Removing a Broken Lens Filter with a Band Saw!

Bad luck befalls Norm as his DSLR suffers another drop and broken lens filter. Adam and Norm attempt to remove the broken filter using a lens wrench tool that Adam found online, but when that fails, it’s time to use the band saw. It’s utterly nerve-wracking!

Comments (28)

28 thoughts on “Removing a Broken Lens Filter with a Band Saw!

  1. Yikes!, but hey? why don’t the lenses come with a cut grove in them already? Norm, are you going to get your lens filters pre-cut now?

    Thanks for the video, and the idea of pre-cutting them.

  2. Suggestion – clamp the ruler in the vise and spin the lens if you don’t have a second pair of hands. Amazing how much easier it is when only one side can move.

  3. I’ve worked/owned incamera stores for over 35 years and have removed hundreds of broken filters. All you need to do is take a pair of linemen pliers on the filter ring and twist the pliers. The filter ring will fold in on itself and come right off. The wrench is for straighting out the edge of a dented filter, so you can put filters back on it.

  4. No, it’s a new video. They talked about the lens in a podcast some time ago, but there’s never been a video of him actually showing the process.

  5. I’m pretty sure they posted the video right after the SU episode. I remember watching it after they discussed it.

    I watched this video and there was absolutely nothing in it that I hadn’t already seen.

  6. I’ve heard some very convincing arguments from Matt Granger that one should rarely if ever use a filter just to protect the lens. I’ve followed his advice and have never once scratched a lens, despite using the camera in a lot of risky situations.

    The front element of your lens is a lot thicker, and has much better protective coatings than your filter, and it’s usually recessed so things that hit the filter may not even hit the front element. Furthermore, if something hits the camera with enough force to crack the lens, a thin filter isn’t going to slow it down enough to make a difference.

    So ultimately the filter only protects the lens from scratches, which isn’t as common a hazard as you’d think, especially if you’re shooting indoors and put your lens cap on when you aren’t shooting. Meanwhile a drop can damage the filter and threads (as you’re observed twice now), rendering the lens useless until they are removed. The drop probably wouldn’t have damaged your lens at all if the filter wasn’t attached.

  7. Norm posted a shot of the busted lens this monday, so I’m not sure exactly how the video would’ve been posted before. The first filter-removal was discussed on the podcast in October, and they definitely said it wasn’t filmed back then. Adam tells it well, though. :p

  8. I also feel I’ve seen Adam cutting the lens before, I think they released at least a picture or short video (maybe twitter?) of Adam sawing the lens on his band saw for the first time, because I have that image stuck into my head before this video was released.

  9. I always wonder, does a 40 Dollar filter not reduce the quality of the 1800 Dollar lens in any way? Because if it does, I wouldn’t put it on, I would get a good insurance. 🙂

    Regarding filters getting stuck.. tell me about it! In my astrophotography, I use tiny filters with super expensive glass in them, but held with aluminium casing. Which means that if you screw the filter on just a bit too hard, it never comes off again because it warps ever so slightly. Last time I bought some metal spacers which work wonderfully, no warping at all.. why can’t filter be built like that.

  10. Having serviced cameras for NYU for 12 years I find this is not the case. Clear filters repeatedly saved lenses from rocks, metal bits, welding sparks, fake blood, dust, sand, sea spray, fog juice and many drops – not to mention improper cleaning technique.

    Having said that, I have also found that clear filters can cause slight aberrations or double-image issues under certain lighting conditions. And if you are someone who properly cleans and takes care of your lens you can probably go through the life of your lens with no problems. But in our case where we are often shooting around shop equipment, dirt bikes, etc a clear filter is a good idea.

  11. To be fair, if you are servicing cameras professionally then you are seeing only the cameras which suffer serious damage, the cameras that take a hit and come out unscathed because they didn’t have a filter attached wouldn’t come your way.

    I’m not here to argue that one should never use a protective filter, if you know you will need to be actively shooting in adverse conditions they are the logical choice, and that applies to a lot of the work you guys do.

    But Norm’s experiences with these drops clearly demonstrates that filters can cause more damage than they prevent in some circumstances, and I think most people are far more likely to drop their camera than they are to have shrapnel hit it. I’d even suggest keeping the filter off the lens unless you are currently shooting under conditions where it offers valuable protection, they are easy to attach/remove, and if the camera is in a bag then the only damage it is going to suffer is the type that’s made worse by having a filter attached.

  12. I think it is time we give Norm a T3i with a kit lens, we drops cameras far too much. It makes me cry when someone drops a camera, even a cheap one. I am a photographer without enough money to buy good lenses and cameras, so this stuff kills me! LOL
    Great work on removing the lens. 🙂

  13. Mike Reed Fix Old Cameras – on youtube have just uploaded a video describing this very technique, wonder if it’s a coincidence.

  14. I have the same question, Creepy that the video seems to be new. Absolutely sure I have seen it before.

  15. Just have Adam notch each of your filter frames like that to ensure it’ll never happen again, LOL! GREAT teamwork and yes…I was cringing the whole time, too, Norm!

  16. You must have a very steady hand to put the lens up to the saw. Most don’t have that trait. How about making the grooves with a Dremmel Tool? Cuts slower, but much more control with regard to depth and width.

  17. That’s not the correct tool for that. That tool is for reshaping the threads when they are damaged and bent out of shape.

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