Not Your Everyday Banana

by Bart Arondson

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I have a variety of Nikon DX lenses that take differently sized filters. Most take 52mm filters, but there are a few that take larger 67mm or 77mm filters. The advice I've read most commonly online is to buy one filter size and get filter conversion rings to step up to that size filter. In my case, the largest size appears to be 77mm.

So, I walked into a couple local photo shops and asked about 52mm-77mm filter conversion rings and they looked at me like I had two heads. One guy suggested I stack a 52mm-67m and a 67mm-77mm. I have found 52mm-77mm rings online, so I know they exist.

Is this not a common thing to do? How does the stack exchange community handle the varying sizes of filters in their kit?

Thanks, PaulH

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Wow, great discussion. Thanks for your opinions, everybody! –  PaulH Jan 12 '11 at 17:13
    
Only buy lenses with 77mm filter threads. Problem solved, you new lenses and carry only 1 set of filters :) –  jwenting Jul 1 '11 at 6:08
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6 Answers 6

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I handle it by not handling it. By which, I mean, I use Cokin filters so that all I need is the various adapter rings which are substantially cheaper than filters and so I can then re-use the filters from lens to lens. Alternative to Cokin are Lee Filters which are generally regarded as a higher grade, though I find Cokin to be fine for what I want.

Anyways, that's my approach.

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@PaulH - The Cokin and Lee systems are the square slide-in types (except for a few specialized ones like a circular polarizer which, even then, is still designed to fit the system) and that has some advantages, especially for any graduated filter. –  John Cavan Jan 10 '11 at 18:18
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I like the versatility of this system. Do you find the hanger to be awkward or bulky? It also looks like you can't really mount a lens hood with the filter adapter in place - is this right? –  D. Lambert Jan 10 '11 at 18:19
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@D. Lambert: Lee filter system has a very wide variety of hoods that work with the filter system. The nice thing about Lee and Cokin filter systems is they are highly modular. You can combine them in a variety of ways with a very wide vareity of filters and hoods. The Lee system even has a tandem adapter, allowing two filter holders to be used together. An example of this would be using some ND Grad filters with a polarizer...you put the polarizer in the outer filter holder, and the ND grads in the inner holder. The polarizer can then be rotated independently of the ND grads. –  jrista Jan 11 '11 at 1:26
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@Leonidas: I am not really sure how effective a Lee or Cokin filter system is going to be in a high action/fast change environment. They do add some bulk to the end of the lens, and I would be worried about cracking filters in half. These kinds of systems are ideal when you have time to work with them, like landscape photography. I wouldn't choose a Lee filter if I needed to quickly change lenses all the time. –  jrista Jan 11 '11 at 1:27
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@Itai: Regarding handling, how "problematic" a filter system is depends on what you are doing. They are not designed for every use, so if you are a sports photographer, a Lee or Cokin filter system is NOT going to be useful. However, for landscape photography, where you take your time and carefully craft each shot, a Lee filter system is a creative bonanza, and the "hassle" of using it disappears in the face of the creative power it offers you. –  jrista Jan 11 '11 at 17:36
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  1. Cry a bit.
  2. Buy a filter for 52 and one for 77mm.
  3. Buy a step-up from 67 to 77.
  4. Promise yourself to buy your lenses according to your filters, that is, once you have again enough money.
  5. Repeat if you need more than one filter for all lenses.

(The common thing would be to buy the filter for the lens that needs it, if you want to avoid above. Which needs which is up to you - my large zoom with 52mm for example probably will never need the ND8 72mm I bought for the shorter lenses. A CPL though, will come handy for nearly all lenses once in a while.)

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I always need a good excuse to upgrade all my lenses to the same filter size! :) –  AngerClown Jan 10 '11 at 16:58
    
+1 This works well: the 52 mm filters are cheap enough, whereas the larger ones can be a considerable outlay (especially polarizers), so it's worth the little extra hassle to get small step-up rings for them. Rings tend to bind, so I suspect--I've never even tried--that a huge step up (like 52 to 77) might be more trouble than it's worth. –  whuber Jan 10 '11 at 19:40
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I bought a set of step-up rings (http://www.amazon.com/Fotodiox-Anodized-49-52mm-52-55mm-55-58mm/dp/B001G445Q4/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1294714261&sr=8-5) for around $15, and I just keep the portion of the set that goes from my smallest lens up to my largest filter (so, 52-77) in my bag.

Now, it's certainly the cheapest way to get filters for all your lenses, but it's hardly the most convenient. Every time you want to use a larger filter on a lens, you need to unscrew your stack of step-up rings, attach the rings to your lens, and attach the filter to the rings. A lot of the time I don't want to expend the effort or the time, so I do something different instead of using a filter.

Also, the step-up rings I got don't screw on to the lens as smoothly as the filters do. It feels like they're grinding just a little bit. So if you really like to baby your expensive lens, screwing some third-party step-up rings with cheap-feeling threads might be a little scary for you.

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For a 49mm lens, one has to use 7 step-up ring? What about vignetting? –  asalamon74 Jan 11 '11 at 19:02
    
I haven't noticed any vignetting (although I don't think I've used more than 52-77; and I haven't tried taking any test shots to characterize performance... maybe I can try that tonight). As you stack each ring, you get a cone that increases outward (one of the other views at that Amazon link shows an assembled cone). You'd probably have to use a wide-angle lens with a fairly small diameter to ever see any vignetting. –  drewbenn Jan 11 '11 at 19:31
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Okay, I put the 52-77mm filter stack onto my Canon FD 35-70mm lens. With the FD-EOS adapter, which I've heard acts as an extension tube with about a 1.25x multiplier, I saw no vignetting at 35mm (so roughly like a 45mm lens). Then I held the filter stack up in front of my 10-22mm lens: at 22mm, I still saw the outside of the filter stack, but at 10mm I could see the inside of the filter stack. The effect was first visible at around 16 or 17mm. So I would say that you might start to see vignetting at 17mm, but shouldn't see vignetting at any focal length longer than that. –  drewbenn Jan 12 '11 at 8:14
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Like most others here, I keep a set of filters for each size of lens I own. This has encouraged me to think about what filter I really need to carry, and I've reduced that to two: circular polarizer and an ND. I currently use a 4xND, I'llprobably add an 8X to that at some point. I stopped carrying graduated NDs and Cokin because I can't think of a use case for them that can't be handled in post processing, which is untrue of those other two.

I keep two small filter packs that connect to bag straps; that way, I can easily make sure that the right filters are attached to the right bag that's carrying a specific lens, since I tend to mix and match a lot.

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Yes, ideally buy each of your filters once and use step-up rings. It will save you lots of money (well, that's relative but to me $200+ for a single filter is not pocket change).

There is only one important catch with this approach and that is you cannot use lens hoods anymore except with the lenses that match your filter size. Personally I choose to live with that since it happens to be the case with my favorite 3 lenses.

The second minor catch is you cannot use your filters on certain lenses that have built-in lens hoods. In my case, this is rarely the case as it tends to be more specialized optics.

What I ended up with is two sets of filters, one 77mm set (which coincides to my largest lens at the time) and one 62mm set which is about halfway which helps me avoid stacking rings (may cause vignetting) and keeps the whole thing more balanced.

Turns out I did lack foresight and I now have an 86mm lens. Instead of buying the whole kit again, I just decided this one only needed a polarizer.

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86mm is a large piece of glass! –  rfusca Jan 10 '11 at 19:41
    
They go to 105mm apparently: neocamera.com/search_lens.php?filtersize=105 - I wouldn't even want to know the cost of such a polarizer, the 86mm was quite expensive :( –  Itai Jan 10 '11 at 20:07
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it is not problem to buy 52-77 step up ring for less then 5USD - no stacking of more rings needed. I do not buy such thing from local shops as they mostly have the same Chinese goods but for much bigger price - Ebay is much cheaper in this case, although I have to pay the shipping. I have 52-62 step up ring to be able to use the CPL filter on both my lenses.

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