Progressive bifocal glasses and DSLR camera focus

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by steve_t.|1, Dec 17, 2010.

  1. At age 42 (in 3 weeks), I've been wearing glasses for 30 years. Finally, with the pair that arrived new to my face earlier this week I'm using bifocal lenses. (Yep, it's true, you hit 40 and things start falling apart.) Not for any particular reason, I went with a progressive bifocal lens. Yes, I'm only on day #4 of living with them, and I will "give them time...", but in the short time I've had them I can't say I'd do them again. The best way for me to describe them is that there is a sweet spot on the lens for each type of viewing, and I have to find that sweet spot by moving my head no matter where I need to look. It seems that peripherally, I can't help but wonder why they even bothered polishing the lens- nothing but minor distortion until I turn my head far enough to find the sweet spot. I'm giving them another week or so before I head back to the optical shop (not a quicky chain shop, either) and tell them to try again, likely with a standard lined bifocal.
    But, if I find that the progressives start working for me, what can I expect for manual focusing performance with the DSLR camera? What if I'm focusing manually on something in a macro fashion and I'm not looking through the right sweet spot of my glasses lens and I end up focusing on the wrong detail? I'll only know this once I download to the computer. Yeah, there's the focus assist light in the viewfinder (I only use the center focus point), but macro typically demands manual focus and if auto focus was so accurate then I'd use it and the corresponding focus point. I mention macro as my example because if I'm going to focus manually, this is usually when I'm doing it.
    Has anyone that went with progressive lenses gone away from them after finding problems focusing your camera? If so, did you go to standard (lined) bifocals? Any other thoughts or ideas- good, bad, or indifferent? Thanks much for your help with my newly aging eyes.
  2. I haven't used progressive-lens glasses, but I found that the standard bifocals were no help at all with this problem. My solution was to go to contact lenses for distance vision and use the viewfinder diopter correction for "fine tuning". Of course, I need one pair of reading glasses for reading, and another pair for computer work, but the trade-off is worth it. The problem I'm facing now is developing cataracts, another dilemma altogether...
  3. SCL


    Been there, done that, with slr's & rangefinders. Tried bifocals, contacts, diopter inserts in the cameras, progressive lenses. Even moved to AF lenses because I was too frustrated with manual focus results. Finally got a great set of progressives, found the sweet spot and have been enjoying it ever since. The one thing you really need to do, according to my doctor, is to make sure your prescription takes into account the actual diopter in the viewfinder, if you don't have a built in variable one. My eye doctor, being a photographer, understood exactly what I meant and did a great job.
  4. It's really hard to use bifocals with a camera, and progressive lenses would seriously complicate the matter. The apparent distance of the screen is approximately one meter, which is on the far side for reading glasses and the short side for distance prescriptions. The key is to have a single value in the center of your vision.
    If I use the distance portion of my glasses, I can adjust the diopter setting on the camera to accommodate my eyes with a couple of clicks to the positive side. The reading portions are fairly small and sharply defined (not progressive). I have a second pair with only the reading prescription for use with a computer (and music). I can use them with the camera if I adjust a click or two to the negative.
  5. I couldn't stand progressive bifocals, but lined bifocals were a huge help in my photography. The viewfinder diopter adjustment of my cameras are set to work with my distance prescription, and I look in the viewfinder with the distance portion of the eyeglasses. When I take my eyes off the viewfinder, that same prescription lets me see what I am photographing. The lower part of my eyeglasses, which have the close distance prescription, let me read the top and rear panels of the camera.
    It is conceivable that changing your viewfinder's diopter adjustment might help, even with the progressives.
  6. "Has anyone that went with progressive lenses gone away from them after finding problems focusing your camera?"
    Welcome to the over 40 crowd. I have been using Progressive Lenses for the past five years with no problems other than having to replace/adjust the little plastic nose-protectors very often from squeezing the camera up against my glasses.
    My progressives are split into 2 camps. The top 2/3 is for near sidedness and the lower 1/3 for reading. I just stick to the top 2/3 when taking pictures. The diopter(-/+) that comes with Canon DSLRs helps allot, without that I would be totally blind.
  7. I feel your pain. Things go downhill at 40! But now at almost 59, my vision has stabilized and the Rx has been repeatable for about 8 years. Then CSCR (central serious retinopathy) became an issue...gray occlusion in the center of my field of view.
    Fortunately the standard eyepiece of the Canon 5D Mark II can be dialed in to a diopter measurement just beyond +1.75, which is what I need. But I still need to play the glasses on/off/on/off/on/off with the GW670, Pentax 67II and the Rollei 3.5F.
    Sigh. But I'll have to live with it. Autofocus sure is a cool thing, eh?
  8. jtk


    I stopped using progressives when I found them dangerous...they are corrected only in an hourglass sort of area, narrowing peripheral vision tremendously vs traditional bifocals. Unsafe when driving. This is also a problem bow-hunting, when progressive-lens-required excessive head movement (side to side to correct for lack of periphal vision) is obvious to animals.
    My walking-around/photo bifocals (as opposed to my desk bifocals) are cut so the lower, close-up area, is lower than standard...your optometrist can make your lenses that way if you ask. Mine are about 3mm lower than standard. My correction is very heavy but appropriate lower positioning of the reading correction means I don't need to use camera diopter adjustments.
  9. Since having cataract surgery and lens implants four and a half years ago, I no longer need glasses when my eye is at a view-finder. My two digital SLRs are adjusted to provide the necessary correction and my film Leica has a corrective lens fitted. When I use the Leica, though, I wear a pair of glasses on a cord so that I can read the small lettering on body and lenses and on my hand-held exposure meter.
  10. Well, I got my first set of progressives earlier this year - and to me they are a success. I could no longer manually focus my DSLRs with the old glasses, and now with the progressive ones, I have no problem at all. It took awhile to train the eye/brain to find the sweet spot for each viewing distance - but after at most a month, I got used to them. I agree though that peripheral vision has deteriorated due to the hour-glass shape of the viewing area. I need to add that I had the intermediate range enlarged as much as possible - with particularly photography in mind. So I wouldn't call them bifocals - they are actually trifocal. I had to return the first set because an error was made in positioning the centers - the pupil-to-pupil distance was off by about 2mm.
  11. I wear progressive bi-focals and truth be told when I am doing serious shooting I take them off, fold them up, put them away, and use the diopter settings on my camera. While this allows me to get a clearer viewfinder view, I have to take them out and put them back on when/if I want to use the camera's preview screen or change camera settings.
  12. I got talked into progressive lens when my arms started shrinking:) around 45. I was only using drug store reading glasses but they told me I would need close, mid and far range eventually. Stupid me believed them. The progressives seemed to make my eyes weak at all ranges. Now I can't see anything clear without my glasses. Being vain I stuck with no-line progressives. I have had at least 5 pair. I think I had problems finding the ''sweet spot'' on every pair. I have sent back a couple of pair to have them redone but never happy with results. I hate them but just do the best I can. I would probably of opted for go with lasik surgery but I have one bad eye, so they will not do lasik, so that tells me that it is not as safe as they claim.
    What really drives me crazy is oil from my eye brows always smearing on my eyeglasses lens. I keep my brows clipped very short. Microfiber cloths don't work that well for me. I usually carry a piece of t-shirt in my pocket during a shoot. For long shoots like the run I am covering tomorrow I will probably have to wipe my glasses down a half dozen times during the race. Most of my shoot are near the gulf of mexico, so you can imagine the problems I have with salt spray. The December issue of Consumer Reports had a good feature on shopping for eyeglasses. Many libraries carry Consumer Reports. It may be worth taking a look at.
  13. I don't do a lot of manual focusing but find progressives awkward using a camera depending on where I'm looking, hard to be in the sweet spot, double images, etc. I never used regular bifocals but expect some of the same issues. I still find myself considering/using Ellis's approach, use the diopter adjustment for the viewfinder and glasses if I need to deal with controls. As it is, I'm still at least a little suspicious that trying to adjust to the progressives led to some of my vertigo problems - otoh, others have suggested that that's also just something that many people get to "enjoy" as they season.
  14. I've had great success with my progressives. But then I've never actually used the lined bifocals.
    Progressive lenses were recommended by my doctor when I reached that magic age of needing the bifocals, I was working with computers all the time, at that time. I think around 45 for me. I've had progressives now for about 11 years.
  15. I've had progressive bifocals for about six years, about a year before I got my first dSLR. I don't need glasses for anything from around 3 feet to 50 or so feet away. But the bifocals help with quickly adjusting focus between reading distance and remote objects.
    I don't wear glasses for using film cameras but do find the no-line bifocals useful with digital for quickly switching between the viewfinder and various control panels, buttons, etc. It's easier to adjust the diopter on the dSLR finder than to continually shuffle the bifocals between my noggin and pockets.
    Main problems with the no-line bifocals are distortion in the neverland portion of the lenses that don't really do anything useful; and the ridiculous amount of ghosting flare artifacts. I've learned to mentally block out the distracting ghosting flare artifacts (up to half a dozen for every actual point light source). But after six years of practice it's still tricky business trying to negotiate stairs while wearing 'em. The distortion interferes with depth perception, so I usually remove the glasses when walking around.
  16. Steve T,
    I've been wearing progressive lenses for close to 12 years, and have dispensed many, many pairs of spectacles.
    I generally use the sweet spot for distance through my glasses. For fine tuning, I actually lock my camera down, manually focus on a near subject using "Live View" (lots of detail) then calibrate the the diopter adjustment on the VF to get the sharpest image.
    The only times that I sometimes get in trouble is when I don't quite look through the distance portion.
    There are quite a few different brands of progressive lenses. Some are much better than others. Because of economics/profits sometimes even private doctors will use the most economical brand of lenses. There is usually something that looks like a watermark adjacent to your nostril, under the difficut to see small circles or diamonds. (You have to hold your lenses at the right angle to get a bit of offset lighting to even see them.)
    Even a higher quality lens may not work well because of poor grinding of your prescription on the rear surface of your lenses. Lens material is also another factor. It also takes some time to get used to them. Rule of thumb says a month, but I never like prolonging the agony for more than a couple weeks.
  17. I have a pair of progressive glasses for computer work. They go from a close-up "reading glasses" distance as the lower end of the lens to a middle distance focus (about two feet) as you move up the lens. I find myself tilting my head a lot looking for the sweet spot. I think next time I'll go for the two-level bi-focals.
    For shooting I wear contacts for distance correction and a pair of reading glasses for close work like reading menus and focusing on the LCD screen in live view. All viewfinder work is done at my distance prescription.
    Camera diopters are useless to me because (a) they're not strong enough for my prescription and (b) I have astigmatism as well as being near-sighted.
    The eyes get a little worse every couple of years, but so far I'm coping.
  18. Thank you very much for all the replies, I really appreciate your thoughts and feedback.
    I'll give them a bit more time and some shooting practice before deciding to go back to a single focus lens with a regular bifocal, but I'm prepared to do just that as well. I can't stand dust and smudges on my glasses lenses, we'll see if I become tolerant and accepting of these funny acting lenses.
  19. jtk


    Smudges may relate to non-reflective coatings rather than to progressive. I was just listening to that complaint over breakfast :)
  20. It is not surprising to find all the varied opinions on progressives.
    As Steven mentioned, there are a wide range of lenses on the market with prices to match. But it is difficult to research on your own to find the best one for your prescription. Most opticians (especially chains) only carry a few brands and their recommendations must be taken with a grain of salt.
    The other key factor is that fitting progressives is "more art than science", as pointed out by my doctor. He confessed that even he had trouble having his own pair done right, and was unable to recommend anyone to me. But his technician was able to. It pays to ask.

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