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07-16-2017, 08:56 PM   #1
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Disadvantages of moving filter away from front element? Step up/down rings

Hey guys, I am planning to buy a new Variable ND filter (a cheap one to experiment at first). I do have a very nice B&W ND set at 67mm but that only covers one of my lenses + changing ND filters can be cumbersome during the shoot. Although i shoot landscapes for fun, ND filters role are more of a getaway drug type fake HSS look for me.

I was originally planning to buy that Cheap Cokin Filters but seeing my friends Lee Filters in action seemed too slow for portrait sessions. And to cover all of my lenses, 55 62 67 77 82 threads, i am planning to buy a magical thing called Step Up/Down rings. Honestly, i don't know how i never saw these things before. Anyway, does stacking a couple of those rings and moving it away from front element will cause issues? such as focusing or haze may be worse image quality?

07-16-2017, 09:47 PM - 1 Like   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by G.E.Zekai Quote
Anyway, does stacking a couple of those rings and moving it away from front element will cause issues?
No. As long as the rings do not cause vignetting. As long as you are stepping up you should be fine as the rings are getting wider than the lens. Can cause issues with the hood of course.

Do some research on variable ND filters before buying, they seem convenient but many report uneven filtration causing blotching. Maybe that has been fixed in newer versions but it was a problem last time I checked, which was some years ago.
07-17-2017, 07:51 AM   #3
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The possibility of vignetting is greater for wide-angle focal lengths if you stack filters, e.g., stacking a polarizing or neutral-density filter on top of step-up ring that is in turn attached to a protective filter (like a skylight or UV filter) already mounted on the lens.
07-17-2017, 08:29 AM   #4
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Jatrax's and pete-tarmigan's advice is great.

One other minor correctable issue with step-up rings is an added risk of flare if sunlight falls on the shiny inner surface of the ring. With a big filter and no lens hood, there's an increased chance that direct sunlight can fall on the filter's surface, reflect off shiny parts of the step-up ring, enter the lens, and cause a loss of contrast. A lens hood, black card, or your hand can be used to shade the filter.

07-17-2017, 08:34 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Do some research on variable ND filters before buying, they seem convenient but many report uneven filtration causing blotching.
I've tried 4 or 5 different variable ND filters over the years. Some were cheaper, some were more expensive.

I was not happy with any of them (unevenness and blotching).

I am now using a set (from light to really dark) of quality non-variable ND filters. Sure, it's a bit more trouble to use them, but for the best IQ, that's what I do.

The main use I see for variable ND filters is in video, for a cool lightening to darkening effect.
07-17-2017, 11:59 AM   #6
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I was aware of the uneven filtering of variable NDs and X-shaped patterns but thought they could be due to user error or bad copies.

I can also go to cheaper Cokin series filters which are still faster than unscrewing filters but i am not sure of their quality, durability and the magenta cast is too much.
07-17-2017, 01:52 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by G.E.Zekai Quote
I can also go to cheaper Cokin series filters which are still faster than unscrewing filters but i am not sure of their quality, durability and the magenta cast is too much.
For graduated ND filters the Cokins will work but other than that the screw on ones seem to work better for me. YMMV. I have a number of Cokin filters, all very old, and there is a bit of cast but I have not had too much trouble with it. But they just always seemed to fiddly for me unless I really needed the graduation. For solid filters I much prefer a screw on.
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