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OM System OM-5 Review

OM System OM5 review
Review

Price when reviewed

£1199

€1299 / $1199.99
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Our Verdict

The OM System OM-5 can be summarised as an OM-D E-M5 Mark III with better weather-sealing, more processing power and Log mode. That extra processing power facilities a boost in the image stabilisation and autofocus performance as well as enabling the Focus Stacking system to composite the final image. Those changes are unlikely to tempt existing E-M5 Mark III users to upgrade, but they do help keep the OM-5 relevant to its target market of outdoor enthusiasts who want to captures images or video of their adventures.

For

  • Excellent weather-proofing
  • Very compact and lightweight
  • Excellent stabilisation and useful features for creative photography

Against

  • Relatively minor upgrade on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III
  • Face and eye detection AF only works with humans
  • Doesn't have the new menu layout of the OM-1

What is the OM System OM-5?

The OM System OM-5 is a Micro Four Thirds camera and the replacement for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III. It also has the honour of being the first camera to have the OM System badge since the sale of the Olympus camera business.

While the OM System OM-1, which is badged as the Olympus OM-1, is aimed at enthusiast photographers, the OM System OM-5 is designed for people who love the outdoors and want to capture images or video of their experiences. It’s a subtle difference in emphasis. As such, the OM-5 is smaller and lighter than the OM-1, but it has the same level of weatherproofing and it has a few refinements over the camera it replaces.

The OM System sits between the entry-level Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV  and the OM System OM-1 in the company’s line-up. Technically, the Olympus OM-D E-M1X also sits above the OM-5 in the range, between it and the flagship OM-1, but the E-M1X is quite different as it’s a twin-gripped Micro Four Thirds camera.

OM System OM-5 price and availability

The OM System OM-5 is available to order immediately and will ship in mid to late November 2022. The OM System OM-5 price is £1,199 / €1,299 / $1,199.99 body only or £1,499 / €1,699 / $1,599.99 with the 12-45mm f/4 lens. In the UK and USA anyone who pre-orders the OM-5 will receive an extended warranty.

Specification

  • Camera type: Mirrorless camera
  • Announced: 26th October 2022
  • Sensor: 20.4Mp Live MOS Micro Four Thirds sensor
  • Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • Processing engine: TruePic IX
  • Sensitivity range: ISO 64-25,600
  • Autofocus system: Hybrid with 121 (all cross-type) phase-detection AF points
  • Continuous shooting rate: Mechanical shutter: 10fps with focus and exposure fixed at the start of the burst, for up to 149 raw files or until the card is full with Jpeg (LF) files, 6fps with C-AF until the card is full; Electronic Shutter: 30fps for 81 raw or 20 Jpeg (LF) or 10fps for 138 raw or until the card is full with Jpegs (LF)
  • Pro Capture mode: H: 30fps, L:10fps, pre-shutter frames 0 – 14 frames (recorded by half release prior to full release), Frame count limiter 1 – 99 frames / Off (unlimited frames)
  • Key video resolutions: C4K (4096 x 2160) 24p at up to 237Mbps, 4K (3840 x 2160) 30p, 25p, 24p at 102Mbps, Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 30p, 25p, 24p / ALL-I (A-I), IPB (SF, F, N) (MOV), Full HD 1920 x 1080 at 30p, 25p, 24p / ALL-I (A-I), IPB (SF, F, N) (MOV), Full HD (1920 x 1080) 60p, 50p / IPB (SF, F, N) (MOV)
  • High-Speed Recording mode: Full HD (1920×108) MOV at 120fps
  • High Res Shot mode: Tripod mode: Jpeg: 10368×7776 (80Mp), 8160 x 6120 (50MP), 5760 x 4320 (25MP), Raw: 10368 x 7776 (80MP); Handheld mode: Jpeg: 8160 x 6120 (50MP), 5760 x 4320 (25MP), Raw: 8160 x 6120 (50MP)
  • Live Bulb Shooting Options: Live Composite, Live Time, Live Bulb, Focus Bracketing, Focus Stacking
  • Viewfinder: 2,360,000-dot OLED, magnification 1.37x, 27mm eye point
  • Screen: Vari‑angle 3.0-inch 1,037,000-dot touchscreen
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 125.3 x 85.2 x 49.7mm
  • Weight: 414g including battery and memory card, 366g body only

Features

Inside the OM System OM-5 is the same 20.4MP Four Thirds Type Live MOS sensor as is in the OM-D E-M5 Mark III. That means it’s neither backside illuminated (BSI), nor stacked – the OM-1’s sensor is a stacked BSI chip. However, OM System has paired the sensor with a new TruePic IX processing engine which facilitates most of the improvements that the camera makes over the E-M5 Mark III.

In a key upgrade on the E-M5 III, the OM System OM-5 has a Hand-held High Res Shot mode alongside the Standard or Tripod mode. In high Res Shot mode, the OM-5 uses the sensor-shifting capability of the stabilisation system to move the sensor between shots as it takes a series of 8 images in quick succession. These files are then composited into a singe larger image.

In Standard or Tripod High Res Shot mode, and when shooting Jpegs, the OM-5 can be set to produce 80MP, 50MP or 25MP images, and when shooting raw files the output is equivalent to an 80MP image. In Hand-held mode the maximum output size drops to 50MP for either file type and 25MP is selectable when shooting Jpegs.

OM System OM5 review

According to OM System, the image stabilisation system in the OM-5 is 15% better than the system in the E-M5 Mark III and this means that it’s capable of delivering up to 6.5EV of shutter speed compensation and when it’s used with a compatible stabilised lens, it can give up to 7.5EV shutter speed compensation. That’s very useful when you’re travelling light because there’s less need to carry a tripod.

The OM-5 also has the Live ND mode that was first introduced with the Olympus OM-D E-M1X. On the OM-5, this enables the exposure to be extended by up to 4EV (ND16) without using traditional filters. It’s a handy mode when you want to blur movement in an image shot during daylight. It’s not available for reducing the shutter speed when shooting video.

OM System has upgraded the Focus Stacking system that’s onboard the OM-5. As well as capturing a sequence of 8 images with different focusing distances, the OM-5 can composite the image into one Jpeg with greater depth of field than any of the constituent shots. With the E-M5 III, the images have to be composited using software post-capture – that is still possible with the OM-5 as the constituent raw and Jpeg images are recorded.

 

OM System OM5 review

Autofocus

Like its predecessor, the OM System OM-5 has a hybrid focusing system with 121-points that are all cross-type. As usual, the camera can be left to select from any of the points for focusing or the photographer can restrict the focusing area to a single area (standard or small), or the areas can be grouped to 5-area, 9-area or 25-area. It’s also possible to create a custom area for focusing.

As before, face and eye detection AF is available, but according to OM System, this has been made faster and more accurate for the OM-5.

In addition, there’s Starry Sky AF which is designed to make it easier to focus on the stars for astrophotography.

Sequential shooting and Pro Capture Mode

Although the OM-5’s processing power has been increased in comparison with the E-M5 III, there doesn’t seem to be much change to report with regards the continuous shooting rate, or sequential shooting rate as OM System calls it. The maximum shooting rate, in the H setting, is 10fps when the mechanical shutter is in use and 30fps with the electronic shutter. The focus and metering are fixed at the start of the sequence when the highest (H) rates are used. Using the L setting drops the rate to 6fps with the mechanical shutter or 10fps with the electronic shutter and enables the camera to focus continuously throughout the shooting sequence if C-AF is selected.

There’s also Pro Capture mode which sets the camera to start scanning before the shutter button is fully pressed. It can be set to capture up to 14 images from immediately before the shutter button is pressed along with up to 85 captured while the button remains pressed, giving 99 images into total.

There’s a maximum shooting rate of 30fps (H) in Pro Capture mode and again the focus and exposure is set at the start of the sequence. The rate can also be reduced to 20fps (H) or 10fps (L) in Pro Capture mode. When the L setting (10fps) is selected, the OM-5 can focus continuously throughout the shooting sequence if C-AF is selected. The shooting rate doesn’t affect the number of images that are captured in a single burst, the maximum is always 99.

OM System OM5 review

Video

The OM-5 can record C4K (4096 x 2160) video at 24p, 4K (3840 x 2160) video at 30, 25,24p or Full HD video at up to 60p, and the recording time is only limited by the storage or battery life. There’s also a High-Speed Recording mode in which Full HD (1920 x 1080) MOV footage can be recorded at 120fps for slow-motion playback.

OM-Log400 is supported to give more freedom over post-capture grading and vertical shooting is enabled.

It’s also possible to connect the LS-P5 audio recorder to the OM-5 (or an external microphone) for better-quality sound. Headphones can be connected to the LS-P5 for monitoring the audio.

Battery life

Like the E-M5 III, the OM System OM-5 uses the BLS-50 battery and it can be used with the ECG-5 External Grip. CIPA tests give the battery a life of up to 310 images or 60 mins of video in the OM-5. The battery can be charged using a USB connection to the camera (when it’s turned off), but the USB connection is not a USB-C type.

OM System OM5 review

Build and handling

With dimensions of 125.3 x 85.2 x 49.7mm, the OM-5 is the same size as the camera it replaces and it has the same body but with weather-sealing that’s been upgraded to IP53 – the same level as the OM-1. Consequently, the OM-5 can cope with significant rainfall. It’s also dust-proof and capable of operating at down to -10°C.

OM System OM-5 review

Like the E-M5 III, the OM-5 weighs 366g body only (414g with the battery and SD card), making it very light and portable.

Although small and light, the OM-5’s grip is comfortable and secure as there’s a pronounced ridge on the front and a good-sized thumb rest on the back. However, if you’re using it with a long, heavy lens, you may wish to invest in the ECG-5 External Grip to get the deeper grip.

I used the OM-5 with the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital 40-150mm F2.8 Pro (760g), and while it is undeniably front-heavy, that’s easily dealt with by putting your left hand under the lens.

OM System has stuck with the same 2.36 million-dot OLED viewfinder as is on the OM-D E-M5 Mark III for the OM-5. There are larger and higher-resolution viewfinders available, but OM-5’s is perfectly respectable and it gives an accurate preview of the scene.

Helpfully, the eye point is quite long at 27mm, which makes it fairly easy to use when wearing spectacles.

The 3-inch 1,040,000-dot touch screen on the back of the OM-5 is also the same as the screen on the E-M5 III. It’s mounted on a vari-angle hinge so that it can be twisted through a range of angles and even face forwards. One issue I had with the screen is that if an external mic is connected to the mic port, its cable gets in the way of the screen’s articulation. It’s not a problem that’s unique to the OM-5 (or the E-M5 Mark III), but it’s something that other manufacturers are starting to correct.

OM System OM5 review

 

Control layout

OM System hasn’t made any changes with the control layout of the OM-5 in comparison to the the E-M5 III, but that’s fair enough as that camera handles well.

As before, the exposure mode dial sits on the right of the top-plate, beside the dual control dials. This provides access to all the modes that you’d expect (PASM) including a ‘B’ for bulb setting that gives a route to the clever Live Bulb, Live Time and Live Composite modes that simplify shooting long exposures of different types. There’s also a ‘C’ setting to access the Custom modes that can quickly change a host of settings to the photographer’s preferred options for specific situations.

The OM-5 has a few buttons that give a direct route to parameters such as drive mode, ISO settings and AEL/AFL (auto exposure lock and autofocus lock), but other options can be reached quickly by pressing ‘OK’ to open the Super Control Panel.

Although the OM-5’s screen is touch-sensitive, it can’t be used to make setting adjustments or selections. That said, the parameters in the Super Control Panel can be selected by a tap on the screen, but their settings are adjusted using the control dials.

Like its predecessor, the OM-5’s menu is extensive and it doesn’t benefit from the rearrangement that was introduced with the OM-1, which is a shame.

OM System OM5 review

Performance

A key advantage of a mirrorless camera is that the exposure, white balance and colour can be assessed using the view in the viewfinder and on the screen, and the OM-5 provides an accurate preview. In the default ESP metering mode, the camera generally does a good of balance the exposure across the scene, and backed by the preview in the viewfinder/screen, there’s little reason to move away from that setting.

OM System has also inherited Olympus’s colour science and consequently, the OM-5 generally delivers attractively looking results. If you’re looking for something a little different, the numerous Art Filters are on hand.

OM System OM-5 image quality

OM System hasn’t made any claims about any improvement in the image quality from the OM-5 in comparison with its predecessor and, indeed, the images that I’ve shot with it show it has the same level of noise and detail as the OM-D E-M5 Mark III.

Examining the images I shot at ISO 6400 before dawn in London reveals that the raw files have some noise visible while the simultaneously captured Jpegs look a little smoothed in places. The raw files are preferable and with a light application of noise reduction, they look good at around 50% size or smaller. They’re certainly more than acceptable for sharing on social media. Nevertheless, I’d aim to keep to ISO 3200 or lower if possible.

Micro Four Thirds cameras aren’t known for their extensive dynamic range, but the OM System OM-5 fairs quite well, not losing highlights or shadow detail too quickly. If you should need to underexpose a low-ISO image to retain more highlight information, you can reasonably expect to be able to brighten the shadows by around 3 EV.

The Auto White Balance system copes with most natural lighting situations, but it can be helpful to use the Sunny, Shadow or Cloudy settings if you want to warm things up a little.

Autofocus performance

Some of the OM-1’s autofocusing prowess stems from its use of a stacked sensor and while that means the OM-5 can’t perform at the same level, it is still very nippy. The face and eye detection also seems improved and it does a good job of finding a face in the frame even if the light isn’t perfect nor the face looking straight into the camera. It’s not quite in the same league as the eye detection system in the Canon R7, but it’s still very useful for photographs of people. Sadly, the subject detection doesn’t extend beyond human eyes and faces.

It’s great to see an upgrade to the camera’s focus stacking. It’s easy to use but it takes some experimentation to get the focus in the right place for front-to-back sharpness.

Image stabilisation

OM System (and Olympus before it), has a strong reputation with regards to image stabilisation and I had no problem shooting at shutter speeds around 5 or 6EV slower than you’d normally expect to be able to use when hand-holding a camera. When the in-camera Live ND filter was activated to enable movement-blurring exposures, I was able to get sharp results with shutter speeds of 1 second or longer with a wide-angle lens.

The stabilisation system also works well when shooting video. Unless you move like a ninja, you’re likely to still need a gimbal if you’re planning to walk or run with the camera while shooting forwards, but it produces perfectly watchable vlogging footage when the camera is turned towards your face and moves with your movement. It’s also great when you’re standing still hand-holding the camera. I found I got very steady clips using the sensor-shifting stabilisation without using the frame-cropping digital stabilisation.

It’s the stabilisation system that enables the High Res Shot mode, and again, it works very well. If you’re using the Tripod mode to get 80MP images, you’ll be rewarded with detail-rich images, but the 50MP Handheld mode is also very good and it excuses you from carrying a tripod. I also found it forgiving of moving water or foliage.

Video performance

OM System has given the OM-1 more up-market video features than the OM-5, but it’s still a very capable vlogging camera that produces nice-looking 4K video. It’s a shame that the articulating screen snags on the microphone cable if an external mic is connected, and it would be good to see a headphone port, but the OM-5 is attractively compact.

OM System OM5 review

OM System OM-5 sample images

Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images from the OM System OM-5, please respect our copyright.

OM System OM-5 image gallery

Verdict

While some existing OM-D E-M5 Mark III users might have been hoping for a more dramatic upgrade on their camera, the OM System OM-5 aligns itself fairly well with the market it is aimed at. Those who want faster performance and a greater range of features should take a look at the OM System OM-1.

The boosted weather-sealing is a significant bonus for outdoor adventure lovers, but it’s important to remember that the camera needs to be matched with similarly weather-resistant lenses as otherwise they will be a weak link and could let water into the camera.

A pixel count of 20-million is fairly modest today, so the inclusion of a hand-held High Resolution mode is an excellent addition to the OM-5’s feature set. The Live ND is also useful for those occasions when you want to extend the exposure time, but I can’t help wishing for a 6EV or even stronger option than the 4EV maximum.

It may not have enough to entice OM-D E-M5 Mark III users to upgrade, but the OM System OM-5 is an attractively sized, low-weight camera that packs a healthy array of features that encourage creative shooting.

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