Clear Lenses, Yellow or What Color for Low Light/Dark. The Answer

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morehops52

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I've seen posts elsewhere that sort of mentioned this as a side discussion so I thought I'd throw what I have learned out here in hopes that it might be helpful.

If you want to know what lens will give you more light at dusk or night, the short answer is NONE. If you want to know if there is a lens that will help you see better at those times read on.

Ok, for those of you still around I'll give you some info I've learned from 25 years as a pro photographer and 10 years as a Certified Optician. The question of night lenses came up a lot as we have an older population where I live and of course there are the ads you've probably seen on TV for those yellow night driving glasses. They show you a before picture that looks like you're looking thru a windshield with milk thrown on it and then miraculously appear clear as a bell when you use those wonderful inexpensive lenses. Below is what I believe to be accurate info. If you have a knowledge to add a correction or addition, it wouldn't be the first time I've learned something new.

I'll use an example of a light colored wall that has a constant light source. We put our self say 10' from the wall and have a very sensitive light meter next to our eye. If I take a meter reading that will give us the light intensity. That is the light reflecting off the wall reaching our eye. Now put a piece of clear optical glass in front of your eye. You won't perceive any difference in the light but the meter will show a very slight loss. The reason is that some of the light is reflecting back toward the wall, some is being absorbed by the glass and some passes through. The overall loss is mostly from reflectivity. Any absorption is neglible so I won't address it. If we want to get more light to pass through then we need to add an anti-reflective (AR) coating. Every lens maker or dispensary has there own coating formulation and they come in many colors. You have probably noticed a tint on the front of your binocs or scope. That is the coating. Now the glass lets more light thru because less is being reflected. It can sometimes add a slight amount of contrast due to less flare. So the meter goes up slightly but we'll never get to 100% transmittance. A good coating can get into the high 90's . Multi-coating is better but is rarely used on eyeglasses

Now we're back to our wonderful yellow lens. If I replace the clear lens with a yellow lens then we are only seeing part of the full spectrum. The lens is blocking a lot of other wavelengths (colors) for it to appear yellow to our eyes so we getting less light thru. But for many of us there is an illusion that our eyes and brain tell us everything looks brighter. That's because most of our eyes have higher sensitivity to that spectrum. Another example is hunter orange or safety green. So while we're getting less light it looks brighter to most of us. The amount of lost light is dependent on several factors but unless the lenses have a strong tint to them the loss of light usually not significant. But that small loss of light might be enough for you to not see a deer in the shadows - or a pedestrian. IMO as long as you can see your target clearly there's no real harm to wearing them in the field. Maybe the perception of the woods being brighter might help you stay in your stand 5 min longer. Just know that anything in front of your eyes (except light amplifiers like NV scopes) lets less light thru than without a lens. Oh, BTW the light meter agrees with me on that.

So why do shooters often wear colored lenses? Different shooters prefer different color lenses for each situation. Some colors provide better contrast to pick up a target, but that color varies with situation and individual shooter preference. Polarized lenses add contrast but usually let in considerably less light. Also those lenses are for normal to bright light. An colored lens that can pick up a clay target at 1:00 PM may be near useless as dusk approaches. The only way to know what works best for you is to try different colors in the field if you can. If you just want eye protection my advice would be to get a pair of clear polycarbonate lenses with AR coating. Polycarbonate is the most shatter resistant of the common lens materials.

I have some more optical tips below that are not in line with my original title but you may find helpfu

1.If you're not sure if a lens has an AR coating, look at the front of the lens and have a light source reflected off of it. If it has a tint that is usually an AR coating. If it still looks clear or white, I would pass on it. Price will help you determine if you're getting a quality lens or not.

2.If you want the best quality optics for your scope or binocs always look for these three words ONLY! “ FULLY MULTI COATED”. Anything else is less and I personally wouldn't ever buy any field optic or camera lens that didn't say those three words exactly.

3.If you want to see as best you can while driving at night you need to keep your windshield clean both out and especially inside. The haze on the inside creates flare at night. Clean eyeglass lenses too. For the cost of wiper blades it can look better outside also. I personally wouldn't wear colored lenses at night but we all make our choices.

4.As lenses age the vision they provide can deteriorate from scratches. Even scratches you can't easily see with naked eye (micro scratches) will cause len flare that lowers contrast and scatters light. The most common cause is “shirt tail cleaning” (using ANY of your clothing) or using any products that aren't specifically made for cleaning lenses. While you may think that TP and tissues are soft enough, they contain wood fibers and WILL scratch your lens. You can use a clean old 100% cotton hanky or T shirt in a pinch.

Have a good time shooting & I hope this has helped a few of you.
 
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Back when I was a serious high power competitor, on cloudy or dim days I would use yellow lenses on Ray Ban Frames. They didn't improve my vision but they did bring out a better bulls eye image for aiming with iron sights. Dark glasses on bright days didn't help so much with sight picture but made it more generally comfortable.
 

paulab

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I've seen posts elsewhere that sort of mentioned this as a side discussion so I thought I'd throw what I have learned out here in hopes that it might be helpful.

If you want to know what lens will give you more light at dusk or night, the short answer is NONE. If you want to know if there is a lens that will help you see better at those times read on.

Ok, for those of you still around I'll give you some info I've learned from 25 years as a pro photographer and 10 years as a Certified Optician. The question of night lenses came up a lot as we have an older population where I live and of course there are the ads you've probably seen on TV for those yellow night driving glasses. They show you a before picture that looks like you're looking thru a windshield with milk thrown on it and then miraculously appear clear as a bell when you use those wonderful inexpensive lenses. Below is what I believe to be accurate info. If you have a knowledge to add a correction or addition, it wouldn't be the first time I've learned something new.

I'll use an example of a light colored wall that has a constant light source. We put our self say 10' from the wall and have a very sensitive light meter next to our eye. If I take a meter reading that will give us the light intensity. That is the light reflecting off the wall reaching our eye. Now put a piece of clear optical glass in front of your eye. You won't perceive any difference in the light but the meter will show a very slight loss. The reason is that some of the light is reflecting back toward the wall, some is being absorbed by the glass and some passes through. The overall loss is mostly from reflectivity. Any absorption is neglible so I won't address it. If we want to get more light to pass through then we need to add an anti-reflective (AR) coating. Every lens maker or dispensary has there own coating formulation and they come in many colors. You have probably noticed a tint on the front of your binocs or scope. That is the coating. Now the glass lets more light thru because less is being reflected. It can sometimes add a slight amount of contrast due to less flare. So the meter goes up slightly but we'll never get to 100% transmittance. A good coating can get into the high 90's . Multi-coating is better but is rarely used on eyeglasses

Now we're back to our wonderful yellow lens. If I replace the clear lens with a yellow lens then we are only seeing part of the full spectrum. The lens is blocking a lot of other wavelengths (colors) for it to appear yellow to our eyes so we getting less light thru. But for many of us there is an illusion that our eyes and brain tell us everything looks brighter. That's because most of our eyes have higher sensitivity to that spectrum. Another example is hunter orange or safety green. So while we're getting less light it looks brighter to most of us. The amount of lost light is dependent on several factors but unless the lenses have a strong tint to them the loss of light usually not significant. But that small loss of light might be enough for you to not see a deer in the shadows - or a pedestrian. IMO as long as you can see your target clearly there's no real harm to wearing them in the field. Maybe the perception of the woods being brighter might help you stay in your stand 5 min longer. Just know that anything in front of your eyes (except light amplifiers like NV scopes) lets less light thru than without a lens. Oh, BTW the light meter agrees with me on that.

So why do shooters often wear colored lenses? Different shooters prefer different color lenses for each situation. Some colors provide better contrast to pick up a target, but that color varies with situation and individual shooter preference. Polarized lenses add contrast but usually let in considerably less light. Also those lenses are for normal to bright light. An colored lens that can pick up a clay target at 1:00 PM may be near useless as dusk approaches. The only way to know what works best for you is to try different colors in the field if you can. If you just want eye protection my advice would be to get a pair of clear polycarbonate lenses with AR coating. Polycarbonate is the most shatter resistant of the common lens materials.

I have some more optical tips below that are not in line with my original title but you may find helpfu

1.If you're not sure if a lens has an AR coating, look at the front of the lens and have a light source reflected off of it. If it has a tint that is usually an AR coating. If it still looks clear or white, I would pass on it. Price will help you determine if you're getting a quality lens or not.

2.If you want the best quality optics for your scope or binocs always look for these three words ONLY! “ FULLY MULTI COATED”. Anything else is less and I personally wouldn't ever buy any field optic or camera lens that didn't say those three words exactly.

3.If you want to see as best you can while driving at night you need to keep your windshield clean both out and especially inside. The haze on the inside creates flare at night. Clean eyeglass lenses too. For the cost of wiper blades it can look better outside also. I personally wouldn't wear colored lenses at night but we all make our choices.

4.As lenses age the vision they provide can deteriorate from scratches. Even scratches you can't easily see with naked eye (micro scratches) will cause len flare that lowers contrast and scatters light. The most common cause is “shirt tail cleaning” (using ANY of your clothing) or using any products that aren't specifically made for cleaning lenses. While you may think that TP and tissues are soft enough, they contain wood fibers and WILL scratch your lens. You can use a clean old 100% cotton hanky or T shirt in a pinch.

Have a good time shooting & I hope this has helped a few of you.










Excellent information.
 
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Blue signs are popular in strip malls these days. If you look at the signs, they are hard to focus on and they appear blurry because the wavelength is shorter and the lenses in our eyes don't bend the light as easily as the longer wavelengths like yellow. That's why people use yellow lenses for shooting to block out those hard to focus on wavelengths and make the target clearer.
 
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I​

I've seen posts elsewhere that sort of mentioned this as a side discussion so I thought I'd throw what I have learned out here in hopes that it might be helpful.

If you want to know what lens will give you more light at dusk or night, the short answer is NONE. If you want to know if there is a lens that will help you see better at those times read on.

Ok, for those of you still around I'll give you some info I've learned from 25 years as a pro photographer and 10 years as a Certified Optician. The question of night lenses came up a lot as we have an older population where I live and of course there are the ads you've probably seen on TV for those yellow night driving glasses. They show you a before picture that looks like you're looking thru a windshield with milk thrown on it and then miraculously appear clear as a bell when you use those wonderful inexpensive lenses. Below is what I believe to be accurate info. If you have a knowledge to add a correction or addition, it wouldn't be the first time I've learned something new.

I'll use an example of a light colored wall that has a constant light source. We put our self say 10' from the wall and have a very sensitive light meter next to our eye. If I take a meter reading that will give us the light intensity. That is the light reflecting off the wall reaching our eye. Now put a piece of clear optical glass in front of your eye. You won't perceive any difference in the light but the meter will show a very slight loss. The reason is that some of the light is reflecting back toward the wall, some is being absorbed by the glass and some passes through. The overall loss is mostly from reflectivity. Any absorption is neglible so I won't address it. If we want to get more light to pass through then we need to add an anti-reflective (AR) coating. Every lens maker or dispensary has there own coating formulation and they come in many colors. You have probably noticed a tint on the front of your binocs or scope. That is the coating. Now the glass lets more light thru because less is being reflected. It can sometimes add a slight amount of contrast due to less flare. So the meter goes up slightly but we'll never get to 100% transmittance. A good coating can get into the high 90's . Multi-coating is better but is rarely used on eyeglasses

Now we're back to our wonderful yellow lens. If I replace the clear lens with a yellow lens then we are only seeing part of the full spectrum. The lens is blocking a lot of other wavelengths (colors) for it to appear yellow to our eyes so we getting less light thru. But for many of us there is an illusion that our eyes and brain tell us everything looks brighter. That's because most of our eyes have higher sensitivity to that spectrum. Another example is hunter orange or safety green. So while we're getting less light it looks brighter to most of us. The amount of lost light is dependent on several factors but unless the lenses have a strong tint to them the loss of light usually not significant. But that small loss of light might be enough for you to not see a deer in the shadows - or a pedestrian. IMO as long as you can see your target clearly there's no real harm to wearing them in the field. Maybe the perception of the woods being brighter might help you stay in your stand 5 min longer. Just know that anything in front of your eyes (except light amplifiers like NV scopes) lets less light thru than without a lens. Oh, BTW the light meter agrees with me on that.

So why do shooters often wear colored lenses? Different shooters prefer different color lenses for each situation. Some colors provide better contrast to pick up a target, but that color varies with situation and individual shooter preference. Polarized lenses add contrast but usually let in considerably less light. Also those lenses are for normal to bright light. An colored lens that can pick up a clay target at 1:00 PM may be near useless as dusk approaches. The only way to know what works best for you is to try different colors in the field if you can. If you just want eye protection my advice would be to get a pair of clear polycarbonate lenses with AR coating. Polycarbonate is the most shatter resistant of the common lens materials.

I have some more optical tips below that are not in line with my original title but you may find helpfu

1.If you're not sure if a lens has an AR coating, look at the front of the lens and have a light source reflected off of it. If it has a tint that is usually an AR coating. If it still looks clear or white, I would pass on it. Price will help you determine if you're getting a quality lens or not.

2.If you want the best quality optics for your scope or binocs always look for these three words ONLY! “ FULLY MULTI COATED”. Anything else is less and I personally wouldn't ever buy any field optic or camera lens that didn't say those three words exactly.

3.If you want to see as best you can while driving at night you need to keep your windshield clean both out and especially inside. The haze on the inside creates flare at night. Clean eyeglass lenses too. For the cost of wiper blades it can look better outside also. I personally wouldn't wear colored lenses at night but we all make our choices.

4.As lenses age the vision they provide can deteriorate from scratches. Even scratches you can't easily see with naked eye (micro scratches) will cause len flare that lowers contrast and scatters light. The most common cause is “shirt tail cleaning” (using ANY of your clothing) or using any products that aren't specifically made for cleaning lenses. While you may think that TP and tissues are soft enough, they contain wood fibers and WILL scratch your lens. You can use a clean old 100% cotton hanky or T shirt in a pinch.

Have a good time shooting & I hope this has helped a few of you.
Everything above spot on. Yellow at night has been extensively studied and any perceived improvement is subjective and actual improvement by objective measurements thoroughly debunked. Tho retired I still have access to a number of medical libraries and the following is a summary for 2 typical articles from PubMed about the issue of yellow lenses.

Comparative Study

Optom Vis Sci. 2000 Feb;77(2):73-81.
doi: 10.1097/00006324-200002000-00011.

Contrast is enhanced by yellow lenses because of selective reduction of short-wavelength light​

J S Wolffsohn 1, A L Cochrane, H Khoo, Y Yoshimitsu, S Wu
Affiliations expand

Abstract​

Purpose: Although many studies have shown a subjective preference for yellow lenses, there has been little success in determining the clinical nature of this benefit.
Method: Contrast sensitivity, color vision, accommodative-convergence, and visual acuity were measured in a group of 20 young subjects along with subjective rating of their perception through clear control lenses (380-nm cut-off), yellow lenses (450-nm cut-off), dark yellow lenses (511-nm cut-off), and orange lenses (527-nm cut-off).
Results: A systematic detriment to color vision was found to occur with increasing cut-off wavelength of the yellow lenses (p < 0.001) and this was significantly correlated to subjective ratings of color (r = -0.66) and brightness (r = -0.34). Perceived brightness significantly improved for the yellow (450-nm cut-off) lens only (p < 0.001). Although tinted lenses reduced contrast sensitivity to a white on black grating, there was a significant improvement in low to midrange spatial frequencies when measured using a white-on-blue grating.
Conclusions: The detriment in color vision caused by yellow-colored lenses enhances contrast when viewing bright objects against a blue-based background, such as the sky. Contrast of overlying objects is enhanced is due to the selective reduction of short-wavelength light by the yellow lenses.

and

Can J Ophthalmol. 1992 Apr;27(3):137-8.

Improvement of contrast sensitivity with yellow filter glasses​

G Rieger 1
Affiliations expand
  • PMID: 1586884

Abstract​

Yellow filter glasses, often sold as "antifog" or "safety" glasses at department stores and other retail outlets, are claimed to improve contrast sensitivity and the yield of visually perceived objects, particularly under poor conditions (e.g., fog, rain and twilight), by enhancing contrast. These claims were tested in 15 healthy subjects (30 eyes) aged 26 to 58 (mean 42.5) years with the Vision Contrast Test System (VCTS 6500), first with and then without yellow filter glasses. Testing was done with commercial antifog glasses and frame-mounted, hand-held filter glasses of CR (Columbia resin) 39 quality with a yellow tint made by an optician. Contrast sensitivity was found to be significantly improved with yellow filter glasses (p less than 0.0001). The use of yellow filter glasses may safely be recommended to patients who report subjective improvement in contrast vision with such glasses.

 

Johnny Tremain

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Had a dealing with willie pete back a half a century ago. Ive worn dark lens my entire life.
I can not wear yellow at all. My regular glasses are dark gray. CVC flight glasses, if you know what they are.
The one exception is when I go to rondy, I wear Ben Franklin style. They are a nice dark green for syphilis wearers.

They were good enough for Ben, they work dandy for me.
 
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Back when I was a serious high power competitor, on cloudy or dim days I would use yellow lenses on Ray Ban Frames. They didn't improve my vision but they did bring out a better bulls eye image for aiming with iron sights. Dark glasses on bright days didn't help so much with sight picture but made it more generally comfortable.
I used to mountain bike orange glasses improved contrast made every rock and twig distinguishable
 
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Here is my take:

Your eye sees and focuses best in the mid range of the visible light spectrum, which starts at about 400nm. At around 400nm (blue/violet), it gets difficult to focus. Below 400nm is UV, which is invisible, but still irritates the retina. Standard polycarbonate safety glasses are opaque below 380nm, so they block out 'most' of the UV. But between 380nm and 400 (or 410 or 420, because these gradual transitions don't actually have a hard limit), there is still some irritating, but limited use light that gets through. Colored lenses filter the opposite color, so yellow filters blue, and if you get pale yellow lenses that filter into the low to mid 400's of nm, you take out the less useful light, improving focus and contrast. Darker yellow will have a higher cutoff, however as you filter out more and more of the visible light, your image brightness diminishes.

The only other color I have found any clinical data supporting is pale pink / vermillion. Red is the opposite of green, so pink lenses will make green foliage look black, and will not do anything to filter out red/orange. So when you are shooting orange clays against green foliage background, the contrast is better if you are shooting orange clays against a black background.
 

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