by William Brawley Preview posted: 10/26/2022
Be sure to check out our First Shots series of lab sample images and our Image Gallery for real-world images. Cs Mount Varifocal Lens
Updates: 12/13/2022: Additional Gallery Images added
The camera model line that kicked off the wildly-popular Olympus "OM-D" camera series back in 2012 is getting the "OM SYSTEM" treatment now with the debut of the OM-5 Micro Four Thirds camera. Following the OM-1, this will be the second OM System-branded from the newly-independent OM Digital Solutions Corporation, the spun-off company derived from Olympus's imaging division. The OM-1 is essentially the spiritual successor to the E-M1 Mark III, and, as one might expect given the naming, the new OM System OM-5 is thus the successor to the E-M5 Mark III.
One look at the OM-5 and you might wonder what's different about it compared to the E-M5 Mark III as the two cameras look essentially identical -- except, of course, the "OM System" branding on it vs. "Olympus." And indeed, the cameras share basically the exact same physical design, at least in appearance. However, OMDS has updated the camera's internals. While the changes and improvements aren't as drastic as those for the OM-1, there are some pleasing upgrades to make this an even more capable "portable adventure camera."
We were fortunate to get an early look at the new OM System OM-5, and while our in-depth hands-on review is currently underway, we have lab sample images, gallery shots as well as some initial handling and usability notes to accompany our usual thorough rundown of the camera's specs and features.
Olympus, I mean OM System, fans have been wondering about a follow-up to the extremely popular E-M5 line, and we here at IR have as well, so let's dive to see what's new and improved on OM System's "second" camera model.
As mentioned, the new OM-5 looks and feels just like the earlier E-M5 Mark III. The two cameras share nearly identical styling, physical dimensions and control layout. However, OM has improved the durability of the camera body, giving it IP53-rated weather sealing just like the OM-1. The OM-5 is thus better sealed against both dust and moisture. The "5" refers to its dust-resistance level, which in this case, means it's highly dust-resistant. Some dust could still enter the camera body, but it won't affect or damage the camera operation. The second number, the "3", is for water. The 3-rating means it's protected against spraying water. The camera is, of course, not fully waterproof, and from our experience, Olympus/OM cameras are probably more sealed than the company is willing to officially state. For instance, I accidentally submerged my personal E-M1 Mark II in a river, and the camera was completely fine immediately after. All that said, the OM-5 is designed for basically any sort of environmental conditions you can throw at it.
It's a pretty impressive feat for a camera this small and lightweight. Olympus and OM System are already well respected for their excellent weather sealing, and like the OM-1, the new OM-5 goes the extra mile with even better sealing and durability. While the OM-1 is already pretty small and compact, the OM-5 is even more so. The OM-5 is designed for excellent portability, one that you can take with you while hiking, traveling or on any sort of adventure. The camera is built to be light, small and unintrusive, and the enhanced durability gives you the freedom and reassurance to take it with you anyway, no matter the conditions. The OM-5 is designed for that go-anywhere adventure photographer who needs something rugged and easy to carry.
In the hand, the OM-5 really does feel incredibly solid and well-built. It's difficult to tell exactly which parts of the body are metal versus some composite material, but the camera nonetheless feels like one solid piece. It feels high quality, without any sort of plastic-y feel, creakiness, or anything of that nature.
As mentioned, the controls and exterior styling are identical to the E-M5 Mark III. If you're familiar with that camera, or a current E-M5 III owner, you can probably scroll on past to the next section. But, for those new to this camera model, I think it's still worth giving a tour of the camera's physical design and features. One positive side effect of using the same body as the prior model is that all of your accessories are still compatible. For example, the OM-5 is compatible with the same ECG-5 Dedicated External Grip accessory as before, and it uses the same BLS-50 lithium-ion battery, which is readily available on the market -- or you already have a few in your camera bag.
As before, the OM-5 has a very classic, almost retro-styled design -- especially if you opt for the two-toned silver and black style. The camera has a sleek, classic SLR-shaped design with an angular viewfinder in the center and prominent front and rear control dials on the top. There's a large, locking PASM control dial as well as dedicated buttons for exposure compensation and video record start/stop. There's also a dedicated ISO button conveniently placed right on the thumb rest. On the left of the EVF is the camera's on/off lever and buttons for drive mode/self-timer and button to control EVF/LCD display options. However, like most buttons on the rest of the camera, these dedicated controls can all be reassigned to other functions to fit your shooting style (with the menu providing an easy-to-use graphical view of which buttons you're customizing).
Moving to the back of the camera, we see a pretty standard array of camera controls -- again, the body design is identical to the E-M5 Mark III. Primary controls consist of a 4-way directional control and a central "OK" button. However, the camera lacks a multi-directional joystick-like control, which2 is to be expected given that this camera body is the same as the prior model. However, it's still somewhat disappointing, as it's a very common and handy control. That said, the 4-way directional buttons provide instant AF point adjust, like on the E-M1 Mark II, which I like as well.
Elsewhere on the back are the Menu, Info, Trash and Playback mode buttons situated around primary rear controls. There's also a small AEL/AFL button up near the EVF and a clever "Fn Lever" toggle that lets you toggle various sets of functions on the camera with a single flick. There are three mode settings in the menu for this Fn Lever; mode1 lets you toggle the settings that the from and rear controls dials adjust, mode2 will toggle between different AF mode settings, and mode3 will let you toggle between standard shooting modes or overriding the PASM mode dial and putting the camera instantly into Movie Mode. Further, you can even assign the Fn Lever as a secondary Power On/Off switch if you want to.
The EVF and rear LCD remain unchanged from those in the E-M5 Mark III, which is perhaps a little disappointing to see, especially with regard to the EVF. The OLED panel has the same 2.36 million dots of resolution, and the viewfinder has the same 0.68x magnification. It's a good electronic viewfinder, and it looks sharp and crisp, but given the noticeable upgrade we see in the OM-1, it would have been nice to have an improvement in resolution at the very least.
Looking at the rear display, the overall design is also unchanged, with a 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen monitor with a total of 1.04 million dots of resolution. The touchscreen has on-screen functions for shutter release, touch AF and AF targeting pad functionality while shooting and can flip outwards to act as a selfie screen.
Moving around the rest of the camera, the left side features the four primary connectivity ports on the camera. The camera features a 3.5mm stereo microphone jack, a 2.5mm cable release jack, a Micro HDMI (Type D) port and a Micro-USB jack. Yes, a Micro-USB jack, which is rather disappointing in 2022. We would have much preferred an easier-to-use USB Type-C connector, which has pretty much become the standard on cameras these days. Nonetheless, the OM-5 offers USB-based in-camera charging and UVC/UAC webcam support over USB.
On the right side, the OM-5 has a single UHS-II SD card slot. Of course, two card slots would be nice, but we're happy to at least have the card slot on the side of the camera, as that's much easier to access than within the battery compartment on the button. And speaking of which, the OM-5 uses the same BLS-50 lithium-ion battery as the E-M5 III and several other Olympus cameras, which should make it convenient to pick up spares, or you may already own several additional batteries. The OM-5's battery life has a CIPA rating of 310 shots per charge or up to 60 minutes of video recording, when using the LCD. OM doesn't provide a battery life rating when using the EVF.
Lastly, the OM-5 has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, allowing for easy sharing and control of the camera functions via a paired smartphone. Users can wirelessly send images and videos to quickly share on social media, as well as remotely control the camera and trigger the camera from a distance.
The heart of the OM-5's imaging system gets an upgrade over the E-M5 Mark III, though overall, it's not as striking or as significant of an upgrade compared to what we see on the OM-1. Those familiar with the E-M1 Mark III's imaging pipeline will be right at home with the new OM-5, as the camera uses the same sensor and processor as this previous flagship OM-D camera. In a broad sense, much like how the E-M5 III was essentially an E-M1 Mark II in a lighter, smaller body, the OM-5 is the E-M1 III inside this more compact form factor. There are a few differences here and there, but the two cameras share a lot of similarities when it comes to imaging features and performance.
Indeed, at the heart of the OM-5 is a 20.4-megapixel Live MOS Four Thirds sensor, which is the same chip from inside the E-M1 Mark III. Paired to this, of course, is the quad-core TruePic IX image processor from the E-M1 III, as well -- which is an upgrade over the TruePic VII processor of the E-M5 III. So while the megapixel count remains unchanged, there should be some slight improvements to image quality and image processing compared to the E-M5 Mark III, such as Low ISO Processing (Detail Priority) that improves image quality at lower ISOs and now Handheld High-Res mode.
Although the processor is an upgrade over the E-M5 III's, the ISO range of the OM-5 remains the same, with a native range spanning ISO 200-6400 and several levels of expanded ISOs on either side. Low ISOs can go down to ISO 100 and ISO 64, while high sensitivities can go all the way up to ISO 25,600.
In addition to a newer imaging processor, the OM-5 also gains an improved image stabilization system, with body-only IS going up to 6.5 stops of compensation as compared to the 5.5 stops of IS of the E-M5 III. It's not the exact same level of image stabilizing performance as we see in the E-M1 III, which offered up to 7 stops of stabilization compensation with the body alone. However, the OM-5 now matches the E-M1 III in terms of Sync IS performance, combined body IS and lens-based optical IS, at up to 7.5 stops of stabilization. Olympus, and OMDS, have long been one of the best performers in the game when it comes to image stabilization, so we're not surprised and, indeed, pleased to see some of the best IS tech make its way into this lightweight camera line.
The OM-5's improved image stabilization will make handheld low-light shooting easier, allowing for slower shutter speeds and thus requiring lower ISO levels to get good exposures. Further, it makes general shooting much more pleasant, providing a clear, steady view in the viewfinder -- a particularly helpful feature when shooting with longer, supertelephoto lenses. However, beyond normal shooting benefits, the upgraded IBIS system inside the OM-5 improves other popular shooting modes in this compact camera body, namely hand-held High-Res Shot mode and Live ND.
While the E-M5 Mark III had High-Res Shot mode already, you could only use it on a tripod, for fear of blurry or downright incorrectly composited images. Thanks to the power powerful IBIS system (and faster image processor), you can now use this mode when shooting handheld. Much like with the E-M1X and E-M1 III, the handheld High-Res Shot mode on the OM-5 lets you capture up to 50-megapixel composite RAW and JPEG images for those times when you need or want to capture images with better detail (and lower noise thanks to multi-shot compositing process). The OM-5 quickly shoots 16 frames in mere seconds, precisely moving the image sensor around between each frame, capturing a total of 320-megapixels of pixel information. It will then composite the final high-res image in-camera. You can, of course, use High-Res Shot in Tripod mode, which will capture a higher-resolution 80MP RAW file composite. Unlike standard shooting mode, the OM-5's ISO range is restricted in High-Res Shot mode to just ISO 64 up to ISO 1600, which is different than in the E-M1 III, for example, which allowed for High-Res Shot mode up to ISO 6400.
The OM-5 also now includes Live ND, a handy and clever computational photography mode that simulates various strengths of neutral density filters all in-camera without the need for physical ND filters. Live ND has been seen on several E-M1 and E-M1X models, but the feature is now making its way into this smaller, lighter camera class for the first time. The Live ND feature lets you take pictures with a slow shutter speed effect without the need for actual ND filters. With Live ND, you can more easily create pictures of soft, flowing water or capture the movement of clouds in the sky, for example. It's not necessarily a handheld shooting mode, as you can increase the strength of the ND effect to where the shutter speeds are likely too slow for handheld shooting. Nonetheless, the IBIS is powerful enough to allow for some handheld Live ND shooting.
Like the similar Live Composite feature, Live ND effects are visible in real-time in the viewfinder/on-screen as you're capturing the image. You have a choice of four strength levels for the function: ND2 (1EV), ND4 (2EV), ND8 (3EV) or ND16 (4EV). It's worth noting that the E-M1 Mark III offered one additional level of ND filter effects, ND32, or a 5EV reduction in shutter speed, while the newer OM-1 goes even further with an additional ND64 (6EV) option.
Additional shooting features include Focus Stacking and Focus Bracketing modes, allowing for easier close-up and macro photography images with deeper depths of field. The OM-5 also includes built-in interval shooting for timelapse capture that now includes exposure smoothing.
Much like the imaging pipeline, the autofocusing system in the OM-5 borrows a lot from the E-M1 Mark III. Essentially, the OM-5 uses the same 121-point hybrid AF system with both on-sensor phase-detection and contrast-detection focusing. As with all Olympus or OM System cameras with phase-detection AF, the OM-5's PDAF pixels are all cross-type, which means it can read phase-detection information in both vertical and horizontal directions. All in all, the OM-5's hybrid AF system offers excellent precision and sensitivity, no matter the orientation of the camera, and the AF point coverage itself spans a large area of the sensor (75% vertically and 80% horizontally). It's a fast and versatile focusing system. At this point, the AF system isn't all that dissimilar to what was inside the E-M5 III. The OM-5 includes several AF point configurations, such as full-area autofocus, single target (with both normal and small sizes points) and group target (5-area, 9-area and 25-area options are provided) areas.
However, there are some focusing improvements and new features brought over from the E-M1 III, such as the ability to create custom AF target areas, with varying numbers of horizontal or vertical point groupings depending on the subjects you are shooting. You can also adjust the grid density of selectable AF points, in both vertical and horizontal movements. Additionally, you can now also set different AF area settings for both horizontal and vertical shooting orientations.
The OM-5 also includes the clever Starry Sky AF low-light focusing mode, which allows for autofocusing functionality even on dark, star-filled skies -- subjects with which traditional AF modes often fail to work. Like the E-M1 III, on which this feature debuted, the camera offers two modes, Speed Priority or Accuracy Priority. The Speed Priority mode, as the name suggests, focuses more quickly. Speed Priority works with the IBIS system and allows for handheld star-scape photography without a tripod or when using a wide-angle or standard (non-bright) zoom lens (in other words, handheld longer-exposure shooting combined with quicker autofocusing). Accuracy Priority mode, meanwhile, requires a tripod and offers a slower yet more accurate autofocusing operation for more critical or serious astrophotography pursuits. This mode is also useful for shooting starry scenes with telephoto lenses.
Lastly, Like the E-M1 III, the OM-5 offers updated AF algorithms with improved face-detection and eye-detection AF, allowing the camera to more accurately and more quickly detect faces and eyes that are smaller in the frame. Tracking performance with face- and eye-detection on moving subjects should be improved as well. The OM-5 lacks, however, the sophisticated Deep Learning-based intelligent subject-detection modes that we find on the OM-1 and E-M1X cameras, such as animal-, bird- and automobile-detection AF.
In terms of performance specs, the OM-5 is a pretty swift camera, though not up to the same level as the OM-1. It's still quite capable of capturing fast or unpredictable subjects, with decently-fast continuous shooting speeds. Plus, the camera now includes the clever Pro Capture burst shooting mode we see on the later E-M1-series and OM-1 models.
With standard sequential shooting, users can shoot at up to 10fps with the mechanical shutter with single-shot AF. If you want the mechanical shutter with continuous focus, the maximum burst rate dips to just 6fps. For more performance, you can opt for Silent Shooting (aka electronic shutter), which allows for up to 10fps with C-AF or a very respectable 30fps with S-AF. Note that much like with the E-M1 III, the OM-5 does not use a stacked sensor design -- unlike the OM-1 -- as such, photographing certain fast-moving subjects with the electronic shutter may show some rolling shutter distortion.
As mentioned, the OM-5 also includes Pro Capture mode, and like with Silent Sequential Shooting, can operate at up to 30fps with S-AF or 10fps with C-AF. In Pro Capture mode, while half-pressing the shutter, the OM-5 will record up to 14 frames prior to fully pressing the shutter speed, thus giving you a much better chance at capturing that exact, fleeting moment that happens in the blink of an eye.
Despite using the same sensor and processor as the E-M1 III, both continuous shooting and buffer depths on the OM-5 aren't as fast or as deep, respectively. The OM-5's maximum C-AF-capable continuous burst rate is just 10fps, whereas the E-M1 III can go up to 18fps. Similarly, the overall maximum continuous burst rate here is up to 30fps, which is half of what the E-M1 III is capable of.
The buffer, too, isn't as healthy as that of the E-M1 III either. High-speed sequential shooting with the mechanical shutter at 10fps has a RAW buffer capacity rated to 149 frames, whereas a similar 10fps mech. shutter burst rate on the E-M1 III goes up to 286. The low-speed 6fps burst rate on the OM-5 has an essentially unlimited buffer capacity with both RAW and JPEG, however. Similarly, with Silent Shooting, the maximum 30fps burst rate allows for only 18 RAW frames or 20 JPEGs, while the E-M1 III can shoot 50 RAWs or JPEGs with its max-speed 60fps burst rate. The low-speed 10fps silent shooting mode on the OM-5, fortunately, fairs much better, with a RAW buffer depth of 138 frames, while JPEGs are essentially unlimited based on memory card capacity.
Lastly, we need to talk about the video features of the OM-5. While the OM-5 is still a photo-centric mirrorless camera, there are some nice, pleasing upgrades for video creators packed into this stylish camera. The OM-5 offers 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video recording at up to 30fps and Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160), much like on the E-M5 III. One of the major changes, however, is the recording time limit has been removed completely. No more 29-minute continuous shooting time restriction! The camera includes both ALL-I and IPB bit rate modes, with ALL-I providing around 202Mbps, while IPB -- which is used for 4K resolutions has a bit rate of approximately 237Mbps for C4K and 102Mbps for 4K UHD video.
Full HD video recording is also available, with standard video recording modes offering frame rates up to 60fps. Like on the E-M5 III, there is a high-speed video recording mode that provides Full HD (1920 x 1080) video at up to 120fps for excellent slow-motion capture. Timelapse video is also available at up to 4K in a Motion JPEG AVI format.
Another new video feature is the inclusion of the OM-Log400 Picture Mode, making it much easier for advanced shooters to have a flatter image with greater dynamic range allowing for easier color grading and other post-production flexibility.
Additional new video features include vertical video support for use with various social media platforms. Simply turn the camera vertically and record video, and the camera will recognize that you're recording vertically, and the resulting video file will play back in vertical orientation automatically. The OM-5 also has improved image stabilization during video recording, updated screen UI with a red frame around the screen to indicate recording is active, and built-in webcam support. The OM-5 supports UVC (USB Video Class)/UAC (USB Audio Class) -- simply plug the camera into your computer with the USB cable and select "Webcam" from the USB Mode menu option.
Cs Mount Varifocal Lens The OM System OM-5 will be available in both Silver and Black varieties starting in late-November 2022. The body-only price will retail for $1,199.99 USD ($1,699.99 CAD), while a kit configuration with the 12-45mm F4 PRO lens will have an MSRP of $1,599.99 USD ($2,199.99 CAD).