the blog of Seldom Seen Photography

Archive for May, 2013

Product Review: Expert Shield Screen Protectors

Expert Shield Screen ProtectorI have never used screen protectors on my cameras. The reason, I think, is because I’ve been a photographer since long before digital photography, so I saw the birth and growing pains of digital. In the “old” days of digital cameras, all the screen protectors I saw were thick, permanently attached, and, in my opinion, obstructed and lowered the quality of the LCD screen view. I certainly didn’t want one of those on my camera. Now, years later, I guess I was aware that screen protector technology had progressed over the years, but never reconsidered using one until now.

I was contacted by the makers of Expert Shield and asked to review their product. Why not, I thought, with my 6D still relatively new, perhaps it was time to reconsider screen protectors. The screen on my old camera (a 50D) has quite a few scratches, and the 6D already had one or two. So, a screen protector might be called for. I said yes, and shortly thereafter, installed Expert Shield’s product on my camera.

Overall, I’m very happy with the Expert Shield screen protector. It was moderately easy to install, does a great job protecting the screen, easy to remove, and did not leave any residue on the screen. Once installed, I barely noticed it was there; to my eye, there was no visible loss of light transmission through the screen protector. Additionally, Expert Shield screen protectors come with a lifetime guarantee against scratches or peeling.

The key to installing the screen protector is not to have any dust on your screen. The instructions on the package state “dust, your worst enemy.” This is totally true, each speck of dust on your screen when you install the protector will result in an air bubble. Having been shipped two sample screens, I installed a protector twice (one for my testing, and one after testing). The first time, it went very smoothly, and I was able to install the screen protector without any bubbles. On the second installation, I did have a few small bubbles. However, by following the directions on how to remove dust with tape (making sure not to touch the inner surface of the protector with anything other than tape), I was able to again achieve a bubble-free installation. The protector comes with a lint-free cleaning cloth to help ensure the screen is dust free and clean before installation.

Once on, the screen protector is barely noticeable. It does cause a slight, colored interference pattern that is only visible when the screen is off. When turned on, the screen looks perfect, as if the screen protector is not there. Also, the few small scratches I already had on the screen prior to installation were virtually invisible with the protector in place.

I decided to test the guarantee against scratches. While the screen protector doesn’t scratch easily, it does scratch. With the edge of a coin and a bit of pressure, I succeeded in putting a permanent scratch on the screen protector (and I was glad it was there, because that scratch would have really gouged my screen). When I later removed the screen, there was no corresponding scratch on the screen (luckily, or I would have been really pissed). Removing the screen protector is easy. By placing a piece of tape on the corner and pulling gently, the screen protector easily peeled back. If you plan to re-install it, don’t touch the underside. If you are not planning on reuse, it can be peeled back with a fingernail. Once off, it left no residue on the screen.

In summary, I recommend this product without hesitation, just be sure to apply according to the directions and be very careful about dust. While it is capable of being scratched, it will certainly protect your screen. And with the lifetime guarantee, if your protector is scratched, you can get a free replacement. My only disappointment is that Expert Shield does not make protectors for all my devices. While they do have them available for many cameras, smartphones, and tablets, they are not available for my 50D, my smartphone, or my wife’s tablet. That said, they are available for very many devices. You can see a complete list at the Expert Shield website.

Expert Shield screen protectors are available directly from Expert Shield or from Amazon, starting at about $10. Want to try one out for free, Expert Shield will give a free sample to one of my readers. Leave a comment listing your camera or smartphone model and I’ll pick one commenter by random for the giveaway.

Disclaimer: Expert Shield provided me with free samples of this product.

Experiment in Infrared

A couple of years ago I purchased an infrared filter, used it perhaps once, stuck it in the camera bag, and have been carrying it around ever since. Earlier this month, I thought it was high time I tried it out again. My subject was Riverfront Park. It seemed like a good time to try. It was the middle of the day, with bright sunshine, and I was somewhat unimpressed with my “normal” shots.

So I pulled out the infrared filter. Here are three samples of one scene from the park, one shot normally in color, a black and white conversion of the color image, and the infrared shot. All were processed in Lightroom.

Riverfront Park shot in color

Riverfront Park shot in color

Black and white conversion from the color image

Black and white conversion from the color image

Same scene shot with an infrared filter

Same scene shot with an infrared filter

While I like the infrared image the best of the three, I can’t say I’m overwhelmed with it. It certainly seems to be lacking a bit of the character I normally associate with infrared – namely very dark skies and very light foliage. It may be that my camera (Canon 6D) doesn’t transmit much infrared. Or perhaps there is an issue with the subject I picked. Any experienced infrared photographers out there want to give me some advice?

Seeing Red – My 2 Cents Worth about Adobe

Seeing Red

The Red Floor in the Seattle Central Library – photographed last Tuesday while conducting a personal workshop. Interested in your own workshop? Give me a call or email.

Many photographers have been seeing red when looking at the Adobe Corporation this week. There’s been a lot of words, mostly nasty, flying around the internet since Adobe’s announcement that they will no longer sell perpetual licenses for Photoshop and their other Creative Suite applications, instead going to a subscription model of licensing. So, being a Photoshop user, I thought I’d weigh in on the subject.

First, I am not surprised, the writing was on the wall after they changed the upgrade policy on Photoshop last year. I can’t say I’m too happy about it, the change will likely cost me more money in the long run. Currently I use Adobe Lightroom extensively, and Photoshop CS6 on a regular basis (but much less than Lightroom). I’d say I do 80 -90% of my post-capture work in Lightroom. In the past, I’ve upgraded Photoshop with every other version (going from CS4 to CS6 last year). I upgrade Lightroom more frequently (going from version 1 to 2 to 4, and I’ll upgrade to 5 when available outside the beta version).

So for now, I’m happy with what I have and will not sign up for a subscription, but I can imagine doing so in a year or two (or if they make Lightroom available only by subscription as well). Actually, the current offer to CS6 owners is quite tempting – the complete suite of applications for $20 per month. Every now and then, I wish I had one of the other CC programs, such as InDesign or Dreamweaver. If those were available to me at no more cost than Photoshop alone? Very tempting. The question is, is it worth it after the price goes up when the special price ends in a year. That, I’m not too sure.

I think that is most photographer’s biggest problem with this change. If the only CC program you use is Photoshop, the cost of the subscription is roughly the same as an annual upgrade (assuming the non-special price of $20/month for Photoshop alone, or even less than an annual upgrade cost with the special $10/month price for Photoshop alone). The problem is, the price is not guaranteed, the price will likely go up. And if you decide you don’t want to ride that train anymore, you are left with no Photoshop at all. Currently, if you don’t upgrade, you still have the old program.

Of course, the other problem is that the change is a change, and in my experience, people are afraid of change. But, this model of software licensing has been around for several years and more and more software companies are going to it. It was inevitable that Adobe would do this. Ultimately, it is the cost of doing business. If you want to use Photoshop, you’ll have to pay Adobe’s price. Is it fair? I don’t know and it really doesn’t matter. I can’t see Adobe going back to the old way.

If you don’t want to pay up? There are other programs to use. Frankly, I probably could get away with using Elements instead of Photoshop, and it will still be sold with perpetual licenses. And there are non-Adobe programs out there as well, such as Corel Paintshop Pro, Pixelmator, or even the Gimp.

So, yes I’m disappointed, but I’m not seeing red. After all, it isn’t the end of the world, it’s just the future of software.

Looking for a Few Good Readers

Space NeedleRegular readers of my blog know I’m preparing an ebook about Seattle photography.The book describes over 80 places in Seattle to take some great photos.

The book is now completely written and has been through one edit. All the photos are inserted (except one, which I still need to take, and hope to do so in the next week or so). And now I’m looking for a few good readers to give me feedback before putting it to press. If you want to be a “beta reader” and tell me what you think, please leave a comment or send me a separate email. I’ll pick several people to send a draft pdf copy of the book to, and those that give me feedback will get an acknowledgement in the book and a final production copy. Here’s what I ask:

1. give honest feedback – what you like, what you don’t like, how can the book can be improved

2. provide a quote (and give me permission to use it) that I can use in marketing the book

3. try to get it done by May 15th

4. and consider writing a review of the book on your own blog (I’d really appreciate it)

So if you are willing to help out, please let me know. I’ll email volunteers next week. Thank you for considering helping.