If you’re growing in your photography it’s highly likely that you’re eyeing off a number of shiny new filters; UV filters, polarising filters, ND filters, you name it. When you are the proud owner of 2-3 lenses it can become quite an expensive little collection because most lenses exhibit different thread sizes which means a different size filter for each lens. Now filters come in all sorts of optical qualities from the cheap and nasty through to the mind-glowingly expensive but to be honest, who wants to pay upwards of $750 for 3 polarising filters for their set of lenses?
The problem is that when you pop a piece of glass (or in some devastating cases plastic) in front of your lens, you’re essentially adding an element to the lens; that is to say it becomes a part of the optic system for your camera when shooting. So after forking out potentially thousands of dollars for high-performance optics in your lenses you scrape the bottom of the bargain bin for a cheap filter that relative to that amazing glass is like shooting through an old car window. It just doesn’t make sense.
You only need one Polariser. One ND filter. One set of Step-up rings.
Now I certainly won’t make claim to this little trick but I absolutely will take credit for sharing it with you. You only need one Polariser. One ND filter. One set of Step-up rings. That’s right, if you’re new to the filter game, you may not have heard of these bad boys. They essentially change the size of the thread on the filter meaning as long as the filter is big enough to cover your largest lens, you can always step it down in size to adapt to your other lenses. Best part: they are dirt cheap. So where I would have in the past spent $250 on 3 or 4 polarisers of each size, I now spend $250 on a brilliant quality polariser and simply adapt it down to each lens that I’m using.
As an example with my Olympus E-M1 kit, the three lenses I use the most have the following thread sizes: 46mm, 52mm and 62mm so I now only carry 1 large (77mm) filter that can adapt to all of my lenses! For those more seasoned photographers, step-up rings can also be used with filter holders such as the Lee system. I currently use the Lee 100mm system with an 82mm thread which fits my full frame gear but with my set of step up rings it equally fits my Olympus 12-40mm and I can tell your from experience, a whole set of step-up rings are cheaper than a single Lee adaptor ring.
One last piece of advice, look at slimline step-up rings as this also goes a long way to help reduce or eliminate vignetting (the darkening of the corners where the filters are a little bit in shot).
So you there you go, ‘stepping-up’ and putting a ring on it can actually save you money! Who would have thought?
The same 77mm filter adapted to both the 12-40mm and 25mm lenses.
To adapt my Lee 100mm filter holder, I use the following rings:
62mm – 67mm
67mm – 72mm
72mm – 77mm
77mm – 82mm
Lee 82mm WA adaptor
Lee Filter Holder.
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