Filter Question: Step Up Rings? Pros and Cons?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by SolracSelbor, Apr 7, 2008.

  1. SolracSelbor macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2007
    Hello fellow photogs,

    I have a lens that requires a 52mm filter size. However, i am planning on purchasing a 77mm filter for future use with other lenses. Is it generally a bad idea to use this many rings in order to step up to 77mm:

    Or would it be better to get something like this:
    52-77mm Step Up Ring:

    What are the disadvantages to using step up rings? I heard it's best to use as few rings as possible and to keep the filter closest to the lens.

    Im thinking maybe I should just by a new filter for each lens but that would be pricey...
  2. Over Achiever macrumors 68000

    Over Achiever

    Jul 22, 2002
    Toledo, OH, formerly Twin Cities, MN
    I think the problem with using that many step-up rings is vignetting (darkening in the corners). You're essentially creating a tunnel by using that many step-up rings.

    I might be wrong though, so someone else please confirm or clarify.
  3. disdat macrumors regular


    Jul 21, 2005
    New England USA
    Great question. I hope someone posts some info.
  4. pcypert macrumors 6502

    Jul 19, 2006
    Put it on if you have a chance and see what you get. You might like it, you might not. Just think slowly for a sec. 52mm lenses are significantly cheaper than 72 or 77mm...if this was a viable option, wouldn't you see this being recommended more by frugal internet types? Pretty easy deduction.

  5. ipodtoucher macrumors 68000


    Sep 13, 2007
    Cedar Park, TX
    Well when you apply a fliter, the depth of the filter determines if you get vignetting. So if you use a thick filter on a wider angled lens then you will see the vignetting.

    Step-up rings help apply a bigger filter to your lens set up. Using a bigger filter allows the filter to be seen over all the exposure. My Grandmother gave me some 72mm Nikon filters, and i ended up buying a 55-72mm step-up.

    To answer the OP's question, NEVER do like the first picture...all you are doing is creating a tunnel. So take a piece of paper the same length as those filters and hold it to your lens and take a picture. You will then get the idea why this is bad haha. Definitely go for the single step-up ring. It's better to spend $8 on one step-up rather than $8 per filter to build that tower of filters haha.

    I hope this helps!
  6. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Go with the single step up ring. If the filter is too far from the front of lense, and if you are focussing on a near subject some of the inevitable dust spots on the filter will start to degrade the images. You won't see them as dust spots on the prints, but there will be general fuzziness. Plus, managing multiple step up rings is a pain. It gets difficult to unmount the whole mass of them - the ones in the middle will inevitably start to unthread before the one that attaches to the lense. I know. I also bought a couple of large filters that would match my largest lense. In my case I had 3 different lense sizes, so I would have 2 step up rings on occasion. It was a pain.

  7. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    Step up rings end up saving you a load of money, so you can standardize all your filters at one size(*). I recommend 77mm because it's the "pro lens" filter size of choice, so it's unlikely you'll have a lens that's larger than 77mm. But for sure buy single step up rings that take you directly from your lens' diameter to 77mm (or whatever size you decide on).

    The main "con" I can think of is you won't be able to use your hard lens hood at the same time as you are using a step-up ring. There are rubber screw-in hoods available though.

    I've never seen a problem with vignetting while using a step up ring, but it's certainly conceivable since your filter will be slightly (just very slightly) further away from the front of your lens than it would be if you used a "native" filter size.

    (*) I learned this the hard way. I've got three different polarizers, for one thing. :D
  8. SolracSelbor thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2007
    My primary concern is vignetting at wide angles. For instance, if i have a step up ring 52mm-77mm there might be some vignetting with my 18-55mm lens @ 18mm. Also, does the lens hood really matter? I think i may take some comparison shots because I really don't think the lens hood makes a difference in anything.
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Yes you can use step up rings but it is best to just buy the right size filter. Using an oversize filter has two prolems (1) Lens hoods do't work well and (2) All that extra glass is just going to cause flair and lower contrast.

    But as a work around until you can get the correct filter step up rings work.

    With digital cameras we don't use so many filters. Just a polerizer. Maybe an ND gradiant but it's best to use a square filter if you need a gradient.

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