Olympus 70mm F/2 F.Zuiko Auto-T Lens Review

A Fancy Half-Frame Portrait Lens

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Olympus PEN-F, PEN FT, and PEN FV were some of the most capable half-frame cameras ever built. Who wouldn’t want a beautiful, high-quality SLR with a huge selection of lenses capable of doubling the number of pictures per roll? Besides, professional-grade film stocks like Kodak Ektachrome already have a great resolution, especially when digitized with a good scanner.

The 70mm (~100mm full-frame equiv.) Olympus 𝒇2 F.Zuiko Auto-T lens is a prime specimen out of the expansive Olympus PEN SLR lens portfolio. Its long focal length and relatively wide maximum aperture make this lens fantastic at background separation, which is great for portrait photography.

Lens size, weight, and specifications.

The focal length alone makes this lens appear remarkable in the world of half-frame film cameras. The only half-frame that I remember coming close is Canon Demi C with its 50mm focal length.

Olympus 70mm F/2 F.Zuiko Auto-T Lens.

Mind you — this is not the longest lens available for Olympus PEN SLRs: 800mm Zuiko Mirror T F8.0 super-telephoto is an ~1,100mm full-frame equivalent!

But I digress.

The lens’ max aperture of 𝒇2, aside from the fantastic background separation, can shine plenty of light onto the emulsion and into the viewfinder, making focusing and shooting in subdued light easy. The smallest aperture is 𝒇22, giving this lens seven stops of exposure flexibility.

Because this lens is made for a half-frame camera, it’s more compact than an equivalent crop full-frame 100mm lens would be. The lens is made of metal and glass and weighs just 230g or 8.1oz.

My copy came with an aperture ring that could be lifted and turned 180° to show EV numbers, making it easier to use with the PEN FV light meter.

Image quality.

The lens is sharp with just barely noticeable softening in the corners and a very slight loss of overall microcontrast at 𝒇2 and 𝒇2.8.

itsnotthecamera blog calls it “*crazy* sharp for an untouched crop at 24mp” during its tests on a digital body.

Kodak Portra 160 with Olympus 70mm f2 F.Zuiko Auto-T.
Kodak Portra 160 with Olympus 70mm f2 F.Zuiko Auto-T.
Fujifilm Provia 400F with Olympus 70mm f2 F.Zuiko Auto-T.

My lens lacked a bit of contrast because of the grime and fungus on the elements. I would imagine that a cleaner specimen would perform better, though my results did not leave me disappointed. Despite its weathered shape, the F.Zuiko Auto-T rendered very nicely in all kinds of lighting conditions.

Fujifilm Provia 400F with Olympus 70mm f2 F.Zuiko Auto-T.
Fujifilm Provia 400F with Olympus 70mm f2 F.Zuiko Auto-T.

The 70mm focal length on a half-frame does not provide that much of a “zoom” effect. The objects through the lens appear about a third larger than they do to the naked eye. This is helpful because the Auto-T is close enough to a normal lens to be used casually with an angle of view that can make far-away objects appear a little better-defined.

Fujifilm Provia 400F with Olympus 70mm f2 F.Zuiko Auto-T.
Fujifilm Provia 400F with Olympus 70mm f2 F.Zuiko Auto-T.

I felt that the bokeh this lens makes is also very nice. It looks smooth, soft, and can be very pronounced at the right distance and aperture. I don’t think there’s any other half-frame film camera that can produce results like these.

Fujifilm Provia 400F with Olympus 70mm f2 F.Zuiko Auto-T.
Fujifilm Provia 400F with Olympus 70mm f2 F.Zuiko Auto-T.
Fujifilm Provia 400F with Olympus 70mm f2 F.Zuiko Auto-T.

The lens flares in direct sun, as expected. The flares are noticeable but if you are willing to forgive their presence, the looks of them are rather pleasing. Very halo-like.

Fujifilm Provia 400F with Olympus 70mm f2 F.Zuiko Auto-T.
Fujifilm Provia 400F with Olympus 70mm f2 F.Zuiko Auto-T.

Lens build quality, handling, and ergonomics.

This F.Zuiko Auto-T is a well-built all-metal and glass lens that feels great in hand. All of the controls are easy to grip; the aperture ring makes satisfying clicks with each f-stop change, and the focus ring has a great balance of precision and speed with its 180° throw.

It’s a good-looking lens. Perhaps not as beautiful as a film camera lens could be, but there are absolutely no complaints about its appearance on this side.

Where to buy your F.Zuiko Auto-T 70mm lens.

The lens is fairly rare, but it does pop up on eBay once in a while. It’s not cheap, with price tags going up to $800 with an average hovering around $450. Though a deal could be found if you are like me and don’t mind waiting and getting a copy that may need a bit of cleaning.

If you are willing to pay for a mint copy, go ahead and check pictures for fungus, haze, and major scratches on the glass elements — and the seller’s reputation rating.

❤ By the way: Please consider making your 70mm F.Zuiko Auto-T lens purchase using this link so that this website may get a small percentage of that sale — at no extra charge for you — thanks!