Appeared in DIVER August 2006

MASKS / HEAD TO HEAD  Cressi Penta v Seac-sub Italica


WHILE LOOKING AT SOME PHOTOGRAPHS OF DIVERS, our non-diving art editor expressed the view that their masks didnt look right. He didnt think they looked like proper diving masks.
I explained that they were the latest designs available, and that everyone was getting himself or herself such a style of mask. They were the Cressi-sub Penta and the Seac-sub Italica.
A mask is a very personal thing. If you like yours, be happy, although you may not know what youre missing.
The refraction of the light as it passes between the water and the air in the mask gives a certain amount of tunnel vision, as well as making things look bigger or closer.
These new teardrop-shaped-lens masks have frames that are raked at an angle down from the face to provide you with a better view of your chest area, where you might have peripheral equipment clipped.
Its annoying having to do something under water by feel that you could easily do by sight on land, simply because of the narrowing angle-of-view. Both the Penta and the Italica afford this luxury.
So many masks now come from Taiwan and Guangdong, but both these models are made in Italy. The Italians are famous for their injection-moulding skills.
Bearing in mind that clear silicone soon goes dull and cloudy, the Cressi Penta has clear side-panels in its frame that add some peripheral vision.Its not a clear view but they will give you some awareness of whats there to see, and stay clear longer than the silicone skirt of the Italica, which does the same job when its new.
The Italica has slightly bowed-out front glasses to help add width.
The frames of both masks are of very fine-quality plastic mouldings and, like the silicone skirt, there is nothing to choose between them.
The Cressi buckles may look a little flimsier than the sleek Seac-sub versions, which are hidden under a flat soft-plastic patch, and the Cressi wins when the time comes to rethread the strap. Both, however, make strap adjustment very easy.
The Cressi masks skirt is marginally smaller than that of the Seac-sub mask, so it may suit a smaller face, but there isnt much in it. The two have equally wide double seals and identical nose pockets.
I have heard it said that these bigger masks take a lot of effort to clear, but the lenses are positioned close to the eyes, so there is not a lot of internal volume, even when compared with a conventional low-volume mask. I was happy to dive with either.
Get a mask with which you feel happy - and if having the latest style is important, try either of these two!
The Cressi Penta costs£50 while the Seac-sub Italica is a little cheaper at£45. Both masks are available in an extensive range of colours.
  • Cressi-sub,
  • Seac Sub,

  • Divernet
    Above: Cressi-sub Penta. Below: Seac-sub Italica