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Polarized lenses for Skiing?

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
I notice that Oakely has a couple of polarized lenses for their goggles this season. Anyone care to comment on the pros & cons of using polarized lenses on the snow? Are they really worth the extra $$ or ???
post #2 of 38
Pro: Added performance in reeducation of glare and brightness

Con: Added price, almost impossible to use at night / in heavily shaded areas

I have three goggles that I pack with me, Fire, High Intensity Yellow, and Clear. If you're going to get one, I'd definitely recommend the HIT Yellow. Just dark enough for daytime and bright enough for nighttime. Plus, its a contrast enhancing lens, which comes in handy for flat light.
post #3 of 38
HI yellow on sunny days hurts.

any other polarized lens users? I'm curious too.
post #4 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by samurai View Post
HI yellow on sunny days hurts.
Agreed. I have HI Yellow as my primary goggle 'cause we don't get as many bluebird days in the PNW. I just picked up a pair of goggles with Black Iridium lenses off SAC 'cause I didn't have anything good to wear on sunny cold days (when it was too bright for the HI Yellow and too cold for my sunglasses). I would say HI Yellow is only good as an only google if you ski in a lot of stormy or overcast weather.

As to the original question, I have skied in polarized sunglasses, and really didn't notice much different as compared to a pair of non-polarized sunglasses I've skied in.
post #5 of 38
Got some polarised Bolle goggles last season (was after teh photochromatic, but the PSIA ordering website was weird and stuffed it up). I quite liked them. They were amber, and they sort-of brightened everything up, especially colours. Looking into water was always quite spectacular. would've preferred the photochromatics though, now THAT'S a useful goggle. I had a pair the year before, but they got all scratched up so I intended to score another pair.
post #6 of 38

A little bit on polarising lenses!

I've not skied with polarised lenses, but I'm an optical physicist so can explain some stuff - if you're into the tech!

Distinguing photochromatic and polarising optics are quite different. Photochromatic change opacity depending on conditions. Polarising lenses are dependent on property of the loght called - you've guessed it - it's polarisation. Polarisation is all to do with the way light waves propagate. It's a tough subject , so Ill not go into it...

In general, solar light is unpolarised, whilst reflected light (specifically reflected at ~50 degrees) is polarised. So, for driving for example, you can block all reflected light (like off of a wet road), but not affect the unpolarised light. They're also popular for sailing, as light off the water is polarised, so can be attenuated. Have a loot at these pics of a frog if you don't believe it!

http://www.bobatkins.com/photography...olarizers.html

So for skiing, I think there would be very little advantage to using polarising optics, as the relfected light from the snow is almost certainly unpolaised due to the irregular surface. If you have some polarising specs, you can always tell what difference the polariser is making by leaning your head 90 degrees to the side, or rotating your goggles - which will effectivly switch off the polariser.

Enjoy!
post #7 of 38

A little bit on polarising lenses!

I've not skied with polarised lenses, but I'm an optical physicist so can explain some stuff - if you're into the tech!

Distinguing photochromatic and polarising optics are quite different. Photochromatic change opacity depending on conditions. Polarising lenses are dependent on property of the loght called - you've guessed it - it's polarisation. Polarisation is all to do with the way light waves propagate. It's a tough subject , so Ill not go into it...

In general, solar light is unpolarised, whilst reflected light (specifically reflected at ~50 degrees) is polarised. So, for driving for example, you can block all reflected light (like off of a wet road), but not affect the unpolarised light. They're also popular for sailing, as light off the water is polarised, so can be attenuated. Have a look at these pics of a frog if you don't believe it!

http://www.bobatkins.com/photography...olarizers.html

So for skiing, I think there would be very little advantage to using polarising optics, as the relfected light from the snow is almost certainly unpolaised due to the irregular surface. If you have some polarising specs, you can always tell what difference the polariser is making by leaning your head 90 degrees to the side, or rotating your goggles - which will effectivly switch off the polariser.

Enjoy!
post #8 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hens View Post
I've not skied with polarised lenses, but I'm an optical physicist so can explain some stuff - if you're into the tech!

Distinguing photochromatic and polarising optics are quite different. Photochromatic change opacity depending on conditions. Polarising lenses are dependent on property of the loght called - you've guessed it - it's polarisation. Polarisation is all to do with the way light waves propagate. It's a tough subject , so Ill not go into it...

In general, solar light is unpolarised, whilst reflected light (specifically reflected at ~50 degrees) is polarised. So, for driving for example, you can block all reflected light (like off of a wet road), but not affect the unpolarised light. They're also popular for sailing, as light off the water is polarised, so can be attenuated. Have a look at these pics of a frog if you don't believe it!

http://www.bobatkins.com/photography...olarizers.html

So for skiing, I think there would be very little advantage to using polarising optics, as the relfected light from the snow is almost certainly unpolaised due to the irregular surface. If you have some polarising specs, you can always tell what difference the polariser is making by leaning your head 90 degrees to the side, or rotating your goggles - which will effectivly switch off the polariser.

Enjoy!
Hens is 100% correct! I have been saying the same thing for years (having learned these same facts in a physics course many many years ago). There is no reason to use polarized lenses for skiing as they have little effect on reducing glare from light rays scattered in random directions by the irregular surface of snow.

There may be some very minor reduction but mostly its all marketing hype and since everyone seems to be buying into the concept of polarized ski goggles, why not keep perpetuating the myth?

Do I have polarized sunglasses I wear for skiing? Yes, because they're good for driving to and from the slopes, otherwise it makes no difference.
post #9 of 38
Gee guys,

What's is snow made out of????

Edit: I know what you guys are trying to say, BUT if the snow surface is generally flat (the same slop/angle) to the viewer, isn't all of the light reflected off the surface TOWARDS the viewer coming in at relatively the same angle (or at least what enters our eyes), and therefore would be reduced by a polarized lens? Light might be scattered in a million directions by un-uniform snow and ice crystals. But that doesn't matter, all of the light reflected back towards the viewer that we can see comes from relatively the same angle. This is no different than the reflection off aggregate on a wet road, or the ripples on the surface of a lake.
post #10 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
Gee guys,

What's is snow made out of????

Edit: I know what you guys are trying to say, BUT if the snow surface is generally flat (the same slop/angle) to the viewer, isn't all of the light reflected off the surface TOWARDS the viewer coming in at relatively the same angle (or at least what enters our eyes), and therefore would be reduced by a polarized lens? Light might be scattered in a million directions by un-uniform snow and ice crystals. But that doesn't matter, all of the light reflected back towards the viewer that we can see comes from relatively the same angle. This is no different than the reflection off aggregate on a wet road, or the ripples on the surface of a lake.
Well,

You're quite right in making the wet road analogy, the angles are comprable. My argument would be that essentially the wet road is rough mirror. If you see a reflected light on the surface, you know it is the result of a single reflection. Snow on the other hand is transparent, and tends to refract, and reflect light, kinda twisting it up. It still comes from the same direction, but all the different 'rays' of light are twisted differently.

I think the crux of the problem lies in 'Why is snow white?'!

I'm absolutly not saying polarising glasses are all rubbish, they can still be excellent, it;s just that what makes them excellent I would argue is not that the are polarising!
post #11 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
...isn't all of the light reflected off the surface TOWARDS the viewer coming in at relatively the same angle (or at least what enters our eyes), and therefore would be reduced by a polarized lens? Light might be scattered in a million directions by un-uniform snow and ice crystals. But that doesn't matter, all of the light reflected back towards the viewer that we can see comes from relatively the same angle. This is no different than the reflection off aggregate on a wet road, or the ripples on the surface of a lake.
Wrong, grasshopper. Your confusion is understandable as polarization is a very difficult topic to explain. But the answer remains: Reflections off the surface of snow (I'm talking real SNOW, not Hunter Mtn. blue ice) are not polarized and therefore cannot be filtered by use of polarized lenses.

Ask Mr. Wizard. He'll tell you.
post #12 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hens View Post
Why is snow white?'!
Because it is highly reflective and reflects almost the entire spectrum of light waves that strike it. All of these spectra blend together and we observe this as "white" light.
post #13 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by carvemeister View Post
Reflections off the surface of snow (I'm talking real SNOW, not Hunter Mtn. blue ice) are not polarized and therefore cannot be filtered by use of polarized lenses.
I understand perfectly how polarization works. No need to explain it to me.

And when I speak of "snow", I'm speaking of the 10,000 types of frozen surface we can slide on, each with a variety of reflective properties. It's my understanding that EVERY surface that reflects light, polarizes that light in a plane parallel to the reflection to some degree (depending on the reflectiveness of that surface).

Edit: Would I wear polarized lenses on a storm day? No. On a bluebird day in the spring? Yes. Why? Because even if "real" "snow" doesn't reflect polarized light, there are many other types of surfaces we ski on that DO and polarized lenses help distinguish these different types of surfaces. If you remove the glare of a surface you can better tell what type of surface it is...
post #14 of 38

Good stuff Hens

...and thanks for saving me a few coins (potentially) as I was considering polarized lenses as well. Now I think I'll just grab some mirror lenses for the sunny days ...mostly to look cool!
post #15 of 38
Anyone want to throw circular polarization into the shark tank yet?
post #16 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
I understand perfectly how polarization works. No need to explain it to me.
Sorry. No offense intended but I wasn't sure you did based on this question:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
...BUT if the snow surface is generally flat (the same slop/angle) to the viewer, isn't all of the light reflected off the surface TOWARDS the viewer coming in at relatively the same angle (or at least what enters our eyes), and therefore would be reduced by a polarized lens?
Hey, there's nothing wrong with wearing polarized lenses. They may have some minor benefit at times as I said before, so Ok, why not. It's just a misconception that they're somehow "Better" for skiing than non-polarized lenses. They just are not effective to nearly the same degree on snowy surfaces as they are for reducing glare off water, glass or other shiny surfaces.

Coffee Break!
post #17 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by carvemeister View Post
They just are not effective to nearly the same degree on snowy surfaces as they are for reducing glare off water, glass or other shiny surfaces.
Yeap. I agree with Lonnie too, there are lots of planar (flat and smooth) reflectors out there that can be a distraction, and polarising lenses could certainly help here.

[Tech bit]
Lonnie is also correct that every (singularly) reflected beam is to some extent linearly polarised (the polariser can do it's stuff), the amount of whch is governer by something called the Brewsters angle. This is near optimal at around 50 degrees. The problem is for multiply reflected beams (read scttered), it is easy to rotate the plane of polarisation, so the polariser is 'less' effective.

CatunaMunch - there's plenty of circularly polarised light too!

This would make an awesome undergrad science project!

I'd still like to try some at some stage though!
post #18 of 38
Oh,

If you've got some polarising lenses try looking at an LCD monitor - it should dim the picture when you tilt your head - another excuse why you couldn't get that report finished!

H
post #19 of 38
The drawback to polarized lenses and driving today is that a lot of displays on GPS and central display consoles is LCD. They are almost impossible to read at any angle with polarized glasses.
post #20 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hens View Post
...[Tech bit]
Lonnie is also correct that every (singularly) reflected beam is to some extent linearly polarised (the polariser can do it's stuff), the amount of whch is governer by something called the Brewsters angle. This is near optimal at around 50 degrees. The problem is for multiply reflected beams (read scttered), it is easy to rotate the plane of polarisation, so the polariser is 'less' effective.
Ok. I concede to your greater knowledge. I took it a bit too far

But this guy had me going too: http://polarization.com/water/water.html

QUOTE:
"Can polarized sunglasses help in skiing and other non-water sports?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. The snow glare is not polarized, so they won't provide extra help in that regard (although often advertised for that purpose). But, with the sun high, the air-light (haze + sky) near the horizon is polarized by scattering and the polarized sunglasses can make features far away really stand out (this is used in fire detection). On the other hand, with the sun low the sunglasses could be detrimental looking south or north, as the air-light would be vertically polarized. Other situations can be thought were they would be useful, but remember that one reason they are so good in water sports is that the reflector always remains horizontal!"



Yeah, I know...looks like a kiddie site. I'm ashamed. I apologize for questioning Lonnie.
post #21 of 38
I used to have non polarizing sunglasses that I used sailing and skiing. I noticed that I would be tired after a day out in the sun but I put it up to being in the outdoors and being active.

I then replaced my old glasses with a new set of cheap polarizing ones. Immediately I no longer felt that sleepy, eyes ready to close tired that I did with the old glasses. That's both for being on the water and on the snow.

I don't question the science bandied about above. I don't even understand it. But I do know that my new, polarized, glasses save me a lot of eye strain on sunny days skiing. By the way, they are tinted blue and are not very dark, less than my old ones, if that means anything.
post #22 of 38
Thread Starter 
Hot topic!

I was thinking more of flat/low light situations which we often get in the PNW. Would a polarized lense help?

When skiing @whistler when it's heavy overcast. I've noticed that there is always a certain time of the day (late morning/early afternoon) when the light goes completely flat. All definition, contrast, shadows disappear making it very hard to make out any type of details of the snow surface.

I wonder if a polarizing lense would help that that type of situation.
post #23 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post
The drawback to polarized lenses and driving today is that a lot of displays on GPS and central display consoles is LCD. They are almost impossible to read at any angle with polarized glasses.
That's because LCDs rely on polarization to work.

A transmissive LCD (with a backlight) has a polarizer between the light and the back sheet of glass. On the front sheet of glass is another polarizer that is alligned at 90 degrees. Because of this misallignment, very little light is normally transmitted. However, between the two sheets of glass is a liquid that twists the polarization when a voltage is placed across it. Get the voltage and the thickness of the liquid right and the two polarizors will appear alligned and light is transmitted.

More info:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lcd
post #24 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard View Post
I wonder if a polarizing lense would help that that type of situation.
No. Polarized lenses will only really help with reflected light. Flat light is all refracted light. While some refracted light can be polarized (depending on the medium doing the refraction), it wouldn't help you pick up differences in surface textures or give increased visibility that you need in those situations....

L
post #25 of 38
and you can't see some avi beacons screens with a polarized lens either

Carrera has been using a polerized lens in googgles for 15+ years now. I like the yellow lens color, the polarization, Not too fussed either way
post #26 of 38
A lens that makes blue look dark helps as the shadows on snow are blue.
post #27 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by mntlion View Post
Carrera has been using a polerized lens in googgles for 15+ years now. I like the yellow lens color, the polarization, Not too fussed either way

"Ultrasight"
post #28 of 38

Hi,

 

Polarised ski goggle are absolutely worth the money. Try to buy at home rather than in the ski resort as they will be a LOT less expensive. For years I struggled with goggles in flat light and some conditions that you could see just white and nothing else. I was given some polarised goggles for the day by a guide as I was unable to see anything, and was stunned at the difference - I could see everything !

 

I bought my goggles from the local optometrist back home, even got a discount as well as being able to order exactly the pair I wanted and for half what was being charged at the airport or in the resort.

 

In the guided group I was in the next week in the resort, I was the only person who could see where were were going apart from the guide.

 

No need for all types of special coatings - just get the mid category polarised goggles and they are good for bright sun, cloud, whiteout and fog / low cloud as well as snowing conditions.

 

Expect to pay around £80-130 at home or unto three times that in the resorts. You will not regret buying them !

 

Enjoy the whiteout with your polarised vision.

post #29 of 38

I agree with Powder Hound 1 and Posaune, polarized goggles are absolutely superior to non-polarized for skiing. I don't care what the 'science' of Lonnie and Hens says. I am sure they are both very intelligent and they mean well but there is something missing in their science because in real world applications with 42 years of skiing and over 2500 days on snow and 28 years of ski jumping I can tell you it matters! When I found polarized goggles somewhere around 20 years ago I never went back to non-polarized and even changed my sunglasses to polarized ever since. Yes, they are more effective with more light because there is more glare and they cut glare. I use the same lens for  every condition from bright sun to to dark puking snow in the Wasatch (Carrera rose/ polar C, the yellow works great too!). I get migraines from glare so I use lighter tinted polarized sunglasses even on overcast days and it helps then too. Yes it is less effective in lower light because there is less glare and I can't read my Iphone with any of them on but it is well worth it. The best thing to do is 'see' for yourself by looking through someone else' polarized goggles or glasses and make your own determination. Just look at the glare coming off the windshield of a car to get the most dramatic effect when switching from polarized to non-polarized.

post #30 of 38

I've got a pair of goggle lenses branded "Erotica".  They are polarized dichroics.

The two planes of polarization (transverse magnetic and transverse electric)  appear as  red or green.

They provide some amusing effects when viewing towers and seat pads,  but are not particularly "wonderful" for enhanced views on snow.

 

They are fun though!  ;-)

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