Digital Help
Q&A For Digital Photography

Digital Help is designed to aid you in getting the most from your digital photography, printing, scanning, and image creation. Each month, David Brooks provides solutions to problems you might encounter with matters such as color calibration and management, digital printer and scanner settings, and working with digital photographic images with many different kinds of cameras and software. All questions sent to him will be answered with the most appropriate information he can access and provide. However, not all questions and answers will appear in this department. Readers can send questions to David Brooks addressed to Shutterbug magazine, through the Shutterbug website (, directly via e-mail to: or or by US Mail to: David Brooks, PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.
--George Schaub

The Filters As Lens Protectors Controversy Continues
I had my own photo/camera store and sold many UV/skylight filters. Most of the reasons were to help keep the lens clean and to help protect the lens in case the camera is dropped. In my many years of selling I had only heard of one incident of a camera being dropped where the protective filter did not save the lens, and this was fairly severe as the lens screwmount and camera were damaged. I had not believed the filter would or could save the camera lens from damage if dropped until I experienced this accident myself. I was shooting in Las Vegas and in a hurry to change cameras. I did not notice my camera bag was sitting on the edge of a stone wall, ready to fall. The bag went over and dropped about 4 ft unto the sidewalk. I saw the camera hit lens first with glass flying. My heart sank with visions of a lost lens or camera.
I picked up the camera and examined the damage. The filter was completely smashed and I could not see if the lens was damaged. The focusing still worked and the lens could be removed from the camera. The camera lens was not damaged! The lens mounting screw was not even bent. I could hardly believe it! I replaced the filter and to this day I still use this lens.
While selling a filter to help protect the camera lens may be considered a ploy, I am a firm believer that it does work. Why take a chance when a filter has such low-cost insurance?
Edmund Clark

Thank you for sending your perspective on the issue of using a filter as lens protection. I have received numerous e-mails on this subject with opinions for and against the practice. Some writers, like you, included experiences that proved to the user the filter was a protection. Others had just the opposite experience. The exception (or individual anecdote) does not prove the rule, either way.
I based my opinion in part on over 50 years of photography, sometimes working with cameras almost every day, which of course involved quite a few mishaps. My opinion is also based on what the camera/lens designers choose to provide for the protection of lenses, which has evolved and improved over my 50 some years of experience. Most reputable manufacturers have designed and constructed lens caps for the purpose of protecting the front element when the camera is not in immediate use. It is both my experience and confidence in the design and manufacturer that the fitted, original lens cap of today is a superior protection when the camera is not in actual use.
When the camera is being used, most decent lens makers either provide or make available equally well designed lens shades, which are constructed of tough industrial-grade plastics. These are made to absorb a good deal of force, yet will break away, if necessary, without damaging the lens barrel.
Optically, the best lens performance is achieved if there is no interference between the subject and the lens. An inexpensive UV/skylight filter, in that respect, is a detriment to optical performance. And as you noted, the thin glass of a filter shatters rather easily, and the light aluminum screw ring of a filter is easily bent and deformed. That is not much in the way of protection compared to a fitted manufacturer-provided lens cap, or a lens manufacturer's custom lens shade for the lens.
It is my opinion a lot of photo enthusiasts are attracted to the idea of the UV/skylight filter because of convenience and laziness. They can keep it on the lens all the time and do not have to do anything to be ready to take a picture, like remove a lens cap and install a lens shade. And if the filter is to keep dirt from the lens, then the dirt is on the filter, which, if not cleaned would impair optical performance even more.
Sorry, my position here is to encourage best practices, and discourage the easy way for people who care too little to really think about the consequences of their choices.

Buying Print Services That Work For Framing
Q. I am having extreme trouble with printing images. I have tried a few online print sites and the paper is always quite thin, so when the image is framed, it sometimes ripples in the frame and looks awful!
Where can I get images printed onto thick or extremely good "unrippled" paper which can be framed?
Nigel Crick

A. I would assume you are making prints from digital photographic files. If you want to obtain prints of a quality worth framing, I would suggest working with professional photographic labs, a number of which advertise in Shutterbug. One that I have used for many years in Los Angeles is A&I, and their website URL is:
For the nicest prints for framing you might want to consider "giclee" prints, but they are about twice as expensive as other print methods. Also, most pro labs can mount your prints on foamcore board or, for even better durability, GatorBoard, which will resolve the flatness problem.

On The Go Storage For Downloading Digital Camera Files
Q. I am thinking about purchasing a digital storage device such as the Epson P2000. I generally shoot in raw format with a Nikon D1X and a Leica Digilux 2. I will generally fill up 2-3 512MB cards and would like the flexibility of downloading the images to a portable device. My questions are: Is 40MB enough or should I buy the P4000, which is double the memory size? Epson states that raw will be read from certain cameras. Will the P2000 read both the Nikon and Leica? I like the size of the screen. I am open to suggestions, especially from you.
P. Merola

A. There are quite a number of temporary portable storage drives available in the marketplace. I found the Epson P2000/P4000 exceptionally efficient and easy to use, as the control interface is well designed. But the unique attraction of the Epson is the very large and superior image quality of its LCD playback screen.
I would assume both the Leica and Nikon cameras are popular, so their raw format is likely supported, but Epson does not list all the cameras it supports. So I guess you would just have to take a couple of CompactFlash cards to a store that has a new P2000 to find out for sure.
The P2000's 40GB of storage would allow downloading 80 full 512MB CompactFlash cards. For temporary storage that is a lot of images. It is expected the files will be transferred to a computer for more permanent storage, which is advisable.

There Are No More Pro Graphic CRT Monitors, So Which LCD Display?
Q. I have been reading many of the posts on Shutterbug's Forums ( regarding LCD vs. CRT.
My 17" Trinitron is in need of replacement and, like you, weight is a factor as we get older.
I have seen information on the LaCie 319, and it indicates it is a graphic/photographer-quality LCD. I have not seen any posts regarding this monitor for photo-editing use. Any advice on this unit? Your insight would be greatly appreciated.
Tim Clifton

A. I tested and reviewed LaCie's 20.1" LCD about a year ago. It was definitely the best at the time for doing Photoshop work. So, I would be quite confident this newer 19" 319 should also provide good quality performance.
Another LCD monitor that was just lowered in price that is very highly rated by photographers is the Apple 20" Cinema Display. It will work equally well with either a Mac or Windows PC that has a DVI output video card. I am currently testing and evaluating a Samsung SyncMaster 244T. Look for my review in an upcoming issue of Shutterbug.