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Removing Stuck Filters

Published : 13th February 2011

I know this has been discussed before but damn if I could find it.

Any good recommendations as to removing a round, threaded filter stuck on the lens?

The camera in question is a Panasonic DVX100A and I am concerned about messing up the lens by twisting too hard.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Thanks.

Jim Sofranko
NY/DP


Jim Sofranko wrote:

>> Any good recommendations as to removing a round, threaded filter stuck on the lens?

Hi,

Two adjustable jar openers, (Zyliss over here)one to hold the lens the other one for unscrewing the filter.

Best,

Emmanuel, Munich

Assistant Cam�ra - Camera Assistant - Kamera Assistent
BVK- European based
Munich +491608036889 - London +447910034443
cml-listmum


>> Any good recommendations as to removing a round, threaded filter stuck on the lens?

Two methods work for me. The first; use a "strap wrench" such as manufactured by Craftsman (Sears item #00945533000 Mfr. model #45533). A rubber strap wraps around the filter and back into the wrench. Allows a full purchase against the entire diameter of the ring. Works best on larger or thicker rings, like Panavision matte box filter rings.

The second method; Don't laugh, but a still photographer mentor demonstrated his method out in the back country once and I've used it ever since. You place your rubber-soled shoe flat against the front of the filter taking care to only touch the ring and not the glass, then twist (shoe *or* filter). This method almost always works. Just don't do in view of the DP or director. I've seen flat rubber disks used to remove stuck jar lids that may accomplish the same thing with a bit more style.

Oh, and forget the plastic clampie things sold as filter removers in still photo mags. They are too small and don't really work well in my experience.

Good luck.
--
Rod Williams
Motion Picture and HD First Camera Assistant
Petaluma, California
U.S.A.
(707) 778-7524


Jim : "Any good recommendations as to removing a round, threaded filter stuck on the lens?"

Rod: "I've seen flat rubber disks used to remove stuck jar lids that may accomplish the same thing..."

To elaborate further: The flat rubber discs sold for jar openers should help, as Rod says. The key is to not produce any uneven pressure around the circumference- the profile of a filter ring is so thin that it will easily go out of round creating another sticking point.

Lay the rubber (other types of material might work, even some kinds of mouse pads- the thinner ones are better) flat on a smooth surface and press the front of the lens face down on it. Apply mild downward pressure evenly and then try to twist the lens, making sure the pad you use isn't twisting with it. If there is enough friction between the ring and the pad, it won't slip and should remove the filter.

The strap wrenches Rod also mentions and Emmanuel's suggested jar openers should work, but they are probably less readily available than the rubber pads.

Ira Tiffen
Stowe, VT


Jim Sofranko wrote:

>> Any good recommendations as to removing a round, threaded filter stuck on the lens?

Rod Williams wrote:

>>I've seen flat rubber disks used to remove stuck jar lids that

Hey Jim,

I keep a Whoopie Cushion (deflated) in my pack when using a Mafer Clamp on nice wood shelves and furniture. I've also used it to gently unscrew filters when they're stuck.

In addition. I've used it to wrangle loose standard bulbs in exterior sockets when they get stuck.

Jack Cummings
Buffalo NY


My emergency method has been hot or cold water. In the case of a filter stuck on the end of a lens, use very cold water and gently dip JUST THE FILTER into the water for a few seconds. It will contract and become easy to unscrew.

Just keep your lens dry! Laugh if you want to, but when ACs cross the threads on a mattebox's 138mm retaining ring (those things are so fine and flimsy), dunking it into hot or cold water can often be the only way to free the thing.

Canned air is a good way to quickly dry non-optical surfaces.

Mitch Gross
NYC DP


Place the palm of your hand over the filter and, applying almost no pressure, twist your hand. The whole idea is to AVOID pressure on the side of the filter. Believe it or not, it works.

R. Edge


Jack Cummings wrote:

>>I keep a Whoopie Cushion (deflated) in my pack when using a Mafer Clamp on nice wood shelves >>and furniture. I've also used it to gently unscrew filters when they're stuck

If you don't have a rubber disk or cushion handy, sometimes you can simply pinch one edge of the filter rim between your fingertips and rotate it off.

This nearly always works for me.

Wade K. Ramsey, DP
Dept. of Cinema & Video Production
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC 29614


Rubber gloves?... Always keep them handy for lots of jobs!

Franz Von Habsburg,
Brighton Film School, UK


> >Any good recommendations as to removing a round, threaded filter stuck on the lens?

Another trick is to take a thin piece of camera tape and attach it to the rim of the filter, but cut the tape so that it is longer than the circumference of the filter. Stick the protruding ends together to create a
soft lever. Use the lever to twist the filter off (less effective if the filter is "rusted" into the threads). Lever at 3 o'clock position when facing the camera works well.

----------------------------------------------------------
Behzad Olia-Rosenkranz
European based Cameraman / Assistant
Luzern
0041 78 644 89 13
0044 7966 185 638


>> Any good recommendations as to removing a round, threaded filter  stuck on the lens?

This will probably horrify someone, but I had a 77mm filter stuck on a lens once. The lens had been shipped to me with the filter attached and I assume that the filter somehow got jammed on there during some jolt. The filter was cracked and there was no way anything was going to get it off the lens. I even used an oil filter wrench. Anyway, nothing would work and the lens was a favourite of mine. I had the glass cut out of the filter ring and the ring cut so it could be collapsed and taken off the lens.

I know that sounds extreme and there was a chance of damaging the front element of the lens, but this filter was not coming off. I said a lot of unpleasant things to the plants and my pets about the guy who shipped me the lens. Not only was the filter left on, but the lens was packed poorly. It seems crazy to have to explain every detail to everyone you work with, but I guess that's how you avoid these kinds of moments.

Robert Jackson
DP
NorCal, USA


A piece of rubber works, don't push too hard or the fine threads will lock harder. Don't use a strap wrench or similar, it will all end in tears.

A method we use to loosen fine threads when working on lenses is to drip feed small amounts of acetone into the join. This will penetrate the treads and should release them, just give it time...

Acetone is a good way of melting plastics and paint and separating cemented optics so be careful - a few drops at a time and wait.

Andy Taylor
Camera and lens engineer
Arri Media
UK


>>Acetone is a good way of melting plastics and paint and separating cemented optics so be careful >> - a few drops at a time and wait.

An ASC Cinematographer friend of mine recommends using Coca-Cola as the lubricant/solvent of choice for removing reluctant threaded filters.

Be sure to clean up after yourself when you do this -- I saw a science project many years back of all the amazing things that were totally dissolved by this ubiquitous beverage in amazingly short periods of time.

Gerry Williams
Director/Director of Photography
San Diego, CA

"Living on Earth is expensive, but it includes a free trip around the sun."


I finally got the stuck filter off my dvx100. The highly popular, flat  rubber mat method surprisingly didn't work but the jar opener with a rubber  strap worked well.

Thanks for the many suggestions.

Should I be thinking about applying a small amount of lubricant such as
silicon to the threads??

Thanks.

Jim Sofranko
NY/DP


Jim,

I would put a lubricant in the rings and wipe off the excess...(I use some old Mitchell oil on any tough rings or adapters).

Make sure you that you did not cross thread the filter ring and give me a call if you need anything.

Stay in the US and out of that country you plan on working in...

Regards,

John "woody" Glaser
Local 600 NY