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

Are Filters (UV/Daylight) Effective Lens Protectors?
In the October 2005 issue of Shutterbug, you basically state that a UV filter offers no protection to the front lens element because if the filter glass is shattered it could drive fragments back into the lens.
If this reasoning were to be applied to shooting glasses, you would argue that a bullet hitting the shooting glasses head on could result in fragments being driven back into the eye, therefore shooting glasses are worthless. Of course shooting glasses are not meant to be protection against bullets flying directly at the eye.
I do believe that it could be very common for an impact on a filter to break the filter without it shattering. That amount of force could certainly damage the front element fatally. Thus a filter could protect the front element.
One can make an argument that the value of a filter does not outweigh its detriments, but the explanation you offered is incorrect and could badly mislead someone new to photography and they could be very sad down the line for following such advice.
James Reese

The advice I provided is based on over 50 years of doing photography full-time. And, during that period I have had my share of accidents with cameras and lenses. The absolute best protection for a contemporary lens is the molded plastic lens cap made for the lens when the camera is not immediately used to take pictures. When used to take photographs a strong metal or plastic lens shade provides the best protection of the lens from most typical accidents.
Most of the UV/daylight filters sold for protection are cheaply made of thin, standard optical glass that will shatter very easily, contrary to your claim. Since I made the recommendation several photographers have been in touch and have related experience which supports my perspective, including one who lost a lens due to a shattered filter and the resulting glass shards being driven into the front element.
It is a matter of choice. There is no absolute right or wrong. However, the idea of using a filter as protection primarily was and is just a camera salesperson's way to add a high margin extra to pad the profit in the sale of a camera. And, more than one photo salesperson has admitted as much to me personally.

Digital Camera Image Storage
Q. I am researching buying a digital camera. Do most digital cameras have memory cards? Does a card reader need to be purchased? Or can you use a USB cable straight from the camera to the computer?

A. Currently all digital cameras rely on some kind of flash memory card to store image files made with the camera. Most cameras sold do not include the card, so one has to be purchased separately, sort of like film in the old days. Also, most digital cameras can be connected to a computer with a USB cable to download images stored by the camera. However, most users find a USB memory card reader is more convenient, faster, and does not run down the camera's battery when downloads are made directly from the camera.