Optical products have many lenses in their housing. With each lens about 5% of the light passing through is lost. This can be solved with an application of coatings on the glass surfaces. With years the technology of coatings changed. At first they used only one layer, where the reduction of the loss was to 2% per surface. Today they use multiple layers of coatings where there’s minimal loss of light - 0.1% per surface. The best binoculars have even 95% of the light transmitted to the eye, through all their lenses.
With increasing transmission of the light, the coating is also important as a protectant of the optical glass and to ensure the true color fidelity, so the colors when entering are the same when exiting binoculars/riflescope. Above all, coatings also increase the image quality because all the light bouncing around on the inside can cover up detail and blur colors.
The process of applying coatings has to be precise, otherwise it can contribute to hazy and blurred image. They must be spread evenly and thinly to ensure the best quality. The better the coatings, the more expensive the optical product.
Lens coatings are as important as the quality of the lenses themselves. You can easily check whether your optical product has coatings – if you look at the reflection and it shows multiple colors such as purple, green or yellow the lenses are definitely coated. On the opposite, lenses with no coatings have a clear reflection without showing any colors.
There are many different ways of applying lens coatings:
Coated: where one or more glass surfaces are coated with one thin anti-reflective layer.
Fully coated: where all glass surfaces are coated in one thin anti-reflective layer.
Multicoated: where one or more glass surfaces are coated in multiple layers. Light transmission is more than 75%.
Fully multicoated: where all glass surfaces are coated in multiple layers. Light transmission is more than 85%.
Outer surface coating: coating on the outer glass surface which protects the lens from external dew (especially in the winter), partially from dirt and other impurities. They can have different names, depending on the manufacturer (LotuTec, Swarodur, AquaDura)