Dive, Focus & Video Lights

Detailed reviews of dive, focus and video lights for underwater photo and video. These reviews include specs, key features and light comparisons with other popular lights.
A compact, lightweight, and versatile option for macro and wide-angle video and photos
By Nirupam Nigam

Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro Light Review

Nirupam Nigam
A compact, lightweight, and versatile option for macro and wide-angle video and photos

In recent years, Kraken Sports has established itself at the forefront of underwater lighting. Catering to divers from all walks of life and all sides of the hobby, Kraken produces lights for underwater videographers, photographers, blackwater divers, macro divers, wide-angle divers, and anyone in between. Though marketed as a “macro” light, the Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro is as versatile as its manufacturer. 

Top side photo of Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro Video Light

Specifications:

  • Lumens: 2500 Flood  / 4000 Burst

  • CRI: 80 @ 5500K

  • Beam Angle: 100 Degrees Underwater

  • Burn Time: 55 minutes @ 100% flood

  • Modes: Flood, Red, Blue and Red+Blue

  • Switch: Dual push button on/off intensity adjustment with battery level indicator

  • Modes: Flood 100%/75%/50%/25% Spot 100%/50%/25%

  • Depth Rating: 330ft/100m 

  • Weight: 490g on land 240g underwater (including battery)

  • Dimensions: 55.2x137mm (2.17"x5.39")

  • Charge time: two hours from zero power

 

Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro Light Package

What’s Included:

  • Light, battery, and charger

  • YS mount, ball mount, and GoPro mount

  • Lanyard

  • Carry Case

The Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro is available now at Bluewater Photo!

Compact and Dependable

The sleek and compact design of the Hydra series is reflected in the Hydra 2500 Macro. At 2.17” by 5.39” and 490 grams, the Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro is relatively small and lightweight for its output. Additionally, the head of the light is water resistant. Therefore, in the event of a flood, the expensive light elements in the head will be protected (although the battery will still need to be replaced). This feature saves the user from expensive repairs and replacements. 

Water resistant light elements

So Many Colors!

The Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro retains many of the same functions as other lights in the Hydra series. Similar to others in the Hydra Series, the Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro has flood, red, blue, and red+blue (pink) modes. The flood light is intense, at 2500 lumens, and the color is natural at 5500K and a color rendering index (CRI) of 80. Thankfully, flood light intensity can be adjusted. A dimmer flood light is useful for maintaining battery life through the dive as well as focusing for photos. The red light is excellent for approaching animals that cannot see red light. The blue light can be used to see underwater fluorescence, especially when you use a yellow filter on your mask or camera to visualize it (for more information on this, check out our article on fluorescent photography). In my personal opinion, the blue light can add a calm and ethereal feel to night dives. Sometimes I like to do a whole dive without taking photos or video, just watching subjects through the blue light. The pink light is a funky color to have underwater – a good paintbrush for artistic photos and videos. 

Top view of Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro Light

Why Macro?

True to its name, the Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro is the perfect light for avid macro photographers and videographers. Two features in particular yield excellent macro photos and video.

The first feature is perhaps one of the most innovative in modern video lighting; the Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro has a “burst” mode that enables the light to function as a strobe. The light is placed in burst mode by holding the right button when the light is on. A port on the underside of the light can be connected to a Sea & Sea style fiber optic cable. If connected to a camera via the fiber optic cable, when the flash is triggered, the Hydra 2500 will output 4000 lumens – enough to properly expose a macro photo. Personally, I find that the burst light is soft and even with a natural color. However, it can be a little dim compared to a traditional strobe; to compensate for this, photos should be shot at a slightly lower shutter speed or wider aperture. Overall, it is an ingenious solution for photographers and videographers looking for a cheap way to light their macro photos with strobe-quality lighting. 

Sea & Sea style fiber optic cable port

Sarcastic Fringehead with Kraken Hydra 2500 burst mode

Target Shrimp and squid eggs lit up by Kraken Hydra 2500

The second feature for macro is an optical condensing lens that reduces the beam to 20 degrees. Although the original 100 degree beam on the light is great for wide-angle video, it can be a little too soft for macro subjects. Especially when there is a lot of silt in the water, a 100 degree beam can be likened to having high beams on in dense fog. The light bounces everywhere, creating a hazy light and soft image. The optical condensing lens is great for producing a narrow, high-powered beam that brings out every detail of small, close-to-the-lens subjects.

Wide-Angle

The thing that sets Hydra lights apart is their versatility. The Hydra 2500 is no exception. The light is just as good for wide-angle as it is for macro. With just a single light, I captured excellent wide-angle photos and videos of mating squid on a night dive at Redondo Beach, California. The 100 degree beam and 2500 lumens is wide enough to fill the frame for most wide angle images and video. 

For best results change the Youtube video quality settings to 4K (2160p)! See my recent article about Sony A7R III 4K Underwater Video for more details about my experience.

Squid lit up by Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro on 100% flood

Squid lit up by Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro on 100% flood

Pros:

  • The Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro’s compact size is great for traveling. It is easy to manipulate and move underwater, especially with an arm. 

  • Combined with the burst function, this light could be a great solution for taking photos of macro subjects in hard-to-get places.

  • The 100 degree beam is great for wide-angle video and photos, while the ability to change it to 20 degrees is great for macro. 

  • Overall, the color is natural and 2500 lumens is plenty powerful for taking nice video.

  • The Hydra 2500’s multiple color outputs have the potential for many uses and many types of dives (my personal favorite being the blue light).

  • The burst mode is perfect for videographers that want to take some photos but don’t want to go out of their way to buy expensive strobes. It is also good for photographers wishing to switch to video, but not wanting to give up taking photos. 

Cons:

  • Because of its small size, the Kraken Hydra 2500 has a small battery pack and a short battery life. At 55 minutes on 100% flood, the light is usually only good for one dive. If you intend to do more than one dive at a time, I would definitely consider purchasing extra battery packs.

  • The wide, bright beam on the flood light can be overpowering if you’re looking to use this light as a focus light. If you only want a dedicated focus light, the Kraken 1000+ can automatically turn off and on when taking a photo.

  • Although the burst function produces a nice 4000 lumen light, it is still less powerful than a dedicated strobe. For serious photographers that need the ability to fine tune their light output, I recommend using a dedicated strobe. 

Tips:

  • If you’re on a night dive, make sure you have a back up light – especially if you go for a long dive.

  • Carry an extra battery pack on boat dives.

  • Before going for a dive, make sure you know how to operate the dual button system. The dual buttons are an ingenious way to incorporate a lot of functions. It is a good idea to memorize all the functions and buttons before you go on a dive – you never know what function you might need!

  • Attaching the light to an arm (like a strobe) will give you much more artistic control than attaching it to a simple cold shoe mount. Photographers should treat this light more like a strobe than a focus light. Kraken has multiple options for this, including a single handle tray and a dual handle tray.

  • Be sure to experiment with back lighting, side lighting, and the different colors for artistic effect.

  • Don’t forget to grease the o-rings and clean the threads before each day of diving! 

Additional Reading

The Kraken Hydra 2500 Macro is available now at Bluewater Photo!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nirupam Nigam is a dedicated underwater photographer and fisheries scientist. While growing up in Los Angeles he fell in love with the ocean and pursued underwater photography in the local Channel Islands. He received degrees in Aquatic and Fisheries Science and General Biology, as well as a minor in Arctic Studies, at the University of Washington. Now he works as a fisheries observer on boats in the Bering Sea and North Pacific. When he is not at sea, he is traveling with his fiancee and taking photos. 

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Kraken Sports comes out with two new additions to their acclaimed Hydra lights! - the Hydra 5000+ and the Hydra 1000+
By Matthew Sullivan and Nirupam Nigam

New and Improved Kraken Sports Hydra Lights

Matthew Sullivan and Nirupam Nigam
Kraken Sports comes out with two new additions to their acclaimed Hydra lights! - the Hydra 5000+ and the Hydra 1000+

Kraken Sports Hydra 5000+

Initial Thoughts

Kraken has announced the updated version to their popular 5000 lumen video light, the Kraken Hydra 5000+! The light is solid, extremely well built, and easy to use. It functions the same as the original in terms of buttons and modes. There are three different power settings on white light, three different settings on red light, an SOS mode, and UV mode. Although geared towards video shooter, photographers can reap rewards from it as well. As it is such a strong light, it can be used to back light wide angle scenes or add supplemental lighting. I have only used it on one dive but I was immediately impressed. I will likely take it on any future dives where I'm shooting things besides big animals in the blue.

The Original 5000 vs the New 5000+

The thing that sets the Kraken Hydra 5000+ apart from the original 5000 is the color rendering index (CRI). The new light has a CRI of about 90 whereas the original CRI was 82. This means the light cast is far more natural than the original model with better reproduction of reds and oranges. Perhaps the one minor downside of the 5000+ is the decrease in burn time at 100% flood from 65 minutes to 60 minutes. 

Specifications

Lumens: 5000 flood / 800 spot

CRI: 90

Beam Angle: 110 Degrees Underwater

Burn Time: 60 minutes @ 100% flood 

Beam Types: Flood, Spot, Red and UV

Switch: Dual push button on/off intensity adjustment with battery level indicator

Modes: Flood Light Power Level 100%/75%/50%/25%;  Spot Light Power Level 100%/50%/25%; Red Light Power Level 100%/50%/25%

Depth Rating: 330ft/100m 

 

The Kraken Hydra 5000+ is available now at Bluewater Photo!

Kraken Sports Hydra 1000+

Initial Thoughts

The Hydra 1000+ is an amazing value for such a high-quality focus light! It is powerful yet compact. I have been able to create nice, warm macro shots with just the light and no strobes. Using the light is intuitive to the point where you can almost throw out your manual. Of the three beam modes, the wide is my favorite. Although it is certainly more diffuse than the spot mode, it has a nice warm color that can be nice for additional lighting to your subjects or macro video. If you wish to only use the light as a focus light – the auto flash off feature is unique and very functional. I recommend this light for photographers who need a good focus light but also want to add a little more color in their photo or video.

The Original 1000 vs the New 1000+

The Kraken Hydra 1000+ is, quite literally, everything we loved about the (now discontinued) Kraken Hydra 1000 and more. They are the same light with one added difference – the auto flash off feature. With the Hydra 1000+ you have the option to set it so that the light will turn off automatically when your strobes fire so as not to get in your shot. This allows you to use the light solely for the purpose of focusing on your subject. If you prefer the light remain on, the feature is easily deactivated. The tripod screw mount and gopro mount has been removed from the package, but they still include a YS mount. 

Specifications

Auto Flash Off Feature

Lumens: 1000 Flood  / 800 Spot

Modes: Wide / Spot / Red / SOS

Wide Beam Angle: 100 Degrees Underwater

Burn Time: 85 minutes @ 100% flood 

Switch: Dual push button on/off intensity adjustment with battery level indicator

Modes: Flood 100%/75%/50%/25%; Spot 100%/50%/25%; Red 100%/50%/25% and SOS

Depth Rating: 330ft/100m 

 

The Kraken Hydra 1000+ is available now at Bluewater Photo!

 

Why Kraken?

Why choose Kraken Sports over competing brands? Excellent customer service, a cheaper price per lumen, sturdy and compact equipment, and natural light color and temperature. There is really no comparison. 

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Announcing the new Kraken Weefine Ring Light 3000 – everything we loved about the original and more!
By Erik Lukas

Kraken Weefine Ring Light 3000 Review

Erik Lukas
Announcing the new Kraken Weefine Ring Light 3000 – everything we loved about the original and more!

What happens when a company takes a good product and adds new features and functionality? We get a better product that delivers new utility and creative potential.

The Kraken Weefine Ring Light 3000 is just such an example. Not long after the release of the original Ring Light 1000, comes a new model with a broad range of upgraded features and functions that is sure to appeal to many underwater photographers looking for ways to add a creative twist to their images. 

While the original RL1000 (reviewed here) provided us with plenty to be excited about, at the end of the day it really did one thing...provide 1000 lumens of clean and consistent light ideally suited for close focusing on macro subjects. Although it offered variable power settings, a rotating battery holder and battery level indicator, at the end of the day it was an “on or off” light. Regardless I did and still do love mine.

Everything we loved in the original and a whole lot more!

Fast forward to the RL3000 and the bar has been raised. Not only is there more power...which means more light supplied by a higher capacity battery, but additional new features such as a strobe mode as well as both red and blue light.

So what exactly is different in the new Ring Light 3000?

- An increase of standard continuous light output from 1000 to 1800 lumens at 100% power.

- Additional red and blue (UV) lighting options

- Additional “strobe” mode with a 3000 lumen output

- New 26650 lithium battery

- Increased depth rating to 100m (330 ft) vs the 60m (198 ft) for RL1000

Specifications

Continuous light mode (White/Red/Blue)

Strobe light mode (White/Red/Blue)

Continuous light Max: 1800 lumens

Strobe light Max: 3000 lumens

Depth Rating: 100m/330ft

Beam Angle: 100 degrees on land / 90 degrees underwater

Color Temp: 5000-5500K

Power Level: 100/75/50/25%

Button: two buttons complete with a battery level meter

Continuous light mode approx. 45 minutes at full power

Strobe light mode approx. 12 hours

1 x 26650 Lithium battery

Charge time: Approx. 4 hours from zero (5V/2A)

All of this comes in a slightly larger package than the original, but overall it is still a very compact system. Comparing the two:

RL1000 measures 117.2mm x 152.8mm x 36.4mm (with an M67 thread for mounting)

RL3000 measures 123.8mm x 159.6mm x 40.6mm (with an M67 thread for mounting)

 

Pick up your Kraken Weefine Ring Light 3000 at Bluewater Photo!

 

The package includes the light, the 26650 battery, the battery charger, and two spare o-rings. One notable difference is that the RL1000 came with a AAA battery holder while the RL3000 does not. As I mentioned in the original review, I advise against the use of disposable alkaline batteries simply for the sake of not creating more waste than needed.

Even though the new battery is of higher capacity, the burn time at 100% has dropped from 65 minutes for the RL1000 to just 45 minutes for the RL3000 due to the increase of power output to 1800 lumens. In my dives, I did not find this to be an issue as I would shut the light off when not actively working on a subject. Where I can see this being a challenge is on a boat doing multiple dives and not having access to a charger between dives. A spare battery is an easy remedy.

 

Clean and even lighting...in a flash

Perhaps the biggest change to the RL3000 is the addition of what is called “Strobe Light Mode”. Put simply, this new feature is the ability to boost the power from 1800 lumens up to the full 3000 lumens via a connected fiber optic cable (using a standard Sea & Sea type connector), acting like a strobe. While it does not flash at the same speed as a standard underwater strobe, it boosts its output momentarily. This functions in the same way as any standard underwater strobe.

Strobe Light Operation

Simply connect a single fiber optic cable to the strobe and when you pull the shutter release, your onboard camera flash or flash trigger will signal the RL3000 to fire. While I was initially skeptical about this feature, it worked reliably and worked well. I could get approximately one additional stop of light from the RL3000, which translates to either a faster shutter speed (to freeze the action), smaller aperture (for greater depth-of-field), or a lower ISO (for cleaner and less noisy images). 

Red Light, Blue Light, and Their Uses

The red light is useful for positioning yourself in front of your subject. When sneaking up on a fish or attempting to not attract thousands of nuisance “bugs” during a night dive, I switch the RL3000 into strobe mode with the red light on as my focus light. Now I have the benefit of a red focus light that switches to the full power white light in strobe mode during the exposure. This was very helpful for shooting at night in my tests.

The other key addition is the blue (UV) light. While I am generally not one to use UV lighting for photographs, I do like to have a look at the reef under UV light on a night dive. Specifically, I find the look of the RL3000 blue light to be more of a UV-ish blue, and perhaps not a true UV light. I think this feature will appeal to some users and not others, but I do like that it is included. 

Dual button controls

Another change that users will see on the new light is the control buttons, there are now two. In all honesty, I found the controls to be a bit confusing. However, I fully expect that after using the light for more than a few dives the controls will become familiar and easy to operate. Getting the light into its different modes required pushing one or both buttons, holding them for extended durations, etc. While this is not difficult, it does take some getting used to and a bit of memory. I also expect for cold water divers wearing thick gloves the controls could be a challenge to use. There is a fairly well written instruction manual that covers all the controls. 

Use with a Diopter

Using the new RL3000 with a macro diopter will work well assuming your diopter has a thread on the front element. One challenge I encountered using the RL3000 with a diopter was the very close working distance. In some cases, I found that at maximum magnification (or closest focusing distances) there was very little room between the front of the RL3000 and the subject. 

Conclusion

At the end of the day, both the original and the upgraded version are worth the costs and are a great addition to an underwater photographer’s toolbox. If you own the original is it worth the upgrade? That’s difficult to say, but there are clearly many reasons to consider it. The strobe feature is a great function and one I found the be very useful. I really think the red light is a great feature and when combined with the strobe mode it is quite useful. I would say that anyone looking for a ring light, the new 3000 is the one to look at. The added functions are well worth the cost.

Pick up your Kraken Weefine Ring Light 3000 at Bluewater Photo and join Erik in Lembeh, Dumaguete, or Anilao this year!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erik Lukas is an active diver and photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He is a volunteer scuba diver at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA. You can expect to find Erik diving many of the amazing Pacific Ocean sites of Southern California, camera in hand, at any chance he can get.

See more of his underwater photography on Instagram at SeeUnderSea, or visit his website at www.seeundersea.com

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

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Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


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Review of the compact and bright Kraken ring light for macro and supermacro underwater photography
By Erik Lukas

Kraken Sports Weefine Ring Light Review

Erik Lukas
Review of the compact and bright Kraken ring light for macro and supermacro underwater photography

When choosing a lighting system for underwater photography or video, aside from available sunlight, there are two types of lights that we have to choose from; strobes or constant lighting. Within these two categories there are numerous choices ranging from budget friendly to professional caliber lighting systems.

There have been several new lighting systems coming to the market over the past few years that allow photographers and videographers to expand their arsenal of tools to create new and unique images. One such system is the new ring light from Kraken Sports. Ring lighting is nothing new, and in fact they have been quite popular in beauty and fashion photography for many years, so it was only a matter of time before these systems ended up going underwater.

A ring light is quite simply a system that puts the lights in a complete circle around, and very close to the lens. There are several ring light systems currently on the market, mainly being systems that attach to a strobe, and deliver the light via fiber optics. The Kraken ring light is a self contained, LED based ring light.

 



Pick up your Kraken Weefine Ring Light at Bluewater Photo!


 

 

Why use a ring light? These systems are generally used for macro photos, and aim to solve one of the main challenges with macro lighting; getting a nice, even light onto a small subject that might be as close as 1-4 inches (2-12cm) from the front of the lens. Ring lights remove that obstacle, as the light is generated by a group of LED’s (or fiber optic cables) that form a complete 360° circle of light from directly around the lens. The result is an even front lighting, with little to no harsh shadows. It also removes the problem of getting one or two strobes in close enough to project light directly onto or into a very small subject so close to the lens.

I had a chance to test the new Kraken ring light recently and wanted so share some sample images and general impressions on the light.

 

 

Kraken Weefine Ring Light Specifications:

  • 1000 lumens of 5000-5500 kelvin LEDs
  • Depth rated to 60m/198ft
  • Beam angle of 100 degrees on land or 90 degrees underwater
  • Four power levels: 100% / 75% / 50% / 25%
  • Push button power controller, with integrated battery level meter
  • Burn time of 65 minutes at 100%
  • 1 x 18650 Lithium battery (included) or 3 x AAA alkaline batteries in included battery holder
  • Battery charge time: Approx. 4 hours
  • Dimensions: 117 x 152 x 36mm
  • Mount: M67 thread

 

General Observations about the Ring Light

Portability

The size is definitely right. This light is neither large, nor heavy, so packing this for a trip should be no problem at all. The fact that it mounts via an M67 thread means it will fit most of the popular marco ports, and can be easily adapted to any other size port system via a step-up/down ring if needed.

 

Overal Build Quality

The sample I tested was a pre-production model, but aside from the non-anodized body, it was fully functional. Expect the final production model to come in a black finish. The battery compartment is sealed with dual o-rings, and there was spare set that shipped with the unit. The 18650 battery and charger were included, along with a 3 x AAA alkaline battery holder. My personal preference is in favor of rechargeables and to stay away from alkaline batteries, as they do nothing but end up in a landfill.

 

 

Push-button simplicity

The Kraken Weefine ring light is powered on/off by pushing the single power button for 3 seconds. Pushing the button again steps the light down in increments of 25%, so you get four power settings at the push of a button.

 

Easy On - Easy Off

Attaching the light to a port was as simple as threading it onto the M67 thread of my Sea & Sea Marco port. Once it is mounted, the entire unit can spin freely, which can be useful in the event you need to get the battery holder out of the way of any obstacles. I did not test it, but I could see using the ring light on a flip adapter to give you more lighting options during a dive.

 

 

 

Lighting: Quality or Quantity or Both

Although the system does not produce a very large amount of light, for the purposes of macro images where the subject is so close to the lens, the 1000 lumens do their job well. In my testing, I did have to keep the light set to full power, as anything below 100% began to limit the distance I could get from the subject while still providing adequate exposure values. Again, with the working distances this light is designed for, I don’t imagine that light quantity will be too much of an issue.

The quality of the light is really where this ring light shows it’s worth. I found the light to be both even and soft, with no hotspots. It also produced little to no shadows, which is pretty much exactly what a ring light is designed to do. The color temperature of the LEDs are rated at 5000-5500K, and to my eyes they did a good job at producing a natural daylight balanced color.

 


I am planning to take the light out again for some additional testing to answer one question that is not yet clear; that is how well the small critters will tolerate this light. Subjects such as anemones, nudibranchs, corals and other slow moving animals should be fine, but I am curious how small fish or shrimp will react to a bright light being moved in so close.

 

 

 

In Conclusion

There is certainly no limit to the potential creative uses this light will afford an underwater macro photographer. It is not going to solve all lighting challenges, but it is not designed to. What it is designed to do, it does well.

I have reached a point where I am not really looking to add any new gadgets to my kit, as I want to avoid the weight and maintenance, let alone the cost. The Kraken Weefine ring light on the other hand is neither heavy or expensive, and should require nearly no maintenance other than rinsing it after a dive. In my opinion this would be a great additional tool to purchase and carry in the camera bag….I know one is going in mine as soon as my order arrives. 

 


Pick up your Kraken Weefine Ring Light at Bluewater Photo!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erik Lukas is an active diver and photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He is a volunteer scuba diver at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA. You can expect to find Erik diving many of the amazing Pacific Ocean sites of Southern California, camera in hand, at any chance he can get.

See more of his underwater photography on Instagram at SeeUnderSea, or visit his website at www.seeundersea.com

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

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Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


3,000 lumens, fast charging and small size – we review the Sola Video 3000
By Brent Durand

Light & Motion Sola Video 3000 F Light Review

Brent Durand
3,000 lumens, fast charging and small size – we review the Sola Video 3000

 

Light & Motion Sola Video 3000 F Light Review


3,000 lumens, fast charging and small size – we review the Sola Video 3000

By Brent Durand

light & motion sola video 3000 review

 

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Light & Motion became well known for their Sola line of underwater photo lights. Small size, powerful FL-1 Standard lumen ratings and simplicity of use helped propel the lights into the hands of many photographers and videographers.

The new Sola Video 3000 F sits at the right spot for serious videographers who want maximum lumens in a compact package. One of the really nice features is the fast recharge time – just 1 hour and 45 minutes, which means that you can fully charge the light during your lunch interval and be ready for those afternoon dives.

I used two Sola Video 3000s on two dives in Anilao, Philippines this past May and had a lot of fun shooting with them. Further down in the review we have a video of the lights in action filming some unique macro critters.

 

Highlights

  • 3,000 lumens
  • 90 degree beam angle
  • Colored status LED for battery power and mode indication
  • Easy-to-use lever controls light intensity, power and more
  • Fast charge system fully recharges the Li-ion battery in 1 hr 45 min
  • 50 minute burn time at 100% power
  • Weight: 256 grams

 


Purchase the Light & Motion Sola Video 3000 from Bluewater Photo

 


 

light & motion sola video 3000 review

 

In the Lab

Like all the Light & Motion lights, the Sola Video 3000 is beautifully designed. White plastic with a silver light head makes the light an elegant addition to your camera rig. The Sola Video 3000 comes with a number of different mounts, including a ball mount, YS mount and lockline mount.

The tab lever on top of the Sola is extremely well designed and can withstand some real use and abuse. Jam it with sand and with a few flicks of the tab in fresh water it will feel like new again.

 

Functions

The Sola Video 3000 has 3 power settings (3000, 1500 and 750 lumens) that can be adjusted by quick pushes of the tab lever. Holding the lever up or down for two seconds will turn the light on or off. Holding the lever up for 4 seconds will lock the light (ideal for travel), while holding it down for 4 seconds will activate SOS mode. Lastly, twisting the tab lever sideways stops it from moving, used for those periods between dives so that your light doesn’t get turned on by accident.

 

Charging

The Sola Video 3000 comes with a 12v power supply that plugs into the back of the light via three prongs.

 

sola 3000 light review

 

In the Water

Using the Sola Video 3000 in Anilao was a lot of fun. I mounted two lights to my Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 100mm macro setup and found the two 90 degree beams to provide a nice field of coverage. The sample footage below is all macro, but I did keep a close eye on the wider scenes while swimming by.

The color balance of the Video 3000s worked well for macro. I used Auto WB for the shots in the video and don’t feel any need for major color balance correction (which is limited unless you're shooting RAW video).

Using the tab lever is easy underwater, enough that you can push it with your finger without having your arms/clamps moving out of position. Super!

The only negative is true to most video lights out there, and that’s the fact that the power indicator and tab lever are on top of the light. But most of us mount our lights on strobe arms, which then turn the lights upside down. So the buttons and LED read out are on the bottom, making you have to turn your rig around to see the screen. No big deal, but worth mentioning for those who like to see what they’re doing instead of operating by feel.

 

 

Sample Macro Video with Sola Video 3000

 

Sola 3000 Pros

  • Compact size and weight for 3,000 lumens
  • Easy to control
  • Extremely fast recharge rate

 

Sola 3000 Cons

  • More expensive than lights with lesser lumens

 

 

Conclusion

The Light & Motion Sola Video 3000 F is a very nice light. While the price may keep it out of reach for entry level or casual shooters, more serious underwater videographers will definitely want to get their hands on a couple of them. Oh, and did I mention the style points for mounting some white and silver to your rig…?

 

 


Book Your Trip to Anilao, Philippines

Bluewater Travel can help you plan and book the perfect Anilao, Philippines dive trip.
 
Visit BluewaterTravel.com for more info.

 

Further Reading

 

About the Author

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer, story teller and image-maker from California. Brent is editor of UWPG. Follow UWPG on Facebook for daily photos, tips & everything underwater photography. View more of Brent's work or follow his imagery through www.BrentDimagery.com.

 

Author's Gear Profile

 

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5,000 lumens, remote trigger and more... testing the Venom 50 for macro & wide-angle video in Anilao
By Brent Durand

I-Torch Venom 50 Video Light Review

Brent Durand
5,000 lumens, remote trigger and more... testing the Venom 50 for macro & wide-angle video in Anilao

Powerful lights are essential for serious underwater videographers. There are many brands making great lights at every price point and lumen level you can imagine. Some are best for cameras like the GoPro Hero4, while others are best for compact shooters who want a combo between focus and video light, while still others boast lumen counts to make the pros start drooling… at least until they see the pricetags.

I-Torch makes great focus, video and dive lights at great prices. The I-Torch Venom 50 is the most powerful video light in the I-Torch lineup, boasting an incredible 5,000 lumens, and I used two of them on several dives during Bluewater Photo’s Spring Anilao Workshop.

 

Highlights

  • 5000 lumens (approx.)

  • 100 degree beam angle

  • LED read out indicates power remaining at current intensity

  • Two buttons – one for power and LED color, another for adjusting intensity

  • 4x white light power levels

  • 2x red light power levels

  • 1x blue light power level

  • 50 minute burn time at 100% power

  • Removable lithium battery (buy multiple and shoot all day)

 

New Accessory

The Venom 50 can either be controlled via the on-light buttons or by a remote trigger that attaches to your housing handle. That’s right – you can turn the lights on and off plus adjust power with your fingertip.

 

I-Torch Venom 50 light review

 

In the Lab

The I-Torch Venom 50 light is compact and about as heavy as you’d expect from a light with 5,000 lumens. The sleek design is easy to travel with, stylish and tough. As with most of these powerful lights, you do not want to keep it on for more than a few seconds out of the water, or it gets very hot.

 

Mounting

Mounting the light is easy with the included YS Mount. All you need is a YS ball mount adapter and then you can clamp it to your strobe arms. This is what I used, however if I bought one, I would pick up the optional ball mount to attach directly to the light: less parts = more simple = better IMO.

 

Light Control

I really like I-Torch’s dual buttons on the Venom 50. It makes it very easy to turn the light on and then adjust power settings with the other button. This way you can turn the light on and off in between shots, or cycle the power level down to low that you are at full power with one quick click on each light. The light will also turn on in the LED color you were last using.

 

Remote Control

The optional remote control for the Venom 50 is very, very cool. A small aluminum canister houses the electronics and is easy to mount to the top of your handle (between handle and ball mount). Two fiber optic cables plug into the remote, with one routed to each light. This fiber optic signal is what controls the lights. A push of the top buttons turns the lights on and off, while rotating the collar with your fingertip adjusts the power level. Easy as that!

One negative to the remote control is that it controls both lights at once. This means that if you are setting up a shot using two different power levels, then you will still need to reach out to one of the lights for a manual adjustment.

 

I-Torch Venom 50 light review

Close up detail of the Venom 50 remote.

 

I-Torch Venom 50 light review

Venom 50 remote and light with fiber optic cable attached.

 

Charging

The Venom 50 is well built, with dual o-rings to minimize chances of water reaching the inside of the light head and battery. Simply plug in the battery to charge, then ensure the o-rings are clean and screw the battery back into place.

 

 

In the Water

Wow! The Venom 50 is a powerful light compared to the Venom 38s I’m using! For macro you can oftentimes get away with lower lumens, but for wide-angle you really notice the light put out by these lights. This is great for two reasons:

  • You see light reach your foreground subject from further away

  • Since your light is brighter you can stop down a bit further and still see rich light on the foreground. This helps create more depth of field on close focus wide-angle shots.

 

The optional remote control is very fun to use underwater, saving time in setting up your shots.

The only negative is true to most video lights out there, and that’s the fact that the power indicator and buttons are on top of the light. But most of us mount our lights on strobe arms, which then turn the lights upside down. So the buttons and LED read out are on the bottom, making you have to turn your rig around to see the screen.

Color temperature is also nice for both wide-angle and macro. I shot the below sample video using Auto White Balance on a Canon 5D Mark III.

 

 

Sample Macro and Wide-Angle Video

 

 

Venom 50 Pros

  • Compact size and light weight for 5,000 lumens

  • Easy to control

  • White, Red and Blue light

  • Optional remote trigger

  • Removable Li-ion battery – multiple batteries keep you shooting all day when you can’t recharge

  • Solid and robust

 

Venom 50 Cons

  • More expensive than lights with lesser lumens

 

 

Where to Buy

You can purchase the I-Torch Venom 50 Video Light at our sister website, Bluewater Photo.

Conclusion

The I-Torch Venom 50 is a great light. I literally started singing through my regulator on my first dive with the lights, mesmerized by their power. The price is a bit high for most casual shooters, but serious shooters will be very happy to add the Venom 50 to their kit. 

 

Further Reading

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer and story teller from California.

Brent is an avid diver and adventure photographer, and shoots underwater any time he can get hands on a camera system. He can be reached at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Follow Underwater Photography Guide on Facebook or Instagram.

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

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Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


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3800 lumens, White/Red/UV Light, Compact & Lightweight - We Take the Venom38 Underwater
By Brent Durand

I-Torch Venom38 Video Light Review

Brent Durand
3800 lumens, White/Red/UV Light, Compact & Lightweight - We Take the Venom38 Underwater

 

I-Torch Venom38 Video Light Review


3800 Lumens, White/Red/UV Light, Compact & Lightweight - We take the Venom38 Underwater

By Brent Durand

 

 

 
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The I-Torch Venom38 is setting a new bar for underwater video. The light boasts a stunning 3800 lumens in a compact, lightweight body. It has a very wide and smooth 120 degree beam and both red and blue (UV) light modes. Listed on Bluewater Photo at a very aggressive price, this is a light underwater video fans will want on the next dive trip.

 

 

Venom38 Key Specs

  • 3800 lumens
  • 120 degree beam angle
  • Rechargeable lithium ion battery
  • 60 minute burn time at full power
  • Battery level indicator
  • Two push buttons
  • 3 modes:  4x white light levels, 2x red light levels, 1x blue (UV) light
  • Body made from annodized aluminum
  • Extra batteries available

 

 

Using the Venom38

Setup and Design

The Venom38 has a smart, stylish design. Video shooters know that you can burn through lights quickly when there's lots of good action, so the detachable and rechargeable battery is a great feature on the lights. Pick up a couple extra Venom38 batteries and you can shoot all day, then recharge them all at night. Dual o-rings ensure a firm seal of the battery to the light (as with all o-rings, make sure they are clean and free of debris).

The 3 light modes (white, red, blue (UV)) is cool, but what is even nicer is that you have two buttons to control them.  No need to cycle through all these functions and make your dive buddies think you've having a private disco party. One button turns the light on/off and cycles between white, red and blue light. The other button adjusts the light intensity of the current mode (i.e. 4 levels of white light).

Lastly, the lights have a digital battery power indicator to let you know exactly how much power you have. In my experience they were dead accurate.

 

 

In the Water

The Venom38 lights perform well underwater for both wide-angle and macro video shooting. The beam is very smooth, with no visible hotspots. The small size of the lights make them easy to position and swim with underwater - you can see my Papua New Guinea setup below for our fishy & sharky current dives.

As mentioned above, the dual push buttons made switching the lights on/off and between power levels easy and less disruptive.

 

 

Still Images shot with 2x Venom38 Lights at 120ft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video Review: Venom38

Filmed on location in Papua New Guinea

 

 

Sample Underwater Video with Venom38 Lights

Shot during two dives in Bali, Indonesia, edited and published same day during Bluewater Travel's Best of Southeast Asia tour.

 

Want more sample underwater video? 15+ videos are posted on the Best of Southeast Asia webpage - browse for video shot in Bali, Manado & Bunaken, Lembeh Strait, Raja Ampat and Papua New Guinea.

 

Purchase Info

Learn more and purchase the I-Torch Venom38 at Bluewater Photo.

 

 

Further Reading

 

About the Author

Brent Durand is an avid California beach diver, photographer and writer dedicated to capturing unique underwater, ocean lifestyle and adventure images. Brent is editor of the Underwater Photography Guide. Follow UWPG on Facebook for daily photos, tips & everything underwater photography!

 

 

 

Support the Underwater Photography Guide:


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Photo, Video, Fluoro and Topside from the Same Light Body
By Brent Durand

Light & Motion GoBe Light Review

Brent Durand
Photo, Video, Fluoro and Topside from the Same Light Body

Light & Motion’s GoBe light has become a popular option for divers since it’s launch in fall 2013. The stylish compact design stands out from other lights on the dive boat while performance is what you would expect from Light & Motion (manufacturers of Sola lights).

I have been demoing a GoBe 2.2 Ah body with 500 wide, 500 spot, red focus light and Nightsea lightheads the past couple weeks on several different housing / camera combos. Thanks to our sister company, Bluewater Photo, for helping make this happen. Below are my impressions from the dives.

 

The GoBe Light

The GoBe has many benefits. Aside from being affordable, is it very lightweight and can be used as a dive light, focus light, red focus light, fluoro diving light, bicycle light and countless other topside activities. The fact that you can change lightheads (above water) makes it a great light for newer divers/photographers who will slowly add more heads and also for more seasoned divers/photographers wanting light for a specific application.

The lightheads themselves are very easy to change as long as you keep an eye on the o-rings (as underwater photographers we know this well)!

The power button is very easy to depress, which is great because it doesn’t move when mounted on a housing and pushing with one finger. Battery power level indicator is a must, especially for those who night dive frequently.

 

 

Highlights

  • 2 bodies available (2.2 Ah and 3.0 Ah Li-Ion)

    • The 3.0 AH has a longer burn time for the 700 lumen and 500 search lightheads

  • 6 different lightheads

  • Available in several kits based on intended use

  • 5 power modes

    • High, Medium, Low, Extended, SOS

  • Easy-to-push power button with power level indicator

  • Various mounting options

  • Only 160 grams

  • USB rechargeable li-ion battery

 

GoBe 2.2 / 500 Spot used for sharp focus on moving subject. Canon 5D MkIII, Aquatica housing, 100mm macro lens, 2x strobes.  Photo: Brent Durand

 

 

 

Wide Lighthead

Brightness (lumens):  700

Beam Angle:  60 degrees

Burn Time (with 3.0 body):  1.5hrs at 700 lumens (high), 12hrs at 100 lumens (low)

Best Uses:  Focus or Video light, hiking, camping or other activities where field of view is more important than beam distance.

 

 

Spot Lightheads

Brightness (lumens):  500 & 700

Beam Angle:  20 degrees

Burn Time: 

o   500 (with 2.2 body):  1.5hrs at 500 lumens (high), 12hrs at 70 lumens (low)

o   700  (with 3.0 body):  1.5 hrs at 700 lumens (high), 12hrs at 100 lumens (low)

Best Uses:  Dive light, cycling, trail running or general flashlight.

 

GoBe 2.2 / 500 Spot as focus light & Nikon D7100, Nauticam housing, 60mm macro lens, 2x strobes.  Photo: Brent Durand

 

Search Lighthead

Brightness (lumens): 500

Beam Angle:  8 degrees

Burn Time:  500 (with 3.0 body):  2.2hrs at 500 lumens (high), 18hrs at 70 lumens (low)

Best Uses:  Technical dive light, signaling, illuminating distant objects

 

 

Red Focus Lighthead

Brightness (lumens):  165

Beam Angle:  60 degree

Best Uses:  Focus light for critters that are sensitive to white light, outdoors to maintain night vision (night photography, kayaking, etc)

 

 

Nightsea Lighthead

Brightness:  .7w

Beam Angle:  20 degrees

Best Uses:  Fluoro diving & underwater fluoro photography. The GoBe Nightsea isn't as powerful as the larger Nightsea light, but provides enough blue light for great photographs on cameras that can handle higher ISOs. Every diver will have a thrill night diving with the GoBe Nightsea and the Nightsea mask filter.

 

GoBe Nightsea & Canon 5D Mk III, Aquatica housing, 100mm macro lens.
Photo: Brent Durand

 

GoBe Nightsea & Canon 5D Mk III, Aquatica housing, 100mm macro lens.
Photo: Brent Durand

 

 

GoBe & GoPro

The GoBe can be paired with Light & Motion’s compact camera tray & flex arm to create a compact underwater video rig. I tested the 500 spot lighthead with a GoPro Hero 3+ and it was a great combo. The single light illuminated the field of view of the camera when shooting close to the subject of the reef, while the handles helped keep the camera steady for all shots. I would recommend, however, purchasing the 700 wide lighthead if video is the primary use of the light.

 

The author testing the 500 spot with the compact camera tray and flex arm.

 

Note: If you're shooting wide-angle (or any shot where you're not within your video light's range), it's best to turn off the light and use a GoPro Underwater Video Filter.

 

 

Conclusion

The GoBe light system is a versatile light and a great option for divers who want a compact, lightweight light at a nice price point.

Ideal for:  Those looking for a lightweight, dive/photo/video light or light for UV night diving.

Not Ideal for:  Underwater photographers who frequently switch between red and white light, and u/w fluoro photographers who want to look at the larger (and more powerful) Sola Nightsea.

For more information on purchasing the GoBe, visit Bluewater Photo’s Light & Motion GoBe Light page.

 

The GoBe light & handlebar mount provide light to gear up for a night dive.

 

 

Further Reading

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer and story teller from California.

Brent is an avid diver and adventure photographer, and shoots underwater any time he can get hands on a camera system. He can be reached at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Follow Underwater Photography Guide on Facebook or Instagram.

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


SeaLife's Compact Photo/Video Rig Packs a Punch
By Brent Durand

Sea Dragon Lighting System Review

Brent Durand
SeaLife's Compact Photo/Video Rig Packs a Punch

SeaLife introduced the Sea Dragon system this past fall with the release of three new lights, one strobe and the Flex-Connect grip system. This lighting system is the perfect companion to SeaLife’s popular DC-1400 and with the Flex-Connect grip and arms it’s effortless to switch configurations depending on whether you’d like to shoot photo or video. The lights boast 1200 and 2000 lumens in compact bodies, complete with battery level indicator lights, three power modes and 100 degree beam. The versatile strobe can be shot in automatic (TTL) mode or in manual power mode.

I had a chance to demo some SeaLife Sea Dragon gear while diving this past weekend and share the most important facts in the review below.

 

Sea Dragon Line

Sea Dragon 2500 Video Light

  • 2500 lumens

  • Ultra wide 120 degree beam angle

  • Rechargeable li-ion battery

  • 60 minute burn time at full power

  • Color Rendering Index of 90 (sunlight is 100)

 

 

Sea Dragon 1500 Video Light

  • 1500 lumens

  • Ultra wide 120 degree beam angle

  • Color Rendering Index of 80 (sunlight is 100) - 5700 Kelvin 

  • Rechargable li-ion battery

  • 70 minute burn time at full power

  • 3 power level settings

  • Depth rated to 200ft / 60m

 

 

Sea Dragon 2000 Video Light

  • 2000 lumens

  • 100 degree beam angle

  • Rechargeable li-ion battery

  • 60 minute burn time at full power

  • 3 power level settings

  • Depth rated to 200ft / 60m

  • Auto flash detect mode briefly turns off light if strobe is fired

 

 

Sea Dragon 1200 Video Light

  • 1200 lumens

  • 100 degree beam angle

  • Rechargeable li-ion battery

  • 75 minute burn time at full power

  • 3 power level settings

  • Depth rated to 200ft / 60m

  • Auto flash detect mode briefly turns off light if strobe is fired

 

 

Sea Dragon Strobe / Flash

  • Automatic (TTL) mode and manual power

  • Large adjustment knobs & easy-to-read decals

  • Fiber optic cable requires minimal maintenance

  • Takes 4x AA batteries

  • Depth rated to 200ft / 60m

 

 

In the Lab

The SeaLife Sea Dragon kit is compact and lightweight. The DC-1400 takes great 14-megapixel photos and HD video underwater and topside (outside of the housing). Once the housing is mounted to the Flex-Connect tray, it takes only the push of a button to swap handles or to add/remove the flex arm. This is useful for quickly breaking down the gear for transport or for switching among lights/strobes in between dives.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do we need light for underwater photography? To bring back the color that’s lost at depth. Learn more in our underwater lighting fundamentals article.

I set the DC-1400 camera up with the 2000 light and strobe so that I could shoot photos and video on the same dive. As a second camera, I put a GoPro Hero 3+ on a second Flex-Connect handle with 1200 light.

Both the light & strobe battery covers twist closed and are protected by two o-rings. As with all o-rings, these should be inspected and cleaned frequently. The strobe is triggered by fiber optic cable that runs down the handle to the strobe mask (snapped onto the front of the DC-1400). The full rig fits into a small laptop-style bag for easy transport to the beach, dive boat or airplane.

 

 

 

In the Water

The DC-1400 is easy to use underwater, even when switching between photo and video modes. The Sea Dragon lighting nicely complements the housing and makes it easy to capture great images.

You can actually keep both the strobe and light on at the same time. When shooting video the strobe won’t fire. When shooting photos, the video light acts as a dive light to help you see and help the camera focus. The auto flash detect turns the video light off for a second when the strobe fires to ensure that your shot is not affected by any of its light. The benefit is that you can turn them both on at the beginning of the dive and be prepared for anything. Just switch between photo and video with the press of a button and have fun.

 

Cabezon on a bat star. SeaLife DC1400 with Sea Dragon Strobe.

 

More advanced shooters will enjoy the manual light control of the new Sea Dragon strobe. Also, both the strobe and lights have a wide range of movement on top of the Flex-Connect handle, allowing for perfect positioning to eliminate backscatter. When combined with the Flex-Connect bendable arm, the strobes/lights can be positioned at any angle for creative shooting and lighting effects.

The Flex-Connect handle with Sea Dragon light (2000 or 1200) is also a great option for GoPro cameras, producing a wide, powerful beam from a small light that’s easy to clip off on your BCD.

 

Conclusion

Divers who are interested in underwater photography but don’t have a strong photography background will enjoy the new Sea Dragon lighting system. It can be used in auto mode but can also introduce photographers into manual lighting & camera control. The price is right, and the compact nature of the rig means makes it easy to carry underwater and while traveling. 

 

Further Reading

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brent Durand is a weekend wanderer and story teller from California.

Brent is an avid diver and adventure photographer, and shoots underwater any time he can get hands on a camera system. He can be reached at brent@uwphotographyguide.com.

Follow Underwater Photography Guide on Facebook or Instagram.

SUPPORT THE UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY GUIDE:

The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear

 

Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!

 


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips

 

Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.

 


See what Fluoresces in the Philippines in Scott Gietler's Review of the Sola Nightsea
By Scott Gietler

Review: Sola Nightsea UV Light

Scott Gietler
See what Fluoresces in the Philippines in Scott Gietler's Review of the Sola Nightsea

Review: Sola Nightsea UV Light


See what Fluoresces in the Philippines in Scott Gietler's Review of the Sola Nightsea

By Scott Gietler

 

 

 
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Ultraviolet light has increasingly been in the scuba spotlight lately, and for good reasons. We know that normal white light brings out the reds and other colors while diving, but UV lights take this to a new level: we can see the fluorescent properties of the reef, corals, fish, invertibrates and much more. If you haven't seen a UV light underwater, imagine swimming through a real-life blacklight poster. It's very cool.

Light & Motion developed their powerful Sola Nightsea UV light, and I took it on our yearly Bluewater photo workshop in Anilao, Philippines for testing on a night dives. The light acts as a flourescent exciter, which means the light stimulates certain marine life to "flouresce" and emit light in colors we normally don't see.

 

 

Sola Nightsea Specs & accessories

  • Run Time = 110 minutes on High & 4.5 hours on low
  • Rechargable = Li-ion Wet Recharge in 150 minutes
  • Dual Mode = Included phosphor snap-on filter for use as a white light (remember, this isn't a standard diving light)
  • Factory Sealed = No O-Rings to clean and re-seal
  • Mounting Options = Pistol grip, T-handle, D-ring, hand strap, video locline, photo ball and YS mount
  • Smart Dashboard = Battery status indicator, mode selection indicator and charge status indicator
  • Includes a handstrap (wrist strap) and phosphor filter

 


This "white light" cap allows you to turn your Sola Nightsea light into a regular "white" light.


The Nightsea camera filter goes over the outside housing port, and only lets the flourescent light hit your camera lens.


This is the nightsea "mask filter". It slides over the outside of your mask, and lets you see only the flourescent light that the marine life emits when hit by the UV light. 

 

Sola Nightsea initial impressions

 

I was initially skeptical about how much I would enjoy using the Nightsea light. Hever, owhen I did my first UV dive, I was pleasantly surprised that the entire underwater world was lit up beautifully, in a way that I've never seen before!

The light is small, light, strong, and easy to use. You do not need to be an advanced photographer to pick up this light and immediately get some very cool shots. The light has a spot and flood beam, but for this review I only used it on the flood (wider) beam. For small macro subjects, I suppose I could have switched to the spot beam for a stronger UV light.

Giant corals, crinoids and anemones everywhere were lit up in amazing green and red colors. Of course, not everything was lit up, but on the coral reef huge sections glowed in dazzling colors. I stayed down as long as I could on this dive. I was definitely a fan.

My camera was quick to focus on any subject I shined the Sola nightsea light on. Sometimes the animal did not glow brightly, and sometimes shutter speeds were slow. When this happened, I sometimes had to open up my aperture (I usually shot in Av mode) at the expense of depth-of-field. Photos with a shutter speed of less than 1/100th often were soft due to a little bit of camera shake blur.

I kept the Nightsea light on high power for most of the dive, and it easily lasted the entire dive.

Recommended Settings & undewater photo tips

  • Wear the Nightsea light on your wrist. The light comes with a wriststrap.
  • I usually shot in Av mode (Aperture priority mode), exposure compensation -0.7, matrix metering, auto white balance, RAW + jpeg
  • I recommend using a high ISO, anywhere from ISO 800 - ISO 3200 depending on your camera sensor. Canon 5D Mark III shooters can shoot at ISO 6400. I had no noticeable noise in my photos using ISO 1600 with my Nikon D7000, I may use ISO 2500 next time.
  • A mid-range lens works best. If you shoot wide, you will need 2 Sola nightsea lights for the proper coverage. A long macro lens like a 100mm macro lens may result in too much camera shake. My Nikon 60mm macro lens worked well. You want to be able to get very close to your subject, and shine the UV light from a close distance.
  • The faster the shutter speed, the less camera shake you will have. I prefered to have at least 1/100th of a second shutter speed. Some objects will fluoresce more than others, so if the shutter speed is too slow you will need to open up the aperture all the way, and/or shine the UV light very close to the subject. 
  • You don't want sunlight mixed in with these photos, so use this light only at night.

 

Sola Nightsea Underwater Photos

 


Brain Coral. F3.5, 1/250th, ISO 1600. NIkon D7000, 60mm macro lens

 


Many fish have fluorescent lines. F5.6, 1/400th, ISO 1600

 


F4, 1/50th, ISO 1600; Nikon D7000, 60mm macro lens

 


Lizardfish, F4, 1/200th, ISO 1600

 


Crinoid, F5.6, 1/60th, ISO 1600

 


Coral. F5, 1/400th, ISO 1600

 

Final Impressions - Sola Nightsea

What I learned was - you never know what will flouresce with the Nightsea UV, and what colors it will show. This light has "rekindled" my interest in taking some unique photos, and I am looking forward to taking it on a night dive in California waters this month!

 

About the Author

Scott Gietler is the owner of the Underwater Photography Guide and Bluewater Photo. He enjoys helping others learn underwater photography online, in the store, and during international photo trips that he attends with his customers.

 

Further Reading

 


Where to Buy

Please support the Underwater Photography Guide by purchasing your underwater photography gear or Sola Nightsea UV light through our sister site, Bluewater Photo & Video. Click, or call them at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!


 

 
 
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