Author Topic: Making Filters Easy to Use  (Read 811 times)

Michael Erlewine

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Making Filters Easy to Use
« on: June 20, 2016, 20:24:13 »
If we have a bunch of lenses that demand different filters, here is the best way I have found to satisfy that demand, short of not using filters at all. Most of us know that the least expensive way to handle this problem is by using a series of step-up rings that step-up to a common large size, like 77mm. That is the size I use. So I step up my most commonly-used lenses to 77mm and share a few filters at that size with all the rings. In this way, I only have to have one Circular Polarizer, one each of various ND filters, and so on down the line. I have a lot of lenses with weird filter threads or no threads at all, so I have settled on the following filter sizes, which I will fit into my scheme. Any other sizes I handle on a case-by-case basis. Here is what I use:

Step-Up Rings

39mm-77mm (off brand)


I go another step further, as well. I hate screwing and unscrewing filters because sooner or later something gets stuck or the threads get bent or whatever. To prevent that, I use two things:


I find that the best step-up rings that I have found are those made by Breakthrough Photography. They are made of CNC machined brass, include a traction frame (you can get a grip on them!), and come with a 25-year support warranty.


I use two sizes of ND filters, a 3-stop filter and a 6-stop filter, again made by Breakthrough Photography. I have a whole box of older filters of many kinds, but have found that those from Breakthrough Photography are an order of magnitude superior to all those I already own. The Breakthrough Photography ND filters are made from SCHOTT B279 Glass made in Germany, with multi-resistant optical coating (MRC), which is structurally harder than glass, plus they are weather-sealed with nano coatings (nanotec®).

I also have their X4 CPL (circular polarizer), with the same MRC and nano coatings, weather sealing, and SCHOTT Superwhite B270 optical glass. I have this in 77MM and one in 95mm to fit the Zeiss Otus 28 lens.

I don’t work for Breakthrough Photography or get any breaks from them. These are just very much more neutral-color filters than I have ever seen, very much worth having IMO.

XUME Magnets

And finally, I put all of these step-up rings, filters, and also lens hoods together with some very small powerful rare-earth magnet rings and caps from XUME. The end result is that for the many major filter sizes, I have a step-up ring connected to an XUME magnetic lens ring of 77mm, which can accept a filter, a lens cap, or a lens hood, each of which has an XUME magnetic filter ring – filter, cap, and hood. They are all interchangeable and I find that they are very, very helpful. Sure, I can screw all of the things together endlessly, which is what I have been doing in the past. I don’t care to do that anymore.

Instead, I only screw the step-up ring (to 77mm) into the lens I want to use, and that ring remains on my most used lens of that filter size. So I pick up the lens and it is ready to shoot. It has a snap-on lens cap that I replace in an instant with a collapsible rubber hood. If this interests you, browse these two sites, see how they can work together, and check it out.

Breakthrough Photography

XUME Quick-Release Adapters Founder, (articles), (video tutorials), All-Music Guide, All-Movie Guide, Classic, Matrix Software,,