Focus Light Tests, Nocturnal and Fantasea

 

When my friend Mike Bartick was over, we had a couple of focus lights laying around so we decided to look at their beams on the wall, just for fun. The lights we had were the Fantasea 44LED focus light, and the Nocturnal SLX focus light. Focus lights are very important for macro underwater photography, to assist the camera in finding contrast and achieving auto-focus, especially when light levels are not optimal.

 

Both of us have extensively used the Fantasea 44LED focus light, and Mike has used the Nocturnal light many times.

 

Fantasea 44LED focus light

Fantasee 44LED focus light

 

 

Nocturnal SLX focus light

Nocturnal SLX Focus light

 

I believe the Nocturnal SLX light has been discontinued, and has been replaced by the Nocturnal SLX 800i focus light

 

Focus lights are very personal items, one person can love it while another hates it. It's very hard to predict. People especially dislike a brand of focus light if it floods on them. Luckily for me my Fantasea 44LED focus light has never flooded.

 

The Fantasea light takes 5AA batteries, the nocturnal light takes 6. Both last for several dives, and neither turn off when a strobe is fired.

 

Well, let me cut to the chase. Mike told me he greatly prefers the Fantasea 44LED focus light over the Nocturnal, and he gave several reasons - the whiter color, the softer light, wider beam. He says it helps his Nikon d300 autofocus faster. He also really likes that it was 80% cheaper than the Nocturnal. Your mileage may vary. I'm not sure if you can still get the Fantasea light, they can be hard to find.

 

Focus Light Beams

 

In case you are interested, here is what the beams looked like on the wall:

 

underwater focus light test

 

focus light for underwater photography

Focus light beams. Fantasea is on the left, Nocturnal is on the right. In the second photo, the Nocturnal light has the diffuser on.

 

Further Reading:

 

Focus lights

Macro underwater photography

Supermacro underwater photography

Planning and preparing for an underwater photography dive

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

Scott: As of early February,

Scott:

As of early February, 2010, Adorama is selling them for $40.00 so get yours while you can. I have had two of them, one flooded on its maiden dive right out of the box and one is still working. From the design, it looks like it should be a 2 o-ring system, there are two o-ring grooves in the bezel mount but only one o-ring is supplied. My biggest problem is that they have a very cheesy way to mount an arm. They could have so easily mad a simple mount like all the other lights.

 

Maybe the 360 with higher power and strobe turn off will make its way back to the market someday.

 

Bill 

Bill Van Antwerp Canon/Nauticam/Subal/Inon Lots of glass
Technical Advisor to Bluewater Photo
http://www.blueviews.net

Nice report, Sko-T, Long ago,

Nice report, Sko-T,

Long ago, I used the Fantasea and liked it. However, due to some electronic issue, it went south only after a few dives (no flooding). I wanted to purchase another, but found them more difficult to find than hen's teeth. So I went with the Nocturnal and have used 2 for several years.

Finally, recently, I found a two Fantasea lights, the last two, from Blue Abyss Photo and snapped them up.

I like to use the Nocturnal for a dive light, as it is powerful and long lasting, and the Fanatasea for a focus light, for the same reasons Bart expressed, nice wide soft light. However, in my case, both lights allow the same speed of auto-focus with both my D200 and D300 cameras. Certainly weight and cost favor the Fantasea.

PS: there is a kit for under $20 that can double the luminosity of the discontinued SLX... the parts need to be ordered from Hong Kong and soldered - about a 15 minute task that is relatively easy for the DIY'er...