Monday, June 6, 2011

The Gift of Sight

It sucks to get old. I've needed glasses (for astigmatism, and worsening ability to read and work on the computer) for years now, but I've never liked them. And contacts are even worse, irritating to my eyes and annoying. This past weekend, though, I got a bit of a glasses revelation -- that's directly related to my photography.

Even though I've been wearing glasses for years now, I've always taken them off when taking pictures. After taking photos with SLRs for so many years without them, it just didn't feel right...and every pair of glasses I've ever had made me feel like I had to move my eye around to see the whole viewfinder, even when my cameras had good eye relief on the viewfinder. Since my distance vision is reasonably good (especially with one eye), this has never been too much of a problem when my eye was at the viewfinder sans spectacles...but trying to see fine detail on a DSLR's LCD screen without them was ridiculously hard. What usually happened was a somewhat comical routine of take them off, compose and take a shot, put them on to "chimp" the LCD, take them back off to shoot again...repeat.
Well, this past weekend, after I sat on my old pair of progressive bifocals and broke them (for the second time -- note to self: don't put your glasses on your chair when you take them off to take a photo, you can't see well enough to notice they're there when you go to sit down!), I finally broke down and got a new pair. I needed them anyway, since it had been 5 years since my last eye exam, and details in photoshop were getting as hard to read as the tiny text on pill bottles.
This time around, I went with larger (in area) lenses than before -- and what a difference! No, they're not nearly as stylish as the smaller-lensed, rectangular frames I used to have. But for the first time ever, I can keep them on while looking through my camera viewfinders, and see *the whole frame.* And what do you know...the viewfinder image looks sharper, too! Who would have guessed?

That's my new specs up there in the photo. Still progressive bifocals, so my old eyes can read that pill bottle text. But advances in lens design, scratch resistance, and anti-reflection coatings have come a long way in just the past 5-10 years, so that this is probably the first pair I'll leave on all the time, even when shooting. It's really nice to see everything clearly again.

If you wear glasses, do you leave them on while shooting or take them off? I'd be curious to know, and your reasons. Drop a note in the comments. I'm off to take some more photos...and it won't surprise me at all if they're better focused than the ones I took a couple of weeks ago...


  1. Progressive bi-focals here. I leave them on when shooting. I find that shooting is o.k. but when I look at the LCD after shooting the fringes are soft - as in very soft... and I have to move eyes around to see it all. Interesting take on glasses, I'm up for a new pair and something I'll take into consideration.

  2. Larry,
    Funny how your experience is almost the opposite of mine...
    Just FYI, my new glasses are "Advanced View Progressives" from Lenscrafters:
    Worth a look.

  3. Paul,
    I tried to reply to this yesterday but for some reason the choice to comment as a member isn't an option.

    While shooting the race track this last few months I've found that I have to take my glasses off to shoot. In between races when I want to see things I put them back on.
    I too have bi-focals but not the progressive kind so the line really gets in the way more than I had thought. I'm due for a new pair and I think I'm going to go with non Bi-Focals because I still have to remove them to read small print. :) Though I'm probably going to still take them off to shoot the races. :)

  4. When I started wearing glasses in my early 40s, they were just reading glasses, and I only wore them for reading (duh!). As time went on, I got tired of having to haul glasses around with me so I could, for instance, see the restaurant check and pay it, so I decided to get progressives that I would wear all the time.

    At first, I took them off to look in the viewfinder, but one day I set the diopter to the appropriate strength for when I was wearing glasses, and realized it was much better than constantly taking them off and putting them back on. I don't even think about it anymore.