. That said, it is really let down by what it could have (should have?) been.

No USB C in 2022 is straight up terrible. I realize based on your comments below that you don't think it matters, but USB C on modern cameras also means PD charging, and therefore continuous use while plugged in to a PD power source. That's huge for video, saves on buying a DC coupler or lots of extra batteries, and saves bringing yet another type of charging cable during travel. For a system that is so brilliant for travel, it's a big miss.

The sensor is what it is. It's the same sensor as the M1 and M1X, and clearly produces some great results. What bothers me here is that despite the advanced processor, they opted not to include any of the subject detection modes from the M1X. Presumably the performance between the two TruePic VIII processors in the X and the TruePic IX in the OM-5 are not far apart. Given that the R7 and R10 both have subject detect, this is a miss. I probably would have bought an OM-5 (despite the USB port and menus) if it had bird detection.

Finally, the OM-1 showed us that Olympus (OM System) was aware their menus were a mess and they fixed them. I'm sorry, but it's crap to keep the old menus when you've already fixed them. I use the old Olympus menus and have learned them, but it's not a hard fix. It's very frustrating to see the new menus exist on an older camera and yet use the outdated ones on a brand new release.

Perhaps the takeaway for the OM-5 is that if the OM-1 didn't exist it would be a solid camera. But given the bar OM System set for themselves, the OM-5 is a letdown. It's a very capable parts-bin camera that could have been a double or triple with the same hardware (except for USB C) and ended up as an infield single. I think a lot of Olympus users thought OM System was here to stay based on how unbelievable the OM-1 is. Instead, my fear is that the OM-1 was completed 95% under Olympus and OM System is unwilling to spend the money developing great hardware themselves. I desperately hope they prove me wrong, since I love M43 and Panasonic seems to have gone full video. In the mean time, I'll stick with my M1 II, which is still an excellent camera (as is the OM-5. Just not as good as it should be.)

Tom Reichner's picture

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James Edward said,

"I realize based on your comments below that you don't think it matters, but USB C on modern cameras also means PD charging, and therefore continuous use while plugged in to a PD power source. That's huge for video, saves on buying a DC coupler or lots of extra batteries, and saves bringing yet another type of charging cable during travel."

James, can't you just take the battery out and charge it in a charger, like we do with all of our other cameras?

Personally, what kind of cable a camera has or doesn't have wouldn't affect my buying decision at all, because I never, ever plug my camera into anything. For me, charging the batteries in a dedicated battery charger is the way to go. And downloading the card by using a card reader is the way to go. I would never consider doing it any other way unless I was literally forced to do so against my will.

But of course, James, I realize that we are all different and prefer to use cameras in different ways. So I respect your use of a cable, even though I would never use one for anything.

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James Edward's picture

Hi Tom, thanks for your reply. You're definitely right that PD charging isn't the end of the world, and doesn't matter much for photography. As Ivor pointed out below, my M1 II has USB C without PD. I make it work. Happily, the person I bought my camera from had purchased four batteries for it, so powering it isn't an issue. The issue with not having USB C PD is that it means I would have to buy several extra batteries for it. In Canada the batteries are $90 each, so picking up a couple extra batteries is a real cost.

The other thing with PD missing is that OM System specifically touts that the camera can be used as a webcam while plugged in. That's awesome, and a really excellent feature to see a nice camera work as a native webcam. Having PD would have allowed me to leave my camera plugged in as a webcam all day and never have to worry about swapping batteries. As I don't work as a photographer, it's not something I want to think about while doing my day job.

I understand not all of us have the same wants for a camera, so something that bothers me might not bother another, but I don't see the downside of adding USB C to a $1700 (Canadian) camera.

Tom Reichner's picture

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James,

$1,700 (Canadian) is a heck of a lot for a camera with such a small sensor, so I think you are justified in wanting more features to be included on it.

If it was a budget-friendly body, then I would understand stripping it down to some extent.
But when they expect you to pay $1,700 (Canadian), then I think that more of the high end features are going to be expected, and therefore should be included.

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Ivor Rackham's picture

For me, PD charging isn't a big issue; the battery life was great and I wouldn't use this for extended videos. It will only be a problem for those who do a lot of long video work. But this camera isn't designed for them, (although there is no time limit on video, as there is on many cameras). Serious videographers are more likely to invest in the OM-1. The OM-5 does allow charging via the USB, but not power delivery. I am wondering, James, if this is such a big issue for you when you are content using an E-M1 II that has no USB charging at all. The E-M1 II is still a superb camera nonetheless, and I still use one as a back-up.

It seems to me that a lot of people expect all the features of the top-end model on a mid-range camera that costs significantly less. If you want those features, you get the higher-end camera. It's the same with every brand. For example, you don't get all the features of a 90D that you get on the 1D. (In fact, the 90D is more expensive than the OM-5 and the latter has many advanced functions the 90D doesn't.)

As I say in the article, the OM-5 is aimed at a specific corner of the market. It's a great little camera and fun to use. The IQ is super and it has a lot of advanced features.

Thanks for signing up to comment on this article, James.

James Edward's picture

Fair enough, Ivor. I've had great battery life with my M1 II (although the battery is much larger) and am not specifically worried about battery life here. Having USB C PD charging allows me to buy fewer batteries (and they're not cheap), especially since it takes different batteries than the OM-1 or the M1 II/III. The BLS-50 is a common battery type, but if you're coming from a different Olympus camera than the M5 or M10 series, you likely don't have any.

While I agree with you that the OM-5 is aimed at a specific portion of the market, I don't think better menus or USB C would siphon sales from the OM-1 (although they might be enough to convince a new buyer to go for a Fuji X-S10). You're absolutely right that the autofocus algorithms from the M1X would be a high-end feature, but they are a feature included on the $1300 G9 and the $1280 R10 (Canadian Dollars). The R10, in particular, is a camera I'd be looking at in this price range.

As you said in your article, this is a solid camera that will allow you to produce solid images. It just could have been better with almost no extra effort from OM System. Instead it feels like you're knowingly buying into a compromise, and this camera is too expensive for that.

I've been reading and enjoying your work for a long time, so thought I might as well finally join the conversation. Please keep up the excellent work!