Canon’s Official Solution for Stuck Lens Filters: Use a Hammer and Hacksaw

When travel photographer Craig Pulsifer accidentally smashed the front of his lens recently and found his lens filter fused firmly to the metal threads, he went to Canon for help. The removal process explained to him by a Canon Professional services technician is probably something most people wouldn’t think to try: use a hammer and hacksaw to surgically remove the stuck filter. Pulsifer followed the advice, and found that it works quite well (though he does warn that it’s “not recommended for the faint of heart”).

The photograph above shows the tools that you’ll need. In addition to the hammer and hacksaw, you shoudl have a bulb blower and pliers on hand.

First, slice into the rim of the stuck filter on all four “sides” using the hacksaw. You should cut the frame down to the glass (being careful not to hit the actual lens itself, of course):

Using a ball-pein hammer, tap the filter’s glass harder and harder until it finally shatters (don’t increase your power too drastically lest you smash your front element as well):

Using your pliers, pull the shattered pieces of glass out of the filter:

Blow off any stray bits of glass and metal from the front of your lens. Using your pliers, bend and peel the edges of your filter’s rim toward the center of the lens in order to pull pressure away from the inner threads:

After some wiggling, the stuck filter (or the remaining frame) can be pulled off of the lens threads:

Blow off all the remaining debris from your lens, give it a thorough cleaning, and then add a new filter if desired:

There you have it: Canon’s official process for removing stubborn lens filters that just won’t come off your lens.

How to fix a stuck filter [Craig Pulsifer Roadnotes via Fstoppers]

Image credits: Photographs by Craig Pulsifer and used with permission

  • JJ

    Will it blend that is the question.

  • chris steel

    seems legit
    no way I could void waranty or smash a 2 grand lens with this method…

  • Sara

    no really thats is the solution? i can show you better ones -__-

  • TorStar1971

    Or you could just use a rubber strap oil filter remover. Worked well for me.

  • chris steel

    The jar tapping method springs to mind but still wary of doing it to an expensive lens (I’ve smashed a jam jar on a table trying to loosen the lid)

  • Mansgame

    That’s why I laugh at people who claim UV filters are needed all the time to protect the lens.

  • miki

    he got ba.lls!

  • tiredofit123

    Wow…..I mean it works but wouldn’t a Dremel with a cut-off wheel be more controllable?

  • Thewirehead

    Good idea, even a pair of large Channel Locks would probably work fine. Seems like a saw/hammer/pliers method leaves too many chances for error.

  • Jaakko Laurila

    Put the filter in the freezer for half an hour, then warm the filter with your hand, it expands and loosens easily. If not, use oil filter removing tool.

  • destroy_all_humans

    i just throw the lens away and buy a new one

  • francisbasco

    when the filter on my 17-55 nikkor got stuck, i used a screw driver and hammer. hammered the screwdriver into the side filter until it turned into a heart shape (kinda like the one pictured above), then popped it out. booya

  • charlie

    What is the blue enema bulb on the table for?…… Oh I get it, use it on yourself before risking your lens.

  • Pins

    This is a joke right?
    No one could be that stupid.

  • Pavlos Pavlidis

    Good thing he’s doing it at a same environment. Near the sea by some rocks.

  • Craig Pulsifer

    Should have mentioned that the lens got bumped and the filter ring was bent in place. I tried rubber grips and even a jar wrench, but the Canon tech warned that applying any assisted torque might easily strip the inner rings of the lens front. Bottom line is that this is how the Canon tech’s would have done it had I sent it in for repair – and it worked!

  • Truth

    What about the major issue Canon has where any bulky lens (i.e. 24-70) EASILY releases from the body of the Mark III? I have had mine fall off twice. The release button is too sensitive or badly placed or something. This is extremely dangerous to subjects, anyone below a big drop, and extremely costly if the lens falls to the ground.
    I don’t know what to do… Anyone else deal with this? It usually happens if I’m doing documentary type of work and am holding the camera differently and focusing a lot.

  • Mako Koiwai

    Air blower … you shouldn’t use canned air on optics. You can shatter the glass if it gets hit by the freezing fluid

  • Frank

    Of course the shattered filter glass won’t damage the front element.

  • Bill Ricker

    I think I’d use a Dremel with cut-off wheel instead of the hacksaw, and might try scoring the filter with a diamond glass cutter to accelerate ballpeen taps.

  • Jonathan Maniago

    Tried that before when I once dented my filter by accident (tipped over my flimsy tripod with my camera on top). After several failed attempts, I sent it to Canon anyway to remove the filter -and- the condensation that had formed within the lens due to said attempts.

    Basically, this might not be the best solution for all if your area has exceptionally high humidity.

  • Syuaip

    Craig Dude, you are a brave man.

    Foolish, but brave.

  • Anthony Harrison

    Hit the end of my camera lens against a wall and bent the filter and cracked the glass. Took hours to get off. The solution that finally did the trick was a rubber band around the filter and twisting with both hands while someone held the lens. No damage to the lens.

  • OSAM

    NOpe. With a capital NO.

  • Rincon

    That’s nice that you can laugh at people.

  • dragunr1

    that’s how i’d do it. but one has to have some degree of precision, not to dent the lens’ filter thread.

  • dragunr1

    i was on a trip to the mountainside, my 2 year old son tripped, i bent to pick him up, the camera was on my shoulder, the lens scratched against a high stone. i know, it’s my fault, but i wished i had a filter.

  • kyoshinikon

    It will on the older filters… I have a damaged 28-70mm from filter glass

  • Borja Batalla

    Filters UV Suck

  • Eros Nicolau

    did that, and it worked!

  • Fred Nerks

    Buy a Nikon! My workhorse lens is a 18-250mm zoom and you have to *want* to remove it for it to come off.

  • Peter Reynolds

    You should shatter the glass with the lens turned upside down (hold it between your legs). This way the majority of the glass falls to the ground and not on the lens.

  • Employee

    I work at a camera store and I do this all the time. I have never needed a hacksaw, rather just cut into the filter ring with a pair of cutting pliers. Most of the time the glass is already shattered and you just have to pull the rest of it out. I have never scratched a front element, those things are much tougher than one would think.

  • Craig Pulsifer

    @Syualp, when you’re right, your right; but desperate times called for desperate measures ;)

  • Craig Pulsifer

    Very correct, Peter – I should have mentioned that in my captions.

  • Ralph Hightower

    When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail.

  • brandon

    sounds good to me, but for the hammering part i would suggest you instead use a hammer and punch and rest your punch holding hand on the lens. this will give you much more control and limit damage to your lens.

  • Roy

    Where do you live that your sea is covered with snow?

  • Roy

    Makes sense that Canon would recommend a hammer and a hacksaw when a rubber strap would have sufficed.

  • 9inchnail

    Apple’s official solution would be to just buy new gear.

  • Roy

    Maslow would be proud.

  • Roy

    Comments inane blow.


    Use styrofoam to unscrew the filter, by pressing stuck filter against sheet of styrofoam. It will do the trick.

  • georgephotodoto

    The first photo made me think it is a joke. But looks practical. Hopefully I will never need this advice :)

  • Eka Gaurangga

    use B+W filters, it wouldnt happen.

  • Roger Cicala

    That’s all well and good. But he forgot to mention step 1: take off focus rubber, remove 5 screws, slide the distant metal barrel and focus ring piece off the lens. Then hacksaw and hammer to your content, well away from the $700 front element.

    It takes 5 more minutes to take that piece off and put it on. Just saying.

    Roger Cicala

  • Alan Dove

    Putting some tape over the filter before smashing it makes cleanup a lot easier – the glass bits stick to the tape instead of scattering all over your front element.

  • Julian

    This is a method I use for years. Without the hacksaw however.

  • PhillyPhil

    I had this problem a few times, I cut a small groove on 2 sides of the filter with a hack saw then with a spade tip screw driver and steel tip hammer gently tapped the filter with the tip of the screw driver inserted into the grooves until it came off worked every time.

  • Robert

    Something is wrong with your release button…I use a Mark III combo like that nearly every day and never had that issue.