Canon's Terrifying Recommended Way to Remove a Stuck Filter

Canon's Terrifying Recommended Way to Remove a Stuck Filter

Ever have a filter get stuck on the front of your lens? I personally have not, but I can imagine how irritating it can be. Travel photographer (and friend of mine) Craig Pulsifer posted the method he was instructed to use by Canon Professional Services to his blog. His warning: this is not for the faint of heart.

1. Use hacksaw to cut rim of the filter down to the glass.

2. Use Ballpein hammer to strike filter glass in progressively hard 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!


How have you gotten a stuck filter off the front of your lens? Have you tried this method before? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jaron Schneider is an Fstoppers Contributor and an internationally published writer and cinematographer from San Francisco, California. His clients include Maurice Lacroix, HD Supply, SmugMug, the USAF Thunderbirds and a host of industry professionals.

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I've done this before on a couple of lenses (that were not my own). It's fairly easy. Just don't scratch the glass.

Also, before the filter/no filter flame war heats up, use what you want to, it's your own gear.

 "filter/no filter flame war" -> It could have been a polarizer or anything. ;)

Or you could get a pair of filter wrenches for about $10 and keep them in your bag...

There is a much easier way than this...Cut with hack sack on both sides and just you use the hacksaw to rotate the filter by inserting the hacksaw blade in the groves which you cut...It works...I tried it before

 That's what I was thinking he was going to do when I saw the first step...

Same here

 Yup, that's a fine alternative.  Trouble is, the Canon tech warned that I might strip the inner threads of the lens body if I tried to manhandle the filter off; hence, the extra precaution.

Or wrap gaffer tape around the filter and remove by hand.

Rubber band works too!

Twice I've encountered filters which couldn't be removed.  I tried filter wrenches, but they couldn't grip it strong enough.  Eventually, I went to an auto parts store and bought a pair of 4-inch hose clamps.  Clamped one to the filter and one to the lens barrel.  Filter came right off.

Nice approach! And it saves the filter.

thats a pretty good idea

Ha ha! Filter wrenches... get it?? Just wrong kind of filters, but it worked!

did canon recommend to have steril strips and bandaids close by? also, most camera makeers dont recommend blowing on the  lens in any way, since the acids in your breath can harm the lens.  this vid has to be a joke, a painful one.

You'll notice that Craig has a blow tool. He never says blow with your mouth. 

Blow with a blower not with your mouth

 OK, $64,000 question. Who goes on assignment with a hacksaw, needle-nose and regular pliers, blower, and a ball peen hammer? Right.

The person who doesn't have redundant equipment I guess. I'd figure it out afterwards.

The person who gets paid $64,001 for a shoot.

tool kit sat in the van, so I can repair on the job, includes all manner of tools, including screws bolts and load of spares, on foreign jobs a small toolkit comes along. I have also used the services of a garage to help remove a errant tripod plate which had become cross threaded, used there die set to repair the thread.

That's what she said?

uhm really, a little too much here.  Heavy gauge wire cutters, snip one side, and then go about 2 cms and snip again.  Pull off that part, and you will break the tension ring.

they sell different kinds of kitchen tools and aids at many grocery stores and elsewhere to help unscrew stuck lids on jars. A stuck lid on a jar and a stuck filter on a lens are nearly the same, in terms of stuckness.

 Tried that approach first, James.  The lens had been dropped (from only a foot off the ground) and landed on the edge of the filter.  This bent the ring and jammed it but good.

I have the same issue... Did the freezer pack trick work for you Craig?

Caleb, I didn't consider the freezer pack idea at the time. Canon techs warned that by trying to unscrew it I might strip the inner threads on the lens. But it certainly sounds like it'd be less invasive and certainly worth a gentle try before going for a ballpien hammer.

Another good suggestion was put forward a while ago by "spoiledbrt" as follows:

"There is a much easier way than this...Cut with hack sack on both
sides and just you use the hacksaw to rotate the filter by inserting the
hacksaw blade in the groves which you cut...It works...I tried it

Good luck with the lens, bro.

out of wd-40?

WD40 proabbly worse than breath acid

I've had a lens serviced at Canon before for the same problem. This solution seems to be standard practice for them, the only notable variation in my case being the application of tape to the glass of the filter prior to shattering.

Starting with the hack saw if you just cut into the filter enough for the blade to be used as giant screw driver, you can crank the filter off.  I've done this and still have the filter and none of the anxious glass-shard-picking fun you show here.

i found that just flipping a mouse pad over and then pushing the lens down on the rubber textured bottom and twisting the lens works just fine. 

I thought you just freeze the lens so the metal contracts and then it comes off with a little kitchen spray and some elbow grease? No?

I once worked in a camera shop and we would do this every once in a while. My preferred method is putting the whole system into a freezer to contract the ring. Good filters use a Brass ring and lens don't (for the most part) so they contract at differing rates when cooled. I found that this method work about 9 out of 10 times. Plus I never has the worry of damaging the front element.   

My 70-200 saw the images and now is sobbing at the oposite side of the room. Hope he can sleep tonight :-)

I had a filter that would no come out with filter wrenches or other methods.  Somebody recommended pushing a the sole of a formal shoe agains the filter and twisting the lens.  It works like magic.  I recommend this measure before going to that extreme.

Finally something that worked!!! Can also recommend Clark's desert boots with their rubber soles. Thanks!

Get a kung fu grip, its more practical ;^)

Better method. Tighten a jubilee clip round the filter and tap lightly against the screw tightening fixing.

No saw needed.

I had one that I could not remove I tried evey thing I was told and googled with it not budging a bit, i even covered it with ice to try and shrink it no luck then walking past the canning isle i saw these large red plastic covered tongs about a foot long.  I bought 2 and took them home the tongs almost made contact with the whole outside of the 86MM filter and it was off in a flash.

Pretty sure a rubber band placed around the filter will accomplish the same thing... its like opening a stuck jar lid....

I have used freezer blocks to remove stuck filter in the past. I have placed frozen freezer block against the stuck filter with the plastic bag in between.  Filter has shrunk in cold and then it was easy to unscrew it by hand. NO damage to either. Also the muuse pad works well too. Save your filters!

I had a stuck CPL on lens while away in Cambodia (so I can assume no servicing available), I did a few things and eventually, before buying rubber gloves (which increases the grip of your hands significantly), I got it off using the rubber band of my Crocs. I simply wrapped it around it and twisted, came right off..filter saved, zero cost. Using a hacksaw on a screw that has lost the screwdriver grooves is standard practice, so I don't see issues with this procedure. I only thought that he will cut just a millimeter or two and than use the hacksaw to rotate the filter, as some people already suggested...

my front filter got a knock and it was totally stuck. I took a pair of pliers and pulled it out. second time it happened i could not get it off. i used one of those "oil filter" keys with the strap-band and unscrewed it as i had a lever... no broken glass. super effective.


Just get a brass B+W filter and your filter won't get stuck. If for some reason it does get stuck most likely its your lens thats warped and your lens will need to be sawed in half to get your filter off instead.

got a b+w filter off... wouldnt recommend trying this. it took me a wrench to force the filter off.
p.s. it also broke the hacksaw that I used...

I don't understand why people go to such extremes.  You can use thick yellow rubber kitchen gloves to remove stuck filters.  Unreal that Canon would instruct people to do this...

Just saw this post on facebook. I dropped a 24-70 a couple years ago and the UV filter glass broke (I got to skip steps 2 & 3 - yay!), but the frame was bent and I tried everything and couldn't remove it - until now! The filter saved a $1200 lens from being damaged, but I will continue to go filter-less from now on except for using an ND once in a while.

I didn't realize it was April First already...

I dropped a 24mm TS-E with a CP-L mounted. The hood shattered and the CP-L was cracked, bent and crazed. Used a similar method to the above except I used side cutters to cut the filter ring, not a hacksaw

My brother dropped his 85 at a wedding once, and the filter got stuck cause it was bent out of shape, used pretty much the same method, if we had forced it to turn it would have screwed the lens over pretty badly..

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