BATMAN, ZORRO, THE LONE RANGER: they all wore little black masks that hid their identity.
On the other hand, when I photograph divers, I want to be able to light up their eyes, giving a hint of their personality, and solid black skirts on diving masks are a curse as far as I’m concerned.
Some underwater photographers swear that they can see better through their viewfinders if they wear a mask with a black skirt. For the sort of action photography I enjoy most under water, the peripheral vision afforded by a clear skirt gives me a hint of what’s going on outside my zone of sharp vision. I want to know where the other sharks are!
Sharp vision is another matter, as anyone over the age of 50 can confirm. I’ve found that I can work with a mask equipped with prescription lenses that work well for my near vision alone. After all, everything further than a couple of metres from me is going to be a bit unsharp anyway, thanks to the effect of turbidity in the water.
So I like to use a twin-lens mask equipped with three-dioptre lenses instead of plain glass.
I was sent a TUSA Freedom Ceos mask to try.
I don’t often try masks because they are rarely supplied to suit my eyesight, so I stick with those few that come with suitable lenses.
Despite the importer choosing to send me a mask that made me look like Tonto’s best mate, or Delboy and Rodney on their way to a fancy-dress party, I was knocked out that it asked me what strength lenses I needed – and by the fact that it could supply them from stock.

The Design
The mask arrived first, swiftly followed by the prescription lenses. Once I had worked out how to remove the retaining clip, the frame came out easily enough and the old lenses substituted with the three-dioptre ones. If you invest in such a mask, your dealer will perform this service for you.
I had been sent the more expensive Pro version with extra-clear glass lenses but, of course, by substituting the prescription lenses I reduced it to the standard specification.
The skirt of this mask is particularly soft and pliable. I believe it would suck onto almost any face if it can cope with all my whiskers and wrinkles. I admit to not liking looking through the tunnel vision afforded by a black skirt, but that’s just me. If I were to buy one it would have a clear silicone skirt.
The strap is easily adjusted by pinching a release top and bottom of the buckle. This is attached directly to the flexible skirt via a rotating mount, so that almost any strap position feels comfortable.
I dived in head-first off the swim platform of the liveaboard and the mask stayed in place.

Lots of masks are available with negative-strength lenses for those who are naturally short-sighted, but few with positive-rated dioptres for people with arms that are no longer long enough to read a newspaper.
Alas, it’s the latter type that older divers tend to need.
Whether you still have youth on your side and buy one of these Ceos masks with plain glass, or whether you require the additional expense of prescription lenses, you’ll be well satisfied.
Remember, there are two types of people over 50 – those who wear glasses and those who don’t read books!

Beuchat X-Compact 2, £32
Atomic Subframe, £80
Oceanic Ion, £43

PRICE £62 (£22 - £30 for additional corrective lenses). Pro version: £77
SKIRTS Clear or opaque black
OPTIONAL LENSES –8.0 to +4.5 dioptres in 0.5 increments and bi-focal.
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