Disclosure: Expert Shield UK approached me and offered me the opportunity to try their product. I have no prior affiliation with this, or any other company.
Screen protectors are something I tend to avoid. Past experience has shown them to be awkward to install, unattractive, and somewhat ineffectual. Ed Tyson, of Expert Shield UK, approached me, and assured me that his product would change my mind about screen protectors. To review the product, I fitted one of their standard types (also available in an anti-glare type) to my OM-D, and used the camera daily for the past couple of weeks. It remains in situ, and I will be following up in late January with my thoughts on its performance several months after fitting, as well as its ability to survive the dry season in Cambodia (where I will be spending a month between December and January).
The packaging is minimalist, with everything included in a petite cardboard sleeve; I like the environmental credentials of this, and the fact that it doesn’t get in your way when you’re fitting the screen protector. Speaking of fitting, the instructions on the rear of the packaging were very clear, and the hints on avoiding dust and bubbles a welcome touch. Also a welcome touch was the included anti-static cloth, which was of surprisingly good quality (if only my optometrist gave me cloths like that!). I fitted the body cap in place of the lens, so I could lie the camera flat while fitting. The viewfinder eyecup also had to come off, but that provided a good opportunity to clean the viewfinder, so wasn’t an issue. Once I’d cleaned the screen up, I was ready to proceed with fitting.
Fitting was more straightforward than past experience had led me to expect. The silicon-based adhesion system Expert Shield uses doesn’t grab at the surface as strongly as traditional adhesives, making delicate alignment of the first edge a doddle. Some dust did adhere whilst I peeled off the backing, but that’s down to me disturbing the air. The speck of dust settled outside the viewing area, so I left it alone. When I finished installation, the appearance was crisp and tidy. Peeling off the top protective film, the protector did lift a little at the edge, as the instructions warned may happen. I was able to flatten this out with firm thumb pressure, which did nothing to deteriorate the finish. Once I did this, the silicon-based compound gripped the surface well. Screen reflectivity didn’t noticeably increase or decrease under my desk lamp. The only issue I had was a slight frosted-like appearance at certain angles, but this doesn’t manifest itself when the screen is operating. Overall, I’m pleased with the ease of fit and tidy finish.
Before I took the camera into the field, I wanted to check three things: firstly, fingerprinting; secondly, scratch resistance; and thirdly, touch screen functionality.
Fingerprints are an irritating occurrence with any touch screen. On cameras, they are frequently exacerbated by greasy nose prints when looking through the viewfinder. So, I smudged my fingers and thumbs all over the screen protector. The marks picked up as quickly as the unprotected screen did. However, when I wiped the screen with the anti-static cloth included in the screen protector packaging, I found they removed with minimal effort compared to the bare screen. This is an improvement I’m glad to see, as I frequently use the touchscreen when reviewing photos with others.
Expert Shield claim that their screen protector features an anti-scratch coating. Since most of my camera screens wind up scratched to some extent, I set out to deliberately scratch the protector. After stabbing it and slashing it with an old credit card, a few hairline scratches appeared. These are barely visible at most angles, and a complete non-issue when the screen is running. During testing, the screen also encountered some branches and rough foliage, none of which left any marks. I will keep an eye on this over the next few months, but at this stage, the coating seems to work. The only potential side effect of it is increased dust attraction, but dust is as easy to remove as fingerprints are.
Touch screen capability hasn’t been diminished with the screen protector in place. The one thing I did find interesting was, that under more realistic use conditions, fingerprints built up less on the protector (with a poking more than smudging motion). Again, the fingerprints were very easily removed.
The first day I took the camera out with the screen protector fitted, we were subjected to heavy rain and hail showers. Half an hour was all I could spare (let alone survive) in the weather. I kept the camera strapped to my hand the whole time, and exposed the screen and viewfinder to the weather as much as possible. There was no fogging visible around the screen, which tells me that the screen protector seals well, even in colder temperatures. The touch screen still worked as intended, even when covered with water. The “frostiness” didn’t cause any issues, either, much as I suspected. I left the camera on my desk for several hours to dry, which resulted in water spots on the screen and finder. Water spot deposition was comparable between the factory glass surface and the screen protector, but the screen protector was much easier to clean.
Besides what I shoot on a daily basis, I treated the screen protector to one of my fungal forays in woodland. An inevitable side effect of having the camera upside down at ground level on a tripod was that it hit the ground. The screen protector took the splash of mud well, and cleaned off easily, with no lasting impression. When shooting brighter coloured fungi, there was no perceptible colour shift, which would tally with the claim of “ultra-high transparency”. This was borne out in further use, including sunrises and sunsets, where the display remained usable as ever, even in direct sunlight.
I’m extremely pleased with what I’ve experienced of the Expert Shield so far. It performs unpretentiously and competently: what it claims to do, it does, and it does well. Many of my qualms over screen protectors have lifted in the time I’ve used this one. Considering the amount of use my screen gets, and the investment (time and otherwise) I’ve made in my camera, I can see this becoming a permanent companion to my beloved OM-D, and any cameras I acquire in future.
The Expert Shield for the OM-D is available at http://www.expertshielduk.com/olympus-om-d-e5-expert-shield.html. They are available in standard (as reviewed here) or anti-glare types. Both types are available for a multitude of devices listed on their website.
Special thanks to Ed Tyson of Expert Shield UK for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.