December 19, 2012

Filter Stuck on a Lens? Hacksaw and Hammer Should Do the Trick According to Canon

Ever had a filter stuck on your DSLR lens? Raise your hand... Mine is very high in the air, because I've done this countless times, especially back in the 35mm adapter days when I would attach my Cinevate Brevis to specific cameras with step up or step down rings, and very often they would get stuck. I've also had the problem with DSLR lenses, but I've never had to do what Canon suggests: a hacksaw and hammer. Don't believe me? Read on for the full scoop from Photographer Craig Pulsifer and the steps that were suggested by a Canon technician.

A little bit from PetaPixel about the story behind the procedure (thanks to Fstoppers for the link):

When travel photographer Craig Pulsifer accidentally smashed the front of his lens recently and found his lens filter fused firmly to the metal threads, he went to Canon for help. The removal process explained to him by a Canon Professional services technician is probably something most people wouldn’t think to try: use a hammer and hacksaw to surgically remove the stuck filter. Pulsifer followed the advice, and found that it works quite well (though he does warn that it’s “not recommended for the faint of heart”).

The beginning of the terrifying process:

Here are the steps you must take to get the filter off, taken from Craig's blog:

  1. Use hacksaw to cut rim of the filter down to the glass on 4 ‘sides’.
  2. Use Ballpein hammer to strike filter glass in progressively harder taps until filter glass breaks.
  3. Pick out shattered glass of filter.
  4. Blow off glass/metal bits, then using pliers, bend/peel edges of filter rim into the centre of the filter to pull pressure off of inner threads of lens.
  5. Using pliers, bend/peel edges of filter rim into the centre of the filter to pull pressure off of inner threads of lens.
  6. Again, blow off glass/metal bits, and replace with new filter.
  7. Praise God that it worked!

It's a little remarklable to me that this was the procedure described by a professional Canon technician, but I guess it really depends on how stuck the filter actually is. If it is completely bent out of shape, it's possible that there would be no other way to remove it except by the method above. Whenever I have gotten filters stuck, I have always used a Rubber Strap Wrench (this one is $3 on Amazon):

It's definitely possible that the filter could be beyond removal in this case, but I know if they aren't bent too badly, you can usually use the tool above and with a little bit of effort, finally get them off. There are also special gloves that have a tough grip on them that can be used to remove filters. The suggestion above should be a last, last resort at all costs, especially because cutting into the lens body itself would make using any screw-on filters again impossible.

Have you guys ever heard of the method above? How have you removed stuck filters in the past?


[via PetaPixel and Fstoppers]

Your Comment


I can't believe this happens to other people - I thought I seriously screwed the pooch somehow when a filter got stuck on my 70-200! I tried my Vise-Grip, but it wasn't big enough. Got it unstuck with a pipe wrench (not kidding). Worked like a charm.

December 19, 2012 at 8:52PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Simple fix for me which seems to always work...
Put your lens with your stuck filter, filter side down on the rubber side of a mousepad. twist counter clockwise!

i forget where i read about doing this...

December 19, 2012 at 8:58PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


well thats very frightening... will try to avoid getting filters stuck on 1000+ dollar equipment..

December 19, 2012 at 9:07PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I've had filters get pretty stuck on lenses in fairly drastic cold to hot environment changes (flying from a very cold city to a very hot one).

If a lens is properly weather sealed, I've heard of people putting them in the freezer for a few minutes to contract the metal to help loosen it. Seems like a scary idea to me, but if you've shot in below 0 temperatures with a particular lens, I guess cooling it may be a consideration before the hacksaw and hammer.

December 20, 2012 at 8:39PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


My friend used his bottle opener to take my filter off one of my lenses... It seemed to work AND stay intact!

December 19, 2012 at 9:08PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I don't know if that is scarier than the hacksaw - I guess you have more control over the bottle opener.

December 19, 2012 at 9:18PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Joe Marine
Camera Department

I got my VariND filter stuck onto my UV filter, they were cross threaded.
I tried filter wrenches but to no avail.
I then stuck the UV filter into a vice grip, and tightened it a lot, then I tighten a wrench around the VariND filter (the part that doesn't turn) I had to lean my body against the wrench and push quick forcefully but this method worked in saving both filters, with only a few ugly scratches on the side.

December 19, 2012 at 9:52PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


This happened to me with a sigma 10-20mm. Only it had fused on during a trip somehow, it was never dropped. I tried everything for more than a month, finally I took a small pick and a hammer, broke the filter glass carefully, hack sawed into the filter a bit and broke it out with a pair of pliers... it did the trick!

December 19, 2012 at 10:58PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Tyler Larson

I had the same issue (with apparently the same level of severeness as on the images above) happen to me with a B+W filter on my 24 - 105 L, I wrote an email to the Canon service provider in SA and never got a reply, I tried the saw but simply couldn't handle it, my hands would get all sweaty and shaky... when the plies I used to hold the filter slipped on to the lens I decided to give up. The filter threat is still on the lens, have been shooting with it for month now!

December 19, 2012 at 11:02PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Well one thing to know is the glass itself is often removable with a pair of jeweler's screwdrivers...there's a ring of metal with little notches that is screwed in holding the glass and you may sometimes be able to get it loose. Then you may have more grip room to use two needlenose pliers to rotate the filter out after putting a cloth or something over the lens element. But all of these severe remedies are for situations where the thing has stuck due to damage of some kind, the simpler remedies should be tried first like the mousepad or rubber wrench etc.

A lot of people in this biz overtighten things...doing so often gets you into trouble. A filter doesn't have to be on there very tightly now does it? Grip dept. C-stands and cardellinis etc OK you can go ahead and tighten to a fairly high torx especially if people are in some degree of danger from their failing (sandbags and safety chains PLEASE). But in the camera dept. you should tighten stuff with effete little feminine a soft gentle artiste and use "just enough" as your guide. When I encounter overtightened things in the camera dept. I think the person must have issues. Having to hacksaw your lens, plus your loss of investment and resale value, is fit punishment for being a brute.

December 20, 2012 at 5:27AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


use the bottom of your shoe. It's happened to me a couple of times and my Clarks (soft rubber sole) have never failed me.

December 20, 2012 at 12:38PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I remove stuck filters simply by wearing rubber washing up gloves. Works every time. Come on Canon - sledgehammer to crack a nut?!!

December 20, 2012 at 1:57PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


This is going to sound ridiculous, but I actually use the graphite from a pencil to prevent this from happening in the first place.

Take a pencil and cut back some of the wood so that you have a good chunk of graphite exposed. Then rub it into the threads of your filters or step-up/down rings. then blow out any loose dust. The graphite dust is a natural dry lubricant.

It also works great on the nut and bridge of a guitar to keep the strings from sticking while tuning!

December 20, 2012 at 2:17PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


You could also try teflon based dry chain lube from the bike shop. You wouldent want to get it on a lens, but you would never have a filter get stuck once it dries.
Alos, does anyone else see that rubber strap wrench and thnik, "$3 follow focus?"

December 21, 2012 at 5:41AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


"Loctite" sell small pocketsize bottles of graphite powder. Perfect to dry lubricate sticky doorlocks and keys as well! Suggest squeezing a small amount onto a piece of paper, and smudging your finger in it, then on to your threads on the lens and filter,blowing off any excess before mounting.

With temperature difference expansion, simply use your can of compressed air propellant held upside down to quickly freeze and shrink just the filter ring, and use the rubber glove, mousepad, sole of sneakers trick....

December 20, 2012 at 9:25PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Wal Hansen

It is important to check that the threads on any two things that are to be wound together are clean from grit etc and then lube with some dry lube, pencil lead or a proprietary product. As the fine threads on filters etc become worn they loose their initial fine finish with the resulting rough surface been susceptible to the metal 'picking-up' or catching on the opposing thread and then binding together.

December 20, 2012 at 10:02PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Brian Milne

I've gotten some filters off by sticking them in the freezer for awhile and then prying it off with vise-grips. Had to use a dremel once and cut the filter rim to get it to release a little bit.

December 21, 2012 at 12:05PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Kyle Bucher

This has also happened to me: I used a HUGE pipe clamp tightened firmly but not absurdly tightly onto the filter. Worked instantly.

The challenge is just to find something that offers a ton of leverage while also maintaining a firm grip on the outside of the filter.

December 22, 2012 at 9:22AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I did something similar, after giving up on filter wrenches and rubber bands.

I used a Dremel tool with a small metal cut off saw (a spinning disk about 1.5" in diameter) to cut the filter into segments. I used a spring-loaded center punch to break the filter glass.

September 14, 2013 at 4:13PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


I just did this with the rubber padding for under rugs, put it on floor, kneeling with camera face down, put a little weight on it while turning and the filter finally came loose! Thanks Eric, great idea!

November 23, 2013 at 5:18PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM