Category Archives: Reviews

How to remove a photo filter when it’s stuck on your lens

Oh NO! I Can’t Get The Polarising Filter Off My Lens!

I know I’m not the only person this has happened to. I felt a bit of a fool when I realised I couldn’t unscrew my fairly expensive filter from my (much more expensive) lens recently. Looking into the problem I discovered that lots of people had suffered the same issue, but precious few had solved it easily.

Any filter might get stuck and the main reason seems to be that the aluminium used by your camera manufacturer to give you robustness and light weight is simply prone to sticking. Polarisers (polarizers for you Uh-Merrickuns) are the worst because they’re designed with a freely-rotating front glass bound to the screw-in mount, so you just can’t get your fingers into the damned job properly!

Let’s look at the options.


1. Dab a little grease/vaseline/lube onto the thread of your filter before first use. DO NOT get this onto your filter or lens glass or it will be a nightmare to clean off. That’s why I’m not a fan of this idea. I have read that bar soap works too. But chances are if you’re reading this far down the page that it’s already too late, yes?

2. Don’t screw the bloody thing on so tight! Single glass filters should stay put while the rest of your lens does the moving. Polarisers need to be used more carefully but if you get into the habit of rotating the outside (moving) glass clockwise from the end as you look into your lens, it won’t unscrew by accident. Just check periodically that you’re not overtightening the inside (screw mount) glass against the lens.


1. Filter Wrenches. It’s very easy to get small filter wrenches from Amazon or any camera retailer. These come in various sizes so either buy a set or get the right one for your lens size. It’ll be on the lens spec sheet and if you bought a filter you should know it! Failing that, just measure the diameter across the thread with a ruler.

I bet they’re excellent to have in your bag. If your filter is only “a bit” stuck these should free it easily. My filter was too stuck beyond these little flimsy-looking things by the time I finally acted to get the job done.

2. Baby Boa. Otherwise known as the “sledgehammer to crack a nut” approach! When the filter just won’t move, this little device provides a tight and even grip around the full circumference so there are no pressure points, maximising your chances of successful removal. All I can say is that it worked for me! The bonus is that the Baby Boa will also loosen pretty much anything that’s stuck as well as lens filters. Jam jars; ketchup lids; wine bottle tops… all loosened brilliantly.

The Baby Boa. No more stuck filters!

The Baby Boa. No more stuck filters!

3. Elastic Band. It’s got to be worth a try. By providing some extra grip and reducing the ‘pinch points’ of your fingers on the filter edges, you might get some success with this cost-free option. I didn’t.

Do You Need One?

Only you know the answer to that, but… For just a few quid I highly recommend that you buy the Baby Boa. It’s not as small as the filter wrenches so you might not take it everywhere with you, but it gives a much stronger grip and it’s much more versatile. If your filter has been stuck for a while, the extra grip and leverage also gives you a much higher chance of removal where the filter wrenches might not be strong enough.

Tell ’em Phill sent you! 🙂

Cycling With Prescription Lens Specs

Wearing Glasses On The Bike

I’ve worn glasses in my day-to-day life for about 25 years. With astigmatism and a total inability to focus my own eyes thanks to a side-effect of my diabetes, I rely completely on my glasses and have a fairly complex prescription (though I won’t bore you with the specifics). The point is, glasses have simply been a part of me for the majority of my life.

One result of this dependency was that when I took up cycling more regularly about 20 years ago – at first for a bit of extra exercise, then as a hobby, and now more as a lifestyle (or perhaps addiction) – I assumed it was best to just wear my glasses while on the bike. It doesn’t usually seem too bad: occasionally my glasses get a bit slippery when I start to sweat, and they certainly fog up now and then, which was annoying. But I didn’t really consider switching for a while.iStock_000020077511XSmall[1]

Now that my cycling can be a bit more intense and a bit more frequent, I get more uncomfortable in my glasses. I know there are alternatives. But the fact is, the massive selection of protective, athletic glasses, prescription sunglasses, and even eyewear made specifically for cycling can be a bit overwhelming. It seems like everyone I ask has a different recommendation, and I could never figure out which alternative corrective vision option seemed best.

More Choice These Days…

Over the years I’ve been riding about with my specs on, however, more options have become available. The first option I really explored in depth was prescription sunglasses, as even popular brands like Oakley now offer excellent sunnies which are appropriate for sport (a good friend reviewed some here). But, while these lenses can be comfortable and can certainly be great for vision correction, the bottom line is, they’re expensive to replace, meaning you’re entirely dependent on a single pair.

Instead, I decided to think about contact lenses, and looked at, for prescription contact lenses. All those years ago, when I first started wearing my ever-so-complex specs, I didn’t think I’d be able to find contact lenses which fitted the bill- hence my reliance on glasses! Also, I wasn’t sure how comfy they would be.

Contact lens

However, while I still often wear glasses in my day-to-day life, contacts have made significant strides over the years. There are now various lenses for various needs, designed to keep your eyes from drying out, while providing complete vision correction and, most importantly, staying put without irritation. My own varifocal optical miracles can now be replaced by a pair of contacts which enable me to wear a normal pair of sunnies over the top, or just get a tan without white stripes on the side of my head!

Of course, different people prefer different solutions. But given that glasses can slip and fog up, and that prescription sports goggles and glasses can be clunky and expensive (not to mention they can also limit your peripheral vision and fog up themselves), contact lenses are certainly worth looking into if you’re a regular cyclist.

Camera Gear Review – Case Logic DSLR Bag

No Place For Old Bags

I’m undergoing a renaissance in my photography at the moment, motivated by some projects I have underway for the Spring & Summer. Photography has always been a love of mine, so the chance to enjoy it again is one I’ve grabbed with both hands.

I recently picked up a digital SLR to replace my (very) old film SLR which had been broken for some time. I still had an old LowePro Toploader Zoom bag, but it was very dusty and looked distinctly low-rent compared to the shiny SLR.

So, I picked up a new bag. My requirements were:

  • Must fit a DSLR plus long(ish) standard zoom lens
  • Needs space for spare batteries; memory cards; money & credit card; extra lens filter…
  • Would be protective of my lovely camera
  • Preferably looks ace

I’ve become quite fan of showrooming recently. I definitely wanted the “try before you buy” experience so I took my camera (in the ancient Toploader) to PCWorld and tried it for size in a few bags. Some were deceptively small on the inside, looking initially like fairly chunky pieces of luggage. Others just didn’t fit the bill. One case stood out – the £40 Case Logic DSLR bag.

But… £40? Excuse me? Quite a lot for a smallish bag, really. So I had a think… Then I got my mobile phone and had a browse… Then I found it online for less than £25.

Now, I don’t mind paying a premium for good product, demonstrated well and available from stock in store. However, I’m no mug and I’m not paying an 82% premium for a quick feel and instant gratification (calm down ladies and gents, you’re reading the wrong blog for that sort of thing).

What’s The Bag Like, Then?

Before I give you my verdict, let me tell you about the hammock. Yes, a hammock inside a bag… This sits over the top of the void and holds your camera body away from the base of the bag. It means that, when you put your bag down, the weight isn’t suddenly put onto the end of the lens. It was this feature which pushed me to choose this bag more than any other.

There’s also a rubberised waterproof sheath around the bottom of the bag, which will be very handy on those bad-weather days.

I do like the bag. A lot. The zip opens and allows you to open the top flap away from you, with perfect access to grab the camera quickly. The side and front pockets have enough room for a few extra bits and bobs and the strap is very comfortable, with plenty of adjustment to use across your body or just over your shoulder.

Would I Recommend it?

Yes, I would. If you’re in the market for a new DSLR or you’ve got one and want a new compact bag for it, I’d tell you to have a look at the Case Logic DSLR bag and stick it on your shortlist. Just make sure you get the right size for your camera – they do a shorty one for standard lenses too.

Tell ’em Phill sent you 🙂

I’ve launched a new site! – Mountain Biking Resources .com

Mountain Biking Resources .com

A couple of weeks ago, I launched a new website which isn’t quite so personal.  It’s aimed at giving Mountain Bike riders what they want, when & where they want it.

The site will be filled with things like:

  • MTB Gear Reviews
  • Rides
  • Mountain Biking News
  • MTB Products
  • MTB Articles

… whereas this site will always be my personal indulgence, with a wider remit to waffle on about more random stuff.

Which is where this post comes in.

You See…

I wrote a post on which was about a ride we went on yesterday, the Rivington Ramble.  But, thanks to the riders all being people I know from the internets, perhaps it should have been shared on here.

So… Go and read it on the other site.  If you get a subscription popup, you can fill it in or you can just hit “refresh” (best option on phones cos of the popup size) or close it and it’ll go away and not come back for at least a few days.  If you do fill it, you’ll receive carefully written updates from me, right into your inbox.  I promise they won’t be crap, and I also promise that if you want to stop getting them, there’ll be a wee “unsubscribe” option on every one. I’m nice like that.

Mountain Biking Resouces .com

Mountain Biking

So Now What Happens To This Blog?

If you were wondering what’d happen to Phill’s Irregular Cycles, then the answer is… Nothing.

This blog will still be here and I’ll still be waffling on about stuff, as I do.  You’ll be treated to my usual brand of self-indulgent writing and I’ll be treated, in turn, to your comments and confusion.

I just thought I should keep you up to date 🙂

Talk soon, then…!

Here’s (No) Mud In Your Eye – RRP Neoguard Review

A little while ago I bought myself an RRP Neoguard via Amazon, after reading a review where one had performed much better than a crudcatcher in a very muddy test.

What’s An RRP Neoguard, Then?

The Neoguard is a simple product, made from neoprene with velcro fastenings, which attaches to your front forks in about 30 seconds (I kid you not. I’ve done it).  Put simply, it catches the spray and gloop from your front wheel before that spray and gloop flies up into the air, and into your face.

Last winter, I got home from many a ride with a face looking like a Jackson Pollock painting.  As a bespectacled man, my glasses were usually rendered useless by the amount of kack thrown onto them, too.

I don’t much like the look of crudcatchers myself, and my bike doesn’t have lugs to attach one.  Seeing the Neoguard review in a magazine, and reading that they’re only 20g in weight, I took the plunge.

RRP Neoguard - and yes, that's a horse.

RRP Neoguard with my new friend.

Does It Work?

To put it bluntly: Yes, it works.  Saturday was day which began with a lot of rain.  This was after a week with a lot of rain and melting snow.  I took the Merida to the top of a big hill because I wanted to give the suspension a workout on the way down, and there was water running down the singletrack as I splashed, bunnyhopped and whooped my way to the bottom.

When I slowed to open the gate from Deep Lane to Littleborough Rugby Club’s grounds, I noticed that I only had one speck of water on my specs.  This was fantastic news!  I’m suddenly a total convert.

A product which I bought to save weight and space, leaving my new bike looking sexy, actually works like a dream.  I’m so pleased that I’ve ordered another one for my boy’s bike.

If you want one, here’s some links to buy them on Amazon:

Small – Medium – Large

A small will fit anything up to 150mm forks, basically.  Tell ’em Phill sent you 🙂

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