If you’ve been looking for a travel camera to accompany you on some post-pandemic adventures, the new OM System OM-5 is one of the best options available – and it’s a major upgrade on your smartphone, too.
The Micro Four Thirds camera is an improved version of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III from 2019. We considered that camera to be one of the best travel cameras out there thanks to the combination of a compact body, impressive in-body stabilization and a wide range of lightweight lenses.
The OM System OM-5, renamed after Olympus’ decision to sell its imaging division in 2020, doesn’t interfere with that formula, but delivers a host of improvements that have echoes of the OM System OM. -1 from the new company. flagship.
These include weatherproofing with IP53 rating, an official standard that few mirrorless cameras can match. That rating means that while dust can still get into the camera, it won’t damage it. The ‘3’ in IP53 also means that the OM-5 is protected against splashing water, even if it cannot be considered completely waterproof.
Another improvement over the E-M5 Mark III is the in-body image stabilization of the OM-5. Our review deemed its predecessor “leading” in its class in that regard, but the OM-5 delivers an extra stop of stabilization up to 6.5 stops (or 7.5 stops with compatible lenses). In other words, you can get slower shutter speeds when shooting handheld to keep your ISO sensitivity low, reducing the need for tripods.
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The main reason why the OM-5 is almost half the price of the OM-1 is due to the older sensor and Truepic IX processor. Unlike the OM-1’s new ‘stacked’ sensor, the OM-5 features the same 20.4MP Four Thirds chip found in the E-M5 Mark III. This means that the OM-5’s burst shooting speeds (10 fps with AF tracking) and autofocus are inferior to the OM-1, but still an improvement over its predecessor.
The OM-5 also has some significantly improved computational photography modes compared to the E-M5 Mark III. Useful modes like LiveND, which slows your shutter speed so you can shoot long exposures without filters, and Starry Sky AF for astrophotography, were previously reserved for its flagship E-M1 line. They both appear on the OM-5, alongside the Handheld High Res Shot mode to boost the resolution to 50MP when shooting static scenes.
These modes are great for photographers, but filmmakers may find the OM-5’s video more limited. The only changes from the E-M5 are the inclusion of a vertical video option, a flat OM-Log400 profile for color graders, and unlimited recording time. You’re still limited to 4K/30p and it’s not yet clear how well the OM-5’s autofocus works in video mode, despite improvements to face/eye detection.
Still, overall, the OM System OM-5 turns out to be a fun camera to take anywhere and one of the best cameras for beginners. You can buy it from the end of November for $1199 / £1,199 / AU$1,899 for the body only, or $1,599 / £1,499 / AU$2,499 with the 12-45mm f/4.0 Pro kit lens. In the UK and Australia there is also a kit lens bundle with the 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 II lens for £1,499 / AU$2,399.
Analysis: Better than your smartphone?
Today, the OM System OM-5’s competitors are as many smartphones as traditional rivals such as the Canon EOS R10, Fujifilm X-S10 and Nikon Z fc. Is it really worth spending the price of a flagship smartphone on a separate camera again, when the Google Pixel 7 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra are already so good?
If you value image quality, versatility and creative control, the answer is definitely yes. The OM-5 still has a much larger Four Thirds sensor than any smartphone, but it also provides crucially the lenses to help you get shots that just aren’t possible on phones.
Pair the OM-5, for example, with a 40-150mm f/4 Pro lens and you’ve got an 80-300mm equivalent setup that’s ideal for travel and wildlife, while also being lightweight with IP53-rated weather resistance . Because OM System has inherited the calculation modes from Olympus, you can also enjoy slow shutter speeds or astrophotography without the need for other accessories.
In that sense, the OM-5 could occupy an enticing place between the fun of smartphone shooting and its bigger, more “serious” cameras like its rivals from Canon, Nikon, Sony and Fujifilm. On the other hand, if you’re not always traveling and want a camera that’s more of an all-rounder for stills and video, the Canon EOS R10’s impressive autofocus might give it an edge.
Look forward to our full verdict on the OM System OM-5, and how it compares to its more pro-focused OM System OM-1 sibling, very soon.