Micro Four Thirds Never Looked So Good | OM System OM-5 Review

The OM-5 was the first camera body released by OM System, formally known as Olympus, to have the new name imprinted on the camera body. The OM-1 may have been the first camera they released after the new name change, but the OM-5 is the camera that firmly sets its foot into a new era of photography.

I had been looking at moving from my DSLR to using a Mirrorless Camera for a while. I had looked into a few different ones, but nothing seemed to fit in really with what I wanted. There were a few that would have been perfectly good for what I wanted to use them for, but I would have to make more compromises than I wanted if I was going to opt for them.

OM System OM-5

Top 5 things I was looking for in a mirrorless camera

  1. Good low-light capabilities 
  2. Compact & Portable
  3. Mobile connectivity 
  4. Reasonable up-to-date features
  5. Within my budget

When listed like this, it doesn’t look like very much and you’d think I could have been happy with a second-hand OM-D E-M5 Mark III. But it wasn’t quite what I wanted. I’d spent years buying second-hand equipment and while most of them were perfectly good cameras and lenses I didn’t want to buy something that was by technical standards already outdated. I wanted something that I could really invest in, a starting point for creating my own mirrorless set-up.

The overall body design and 20 MP Live MOS Sensor can be found in the OM-D E-M5 Mark III Digital camera but some features of the OM-5 stood out. For example, the Live ND system, Advanced and Starry Sky AF along with HD 4K video recording capabilities placed the OM-5 ahead of the OM-D E-M5 III. The cherry on the cake for me was the IP53 rating making the camera dustproof and splashproof in a compact weather-sealed unit.

What About The OM-5?

When I first heard about the OM System OM-5 I was immediately intrigued. It was the first camera body released by OM System with the new branding and the more I read the more I fell in absolute love with the camera. I was able to get my hands on an OM-5 camera body and lens at our OM System touch & try day and I was instantly hooked, buying my own first thing Monday morning! 

The Micro Four Thirds format means the OM-5 is incredibly compact and lightweight. It takes up almost no space in my bag and when I’m carrying it around with the 12-45mm lens it is unintrusive enough for me to grab a quick photo without bringing attention to myself. It was even small enough to fit in my shoulder bag on a night out.

Taking it out for a spin

One of the first events I was able to use the camera for was a wedding party. Armed with my new OM-5 camera, a 64GB memory card and a spare battery, I was able to take some brilliant photos of the night, which included shots of all the guests and of the bride and groom during their first dance. 

Wedding Party taken on OM-5

I did take my trusty DSLR with a 35mm prime lens as a backup, but in truth, I ended up using the OM-5 as my primary camera for the entire night. The size meant I could weave in and out of the groups of people catching those candid moments that sometimes get missed at big events.

Size isn’t everything

As a person who can become very tired and worn out quickly when carrying larger cameras and can sometimes find operating a large camera more difficult because of the effect the weight has on the joints in my hands and wrists, the OM-5 is a dream to use. 

The OM-5 has all of the image quality I want with tons of inbuilt features – the camera's incredible autofocus means that often I don’t even need to carry a tripod stand. The button potioning and mode dials are ideally placed so I never have to strain myself when using the camera.

Images of orange autumn leave taken on OM 5 Image of single green tree in the middle of a dry green field taken on OM 5 Image of purple berries attached to a bush taken on a OM 5

Cripled by the indecision of which photos to share and how to edit them? Just post them straight from your camera!

One of the features that were a must-have was the ability to connect the camera to my mobile device. Making it much faster and quicker to download, process and share my photographs. A feature that has proved incredibly useful as many times family and friends have asked me to send them a copy of a photo I had taken. 

Undoubtedly in the past, those photos would sit first on my memory card for a few weeks before being moved onto my computer where they would live until the end of time (or the end of my computer's lifetime). But with the connectivity features built into the OM-5, I have been able to share my photos almost instantly, completely taking out the limbo that is the photo graveyard on my computer.

Stands out at night

The OM-5 has the capability to reach up to 6400 ISO with minimal noise, it can be pushed further for those moments that you find yourself in a really low light situation, reaching a maximum of 25600 ISO. I found the high ISO coupled with the f4 PRO Lens gave me plenty of room to catch everything I wanted when taking street photos at night where I was able to take some incredibly detailed images of the docks.

Docks shot at night on OM-5

So much creative potential

The OM-5 is packed with creative features like the Live ND Filters and the live composite and keystone compensation. Coupled with the starry sky AF, this camera has the potential to take stunning astrophotography and atmospheric nighttime cityscapes. 


City at night on OM-5

Simulating film and creating your ideal black and white

A hidden bonus with the OM-5 was its ability to customise the preexisting image modes and filters, allowing me to take black & white and colour images with a similar aesthetic to my film cameras. 

Dursley on OM-5

Are they perfect film sims? No, there is a limitation to how far you can adapt the image modes, but the inbuilt filters allow you to experiment and enjoy different monochrome effects. Add a red filter to make the sky stand out in a landscape or a green or yellow filter to bring out skin tones in portrait photos, all done in camera with no need to fork out extra money for additional colour filters.

Made for adventure 

The OM-5 has been designed to be used, to be chucked into your bag and taken up the side of a mountain or into the wilderness. For over 6 months that’s what I’ve done. I’ve taken it deep into forests, into cities, (we are lacking a number of mountains where I live, so I had to make do with very steep hills), and to the latest social gatherings. 

I’ve used it in most weather types from pouring rain, drizzling English weather, surprise snow days and perfect sunshine. Never once have I had to shy away from grabbing my OM-5 and taking a photo because of the weather

The OM-5 body is also freeze-proof down to -10°C and while, for now, I don’t see myself reaching those staggering temperatures, I have no lack of confidence in the OM-5’s ability to exceed even in those harsh climates.

Portrait taken on OM-5

Unlimited recording 

Perfect for recording video for social posts, the OM-5 has detected video electronic stabilisation with continuous recording. Providing you with the freedom to record without interruption and the ability to upload the HD 4K video straight to your social media. No need to re-process the ratio, as vertical video files are automatically saved in a vertical orientation. 

See the quality of your TikTok’s, Instagram feed and Facebook stories increase overnight with very little effort as you jump from using your mobile to a high-quality micro four-thirds camera. If you are looking for something that allows you some creative freedom, the OM-5 supports OM-Log recording providing you with more advanced colour grading opportunities.

Interchangeable Micro Four Thirds 

The OM-5 uses a Micro Four Thirds lens mount system, which allows the camera and lenses to be incredibly compact. The crop factor of a Micro Four Thirds camera is 2x which is greater than the standard APC-S (crop sensor) camera. In practical terms, this turns my 12-45mm lens into a 24-90mm lens giving me a good standard focal range. This crop factor allows me to get a lot more out of my lenses. 

On top of this, lenses with a micro four-thirds mounting system are interchangeable. Giving you so much more freedom to swap out your micro four-thirds lenses between the different brands, you don’t need to feel locked into having only one series of lenses. 

I will acknowledge that there may be some compromises made when combining different lenses and camera bodies in terms of in-camera lens correction, however, the auto-focus should work across the board. When working with an OM Body the image stabilisation remains the same (or only be reduced slightly) as most of the image stabilisation is done in the camera, the OM-5 has 6.5 steps of image stabilisation.

Image of Christmas lights taken on a OM 5

Micro USB over USB-C

When I was first doing research about the OM-5, one thing that seemed to keep coming up as a slight drawback was the use of a micro USB charging port over the faster and now more popular USB-C port. As someone who was moving from a camera where I had to take the battery out and charge it separately, to a camera that simply required me to plug in and charge, this didn’t bother me as much. 

The time it took to charge the camera wasn’t increased from my original set-up, and in fact, might have been slightly faster (this might be a comment on how old my other camera set-up actually was). But I can see how having fast charging option with a USB-C port might be an attractive factor to some people.

Final thoughts

In all honestly, I feel biased. After spending so much time looking for my ideal mirrorless camera you’d think I would have a lot more critical things to say about the OM-5. But I don’t, I have worked with my OM-5 camera body and lens for over 6 months now and I can’t see myself ever going back to using my old system. 

There are lots of cameras out there, some are bigger – and arguably better! – with more detailed sensors that are able to take photos with incredibly outstanding detail. But they end up taking the attention away from the experience and the overall enjoyment of photography for me. 

I often have to make adjustments in order to carry them around, which in the end makes me resent taking them out in the first place. I’ve never worried about that being a factor with the OM-5, it has been designed to fit around your life and your adventure, enhancing your experience without taking over. 

The OM-5 is a camera created to complement without compromise. In truth, I don’t know why you don’t have one already.

Convinced Yet?

The OM System OM-5 camera is available to buy now!

Designed to be interchangeable with lenses like the ED 90mm F3.5 Macro IS PRO lens or ED 20mm f1.4 PRO Lens

Read next

Thank you!

Thanks for taking the time to read our blog, we really do hope they help you out and answer some of your questions. If you still have some unanswered, then please feel free to get in touch with our team of experts.

We have a LiveChat option on our website and we can, of course, be contacted via our email, we're also on the end of the phone too! Read more on how to contact us here >

Want to write for us?

If you've got experience with producing content on photo, video and/or optics products or techniques then we would love to hear from you. Contact our blog editor, Bea, with a sample of your work at bea@cliftoncameras.co.uk.

  • By Emma Lawson
  • 21 Mar 2023

Category Menu