A few days ago I bought a used canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS lens from a local photographer that’s getting out of the business. She was asking $800 which is a great deal for an amazing piece of glass. The lens is great is my new favorite for shooting portraits. There was only one small issue. It came with a UV filter that had been over-tightened and was now stuck on the front of the lens.
UV filters are great for cutting down glair and protecting the front element of your expensive lenses. On Canon’s “L” series glass, a filter is also essential for weather proofing the lens. This one however was dirty and had some dust on the inside that I wanted to clean off.
The filter was stuck too tight to remove with my mere mortal fingers. Believe me, I tried my hardest! I even had my wife try, and then I tried again in case she had loosened it. No luck.
I started googleing the problem and everyone seemed to have different suggestions, all with mixed results. I even contacted my local camera store and asked if they had any special tools for removing stuck filters. They did not, but they did recommend I try the first method listed below:
Method #1 – Masking tape.
The employee at the camera shop suggested wrapping the outer edge of the filter in masking tape a few times to make the surface area larger and thus make it easier to grip and twist off. I didn’t have any masking tape but I had some packing tape so I wrapped the filter a few times and tried to twist. The tape did make it easier to grip the lens, but the filter was just too stuck and eventually the tape just slipped off the filter. Method #1 – FAIL.
Method #2 – Hair Dryer.
I read online that you could loosen a stuck UV filter by gently heating the lens and filter using an electric hair dryer. The heat would cause the metal to shrink(?) or contract thus making it easier to remove. I decided it couldn’t hurt so I grabbed my wife’s hair dryer and warmed the end of the lens. No luck. The filter was as stuck as ever. Method #2 – FAIL.
Method #3 – Filter wrench.
In my google research, I came across a cool little product called a filter wrench. This little plastic tool is designed to allow you to grip down on the narrow filter and apply torque with the handles of the wrench. Amazon sells them here. I ordered a set of two with my amazon prime account and gave it a shot when they arrived two days later. While I can see how this cool little tool could work on a moderately stuck filter, this filter was mega stuck. No luck no matter how many times I tried with the filter wrench. Method #3 – FAIL.
Method #4 – Rubber Hot Pad.
My dear wife had the suggestion of using a rubber matt used for gripping and loosening jar lids to get a hold of the filter and twist it off. The only problem was we couldn’t find any. While digging through the kitchen drawers, I found a rubber hot pad glove. I didn’t expect it to work. I put the glove on and applied a twisting force to the filter. Suddenly the filter slipped and loosened a bit! From there I was able to use my bare fingers to screw it the remainder of the way off the front of the lens. Method # 4 – SUCESS!
The Last Resort
Right before trying method #4 I was preparing myself to attempt a method that looks dangerous with high risk of damaging your expensive lens. This method requires using a metal hack saw to cut notches in the filter and a hammer to break the glass of the filter. I don’t recommend it unless absolutely necessary. I’m glad I didn’t have to attempt this method. Read more about this method here.