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 and sensor are 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.
- 20MP Four Thirds sensor
- 121-point hybrid autofocus system
- 50MP handheld high-res shot mode
- 10 fps burst shooting with AF-C, 30 fps with electronic shutter
- Cinema (DCI) and UHD 4K video with no time limitation
- Up to 7.5 EV of image stabilization (CIPA-rating) with supported lenses
- 2.36M-dot OLED viewfinder with 60 fps refresh rate
- Extensive direct controls and articulating touchscreen
- IP53-rated weather-sealed body
- In-camera USB charging (micro-USB)
- 1/8000 sec mechanical shutter speed
- UVC/UAC USB-standard video for use as webcam
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 and which can be had for $169.99. The OM-5 is available for $1,199.99 body-only and $1,599.99 with the 12-45mm F4 PRO lens as a kit.
What’s new | How it compares | Body & handling | Initial impressions | Image quality | Autofocus | Video | Conclusion | Sample gallery | Specifications | Press release
A familiar face, with a new name
|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 of 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.
New silicon unlocks new potential
|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 company’s pro-level model. You’ll find that camera’s computational photography features here, starting with the faster TruePic IX processor, which brings such niceties as 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 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.
Handheld High-Res mode
While older Olympus models had tripod-based high-resolution shooting, only a select few were able to compensate for hand shake while taking a high-res shot tripod-free. This capability has trickled down to the more affordable OM-5, which gives you 50MP images while handholding and 80MP ones when you do break out a tripod. While it still takes around 16 seconds to combine the multiple images into one, this is a great tool 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).
Same old Olympus menus
With the OM-1, OM System took 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.
|Despite a thorough revamp in the OM-1, the OM-5 sports the old menu system.|
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 My Menu option that lets users pick highly used options for a quick menu. Seasoned Olympus users will know their way around, but miss out on the quality of life features that the OM-1 brought to the table.
UHS-II SD and no USB-C
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 micro USB port, which can trickle charge from a USB power supply or power bank.
Minor video improvements
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 to social media from the camera, this could save users a step.
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. LUTs for this camera have been made available.
Native USB webcam support
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. No additional app or weird drivers are required to accomplish this. Simple as that!
How it compares
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, 23 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)|
Body and handling
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.
The OM-5’s customizability runs 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, including a new stacked sensor, 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 like its predecessor offers top-tier weathersealing and image stabilization in a light, compact package with access to an enormous range of quality lenses. The added features from the E-M1 III only add to its appeal. 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 to the new OM-1 menu system would have made this feel like a much different camera. As it stands, although 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 and mid-sized 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.
Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you’ll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to see the effect of different lighting conditions.
It’s clear that the sensor inside the OM-5 doesn’t differ a whole lot when compared to prior 20MP Olympus and OM System bodies. If anything, the improved processing kicks in here, making the Raw image ever so slightly sharper more or less identical to the E-M1 Mark III. Like most modern Four Thirds sensors, you can usually expect better image quality than a smartphone, but worse tonal quality than an APS-C or full frame competitor. With good enough light, however, the difference between APS-C and Four Thirds sensor size is often insignificant.
The story doesn’t change much when it comes to noise, until you hit higher ISOs. The image degrades quickly past ISO 800 and looks particularly rough at ISO 12,800. It’s good that the OM-5’s image stabilization is highly effective, making longer exposures at lower ISOs possible for a cleaner look, as long as your subject is still.
But if you crave extra detail in some situations, the built-in Handheld High-Res mode can really help out. Here, if you’re looking at a relatively still scene (like a landscape on a still day), you can shoot less noisy, sharper single shots (up to ISO 1600) than the APS-C and even full frame competition.
Standard JPEG colors are typical of Olympus and OM System, with moderate skin tones and pleasing hues elsewhere on the studio scene, albeit with a bit of extra red. The blues look particularly rich and clear, which should help skies pop just a tad.
We’ve seen very similar dynamic range from Olympus’s 20MP non-stacked sensors for years now, and the OM-5 gives similar good results. Thankfully, the camera manages to add very little noise when you push the exposure from ISO 200 to 1600, as we found in our ISO invariance test.
You should have little issue shooting a darker image at a lower ISO and pushing the brightness up ex post facto to get more detail in the highlights, rather than shooting at a higher ISO.
Like most of the modern Micro Four Thirds cameras we’ve tried, the OM-5 offers competitive dynamic range. In the Exposure Latitude test, we found a similar amount of noise in the deepest shadows to most other recent Panasonic, Olympus, and OM System bodies. The image is certainly cleaner than what you’d find from the more expensive Panasonic Lumix GH6, whose sensor design makes sacrifices in order to keep dynamic range better at high ISOs.
The OM System OM-5 has a capable phase detect autofocus system with a few modes to select from. Whether you’re using single-point or continuous, you can turn Face Detection on, and when your customizable focus area collides with the box drawn around a face, that’s what’ll be in focus.
We found in our time with the OM-5 that it reacts a lot like the E-M1 Mark III when focusing. That means it’s confident a lot of the time, with reliable face/eye detection, and a lot of customizable, tunable options.
While it would have been amazing to get any of the OM-1’s subject detection modes (even just Animal Detection, which would have been a boon for pet lovers and wildlife photogs), we’re stuck with face/eye detection and the mediocre tap-and-track C-AF+TR mode. While we found the latter to be a bit improved over older Olympus cameras, this tracking mode tends to shift the tracking box around unexpectedly as the camera moves, even on high-contrast targets.
OM System delivers sharp 4K video with the OM-5, but it’s far from production grade. Those who want high production values from their footage and are looking to shoot flat footage with plenty of latitude can probably skip this camera – although it offers OMLog400 and Flat profiles, you’re stuck with 8-bit only, which makes what you capture less flexible in the edit. For vloggers and social sharing, however, it’s a huge step up from using a smartphone. It’s a bummer that there’s no headphone jack, but if you don’t plan on monitoring audio, you may be able to live without one.
We can see from these video stills that detail is retained quite well and colors look great. The wider aspect DCI 4K mode can net you a little additional detail, but file sizes may be larger and more difficult to share as a result.
The hybrid AF system with Movie IS mode 1 uses the in-body stabilization plus digital correction to keep handheld shots looking stable and professional. There’s a 1.19x crop applied to the footage, but with a wide enough lens you won’t notice much difference. All of this comes together to make the OM-5 a decent video-capable travelling companion.
|What we like…||What we don’t…|
There’s a common refrain among the Micro Four Thirds faithful – ‘Where are the small cameras?’ Well, here’s a pretty good one! The OM System OM-5 represents the best compact body in the system. Sure, it’s not packing bleeding-edge tech, but the balance between durability, capability, and portability is hard to match anywhere in the photography world. Especially if you find yourself in the backwoods in frosty conditions, or live in a location where it starts raining without notice, the OM-5 could be your constant companion.
‘Where are the small Micro Four Thirds cameras?’ Well, here’s a pretty good one!
Yes, we can pick out many nits with this camera, whether it’s the lack of non-human subject detection, the so-so autofocus for fast-moving targets, the confusing menu system, or the frustrating reliance on micro USB for charging instead of USB-C. But we think that the OM-5 is more than the sum of its parts. If you’re a beginner photographer, a vlogger or an outdoorsy person looking for compact gear, it’s a charming camera that will open up a lot of opportunities (especially if you look into grabbing some affordable used lenses, of which there are a ton). It can take great-looking stills, has some of OM System’s famed computational photography features, and can shoot good enough video in a pinch.
For Olympus devotees waiting to see what the new independent company will bring forth, however, the OM-5 falls a bit short. As it reuses the older sensor, menus, and trappings of the E-M1 Mark III, it’s hardly a perfect companion for an OM-1. It’s also not a great upgrade for existing Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III users, since image quality is so similar on the whole.
Still, regardless of from what perspective you’re looking at this camera, there are few sub-$2,000 options that offer what the OM-5 delivers in spades.
All images shot using a production OM System OM-5
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