Review: Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-T 100mm 1:2

Olympus_Zuiko_100mmf2-1-7

The Olympus OM 100mm 1:2 is by some margin the best manual portrait lens I have used on my Sony a7. Read on if you want to know why.

Specifications

Diameter 72 mm
Length 72 mm
Filter Thread 55 mm
Weight 520 g
Max. Magnification 0.2
Close Focusing Distance from the sensor 70 cm
Number of aperture blades 9
Elements/ Groups 7/6, floating elements
The Olympus OM 2/100 usually sells for around $750 used at ebay.com (affiliate link). 
In Germany you can buy it used for around 650 at ebay.de (affiliate link). 

Image Samples

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-7

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-48

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-50

Versions

As far as I know there was only one version of this lens introduced around 1980.

Build quality and handling

Olympus_Zuiko_100mmf2-2
The Olympus’ handling and build quality is pretty much perfect.

The lens is made from metal, glass and some rubber (which has aged very well). Everything moves smoothly without play and all the markings are engraved.

Focusing Ring

The focusing ring travels around 100 degrees from 70cm  to 1m and a further 190 degrees to infinity which is a great transmission, the focusing is precise at any distance without being too indirect.

The focusing ring is very smooth, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Aperture

The aperture ring has full stops from f/2.0 to f/22 and those have a very distinctive click. Unlike with Canon FD or Minolta FD lenses the aperture ring sits at the front of the lens. I think it is pretty much perfect, only Zeiss C/Y lenses are a little bit nicer because it is easier to select half stops with them (which I hardly ever do).

The Olympus OM 2/100 has nine slightly rounded aperture blades.

Hood

The Olympus OM 100mm 1:2 has a small extending hood which extends about 1 cm but it moves a bit too freely for my taste.

Size and Weight

At 520g the Olympus is light enough to not fall into my heavy category. That doesn’t mean that it is a light lens but handling is generally fine on the Sony a7ii.

Olympus_Zuiko_100mmf2-3

Recommended Repair Facility

My copy developed some issues with the focus, most probably because a previous owner had tinkered with it. After a recommendation of loyal reader Tim I sent it to OM-Lab and Gordon did a splendid job at repairing it and gave it a complete CLA for a more than fair price.

We also had a longer conversation about OM lenses and he really knows his stuff. So if you have any issues with an Olympus OM lens I can only recommend to give him a call or sent him a mail.

Optical performance

These results are based on the use with a Sony Alpha 7.

Flare Resistance

Not the best performance: You can’t shoot directly into the sun because you get ugly flares but with not that powerful light sources there is only a moderate drop in contrast and little flare.

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-3

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-25

Bokeh

Bokeh is one of the biggest strengths of this lens, it is just always super smooth.

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-56

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-11

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-51

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-53

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-27

As you stop down the aperture stays pretty round.

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-13

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-54
actually f/2.8

Chromatic Aberrations

There is a moderate amount of lateral CA.

lateraca
100% crop from the corner

Axial chromatic aberrations  can be an issue with metallic objects, despite the ED glass. Compared to most other portrait lenses the performance in this aspect is quite decent actually, many lenses show worse CA.

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-45

ca
100% crop from the image above

Vignetting

Vignetting at f/2 is noticeable, from f/2.8 on it is a no-issue.

Olympus_Zuiko_100mmf2-infinity

Distortion

A small amount of pincushion distortion.olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2

Sharpness

olympus_om_100mmf2

f/2: The Olympus is very sharp in the center and the corners are sharp as well!

f/2.8: The center is excellent now with more contrast and less CA. Corners are sharp but don’t have the best micro-contrast.

f/4-5.6: Not much of a change.

f/8: A significant improvement in the corners which are quite good but still not great now.

f/11: Diffraction reduces image quality to very good levels, the corners gain a little though

All in all a stellar performance, especially at f/2.

Photodo has a MTF graph for the Olympus 2/100 if you are interested.

Applications

The Olympus Om 2/100 is the ideal portrait lens: I is sharp across the frame from f/2 so you can place your subject anywhere in the frame, bokeh is among the best I have ever seen and the focusing ring is a pleasure to use. It is also fast enough to isolate your subject from the background completely.

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-15

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-16

The Olympus works well enough as a landscape lens but not as well as say a Zeiss 3.5/100 which is lighter, has a little more contrast, more effective coatings and sharper corners.

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-49

The Olympus is great for nature images because you can get quite close thanks to it’s close focusing abilities, can play with shallow depth of field and have a very pleasant focus ring.

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-57

 Alternatives

  • Minolta MC 2.5/100: Much more affordable, a little lighter, a little smaller. It isn’t as sharp or contrasty wide open, has somewhat dated coatings and a close focusing distance of 1.2 but for portraits it is simply a great performer.
  • Zeiss Makro Planar 2/100: A bit bigger and heavier and not nearly as pleasant to focus but it it is even more versatile because it focuses closer. It is the sharpest lens I have ever used which you will notice especially in the corners and it’s coatings are more effective as well giving you less flare and higher contrast. The Olympus has less CA and a little smoother bokeh though and I use it much more than the Zeiss.
  • Tokina 2.5/90 Macro: One of my other all time favorite manual lenses. Of course it isn’t as fas so it will give you less subject isolation and it’s coatings are less effective. Apart from that it is a little sharper with less CA and of course it focuses closer. Size, weight and bokeh are close.
  • Laowa 2/105 STF: Free from CA and super smooth bokeh (in most scenarios) but quite a bit larger and very susceptible to flare.
  • Zeiss C/Y 3.5/100Less expensive, smaller, lighter and a tad sharper with more effective coatings but of course also 1.5 stops slower, doesn’t focus as close and has only 6 aperture blades.
  • Review: Leica 90mm 2.0 Summicron M: Bastian’s go-to portrait lens is even more expensive but it is smaller and has a Leica badge. The Olympus focuses much closer, is sharp across the frame at f/2 and has no issues with the shape of the aperture blades.
  • Zeiss Batis 1.8/85: Jannik’s go-to portrait lens is also more expensive but where the Olympus is good to very good across the frame wide open the Zeiss is very good to excellent and of course it offers AF, higher contrast, better flare resistance and better CA correction. I think it’s bokeh isn’t as nice as that of the Olympus though and it doesn’t focus as close plus manual focus with the Zeiss is annoying.The Zeiss is a bit lighter and shorter but fatter.
  • Canon new FD 2/100: Not quite as sharp but close and it is a bit smaller and usually quite a bit more affordable.
  • Canon EF 2/100: While the Olympus is sharp across the frame the Canon is only very sharp in the center at f/2 but it is affordable, readily available and can use AF with adapters. The Olympus’ build quality is of course on another level.

Conclusion

pros

  • Sharp across the frame from f/2
  • Very pleasant bokeh
  • Build quality
  • Handling
  • Focuses to 0.7m
  • Size (for a 2/100)
average

  • Weight
cons

  • axial CA
  • Price (if you can find one)
  • Flare resistance

The Olympus OM 100mm 1:2 is a pretty spectacular lens optically. Most faster portrait lenses are only sharp in the center wide open but the Olympus is actually sharp from corner to corner and also has pretty spectacular bokeh. The only aberration which can sometimes be annoying is axial CA but that is very common for a fast 100 mm lens.

It is built to the highest standards, focuses down to 0.7m, has 9 aperture blades and is still quite small for what it does so I can only compliment Olympus on the construction of this lens.

The Olympus 2/100 is a rare lens and anything but cheap.  I was lucky to get my own copy very cheap but should I break it I would be willing to pay the usual prices since I like this lens so much.

The Olympus OM 100mm 1:2 is one of my all time favorite lenses because it performs well in about any aspect that matters. Many lenses are spectacular in one aspect but lacking in other areas and it is rare to find a lens as well balanced as the Olympus.

The Olympus OM 2/100 usually sells for around $750 used at ebay.com (affiliate link). 
In Germany you can buy it used for around 650 at ebay.de (affiliate link). 
If this review was helpful to you, please consider using one of my affiliate links. Thanks 🙂

Images Samples in full resolution

You can find more images in this flickr set: Olympus OM 100mm 1:2.0

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-26

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-29  olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-9

olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-5  olympus_om_zuiko_100mmf2-23

Other articles

The following two tabs change content below.
I like to be outside with my camera and I am also a gear head with a love for manual lenses.

Latest posts by Phillip Reeve (see all)

52 thoughts on “Review: Olympus OM Zuiko Auto-T 100mm 1:2”

  1. Excellent review. I am one that loves the OM lenses to use on my A7 series bodies (brought some to Iceland myself).

    Keep it up and bring more of these reviews please. The 35mm 3.5 and 24mm 2.8 come to mind.

    PS. This review is marked as uncategorized and the only way I found it was from my RSS reader.

  2. Really interesting lens, and as usual, very useful review !
    (I bought my first manual lense thanks to your reviews, a Minolta MC 55mm 1.7, that I love and keep using all the time)

    In the 100mm focal range, I use the Nikon Ai 105mm 2.5, which is, in my opinion, a very good performer, and which is pretty cheap.
    Have you considered reviewing it one day ? I’d be curious to read your opinion on it.

    PS : Same problem than Pac Man, the review doesn’t appear on the main page…

    1. I have an extensive comparison coming up which will probably include the Nikon.

      The Review isn’t offcially published yet and not quite final. I installed a plugin to hide it because I wanted to get an opinion on it from someone before publishing it. Did you get here trough the RSS reader?

      1. No, I don’t use RSS.
        The link to the review appears in the Recent Posts section on the left, when you read an article.

        Can’t wait to read the comparison !

  3. Phillip, as always, you’re reviews are excellent. I feel your images are particularly strong in this review. I think the Minolta 100 f2 is quite a good lens, and very much up you’re alley–it’s compact, smooth bokeh, minimal fringing, sharp WO, great color, good flare resistance, typical vingetting, decently priced, about 500g, can be used with a dummy adapter or with AF and is about as compact as the Oly 100 f2. For the A7 series, the Olympus 100 f2 and Minolta 100 f2 are the best 2 capable compact fast 100’s I’ve used. I think you’d love it.

    After owning the Mino, ZF, Oly, and Contax 100 f2, I think the Mino and Oly are the best on the a7 series.

    Thanks for your consistent contributions and excellence.

    1. thanks 🙂
      As said in the review: It is a great lens, one of my favorites and I have owned it for nearly a year which gave me a wide selection of decent pictures. I am still on the fence whether to keep the Makro Planar.

        1. want to swap your for my MP100? I wouldn’t hesitate for a second. At the current prices it isn’t that hard to resist it even though I am sure that I would enjoy it a whole lot.

          1. No-I had the MP and I like the other 100s I mentioned better. But I am in the process of getting a CV 125, so if you’d like to try it/review it, I could probably loan it to you. You’re based in Germany, correct?

  4. I concur with all you’ve said Phillip, one of my favourites too, as you know. ( I also agree, the small, loose hood, isn’t much use.)
    Just a pity mine has that softer left edge….one day I may try to find another….but you realise a review like this will make them even more expensive!
    The bokeh on every photo here pleases, which is rare.
    You have some great characters in sheep portraits too, especially the last one. Do you have a rare breeds farm nearby? ;o)
    I’ve just acquired an interesting Vivitar Close Focussing 135/2.8, in great, as-new condition. Komine made, so of good quality construction. Rare, highly praised and much sought after, (yet only £105!)
    Bokeh seems lovely (8 blade), and 1:2 focussing at 0.6m, with 480º turn (double helicoids), 425g.
    Made 1975-81, so a downside seems to be that it’s only single coated (I’m guessing, from the blue and gold reflections in the elements.) I’m looking forward to giving it a try.
    (I blame GAS ;o))

  5. Great review!
    I love my OM lenses. I’ve got the 28 f3.5, 35 f2.8, 135 f2.8, 200 f4.
    35 and 135 f2.8 both achieve very good results with my A7.
    Thank you very much for such an amazing blog (you decided me to buy my A7 and this was clearly my best purchase of the year!)

      1. I have a 24 2.8 , 35 2.0, 35 2.8, 50 1.4 , 85 2.0 and a A7 and I’m pleased with the results . so if you like to make a review with one of the above lenses just get in touch 😉

          1. So which lenses OM we will see in the future 35 mm and 24 mm? Or the famous 21 mm :)) I think the OM MF zuiko lenses are the best and cheapest option to hold the system small .

  6. Thank you for these reviews! You’ve convinced me to try (and when possible buy with your affiliate links) some of these old lenses (and new ones like the CV 35/1.7). Your reviews and encouragement to try these gems has changed my eye and photography for the better in the last months, and I’ve been photographing for a long time.

    I wonder if you have compared this 100 to the Zukio 90/2 macro? I’ve been enjoying the Bokina a lot lately, but I can imagine some potential for upgrading (f4). I know nothing is perfect though.

    I also used (and carelessly lost in the field) the Zukio 85/2, which is tiny and lightweight. Though I rejected it for general use (the corners never get great, for one thing), the bokeh was great and in some cases uniquely great. For example this image I also tried with other lenses including various 85/90s, and nothing drew it quite like the Zukio 85/2.

    Also in this focal length range I’m finding the Nikon 85 1.8D to be good and generally underappreciated. It’s relatively lightweight, sharp (though not great wide open) and the bokeh is generally quite good (though blurred specular highlights can be ugly). I’m guessing it’s maybe not as pleasing as this Olympus 100 (and not as expensive).

    Also, I’d suggest you test, if you haven’t, the Zukio 50/1.4 (the one to get is I believe the third series, MC, with a serial number of 1,xxx,xxx). This is currently the 50 I use most these days. It’s quite sharp, the bokeh is generally great, and the general rendering is very pleasing to me.

    1. That’s great to hear 🙂

      I haven’t compared them but I have a very extensive comparison from a reader with them, just need to find the time to figure out how to turn that into a post.

      The OM 1.4/50 >1 mio is on my radar and OM lenses are quite high on my priority list right now but I have half a dozen other Om’s which come first.

    2. I owned both the 90/2 and the 100/2 at the same time. The 100 is sharper at infinity and the 90 is sharper at close range, but perfectly usable for portraits or landscapes as well, f/2 does make a difference, just lovely rendering.
      In short, both are top-tier lenses, the 90/2 might be a bit more special considering its speed, but the 100/2 is a bit lighter and easier to handle.

      1. Re, padam’s comments on the 100/2 and 90/2: With my copies, the 90/2 is sharper in every respect, but I suspect my 100/2 isn’t the best copy, whilst my 90/2 is a stunning copy.
        They’re so expensive to keep trying different copies!
        Especially as the price of the 100/2 has increased a lot since the A7 series was released.

  7. Hi, nice review as always.
    Do you have any new manual lens scheduled for review? I’m trying to find more good info on SLR Magic trio (1.1/50, 1.2/35 and 1.4/75) but couldn’t find any review.

  8. I know your comparisons are meant to be brief, but I’ll add that the Bokina does not have round bokeh balls except wide open, and as you point out in your Bokina review (thanks for that!) the bokeh balls at f4 are kind of problematic. I really love the Bokina, but sometimes I use something else when I want to stop down a little and I know the Bokina will end up with obvious aperture shapes in the bokeh. Also, the Bokina is much cheaper than this Zukio!

  9. Yeah, the Bokina in general is so lovely and it usually still is pretty wonderful even with the aperture shape. But lately I have some work that has reflections off of water and light through autumn leaves where I am finding them distracting sometimes. I think my best images from the Bokina are wide open, even though I very often make exposures from wide open through f8. I often skip f4 or throw those out. I just ran across a really lovely exposure where the f4 gear aperture is really big and nasty, but luckily I also had a wide open version of it. If I could have the Bokina but with round bokeh balls I would consider it an upgrade for sure.

  10. Great review, and makes me miss the feel of my OMs. The Zuiko 21/3.5 is another stellar performer, although like the 100/2, 90/2 and some other classics, the current prices reflect this now that it has been re-discovered.

  11. I just got an “excellent” copy of the Zuiko 90/2 on sale from KEH last week at a good price. I haven’t had a chance to test centering or to really tell how it performs at infinity, but so far I’m pretty sure I can say the bokeh is nicer than the Bokina, and it is sharp with nice colors at closer distances. I’d be interested to compare it to this 100/2 at infinity, but I don’t imagine I’ll have a chance any time to soon.

    1. You may not have all that long to wait John, to see just such a comparison, as I have inside information on something Phillip is currently working on, that features all three lenses you mention ;o)
      (I hope Phillip doesn’t mind my “leaking” that.)

  12. Could you please let me know which of the following lenses are your recommendation for sony a7ii:
    1- OLYMPUS OM 100MM 1:2
    2- LAOWA STF 105MM F2.0 (T3.2)
    I really appreciate you useful reviews.

  13. Do you know of any comparisons between the Canon nFD 100mm f2 and the Olympus? I couldn’t find any. Can you make one please? 🙂

  14. Having read your October 2016 review of the Olympus 100mm F2 lens – I have one of these that has been stored away since late 1980s – I bought in Japan in 1984 for use with my OM camera.
    This lens is “As New” as I have kept it in it’s lovely leather pouch (Came with the purchase) and has both lens and coupling cover + screw on lens protector). I no longer have the requirement for this lens – I loved this lens which is why I’ve kept it all these years.
    Anyway I will be willing to part with it and request your suggestion as to where to place it for sale. I’ve checked EBay and there’s only 1 which is very poor condition and selling at £300!!! I saw your note about $750 used

  15. Hi Phillip, have grown to love reading your reviews and genuinely probably spend too much time reading them. They have been very informative.

    I actually picked up the Minolta MC 58 1.2 recently and adore it already.

    Have you used any Pentax lenses? I have the 135 2.8 Chinon and would be curious your thoughts on how the Olympus compares. I’ve been impressed with that 135mm lens but only in very limited use, so I am very curious.

    Let me know your thoughts.

  16. Hi Phillip,

    Recently stumbled upon your reviews, as I have recently joined the A7 family.

    I was wondering whether you have ever tried/reviewed the Zeiss Planar T* 85/1.4, and how you would compare it to the Zuiko 100/2.

    The Zuiko is hard to get by, and a lot of photographers in my circle swear by the Zeiss 85. However, I seem to much prefer the aesthetics produced by the Zuiko 100/2.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *