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OM System OM-5 Mirrorless Camera Review

John Riley has been putting the OM System OM-5 to the test, capturing sample photos with the M.Zuiko 12-45mm f/4 PRO lens.

| OM System OM-5 in Mirrorless Cameras

OM System OM-5 Mirrorless Camera Review: OM 5 Front View Flat On | 1/6 sec | f/16.0 | 48.0 mm | ISO 100

Quick Verdict

The second of the new OM series and it does not disappoint. It is somewhat simpler than the flagship OM-1 in some respects, especially in terms of video. Where it truly excels is in being a close-to-perfect stills camera for travel, lifestyle, wildlife, architecture, portraiture, street and documentary, whilst retaining the ability to shoot high-quality video with excellent IS. Add to that some truly classic retro style and we have a camera that could quickly become a constant companion.


+ Pros

  • Excellent handling
  • Excellent image quality
  • Fast and responsive controls
  • IP53 dust and moisture sealing
  • Low noise levels
  • Compact and Light
  • Fast, accurate and virtually silent AF
  • Pro Capture
  • Excellent IS
  • High-Resolution Mode

- Cons

  • Only 20MP may be a factor for some
  • Could be too small for some hands
  • Relatively basic video capability


Hot on the heels of the OM-1, the last camera bearing the Olympus name, we have the OM-5, the first camera bearing the OM System name. The styling could be straight out of the 1980s and indeed the camera offers plenty of dials and buttons to persuade us that here we have a genuine retro class act. Under the skin, the electronics rule the day and a cornucopia of dazzling features await us. A notch below the OM-1, but an even more compact package and one ideally suited to the traveller and explorer as well as the photographer who likes to experiment. It is a little lighter on video specification, but still delivers reliable, simple shooting that should again suit travellers, vloggers and anyone who wants quality video for viewing on an HD or 4K screen.

It feels good and looks good, so let's see if its performance is up to scratch as we put it to the test, alongside the previously reviewed M.Zuiko 12-45mm f/4 PRO lens.


OM System OM-5 Features

OM System OM-5 Mirrorless Camera Review: OM 5 Oblique View | 1/5 sec | f/16.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100

First impression is of a tiny camera, just 366g in weight, 414g with a battery and card. It is when we start to handle it though that the quality of the construction becomes apparent and, despite the small size (25.3mm wide, 85.2mm high and 49.7mm deep), there is no tendency for any buttons to become accidentally pressed.

The top plate of the camera is a busy place. On the left, as we look down when holding it ready for use, we have the on/off switch, not my favourite position for it, as I prefer it to be located around the shutter release button. However, we can adjust. The top of this switch carries a drive button and a monitor/EVF selection button. This latter can be one or the other, or auto selection in the usual way. On the right, we have the mode dial, lockable via a central button, front and rear control dials, exposure compensation button and video start/stop button. As set up by default the front dial controls exposure compensation (making the small button next to it superfluous) and the rear dial the aperture when in A mode.

The usual OM System controls are on the back of the camera, with a joystick and four-way controller that also has a rotating rim. All these offer various means of negotiating the complex menus, and thankfully the ring surrounding the four-way controller is firm enough to give sensible control and not be pressed too easily.

OM System OM-5 Mirrorless Camera Review: OM 5 With12 45mm F4 PRO Back View Showing Screen | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 78.0 mm | ISO 100

The vari-angle screen (1.04M dots) is crisp and clear, as is the OLED EVF (2.36M dots). The camera as a whole has an IP53 resistance to dust and water, and full marks to OM Systems for being much more specific than most as to what they mean by “weather resistance”, “splashproof” or all the alternative descriptions that can be applied but are rarely explained. For the best sealing, IP53 sealed lenses are also needed, such as the M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO II and the M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/4 PRO.

The IS system is claimed to offer 6.5 stops of stabilisation or 7.5 stops in conjunction with compatible lenses. The 20.4MP LiveMos sensor and TruePic IX processor deliver the ability to use in-camera focus stacking (8 shots). High-Resolution mode can be used with RAW or to produce a final JPEG file. The JPEG route offers either a 25MP or 50MP file and the RAW route can deliver up to 80MP. This can actually be done handheld, and it totally works, or on a tripod for the highest resolution.

Pro Capture is really something else, and here the camera captures a sequence of up to 14 images pre-release when the shutter release button is depressed halfway. It continues to shoot images after full release up to a total of either 99 frames if the limiter is switched on, or unlimited frames if not. The obvious application is the point of waiting for a bird to take off, which can be captured with ease. Pro Capture High operates at 30fps and Pro Capture Low at 10fps.

OM System OM-5 Mirrorless Camera Review: OM 5 Top View | 1/13 sec | f/16.0 | 48.0 mm | ISO 100
Some special functions of the camera are dependent on compatibility of the lenses, and the focus stacking feature, for example, needs one of the following optics:

  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm F2.8 PRO
  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8-25mm F4.0 PRO
  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO
  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO II
  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO
  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO
  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm F4.0 PRO
  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 100-400mm F5.0-6.3 IS
  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO
  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm F1.8 Fisheye PRO
  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 30mm F3.5 Macro
  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 60mm F2.8 Macro
  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 1.4x Teleconverter MC-14
  • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 2x Teleconverter MC-20

Video features are relatively basic compared to the OM-1, but nonetheless, more than adequate for vlogging and other straightforward video needs up to 4K quality. The OM-5 can also be used as a high-quality webcam, having connectivity via HDMI, WiFi and Bluetooth.

MOV format is MPEG-4, AVC, H.264 codec. There is a choice of Flat mode or OM-Log 400. IS mode offers sensor shift and M-IS1 and M-IS2, offering sensor shift with electronic stabiliser and multi-motion IS and sensor-shift with multi-motion IS respectively. Quality is up to 4K 30p and Full HD 60p. At HD resolution, 120fps can be shot.

Video can be shot up to the card capacity or a maximum file size of 4GB. Battery life would restrict that to around 60 minutes. There are built-in stereo mics, plus the ability to attach external stereo mics.

Key Features

  • IS (Image Stabilisation) up to 6.5 stops
  • Sync IS up to 7.5 stops
  • 20.4MP Live MOS sensor
  • Mechanical shutter 60s – 1/8000s
  • Electronic shutter 60s – 1/8000s
  • AF range -2EV to +20EV
  • Eye detect AF
  • Pro Capture, 30fps and 10fps
  • Metering range -2EV to +20EV
  • In-camera focus stacking
  • In-camera HDR (3, 5 or 7 exposures)
  • OLED EVF 2.36M dots
  • 3” Vari-angle touch-sensitive monitor 1.04M dots, swivel type
  • Video M-PEG 4, AVC, H.264
  • ISO 64-25600 (Extended ISO range)
  • Standard ISO range ISO 200 (Recommended) to 6400
  • Tripod Hi Res Shot JPEG 25MP/50MP/80MP
  • Tripod High Res Shot RAW 80MP
  • Handheld High Res Shot JPEG 25MP/50MP; RAW 50MP
  • Operation -10C to +40C
  • Flash synch 1/250s
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • HDMI
  • Moisture and dust resistance to IP53 standard
  • 366g (414g with battery and card)
  • Battery BLS-50 Li-ion
  • 1 SD card slot
  • Battery life Std mode: 310 shots, Quick Sleep mode: 660 shots
  • Battery life movie: 60 minutes
  • Art filters: Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Colour, Light Tone, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama, Cross Process, Gentle Sepia, Dramatic Tone, Key Line, Water Colour, Vintage, Partial Colour, Bleach Bypass, Instant Film
  • Price £1199 body only


OM System OM-5 Handling

OM System OM-5 Mirrorless Camera Review: OM 5 With12 45mm F4 PRO With Hood | 1/6 sec | f/16.0 | 78.0 mm | ISO 100

 Handling is a very personal thing but usually, the bane of small cameras is that switches and buttons are so closely placed that they can be nudged. This can have all sorts of unwanted results, usually to do with the focus position being inadvertently changed. Interestingly, OM Systems have managed to design a small camera that is pretty much free of such glitches. In terms of size, it is small and sat next to a Pentax ME Super the two look almost identical in size. We are back to where the 1980s started, at least in terms of bulk, but we are very much in the 21st Century when we look at what the camera can do.

MTF cameras have advantages and disadvantages of course, but one huge advantage is the 2x crop factor. Thus, a 100mm lens has around the same field of view as a 200mm lens on a 35mm format “full frame” camera. It still has the depth of field of a 100mm lens though, so it is much more difficult to have a wide enough aperture to put backgrounds out of focus. This is why some users find the need for MTF lenses to have far wider apertures to compensate. This could be an advantage though, and increased depth of field could equally well be deemed to be a good thing. Either way, MTF lenses may perform at their best at wider apertures than their larger brethren as diffraction becomes more of a problem as we stop down.

Smaller formats also mean smaller lenses, and this can be a definite advantage when travelling. Here the OM-5 totally hits the spot and a kit of two or three lenses can be a fraction of the weight and bulk of even an APS-C kit. Mirrorless as it was originally intended, smaller and lighter.

Other features aid the traveller, not least of course the excellent IS system. The camera on its own offers up to 6.5 stops advantage, and combined with the IS in a compatible lens this can increase to 7.5 stops. And so it does. The ability to shoot in low light without a tripod offers the photographer a new freedom, and this also extends to video shooting, resulting in smoother, more stable movies.

In summary, the camera is small but not fiddly and delivers the goods in a svelte package that is ideal for travel, hiking, cycling, and sports as well as all the usual subjects including portraits, architecture, wildlife and street photography.

One minor point is that in common with many current cameras, a battery charger is no longer included in the kit. USB charging is all very well, but having more than one battery and rotating them in use is more efficient, and a charger and spare battery is perhaps one of the first accessory purchases that would be worth thinking about.  

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Highest price recorded £1199 the lowest price £1099

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