Months in advance of the summer Outdoor Retailer show, the p.r. folks at Smith Optics started telling me they’d have something big and lens-related to reveal in Salt Lake but they wouldn’t say what it was. I shrugged, which is hard to convey in an email, wrote okay, can’t wait, and forgot about it until I was standing in the Salt Palace at the very very busy Smith booth under neon signs announcing ChromaPop! The grass is really greener!
My exclamation points do not imply cynicism. You’ve been to trade shows, you know how it is.
ChromaPop lenses, my contact explained, are designed to counteract a kind of visual dissonance that Smith says takes place when green, blue, and red lightwaves cross one another. “Where color wavelengths cross one another,” Smith says, “the eye has trouble distinguishing color…We filter light at two specific points, creating greater definition and vivid colors.”
I put a pair of ChromaPop glasses on and looked around the Salt Palace. It seemed pretty much the same. Maybe the greens were little bright, but it was negligible. I compared several pairs, both with and without ChromaPop, and really couldn’t tell the difference. “Well, fluorescent lighting…” said the contact, “I’ll send you a pair. Try them.”
A week later, they arrived at the morning Fedex drop. I opened the box, set them on the counter, and forgot about them until late in the afternoon when I went outside for an errand. Walking down the street, I thought to myself — and this is literally, absolutely what I thought — I thought, “Damn, what a gorgeous day it is. The sky’s so blue, the air is clear, everything looks great.” No joke. And then I remembered I was wearing the ChromaPops. Holy smokes, I thought, they really work.
I don’t know if this whole lightwave cross thing is what’s really going on or not, but I know that ChromaPop lenses make the world look better in every way. Yes, there’s greater definition. Yes, colors are more vivid. And yes, I have refused to wear any other sunglass except for the ChromaPop Nomad aviators since they arrived six weeks ago. I don’t know it that’s really how they work, but they work.
ChromaPops are available in 21 Smith styles, including one technical glass and several women’s models. The new lens adds $60-$70 or so — the non-ChromaPop women’s Skyline is $139, while a similar women’s glass, the ChromaPop Hemline, is $209. The matte black Nomads I tested also are polarized and sell for $269.