When one thinks of LCD screen protectors, or shields, what comes to mind are those custom pieces of film designed to fit a smartphone or tablet. However, one of the companies that produces these protectors, Expert Shield from the UK, also has entered into the market to protect the LCD screen on many popular GPS systems, e-readers and, of most interest to photographers, DSLR cameras.
As with any LCD screen, one of the problems is that the screen comes unprotected and can get scratched. And, most of these LCD screens are very reflective and can kick in a harsh glare when outdoors. This is all the more true with today's cameras
I have heard that some folks have actually purchased a smartphone film protector and tried to cut them to fit their DSLR LCD displays. Often this has resulted in a less than desirable product.
Screen protectors do have their problems though. Who has not tried to install a film protector on a smartphone or tablet without frustration? Installation often means multiple attempts in alignment and either results in fingerprints on the film, dirt trapped on the adhesive surface or bubbles that can never be removed. For me, I often just didn't use one out of frustration.
When I was directed to the Expert Shield's website, I was drawn in by one of their claims:
"Let's face it, in a busy, fast moving world you need to be able to count on the little things. The last thing you want to have to do is buy and fit a new screen protector each week. We want our customers to have the peace of mind to adopt a 'fit and forget' philosophy. That's why along with all the bold promises of a scratch free screen and bubble free application, we actually guarantee your Expert Shield for the life of your device. End up scratching it? Simply return for an exchange, what's more we don't hide behind any rubbish small print. Easy.
As well as covering all the latest mobile phones, our range also includes tablets and cameras. You wouldn’t want to leave that massive new iPad screen unprotected. Need a screen protector for Panasonic Lumix TZ-40? We do an ever-growing range of digital camera screen protectors. Feel free to ask if we're working on your model if you can't see it on our site, or if we've not already thought of it we might add it to the range.
Your Expert Shield will be guaranteed to apply without bubbles or scratch for the lifetime of your device. That doesn't mean you definitely won't get bubbles or scratches (although you shouldn't if you follow our helpful tips) but if you do, we'll exchange it."
Sounds too good to be true? Let's find out. I tried out both the Nikon 7000 version with anti-glare coating and the standard protector for the Nikon D800.
Each screen protector kit came with a cleaning cloth, two shields (one for the LCD and one for the top control panel) and instructions.
The instructions were on the back of the package and were also made available on the Expert Shield website.
The instructions are pretty straight forward. Clean the LCD surface, align the film, remove the protective layer, apply the film and smooth out any bubbles. It sounded simple, so I gave it try.
The key is to start with a clean screen surface totally free of dust. Dust could become trapped and result in spots that create bubbles that cannot be removed. One of the suggestions is to work in a very humid environment that would keep the dust down.Step 1: Remove the adhesive protective film layer. Next, align the film with the edge of the screen on one side. For me, the alignment took several tries and luckily I did not pick up any dust in the process. Next, flatten out the screen and push any bubbles to the edge using a credit card. For any trapped dust, the instructions stated to lift up part of the protector and "use the sticky tape to lift the dust off the underside..." I didn't have to test this tip.
Step 2, (as it is labeled on the film protector): Remove the top protective layer. That is it.
The whole process took less than 10 minutes (due to a few re-alignment tries and pushing out any bubbles.) The end result appears as an integral part of my camera and not as a vendor add-on.
Installation went well but how does it perform in the field?
I installed the standard Expert Shield on the Nikon D800. I found no degradation in color or optical quality. Not only was this thin protector much more stylish that the bulky Nikon plastic shield, the film was not as susceptible to scratching as the standard plastic shield and still was able to protect the LCD panel from scratches. Most importantly, it was highly transparent and did not affect my image review.
The D7000 anti-glare film fit perfectly over the LCD as well. Being anti-glare, there was a slight loss in color intensity as inherent to all anti-glare screens of this type. However, the loss in color intensity was very minor indeed and certainly was not a deal breaker. The anti-glare surface was a joy to use in the field and images that often were not possible to review due to the strong reflective surface of the standard Nikon plastic, were now clearly visible.
Nikon D7000 with Standard Nikon Plastic Protector showing bulk and scratched surface
Nikon D7000 with
Expert Shield Screen Protector installed
From the manufacturer:
“Our screen protectors are the longest lasting, which means you’ll probably need to replace your device before you replace one of our protectors! We back this up with a lifetime warranty, practically unheard of for a screen protector in this price range.
Expert Shield protectors are made from our special Japanese Optical Grade CrystalFilm™, custom cut to ensure a perfect fit every time. Constructed in three layers; a scratch resistant surface polymer, a hardened protective mask to prevent deep cuts damaging your device and finally a patented silicone gel that creates a vacuum to securely ‘cling’ to the device screen. Expert Shields use no adhesive and there is no spraying anything to the protector or the device.”
The replacement Nikon plastic protectors ranges from $15 – $20. In July, 2013, Expert Shield for the D7000 retails at $12.95 and $11.95 for the D800.
The Expert Shield performed as advertised. It is highly transparent, has an anti-scratch surface, is easy to apply and remove and protects the DSLR LCD. For me, it is a thumbs-up and a nice option to have for any camera owner with an LCD screen. (The website lists most major brands with new models being updated on an ongoing basis. I did not see protectors for the Nikon pro 3x and 4. However, if you have a model not listed, they state they will create one for it in the next release.) I find these shields especially useful for many of the more popular consumer grade point-and-shoot cameras whose LCD screens get banged around regularly.
For more information, please see the Expert Shield website at www.expertshield.com