Hate It

... Journal Entry

There are a shedload of vehement micro four thirds haters out there who would like nothing more than to see the format die, but there is one excellent MFT camera that even the supporters of the format love to hate. They should know better!

A vociferous and aggressive cabal from the full frame format crowd in particular seem threatened by MFT for some strange reason and cannot refrain from hammering away at anything and everything and indeed everyone associated with the format. Strangely though, they are ably aided and abetted in this by a lot of the MFT community itself when it comes to the OM System OM-5.

Now this is nuts because this is a great little camera. I have owned and used one for well over a year now and can vouch for how good it is in its role as a lightweight, carry everywhere, weatherproof, powerful, highly capable, adventure travel camera. It is brilliant!

There was a but, and it was a big but when it was launched, and that was expectation management by OM System themselves; there wasn't any. There was a big gap between what OM System were offering which was in reality an improved version of the old flagship Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III shoehorned into the body shell of the old OM-D E-M5 Mark III. I mean how neat was that? However they did not explain it this way and worse still they called it the OM-5 giving it the wrong connection rather then delineating it say as an OM-4 maybe.

Not-with-standing this what the MFT community were really hoping to see was in essence a mini-OM-1, so it still might have been somewhat of a disappointment but at least a mini-E-M1+ shrunk into a small package and called an OM-4 would have been a great story to tell, and easier to sell and also closer to what they had actually achieved. Maybe they were frightened this would have cannibalised some of the sales of the new flagship OM-1 or maybe it was just a missed opportunity or maybe they just didn't realise what they had actually achieved?

What made things worse, this new 'OM-5' was the first camera from OM System that did not have the Olympus name on the front (unlike the OM-1 which was the last camera where the Olympus name was allowed to be carried over) but rather their own OM System badge and the shock of this was psychologically difficult for most everyone. There were howls of anguish and, though unavoidable, it hurt the OM-5 a lot. Even the recently released OM-1 II (the upgrade to the much loved OM-1) is now also branded OM System and this still caused fleeting comments of regret on the passing of the Olympus name, so you can imagine how tough it was for the little OM-5 being first.

So there was huge disappointment for many, especially after the "kerpow" impact that the then still recent OM-1 caused when it was launched, as the OM-5 limped onto the market without proper positioning and giving out all the wrong messages. Punters demanded to know: Where was the new sensor from the OM-1? Where was the new menu system also from the OM-1? Where were the AI subject tracking modes from the OM-1? Where was the improved handling and ergonomics from the OM-1?

Surely this much expected new camera should have been, as mentioned before, a mini-OM-1 maybe called an OM-3 say? OK, maybe not as highly specced as the OM-1 obviously (smaller buffer, not as fast, single card slot etc, etc) after all this a mid-range camera, but never-the-less recognisably part of a new stable of cameras, not visibly what everyone took it to be and what OMS launched it as - just an upgrade of the old Olympus EM-5 III. The marketing of the OM-5 was lamentable and a big misfire, and as a result many reviewers had a real go at the camera and taking their cue from this a great many of the MFT community followed suit and piled on in.

Which was sad, as this seemingly born to be hated camera was and continues to be a great and powerful little machine. If you're in the market for the best walkabout, adventure travel, all weather, highly portable, highly capable camera that's crammed with great tech as well as flagship computational functionality, at a mid-range camera price point, then the OM System OM-5 is it. Hate it? No, I love mine and use it a lot. But it remains greatly misunderstood!