June 7, 2014

This Simple Tutorial Will Show You How to Add Filtration to Any Lens Ever Made

If you're anything like me, you probably spend some of your free time scouring sites like KEH and eBay for vintage lenses (and buying way more of them than you probably should). Occasionally, you come across lenses that, for all intents and purposes, are completely awesome minus one small flaw: they don't have a traditional filter thread. In those cases, shooting in extremely bright conditions can be impossible without stopping down to f/16 or f/22 since you can't attach a screw-on ND filter. Of course, a matte box is always a solution for this problem, but it's a solution that can get really expensive really quickly. Luckily, there's also a simple, quick, and inexpensive trick to help you block light on those tricky lenses.

This quick little video tutorial comes courtesy of Em at Cheesycam:

This solution is very similar to the process used when adding stockings to your lenses for a dreamy diffusion effect, and depending on the design of the rear element of the lens you're working on, snot tape might be a better solution than the spike tape used in this tutorial. Also, if you intend to use this method with DSLRs, then you'll need to be incredibly careful and make sure that the filter will stay put, because there's a possibility that it could come loose and wreak havoc on the camera's mirror.

Another potential drawback to this technique is that traditional optical filtration and lighting filtration (such as the Roscoe Filter Kit shown in the tutorial) are designed to different standards. As such, the image quality with this technique likely won't be as good as if you were using an actual ND in front of the lens. Additionally, if you're feeling a little experimental, you could also use any number of these specialized lighting filters on your rear element for unique in-camera coloration effects.

What do you guys think of this technique? Do you have any lenses where something like this would be necessary for blocking light? Are there other techniques for adding filters to lenses with no filter thread (other than matte boxes, of course)?

Link: Hack Tip: Using ND Filter Gels with Rokinon Fisheye Lens -- Cheesycam

[via Fstoppers]

Your Comment


Beware: rear filters change the lens’ backfocus distance, the shorter the lens’ focal length the likelier the lens won’t be able to focus correctly. Test. Test. Test.

June 7, 2014 at 4:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


I have some vintage lenses with no filter threads, so I taped a step-up ring onto the front edge lens. Used gaffers tape and they've been on for over a year no problem. Chose step up ring that has 77mm so I could get Tiffen Indie ND kit. (I've seen videos of guys super-gluing step up ring to lens, but preferred to do tape to avoid chance of glue landing on glass if mistake made when applying. )

The butterfly hood is tricky. I'd rather spend $200 on a basic matte box setup than chance taping something to the back of lens. Also dont like that near sensor.

June 8, 2014 at 1:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


This is so stupid. You can scratch your lens with such "upgrade". And btw: you cannot remove it quickly.

But hey!
I found an invention on the web.... seems to be quite new and not known well.
They call it "matte box". It is attached to the front of the camera, and you can insert filters (ND, colored ones, ....).

But as stated before: it is a quite new invention, do not know if the industry jumps on it.


June 8, 2014 at 2:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

Tom DoP

While it isn't the best, it's still a useful technique. Some very specific scenarios don't allow for the space nor weight of a matte box, such as on the Movi or for aerial photography.

June 8, 2014 at 7:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

Aaron Grimes

Seriously, it is usefull technique to damage lens AND sensor.

And btw: it is the worst technique to misdirect the light in a well balanced glass system.
So, if you used nostalgic lenses, you would rather decrease the desired quality....
so: use lenses with filter threads.

June 8, 2014 at 8:10AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

Tom DoP

Hey Tom, check out this website:


I feel that your by the book attitude will have a field day.

June 8, 2014 at 10:41AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

Aaron Grimes


I don't think you can compare that website, which is about makeshifting rigs (meaning: holding a camera etc.)

Don't get me wrong.
I was talking about the fact, that a foil attached to the rear of a lense:
- can damage the sensor
- can damage the glass
- can produce unwanted misdirection of light/sensor reflections etc.

June 8, 2014 at 11:23AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

Tom DoP

Again, online filmmaking at its worst.

June 8, 2014 at 2:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


I love how short sighted most of these comments are. Let's take a step back and watch the context of the video. This is showing a mirrorless camera, and at 1:21 it's stated this is for a mirrorless camera - which by the way the sensor sits far from that mount, and is also behind another piece of glass. Just because Rokinon did not add a gel filter mount, doesn't mean it's impossible to just add one.

Second, you don't typically use a mattebox on a Fisheye Lens with a 170 degree field of view and the curved protuding lens doesn't allow to mount filters directly to the front.

Third, this is not a new technique. There are actual fisheye and wide angle lenses produced by Nikon and others that specifically have 'gel filter mounts'' in the rear. Take a look at this one: http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/1428.htm

Example 2: Has anyone seen Canon's latest 8-15mm Fisheye Lens? Wow it just happens to have a mount for a gel filter in the rear, crazy right? http://media.the-digital-picture.com/Images/Other/Canon-EF-8-15mm-f-4-L-...

This is a technique that has been used for decades, even in professional cinema with lenses costing over 50,000+ dollars just look for a product called Wratten made by small company called Kodak. Why not read the specifications on this product: http://www.filmtools.com/kodwratgelfi1.html

Let me quote "On motion picture cameras they are attached to the rear of the lens or held in a special internal frame.".

Talking about short sighted comments, have you ever attached a vintage lens to a new micro four thirds camera? Yes, you add an adapter which adds even more space between a lens and a sensor - several inches. So unless you're a complete goof it would be very difficult to scratch up your sensor. Sure, we should always add a filter to the front whenever possible, but to reiterate this video is talking about a fisheye lens on a mirrorless camera.

So while this may not be something you use for your Canon DSLR + Canon EF Lens, this video was explaining a very unique situation in which you don't typically use a MatteBox. It's a fisheye lens. Once again, it's not a new technique it's been used in big budget Hollywood Cinema, and highly suggested by manufacturers like Nikon and Canon - but I guess they don't know what they are talking about when it comes to imaging....

June 8, 2014 at 7:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


I would +1 and kudos this lol if there was a button

June 9, 2014 at 7:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM



July 16, 2014 at 8:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


Tom DoP, take a look at my response below, but also check out this other product used in Canon's $6,000 dollar 200mm L lens: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/763733-REG/Canon_4772B001_52mm_Dro...

Quote: "The black 52mm Drop-in Gelatin Filter Holder from Canon is a convenient way to add filtration to your shots. This 52mm rear mounted holder contains accepts user-supplied cut gelatin filters. The filters are held in place via a pressure clip held firmly against the holder's frame. Up to three gel filters can be used within the holder."

This is not a new technique, it just has to be used when the situation calls for it. Your comments seem to only limit the use to all the wrong reasons, but it's a technique that's been around for decades and used for all the right reasons.

June 8, 2014 at 8:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


don't do this. lighting gels aren't optically clear, there are specific lens gels that you can get,

June 8, 2014 at 1:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


Why would you even risk this when you could use a matte box or a step up ring as posters above have suggested?!? It makes no sense.

June 8, 2014 at 1:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


Relax people. Photographers have been doing this for years. In a pinch it works fine as long as you are careful.

June 8, 2014 at 8:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


The comments on this page (except for Cheesycam's of course) are why this site blows.

June 9, 2014 at 8:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


It's actually pretty hilarious chest pumping. This technique is safe and used relatively often by professionals. As stated above by Cheesycam, some lenses (mostly ultra-wides) actually come with the gel mount slot on the back of the lens.
If you blindly believe random user comments on NFS, then you deserve whatever corner they paint you into.

June 17, 2014 at 11:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


What about using this technique with the BMPCC and the Kowa LM6HC 6mm? Is it too dangerous because the camera's sensor is not behind a shielding glass?

July 16, 2014 at 8:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM


this technic actualy works, have used it on a 5d mark3 cam and it really work. jsut that one has to be very careful though. thanks!

July 16, 2014 at 9:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

emmanuel nwosu

Cheesycam, thanks for sharing your idea. I have the rokinon 14 2.8 for the nikon system and the rear element plastic is somewhat depressed around the rear glass. Any suggestions on how to get the gel filter to stay firmly on this rear element? I don't want to risk the gel coming off and hitting the mirror. Thanks!

December 26, 2014 at 11:49AM