This week OM Digital Solutions introduced the second camera under the brand OM System. One year after the introduction of the new brand, it become apparent how OM Digital Solutions sees its own future and which target group the brand is addressing. But is the OM System OM-5 an upgrade without innovations or are there news which we haven’t seen from Olympus / OM Digitalsolutions yet? I would like to share here my thoughts and not the technical details, which I had after the introduction of the OM-5
My assessment about the OM System OM-5 technology
The outside of the OM-5 is identical with the E-M5 Mark III. Only the silver variant has a black instead of a silver on / off switch. The advantage is that a E-M5 Mark III user who upgrades doesn’t have to learn how to use the camera again. A critique, the change in usage of successors, which you can read in a lot of forums, is therefore invalid. But also a lot of the inside has not changed. Instead of utilising the new menu system, the OM-5 comes with the one from its predecessor E-M5 Mark III. Both is one of the critique points in the media. In my opinion there is a good and a bad side. On on hand the well known handling stays the same, on the other side innovation and process is not possible. To decide whether this is good or bad is on your side.
Process without process
Beside the design and user interface a lot of hardware components are the same as of the E-M5 Mark III. Sensor. Wifi, autofocus system, battery and interfaces has not renewed at all. Only image processor and built-in image stabilisation has been updated. Both are the base of the new functionality of the OM-5. This are computational functions as Live ND and handheld HighRes shot. Both functions need the higher performance of the TruePic IX and are therefore not possible by a simple firmware update of the E-M5 Mark III.
The improved image stabilisation enables longer exposure times without tripod, but is not as good as the stabilisation of the OM-1. This is for sure to differentiate the to models. All of this is in the class of the OM-5 innovative. Looking on the available technology is this state of the art or even old technology. The sensor for example is already available since available and for sure not the newest techology in the market. The sensor has been introduced 2016 and is therefore 6 years old, which is for sensors a very long time.
My rating of the OM System OM-5
The OM-5 is no flagship model, where the price is not that important, but should be the profit contributor camera for OM Digitalsolutions. The sold quantities must be higher to have a healthy user bace for OM System cameras. Therefore the development cost and manufacturer cost has to be balanced. As in other industries OM Digitalsolutions is using already available components. The R&D cost are already paid.
Principally nothing wrong with this, but the question is who is the traget group of this camera. Users who already have a E-M5 Mark III do have only few reasons upgrade to the new camera. The news are, in my opinion, not big enough. Users of other camera brands are not highly motivated to change. There are some features which are not available at the competition, but this is not enough. Users of other brands has to change the lenses as well. This generates additional costs and the price of the camera is not cheap.
The Panasonic users are the only remaining ones. At least those who own a Micro Four Thirds system. In addition there are the E-M10 Mark IV and PEN E-P7 users. Those users are the ones in danger to leave the camera industry. Cameras of smartphones are getting better and the majority of the E-M10 Mark IV and PEN E-P7 users do not understand the advantage to change lenses and use different focal length. I doubt, that those users will pay the price for the OM-5
In my opinion it will be hard to sell the OM System OM-5. It is a camera between the flagship model OM-1, which has the news features, and the much cheaper E-M10 Mark IV. Users, who want to have the latest features will by the OM-1. Is price priority the E-M10 Mark IV is the choice. This phenomenon is not unique for OM Digital Solutions, but shows the big issue of the camera industry. After years of massive innovations and the development of new sensors is now the development of camera technologies limited. Nowadays it is not possible anymore to introduce every 1-2 years big innovations steps, which makes technic fans happy.
Detailed technical reviews of the OM System OM-5
- Mirrorless Comparison has a nice comparision between E-M5 Mark III and the OM-5 as well as a comparison of the OM-1 with the OM-5
- A classic website for reviews is Dpreview who writes about their first impressions of OM-5.
Your opinions counts.
I’m happy about your opinion. Please leave it in the comments. I will read them and looking forward to discuss them with you. How is the future of the camera industry in general and how do you see the future of OM Digitalsolutions.