The OM System OM-5 launched with fizzle and dropped with a thud, at least in the minds of some reviewers. And in some ways, it’s not difficult to see why. In the OM5, OM System has used the same years-old 20-megapixel sensor, a legacy USB connection, and an expired menu system.
But at the same time, it packs much of the Olympus M1x‘s famed computational photography technology into a smaller, cheaper, and more attractive body, making it a truly unique offering amongst its competition. So, what gives? Jump to Conclusion.
What is the OM System OM-5
The OM System OM-5 is the sequel to the Olympus OMD-M5iii and shares many of the same features, including a near-identical body, the same 20-megapixel sensor, and similar EVF and display.
However, the OM-5 has some new tricks to call its own. First, its weather sealing has been upgraded and is now certified IP53. It also benefits from a few features first found in the Olympus OM-D M1x, such as a Sync-IS image stabilization system (rated up to 7.5 stops), a handheld 50-megapixel handheld high-res mode, and LiveND.
Therefore, the compact, weather-tough OM System OM-5 can take many photos that traditionally require a heavy, unwieldy Tripod. As a result, the OM-5 is an excellent option for travel photography.
OM System OM-5 Specifications
|Release Date||27th October 2022|
|Release Price (US$)||$1,199|
|Sensor Size||Four Thirds|
|Sensor Type||Live MOS|
|Native ISO Range||200-25600|
|In-body Image Stabilization||Yes|
|Rating||6.5 Stops 7.5 with Sync IS|
|AF Type||Hybrid Phase/Contrast Detect|
|AF Focus Points||121|
|Max Shutter FPS (AF+AE)||10 fps|
|Max E-Shutter FPS (Full Resolution)||30 fps|
|Range||-2 EV – 20EV|
|4K||30p, 25p, 24p|
|HD 1080p||120p, 30p, 25p, 24p|
|Max. Recording Time||Not Capped|
|Output over HDMI||Yes|
|Card Slot 1||SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS-I/II)|
|Card Slot 2|
|Video-Out||Micro HDMI (Type D)|
|Audio In (mic)||3.5mm|
|Audio Out (Headphones)||None|
|Data||USB Micro-B (USB 2)|
|Battery Life||310 (660 with sleep mode)|
|Video Record Time||60 Mins|
|Weight & Dimensions|
|Weight||366g (414g loaded)|
What’s wrong with the OM System OM-5
The OM System OM-5 continues Olympus’s bizarre tradition of watering-down exciting new features with dated technologies.
For instance, no other camera in the OM-5’s price range has anything like the OM-5’s handheld high-res shot or LiveND. But then again, not many cameras today feature a 5-year-old sensor and USB 2. And this is frustrating, especially for Olympus/OM-S fans like myself.
Furthermore, the Olympus OM-5 has wasted an opportunity to trade on the goodwill established by the OM-1 or exploit some of the OM-1’s new refinements and technologies, such as the new menu scheme.
As a result, it’s easy to consider the OM-5 a minimal, parts-bin upgrade on the Olympus M5iii – a camera that many reviewers thought was a minimal upgrade of the Olympus M5ii (a camera that I still use today).
What the Reviews got wrong
When the Olympus M5iii came out, it delivered a better sensor, 4K video, and phase-detect autofocus. Nevertheless, reviewers criticized the M5iii for lacking the computational photography features of the far more expensive Olympus M1x and M1iii.
Now these computational photography features are present, the OM-5 is unfavorably compared with the OM-1. Some of these criticisms are valid. After all, why couldn’t the OM-5 have USB-C or the OM-1’s new menu scheme? And why is the OM-5’s AF tracking so much worse than cheaper cameras such as the Sony A6100? At least two of these issues would have been easy fixes.
But the thing is, I can live with crapy menus (custom buttons), USB 2 (patience or an external card reader), and tracking (I grew up with single-point AF). Yet, I can also live with not carrying a tripod and ND filters. And what’s wrong with a jacket-pocketable camera that can take 50-megapixel photos? Then there’s ProCapture, Starry AF, in-camera HDR, Live Composite, Live Bulb, and Focus Stacking.
And Olympus’s image stabilization is insane. A few weeks ago, I messed with an old Olympus M1ii and the Olympus 7-14 F2.8 Pro to see how slow I could set the shutter speed before the camera shake cut in. What do you think – half a second? A whole second? Nope, 10-seconds! In other words, for static scenes, Olympus/OMS has solved the shutter speed problem.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to quantify the advantages of the OM-5 and the Micro Four Thirds system. After all, comparing numerically-valued megapixels, sensor sizes, and video frame rates is straightforward – all areas in which the OM-5 and the Micro Four Thirds system are inherently less competitive.
Perhaps the main reason the OM-1 was so well received is that it includes fashionable terminology such as ‘Stacked BSI sensor.’ And on some fronts, the OM-1 could win the numbers game with its insane 50 frames-per-second shooting. And that’s something. But it sure isn’t everything.
Could the OM-5 have been better? Absolutely. Features such as USB2 connectivity imply that OM Systems have raided the parts bin. And no one wants to spend new money on old parts. Furthermore, the OM-5 ought to have the same menus as the OM1.
Nevertheless, the OM-5 is the only small camera with a handheld high-res mode and LiveND. Not to mention in-camera HDR, ProCapture, Live Composite, Live Bulb, and Starry Sky Auto Focus. Then there’s the OM-5’s stunning image stabilization and certified IP53 weather-resistant body. On these terms, the OM-5 is without equal.
Sadly, it is not on these terms that most cameras are reviewed. Instead, cameras are measured on megapixel counts, drive rates, video bit, and frame rates, with cost, weight, and shooting experience/convenience reduced to a mere afterthought.
Yet, this is not to say that megapixels and speed mean nothing. It’s just that they don’t mean everything. Nor am I saying the OM-5 is the right camera for you, as you might be better off with a heavy-weight full-frame speed demon.
But a camera should not be considered the sum of its specifications. The term ‘shooting experience’ may be cliched, but it might be the only reason you carry your camera. As for me, I’ll be keeping hold of my tiny, beautiful, and competent Olympus M5ii and, perhaps, buy an OM-1 to keep it company.
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