Short Review: Olympus OM Zuiko MC 100mm 1:2.8

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The Olympus OM 100mm 1:2.8 is a tiny lens and yet a solid performer. In this shorter review I give you my impressions.

Specifications

Diameter 60 mm
Length 50 mm
Filter Thread 49 mm
Weight 230 g
Max. Magnification 0.12
Close Focusing Distance from the sensor 1 m
Number of aperture blades 6
Elements/ Groups 5/5
The Olympus OM 2.8/100 usually sells for around $90 used at ebay.com (affiliate link). 
In Germany you can buy it used for around 90 at ebay.de (affiliate link). 

Image Samples

Just click on any image to get to the full resolution version.

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What I like about it

With this review I try a little different format, any feedback on it is welcome.

The small size

This lens is absolutely tiny for a 100 mm lens! It is the size of your average 50 mm lens and weights a mere 230 g .

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This doesn’t come at the cost of lower build quality though, it is an all metal construction with a pleasant focusing ring and it feels very solid.

Despite it’s small size handling is good:  The focusing ring is wide enough and the aperture ring at the front is easy to operate as well.

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The Olympus is one of my favorite lenses for shorter trips when I want a light 3 lens setup and it is by some margin my lightest and smallest option in the 85-100mm bracket.

Bokeh

The Olympus OM 2.8/100’s bokeh isn’t as stunning as that of it’s bigger brother the OM 2/100 but still quite pleasant and you still get a decent amount of blur out of it.

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f/2.8

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A minor annoyance is that it has only 6 rather straight aperture blades which are detrimental to the bokeh from f/ but since I usually use it at f/2.8 that isn’t much of an issue.

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Sharpness

Again the little Zuiko isn’t the sharpest lens around but it is a solid performer. Wide open it is sharp enough for almost any application and for general shooting it is my default aperture. For the very best results across the frame you should stop down to f/8 though.

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Flare resistance

This lens is still 30 old but at least the MC version I own shows a decent flare resistance. There is no ghosting and only a moderate degree of veiling flare in very demanding situations.

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Other aspects

Distortion and Vignetting are not an issue with the Olympus OM 2.8/100

What I don’t like about it

Chromatic Aberrations

Typically for a lens in this focal range the Olympus OM 100 mm 1:2.8  shows quite a bit of CA at wider apertures. This is a worst case scenario and if you have a look at all the other samples you will see that it usually isn’t a problem but you should be aware of this and avoid critical situations.

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100% crop from the image above

The long short focusing distance

The Zuiko 2.8/100 only focuses down to 1 m which yields a 1:8 magnification which is below average for a 85/100 mm lens. It’s bigger brother for example focuses down to 0.7 m which is quite handy.

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The good news is that there is hardly any sharpness loss at this distance and you can use it wide open without hesitation.

Alternatives

  • Olympus OM 100mm 1:2: It’s bigger brother is more than twice as heavy and many times as expensive. It is also one of my all-time favorite lenses. Optically it is a little sharper at f/2 than the f/2.8 version is at f/2.8 with less corner falloff. It also has a number of features like 9 (vs 6) aperture blades, floating elements and a short focusing distance of 0.7 m (vs 1 m) the 2.8 version lacks.
  • Zeiss C/Y 3.5/100The slower Zeiss weights a little more (but needs an smaller adapter) and costs significantly more but it offers better sharpness and more effective coatings making it an attractive option for those who are interested mainly in landscape photography. One of Jannik’s favorite lenses.
  • Minolta MC 2.5/100: It plays in the same price league and has an even longer mfd of 1.2 m. Since it is quite a bit older the coatings are less effective and it flares much more easily and contrast especially wide open is a bit lower but I think its bokeh is a bit nicer and I prefer it for portraits.
  • Zeiss Makro Planar 2/100: Whereas the Olympus is optimized for size and a solid but not in any way exceptional performer the Zeiss is it’s antithesis: It is large, expensive and an exceptional performer. Sadly though it shares the Olympus’ CA issues.
  • Tokina 2.5/90 Macro: One of my all time favorite manual lenses. It is significantly larger and more expensive than the Olympus but it has less CA, even better bokeh and it is quite a bit sharper.

Conclusion

The Olympus OM 2.8/100 is a tiny lens with a generally good performance and few limitations. I think it is a great choice for those occasions when you don’t want to carry a heavy bag. Despite these positive characteristics, the lens is quite affordable and I think it offers great value.

The Olympus OM 2.8/100 usually sells for around $90 used at ebay.com (affiliate link). 
In Germany you can buy it used for around 90 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 1:2.8

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I like to be outside with my camera and I am also a gear head with a love for manual lenses.

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14 thoughts on “Short Review: Olympus OM Zuiko MC 100mm 1:2.8”

  1. The OM 85/2 mc also has a very good reputation, (a revised design on the earlier sc version, which is less impressive), and is very similar in size and weight to this 100/2.8, at only 60mm wide x 45mm long and 260g, plus a slightly shorter min foc 0.85m and 8 aperture blades!
    All this is hearsay though, as I’m still looking for one ;o)

      1. Thank you! I’m not too interested in modern lenses due to the prices and manual focusing experience. Currently, I’m using the Sony 28-70 kit lens and would like to upgrade. I’m trying to decide between the Zeiss 28mm f2.8 c/y and the Pentax K 28mm f3.5. I’m leaning towards the Zeiss because I can’t find a Pentax in good condition; however, I’m worried about the corner sharpness when stopped down. How would these three lenses compare in terms of corner sharpness and flare resistance? Thanks again for all of your help.

  2. Hi Phillip,
    Any news for any other OM lenses as you promised in the last threads?
    Like 35mm 2.0 or 2.8 , 24 mm , and the 85 mm 2.0 ? Would be cool to get your opinion and results. Best Andy

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