Atmospheric aerosol particles affect the Earth's radiative balance both in the cloud-free and the cloudy atmosphere. The direct effect of aerosols is related with scattering and absorption of solar radiation, and as a consequence, reduction of the amount of radiation reaching the surface. The best parameter that quantifies this effect is the aerosol extinction, which can be derived from vertical, as well as, horizontal measurements. The purpose of this paper is to compare the aerosol optical properties registered by two types of instruments. The first is a standard 5-wavelength hand-held sun photometer yielding the vertical column extinction, the second a 7-wavelength transmissometer developed at TNO. This multi-band transmissometer provides horizontal, path-integrated transmission data at 7 wavelengths within the visible/infra red spectral range. The data used in the comparison were collected during an experiment near Scripps Pier in La Jolla near San Diego, in November 2006.