Costa Del Mar 580 Lens Review
By Matt Smith

Polarized lenses have come down in price considerably in the last several years. Prior to that time, they were relatively uncommon and used primarily by fishermen and mountaineers. Currently, you can pick up a pair of polarized glasses for as little as 20 bucks. But don't be fooled. Not all polarized lenses are created equal. Depending on the quality of the fabrication, the polarizing coating may be thin, superficial, and lack uniformity. The color and shade of the lens can make a dramatic difference in the percieved wavelengths. Ample literature is available to guide you in identifying the appropriate lens color and shade. Check out this summary of lens types and colors to help you in your quest for the perfect pair of sunglasses.

Costa Del Mar Blackfin

The Costa Del Mar 580 Lens is the latest offering in Costa's long standing line of polarized lenses. The 580 lens has been optimized to filter out much of the yellow light wavelengths. This has the effect of reducing percieved haze, accentuating the reds, greens, and blues; and together with the polarizing technology delivers an incredible effect of clarity. Somewhat amusingly, the sales rep explained it as "seeing in Technicolor", which I suppose would be correct if you were comparing the lenses to black and white. I'd perhaps call it "seeing in HD" in todays market.

We tested the 580 lens in the Blackfin and the Fathom, both with the Costa 580 Copper Glass lenses. The copper lens is a great balance for most applications, but some may find it fatigues the eyes and opt for gray, blue, or green instead. One of the best features of the Costa lenses is the shading and polarizing coating is sandwiched between two layers of lens. Any scratch you happen to get will only scratch the outer lens, and not the shading, polarizing, or UV protection. I wish I could tell you what a scratch does look like, but with the glass lenses, I don't have the slightest sign of wear, even after three months of intentionally apathetic care.

Costa Del Mar Fathom

I immediately noticed the optical quality of the 580 lenses. There is incredible clarity all the way to the edge of the lens, with no distortion around the edges as you might see in lower grade lenses. I can't with certainty say that the color, and not the quality polarization is the cause, but haze from both pollution and dust was dramatically reduced when viewed through the 580 lens. I also noticed the increased weight of the glass lens. This was a switch for me as all of my other lenses are some variety of polycarbonate. The durability of glass is a definite plus, but there are some associated inconveniences; for me the most significant of which is fogging when transitioning from cold dry environs to warm moist environs (such as entering a ski lodge). I also noticed that if I left the glasses in my car on a cold night, they would take considerably longer to warm up, and thus stop fogging, than the polycarbonate lenses I am used to.

A nice feature on the Blackfins is the Hydrolite coinjected lining across the entire temple and bottom of the lens frame. The Hydrolite lining is hydrophillic, so the more you sweat, the better it grips. The temples of the Fathom are similarly quite grippy. Make sure you try on a pair of the frames before buying. We found the Blackfin is best suited to larger faces, and the Fathom better suited to small to medium faces.

Summary: You can lay your hands on a pair of 580 lenses in the Blackfins for $219 and a pair of Fathoms for $199. The 580 lens is available in a variety of shades. Costa Del Mar lenses are also available in prescriptions.

For more information contact:
Costa Del Mar
5475 Gage St
Costa Del Mar
2361 Mason Avenue, Suite 100
Daytona Beach, FL 32117
(386) 274-4000
(800) 447-3700: Toll Free
(386) 274-4001 fax

Matt Smith is a contributing editor at GearReview.com, and enjoys spending time in the outdoors with his 5 children and wife.

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