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Stepping Rings

A 62 to 77mm stepping ring allowing a 77mm polarizer on a 62mm lens.

Lens come in different sizes, both focal lengths but also in the physical size of the front of the lens. When it comes to filters and adaptors and other items to the front of a lens using the filter threads, we could buy a complete set for each size, which would be both an unnecessary expense and weight to carry,  or we can use stepping rings. Stepping rings allow a different sized filter or attachment to be used.

Stepping rings screw into the filter threads on the front of the lens and then provide an alternative filter thread in another size.

You can add more than one stepping ring together allowing fewer stepping rings to be used to cover a wider range of lenses.

Stepping rings can step up, or down.

Stepping rings are available from a number of suppliers including  SpeedGraphic and SRB-Grturn , many others will also list them, they are usually found under filter or lens accessories.

The filter sizes are usually shown on the lens, with most Nikon lenses its on the underside when the camera is held with the camera and lens connected and camera held for normal use, and a number starting with 0 with a line through it.

Generally its said that its best to have all filters and other items for the largest size lens that you have, and adapt other lenses up to this. It is possible to adapt down telephoto lenses and longer standard lenses by around 4mm, but you can't do this with wider angle lenses as the filter will get into the edge of the shot.

As larger filters and the like tend to be more expensive than smaller ones you may like to first look at what sizes you have and which items you wish to be able to use on each. For example its more likely that you would want to be able to use Neutral density graduated filters on the wider angles used for landscapes and unlikely that you would want to fit these to a long telephoto lens, an adaptor to use a ring flash or macro flash would likewise be used only with some lenses.  The best way to do this is to draw a grid, with lenses down the left and filters and attachments across the top, ticking the combinations that you want to be able to use, also then double tick those that you are going to use more frequently. You can then look at the combinations of stepping rings to achieve this and if the multiple stepping rings will waste too much time for frequently used combinations.

I could have just one polarizer, but in practice I carry three, One covering the largest size I am likely to use (not my largest lens), and a second - the most common size I will use the majority of the time, so its fast to use without stepping rings. The third is a polarizer that is a part of the Cokin filter system used when I am also using ND graduated filters. As I often will use more than one camera body, I may have a need to use more than one filter or system at a time, so have worked out the combination of items including stepping rings so that I can operate efficiently without having to carry too much.

Adaptors are used with filter holder systems like the Lee and Cokin systems. These allow a single filter holder to be used and only the adaptor changed to fit the filter thread to the filter holder. For example if you have 4 different sized lenses you would conceptually need 4 adaptors. If you have two filter systems in use and 4 lenses then you would need 8. Stepping rings can be used to reduce the number of adaptors required.

See also: Filter Section for more articles.


By:  Keith Park Section: Key:
Page Ref: stepping_rings Topic: Accessories  Last Updated: 05/2009

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