The Aqualung Sphera is one of the most celebrated freediving masks currently available. It is has an unparalleled field of view, and that is combined with a very low internal volume. However, there are also cons to the Aqualung Sphera freediving mask, such as the plastic lens and the distortion because of its curvature. Opinions are strongly divided, so read on to find out whether the Aqualung Sphera is for you.
Aqualung Sphera: low internal volume
The Aqualung Sphera has one of the lowest internal volumes of any freediving mask. This coupled with a high compressibility ratio means that you will not need to equalize it until well past 25 meters. According to some divers the first time they equalize the mask is past 40 meters. Most other masks need to be equalized before reaching 15 meters. This also means that you will have more air left to equalize your ears and sinuses when diving with an Aqualung Sphera, as compared to other masks.
The exact volume depends on the shape of your face, but is probably around 65 ml with a loose fit, compared to an average 120 ml for other freediving masks.
Aqualung Sphera: large field of view
Because its plastic lenses are curved, you get a 180° field of view with the Aqualung Sphera. This is unparalleled, because any other freediving mask has either straight lenses, or lenses at a slight angle. The field of view is one of the selling points of the Aqualung Sphera.
Aqualung Sphera: mediocre lens quality
Before you get an Aqualung Sphera, because it is supposedly the best mask on earth and you will get that coveted panoramic view, there are caveats. The plastic lens is inferior to tempered glass lenses in the quality of vision. Think of it as the difference between HD and 480p. There is a significant drop in quality of vision.
Aqualung Sphera: distortion
The curved lenses also cause distortion that increases towards the periphery of your vision. This is something that you will have to get used to, and some divers never actually do get used to it. The first time I dove with an Aqualung Sphera I was disoriented to the point of nausea and had to support myself with my hands when I was coming out of the water. This was almost gone after the first four dive sessions.
Aqualung Sphera: longevity
Because of the soft silicone skirt and the plastic lenses, Aqualung Sphera masks do not last very long. One of my friends loves the mask but he says he buys them in threes now. On average they last a year (edit 8-aug-13: one of my friends tells me hers lasted for an average of 3 years). The lens is more prone to pop out because there is no rigid frame to the Aqualung Shera and it is prone to being scratched. One sand grain on your finger or glove when you are cleaning the mask and the lens might get scratched. However, it comes in a plastic box and if you take care of it, it should last you a long time. Make sure to use two hands when putting it on and off.
I have given the Aqualung Sphera my best try but I can’t use it for a few reasons that are very personal.
1) The fit on my face is not great. I have a nose that is slightly too big for the nose pocket of the Sphera and it ends up creating suction and pulling my soft palate up. Result is that I am unable to equalize past ~25 meters.
2) I never got over the distortion and quality of view. Most of my dives are in order to enjoy looking around at depth, not to get as deep as I can. Even when I am line diving, I dive like I would when I am sightseeing because that is what I am training for. So for me, a mask that provides me with more clarity of view is simply better. Maybe I would have not been bothered so much by it if I could equalize deeper though.
The freedivers I know either love, or hate the Aqualung Sphera freediving mask because of the reasons above. If you can get over the distortion and quality of view, the Sphera is probably a great mask for you.