The long-awaited return of affordable mirrorless cameras looks likely to continue this year, with the rumored OM System OM-5 getting a possible launch date for its potential battle with the Canon EOS R7.
The OM-5 is expected to be the cheaper sibling of the OM System OM-1, which is one of the best mirrorless cameras we've seen in 2022. And the usually reliable 43Rumors claims the new camera "will be announced in late September and start to ship in October".
The site has backed up it claims by saying that it's "now 99.9% sure OM Digital will announce the new OM-5 in late September", so this isn't a wild rumor. The launch would also make sense as the company's second new camera since it officially bought the Olympus camera division in January 2021.
While the OM-5 isn't expected to be a direct successor to the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, it will likely perform a similar role to that camera in the OM System lineup – namely being a mid-range option for those who can't stretch to the flagship model. If so, that would put it on a collision course with the Canon EOS R7, which is the new mid-range model in Canon's EOS R range.
Right now, we don't have any rumored OM System OM-5 specs to go on, but we can make a few educated guesses about what we might be able to expect from it, come September. It seems likely that the camera will inherit the OM-1's new 20MP Micro Four Thirds stacked sensor, which we found delivered much-improved AF performance compared to earlier Olympus cameras.
This sensor also powers speedy burst mode shooting speeds of up to 50fps in its silent electronic mode, or 120fps with fixed focus. Where exactly the OM-5 will cut corners in order to get that lower price tag isn't clear, but in the past the E-M5 series has done this in areas like the EVF (electronic viewfinder), video performance and the inclusion of only a single card slot.
Still, if OM Digital manages to pack similar computational photography smarts and autofocus powers to the OM-1 into a smaller, more affordable package, then it could have another Micro Four Thirds winner on its hands.
Analysis: The fight for the middle ground
At the start of 2022, we feared there might be a permanent hole left in the middle of the mirrorless camera market, with manufacturers focusing on full-frame flagships and smartphones continuing to evolve into hobbyist cameras. But this year we've been pleasantly surprised by the arrival of new mid-range models – and the OM System OM-5 could potentially be one of the strongest.
During our OM System OM-1 review, we became convinced that the camera's phone-style computational tricks – like Live ND, Focus Stacking and High Res Shot – are the future of mirrorless cameras. The OM-1 still has its flaws, like its average subject-tracking autofocus, but if the rumored OM-5 can inherit its many good sides, then it could be a fine new choice for travel or wildlife shooters.
That said, the Canon EOS R7 and cheaper EOS R10 are also shaping up to be fine new options in this space. We haven't been able to fully test either of those cameras yet, but during our hands-on Canon EOS R7 review we were mighty impressed by its autofocus performance, not to mention the potential value offered by its $1,499 / £1,349 / AU$2,349 body-only price tag.
With other rivals like the Fujifilm X-H2 likely to launch in September, it looks like that price point will be the main battleground for mirrorless cameras this year. And if that's understandably still too expensive in these tricky financial times, then buying a second-hand DSLR or mirrorless camera is still a good option to consider.