Presently there are 3 iterations of the E-M5 camera; the original E-M5, E-M5 II and the E-M5 III. Olympus kept that nice and simple for us.
When I purchased the Olympus E-M1 camera I thought it produced the best looking images I had seen up to that point. Then came the E-M5 and the E-M5 II. I looked at the images again and thought they were much better than the E-M1 in my opinion. Whay? I think it has something to do with the colours. Many would say there is no difference, Olympus colours are Olympus colours. I'm of the opinion that all cameras are different and there wil be a difference within each model brought to market.
Granted the ergonimocs of the E-M1 is better for the larger lenses (more grip to hold the camera steady) but using the smaller lenses like I do most of the time, I would pick the E-M5 series every time.
The present E-M1 is also in it's third iteration but now we have the OM Systems coming out with their own brand of the camera. I stayed with the original E-M1 and I'm not going to be upgrading that any time soon, if ever. Personally I'm not impressed with the price of the new OM cameras. The OM-1 retails presently for €2100. Too expensive for my taste. I don't really need the OM-1, it's too much of beast. After all, I'm just an amateur who enjoys photography.
I think we must ask the question of whether OM Systems will still be there much longer. I don't think they'll survive unless they bring in some inovation, and if you ask me, bring their prices down. The same question has to be asked of Panasonic too of course but they have evolved and have introduced their full frame "S" series of cameras and have prioritised video in their class leading GH series of cameras. I think Panasonic will be out of the small format MFT cameras in the next couple of years. If you look at the timeline of camera releases, the last video centric camera they brought out was in 2020 with the G100 which was really a vlogging camera. Their last small format image camera was in 2018 with their ZS80 (TZ95). I think they may already have called it a day with this format. But, just because these cameras are old (by todays standards) they still work and still take good images. I still have many older cameras on my shelves and they all still work and take great imges. They please my eye and I will keep on using them until they break. The same goes for every manufacturer of course. You can't buy a bad camera today, people just like using one camera over another.
Let's take a quick look at the original E-M5. Announced in February 2012 it was, and still is, a very good looking camera.
The original Olympus E-M5 with the underrated Olympus 9-18 f4-5.6
Dimensions: 122 x 89 x 43mm
IBIS - 5-axis
Processor: TruePic VI
Price (second-hand): €200
Looking at the second-hand price above, I would have to say there are better alternatives today for that price, especially since you can pick-up a second-hand E-M5 II for €300.
Interestingly enough Olympus decided to use the same battery as in the E-M1, namely the BLN-1 which was a bigger battery allowing for more images per charge. The following images were taken in France. It was the only wedding I did there as a favour to some friends.
A macro lens is not only for macro images.
I find all Olympus cameras work extremely well with this
Panasonic lens. One of the best combinations I use with these
cameras. The lens size is smaller and lighter than
the Olympus counterpart.
This was taken with the E-M5 and Olympus 75 f1.8 lens.
The lens is a little heavy for this camera but manageable.
Taken with the E-M5 and the Panasonic 35-100 f2.8 lens.
This is the partner of the 12-35 f2.8. Both really execellent
lenses and I use them extensively on the Olympus cameras.
Looking at the specs and features of the E-M5 you would have to say it is purely a stills camera. Since I have one I will be keeping it as the image quality is still good and is a pleasing camera to use.
Now let's have a look at the E-M5II
The camera and lens above is my favourite combination of all time.
The E-M5 II mounting the Panasonic Leica 12-35 f2.8. What a combination. I dare anyone to find a better MFT combination. Simply fantastic. The 12-35 is of course the equivalent of 24-70 on FF. I seem to prefer using Panasonic lenses on Olympus cameras. Whatever works right?
Olympus E-M5 II
Dimensions: 124 x 85 x 45mm
IBIS - Yes
Processor: TruePic VII
Price: New: €920 / Second-hand: €300
Announced in February 2015, exactly 3 years after the introduction of the E-M5. In my opinion, this camera is the best looking and best image producing camera in my MFT arsenal. It is pleasing to hold, IBIS is the best out there and it makes you want to get out and take some pictures with it. Again, it is not the best if you have long and heavy lenses but I love mine and will never sell it. If you look at the price above, it is a little ont he expensive side if bought new but I can really recommend it it second-hand. A price of €300 is a real bargain. Highly recommended.
Now for the E-M5 III.
Olympus E-M5 III
Dimensions: 125 x 85 x 50mm
IBIS - Yes (6.5 stops is impressive)
Processor: TruePic VIII
Price: New: €950 / Second-hand: €800
Announced in October 2019 I think Olympus took a step back with this camera. It feels a little in the hand and construction doesn't feel as good. The difference of 55gr between the E-M5 II and this one really makes a difference for me. The E-M5 III contains a little more plastic. They probably wanted to reduce the weight so they also went back to the battery used in the E-M10 series of cameras. It's the BLS-50 but can be interchanged with the BLS-5. That does of course recuce the amount of images possible per charge but personally I have had good expeience with all of the Olympus batteries. I always get more images per charge than the officially stated amount.
Good points for this camera apart from IBIS is the increase in focus points to 121. That is about it really. Viewfinder and screen haven't increased in resolution really, which is a real shame. At the time of writig this post, and looking at the prices, I would go for a second-hand E-M5 II if I was interested in these cameras.
It does have the 20MP sensor and 6.5 stops of IBIS performance. Nothing to be sniffed at. Since I've only had the E-M5 III a few days, I needed some test images for this post, so don't take the following very seriously, they are only test images.
I must say I like the way this lens renders on these little cameras.
After using the E-M5 III on just one outing I've come to the conclusion it feels exactly the same as the E-M5 II in the hand. The only difference in reality will be the 20MP of the E-M5 III over the 16MP of the E-M5 II and the better construction of the E-M5 II.