STC Sapphire UV Filter

Whenever STC announce a new filter, I must confess we get a little excited. (Sad I know! We must get out more!) But there is good reason for this. From past experience with STC filters, we know their filters are something special.

This time we are testing the STC Sapphire UV filter.

What does this filter special compared with other UV filters?

It is ultra light, ultra slim – the glass being only 0.7 mm thick offers extremely low refraction, ultra layer technology gives it antistatic and oil and water repellent properties whilst allowing it to transmit 99.5% light. But the outstanding feature of this filter is that it is made from single-crystal silicon, meaning it can withstand impact of 800MPa.

The filter come in a  stylish outer box, on the rear of which is a list of the properties of the filter. Inside this the filter itself is contained within a hard plastic case also supplied is a cleaning cloth, warranty information and a chart indicating the sensitivity of the enclosed filter.

Packaging, filter and cloth

For this test we used a Nikon D800 equipped with 24-85mm f3.5 Nikkor and 80-200mm f2.8 Nikkor. The camera was mounted on a tripod and actuated by a wireless shutter release.
Colour balance was set to Daylight at ISO 200, with an aperture of f8.
Images were converted from NEF to Jpeg in Adobe Camera Raw.
To give a comparison for this review we tested the STC Sapphire UV filter against 2 previously tested filters the STC Ultra Layer UV filter and the JYC Digital Multi coated UV filter.

We tested the filters under two different lighting conditions, firstly on a dull overcast day, shooting a metallic silver car against a black wall and secondly on a bright early evening, this time photographing one of our regular test subjects, Eastbourne Pier.

The Results.

On a grey flat day there is very little difference between the filters, all produced sharp images, with the JYC filter producing a slight magenta cast.

Without filter

JYC Digital UV filter

STC Ultra Layer UV filter

STC Sapphire UV filter

The differences between the filters starts to show when photographing in bright sunlight, this would also be relevant when taking photographs at high altitude and snowy conditions as UV is always higher then.
The JYC whilst giving a sharp image does exhibit as previously mentioned a slight magenta cast, both the STC filters produced sharp images, the Sapphire filter gave a fractionally cooler image. Looking at the golden sign on the building the Sapphire filter give a better separation of colour making the lettering easier to read.

Full frame

No filter crop

JYC crop

STC Ultra Layer crop

STC Sapphire crop

The golf ball test.

STC claim the Sapphire UV filter can withstand a golf ball being dropped on it from 1.8mtrs, we pitched it against the JYC filter which makes no claim to being super tough. What happened?

I enlisted the help of my near 6ft (1.8mtr) tall son with this test, a golf ball was dropped from 2mtrs directly onto both filters.

JYC

STC Sapphire

The JYC filter was a complete write off, whilst the STC Sapphire filter remained untouched. This certainly backs up the claim from STC.

JYC

STC Sapphire

Conclusion

Whilst not suggesting dropping golf balls on your filters is a good idea. We would highly recommend that if you want the ultimate in protection for your lenses, fit a STC Sapphire UV filter and know you are safe from those little knocks. I now keep a STC Sapphire filter on my lenses.

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