Filters for lenses that can’t take filters…

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but watch the above video, it should clear up any questions anyone has on how to use filters with lenses that “can’t” take filters.  But that I mean wide lenses w/o proper threads for filters on the front.  The 3 biggest offenders are the sigma 12-24mm, the nikon 14-24mm and the panasonic 7-14mm.  I’ve owned all 3 lenses at one point or another (never at the same time) and I’ve used filters with all three.  You will need to be able to modify parts to make this work, but it does work.

For the sigma you use a 95mm adapter ring with spare cowl for the lens.  You can get the cowl from Sigma for ~$30 and the adapter ring wherever you get your filters.  Once you have the parts, you need to make the cowl so it slides onto the lens.  To do this you have to remove the metal lip by either grinding/milling it off, or cutting the front portion off the lens.  When you do this it’s likely you’ll destroy one of the 2 felt rings inside the cowl but they’re not needed for this.  MAKE SURE you remove all the metal filings before putting this back on your lens!  You then press fit the cowl into a 95mm cokin ring.  If you’re unsure what that means, get out a hammer, a piece of wood, and make it work….

For the Nikon, it’s a 105mm adapter ring (available where ever you get your filters) and a spare lenscap (available where ever you got your lens).  You cut the center out of the cap this time, either from the inside through the end, or you can cut the front ~5mm off completely.   You’ll be gluing this to the 105mm ring, so think ahead as to how you’re going to make that work.  I left a lip on the cap so it would glue inside the ring making it easier to line everything up.  This method means more careful filing though.  You also have to remove some of the material inside the cap as the hood on the 14-24mm actually gets thicker as you move in from the ends.  Take your time and it works though.

For the olympus 7-14mm it’s a bit easier because everything is smaller.  It uses the 77mm adapter ring which you might already own…  With that ring you can use a livestrong band and make it work, or you can use the lenscap trick again.  The oly can also work with Z filters (4×6) which gives you a lot more options.  I only used the 7-14mm for a few weeks though so I never dialed it in honestly, but it DOES work.

Make sure you read the notes under the images below:



  1. July 29, 2010 | #

    Hi Ben:
    I see you like some Sigma glass what do you think of the 50mm 1.4
    and the new wide angle lens. Sigma 12-24, thinking of getting these 2
    for my canon 1ds mkIII,
    Thanks Ben

  2. Ben
    July 29, 2010 | #

    the sigma 12-24mm is a sweatheart lens. Widest you’ll find on FF anywhere. It’s only rivaled by sigma’s 8-16mm version for croppers. It’s a bit soft in the corners, but stopped down it’s fine. It controls flare as well as canon’s Ls and has less distortion. It’s just “slow” and needs this filter trick, but otherwise it’s a TON of fun.

    As for the 50 the optics on it are amazing. It’s also a nice looking lens and feels great (size and weight). But it can have AF issues. I’ve had 4, of those, 2 needed MA but were OK with it, the other two, even with MA, couldn’t overcome the issue (they’d need on adjustment at close range and no adjustment at long range). If it weren’t for that, I’d love it. I’ve heard if you send them to sigma they can fix it, but I’ve also heard stories where it comes back with the same issue but needs a different MA value. But optically, they’re amazing.


  3. August 18, 2010 | #

    Tired of screwing things in and out of my lenses, I bought this: Cokin P499 Universal Ring. It’s brilliant and fits on any lens. It allows the attachment of a wide angle filter holder which has minimal vignetting at 11mm (I have the Tamron 11-18mm). Also, its quick to take off and put back on if you want to mount a CPL or other filter onto your existing lens…

  4. Ben
    August 18, 2010 | #

    I also tried the universal ring, it’s actually how the first version of my holder worked. This is also used in the kit adorama sells. But the problem with the universal ring is that it’s very tedious to center each time you shoot. The X-pro sized ring is much bigger than the sigma 12-24mm OD and to keep the holder from vignetting everything needs to be centered. The “needles” will also eventually mark the lens barrel if you continually put it on and off the lens. For that reason, using the lenses lens cap and modifying it to slide onto the lens works much better even if it’s a bit more involved.


  5. fook sheng
    August 24, 2010 | #

    Hi Ben,

    great video. tks alot for sharing.

    Do you think it is possible to use a screw in 10 stop nd or Lee’s big stopper together with GND on sigma 8-16?

    tks alot

  6. Ben
    August 24, 2010 | #

    a screw in filter will NOT work. If you use a lee 10-stopper it might work as your only filter, but it’s smaller than the X-pros so it’d be very close… It’d probably work zoomed in a bit but not at 8mm. But you can order a 10-stop ND from formatt in whatever size you want, so I’d suggest going that route and just getting a custom made filter in the X-pro size.

  7. Antonio Belviso
    September 1, 2010 | #

    Ciao Ben,
    I see you are using with your filter holder system that you put
    the polarized behind the graduated filter,
    So it’s correct to do this , which is the difference ?

    thank you.

  8. Ben
    September 1, 2010 | #

    with the cokin setup, yes that is the correct order. The CP snaps into the holder at the end closest to the camera. If you’re using a normal threaded CP then it has to go on the lens BEFORE the holder and in that case I’d expect vignetting.

    Good Luck!

  9. Sergey
    September 8, 2010 | #

    So, as far as i understand Cokin does not make 9-10 stop ND filters ?
    I just put order for Sigma 12-24, and will be using on D700.
    And just to recoup i will need from Cokin :
    1. 95mm adapter ring
    2. filter holder ( is there a different holders ? Like one, two or more ? )
    3. ND graduated filters ( are you using soft or hard grads ? )
    4. one livestrong arm band

    Thanks a lot,

  10. Ben
    September 9, 2010 | #

    cokin makes them but I’ve NEVER (in ~4 years) seen the 10-stop in stock anywhere. Formatt (from the UK) will make them in any size you want and ship any where you want and quoted me ~$150 for one in this size. Yes on the 95mm ring. For the holder there is only one X-pro sized holder, it holds 2 panels or 1 panel and the CP (which doesn’t work at super wide angles, you’ve got to zoom to 17~18 for it to work). With the NDs for the X-pro, there aren’t options for hard -vs- soft, there’s just the one type. I’d say it’s between the 2 really, it looks like a 4×6 soft but when stretched out to this size (and used with lenses this wide) it’s a quicker transition than soft but slower than hard. I’d suggest you get the cokin kit that comes with the three filters, pouch and holder. The livestrong band can be ANY band, but yes, it makes it much more stable and it keeps the holder from sliding off the front of the lens when you’re pointing the camera down (ask me how I learned I needed it…).

    Good Luck!

  11. stefano
    November 11, 2010 | #

    Hi all,

    I still have some doubts with on the sigma and the 96mm ring…The cowl is 90mm and the ring is 95mm, how do you make them fit? I dont have the ring, but i measured the cowl and look like there will be 5mm in between…where am I wrong?
    I would go for universal ring, but looks like nobody on the web (worldwide) has it.
    Can you please better explain? Do you use the yellow thing in between to make them fit???

  12. Ben
    November 11, 2010 | #

    with the sigma you use a 95mm ring, trust me I’ve made that setup TWICE (sold the lens with it once for a 14-24mm but then switched back later). You end up hammering the cowl into the ring to “press fit” them together. It works. You have to mill the inside lip off the cowl though so it will slide onto the lens. Remember, the 95mm measurement on the ring is for the threads, but you’re using the INSIDE of that metal to fit the outside of the cowl. The ring MUST be bigger for it to work, I guessed that 95mm would work the first time and it does. You DO NOT WANT the universal ring. It will mark up your lens and it’s very difficult to line up centered each time you use it. Making your own setup with the 95mm ring and spare cowl is a MUCH better solution. The yellow band is there to help support the cowl. The reason it’s needed is because you’re sliding the cowl on much further than you normally do (this is why you have to machine off the lip on the end). Once the corners of the hood are even with the cowl it’s on far enough, but the problem then is that the cowl doesn’t have much to sit on. The band fills that gap and it’s rubber so it keeps the whole thing from sliding off the front of the lens.

    Good Luck!

  13. stefano
    November 11, 2010 | #

    OMG…of course the rhe outside of the ring is 95mm…that’s why I was wrong :P
    thank you very much for your help, now it is very clean!
    I just saw that here the cowl it is very expensive, 70 Euro with the shipment…in uk it is almost half price, WFT!!!! the last issue is that I will need to find somebody that will help me on cutting the cowl, I know it is easy, but I just moved to a new country and I still dont speak french, that make it very difficult here…
    think I will go for the 95 ring anyway as the universal one is nowhere!!!!!
    thank you again for your help, I will show you the result

  14. stefano
    November 11, 2010 | #

    ehm…one more question :)
    how big is the attached hood on the sigma? the 86mm ring wont fit on it…?

  15. Ben
    November 12, 2010 | #

    no idea on the size of the hood as I don’t own the sigma anymore. I just know that the 95mm ring and the sigma cowl work perfectly together, and that’s the route I’d go w/o a doubt if I ever do this again.

    Good Luck!

  16. stefano
    November 22, 2010 | #

    got it :)
    I went for the cokin holder with Lee filter.
    I got also the 95mm ring and still waiting for the sigma cowl…
    in the meantime I couldnt wait and I actually found i very good temporary solution, I got some 0.5mm adesive rubber, I put 3 levels inside the 95mm ring and now the new “ring” fits the hood of the 12-24 very very weel. I can say it works very very good, if the rubber will not wear out after a while it ciuld be my final solution :)
    I will try also your solution as soon as I get the cowl, I was actually thinking about make some hole and create a kind of universal ring with it :D
    thank you anyway for your help, as you told the 95mm fits exactly the sigma cowl!

  17. Trevor
    May 27, 2011 | #

    Hi Ben,
    Great video! just what I was looking for :-)
    I have the Sigma 8-16 and want to use it with the Cokin X-Pro holder on my Nikon D90 DX format camera.
    I’ll get a spare lens cap and modify it as you suggested.

    What adapter ring size would be good for that?
    Any idea how wide I can go with that setup?

  18. Ben
    May 27, 2011 | #

    I’ve yet to see/hold/use an 8-16mm, so I don’t know the ring size exactly. You’re using the outer dimensions of the lenscap to go with the inners of the threads on the ring though, if that makes sense. So measure your lenscap on the outside and add a bit for the ring. As for what FLs it’ll work at, I’d say 8mm, but w/o trying I can’t be certain. It worked at 12mm on FF with my 12-24mm which is bigger…

  19. Trevor
    May 28, 2011 | #

    Thanks Ben, that does make sense!
    The outer diameter of the lens cap is 77mm so I would probably need an 82mm adapter ring, but since these rings are so expensive (60$!) and might not really fit perfectly anyway, I’ll probably just make my own and glue it on to the lens cap.
    Do you by any chance have the outside diameter and thickness measurements of such an adapter ring for the X pro?

  20. Trevor
    May 28, 2011 | #

    Just found this Chinese product which might be of interest:-

    It says on FX there is some vignetting at 14 but DX is OK

  21. Ben
    May 28, 2011 | #

    whoa, awesome!!!

  22. Trevor
    May 30, 2011 | #

    Yes it does look good,
    no idea if it works well. Certainly cheaper than the newly avaialable special Lee holder and also takes the cheaper 130mm x 170mm Cokin filters, that people might already have, if they use the X-Pro system

    Did you get a chance to measure the outside diameter and thickness of the X-pro adapter ring?

  23. Ben
    May 30, 2011 | #

    no, I don’t have an X-pro system to measure anymore. I switched to a Lee 4×6 setup and use threaded lenses now.

  24. July 29, 2011 | #

    Hi Ben,

    Brilliant info,thank you very much.
    I’ve been trying to find a way to use filters on my 14-24mm and 17mm TS-E. Although the best solution for the 14-24mm is the Lee SW150, this system will not work with the 17 TS-E so a Cokin X-pro DIY is required.
    I think your method for the 14-24mm is very good because it eliminates the need to fill the gap between the Cokin universal adapter and the hood of the lens, therefore the flare problem is solved.
    I wanted to ask you if you had any sort of vignetting when shooting @14mm with the Nikon, with one or 2 grads.

  25. Ben
    July 29, 2011 | #

    No vignette with one filter all the way to 12 (sigma) or 14 (nikon). Not sure with two filters, but I think I was able to use both. If not at the widest, certainly in just slightly. As for the 17mm, there are some guys on PotN (in the 17mm sample thread) who’ve successfully used a spare hood and made an adapter for it. They’re even using it with 4×6 panel filters, but those DO vignette if you do some crazy tilts or shifts, but that should mean the X-pros would work VERY easily using the same method. And yeah, using a hack/DIY McGyver trick to make your adapter ring is crucial with any of these setups to not just avoid flare in the traditional sense, but light reflecting off the back side of the filters.

  26. December 7, 2011 | #

    Hi Ben,
    one quick question: I guess that if I use the Z pro cokin system with the Sigma 12 24 mm the adaptor ring I have to use is also 95 mm? Notice that I do not have full frame, I just bought the neutral GND z pro filter kit…. and I am a little bit regretting it, because I was planning one day to have full frame…

    Anyway, thanks for the article… it was just was I was looking for!


  27. Ben
    December 7, 2011 | #

    the 95mm part is the physical size of the lens hood/cap, so yes, you need that ring size to make this work.

    Good Luck!

  28. January 23, 2012 | #

    Hi again Ben,
    finally the spare lens cowl from Sigma and the 95 mm ring adaptor (remember that I am planning to use with Z Pro instead of X pro).
    Although I have not yet ordered the cut for the cowl (probably I get someone here at the uni to do it for me), it does not look like is going to fit.. and I explain. The Ring adaptor I bought it is 95 mm but it says th 1.00 (I believe there is another one th 0.75).
    Between the sigma cowl and the cokin 95 mm ring I think there is a difference of 1-2 mmin diameter… is this normal? I mean did I buy the correct adaptor ring? i think still that I will figure out something but still want toask before starting to cut :)

    Thank you!!


  29. Ben
    January 23, 2012 | #

    If you look at the images very carefully, you can see the cokin rings I used in both cases. For the sigma 12-24 it’s the 95mm ring. The thread pitch doesn’t matter is it’s not used and stays on the outside of the cowl. For me, I cut the front surface off the cowl, then “press fit” the cowl INSIDE the adapter ring. By press fit I mean used a hammer and some wood blocks. That’s what worked for me with the OLD version of the 12-24mm. Not sure what works with the new version and I’m not sure which version you have. But the cowl should be very tight inside the adapter ring and need to be forced in.

  30. June 10, 2012 | #

    Thank you for this tutorial! It solved my problem. I like to shoot wide landscapes often with water and have used the Singh Ray variable ND filter. On my Canon 17-40 if vignettes horribly, I hand no hope for going wider until i watched this video.

    I just got he new Sigma 12-24 II version and replicated your process. It works fine with the new version of the lens as well. There is a slight vignette at 12mm disappearing at 14mm. I had a hard time finding the ND filters, i could only find the cokin 100x150mm 2 stop filter. In order to add more darkening i also bought the Lee 150x150mm three stop ND filter and added velcro strips to attache it to the front of the Coking x-Pro filter holder. Now an can put the Coking 2-stop filter in the outside slot and the Lee 3-stop filter attached to the out side. This allow the filter holder to be pushed on farther so vignetting is minimal.

    Thanks jody

  31. Rachel
    April 9, 2013 | #

    Hi Ben,
    I have a ziess distagon T* 2.8 15mm ultra wide angle lens, my problem is not only the 95mm filter thread but also the petal lens hood that is perminantly fixed. I need a ND grad filter system to fit this lens and can’t find one that will.
    Screw in nd filters cause vignetting so not desirable.
    Do you please know of and filter system I can use or a modified system I can develop?
    I am hoping you can help me.

    Thank you.

    Love your video, very informative and presented well.

  32. Ben
    April 10, 2013 | #

    Thanks for the kind words. A few things; first off I’ve consolidated all my blogs into one now so if you want more recent comments (I obviously check here and reply) please visit in the future. You’ll find this post over there under the “gear” category on that blog. Second, this lens is one I’ve been very curious about myself, but the moment it was announced with the permanent hood I wondered what they were thinking. It went from a dream landscape lens to a nightmare in an instant. I’m sure if I had one in hands and the time/resources I could get a cokin X-pro setup to work on it, but w/o owning one or holding one it’s hard to say how or what parts are needed. You’ll have to span the hood like I do with the sigma or nikon with a larger ring. You’ll also be stuck using larger filters. The other option is to track down one of the newer systems designed for these lenses, there are a few around but I know Lee makes one.

    Good Luck!


  33. Rachel
    April 14, 2013 | #

    Thank you Ben, I’ll contact Lee, I’m not holding my breath though. Handheld might be my only option it seems.

    I will use the other website gear link in future, thank you.

  34. May 13, 2013 | #

    This was incredibly insightful and helpful – THANK you so much for posting this. I was wondering if you had any experience with the Hitech system I found below… it says it’d fit a Sigma 12-24mm.

    thanks again!


  35. Ben
    May 13, 2013 | #

    nope, haven’t used that setup. Had it existed when I was trying this I probably would have gone that route though, it looks easy!

  36. July 4, 2013 | #

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for the great video. Do you think the X_Pro filters are big enough for the Samyang 14mm? If so I’m going to use your system.

    Thanks again,


  37. Ben
    July 4, 2013 | #

    It should, yeah. That lens is much smaller in diameter vs the sigma 12-24 and Nikon 14-24 that I’ve used x pros on.

    Good luck!


  38. Andrea
    April 2, 2014 | #

    Hi there,

    what can u advise for a sigma 8-16?


  39. Ben
    April 3, 2014 | #

    I’d bet a similar solution to the 12-24mm would work since they’re basically the same effective FLs. But w/o ever using one I can’t say exactly which parts you’d need, sorry!

  40. Pam
    June 20, 2014 | #

    What brand filter adapter ring do you recommend for the 14-24? I see Lee has wide angle adapter rings for wide angle lenses, but they go up to only 82mm and they say anything larger won’t fit. However, they have a 105mm ring for “long lenses.”

    I have the Lee 100 x 150 grads and holder.


  41. Ben
    February 2, 2015 | #

    you just need the correct diameter. Wide -vs- not is how the threads are recessed more but the way you use it on the 14-24mm that doesn’t make a difference.
    Good Luck!

One Trackback

  1. By Filters for Sigma 12-24. on September 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    […] for the Nikon 14-24 mm lens and, once acquired, needs to be modified to fit on the sigma 12-24 (this nice tutorial by Ben Jacobsen explains […]

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