Roughly one month ago we found a surprise email from Expert Shield (UK), a company producing easy to apply and life time warranted LCD screen protectors. When we first started with the X series cameras it was a personal choice not to use any protection. No lens filters and no LCD screen shields either. Two years down the road and our first X series camera (XPRO1) is looking a little worse for wear. In hindsight, not the best move!
When working professionally with any camera system it gets treated rough. Slung over the shoulder, rubbing over shirt buttons, against metal zippers, bouncing off obstacles and miss-aligned lens changes are all part of everyday abuse. When fighting for a shot no one else has, sacrifices have to be made. No matter how hard the truth may be to hear, at the end of the day no one cares what state your gear is in, just the shots you delivered. Although we are very protective of our gear, it does get manhandled.
So it probably does not come as a surprise, when Expert Shield got in touch we jumped at the opportunity to give their products a whirl and see if they stand up to their marketing promises. On paper Expert Shield look to be industry leaders in LCD screen protection. So how do they stack up?
Due to our pedantic nature, if something does not perform as advertised or look the part its scrapped before you have time to say 'functional'. In our experience, LCD screen protectors have always suffered from air bubbles. A sight for sore eyes! It might just be our inability to follow instructions, never has a bubble free application of a LCD protector made its way onto our resume. Not for a camera, phone, iPad or iPod.
That brings us to marketing claim number one, "Screen Protector clings to the screen without air bubbles". A very bold claim, especially considering our previous experiences on this hot topic. There are probably no better butter fingers to test it than ours and I am delighted to report, it is true! Admittedly we did study the instructions before attempt number one. However there is no real trick to it!
- Clean the screen with the enclosed cloth to remove dust and finger print smudges
- Peel back the first layer of the shield
- Align and apply to the LCD
- Peel back the 2nd layer of the shield
It really could not be simpler, probably due to the thickness of the protector. It keeps a nice flat profile during application and hence there are no bubbles to speak off (as long as you keep the surface dust free).
Clarity and surface finish of the protector are equally important. Marketing claim number two, "Ultra high transparency". The last thing you want when making setting decisions in the field under bright lights or in direct sun is glare and colour casts (especially if you are a jpeg shooter). The Expert Shield does perform surprisingly well in this regard. Even under the harsh New Zealand sun known for its strength, the camera's rear LCD still remained bright and clear. No worse than risking it all and having no screen protector.
In our day to day kit there are two primary cameras used almost interchangeably, the FUJIFILM XPRO1 and XT1. When we went to apply the screen protector on the XPRO1 some dust remained on the screen, hence there were a couple of bulges and the surface finish was not as nice as on the XT1. Irritated by the imperfection of the application, carefully the protector was peeled back and the last spots dabbed out. That takes us to marketing point number three, "No residue when removed" & "Easy removal". Nothing to note, which is a good thing in this case, no residue was spotted when peeling the protector back to correct the application and it sucked itself back down just like you would expect. Impressive!
To give you an idea of what our XPRO1 LCD screen looks like after one year of relentless abuse, just look at the image below.
Now protected by an Expert Shield, it will surely slow down or eliminate all further damage. A shame we did not consider Expert Shield for the XPRO1 back when we first started with the FUJIFILM X series, better late than never, at least the XT1 will be covered by the lifetime guarantee of protector. And that takes us to the last marketing claim, "Anti-scratch coating", the reason you purchase such a protection measure in the first place. If the protector does not do its job, why bother in the first place?
Our preference when working the streets is having a camera slung over the shoulder. Hence while walking its bouncing and knocking all over the show, slowly wearing at the LCD. A pretty decent test for wear and tear if there ever was one. The thick protector has been remarkably resilient. So far there have been no signs of scratches or marks inscribed into the plastic.
While we are on the topic of marks, finger and nose smudges seem to also be repelled. Far better than by the bare camera LCD on both the XPRO1 and the XT1, very handy! No one likes a smeared oily mess obstructing both their own view and that of their clients when doing a little show and tell.
On that note, we conclude our less than scientific experiments, with even a couple of spare protectors left over. Does that smell like a free bee give away? Stay tuned for your chance to win your very own (we have protectors for the XT1, XPRO1, X100, X100s to give out, terms and conditions will apply).
We have now also officially partnered up with Expert Shield UK (www.ExpertShieldUK.com), their products perform as advertised, are super east to apply, plain and simple! We are using them for piece of mind, why aren't you?
- Sven Schroeter
(FUJIFILM X Photographer for NZ)