Understanding lens base colours

As a watersports brand, we are often asked to explain the differences between the colours of lenses we offer for our watersports sunglasses, and what those differences actually mean when you are on the water.

Currently we offer two base colours for our watersports sunglasses – the Typhoon and the Surge. The options are smoke (grey) or brown / bronze as our research and experience shows these are the two lens tones (base colours) that are most suitable either on the water or on land near the water. On top of that, the Typhoon also comes with an option for a ‘gun blue’ mirror coating.

But there are many other lens tones available on the market, so what are the benefits and features of these other base colours? Here is a handy overview.

GREEN  • Transmits colours evenly
• good in low light conditions and shade
• reduces glare
• good for daily use and general purpose
YELLOW / AMBER  • filters out blue light
• reduces eye strain
• perfect for low light conditions
BROWN / BRONZE  • enhances contrast in all light conditions
• enhances depth of field
• enhances reds
• versatile all round lens colour
GREY  • true and neutral colour representation
• minimises glare especially on water
• darkest of all tints
• great for high contrast / sunny conditions
BLUE / PURPLE  • reduces glare
• filters out white light
• enhances colour and brings out contours
• good for skiing, fishing and golf
ROSE / PINK  • increase depth of field
• higher contrast
• reduces eye strain
• good for cycling, driving & skiing

Making the right decision on base colour

When it comes to watersports, there are two clear winners in our view – smoke (grey) and brown / bronze, and the choice of which one to go for will depend very much on your local weather conditions. However, it is important to recognise that despite all the features for each base colour described above, it is ultimately a personal choice, as colour perception varies from person to person.

Nonetheless, if you are unsure which lens tint to choose, LiP recommend brown / bronze lenses where the weather conditions are normally variable, and smoke (grey) lenses where the conditions are normally bright and sunny.

Making the right decision can be a difficult call as often we encounter all sorts of weather and lighting conditions throughout the year.

Having a second set of lenses to handle different weather conditions can be very useful. You can now buy a second set of ZEISS lenses / replacement lenses direct from our webshop.





The relationship of base colour with mirror coatings

People sometimes confuse the base colour with the colour of mirror coatings. These are different things. For example, if you have a blue mirror coating, this does not mean that you have a blue tinted lens or blue base colour. It means that there is a blue coloured coating that has been applied on top of the base colour.

A good example is the Typhoon with Gun Blue lenses, pictured above. The base colour of the Gun Blue lenses is grey with a blue mirror coating layer applied on top.


Are there any benefits of Mirror coatings?

Surprisingly, there are quite a few benefits in addition to style and aesthetics.  Taking the Typhoon with Gun Blue lenses as an example, the grey lens tint will give the wearer a true and neutral colour representation, and the blue mirror coating will reflect blue light away from the eye. In a bright ocean environment where blue is everywhere, this helps to balance the overall light spectrum and provides greater visual acuity.

Similarly, a red mirror coating will reflect red light, and a green mirror coating will reflect green light.  So you should choose a mirror coating that is suitable for the environment that you are most likely to wear your sunglasses in.

There are other benefits of mirror coatings. Importantly for watersport fans, they reduce glare (in addition to the reduction of glare gained from polarisation), and this further reduces eye strain. Furthermore, as the mirror coatings reflect blue light away from the eyes, this has the effect of brightening the field of vision. Finally, the mirror coating acts as a physical barrier against wear and tear of the lenses.