A PEN F 70 F:2 short review. And it’s for sale !

I think by now most of my readers know all the good I think of my PEN F 38/1.8 lens, that spends a lot of time glued to my NEX cameras, and is probably my most used manual focus lens (and THE one I’ve kept over many, many other ones). PEN70-01Awed that I was by the 38, I decided to look for its bigger brother, the rare, pricey and much sought after 70mm F:2

PEN70-03I did find one, on eBay, in Japan. It was listed as mint, and, which is very rare, complete with all original accessories

PEN70-02Its actual condition is more accurately “collector” (understand, perfect, and very hard to tell from new, considering the lens is over 40 yrs old)

PEN70-04and, pretty exceptionally, it comes with both caps, the original metal lens hood, and the Olympus PEN F branded leather/velvet case. The front lens is also metal and embossed with the gothic “F” letter characteristic of the PEN series

PEN70-02AIcing on the cake, not only is it compatible with the FF Sony A7 and A7R, but it doesn’t exhibit any significant vignetting on their FF sensor ! (a light falloff at the worst). Looks pretty serious here on the A7…

MarlaDec13-43Here’s a shot wide open on the A7

MarlaDec13-44Another one

I got the lens back from dismantling and cleaning last week, and decided to test it a bit more thoroughly today, on the NEX7. Here are the results of my tests, both “controlled” (same set up view at various apertures) and “real world” shots, full size, then some crops.

TestPEN70-01Kitchen afernoon candid, wide open

TestPEN70-03Another one…

TestPEN70-02…and corresponsing crop, *wide open* and unedited on a 24mp sensor, mind you !

TestPEN70-05The lens is quite prone to flare, but the deep original metal hood is very useful to fight that

TestPEN70-04unedited crop

TestPEN70-2Mr Piggy bank at F2



TestPEN70-5.6F5.6 (by then my blood is starting to boil and my brains to smoke, lol)

TestPEN70-8F8… Enough !

TestPEN70-06Miss Priss @F2

TestPEN70-09Tack sharp !

TestPEN70-08F2 crop !!! That is *crazy* sharp for an untouched crop at 24mp !

TestPEN70-07Ok, so it’s a beautiful object, it’s in perfect, near new stock condition (aside from the usual micro dust that is just unavoidable in +40 yrs old lenses and has *zero* impact on pictures), it’s obviously tack sharp, and very usable wide open… and I’m selling it ?? What’s the rub ?

I just happen to have *another* lens in the 70ish focal length, that I like better, and that’s the magical Navitar 75/1.3 I’ve been raving and ranting about

Plus, there is one small operational issue on the PEN that I have to disclose totally. The aperture ring rotates freely and clicks in nice, definite stops. However, there is a stiff area on the focusing ring, near minimum focusing distance. It’s not even consistent, it gets better, than gets worse, and I suspect repeated use might losen it. My friend who took it apart, entirely cleaned it up and regreased it, now tells me Teflon grease would solve the issue. I can’t see myself parting with it for another two months (plus giving my friend yet more work). So I’d rather advertise it as such, cut the price down accordingly, and find it a loving home. Truthfully, for a collector, it’s a dream come true. It’s in as minty condition as you’ll ever find one. And complete with all its equally mint accessories. For a disciminating photographer, it is very good, too, as long as you’re aware of the stiff focus ring issue. It’s does not prevent from focusing precisely (those wide open shots above demonstrate that), but it doesn’t take away a good deal of the joy of using it.So I’m pricing this beauty accordingly at 399€, will ship anywhere in Europe/UK for 20 extra. I do accept Paypal and will split fees with the buyer, which makes a grand total of 429€, delivered to your door. In all honesty that’s less than I paid for it, and the original seller wasn’t delicate enough to specify the focusing ring issue, which I want to be totally transparent about. It’s not a huge deal, it doesn’t prevent from focusing very accurately, but the closer the focusing distance, the less smooth turning that ring is. Just keep that in mind, but don’t let it sway you away from this excellent and rare lens, because the units in this condition and complete at it is don’t come by too often !


About marla2008

Shutterbug. Shallow DOF nut. Mother of Child. Student of the Horse.
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10 Responses to A PEN F 70 F:2 short review. And it’s for sale !

  1. Antoine says:

    The pen series Is quite exciting and I would be very tempted If I did not just buy the a mount cz 16-80mm f3.5/4.5. One cannot buy them All. Even if said one really wants to.
    Side note, I told you I would go on a trip with a super zoom (sigma 28-200 A mount) and a simple dumb adapter on my nex6. It turns out it is quite hard to achieve anything satisfying with that setup, shortcomings of the lens aside. To focus, even with the great focus peaking feature or the nex, Is very tricky, as I was quite happy with myself before I checked out the result on a proper screen (everything looks good on the nex screen). It was All too often out of focus, and I got frustrated with how much time I spent in the process, for little reward.
    Long story short, I need a la-ea2 adapter! Any tip on where to find a cheap one?

    • marla2008 says:

      Where are you located ? If in Europe I maybe able to source you one, but it might not be significantly cheaper than what you’d fine on your home market ? How much are the ones going used for where you live ?

      • antoine says:

        Actually I am not very far from where you are, as I live in Paris. From what I see on ebay and on leboncoin, the used la-ea2 market price seems to be around 150-180€. Am I wrong? If you are able to soure one for cheaper than that, then I am very interested, thank you!
        By the way, have you tried the cz 16-80mm f3.5/4.5? I wonder if it is very different than your 16-70mm f4.

      • marla2008 says:

        Hey, we’re nearly neighbors !! Well, actually I do see them going for more around 190, so if you find one between 150 and 180, go for it !! You won’t regret it, it’s a life changer on the NEX ! I didn’t try the 16-80 myself, but my buddy Tracy did (we must be separated at birth twins, lol), and the pictures I saw coming out of it had that typical Zeiss pop, they were gorgeous ! The 16-70 contrast and saturation are little over the top as well, but that’s the CZ signature, we pay for it ! πŸ˜‰

  2. antoine says:

    ok I’m gonna go for it and let you know. I’m so psyched to have such a high end all around lens (and I got it for cheap too)! Just thinking about something, is the la-ea1 total crap or is it any good? Is it really too slow to focus?

  3. antoine says:


  4. padam says:

    Very nice pictures and beautiful rendering.
    This lens looks like a little brother to the Zuiko 100/2 ED, which is my current favourite, I call it the cream machine πŸ™‚
    This on APS-C is almost like that (105mm equiv.) but much smaller and lighter.

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