A mini photo expo at a local shopping centre provided an opportunity to briefly try out two Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses, the just-arrived Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro prime lens and the older Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro zoom.
With the ending of the major photography trade show in Australia, chances to see and try before you buy have become even more rare than they have ever been, so I was grateful for the small display of mirrorless cameras and lenses at one side of the expo opposite the two DSLR makers.
It was good to see Fujifilm’s X-E3 again and I caught up with the new Sony Alpha a9 camera so many colleagues have been raving about, but the star of the show for me was the Olympus table.
Panasonic was mysteriously absent and all the poorer for it given how beautifully its Lumix cameras go together with Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro lenses for cinematography and photography, especially given their unique manual clutch focus option.
Super wide-angle lenses present something of a quandary when it comes to filters, given they often have wide convex front lens elements that prevent easily attaching screw-on filters.
Using such lenses for video presents even more of a quandary, especially for solo operators working in documentary moviemaking who must travel light, are self-funded and must watch their budgets.
Travelling light, working handheld and keeping your camera rigs small, neat and discrete rules out traditional moviemaking standbys like matte boxes holding large, costly square or rectangular filters which are fine for feature filmmaking and slower, more deliberate approaches.
Luckily several optical filter makers have turned their efforts to the problem of attaching filters to convex-fronted lenses like the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro, though until recently all such filter adapter solutions have only worked with big slide-in glass or plastic filters 100mm, 150mm or 165mm square or wide.
And then, I came across a hitherto unknown camera filter and accessories maker by the name of STC Optical & Chemical in Taiwan, and discovered they are offering a screw-in lens adapter for the M.Zuiko Pro 7-14mm f/2.8 and an adapter for Panasonic’s own 7-14mm lens, the slower Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4 Aspheric zoom, also with a convex front element.
I have yet to come across any hands-on reviews by cinematographers of the STC Olympus 7-14mm filter adapter but have been researching the availability of high quality 105mm UV, circular polarizing and ND filters in density values suitable for moviemaking.
STC Optical & Chemical’s Screw-In Lens Adapter for Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro Lens
It appears that options are rather limited insofar as 105mm diameter filters go, especially in regard to ND filters which are dominated by the Formatt Hitech brand in different product ranges and very different price points.
Options are further limited regarding 105mm diameter versions of the fallback filter for run-and-gun documentary moviemakers, the variable ND, with just two turning up in my search at B&H today, the Aurora-Aperture 105mm PowerXND 2000 Variable Neutral Density 1.2 to 3.3 Filter (4 to 11 Stops) and the Formatt Hitech 105mm Multistop Neutral Density Filter rated at 1 to 6 stops.
Given the brightness of sunny days like today, a 6-stop maximum density is not dense enough and will need to be supplemented with fixed, single value ND filters, abnegating the utility value of variable NDs in the first place.
I have no firsthand experience with Aurora-Aperture products but 4 to 11 stops ND seems more useful.
Another possibility, or more appropriately hope, is that STC Optical & Chemical may choose to supplement its current 105mm 6-stop ND filter with more.
One typical fixed neutral density filter set contains 2, 4, 6, 8 and sometimes 10 stops, while another comprises 3, 5, 7, and 9 stops.
STC might choose to produce a 105mm version of its STC Ultra Layer Variable ND16-ND4096 filter, possessing an eye-popping range of 3.5 to 12 stops, or the STC Ultra Layer Variable ND2-ND1024 filter’s slightly shorter 1 to 10-stop range, with this filter also currently only available in diameters up to 82mm.
What is the answer?
If I can find the answer to the variable or fixed circular ND filter set question for the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro 7-14mm f/2.8 filter, then the lens and its filter solution will go straight to the top of my documentary video hardware wish list followed by the M.Zuiko Pro 17mm f/1.2, 25mm f/1.2 and 45mm f/1.2 professional-quality prime lenses.
I have made enquiries about their relevant products to STC Optical & Chemical and will report back here soon.
Of STC’s current Olympus Screw-In Lens Adapter packages, I am tempted by the adapter plus UV filter for stills photography, the circular polarizer for architectural photography and city scenes in video, and the 6-stop ND with the hopes that 2, 4, 8 and 10 stops ND filters will be appearing soon.
Or I may opt for either of STC’s Ultra Layer Variable NDs if they become available in a diameter of 105mm.
- Aurora Aperture
- Breakthrough Photography – Step-Up Ring – top-quality traction-framed brass step-up rings with the largest being 95mm to 105mm, so to use 105mm filters on smaller diameter lenses you would need to nest step-up rings.
- Cosyspeed – The OLYMPUS 25/1.2 Street-Review – Thomas Ludwig writes that “The OLY 25/1.2 has a certain magic and I would describe it’s special character in the way it closes the gap between a pronounced three dimensional look and a portrait friendly (lower) level of micro contrast…. I don’t know how the OLYMPUS engineers made it, but they found a way to give it a lot of 3D pop while micro contrast is on a natural level.”
- Formatt Hitech
- LensVid – LensVid Exclusive: Aurora Aperture Power XND 2000 Variable Neutral Density Filter Review
- Olympus Global – M.Zuiko Pro
- STC Optical & Chemical
- STC Optical & Chemical – Screw-In Lens Adapter for Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro Lens
- STC Optical & Chemical –Screw-In Lens Adapter for Panasonic 7-14mm f/4
- STC Optical & Chemical – STC Ultra Layer IR-Cut 6-Stop ND Filter – neutral density filter available in diameters from 58mm to 105mm.
- STC Optical & Chemical – STC Ultra Layer SHV (-1EV) CPL Filter – circular polarizing filter available in diameters from 46mm to 105mm.
- STC Optical & Chemical – STC Ultra Layer UV filter – protective ultra-violet filter available in diameters from 37mm to 105mm.
- STC Optical & Chemical – STC Ultra Layer Variable ND2~1024 Filter – currently only made in filter diameters up to 82mm.
- STC Optical & Chemical – STC Ultra Layer Variable ND16~4096 Filter – currently only made in filter diameters up to 82mm.
- Wikipedia – Neutral-density filter
Location photographs very quickly made with Panasonic DMC-GX8 using Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro lenses with raw files processed in DxO PhotoLab with DxO FilmPack as a plug-in, applying colour negative film simulation presets along with minimal other processing.
Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.
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- Aurora-Aperture 105mm PowerXND 2000 Variable Neutral Density 1.2 to 3.3 Filter (4 to 11 Stops) – B&H – a versatile range of 4 to 11 stops.
- Breakthrough Photography 105mm X4 UV Filter (Brass) – B&H
- Breakthrough Photography 105mm X4 UV Filter (Titanium) – B&H
- Formatt Hitech 105mm Multistop Neutral Density Filter – B&H – ranges from 1 to 6 stops, falling short of the ideal daylight upper end of 8 to 10 stops.
- Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless Digital Camera – B&H
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro – B&H
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro – B&H
- Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 Aspheric Lens – B&H
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera – B&H
- Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4 Aspheric Lens – B&H
- Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera – B&H