Kraken Sports Weefine Ring Light Review
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
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.
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.
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!
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