In the world of photography it’s highly likely you’ve come across two words; Step Rings. But what are they? And do we actually need Step Rings?
What are Step Rings?
Step Rings attach a threaded accessory to a camera lens with a different sized filter thread. For example, a 72-77mm Step-up Ring will allow the use of a 77mm filter on a camera lens with a 72mm filter thread.
Although not listed in our top 6 Camera Accessories for 2018, a Step Ring can be one of the most useful accessories a photographer can have. It is also important to know that Step Rings can be split into two types; Step-up Rings and Step-down Rings. Don’t worry, we’ll touch on this later!
When to use a Step Ring
If you have an interchangeable-lens camera system, then chances are you own a few lenses with different filter thread sizes. This can be an expensive situation if, for example, you’re an avid user of circular filters. But, instead of paying out for the same filter in three different thread sizes, you can cut costs and look to purchase a step ring.
Firstly, you want to make sure you purchase the circular filter with the widest diameter for you. As an example, if we own three camera lenses – one with a 77mm filter thread, one with a 62mm thread, another with a 58mm thread – we want a filter to fit the widest diameter filter thread, in this example that is a 77mm filter.
Now, instead of purchasing the same filter for our 58mm and 62mm threaded lenses we just need to purchase two step rings at a fraction of the cost. These would be a 58-77mm Step-up Ring and a 62-77mm Step-up Ring.
Step Rings not only act as a very handy cost-saver in a sometimes expensive photography market, but they’re also extremely lightweight and easier to store.
How to use a Step Ring
A Step Ring consists of two separate threads on both the front and back, one is a male thread and the other is a female thread. Like with our SRB Step Rings, the size of a step ring is read from camera lens to accessory. So a 52-58mm Step-up Ring would read as a 52mm camera lens thread to a 58mm accessory thread. This means the 52mm male thread of the step ring would attach to the camera lens, leaving us to attach an accessory to the 58mm female thread of the step ring.
Step Rings can be also be stacked, which can be great if you’re looking to attaching a large diameter threaded accessory to a much smaller camera lens thread. But be careful, as this can also result in major vignetting.
Step-up or Step-down?
As we mentioned earlier there are two types of Step Rings available to choose from: Step-up and Step-down. This simply depends on if you want to raise the thread diameter of your camera lens or lower it. For example, a Step-down Ring would allow you to attach a 58mm filter to a 72mm camera lens.
As you can tell, Step-down Rings are not as widely used as Step-up Rings due to vignetting problems.