Using Stick-on Magnifiers at the Top of Snorkel Mask
by Aryel Levy
I put my stick-on magnifier bifocal lenses in the top of my mask.
I have a new prescription mask with +4 corrective lenses. That's the correction I need for far vision. I have to add +3 stick-on magnifiers for close vision. Everybody sticks these extra half circle lenses at the bottom of the mask. I am trying to stick them on the top part. This way I'll have to tilt my head downwards, not upwards, to look at small critters and check my camera screen, and keep my head horizontal under normal conditions.
I had a custom mask made eight years ago by an optician. He could not fit progressive lenses, only bifocal. Unfortunately there is only one optical company in France making prescription masks, Demetz. The close-up correction lenses were stuck at the bottom of the mask lenses, the top reaching the exact level of the pupil of my eyes. I had to keep my head slightly down and my eyeballs a bit up to see a clear image above that merging line. Watching the sea floor or my camera screen meant I had to keep my head up while looking down, stressing my neck.
I paid almost 500€ for that uncomfortable mask. Now I have been asked 700€ to have a new one made by the same company. Instead I am trying something new. I wanted to share about my underwater experiences with my new 150€ unconventional mask. On-land first impression was good and promising....
Here are my first impressions using my bizarre bifocal mask. In a swimming pool the results are almost as I anticipated. While swimming, looking ahead and downwards, and keeping my head slightly down to cover a 90 degrees field from the surface to the bottom, the lower rim of the stick-on magnifier fitted on top of the main lens is hardly noticeable. But looking up above the surface creates a blurry zone at the very top of my vision area (the sky or the top of the shoreline). Tilting my head slightly backwards easily solved this minor inconvenience.
The real bonus comes when swimming close to the bottom (of the pool now) where I am always searching for small creepy crawly creatures for macro photography. My neck-to-head angle is now by far more comfortable than it was with my previous traditional mask. With the magnifying lens at the bottom I had to keep my head up and my eyeballs down for a clear image. Now the position of my head is perfectly natural with my eyes in line with what I want to see. I can effortlessly read my watch, the screen of my camera, and observe the area where I usually find my little friends.
I definitely recommend any macro photography fan with poor close vision to give my idea a try with stick-on magnifier lenses. They are removable and repositionable so it’s at no risk.
There is so far a problem I didn’t overcome in the pool. While the main lenses remain fog-free with a bit of saliva, the extra lenses get foggy after a short swim. I haven’t yet tried soap nor toothpaste. Spray is banned (instruction notice on the stick-on lenses).
A second try in a swimming pool reveals the same fogging issue despite my using shampoo before getting in the water.
So I eventually tested my unorthodox mask in real life. Swimming in the shallows, 1-4 feet, the vision is just right to scrutinize the bottom for creepy crawlies to take pictures of. Looking up horizontally for the pelagic is less comfortable, my head must be held slightly backwards. I found that I had to shift my mask with my hand up and down a bit every time I changed from short range to long range vision. Holding my camera with my right hand I would use my left hand to move the mask up or down half a centimeter.
As seen in the pictures, the set up could be improved by repositioning the close-up lenses in order to adjust the pupillary distance. As it is, the lenses are set too far apart.
Looking through the lower lens for long range vision, the rim of the upper lens is too low, that is why I had to tilt my head back, stressing the neck, or shift the mask upwards a bit, using my hand.
I solved the fogging issue this time by using shampoo and saliva then rinsed with sea water.
1. The placement of the stick-on magnifiers at the top of my mask was better than in the bottom of my mask for macro photography. I could easily read the camera screen.
2. The idea needs some improvement for my long range vision.
3. It would be useful to have a professional optician place your stick-on lenses so that pupillary distance is accounted for when positioning them.
I am open to any feedback and suggestions. Thank you.