Following my question about doing B/W, I ended up buying a Nikon N80 with a third party lens (28-90mm, 55mm diameter). I also have a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E lens, which is 52mm.

From what I gathered, I should get a 25A Red and K2/8 Yellow filter, but I wonder if I should use a 55-52 step down filter adapter or a second set of filters?

I'm asking because of possible issues with vignetting (I doubt the 50mm lens has a wide enough angle for that though) and ghosting, but also because ideally I don't want to buy additional filters. (At the same time, I don't know if I will buy additional lenses later on once I figured out this stuff some more. Ideally I want to add a wide angle lens for indoors, but from what I gathered, I don't need to use filters indoors?)

  • 3
    If you're talking about putting a 52mm filter on a 55mm threaded lens, that's "step-down". If you're putting a 55mm filter on a 52mm threaded lens, that's "step-up." Terminology is from the lens's POV. – inkista Jun 25 '14 at 16:54

Using a step down ring to put a 55mm filter on a 50mm lens with at 52mm thread is likely to cause a small amount of vignetting. Any step down ring is likely to cause at least some vignetting.

A 50mm or normal lens isn't as susceptible to the issue as a wider angle lens but you still will find it if you are looking specifically for it. I've used step down rings on 50mm lenses quite often but in a more generous fashion such as a 77mm filter stepped down to 58mm. Since your gap is a bit less you might have more of an issue.

Another option to consider is using a filter that is slim in design. This will help with vignetting not only attached directly to a lens but also when used with a step ring.

The good news is that step down rings are very cheap so of course this is worth a try to see if it is good enough for your uses. Another good thing is that 55mm and 52mm filters simply aren't that expensive(comparatively). So really you could get two sets but I would just call that silly as a step down ring will do the trick here with minimal issues.

My recommendation is to use the step down rings, if not permanently, at least to have in your bag when you don't want to carry two sets of filters if you go that route.

  • Agreed. I have a few of those but the problem i continually run into it that the rings and the filters are from different manufacturers and the threads can bite to the paint that i am unable to separate it. When it's either too hot or too cold, the ring and the filter seize and I have to take it apart when home in a room temperature. I managed to damage the coating on a filter too trying to unscrew the ring. – Jakub Sisak GeoGraphics Jun 26 '14 at 18:26
  • I think your first sentence is backwards. A 55mm filter on a 52mm lens thread would use a step-up ring, and would not be likely to cause vignetting. A 52mm (smaller) filter on a 55mm step-down ring on the 28-90 would vignette. – inkista Jun 26 '14 at 18:41

If you use a step-down adapter to put a 52mm filter on a lens with a 55mm filter thread, then you are very likely to get vignetting.

You should rather use a step-up adapter to put a 55mm filter on the lens with the 52mm filter thread. There is still some risk for vignetting, as the adapter places the filter further from the lens, but it's less than when using a step-down adapter.


You will generally find that a given lens manufacture sticks to a few filter sizes... or tries to.

For Nikon, you'll find quite a few 52mm threads, then it jumps up to 62mm threads and then to 77mm threads. Sigma is a bit more over the place though has a number of 58mm threads and 72mm threads. And Tamron is mostly 62mm and 72mm threads. (I've only mentioned the 3rd party lenses and Nikon hear because thats what the lens system in the question - other lens systems can be seen following the links at Tiffen - Lens to Filter charts)

If you stick with one lens manufacture, you will find that you don't need stepping rings for your lenses. The difference between 52 to 62 is significant enough that it merits a new filter... and to 77mm its really awkward to put a 77mm on a 52mm thread.

Thus, I've found that I've purchased the key filters in the various sizes that I use for my lenses... and they are consistent - paying attention to this and planing lenses does make this an easier thing to do.

Another approach is to get a square filter system. The two that stick in my mind here are Lee and Cokin. Cokin has a number of sizes, you will ultimately want to get one that matches our filter sizes. For Lee, there's only one size... avoid the Cokin A size (36mm - 62mm threads) and look instead at the P size (48mm - 82mm threads) or Z-Pro (49mm - 96mm threads).

Lee takes 4" filters which are very common and made by a number of manufactures.... Cokin, less so.

Always, look at the rectangular filters and the filter holder.

The basic idea is that you get a filter holder and then adapter rings for that filter holder, and then square filters for that system. This way, you are only buying one filter of a given type.

enter image description here

Here you see a Cokin Z-Pro filter holder with a 77mm thread adapter ring in place. There are slots to hold the filters (this one has two spots). On the higher end lineups (the 'Pro' Cokin and Lee types) you can adjust how many filters are held by removing the screws and adding or removing slots (in case the slots are getting in the way for a wide lens, or if you want to to stack several filters together (Lee twilight set - example there's the mahogany filter in the sky, the twilight in the water, the the stripe in the middle))

Adapter rings for square systems will run you between $30 and $60 depending on the system and the features of the ring (one that is designed for wide angles will be more than a generic one).

  • Too bad no Canon <3 – dpollitt Jun 25 '14 at 18:39
  • @dpollitt I was giving Nikon examples as the Nikon lenses were the ones mentioned. The Canon chart shows a fairly consistent 52, 58, and 72mm thread size (with some others mixed in). That said, as a Nikonian, I'm rather pleased with Nikon's very consistent thread sizes for its lenses. – user13451 Jun 25 '14 at 18:43

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