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For Photo-Realistic Optics, The Choice is Clear : Costa Del Mar (continued)

Color rendition of these polarized lenses is fantastic. There's no better test of this aspect in a pair of shades than when you are in the tropics. I wore this pair of shades during a trip with the family to Hawaii and the Hawaiian landscape was picture perfect in front of the Costa Del Mar 580, Silver Mirror lens. Blues were deep and rich, aquas were bright and vivacious, and everything looked like it was straight out of a postcard. When I lifted the shades off my eyes for a peak with my unprotected eyes, it was almost depressing how all that deep, rich, vivacious color was obscured by the glare and harsh rays of the sun.

A bright Hawaiian sunshine day as seen through the lens of a camera is actually less colorful than this when viewed with the naked eye. A phenomenon that can be attributed to glare.

Of course, color rendition is not the top priority for fishermen out on the water looking for a good spot to cast their line. Rather, visibility through the surface of the water into the depths is what concerns them. The Hammerhead features a full wrap frame with good protection on the sides allowing for visibility into the water, but as with any normal pair of shades, there is still some light infiltration on the sides. This infiltration obscures visibility into the water and its best mitigated by cupping your hands on either side of your head. With this protection, the Silver Mirror lens does well to assist your vision while site fishing.

Put a pair of silver mirror lenses in front of the camera and you can see how the colors are greatly exaggerated, but over your eyes, these lenses really bring out the blue-green color of the water and the cobalt color of the sky.

Wind protection with the Hammerhead frame is very good when moving at speeds up to approximately forty five to fifty (45-50) miles per hour in an open boat. Beyond that, wind does find its way in the sides and if you have sensitive eyes like mine, you will feel it and it will bother you. But at speeds like that, you're probably better off with a helmet anyway.

A spot where I often carry my shades when not in use is on top of my head. Unfortunately, the same feature that makes these shades comfortable on your face, makes them less snug on top of your head and that's the stainless steel hinges.

Getting back to the glass versus polycarbonate material discussion, every Costa Del Mar glass lens is built with a multi-layer technology that delivers impact resistance exceeding Federal standards. I have a habit of putting my shades on top of my head when they're not over my eyes putting all of my shades in peril from the inevitable slip off my noggin to the hard, unforgiving pavement. While I've never broken a pair of shades from this seventy and one half inch drop to the ground, polycarbonate lenses never emerge unscathed from this encounter. The Costa Del Mar Hammerhead frame does not sit very snug on top of my head and as a result, I've dropped them several times and while there is a knick on the frame, I've yet to crack or even scratch this glass lens.

Ergonomic nose pads are imbedded within the frame for stealthy, non-silp support.

There are four separate divisions within the Costa Del Mar product line each made up of eight to thirty three (8 to 33) different individual models for a total of approximately sixty six (66) styles from which to choose. With designs ranging from frameless to wire to full wrapped TR-90 nylon frames, finding a pair of Costa Del Mars to suit your style and fit is a high probability although finding a retailer with the complete array of styles for you to try on may be a different matter.

Many of the Costa Del Mar frames feature extra padding on the ear piece, but not the Hammerheads. As a result, these frames can become uncomfortable behind your ears when worn all day long - especially after several days in a row.

In addition, Costa Del Mar features ergonomically designed details to help ensure a comfortable fit only not all these features are available throughout their entire lineup. The Hammerhead shades I own, as previously mentioned do have the flexible stainless steel hinges - a feature likely available in all their nylon framed styles. These frames also come with special pads imbedded within the frame made to grip your nose and prevent the frames from sliding down your face. Other design features offered on other styles are specially designed pads at the earpiece to help with grip and comfort as well as bendable ear pieces for a more custom fit. The Hammerhead style does not come with either of these last two design features.

Both the lenses and frames are impact resistant though certainly not impact proof.

Ergonomically, I really like the fit of the Hammerheads on my face though individuals with less prominent noses might find these difficult to wear since the nose pads are imbedded within the frame requiring a closer fit than if the pads extended out. The one problem area I have with these frames is with the ear pieces. Comfortable in the majority of cases, after a full day of wearing the shades or several days in a row wearing them all day long, my ears do become sore.

Shades for fashion or fishing? How about both?

Those that are concerned with warranty will find comfort with the knowledge that Costa Del Mar offers a full, lifetime warranty on all their sunglass products. This of course covers manufacturer's defects in materials and workmanship, but they are prepared to work with you on any repairs necessary regardless of who was at fault.

Costa Del Mar takes a no prisoners approach to adventure in the great outdoors and their shades echo this spirit with top notch quality throughout.

My initial pair of Hammerhead shades met with an untimely demise. I had them on top of my boat and forgot to move them while opening the lid to my rod locker. They got caught between the side of my boat and the rod locker lid when *crack*, the lens failed in a spider-web pattern. This probably would not have happened with a polycarbonate lens though something else probably would have occurred. I did not bother going through the warranty procedure since this was clearly my fault, so I just bought another pair of the same shades so I could complete this review. I'm glad I did.


Costa Del Mar Hammerhead w/ Silver Mirror 580 Lens Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Solidly built frame and lens 9
Performance Acceptable in low light, excellent in middle to bright light 8
Price Quality + glass lenses usually come at a price and this is no exception 6
Features Complete with a micro fiber cleaning cloth.. nice touch 9
Design (Ergonomics) We would have liked a little padding at the ear piece 7.5
Application Choose them for fashion or fishing, the Hammerhead lenses strike an excellent balance 9

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


+ Glass lenses are light and clear - Glass lenses are pricey
+ Polycarbonate lens (400 series) are available for considerably less (MSRP $149) - Fit can be slightly inconsistent even within the same model
+ Microfiber cleaning cloth included  
+ Many lens and frame colors from which to choose  


Conclusion: Overall, aside from the low light and ear piece issues, the Costa Del Mar Hammerhead frames with Silver Mirror 580 glass lenses have served me very well. Wind and light infiltration from the sides is acceptable given these are designed to be more of an everyday style than a full-on, fishing only pair of shades. The nylon, full frame style of the Hammerheads took a little getting used to for me as I tend to favor frameless or minimal wire designs on my shades so nothing is there to obscure any part of my vision. I do wish they sat more snuggly on top of my head, but if they did, then they probably would not fit as comfortably on my face because it's the flexible, stainless steel hinges that dictate how the frames behave at both of these requirements.


The Costa Del Mar Hammerheads featuring their silver mirror 580 lens earns this Editor's Choice Award!


Finally, what really makes it for me with these pair of shades are the optics. Glass is what it's all about for me, but it's difficult to find a pair of glass lenses that don't feel heavy. Costa Del Mar delivers with their lenses and because they are so light, I often forget they're glass - that is, until I drop them off my head and they come up with no scratches. For uncompromising performance and photo-realistic clarity, Costa Del Mar's Hammerhead frames and Silver Mirror 580 glass lens has earned this Editor's Choice Award.


Looking for Costa Del Mar Glasses? Try Hi's Tackle Box










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