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by evan-pak

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There is a UV-filter screwed on my Canon 16-35mm. For some reason, I'm not able to get it off the lens. Does anyone has a simple but safe trick?

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You can try this guys: ;) but you need to go to Montenegro - Friend of mine dropped lens with UV filter on it... filter went to hell - lens survived :) – Rafal Ziolkowski Jun 30 '11 at 18:21
Use graphite from a pencil to lube the filter if you want to reuse it and fear getting it stuck again. – Leonidas Jun 30 '11 at 21:21
Hello, newcomers to Stack Exchange! If you have a suggestion for this problem that is novel and helpful, please share. If one of the existing answers covers the same thing already, please vote that one up instead. Thanks! – mattdm May 5 '12 at 22:32
Use a hacksaw and hammer. No seriously, look here.… – Evan Pak May 16 '13 at 1:57

12 Answers 12

I carry a jar lid gripper around in my kit which has always done the trick for me when I need a little extra, well, grip.

The other 'trick' that I have learned over the years is that most people's default reaction to a stuck filter is to get a really good grip on the filter and just try to torque it off. The problem with this approach is that the filter glass is rarely a snug fit inside the metal filter rim. Because of this, gripping the filter firmly often results in the metal filter rim flexing ever-so slightly... Which binds it to the lens even more tightly. With such tiny threads a flexed filter might as well have lock-tite in there!

So it seems paradoxical, but often I've found that by loosening my grip and very gently turning the filter mostly using pressure on the top of the filter, rather than on the sides (which can cause it to flex) I can get it to turn.

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How does the lid gripper work for CPL? – ysap Jun 30 '11 at 19:06
@ysap: Not as well, obviously. :-) – Jay Lance Photography Jun 30 '11 at 20:23

If you're out and about and this happens then carry a couple of elastic bands! These allow you to get a proper grip on the slim sides of the filter so you can remove it. Often they are stuck not because they are jammed on but because you cannot get enough of a grip to apply enough pressure to start turning them.

A very simply, cheap, and more importantly small, solution that works quite well :)

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I use an elastic band too. Also make sure you apply pressure evenly around the rim of the filter and not just on two sides else the filter distorts and jams. If future remember that you don't need a filter to screw on tight. I always leave them just a little loose on the thread. – Rincewind42 Jul 1 '11 at 6:32
Hours after posting this answer I found the following jar opener free on a magazine ...… ... small enough to easily carry and should provide even pressure around the filter. – Barry Semple Jul 1 '11 at 20:15
I had a polarizing filter stuck - this solution worked for me! – Throwback1986 Mar 19 '12 at 19:00

You can buy lens filter wrenches -- if you don't think they'd be something you'd use all the time (and thus, buy), you might find that your local camera shop has one you could use.

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This is what I did. Rubber bands didn't work for me, and I really needed a specific, narrow grip on the filter that didn't catch the normal rotating portion of the CPL. – khedron Aug 15 '12 at 18:57

When separating a stuck filters that are correctly screwed together the key is to be gentle and persistent. The filters got stuck because of the repetitive motion of turning the polarizer, they will get unstuck the same way.

What happens is that when you use force you bend the ring so the filters jam together more.

To get more grip, take a pair of thick rubber bands and put one arround each filter, that will help grip the very thin part of the polarizer that has the knurling. Gently twist the filters, grabbing at different parts of the ring to even out the distortion. A little push in and out (not rotation) can help wear down / dislodge any grit.

Illustration of undesired action: Image showing the effect of flex on a filter.

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Many times my polarizer gets stuck on my lenses for PRECISELY the reason you give. The filter isn't stuck in reality, it's just hard to remove because the force of gripping the filter causes it to tighten. I've found that using the lightest of light touches allows the filter to be removed with ease. As soon as the gorilla grip comes out, the filter acts like its welded to the lens. – Therealstubot Aug 20 '12 at 20:07

You can get filter wrenches for exactly this sort of situation - just as you can for stuck tops on jam jars.

They can come in incredibly useful if you have a stubborn stuck filter. They are usually quite cheap and come in a range of sizes to suit the filter thread size you need...

Here is what they look like at The Digital Picture review.

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Try putting the lens in the freezer for a few minutes (or more). The filter probably expanded due to heat and should contract more than the lens as it cools down. Then wait that your lens is above freezing temperature before using it.

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cool idea, but no sigar :( – Joost Jun 30 '11 at 17:21
Wait not until it is above freezing temp, but until it is at room temp and any condensation has evaporated. – ysap Jun 30 '11 at 18:57
Well, I live in a country where temperatures change a lot, so that worked on the few rare times where I needed to. I also shoot at below freezing with the lens and camera working well (most of mine are weatherproof and freezeproof), so the temperature thing was just a precaution. – Itai Jun 30 '11 at 21:14

One solution that I've used is to put a grippy cloth or other surface on a flat counter, set the lens face down on that surface and while applying firm downwards pressure, turn the lens - thus turning the filter without distorting it.

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One thing that has always worked for me in the field is to screw another filter on top of the stuck one. Screw it in pretty hard. This provides an extension of the outer surface of the stuck filter, enabling a much better grip with the fingers (or with a tool, which I have never had to use). Perhaps it also evens out small eccentricities in the stuck filter, helping it turn better within the lens's threads. The two filters together are also a much stronger assembly than a single filter, so there is less risk of cracking or deforming it. Once this pair of filters comes off the lens, it can be a little troublesome to separate the two filters again, but they tend not to be stuck as hard as the original filter was. A little patience always gets them apart. If not, you can work with it in the shop if you like without risking your lens; and your lens is back in service in the meantime.

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I use disposable latex gloves. You can buy large packs of them from motorist stores in the 'stuff for mechanics' section. They're also helpful in many other situations.

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This worked perfectly for me, thanks! Just be sure that your gloves are dry before holding your lens :) – Adil B May 17 '14 at 13:15

What I do is I take a cable (Like a long USB cable) and loop it around the filter as close to the lens as I can get. From there you can use the cable as a grip to get the filter started off.

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Put your lens in the freezer for 6 minutes and then use a rubberband to get a grip around the full circumference of the lens and unscrew it. I've tried this method before and it worked.

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I'd be a bit concerned about putting my lenses in the freezer with regards to condensation. If I were to resort to this type of method, I'd bag the lens in the freezer before removing it, and let it warm up gradually, as mentioned here. – Edd Aug 14 '12 at 8:45

safe for the lens or safe for the filter? Only time I've had a filter that wouldn't come loose with some force I took to breaking the glass on it and destroying the filter in place, then taking a wrench (now that I had enough grip) to force the empty thread off the lens.
Have to take some care of course but it's not that hard (in this case the front element was recessed deeply, making it a lot less dangerous to the lens).

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protected by mattdm May 5 '12 at 22:23

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