Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 Pro is a versatile high-quality wide-angle lens. However, its inability to attach filter limits the lens’ usefulness considerably. Fortunately, I ran into a team from STC Optics from Taiwan at a photo fair in Bangkok. They gave me a filter kit for Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 to test and review. After using this kit for two months in Thailand, I write my opinion of the filters and the filter adapter.
For my style of landscape photography, creativity is the most important factor. I like to travel to popular places and take pictures that are different from others. Of course, aesthetic and quality are important to my photos too. But there is no point in taking photos if I am simply seeing the world the same way as everyone else. Consequently, I evaluate photography equipment by their ability to provide me with creative freedom.
A temple in Ancient City park, Samut Prakan province 1.3 seconds, f10 using CPL and ND filter
STC Filters and Filter Adapter for Olympus 7-14mm f2.8
Before going further, please understand this is a sponsored review. STC Optical gave me the filters and the filter adapter in exchange for this review. In the box, I received one STC filter adapter and three STC filters. The filters are 105mm in size that matches with the adapter. They are UV, CPL and ND64 (6 stops) filters. Lastly, there is also a humongous 105mm lens cap.
105mm UV, CPL and ND64 filters with the adapter and lens cap
The adapter and the lens
Adapter’s Build Quality
When I hear of most filter adapters for an ultrawide-angle lens, I usually stay away. Most filter adapters are usually 3D printed home-made parts that are not durable. Additionally, I have to carry them and mount them on the lens every time I want to put on a filter. But this time is different. STC Optical filter adapter is very well designed and made of aluminum. There are two parts to the adapter. The first part is the 105mm filter adapter goes in from the front of the lens. It locks into the shape of the lens hood perfectly to prevent any wiggle. The second part is a ring that goes in from behind the lens that screws into the first part.
When equipped with the lens, the adapter is very secure and does not wiggle. The adapter felt like it was a part of the lens itself. I keep the adapter on the lens the entire time. Even after days of carrying in my messenger bag, the adapter stayed securely. I removed the adapter a few times. The adapter does not cause any scratch to the lens’s exterior body. However, I had to take the lens off the camera in order to put on or take off the filter adapter. That’s just a small inconvenience.
The adapter made the lens much bulkier due to the 105mm filter thread. However, it also acts as an improved lens hood that protects the actual lens’ hood. I leave the adapter on even when not using any filter. When attaching or removing a filter on the adapter, the back of the filter will touch the lens’ hood. The manual suggests that users loosen the adapter from the lens first before attaching or removing a filter. This is to prevent the lens’ hood from scratching the back of the filter.
A temple in Ancient City park, Samut Prakan province 1/160 Second, f8 using CPL filter
Filters’ Build Quality
The three 105mm filters seem very well made. What standouts is the dual surface coating of these STC filters. On most filters I use, only the front side has coating chemical. When cleaning these filters, only the front surface feels smooth. But when I clean the back surface, I can feel that it’s not as smooth. Because of the dual coatings, STC filters are very easy to clean on both sides. Additionally, the coatings are also antistatic (not attracting dust) and anti-liquid. Most of the times, I can quickly clean these filters easily using just an air blower.
The filter frames are very slim. If I mount one filter at a time, there is no vignette even at the 7mm angle of the lens.
Anti-liquid coating in action. Use a blower to quickly remove the droplets.
On the downside, because these filters are very slim, there is not much thread to mount the filters to the adapter. I often found a filter coming off of the adapter. So be careful. Interestingly, the CPL and ND filters have a rubber ring around them. I assume they are for weather sealing. However, these rings do block a part of the filters’ thread, making filter removal easy. Maybe that’s the point since most photographers don’t need CPL and ND filters all the time.
B+W UV filter next to STC Optical UV filter
Unlike BW filters, I never had a problem removing all three STC filters. This advantage cannot be overlooked. There were times when I cannot remove a BW filter in the field.
Sakunothayan Waterfall, Phitsanulok province 1/4 seconds, f7.1 with CPL and ND filter
Most of the times, I use filters for protection. I want to avoid cleaning a lens’ front element as much as possible. However, for this use case to be effective, the filters must not add any undesirable effects such as flare and reflection to images. After testing, I’m happy to say that all three filters add very little reflection when pointed to a strong light source. Most of the flares and reflections are already the characteristics of the Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 lens.
Here are some samples. The photos on the left do NOT use a filter.
For outdoor, I put on CPL filter to reduce surface reflection and increase color saturation of images. The CPL filter does its job reasonably well. Like the UV filter, it produces very little flare and reflection. Usually, I keep the CPL filter attached all the time unless I need extra light. Here are some photos with CPL filter.
Wat Phra Kaew in Ancient City park, Samut Prakan 1/25 second, f7.1 with CPL filter
A house in Ancient City park, Samut Prakan 1/50 second, f8 with CPL filter
A temple in Ancient City park, Samut Prakan 1/640 second, f6.3 with CPL filter
But the most creative use is the ND64 filter. When using a really wide-angle lens, I often have to get very close to the subject to achieve interesting composition. For example, I like to get very close to a waterfall with an ND filter to show the motion in the water. The problem is the water often splashes on to the lens. If I was using my other ND filter, this would be very hard to clean the water off. But with STC anti-liquid coating on the ND filter, I can easily blow the water away. This ND filter allows me to be creative without worry about cleaning too much.
ND64 filter is not too dark so I control the light by using the aperture. I often found myself using f10 or smaller aperture. This is not ideal for Micro Four Third camera sensor since the image sharpness is reduced. However, I can avoid this problem by choosing a time when the sun isn’t strong to take a picture.
The downside of the ND64 filter is its limited light reduction of only 6 stops. To me, this is not enough stop to create long exposure. I often use CPL and ND filters stacked together to get a total of 7..