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Reviews > Eye Protection and Binoculars > Sun Glasses > Tifosi Optics Q3 Sunglasses > Test Report by Roger Caffin

Initial Report     16-October-2007
The author, wearing the glasses, above the Hawkesbury River

Reviewer Details
Reviewer: Roger Caffin
Age: 62
Gender: M
Weight: 63 kg (139 lb)
Height: 167 cm (67")
Email address:     r dot [surname] at acm dot org
Home: Sydney, Australia

Backpacking Background

I started bushwalking at 14 and took up rock climbing at University with the girl who became my wife and my permanent walking partner. Ski touring and canyoning followed. Winter and summer, we prefer long hard trips by ourselves: about a week in Australia, up to two months in Europe/UK. We prefer fast and light in unfrequented trackless country. We would be out walking and skiing for at least three months a year. We have now moved to lightweight gear, much to our backs' relief. I designed and made much of our lightweight gear myself.

I am also the maintainer of the Australian aus.bushwalking FAQ web site www.bushwalking.org.au/FAQ/.

Product Information

Picture courtesy Tifosi Optics
Manufacturer: Tifosi Optics
Manufacturer URL: www.tifosioptics.com/
Year of manufacture: assumed 2007
Country of manufacture:     China
Packaged size 1 : 165 x 80 x 60 mm (6.5 x 3.1 x 2.4")
Listed weight 2: 24 g (0.85 oz)
Actual weight (full kit): 122 g (4.3 oz)
Actual weight (glasses and bag): 34 g (1.2 oz)
Actual weight (glasses): 23 g (0.81 oz)
Actual weight (pair lenses): 7 g (0.25 oz)
Actual weight (pr lenses in carry sleeve): 13 g (0.46 oz)
MSRP: n/a

Notes:
1: Dimensions of hard case
2: While not explicitly stated, this obviously refers to the glasses only

Product Claims

Product Description

Sunglasses are, well, sunglasses. Two eye covers, something to hold them on the bridge of the nose, and two long arms to hook around ears to hold the lot on the face. I guess it is hard to create something really new in this field.

Anyhow, apart from the picture shown above (courtesy Tifosi Optics) and the Product Claims, the Tifosi web site does not say a real lot more. They do supply the frame in any one of four different colours: Pearl White, Metallic Silver, Metallic Blue and Matt Black. And with the frame the customer gets four different sets of lenses: clear, AC red, yellow and smoke.

First Impressions Components of the kit

What is not entirely obvious from the web site is that the glasses come as a bit of a kit. Included in the kit are the following:

  1. Microfibre carry bag
  2. Three spare sets of lenses
  3. Hard case (large!) with embedded storage sleeves
  4. Separate reinforced storage sleeve
  5. Sunglasses

The hard case is immense! Granted it is not that heavy, but it would take up a lot of volume in a pack. However, there is a soft draw-string bag which can be used to give some protection against dirt and scratches to the glasses. I suspect I will be using this. It does not protect the glasses from being squashed though: a sad fate which befell my last pair. The bag is made of microfibre cloth and is recommended for cleaning the lenses as well.

The hinge details

The whole lot came in a snug cardboard box with a small slip of paper bearing instructions. The instructions just cover how to change the lenses: how to best pop a lens out of the frame and how to put one back in. Well, this is probably all the instructions one needs for a pair of sunglasses, but the inclusion seems to me a very good idea. I was wondering how to change the lenses without damaging something before I found the slip of paper.

Something I noticed at the start are the pairs of holes at the corners of the lenses. These holes, or slots, are visible in the previous photo at the outer corners. I suspect that these holes are meant to provide the ventilation referred to in the Product Claims. At this stage I can't see the holes as being more than a gimmick: there is plenty of air space around the edge of the frame. We shall see.

The hinges on the glasses also attracted my attention. Many glasses have fairly weak hinges, but these seem rather more rugged than most. In addition to having the usual pin through the hinge, it seems the frame locks in the open position. This is hard to describe, but the photo here shows the interlocking parts on the arm and the body at the hinge. I will be interested in seeing whether this works in the field.

Particular Points of Interest

Most of my Field Testing will be done on walking trips of course, but I will also be wearing the sunglasses at home while working outside on the farm in the middle of the day.

Things I will be looking at and reporting on include the following:

 

Field Report     8-January-2008

 

Field Test Conditions & Locations

The simplest test conditions were driving around, especially driving to and from a walking trip, and walking around outside. These test periods were of short duration - rarely more than an hour or two, but there were plenty of them. But of course, there were also many proper 'field tests'.

I wore the sunglasses on a two-day trip in Wollemi National Park, where we encountered not only some bright sun but also a lot of very thick jungle down in the valley. This was at about 600 m (~2,000') in spring. In fact, I have to say that the glasses were worn in the valley on the first day not so much for their sun protection (the valley had plenty of shade) but for the mechanical protection they gave my eyes against the scrub. The scrub was just a bit over the top, and my face copped many whacks from sticks.

I have also worn the glasses on some longer trips in Wollemi NP in our summer. On these trips I was able to try wearing a different colour lens set each day to compare them. Weather conditions were usually very hot, often very humid, and once even a bit foggy in the morning after a brief violent evening thunderstorm. (These summer thunderstorms are not uncommon in some mountainous areas.)

I have also worn the glasses on numerous day trips closer to home, generally at low altitudes. The weather has varied from warm to very hot and humid, and I have something to say about hot weather below.

Summary of Field Test

Mechanical Fit

Glasses interfering with hat and ears

The sunglasses performed just fine while I was walking around and driving, but that was usually for short periods of less than two hours, and without a hat. When I wore them all day I found that the arms were causing the top of one ear to get sore by mid-afternoon. This never happens with my ordinary wire-frame prescription glasses: the arms on those are far more flexible and they exert much less pressure on my ears. I could relieve the pressure by slightly tilting one arm upwards, but the relief did not seem to last very long while I was walking.

After some further days of testing I realised that the problem lay with the solid straight ends to the frame arms. Ordinary arms, especially those on the light metal frames used for prescription lenses, bend down at the ends to apparently hook behind the ears. Very often they don't actually touch the back of the ears. Well, the arms on the Tifosi Q3 sunglasses are a lot thicker and lumpier - especially with those rubber pads at the ends. This means they have a greater bulk to press against my ears. But I think the real source of the problem is that they are straight and I was wearing a hat. The tip of the arm conflicts with the brim of my hat, and gets pressed down against my ear as a result. After a few hours the sustained pressure behind or above my ear starts to hurt. This is visible in the photo here (please excuse the grey hairs) where I have actually lifted my hat up a bit to show the end of the frame arm.

While I will continue to test the glasses as they are supplied, I think that the day the official test ends I will try to fix this problem. I will do what so many optometrists do when fitting me with a new pair of glasses: adjust the ends of arms. I will put a small amount of downwards bend near the end of each arm so the tips miss my hat completely. Only a small bend will be needed, and a hot-air gun should make this easy.

The rubber pads on my nose don't seem to have given any problems at all, and they grip moderately well - except when I am very sweaty. The rubber pads on the tips of the arms at my ears seem to grip, even though they are just resting on the hair behind my ears. At first I thought that this wouldn't work, but in the field it seems it does. Maybe the rubber grips the hair just enough to make a difference? Certainly, plain plastic arms slide a lot more on the hair behind my ears, although I have to say this does not seem to have mattered very much in the past with my prescription glasses.

Comparing the lens colours

Lens Colour

The Tifosi Q3 sunglasses came with four different colours of lenses, shown in the photo to the right. In my opinion, colour matters. On one long walk in the desert I took a pair of sunglasses which had a bluish tinge in the lenses, but I eventually threw them out - half-way through that walk, because they made me quite depressed over time. I cheered up once I got rid of them - and my wife noticed the difference too. (She said so!) So I pay some attention to the colour of the lenses. That said, when I first saw these lenses my immediate reaction was that the colours were too pronounced. Surely they can't expect us to like these colours?

Dark smoke lenses

Most of the time I have been wearing the smoke (grey) colour lenses. They are very neutral in colour, which I like. However, the attenuation can be a little high at times, making everything a bit darker than I want. That said, they are no darker than the glasses I wear in the snow, so maybe they would be more useful there - but we don't have snow in mid-summer in Australia. In the photo to the left I am wearing them under a high canopy of Blue Gums, on a basalt capped mountain in Wollemi National Park. I should explain that these basalt caps produce little oases of growth in the middle of a far harsher sea of dry scratchy fire-adapted growth. I had no trouble wearing this colour all day.

The idea behind yellow lenses is to cut out the blue end of the spectrum, which I have been told is meant to make it easier for the eye to focus. Certainly, this reduction could reduce the amount of chromatic aberration seen by the eyes. In addition, the yellow colour gets rid of the blue haze - and we have plenty of that in our eucalyptus forests. So in theory the yellow colour should be good.

However, I found the yellow lenses made everything seem a bit too bright and contrasty, although not as yellow as I had expected. Why should the yellow colour have this effect on perceived 'brightness'? It may be that it is the retinal ganglion cells at the front of the rods and cones on the retina which act as the primary 'light meter' for the eyes, and it is known that these are sensitive to the blue end of the spectrum (New Scientist, 16-February-2002, p 17; 26-December-2007, p 9). So cutting out the blue end of the spectrum may be what causes the iris to open up, so that the rods and cones see more 'brightness' over the rest of the spectrum. (End of theory section.)

I tried wearing the yellow lenses for a whole day, but by the end of one day I had decided that a small amount of them was enough. I found them just a little too yellow in the summer conditions of my testing; winter in fog might be different but I have not been able to test that. I didn't take a photo of my wearing them.

What was less expected was the effect of the yellow lenses in the evenings. When the light level starts to fall late in the day I am of course normally conscious of this (without sunglasses). But while wearing the yellow lenses I found I was missing this obvious cue, although it was clear that the light was changing somehow. In fact, I found that the onset of much lower light levels could catch me by surprise: things seemed quite bright until the very last minute, then it got dark fast. This can be dangerous in difficult country. I don't think I am very keen on the yellow colour.

Red coloured lenses

The red colour was not too bad, although perhaps a shade too 'red'. A bit more neutral/brown could be far more pleasing for me. These lenses gave everything a slightly 'sunburnt' appearance. In seriously green country this did not seem to matter, but much of our harsher Australian country is quite red enough as it is, thank you. The dry creek-bed to the right was rather bright, and the red lenses did tone that down a bit. (Finding some drinking water there took a while - it was very dry country.) But I did find I could wear the red lenses for a full day without being too concerned about the effect. I was only mildly aware of the colour tint. As an aside, I will add that the red lenses made the view outside at home on a cloudy day remind me of what it is like when we have the smoke from an Australian bushfire going overhead. I do have some very bad associations with that red colour!

Burnt country

The clear lenses should in principle be good for mechanical protection, but the reality has been that I seldom bother to swap them into the frame in the field during the day. Part of the reason for my reluctance is the fact that when traveling in the bush (what we call our scrub), these days my hands are never very clean. The trees on the ridges often have charcoal on them from the last bushfire, as may be seen in the photo to the left, and when they don't have charcoal on the surface they have some sort of 'bark dust'. As a result my hands are seldom all that clean, and I am reluctant to risk scratching the lenses by pushing them in and out of the frame with my dusty dirty fingers. If I did handle the lenses they would then have my finger grease on them and need cleaning. While the bag provided acts as a lens cleaner, I am very reluctant to handle it much when my hands are dusty and dirty: too much dirt on the bag would inevitably scratch the lenses. For this reason I have only been changing the lenses in the evening, after we have had a good wash for dinner. So far, the lenses do not seem to have got scratched, but this needs monitoring a bit longer.

The small holes seen at the outer edges of the lenses in the frame are not normally visible in my field of view when walking, although if I tilt my head significantly I can just see them. Anyhow, they are not an issue.

Changing Lenses

The kit comes with a small sheet of instructions on how to change the lenses over. In effect, to remove a lens from the frame I press outwards on the inside of the lens while 'peeling' the frame back off the top and bottom of the lens. After the first attempt it was simple.

The retaining edge

Putting a lens back into the frame is meant to be the reverse of the above. In practice it is just a little more complex. I found that it was easiest if I tucked the bottom edge of the lens in place and then pushed the top edge in - from the front of course. Usually it only partly clips into place at this stage. The key thing is that I have to make sure that the lens is correctly centred before I do this, or there are gaps everywhere. Then I give the inside vertical edge a firm poke and there is a distinct 'click' as the whole lens sockets into place. Finally I check to make sure the lens really is properly seated in the groove. However, after doing it a couple of times it became easy enough. Ah yes - then I have to clean all my greasy finger marks off the lens with the cover bag.

The outside vertical edge does not have a groove at all: it sits in front of the frame. The groove in the frame only holds the edge of the lens where the dashed blue line is in the photo to the right. I think this is why it is fairly easy to get the lens in and out.

Ventilation and Hot Humid Weather

There are vent holes at the outside corners. They can be seen in the photo here, just to the left of the blue dashed line. It seems that the vendor claims these help prevent fogging. Well, personally I think they started life solely as an aid to the insertion and removal of the lenses, and then marketing decided to jazz the story up a bit. Frankly, as far as I am concerned, they do nothing for the ventilation.

We get a lot of hot (30+ C 86+ F) humid (80+% RH) weather here in Sydney, Australia. This does make us a bit hot and sweaty when walking. I tried comparing the fogging of the lenses on several such hot trips. Some of the time I left the frame close to my face, pushed right up the bridge of my nose. When I did this the lenses quickly fogged up. Then I would pull the frame down my nose slightly, so the frame was not touching my eyebrows. The top of the frame was then a few millimetres (a tenth of an inch) from my eyebrows. The fog slowly cleared. This experiment was repeated many times, always with the same result. Case closed. But I can report that the fog did clear once I created air gaps top and bottom by pulling the frame away from my face just that little bit.

In very hot and humid weather the thick frames did seem to make me more sweaty. That let them slide around on my face a bit, and the extra weight of the frames didn't help much. The straight side-arms didn't seem to work so well then either. I have some very light wire-frame prescription dark glasses which feel much more comfortable in very hot weather. In cooler weather the weight or bulk of the Tifosi frames is not so much of a problem. That said, I have to acknowledge that my light wire-frame glasses cannot provide as much mechanical protection for my eyes against the scrub as these Tifosi glasses with their heavier frames. It's a trade-off.

Assessment so far

The frame is robust and the hinges are robust, I'll say that much for the glasses. They have withstood a bit of rough treatment when I have been pushing through the scrub, copping whip-back from the person in front. There have been a few times when they have definitely saved my eyes from sticks. The weight seems OK except in very hot weather.

The smoke and red (brown) lens colours are OK, although the smoke is usually my preferred colour. A slightly browner 'red' would be better. I am not very keen on the yellow, although I have not been able to test it in foggy winter conditions. I don't change the lenses much in the field - only for testing in fact. So far, the lenses show no signs of any looseness.

The rubber pads on the arms and across the bridge of my nose do seem to work: the frame seldom feels loose (except in very sweaty weather).

The ends of the straight arms are a bit of a pain for my ears - literally. This part of the design is not acceptable to me.

The ventilation holes are completely ineffective for ventilation, but are part of the 'snap-in-snap-out' design for the lenses. They don't really appear in my vision.

 

Long Term Report     25-February-2008

 

Long Term Test Conditions & Locations

I mentioned above that summer in Sydney is hot and humid. That has certainly been the case for all of January and February. Last year was hot and very dry; this year it has been hot and very wet. In fact, when it gets really hot and humid the day usually ends in a thunderstorm. This has affected our walking trips in this period: they have been limited to day walks at altitudes up to about 300 m (1000 '). We have not been willing to commit to longer walks under these conditions: past experience at 40 C (104 F) with high humidity has made us a bit cautious. This weather has also affected how well the Tifosi glasses have performed.

Summary of Long Term Test

Fogging up

I also mentioned above that the glasses had shown some signs of fogging up at times, and that the holes at the corners did not help very much. I can only repeat that this has been the case during the last two months. The photo to the right was taken during a morning tea break on a day walk, with the yellow lenses. The red lines point to the fogging and condensation still on the inside of the glasses a minute after I had taken them off. My wife's wire-frame glasses did not show this sort of fogging at this time.

In fairness to the design, I think the thick frame and wrap-around style is simply not suited to hot humid weather; it probably isn't suited to hot ordinary weather either. My guess, from past experience, is that this design would be much better suited to cold dry weather, but I have not had those conditions here.

Apart from this particular problem, and the ongoing problem of the ends of the arms pressing down on my ears, the glasses have survived quite well. I will run through the items I was checking and summarise my experiences and opinions.

The rest of the frame has been fairly comfortable and has not rubbed. The weight is not high, although I do notice the glasses a bit more when I am sweating.

Logo

There has been little or no tendency for the glasses to fall off my face, or for the lenses to fall out of the frames. The frame has taken quite a few thumps from sticks in the bush (spring-back) and protected my face, but no damage to the frame or hinges has been seen. I am not sure that such mechanical protection was in the specifications, but the Grilamid nylon does seem strong. Changing the lenses remains simple, and the tightness of the fit of the lens in the frame has not changed as far as I can see.

The holes in the corners are barely visible when I am wearing the glasses. The Tifosi logo on the left lens under the top hole is however noticeable, and I wish they had not put it there. You can see the logo in the photo to the right. They could easily have made it a bit smaller and moved it right to the edge - or put it on the frame instead.

The smoke colour (a neutral grey) is good, the 'red' colour is OK but would be better if it was more brown, while the yellow colour has interesting effects but so far I have not found it very useful. The plain lenses just did not seem to be needed. I still have no idea what the advertised 'Glare Guard Glare Reducer' is, so I would say that was just marketing spin. Finally, the polycarbonate lenses seem to have survived a bit of rough treatment with little in the way of scratches.

Summary of Use, Likes and Dislikes

In the last four months I would have done about eight day walks and two longer multi-day walks, and the glasses have been worn during all those walks. All these have been in hot weather.

    Likes     Dislikes
Robust protective frameStraight ends on arms
Don't slipSweaty in hot weather
Smoke lensesYellow lenses



Read more reviews of Tifosi gear
Read more gear reviews by Roger Caffin

Reviews > Eye Protection and Binoculars > Sun Glasses > Tifosi Optics Q3 Sunglasses > Test Report by Roger Caffin



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