How to Use Step-Up & Step-Down Filter Adapter Rings for Screw-in Lens Filters

If you don’t have a screw-in filter that’s the right size for your lens, step-up and step-down rings work as size adapters.

Lens Filter Step-Up and Step-Down Rings
Text & Photos By David Coleman
Last Revised & Updated:
Filed Under: Lens Filters

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Camera lenses come with different lens diameters at the front of the lens. Chances are, if you’ve got a couple of lenses in your camera bag, you’ll need a couple of different-sized screw-in filters to fit them.

Ideally, you’d have a set of perfectly sized filters for the diameter of each lens in your kit. But that’s not practical or cost-effective most of the time—good-quality filters aren’t cheap! Carrying three or four polarizer filters, for example, can be pricey and cumbersome.

So if you don’t have a specific filter size that you need for your lens’s diameter, a good option is to use a step-up filter. They’re also sometimes also called stepping rings or adapter rings. Not to be confused with lens adapters (or lens mount adapters), which let you put one type of lens mount on a camera body that has a different style of lens mount.

Lens Filter Step-Up and Step-Down Rings

All step-up or step-down rings do is adapt the diameter of the filter to match the lens diameter. They don’t have any glass or electronics, so they have no bearing on the optical quality or features like autofocus. [1]

Lens Filter Step-Up and Step-Down Rings

Things Worth Knowing About Step-Up & Step-Down Rings

  • Step-Up/Step-Down rings don’t work well with lens hoods, so you’ll likely have to do without the hood.
  • As with regular filters, don’t over-tighten them. If you do, there’s a good chance you’ll damage the lens’s thread. If they do get stuck, you can use a rubber band or filter wrench to undo them.
  • There’s no optical quality to the filters—there’s no glass in them—so I’ve never seen the need to get expensive ones. The one caveat to that is that I much prefer metal filters to plastic ones—they’re just more durable, especially the threads.
  • It is possible to stack these rings to get to a size that no single ring can do, but it increases the chance of vignetting. And it’s less than ideal to push the filter glass further away from the lens itself—it just increases the risk of optical issues from dust or smudges on the filter.
Lens Filter Step-Up and Step-Down Rings

Where to Find Them

You can but them individually or in kits like this one.

K&F Concept 18 Pieces Filter Ring Adapter Set, Camera Lens Filter Metal...
  • Include Step Up Filter Adapter Ring Kit(37-49, 49-52, 52-55, 55-58, 58-62, 62-67,67-72, 72-77, 77-82mm)
  • Include Step Down Filter Adapter Ring Kit(49-37, 52-49, 58-55, 55-52, 62-58, 67-62,72-67, 77-72, 82-77mm...

Lens Filter Size Charts

I’ve compiled some lens filter size charts, starting with some of the most commonly used and current lenses. You can find the corresponding chart here:

  1. An exception to the optical quality is if you’re using a filter that’s smaller than the lens diameter, in which case there’s a strong chance you’ll get vignetting around the edges and corners of the frame.[]

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David Coleman

I'm a professional photographer based in Washington, DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and many places in between. I've been shooting for 30+ years, and my photos and time-lapse videos have appeared in a bunch of different publications, from major newspapers to magazines and books, billboards, TV shows, professional sports stadiums, museums, and even massive architectural scrims covering world-famous buildings while they're being renovated. You can see some of my travel photography here and here.

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