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Tuesday, 01 March 2011


"The upshot is that you don't even get a perfectly clean, pristine, new-looking CD or DVD even when it's brand new."

They are designed that way on purpose. You lose your satisfaction in having something new so you have the urge to go buy more. People have shopping habit so they tend to frequent the same stores to buy similar things. How many people go buy more cameras when theirs is perfectly fine?

They made that change to the Oscar-winner announcement a few years back. I think they had complaints from unsuccessful nominees that it made them, by implication, losers.

Mike, this won't work for DVDs, but there's an easy way to get the sticky strip off of new CDs. Unhinge the CD on the side opposite of the sticky strip. This will do two things to help your cause:

1) It will expose some of the sticky strip and relieve you of picking at it with your fingernail all night long.

2) It will allow you some leverage to quickly and easily pry each side of the CD case away from the sticky strip in turn. Then it's just a matter of re-hinging the case and Voila! You're ready to go!

I hope that makes some sort of sense. I no longer fear CD cases. The DVD cases...well...that's another story.

I hear you on the adhesive residue...

Try using a bit of transparent tape (what we call on these Philippine Islands "scotch tape") and use the sticky side of that to pick up the adhesive residue. Keep going until all the residue is gone. You may have to use a fresh bit of tape if there's a lot of gunk. Some brands work better than others, but for sure the Scotch-brand "magic" tape (the one that disappears when you stick it on well) doesn't work.

You didn't use the built-in focus assist lamp on the K-5? Turned it off? If not, and it didn't turn on, you must have been using AF-C.

Well, as one crank to another, I gave up buying CDs, iTunes, and I can see that coming with movies and most books. As to the oscars, hah, I don't care how they pat each others fannies; mostly, after six monthes of self-indulgence in the fanny patting department, would they just "shut-up". Especially, see previous post, they mostly get it wrong! Roger Deakins is now 0-10; obviously he is not well versed in fanny patting protocals.

Packaging generally is getting more and more ridiculous. I'm a fit and able adult: without unnecessarily blowing my own trumpet I've got stronger than average hands, arms and shoulders through 20 years of playing rugby, and I have not yet run to flab (that displeasure awaits with advancing years). Nevertheless, my fingers are regularly defeated by the packaging of everyday items, and I have to resort to multi-tools or kitchen knives simply to access mundane purchases. This was recently brought home to me when I called on my mother - 72 years old - who asked me to cut open a package she had bought a week prior, but had not been able to open. The package contained a spare part for her sewing machine - hardly a terrorist accessory.

As every piece of hard / tough plastic packaging consumes resources to manufacture, adds shipping weight, and is destined for landfill, we have to ask ourselves why?

Mike, I feel your pain. The adhesives used on cd/dvds is almost too much to handle in the excitement of the unwrapping experience.
Be patient, calmly use a penknife and cut the plastic through where one might think the thumbnail would suffice. Use the blade to peel back the adhering offense. Resist the temptation to scratch or pick at it in haste, as this will only permanently scratch the surface. Remove all plastic by gently lifting from the edges with the blade. Then remove any remaining adhesive with rubbing alcohol and paper tissue. Do not use any other solvents. The colder the harder. Slightly warming the label will help. I have removed literally thousands of labels from cd/dvds and books, remainders, mostly (decades bookselling).
Patience, warmth and alcohol, don't scratch at it and your life will be a slick and glossy manufactured dream.


This post on those infernal CD wrappers (which I was also fuming about the other day) could start a new category for your blog: "First World Problems" or "Poor Little Rich Boy (Relatively, of Course)"

Eucalyptus oil works a treat for removing the sticky residue from plastic CD cases.

Don't know what the focus-assist lamp was doing, actually. The place was packed, I was eating, she was busy; it all went by pretty quickly. Didn't even check the aperture, if I'm honest.


I've had similar issues with my D700 while using the 50mm f/1.8 nikkor cheapo lens. I'm happy with the optics, but the lens pretty much sucks in low light. This is REALLY annoying in the studio when I'm using strobes and there isn't much ambient light for focusing. I've found that aiming the focusing point at a high contrast area then recomposing really helps. Of course this doesn't work well when your dealing with a wide-open aperture and an inch of focus can make/break a shot. Which, is most likely the case when you're dealing with low light. Sigh...

It could be worse. You could be listening the compressed crap from the iTunes Music Store.

To remove residual tape gunk, just use the tape you peeled off then repeatedly dab the residual with this (sticky side). Eventually all the gunk will be sticking to the tape. Works for me anyway.

There are serious rumors -- wait, is that a contradiction in terms? -- that a imminent K5 firmware upgrade will go some way toward fixing the low-light AF problem. But if you look at other forums, you'll find these weenies running around telling you how they couldn't possibly survive with a camera that can't properly focus at EV6. I mean, jeez, I can't even see to *pee* properly in that light, much less take photographs. I've gotta say, too, that I'm amazed at what you can do with an ISO6400 K5 raw in Lightroom 3. I haven't yet run into the low light problem with autofocus, which I'm told is more severe with shorter lenses...and I tend not to shoot much shorter than about 75.

As for the plastic wrap and sticky stuff on CDs...IMHO, they are not nearly the problem that those hardshell plastic cases that some electronics come in. The other day, I bought an SD card for my daughter at a camera store (Samy's), and could not get the case open. I finally opened it with a butcher knife. But I have a solution for that -- I won't buy any more cards from Samy's, even the ones not in heavy cases, as long as they continue to use the cases at all. I consider them a violation of my civil rights.


It's not just that, all that wrapping is bad for the environment as well. They should at least make it edible...

A good trick for removing the sticker on the top of the CD jewel case is to remove the tab from the bottom hinge point and flip the front of the case up 180 degrees, which will allow easy removal of the whole tape. Once finished, re-attach the front of the jewel case. Takes mere seconds. I have no advice for DVD/Blu Rays. I believe these stickers are added in order to discourage purchase (as is the anti-piracy software on Blu Ray discs that prevents viewing of movies.)

Spill: Which movies did you buy on TOP recommendations?


Eucalyptus oil. That's what the supermarkets here use for removing sticky labels. You should (maybe) be able to find it in the Personal Care/ Patent Medicine section of the supermarket, alongside the wound disinfectants. If not there, try your local pharmacy/chemist/drug store.

Make sure you test it somewhere first - it is potent stuff. If you can't get eucalyptus, try for an orange/citrus oil instead. Test that too. HTH.

If you can't get it, I'll send you some. Assuming that the weirdo 'OMG THAT MIGHT BE A BOMB' fools will allow it.

tip: adhesive sticks best to itsself, so when the label is gently peeled off, put it several times on en off (quickly) on the remaining sticky bits until all is removed.

experienced de-labeler, works on books, cd's, dvd's, pc's (no more intel inside) and even on cameras.

My K20D is struggling to focus at about the same light levels. Sometimes it will and sometimes it won't. I'm using the low contrast test target on my desk, a grubby Toy Story mouse mat. Is this typical for a DSLR of this ilk?

I'm using a 16-50mm f/2.8 zoom at 50mm. As a comparison, with my old manual focus Minolta and another f/2.8 lens (135mm), I'm struggling to focus under the same conditions. A 35mm f/1.8 is a bit easier. Not very scientific, as I'm just using what is to hand. What lens were you using, Mike?

A British TV series called "Room 101" gives guests the chance to argue for what loathed aspect of life, person or object they would like to eliminate completely from all reality and memory. (The show does not deliver on its promise, except symbolically - the British whinge in perfect form).

One guest raised this kind of clear shrinkwrap packaging, as his private bete noire. The host gave him a thousand pounds in shrink-wrapped notes, and thirty seconds in which to open (and then keep) the money using only fingernails and teeth. He was clearly a little torn whether to feel justified by his failure, or disappointed. The plastic remained un-torn.

For me the whole damnable process doesn't end at picking the wrapper off, oh no, the greatest joy is trying to ease off the DVD or CD ROM from that fiendish centre hub/sprocket/clasp from hell without splitting the centre of said silver disc. I am careful, honestly, but designing a package that requires concentration and possibly a hand tool to open ? !

I use a different method to remove the dratted DVD adhesive. The adhesive gum prefers to adhere to itself slightly more readily than to the plastic DVD cover. If you take the security strip you just peeled off, stick a section of it back down atop the wayward gummy residue, then peel it off quickly like removing a band-aid, some of the residue will peel off with it. It comes up cleanly unlike trying to scrape or rub the gum off, and this method is less fussy than using a solvent. Depending on the age and tackiness of the gum, more or less residue will lift with each peel; sometimes it takes a few dozen swipes but this can be done quickly with almost a dabbing motion. Experiment with different pressures; a light pressure of the strip will often suffice. If you've thrown the original sticky strip away, try some household sticky tape. This trick works best removing fresh residues not those that have sat on the shelf for a while and dried themselves out.

Reader poll: are all photographers as fastidious about label gunk as we?

Mike, I feel your pain with the sticky stuff. Turn a hair drier (low setting) on the sticky price tags/labels/theft prevention strips for a few seconds to soften the adhesive and they will peel off cleaning and easily. If you don't own a hair drier it's worth the price of a cheap one just to get rid of the agro. ;-)

I think Pentax indeed somewhat understimated at how little light the K-5 was going to be used, and forgot to update its AF module accordingly. In any case, someone from the online Pentax community recently did a very thorough investigation on this (how thorough? - he's German, 'nough said), and sent the results to Pentax. Perhaps we get lucky with a firmware update that fixes the problem. Perhaps.

By the way, I think 'the oscar goes to...' is a better, because less competitive, sentence to use when giving away awards. It's not a race.

(Also, my vote goes to Colin Firth)

My minor rant on the subject: http://roberts-rants.blogspot.com/2010/04/try-to-open-this.html

I guess the thinking is that it doesn't matter if the packaging annoys the customer. At that point they already have the money.

Sticky tape / scotch / whatever you call it in the US -- saves my life all the time. What I normally do is do my best to tear it all off, then put a piece of sticky tape over the adhesive that is left there, and then lift it off. I repeat this about 5-10 times, and normally it will be gone.

Normally works best with scotch crystal -- which has the best stickiness eating factor in my opinion (not a very technical term, I know)


"What lens were you using, Mike?"

The 31mm Limited, on loan from a kind reader.


Most annoying thing about buying CD's from Amazon is the stupid anti-theft wrap you silly Americans put on them! Around here, stores all have empty cases (usually with just artwork) on the shelves with all the CD's behind the counter. They do still manage to put an average of three stickers on each box though, so at some point I just bought a pile of empty cases and would then transfer new purchases to a clean, untouched, unstickered jewel case.

It can get worse though: a couple of years ago Peter Gabriel had a re-release of all his work in limited edition cardboard packaging. They screwed up and put huge stickers on the front, right on the cardboard instead of on the plastic wrap, and you couldn't get them off without damaging your limited edition deluxe thing.. argh!

All that OCD gets put to good use from 9 till 5 though ;)

Do a search on Amazon for "package opener". Maybe one of those will make getting new stuff more bearable; at least the knowledge of their existence should comfort you in the knowledge that you're not alone in your plight.

Incidentally, Amazon started shipping some stuff in the "Amazon frustration-free packaging", which is just a cardboard box, a few months ago. I gues they, too, realize what a pain certain packaging can be.

DVD cases: I use my old, but trusty, paper cutter and cut along the hinge side of the case. Then throw away the case and put the DVD in another perfectly clean and new plastic case. If printed material comes with the DVD I may save it but in most cases it's just ads for other totally useless movies.

As for plastic boxes for electronics I have the store remove the plastic box. If they will not I don't buy it from them.

To release the cd from the spindle in the case press down on the centre of the spindle

"To release the cd from the spindle in the case press down on the centre of the spindle"

That's the theory, anyway.


[[To remove residual tape gunk, just use the tape you peeled off then repeatedly dab the residual with this (sticky side). Eventually all the gunk will be sticking to the tape. Works for me anyway.]]

Indeed. I'm surprised so few people appear to use this method.

A few drops of lighter fluid or naptha will dissolve the adheasive

What about the sticky stuff on the flap of paper envelopes that contain application install disks.

I have had to train myself to be alert and careful when taking the CD out of the envelope and putting the CD back in the envelope so that none gets on the CD.

You would think, wouldn't you, that the manufacturers... etc.

To open those damned welded plastic packages, and a helluva lot cheaper (disposable, although they don't tend to wear out), try surgical shears.

WD-40. As Clint Eastwood's character pointed out in "Gran Torino", WD-40, Vise-grip pliers and duct tape can handle most jobs around the house.

Spray a little WD-40 on the gooey crap. Let it set for a few minutes and wipe with a cloth moistened with more WD-40. Then you gotta get the WD-40 residue off. But that's pretty easy compared to adhesive residue.

One thing about removing stickers without leaving any gunk on a surface: once you peel off a corner, you have to pull it up at a certain speed or slower. At that speed, the adhesive will peel off together with the sticker. Do it any faster and the adhesive starts to stay on the surface you're trying to clean. So start pulling firmly but slowly enough, try to avoid the temptation to peel it off all at once.

Your father knew his kitchenware!!

I recommend Bestine for removing adhesive, as it works well for removing stickers from used LP sleeves and book dustjackets, too.

I take the opposite approach.

I get the biggest baddest knife I can find, hunting knives with serrated edges work best, and then I just beat the hell out of that offending packaging. I then feels mighty fine.

Ok, here's another one: photo filter packages. Has any one else thought you were also buying an intriguing puzzle aswell as a filter ? Here, I think Hoya top the bill for their square finger grazing design with pop out filter, which is on a par with teapots that pour out of the lid.

MIke - re packaging. Have you ever had that situation where you were out with your digital camera, and for whatever reason needed a new memory card? (forgot to put one in the camera in the first place is my favourite) . So you buy a new one, sneak out onto the street and then try to get into the packaging - having forgotten your portable chainsaw - and not being in the possession of a) a Swiss army knife or b) titanium, diamond studded teeth... ring any bells anyone?

discs and jewel cases are just unneccessary waste anyway. A product of a consumer culture that some folks are convinced they need. keep everything on a hard drive and stop producing more garbage. (if you post a rant, it's ok for us to rant in the comments right=)

I love my K5 for the handling and "green button". Unfortunately there is a real focus problem: the camera consistently focusses IN FRONT of the focus location. This apparently happens under incandescent lights at lower (not super-low) light conditions.

The 31mm limited has decent depth of field when you open it wide, precisely in those low light situations. You can see how the AF problem more than sucks rocks, and needs to be addressed by Pentax ASAP... before it messes up their reputation.

For any tough, annoying, sticky $@^*... I cannot recommend the product Goo Gone highly enough... amazing stuff! A little goes a long ways BTW, just a dab on a paper towel and voila!!

When it comes to those bubble plastic packages, I certainly share your irritation and annoyance. I use these shears; they're designed to cut through sheet metal, and they make very light work of plastic. And probably only about $10 in your currency, but well-made despite the price.

"there is a real focus problem: the camera consistently focusses IN FRONT of the focus location. This apparently happens under incandescent lights at lower (not super-low) light conditions."

Yes, that definitely happens with mine. I always revert to Live View in low light, because it focuses much better that way under those conditions.

Russ has me wondering why the focus-assist lamp didn't kick in at the restaurant. I'll do a little experimenting after it gets dark tonight.


"They made that change to the Oscar-winner announcement a few years back. I think they had complaints from unsuccessful nominees that it made them, by implication, losers."

Seriously? That was a MANDATED change? I had no idea.

It also seems preposterous to me. Of COURSE they're losers. I don't hold much with popularity contests in art or entertainment anyway (if the Grammys were for me, almost none of the featured artists would even be there), but if you're going to play that game, what's the point of denying it's a game?


The main thing my pocket knife is used for is opening stuff; blister packs, and things with sticky seals on the sides. And it's somewhat dangerous (I'm careful, I haven't cut myself...yet). Some of these things feel like they're coming near the limits of my strength and dexterity, and my hands are in pretty good shape.

I appreciate Amazon's program of less annoying packaging that Friedrich already mentioned. It's cheaper, more recyclable, degrades relatively harmlessly (the examples I've seen are corrugated cardboard), and easier to open. What's not to like?

I haven't opened enough DVD cases to remember how they're sealed; for CDs I find the seals annoying, but I can peel them off cleanly in one or two pieces (actually three or four pieces, I open the case first and then peel the seal off both sides, so that's a minimum of two pieces).

Dear Mike,

Falk Lumo put together a very nice experiment to test what conditions the K-5's AF fails. Summary here, report here. The most interesting thing that has come out of that is an comment from a reader that the sensor is particularly blind to the red frequency that predominates in Tungsten lighting!
(Parenthetical OMG!)
a significant front focus with 500W halogen modeling light of my studio flashes (with a subject/model close enough to be extremely well lit - say over 8 EV)

I have been particularly excited to see the high ISO performance of the K-5, because a lot of life is lived at EV6 or less. Until now, photographing it has been prohibitively difficult, with hard choices between depth of field and motion blur. I can't wait until the next generation or two of DSLRs to come along and make this tech more affordable. Thanks to a close reading of the background text that Lumo provides, I now have a deeper appreciation for the why my current DSLR has intermittent back focus problems, and for the, ah, non-linearity of measured EV values. In other words, I'm a lot less disappointed by my camera's shortcomings, if the K-5 fails in similar situations.


The front focus issue is being worked on I think for firmware 1.3, I came across this one week into K-5 ownership in November. It is very light type dependent, i.e. tungsten or fluorescent and if you are not aware of it extremely annoying :), does not matter if you use the AF assist lamp either. The AF assist light does help a lot if you are using apertures slower than say f/2.8 but anything faster and it will struggle, there is a temporary fix, switch to MF or use LV.
The sensor is really amazing when it comes to its magic trick of turning night into day and managing to resolve serious detail when hooked up with a suitable lens like one of the Limiteds as Mike has shown.
These issues though are mere trifles when looked at from an overall perspective, fast, quiet, great handling, massive detail, fantastic low iso capability (everyone concentrates on the high iso but if you have a 50 @ f/1.2, iso80 and 1/8000s is a godsend), pretty much class leading or at least equalling high iso output, all wrapped up in small package that does the opposite of shout photographer coming....

I second WD-40. Keep it away from that new K-5, however.

A recent trend in DVD packaging here in Finland seems to be "leffapokkari DVD", which roughly translates to "paperback DVD movie". This means that the disc sits in a simple cardboard sleeve, just large enough that the disc will fit. When sold, these paperback DVDs are covered in a soft and easily removable plastic wrap. Here is an example: http://j.imagehost.org/view/0999/leffat_l_pysk_iss (not my image nor movie collection).

Movies available as paperback DVDs are often of the even cheaper variety, with the price usually set at 3 to 4 euros each (or 10 euros in total if you buy 4 or 5 of them). Still, I prefer this format to the ordinary big bulky plastic cases, which are sized to fit in shelves originally made for VHS tapes...

WD-40 is definitely a good thing to use for removing sticky label gunk. Apply to a paper towel & dab onto the offending area.

Also, I always use a razor-sharp kitchen knife for slitting open the cellophane packaging on CDs and DVDs. Don't mess about, show no mercy :-)



A little blast from a cigarette lighter and you're in there. Sure there might be leave a scorch mark or two on the casing, but it's worth it.

I've lurked on this blog for a while now, but this is the first time I've commented. I *hate* optical media such as CDs and DVDs. It's not so much the getting into the packaging, it's the fact that even after it's open I still need to store it somewhere, and the surfaces of the medium are easy to scratch. I don't want to have a huge stack of dvd cases taking up my precious space - I'm a photography student at uni and my accommodation is pokey enough without having to find somewhere for DVDs, and I have what is considered spacious and luxurious accommodation as far as halls go.

If I buy or receive a DVD, it comes straight out of the case and into my macbook, where it gets ripped onto my firewire drive. I can get a normal DVD down to around 1.5gb losslessly using the h.264 codec that most modern dslrs also use for video, then I automatically tag it with dvd cover art, a blurb, and other metadata using a program called metaX, and then it sits in my iTunes library waiting for me whilst the DVD and case get put into storage and most likely I'll never see them again. Good riddance.

Maybe even better--just watch streaming movies from Netflix or something similar. I don't know about other people, but I seldom ever watch a movie twice (although I frequently did when I was young). I don't really need to possess it, even the ones I really like.

I don't know, maybe I'll go watch "Adaptation" again. One of my favorites, and not that easy to follow.


If peeling a label off VERY VERY slowly and picking up any excess by sticking the old sticker to the leftover adhesive and pulling it up (lightly) over and over does not work - then try:
De-Solv-It sold at Walmart or local hardware. Made from orange oil. Environmentally benign. Save for kids and pets. Smells great. Removes ALL sticky label stuff. Many other uses including emergency medicine and oil spills. Better than Goo gone too.

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