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 603

    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.
  10. Marco223 macrumors newbie


    May 15, 2017
    --- Post Merged, May 15, 2017 ---
    I done this stepping down from 67 to 58 you do get a tunnel effect, you have to crop to get rid or I been thinking a f16 or higher could get rid ?? Any outher ideas ? Mark
  11. dwig, May 16, 2017
    Last edited: May 24, 2017

    dwig macrumors 6502a

    Jan 4, 2015
    Key West FL
    1. You will almost never encounter vignetting with step-up rings. It's in using step-down rings that the Big V will frequently raise its ugly head.
    2. It is always a bad idea to move the filter further forward, away from the lens' front element, than necessary. Therefore, you should avoid using stacked step-up rings if at all possible.
    3. Using step-up rings with the correspondingly oversized filter will almost always prevent you from using the lens' original hood. Finding a substitute hood that fits the oversized filter and at the same time is appropriately shaped for the lens in use is often rather difficult.
    Back in the day, my old Nikon kit had a wide range of lenses, as did my 4x5 kit. My habit was to use step-up rings to adapt all lenses to either 52mm or 72mm (the two most common Nikon sizes back then). The step-up rings were left on the lenses "permanently" along with new lens caps to fit the ring. I also tracked down appropriate lens hoods, though with some effort and testing. I could then build a kit of filters in each of only two sizes.
  12. TheDrift- macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2010
    my view fwiw

    It depends on what filer you if its a UV filter to protect the lens then...I would just pony up and buy a filter, for 52mm you can get a good filter for under a tenner and a very good filter for £15. You can probably sell on for half that if you do upgrade you lens.

    A massively oversized filter is just going to get int he way and be a general PITA..and for small price i'd just pay it..

    For other more expensive filter types that maybe are going to be used every now and again, then maybe a step up ring makes more sense
  13. rayriceroni00 Suspended


    Nov 12, 2016
    I've used step-up rings for years. A single ring is great. Just make sure your filter is larger than your lens. That sounds funny, but they make step-down rings. You can put like a 52mm filter on a 77mm lens LOL.

    If you're using a polarizer, I always spin in to the right. Going left, I sometimes loosen the ring. No a big deal.
  14. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I have used filters for years and this is what I have found -

    There are very good "one size fits all" systems such as Lee's filters.
    It is possible to use adapters/step up flanges to allow larger filters to fit on lenses requiring smaller thread mounts (thus 77mm can fit on a 52mm). The latter has no issues with vignetting if the flange is made properly. However, in certain instances, you can get diminished IQ if the light hits at certain angles with some of these adapters.

    I prefer to have UV/Skylight/protector filters per a lens rather than share. Similar with certain polarizer filters. All others which are used less often might be best served with a Lee's system. (If you use N.D. filters for long exposure, make sure there are limited "light leaks" if you use a system filter such as Lee's or even Cokin).

    That's my peanuts to add to the gallery.

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13 April 7, 2008