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.
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! 🙂