Step-up and step-down rings are useful for attaching filters to multiple lenses with differently sized filter threads, but when they get stuck, they're almost impossible to separate, which can leave your filter completely unusable. So, use this quick tip to separate them with ease.
Most lenses have filter threads on the front to allow for filters to be attached. But the diameter of these filter threads varies depending on the size of the lens. If you're using screw-in filters and own multiple lenses with different filter thread sizes, you'll have to purchase multiple filters of varying sizes to fit each lens. However, you can save yourself a lot of money if you use step-up and step-down rings.
These rings adapt the size of the filter's thread size to the diameter of your lens, meaning you only need to purchase one expensive filter and simply use the cheaper step-up or step-down rings to use them on all your kit. But there's a catch.
These rings are a workaround, and because of their slim profile and fine thread, they sometimes get stuck on the filter, or if you're using multiple rings, they can stick to each other. You'll find yourself shredding fingernails and straining your fingers at first trying to remove them. I know because I did this for a few years. Sure, you can reach for the pliers, but they're likely to damage the screw threads or misshape the rings themselves.
There are specific filter and ring grippers that are specifically designed to separate stuck rings, but it's just another expense and space taken up in your kit bag. I've found a much better solution, and it lies in the palm of your hands.
1. Use the Whole Hand
Simply place the stuck rings in the palm of one hand. What we're looking to do is place pressure on the edges of the rings and increase surface area.
2. Bring the Hands Together
Now, place your hands together in a prayer position. Press your hands firmly together and make sure you're in contact with the edges of the rings as tightly as possible.
3. Turn the Hands
Now, gently turn your hands in opposite directions. Remember: "lefty loosey, righty tighty," or in other words, turn them both counter-clockwise. The added surface area is placed on the rim of the rings, plus additional pressure should be enough to loosen the rings easily. If you find that your hands are too slippery, pop on some rubber gloves for increased grip.
There you have it. Your filters and step-up/down rings are now free and ready to be used again. Just remember not to over-tighten them when putting them back on the lenses, and if you're screwing in the filter once the step-up/down rings are already attached to the lens, be sure not to add additional screwing to the rings; just hold the edge of the ring slightly as you do this.