The new OM-5 camera may surprise you at first glance. However, you may have noticed that OM Digital Solutions (OMDS) knows what they are doing. As they celebrate their one year anniversary, they once again deliver an excellent camera for a certain type of photographer.
A few years ago I went to a camera shop to buy a full frame DSLR. When I picked it up, I found it awkward, and the ergonomics were terrible for me. I have big hands and long fingers, but all the buttons seemed to be in the wrong place. On the next shelf was a tiny Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. Strangely, it fit me perfectly. I took some test shots and the picture quality was more than good. I liked the colors and the creamy-soft bokeh of the 45mm f/1.8 lens.
As my commercial photographic needs changed, I traded the E-M5 with a friend. Two camera generations later, the OM System OM-5 hits the shelves. I’m tempted by it because part of me misses that great little camera. OMDS is targeting its new camera specifically to a specific need. That’s not me, the event or advertising photographer. As a professional seascape photographer, it’s not me who gets up at five in the morning to capture the blue hour and sunrise.
This camera is aimed at those who walk around observing life and capturing it with their photos. It is also designed for adventurers, for whom a small, light, rugged camera can be pulled out of the pocket to photograph the mountains, waterfalls or the eagle perched on a branch. It’s designed for street and lifestyle photographers who need something understated and simple. This camera is perfect for professionals whose business requires high-quality images of buildings, products or services, and for craftsmen who want to showcase their work online. It will also appeal to parents who want to preserve memories with better resolution than they get with their phones. It is also suitable for bloggers and vloggers who want something stylish and easy to use.
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 on a tripod. The OM-5 was small enough to fit in my jacket pocket, and I attached a Black Rapid wrist strap to its new, reinforced internal thread on the camera’s base; this was a weak point of the previous Olympus E-M5 Mark III.
I hardly took a picture with my favorite camera, the OM-1, because I had so much fun with the OM-5.
Weatherproofed to the same IP53 standard as the OM-1 and the attached 12-45mm f/4 PRO lens, I had no qualms about being on a windy, sandy beach with the spray in the air.
Just like its predecessors, the camera felt comfortable in my hands. The button positions still felt familiar and I could operate them while wearing gloves, albeit thin ones. The fully articulated rear window allowed me to see the scene from every angle. This is important because I often shoot flat and don’t want to be lying in wet sand.
I started shooting in low light to increase performance. With 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization with 6.5 steps of compensation, I was able to hand-hold the camera and capture shots lasting a second or longer. This feature also came in particularly handy when I was shivering on that cool, autumnal beach.
The OM-5 has incorporated many of the unique features of the other systems into its arsenal, not least the Live ND feature that saves you having to screw an ND filter to the front of the lens. In combination with this excellent image stabilization, hand-held long exposures are possible. It also features handheld high-res capabilities, allowing for the capture of super-fine detail in a 50-megapixel image. On top of that there is the live composite mode, which only adds new light to an image. This is ideal for light trails, flash photography and light painting.
The sensor has 121 phase-detection autofocus points. All focus points are cross-type, improving the camera’s ability to focus on subjects no matter how they are oriented in the frame. I found focus quickly and accurately. There are six different focus targeting modes. I almost always use a single point, but groups of points are helpful when photographing moving animals and birds.
The OM-5 features face and eye recognition; Although I haven’t had a chance to try this, I have used the previous cameras to this one with the same feature at weddings and events and have found them effective.
A great feature of the OM system is the Starry Sky autofocus. Living in an area with dark skies and little light pollution, this feature is a boon for shooting at night when I can’t see to focus.
The OM-5 can also expose and combine up to five different exposures and process them into one HD raw file. It also features in-camera focus stacking, which is great for macro photography – the OM system is a firm favorite of many macro enthusiasts – and for landscape photographers who shoot handheld in low light and need a wide aperture.
There are features on this camera that I won’t be using, but the folks at OMDS have done their research and know what their customers want. One of them is the art filter function. You can apply 16 different effects to the image. Then the color creator allows the photographer to control the hue and saturation of each color in a scene. Similarly, 22 scene modes for beginners set the camera to the picture you want to capture. This is a great learning tool as you can discover the recommended camera settings for each shot and then copy and tweak those settings in the future.
If you produce videos, the OM-5 produces 4K 30p movies and can record with OM-Log400. (If you don’t know what that is, simply put, there’s a little more editing latitude). It also allows for vertical video recording, making it great for producing rolls for viewing on mobile devices. You can also connect this camera to the fabulous LS-P5 PCM sound recorder.
The OM-5, like the OM-1, will also shoot connected to a computer and allows for simultaneous image storage on both the computer and the camera, which I recently learned is not available with some other brands. OM System is not a brand that usually comes to mind for studio photography. However, Gavin Hoey specializes in portraits and uses OM System gear, and I do product photography in a studio with the OM-1. The OM-5 would work just as well for this. Tethering is also another valuable feature for indoor macro photographers.
One feature I’m glad this camera still has is the ability to use it as a webcam. I need to present a quality image to my clients when I conduct online training. I’ve used an old E-M1 for this function since I gave away my old E-M5 Mark II. The smaller and lighter OM-5 is far better suited for this.
The camera also features USB charging, so you don’t have to lug around multiple chargers for all your different devices. As far as battery life goes, I shot raw plus large JPEGs, half of which were in silent mode, and that produced 2,340 files, or 1,170 single presses of the shutter. The temperature was below 6°C for most of them and I used half the battery charge.
Because this camera has a smaller body, it’s best suited to the lighter M.Zuiko f/4 PRO lens range, although I’ve tried it with my 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens and it still balances well was.
What I liked and what could be improved
As I said at the beginning of this article, the people at OMDS know what they are doing; Her business has turned around and has been prosperous since escaping Olympus. This is excellent news. Instead of flooding the enthusiast market with a bewildering array of cameras with different features that are available on some and sadly not on others, they have chosen to introduce less premium camera models in each price range with a variety of useful features that they are particularly familiar with Groups of photographers want.
I’ve already heard a few naysayers complain that it doesn’t have the OM-1’s stacked sensor, and it only has one memory card slot, or it doesn’t shoot as many frames per second as if 30fps wasn’t. not enough. But if you need that kind of performance, buy an OM-1. This camera is aimed at a different market.
If there’s one thing I think they should have changed if they could, it would have a USB-C connector instead of a Micro-USB. I say “if they could” because I suspect that would mean not using common E-M5 Mark III body and chassis parts that are molded to fit Micro-USB. A complete redesign of the body would not be a good move from an ecological point of view, as it would generate more waste. Keeping it would also mean lower costs 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’ve never had a problem with it; I found it a lot more intuitive than other brands’ menus, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Additionally, there are many more features to explore in the OM System’s menus than on most cameras. That might be daunting for beginners, but this is a camera for photographers of all skill levels.
While the OM-1 suits a professional photographer like me, the OM-5 meets 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-rich as the OM-1. But it doesn’t have to be; it targets a very 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 stow in a jacket pocket, backpack or drybag in a canoe. It’s small enough to be equally at home in an office drawer, purse, or briefcase. It’s stylish too. They know how to make good looking cameras.
I’m impressed with its performance and am considering getting one as a secondary camera for events and photography where I want an unobtrusive profile. Paired with a small, fast lens like the 25mm f/1.8 or 45mm f/1.8, this is great for low-light shots at indoor evening events. My old E-M5 Mark II is fabulous for that, and this camera is even better. It also features wireless and Bluetooth connectivity so images can be uploaded instantly without the need for a 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 my cameras’ sensors – this is an excellent camera to throw in my bag when I go on vacation or for my early morning bike rides Morning. I am impressed.
All sample images are straight from camera JPEGs with different in-camera settings, although some horizon leveling has been applied in OM Workspace. The camera was loaned to me by OMDS for review.