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12-22-2009, 05:45 PM   #1
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filter step up rings or filters for every lens?

I have been reading (and noticing) that the low-to-mid price filters I have do a decent, but not great job. I have also noticed friends with the high end filters seem to have less issues in terms of more even sky colors, lack of blotches, etc. So...I'm thinking about purchasing the high end filters. The problem is 8 lenses - all of different sizes - and the cost associated with it as some of these go for well over $100. What should I look at for options? Is it best to have dedicated filters for each lens? Should I get a couple high end (such as circular polarizer) and run with step-up adapter rings on the other lenses? Should I look at something like the Cokin setup? Uses will vary greatly from landscape (~50-60% of my pics) to action shots of wildlife and sporting events. I plan to purchase a DA 12-24mm f/4 ED AL (IF) lens also, which I've heard doesn't work well at all with circular polarizers.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

12-22-2009, 06:26 PM   #2
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The modular (Cokin) type system gives you more flexibility for example when using grads.
Bear in mind, that other makes (e.g. Hi-Tech) of filters will also fit.
Would personally only consider screw-on for Polarizing (as convenient). At the moment am content using the Cokin P.
The linear polarizer works (Auto-Focus) fine on my K100D. Did try a circular (Cokin) but didn't care for the colour cast it gave.
12-22-2009, 07:52 PM   #3
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QuoteQuote:
I plan to purchase a DA 12-24mm f/4 ED AL (IF) lens also, which I've heard doesn't work well at all with circular polarizers.
It's not that it doesn't work well. It works just like any other lens with a CPL filter. Where you have problems is when you have sky in your shot. At 12mm, your angle of view is going to be wide enough that you are going to get a darker band of sky where the polarization will be strongest, and progressively lighter sky surrounding that band.

If you aren't shooting landscape scenes with sky, you won't see the effect.

As to your main question, you might want to look at settling on two filter sizes. One for your smaller threaded lens and one for your larger lenses. The reason is that if you are using a lens with a 49mm thread, and you use a step up ring to a 77mm filter, you are increasing the amount of area that may be subject to stray light flare. Personally, I think it's a good compromise between buying a filter in every size and relying on one filter. It gives you a little bit of redundancy, and you can get rings cheap if you want to have all your bases covered.
12-23-2009, 11:00 AM   #4
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I do what Alohadave suggests: I try to keep to two sizes: one large, and one smaller, and have step rings for each lens I might filter living there, usually with hoods in those sizes as well. In my case, it's 55mm and 72mm, (though I think I'm about to blow that scheme out of the water by getting something that takes a 77. Ah, well. ) A side-benefit of stepping a lot of my lenses to 55's is that it's not a popular size anymore, and they can often be had cheaply.


Still, remember that on a crop-sensor camera, you can get away with a whole lot more in the way of step-down rings on full-frame lenses than you could on FF.


You might also consider examining which lenses you're going to be using what kind of filter with, and how often. Sometimes it makes sense to divert a little from a scheme or leave a lens out of it. If you mostly walk around with just a lens or two on the cameras most of the time, it might be worthwhile to save yourself a lot of swapping by having, say, a polarizer for each, and letting the rest use step-rings.


One thing that can be useful is to have a dedicated *hood* to go on a nice polarizer or two, and just swap that around as a unit, between lenses all stepped to that size. Just swap hood and PL for cap. (One thing I haven't found for my version of this is just the right case for the polarizer and hood to live in, but it works out pretty nice.)


I think if you start by aiming for two filter sizes, you'll soon figure out what'll work for you.


Cokin types are handy for a lot of things (like graduated and spot filters) ...if you are really *into* filters and have a chance to set up, for instance: I always really liked their diffusers, too, and found it convenient to slip those in alongside any contrast or other filtereyness on the fly. They're *not* a very good cheap way to just fit polarizers to any lens, though, if you ask me.

12-23-2009, 05:17 PM   #5
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I hadn't thought of two different ones - I got pucker factor when I started adding up what it would cost for good filters for all my lenses. I'll take a step back and determine which it makes sense to focus on (like the 55mm idea) then can mess with the rings to figure out the rest. Thanks for the great feedback and dose of reality!

I really want the 12-24mm and love doing landscape photos. Here in Utah it's pretty easy to get some striking landscapes with multitudes of colors and contrast beautifully with the clear blue skies. Even going with the 1/3's rule, that still puts a lotta sky into the picture. I've messed around with different varieties to cut haze (UV and UV haze), add some color (really didn't like those), polarizers, CPLs, and an ND (which I don't think I really know how to use properly yet). In your opinion, will a very good CPL on that wide of a lens get me the results I want or am I best focusing my efforts on post-processing? Or, with something that wide should I look at the Cokin solution? It sounds like, off your statement, that it's just the way it is and I simply need to expect and deal with it in Lightroom. Any insight would be greatly appreciated as I've been struggling with this one for quite some time.

bluespearbone - thanks for the info on the grads. I'll do some more research on them to see if they fit my needs.
12-24-2009, 07:32 AM   #6
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Yep, two good CPLs and some step-up rings are a fiscally responsible way to go. When it comes to the Cokin system, the polarizer they offer for the system is extremely dark and thick, so a standalone quality polarizer is a better bet. (Sounds weird, but you *can* attach a Cokin ring to the front of a CPL, just be careful when rotating it!)

When it comes to the 12-24 and a polarizer, this is one of those wide-angles where a *linear* polarizer would work better (no light/dark patches). It'll mess up your AF, and metering to some degree, but at 12mm you probably are shooting a landscape with huge DOF anyhow. I use a linear polarizer on my 10-17 fisheye for this reason (but that's a complicated mounting job).
12-25-2009, 02:20 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by opiet70 Quote
I hadn't thought of two different ones - I got pucker factor when I started adding up what it would cost for good filters for all my lenses. I'll take a step back and determine which it makes sense to focus on (like the 55mm idea) then can mess with the rings to figure out the rest. Thanks for the great feedback and dose of reality!
Hee. Well, if you don't mind dealing with 55mm filters, you can at least save a lot on a good CPL and ND and a few others. Ebay still seems to have piles of B+W ones for very cheap, (it seems that Kodak had a bunch made for some package or other which didn't sell: Ebay was flooded with them in recent years: there are still some around. ) ...the CPLs are maybe a tad cold, (Nothing you couldn't correct in camera, I think) but very nice: Certainly the best you'll be able to do for twenty bucks.

.

If you don't mind dealing with the step rings (they may make some of your hoods not-work,) that could take a lot of the sting out of the price tag.

55's fit a few of my old Canon lenses, (Also several third party brands used them a lot in the 80's, at least,) and my Mamiya lenses tolerate the step-down very nicely, so they work out fine, for the most part.
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