The Wisdom of Step-Up and Step-Down Rings



At first glance, purchasing a step-up ring is a simple, straightforward transaction―all you need is a metal ring that enables you to use a filter with a wider-diameter thread size than the lens on which you want to mount it. What’s not so clear-cut is why there are so many choices for a lens accessory that, on the surface, is so simple and basic.

The answer to the above is that the materials used to manufacture the ring, i.e., aluminum, hard-anodized aluminum, or brass, as well as the finish of the ring, i.e., side knurled edges or a smooth, less graspable surface finish, can make a big difference in how satisfied you may or may not be with your choice of step-up ring.  


$5 or $50 for a stepping ring? Why?


Stepping rings are available from numerous manufacturers and can cost anywhere from a few dollars to well over one hundred dollars. Why, you may ask, does a step-up ring from one company have one price tag, while “the same ring” from other companies can cost upwards of ten times the price? The truth is that the rings are not the same.


Stepping rings, as mentioned above, can be made from a variety of materials, typically aluminum, hard-anodized aluminum, or brass. While stepping rings of all materials essentially perform the same function, rings of differing prices will often relate more to the performance, consistency, durability, and reliability of a given ring.


Aluminum rings cost less than, but are not as strong as, their hard-anodized aluminum counterparts. Aluminum is a softer metal and more prone to developing dings from impacts, as compared to brass―and brass generally costs more to manufacture. What is a bit confusing, is which of these materials—aluminum (plain or hard anodized), or brass—is best.


While stepping rings of all materials essentially perform the same function, rings of differing prices will often relate more to the performance, consistency, and reliability of a given ring.


Does it matter if the ring is made of brass or aluminum?


The product descriptions of the stepping rings typically contain the words “aluminum,” “hard-anodized aluminum,” or “brass.” Knowing what a ring is made of should be an important consideration when choosing stepping rings (and equally important when choosing filters). This is because if the threads of what you’re attaching are made of the same material as the stepping ring and are not machined to the same high standards, there's a risk of “galling,” or in the colloquial of camera-repair shops, you’ve got a jammed filter on your hands, as we explain below.


According to the rules of metallurgy, and Mrs. Zuckerman, my grade-school science teacher, it is possible, in some cases, to create friction between two pieces of alloy of the same hardness and composition, such as aluminum to aluminum, which could lead to galling. This typically occurs when trying to screw a ring or filter at an angle other than straight into the lens threads, and can be exacerbated by rings and filters that are machined to lesser standards.

"What’s not so clear-cut is why there are so many choices for a lens accessory that, on the surface, is so simple and basic."

The easiest method of reducing the likelihood of a jammed step-up, step-down, or filter ring is to buy items that are machined to the same high standards. It's worth keeping in mind that less expensive rings are most likely not machined to the same standards as premium rings, which can easily increase the likelihood of a jammed ring or filter.


The barrels of pre-autofocus film-era lenses were invariably made of aluminum, and in select cases, brass. These days, determining what a lens barrel is made of can be tricky. Kit lenses are often made from some form of polymer, while many premium lenses feature threads made of harder alloys, including aluminum, with forward edges made of other materials, which are not as prone to galling issues.


One helpful feature that select manufacturers incorporate into their rings and filters is side-knurled edges that make it easier to grip the rings or filters when attaching or removing them from the lens threads.


Choose the right rings for your needs


If cost isn’t an issue, brass rings are more reliable, last longer, are less likely to warp, and can be used with most other metal alloys with little fear of galling. For the record, I’ve owned the same set of brass step-up rings for more than 30 years, and I use them to this very day. It’s not that rings made of the same materials as the lens barrel or filter will jam every time you try to attach them. In fact, they may fail on you on the rarest of occasions; it’s just that it’s most likely to happen at an inconvenient, never-to-happen-again moment in time. And that's when you'll wish you had the right combination of rings and filters.


Ideal candidates for brass step rings are professional photographers who cannot afford product failures on the job, who vary and use different filters, who take them on and off all the time, and take every advantage to achieve their vision. A professional photographer is better served by using well-machined brass, which decreases the likelihood of galling, and helps protect their investment in filters and stepping rings. 

Why and when you would need a step-up ring

If you own an interchangeable-lens camera system, chances are you own more than one lens. What’s more, there's a good chance the filter thread diameter sizes of one or more of your lenses differ from the other lenses. For example, two lenses might have 58mm thread sizes, while the third lens might have a 49mm, 62mm, 67mm, or 77mm thread size. Then again, each of the thread sizes might be different. And the more lenses you own, the more likely this is going to be the case.


Once you go beyond the best-quality protector or UV filters to serve as basic protection, you may wish to use an additional filter such as a Circular Polarizer, ND, Graduated ND, etc.

"You could say stepping rings are a win-win solution that should please both your wallet and your gear-besieged shoulders and back."


The starting point for configuring a step-up ring system is to establish a pecking order from widest diameter thread size to the smallest. As an example, if you own three lenses—one with a 52mm thread, another with a 67mm thread, and a third with a 77mm thread—you want a filter to fit the widest diameter thread size, in this case 77mm, and a pair of step-up rings, 67-77mm and 52-77mm, to couple the larger 77mm filter to the smaller-diameter thread sizes.


Although thread size doesn’t affect image quality, it does have an impact on the number of filters and lens accessories you have to keep on hand, regardless of whether you are taking pictures indoors or out. Rather than purchasing multiples of every filter and lens accessory to go along with each of the thread sizes, consider purchasing a single, high-quality filter to fit the lens with the largest thread size along with step-up rings to adapt the larger filter to the lenses with smaller thread sizes.



It’s hard to knock the advantages of stepping rings. Simply stated, if you own lenses with varying filter-thread sizes, stepping rings weigh and cost less than multiples of comparable glass filters and lens accessories. You could say stepping rings are a win-win solution that should please both your wallet and your gear-besieged shoulders and back. While stepping rings can be stacked, it is best to use as few rings as possible to reduce the chances of vignetting or ghosting.


Why and when you need a step-down ring


The opposite of step-up rings are step-down rings, which essentially do the reverse: they enable you to adapt filter and lens accessories with smaller thread sizes to lenses with larger thread sizes. For example, they allow you to attach a 52mm filter to a lens with a 72mm thread size.


Step-down rings are not as widely used as step-up rings because, in most cases, the smaller filter sizes result in vignetting. The exception to this rule is when using lenses and filters designed for larger-format cameras (i.e. full-frame) on smaller-format cameras (i.e. APS-C and Micro Four Thirds). In these cases, the smaller image field will often negate any vignetting or image clipping.


For further reading about the filters to which you can apply step-up or step-down rings, click on the following links:

UV Filters Primer

Filters for Lenses

Filters for Landscape Photography








Hello! I have a Pentax 645N II camera and have 58mm and 67mm lenses. I assume my best option for filters is to buy 67mm filters and get a step up ring. What do you recommend for the size of step up ring? Also, what are your recommendations for brands/material?


Thanks :)

If the filter thread size of the lenses you own are both 58mm and 67mm and you want to purchase all 67mm filters, then you may purchase either the Sensei PRO 58-67mm Brass Step-Up Ring, B&H # SESURP5867, or the Sensei 58-67mm Aluminum Step-Up RingB&H # SESUR5867, for your usage needs.  Brass filters are stronger and has fewer issues with binding or cross-threading, and should be slightly easier to remove if they are jammed on, whereas aluminum filters are more economically priced.  Both are compatible and will work for your usage needs.


I have devoted UV & CPL filters for each of my Nikkor lenses as my collection grew gradually over time. Now I would like to add an ND32 or ND64 filter that I can adapt across all lenses (52mm, 58mm, 67mm & 77mm) but I am a little perplexed as to which step-up ring I require. Some advice of what I should purchase would be most welcome.

Cheers :)

Hi there,

I am planning to order a Pro-Mist Black filter 1/4 (49mm) to use on 3 different lenses. I would require a step-up ring to use on the other 2 lenses but I am confused as to the correct size to buy.

The filter sizes of my 3 lenses are 49mm, 55mm, and 60mm.

Can u tell me the suitable step-up ring to purchase?


Thank you!

Being that your 1/4 Black Pro-Mist filter is 49mm, you would actually need a step down ring in this case to use it on other lenses of another size. There isn't a step down ring from 60-49mm, but you can get the Sensei 55-49mm Step-Down Ring, BH # SESDR5549.

Hi there! About to buy the black pro mist for one of my lenses which is a canon 15-45mm which makes the thread size 49mm. I'd also like to use it on my canon prime lens which is 32mm and the thread size is 43mm. Could you possibly point me into the direction of lens step ups and step downs. It's a bit confusing to me! Thank you!

If you purchase a 49mm Tiffen Black Mist Pro filter for use on your Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens (which has 49mm front filter threads), but you also want to use the 49mm filter on your Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM Lens (which has 43mm front filter threads), you would need a 43-49mm step-up filter such as the Sensei 43-49mm Aluminum Step-Up RingB&H # SESUR4349, for your usage needs.



All Tamron lens are 67mm but I guess not all have the same dimension inside. So, my question is: could some of them be ok with a step-down ring using for example 62mm filters.  If so, is there some kind of a chart of Tamron lens that would be ok with smaller filters

Unfortunately, there is no chart for Tamron lenses that would show which of them can be used with a step down ring. Whether the step down ring can actually be used depends on the specific Tamron lens. We invite you to reach out to us via Live Chat or call 1-800-606-6969 so we can go over your options in greater detail.

Please, I need your advice too, I have several Fujifilm lenses, All of the same size 62 mm (23/1.4, 56 and 90). I'm going to buy a Raynox DCR-250 for this lenses only and I don't understand at all which adapter ring I need: step up or step dow? How to correctly determine the size of the ring? on the one side it is 62 mm it is clear to me, but on the other not because there 2 threads:Front Filter thread  49mm
and Mounting thread  43mm.  Its so complicated to me 

When using step-up or step-down rings, the first number is the front filter thread size of your lens; the second number is the rear filter thread size of the filter you wish to connect to your lens (i.e., a 62-77mm step-up ring connects a 77mm filter to a 62mm lens).  If the second number is larger, the filter or adapter you wish to use is larger than the filter thread size of your lens, then you are stepping UP in size (i.e., a 62-52mm step-down ring connects a 52mm filter to a 62mm lens).  If the second number is smaller, the filter or adapter you wish to use is smaller than the filter thread size of your lens, then you are stepping DOWN in size.


The FUJIFILM XF 23mm f/1.4 R Lens, B&H # FU2314, has 62mm front filter threads.  The FUJIFILM XF 56mm f/1.2 R Lens, B&H # FU5612, has 62mm front filter threads.  The FUJIFILM XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR Lens, B&H # FU902, also has 62mm front filter threads.
While the Raynox DCR-250 2.5x Super Macro Lens does have 43mm rear filter threads, if you look at the "In the Box" section on our website, it states that the Raynox DCR-250 2.5x Super Macro Lens includes a Snap-on Universal Adapter for 52mm to 67mm Mount.  This would be an adapter to connect the DCR-250 to lenses that have front filter thread sizes from 52mm to 67mm.  As such, the Snap-on Universal Adapter for 52mm to 67mm Mount will allow you to connect the Raynox DCR-250 to all of your lenses.


That being said, due to the much smaller size of the Raynox DCR-250 Super Macro Lens, I believe you will experience a lot of vignetting using this adapter on your lens.  If you are trying to capture close-up images and you do not want to use a macro lens, I would recommend considering a set of close-up filters such as the Hoya 62mm HMC Close-Up Filter Set II (+1, +2, and +4), B&H # HOCUS2MC62, for your usage needs.  The above will fit directly onto the 62mm filter threads on your lenses without the need of an adapter or a step-up/step-down ring.

Please, I need your advice too, I have several Fujifilm lenses, All of the same size 62 mm (23/1.4, 56 and 90). I'm going to buy a Raynox DCR-250 for this lenses only and I don't understand at all which adapter ring I need: step up or step dow? And with size?

The Raynox DCR-250 2.5x Super Macro Lens includes a Snap-on Universal Adapter for 52mm to 67mm filter sizes with the macro lens' purchase.  As such, if all your Fujifilm lenses have the same size 62mm front filter thread size, you would not need an additional step-up or step-down ring as the universal adapter included with the Raynox DCR-250 2.5x Super Macro Lens would work on your lenses.

when using a step down from an 86mm to a 77mm with a CPL, is the vignetting less noticable or more?  being an 86mm filter isn't as common the price is much higher than other sizes so was trying to see if using the step down to use my B+W filters would be bad 

"Less noticeable" or "more noticeable" is subjective and dependent on your starting point.  To answer your inquiry, the smaller the number between the filter size and the lens' filter thread size, the less noticeable any vignetting will be.  As an example, if you had a lens with 82mm filter threads, but you had a 77mm filter, you would experience less vignetting using a 82-77mm step-down ring (it would be less noticeable) compared to if the filter was 67mm in size and you had to use a 82-67mm step-down ring (where it would be more noticeable).  More of the smaller filter is blocking light from reaching the outer edge of the larger lens front on the 82-67mm option, therefore, you would have more vignetting.
In your specific case of an 86-77mm step-down ring (where the lens' filter thread size is 86mm and the filter you wish to use is 77mm in diameter), this would be a special case as the only size step-down ring we carry for 86mm lenses is 86-77mm.  As such, there are no other option to compare to for "more noticeable" or "less noticeable" in terms of vignetting.  In this case, it will simply be a case-by-case situation dependent on the lens you are using, its imaging circle, and how much the smaller 77mm filter may block the outer edge of the imaging circle.


You would simply have to try the step-down ring and filter on your lens to see if you notice any undesired vignetting.  Due to its size, we only have two (2) step-down rings for you to choose from: the Sensei 86-77mm Step-Down Ring, B&H # SESDR8677, and the Cavision AR-D6 Series 86-77mm Step-Down Ring, B&H # CAAR7786D6.  My recommendation would be to simply purchase the Sensei step-down ring and try it on your equipment.  If you are not happy with the filter's performance on the larger lens, you know this combination does not work for your needs and you may return the step-down ring for an exchange or a refund (the Cavision step-down ring is a Special Order item, and as such, it cannot be returned after purchase; therefore, purchase the Sensei option for your test).




Hello Manzell

My concern/question:

I have one Tamron 150-600 mm lens with filter size 95mm

If I buy a 95mm ND 15 filter, and then if I would like to use it on a 24-70mm lens (77 mm filter) and on a 70-200mm lens (67mm filter) what process should i follow to avoid vignetting?

Thank you



As the 95mm neutral density filter you own is much larger than the outer diameter of the other two lenses on which you wish to use the filter, you would not have any issues with vignetting; the 95mm filter will entirely cover the front of both smaller lenses.  You would only notice vignetting when using a smaller filter in front of a larger lens (or stacking multiple thick filters together).  The Sensei 77-95mm Aluminum Step-Up Ring, B&H # SESUR7795, would be compatible for use with your 24-70mm lens, whereas the Sensei 67-95mm Aluminum Step-Up Ring, B&H # SESUR6795, would be compatible for use with your 70-200mm lens.  The only issue with the above setup is your bayonet lens hood would no longer fit on the front of the lens when using the larger filter and step-up rings.

Had a question regarding these Filter Ring Adapters now I know this is an older post but recently picked up a sigma art 60mm for my sony that uses a 46mm filter thread, I have a canon 50mm 1.8 that uses a 49mm filter i was wondering if there was a ring out there that would make this work or if I should just purchase yet another cpl / nd filter, thank you for your time.

Assuming that your CPL and ND filters are 49mm, you can Sensei PRO 46-49mm Aluminum Step-Up Ring, BH # SESURPA4649 to attach them to your Sigma 60mm Art lens with a 46mm filter thread. One thing to keep in mind is that any lens hood you wish to use would not fit with this combination.


I read above and agree Brass is be better that aluminum,  but now manufactures are coming out with titanium.  How does that compare to brass as a step-up or lens frame?

Titanium rings hold up a lot better in higher temperatures and would have added strength versus brass or aluminum rings. 

hi, i have a canon xf300 camcorder, am looking at getting a fisheye for it but there none with a 82mm thread which means i will have to use a step-down ring. the only one on the market is a 67mm thread.. so it would be 82-67mm step down. i am a skater so i don't mind to much vignetting but i don't know how much? and if i would be able to crop the footage? or zoom in on my camcorder? and if i were to loose quality by doing that?

i know its a lot but if anyone has experience with step-down rings with a fisheye lens i could use some help trying to get a set up!:)

Hi Mitchell -
There may be some severe vignetting and you may want to go this route only if the results are good enough for your project.  For the best results, I recommend considering using a high quality converter lens:
Century Precision Optics Super Fisheye Adapter for Canon XF300/XF305  B&H # CE0HDFESUXF 
The Super Fisheye Adapter for Canon XF300/XF305 introduces a wider view and an extraordinary degree of barrel distortion to the fixed 18x lens of the Canon XF300/305 HD camcorders. Make tall trees bend and loom and make close crowds menace – or put extreme-sports tricks and other physical astonishments right in the viewer's face.

The 0.45x Super Fisheye Adapter twists onto the bayonet of the Canon XF300/XF305 lens (where the sunshade goes) for quick mounting and without the damage that can result from repeated use of the accessory screw thread.

The Super Fisheye exaggerates the depth of expansive scenes, pushing out the far elements and pulling in nearby objects. In indoor spaces the effect can be one of distinct claustrophobia. Along with the distortion effect, the adapter simultaneously fits more into the scene. Compared to the lens's standard 60.7° horizontal view at full wide, the Super Fisheye offers a 103.3° horizontal angle of view at the wide end.

Hi.  I have a panasonic hvx200 with 82mm diameter and also have a opteka titanium series 0.3x HD super fisheye lens.  I was wondering if there was a step down ring to fit the fisheye onto the video camera without causing vignetting.  Thanks!

the camera has 82mm threads and the fisheye lens has 58mm threads.  Would the Heliopan 82-58mm Step-Down Ring (#406) work or cause vignetting? 

It seems it would cause vignetting but would it effect quality if i were to crop the video in final cut pro?

I am contemplating an 85mm RF canon macro. 

I'd like to use it with the MR14ex2 flash. They are different filter threads. What can you recommend to make these two items work?

Thank you.


The MR14EX II requires lens mount adapters to fit.  In order to mount this flash to the RF 85mm Macro, you will need the Canon 67 Macrolite Adapter, BH # CAMLA67.

I really want the sigma 85mm f1.4 which has that monstrous 86mm front filter thread and I love using pearlescent filters. Unfortunately Tiffen only makes that in 82mm max. Will using an 82-86mm step down ring cause vignetting shooting on full frame?

I am experiencing vignetting on my canon 24-70 f2.8 shooting full frame canon 5d mark II with an 82-77mm step down ring

If you wish to use smaller 82mm filters on the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF, which uses the larger 86mm filter, then a step-down filter would be needed.  Unfortunately, we do not have an 86-82mm Step-Down Ring for your usage needs.  There is an 86-77mm step-down ring in our inventory, but we have no 86-82mm step-down rings listed in our inventory.  While we do not have an option for you, whenever you are using a smaller filter on a lens that has a larger filter thread size, you do run the risk of obtaining vignetting due to the edge of the smaller filter blocking light from the outer edge of the larger lens.  While it is not possible to test each lens, filter, and step-down ring combination, it is typically recommended to expect some vignetting when using a step-down ring, and if you are not happy with the filter ring, you may return the item within 30 days of your original purchase date for an exchange or a refund.

Hi, in the above example, like having 3 lenses with 52mm, 67mm and 77mm, it was suggested to get a 77mm filter, then get 2 step up rings, 52 to 77 and another on 67 to 77mm.

I was wondering if you can use a 52 to 67mm step up ring, and a 67 to 77 mm step up ring.  In this way, I can just stack them up. If i'll use the 52 diameter lens, then, ill use the 52 to 67, then 67 to 77, then add the filter.

Will there be a degradation in image quality this way?

There is no image quality loss with this method, but by using multiple rings stacked on top of one another you are in effect creating a hood around the front of the lens which may cause vignetting (darkening of corner) on wide-angle lenses.

Hi Shawn.  Thanks for the clarification.  I was thinking about the vignetting and also how it would not look as pleasing when using a single step up ring.

Hey Joel,

Stacking rings will not degrade your image quality, but depending on the focal length of the lens, your working aperture, and the thickness of the rings, you might see vignetting towards the edges of your frame. Run a test before you commit and keep in mind the wider the field-of-view of the lens, the more likely you vignette. Ditto the aperture - wide open you may not notice anything but close down a few stops and the edges might start going dark.

Hi Allan.  Thanks for your input.  I needed your answers to actually not get me to go this route.  I was thinking that it is actually doable in application but there's the vignetting to consider as well. 

Can lens hoods be used with step-up/down rings?

In some cases, a lens hood can be used in conjunction with step up or step down rings.  However, those types of hoods are limited to the screw-type rather than the bayonet type. Also, there may be a risk of vignetting if the lens is very wide.

is stepping up from 58 to 82 an impractical step to make? is there a point where it's a better long-term solution to have a second set of filters? thank you.

Stepping up from a 58-82mm filter size can be impractical if the lens has a wide angle focal length, which in turn may cause vignetting. That issue is less apparent as the lens gets longer in focal length. 

I have a 49-67 step up ring. One ring.  Will that degrade the performance of a CPL?  I heard it was better to have a couple step up rings so that the 49mm lens would see a wider portion of the CPL.  

In my experience, using a single step up ring with a CPL would not degrade the performance.  

Will using step-down ring from 55mm to 49mm cause vignetting? I have Sony 6300 with 35 mm f/1.8 lens and want to use ring for Tiffen Black pro mist 1/2 filter. Please help

It is possible that using a 49mm filter on a lens that has 55mm filter threads may cause vignetting as you are using a smaller-diameter filter in front of a larger lens.  As it depends on the lens' design and field of view, you would have to test the setup on your specific lens to see if the setup vignettes on your lens, but for that size difference, yes, vignetting is a possibility.

Hi guys! I am just diving into the tech side of photography and have already made my first purchasing mistake,thankfully it is not a major one for me. I love Breakthrough Photography products,so I will be getting more. However, I accidentally bought the wrong size thread for ND filter,in between purchases I was thinking about just getting a step down ring for my 75-300mm zoom lense. I want to know if vignetting might be an issue,if I am using for a zoomed picture detail anyway,instead of leaving on the wider setting? The whole point was to use the ND with the 75-300mm to capture detail in landscapes. Again,luckily this is temporary,and I even have the option of returning the filter,I just really would rather get practicing with it on my other lenses,which it fits. Thank you for the help,and I am humbled by the talent,help,and comradery on this page.

I am very new to photography. On friday, I will receive my new Canon 5d Mark IV from you guys! (thank you...) I am getting the Tamron 24-70mm 2.8 g2 lens. My sweet hubby surprised me with this huge upgrade from a rebel t3i but did not know I couldn't just use my old lenses. I have a few older lenses and am not sure of the compatibility. (They fit my old canon rebel t3i) The two are zeikos professional hd 0.18x super wide fisheye with macro and zeikos professional hd mk ii dslr mc af 4.5x telephoto. Can step down rings be used to attach these? (I think 82mm down to 58) What would be the downside to this? Also is it possible to use ef-s lenses from my rebel t3i? Sorry if these questions are very basic but the camera is a gift and I am trying to learn as much as possible. Thanks for any info or advise! :)



Hi Roxann,

While it is possible to get a step down ring such as the Heliopan 82-58mm Step-Down Ring (#406) B&H # HESDR8258, the add on lenses you have now may make it difficult to use autofocus and would cause a reduction in image quality.


I have a sony a7s with a 55mm lens and need a good nd filter and a step up/down adapter. What size should I step up to to avoid vignetting? The nd filter will primarily be used for video not photography. Also, any suggestions on good nd filters? The sharper the better but I can't afford probably higher than anything more than $120 or so.

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