Sunday, 13 August 2017

Stuck Filter - What to do?

I very rarely use filters on my lenses, this is probably down the type of photography I'm mainly doing at the moment {garden & birds} If I were doing more landscape I might use them more. That being said I do own a number of different filters; I have a kit of square filters, both ND Grad & ND in varying colours & densities, that attach to the lens using an adaptor. I also have a few cheap circular ones, UV & Polariser, which simply screw onto the end of the lens. Out of all of the ones I own, I've used the circular Polariser one for my 55-300mm lens the most & even then, I've not used it a lot.

Now if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you'll know that I recently got my Circular UV filter stuck on my beloved 55-300mm lens! I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to even put it on my lens. I was packing my kit for my recent trip to Edinburgh & I think I had the thought that it might just help with any haze or glare that can come from shooting through a car window, something I'd be doing while away.

I had my roller case on my bed & ticking off my kit list as I packed it {my camera with lens attached sat on the bed next to the case} & I slightly moved the case which knocked my camera onto the floor! Any photographer who has dropped their camera will understand the "almost had a heart attack" type panic that follows this happening! I straight away checked it over & took a few photos to make sure all was well {thankfully it was} It was only on the way to Edinburgh did I realise that the UV filter was stuck!

I struggled to take my lens hood off my lens {I pop it on my lens backwards so it's always to hand} & I think messing with the hood & getting it off, lifted the filter on one side. I then tried to take the filter off & it wouldn't budge! I tried a couple more times while I was away but had no joy. The only plus was that it was a UV filter & didn't effect the photographs I took at all. But I didn't want to leave it on there indefinitely. So when I came home, I ended up on Youtube to see if I could find any suggestions to help remove it & here's what I came across:

1) Rubber/Elastic Band

The idea is that putting a rubber/elastic band around the filter can give you some extra grip & this should help when trying to screw off the filter.

2) Another Filter

This uses the fact that you can stack filters & by using the additional filter on the stuck one, it should give you some extra leverage & the stacked filter should help remove the one below it. This is the one I had the most hope in working.

3) Flicking the Filter

I was really confused by this one as I'm not entirely sure how it works, but the person suggesting it says it does. You just sit & using your fingers, flick around the filter. The guy in the video did say it takes a while but eventually this action should help you remove the filter.

4) Filter Wrench

Call me a noob but I'd never even heard of this! For those that don't know, it's basically a wrench but made to be used on filters {obviously a massive give away due the name! I can feel you all rolling your eyes!} This, like the extra filter or rubber/elastic band is used to give more leverage & grip on the filter to help remove it.


None the above worked for me & yes I did indeed sit & flick the filter, {don't judge me, I was desperate!} which blooming hurt! I then headed to Twitter for help & also mentioned my stuck filter issue in a Instagram post. A number of the photographers I follow had some ideas as well as suggestions 1 & 2 above...

5) Cooling the Filter using a Fridge or Freezer

This is a risky one to try when the filter is stuck on a lens as the cold can damage the flex cables & plastics on the lens {as I was told by someone who does camera repairs for their job} He also said that they were okay to about -10C so the cooling in the Fridge might be okay. I didn't want to risk it.

6) Hacksaw

This one was also a no no for me. But if you're brave enough,  you can use a mini Hacksaw to cut the filter off or cut notches in the filter & then use something in the notches to help screw it off.

7) Send it away for Repair

Basically if all else failed, get a professional to fix it. There are a number of companies out there that can do this; your chosen Camera brand or a company like NRG Photographic. This for me was a last resort option as the lens is my most used one, it lives on my camera & I really didn't want to have to send it away.

Out of all these I only tried the first two as I was really worried about damaging my lens. They didn't work & I think the reason they didn't was because the filter wasn't flush to the lens, it was twisted & lifted on almost all of it. I think if it was sat on the lens properly, using the extra filter might have worked.

After a few failed attempts, it seemed more & more likely that I would have to send it somewhere to be removed. As a last ditched effort, while I was in Lancaster on Friday, I decided to take my lens to Wilkinson Cameras, my local camera shop. The lad in there tried a couple of things, including a filter wrench & a foam pad to try & give him the extra grip he needed. The issue wasn't only that the filter was twisted, as I have already said but it was also quite slimline, so there wasn't a massive surface area to work with.

After a few tries, he asked if I was in town for a while longer & could I leave it with him as the one thing he was sure should work wasn't to hand. That thing?

A mouse mat!

It was the last thing I would think of using but the underside of a mouse mat is designed to grip the surface it sits on so it doesn't move when you're using your mouse. So I wandered off round a couple of shops, met back up with the people I was with & then when heading back to the car, I went back to pick up my lens. When I went back in, it was a different guy behind the counter but after saying why I was there, I was beyond happy to hear the words:

"We've managed to remove it!"

I swear I almost cried! I was so happy & thankful & even after the hassle of removing it, they didn't charge me, which was just so kind of them.

So there you go, a bit of a story time type post with a few suggestions to try if you ever get a filter stuck to the end of your lens. If, though, like me you're worried about damaging your lens or the filter isn't just flush to the lens, I really do recommend taking it to your local camera shop & letting them have a go before sending it away to be fixed.

The offending filter has since been binned & my beloved lens is back on my camera where it belongs.
Moral of the story is {courtesy of the Wilkinson Camera guy}: Don't use cheap filters!

If you have any other suggestions for removing a stuck filter, please feel free to comment them below but I thought the mouse mat trick was a genius idea & I may have to invest in one as part of my camera kit essentials.

Take care,

Louise