Adam Savage Removes Lens Filter with Band Saw

We’ve all been there having a filter stuck tightly on the lens, or it’s been damaged and won’t come off cleanly. There are plenty of tools and tricks to help unscrew the filter, but a band saw has to be the most dangerous way of going about it.

Norman Chan, an editor with Tested, dropped his Canon 24-70mm f/2.8. It's a smashing lens, and not one that you’d want to chuck in the trash because of some minor damage. In a second time fixing it with Adam Savage, they’ve decided to mix things up. It’s worth noting that this time around it could have been worse as the filter glass wasn’t broken here.

Some people use a file, but Savage goes the whole nine yards and breaks out the big guns. An overreaction? Maybe, but it gets the job done. What’s really interesting about this video is the tool he’s attempting to use beforehand. This vice grip fits inside the lens filter, and looks as though it’s trying to straighten out where the filter might have become an oval. At the same time, Savage is trying to unscrew the filter with the grip he has from the vice.

[The vice tool that Savage tried before sawing notches into the filter]

For those less inclined to need a band saw, or a filter that doesn’t warrant buying a vice grip, you can try these handy plastic wrenches. Arguably less dangerous, and handy to keep around for the next time this happens. If you do need to go down the terrifying route, then rest assured that plenty of people have done the same, and it’s even endorsed by Canon.

[via Tested]

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12 Comments

David Love's picture

Amazing how much a camera strap keeps you from dropping the camera.

another way that works is to cut a little notch in the filter and then take a flathead screwdriver and GENTLY tap it with a hammer to unscrew it.

Anonymous's picture

I have a CPL stuck to a UV filter and tried those plastic wrenches. No luck and the handles broke. I tried putting them in the refrigerator and the freezer, no luck. Plastic kitchen gloves, nada. Maybe I'll try cutting off the UV filter, which I don't care about and almost never use anyway. The CPL was well over $100 so I hate to write it off.

Phil Bautista's picture

Put a rubber band around the filter to provide grip and start twisting it off. If that doesn't work. Tap/Bang the filter ring (not the glass) gently against a solid object, the way you'd loosen a tight jar lid, with the rubber band still on the filter. Then try twisting it off again. Repeat as often as necessary. Please note my emphasis on the gently, not the banging.

Isa Aydin's picture

keeping the lens from them bottom and trying to turn filter is the worst thing you can do to zoom and focus mechanism. That lens is a trash.

Chris Rakoczy's picture

It seems that with the filter wrench he tried first, as it puts outward pressure on the inside of the filter ring, it's also tightening it against the lens threading, which would make turning the filter ring even more difficult. Sort of a self-defeating tool, assuming he was using it in the manner intended.

Wes Jones's picture

The sound of the glass scraping against metal put my teeth on edge

The brass is fairly soft. For a broken filter, I use a pair of diagonal cutters to clip out a pice of the brass and it move in and come right off like a spring clip.

Denis Trudeau's picture

I did the same with a Dremel on the filter on my Sigma 10-20mm, less risky than a band-saw i think

Dan Crowther's picture

I'm kind of surprised filter manufacturers aren't already making their filters with notches. In fact, they could offset their notches in a proprietary pattern and sell special wrenches to match.

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

Steve Perry did a video a couple of years ago on the effectiveness of UV filters as lens protection. He smashed up a bunch of lenses executing the tests. I saw what I needed to see to stop bothering with UV filters. The front element is way harder to damage than you would imagine. Google "Steve Perry UV filters" to see it.

Nico Socha's picture

Dont use UV filters for protection so you dont get into this trouble.