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Video Lighting Advice

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#1 Ron Boyes

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 04:35 PM

Hi Guys,

Have just purchased a Gates PC330 Housing - Lighting is my next decision.
Can you give me your recommendations and experience in this area.

I am most interested in macro video
Do I need a single or double?
What type of burn time should I need?

This is my first underwater video setup so all advice would be welcome.


#2 dudeunderwater



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Posted 01 March 2004 - 07:27 PM

Hi Ron,
There are generally 2 light set ups to choose from. 1) Tungsten lighting 2) HID Lighting. Tungsten light burns at a color tempurature of 3200K which is a very yellow light during the day, Example, if you were shooting with daylight present the tungen light hitting the subject would look yellowish red and the ambient day light would look very blue. HID lights however, burn at a color tempurature in the ball park of 4500K to 6000k (depending on the bulb the manufacture uses) which is a bluer light and closely matches the daylight color tempurature of the ambient daylight. It doesn't matter which light you use at night your camera white balances to the light and there is not ambient daylight to compete with.
I personally lean towards the HID lights, they are closer to day light (Much like the color temp of a strobe) and have had pretty good sucess with them.
A work around for the tungten lights is put a blue filter to color correct the light closer to daylight but I find that the light is still a little warm for my taste and you lose a lot of intensity of your light, like a couple of f-stops.
I would figure out how much are you willing to spend and shop around and see what options are available.
As far a burn time, Figure out your average botton time and use that as a guide to figure out the battery burn time that suits you.
The question of 1 or 2 lights that is a good one. It can work either way, with one light you get a modeled lighting look which works good in some situations but not all the time. With 2 lights you get double the intensety and a little bite longer light throw. and you can have the option of using both lights if you need them. If you don't you could pan 1 light off the subject to get a more modeled look.
Bottom line is get something that fits you buget and does a good job.

Hope this helps,

#3 scubanut75



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Posted 09 March 2004 - 09:57 AM

How do you calculate battery burn times? Is this information the light manufacturer should give you? How long do HD bulbs usually last?


#4 cjames


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Posted 28 March 2004 - 06:49 AM


I have a Gates housing with the KnightRider lights. For some thing they're ok, but after a few years, I find myself looking for an alternative. The battery is not attached to the housing which can be good or bad and they're just not bright enough to fill in on anything further than about 3-4 feet.

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#5 Drew


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Posted 31 March 2004 - 02:57 PM

Ron since you're in Adelaide, head down to Sea Optics and see what Carey and David have to offer. HID is tough to beat for burn time. An 24W HID with ballast can run 70+ minutes on a 13.3V 4 amp battery at 1600 lumens. HID tend to run at higher color temps (4800-6000), which is cooler and can give bluish hues if the camera doesn't white balance properly. The daylight preset is at 5600 on Sony. HIDs are also not that great on color rendering since they were designed for applications like headlights and not photography. HID bulbs are also on the expensive side.
Halogen have great color rendering but then to be warmer at (3200) and also drain more juice. A 50W halogen (HLX xenophot) would probably last less than 50mins on a 12V 4 amp battery while giving 1200 lumens. But the bulbs are cheap to replace (and they burn out much faster).
Also something to consider is lamp head design. A wide head (flood) design is more desirable so as to put uniform light.. A spot light design can cause hotspotting but can also have interesting shots like blacking out the background, esp at night. Most flood head lamps are about 60 and up. The wider the better.

#6 craig


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Posted 31 March 2004 - 04:01 PM

Not certain whether a 50W Xenophot exists, but a good 50W halogen should be able to do a little better than 1200 lumens (although many do not). Xenophots can provide 40 lumens/watt. Otherwise, I completely agree.
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#7 Genesis



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Posted 01 April 2004 - 07:09 PM

I have twin 50W Xenophot bulbs on a video lighting setup from ProWatt.

~50 minute burn time with both bulbs going, or about twice that with one. 12V SLA battery, articulated arms, mounts to the camera housing. Since you can only get 60 mins on a DV tape anyway, this works well - if you are doing more than one dive just take a second battery with you, and charge the expended one (with a smart charger) between. The batteries are cheap from places like RAGE (under $20 each) The battery is a 7AH 12V SLA; I've run 42 minutes of tape without noticable color shift in the lighting, with both bulbs going, so the advertised burn times are quite reasonable. His "video" setup has white-card-style reflectors; you can get silvered ones if you want (somewhat brighter, but you lose on the diffusion this way - I prefer the white reflectors)

I like it. I'd like brighter (who wouldn't?) for caves and such, but its more than adequate for most video work underwater. Its supposedly depth rated down to 300' or so.

The guy regularly has these listed on eBAY around $300 - a very nice price all things considered, and the bulbs are reasonably cheap as well.

General dive-light HIDs have horrible spectral distribution. They're very bright for the power consumed, and very blue, which is great for cave diving illumination and such but they blow bananas for color fidelity. If you want to use some kind of discharge lamp you want a HMI setup, and if you need to ask how much THOSE cost you don't have enough money.

#8 Drew


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Posted 03 April 2004 - 08:42 PM

Craig, the best Xenophot HLX can give 40lumens/watt. That's the 250W 24V. With other bulbs they vary from 30-40lumens/watt. And I meant 1600 lumens not 1200 for the 50W.

#9 jlitzza


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Posted 28 May 2004 - 06:47 PM

Have any of you guys checked out UnderSea Video Housings?

I use two of his earlier models and they are like diving with the sun.
He has higher output units now.

Flourescent has the added value of penetration and illumination. A line source does not fall off in intensity as fast a point source, simple physics. That' why your average 100W light bulb can be beat out by a 35W tube. These lights run for 90 minutes and they don't get very hot.

I have used them for ambient lighting on a night dive to dress and undress before and after the dive.

#10 e3photo


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Posted 09 June 2004 - 03:46 PM

I need to clear up a little misinformation here about HID lights, add a little more data, and add another lighting technology.

First, HID lights vary in quality by bulb manufacturer as well as balast. You can run a 21W HID bulb at 18W, 21W, 25W etc. Depending on how stong your balast runs (as designed by the manufacturer), you will get warmer or cooler light. The spectral qualities of HID are not simply 'blue'. The light is really 'white'. The bulb manufactuer has the say in the spectral quality - they will add various doses of metal halide salts to produce the spectral quality of light, as well as flicker & flare stability, of their product. For bulbs manufactured by Welch/Allyn, the 21W HID bulb has most of its spectral output in the 400nm to 700nm range (the visible range) with a dip at 575nm and a spike at 625nm. The color fidelity produced by this lamp is quite good across the visible spectrum.

The important issue to watch out for with HID is its 'turn on time' or the time it takes to get to a stable light intensity, which is in the range of 15 to 20 seconds. This is important if you see some once-in-a-lifetime shot and your lights are off. On the plus side, HIDs burn physically cooler in temperature than halogen, which is directly related to the much lower battery juice requirements of HID. In my opinion, HID winds hands down.

A few dive light manufacturers to have a look at are Halcyon and Sartek Industries. The both have roughtly equivelent video lighting systems with a variety of battery packs to choose from, including the support of wet connections if you so choose. In my case I went with a pair of Halcyon Apollo 24W HID video lights with the 9ah battery pack (approx 100 to 120 mins burn time with both lights powered). The battery pack is cliped to my BC and a wet-connect attaches to the lights on my housing. This makes the housing a little less negative/bulky. The wet-connects also allow me to ditch the rig in an emergency.

The high quality (and expensive) bulbs used by both the Halcyon and Sartek systems are manufactured by Welch/Allyn. They have a web site with specs for their bulbs, including the 21W bulbs used in the above mentioned UW lighting systems. In particular, take a look at the 'Solarc Single Ended Lamp Performance Data' on the tech-specs page for the 21W bulb (doc titled 'LSL009E.pdf').

Last but not least, is the HMI lighting technology - very expensive, very bright at 50W minimum, very stable and repeatable color temperature with a very white light output. These are the types of lights used by film makers to light up their sets in the UW world. The big-boys go to Hydroflex to get their UW lighting needs satisfied. For some fun and educational reading, go to their site and take a look at their 'practical applications' pages.

Hope this all helps,

-Eric3 Anderson
-Not affiliated with any of the mentioned companies

Links to Halcyon & Sartek Industries:

Link to Welch/Allyn:

Link to the 21W bulb specs:

UW Lighting for the Big Boys:

#11 craig


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Posted 09 June 2004 - 06:04 PM

HID lights typically have CRI's in the 70's. By photographic standards, the color fidelity of such a light would not be considered good but rather quite poor. In fact, correlated color temperatures (CCT) of different lights should never be compared unless the CRI's of those lights are at least 90. Considering that, you should not consider the color fidelity of a light source to be "quite good" unless it meets that standard (CRI >= 90).

HMI lamps are a class of HID specifically modified for photographic use and provide CRI's of at least 90. If a discussion of HID is limited to those then I agree they are quite good, but the little 21 watt HID are not HMI.

I do agree that turn on time (and restart time) are important considerations. Users of HID lamps may need to consider that their lights are "always-on" lights for this reason. Also, much is made about the efficiency of HID and how they are "up to 6 times brighter than halogen". A good halogen light can deliver 30-40 lumens per watt whereas the smaller HID's deliver barely more than that once ballast efficiency is factored in. LMI claims 42 lumers per watt for theirs. When you consider the start and restart penalties for these lights I really don't understand why people are fond of them. In any case, you must compare actual products and there are plenty of HID ones because that's apparently what many people want.

For higher power self-contained lighting nothing yet can outlight Xenophots. You have to consider the total size, weight, lumen output and usable battery life in the equation and even the "mighty" Halcyon Apollo HMI can't compete in size, wieght or output with the lights I use. If I had someone carrying carrying (and paying for) my lights for me then perhaps I'd like HMI but I prefer the small, simple, inexpensive and photographically superior Xenophot solutions.
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#12 ioan


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Posted 02 November 2006 - 10:34 AM

Hello all!

I'm new here, this is my first post here and i'm looking for some advice. I'm thinking about buying this set for my Sony PDX10P: http://www.gateshous...rce.html#hid100

Please tell me what do you think about it, any advice or help will be much appreciated.

Thank you very much,


#13 ronrosa


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Posted 02 November 2006 - 12:16 PM

Are those lights still available ? Thought I read somewhere about them being discontinued. Either way, they look high quality and very expensive.

#14 PnL


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Posted 02 November 2006 - 05:29 PM

I've been using the Salvo 24W dual HID lamps with E/O connectors and like 'em. The canister is hip mounted so it doesn't contribute weight to the housing - or you can mount it to the housing if you want. Works either way. Burn time with a single 9 mAh NiMH battery pack is about 50 minutes for both lamps.

#15 divingbubbles



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Posted 24 April 2009 - 08:30 AM

As new member to this forum,I am looking to replace a blown lamp for my light and motion hid sunrays. I think they use a M21N 002 Welch Allyn.
I've seen them for sale for 300.00 + Surely this can't be correct. I think the last time I replaced them they were around 100.00.

#16 Steve Douglas

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Posted 24 April 2009 - 01:56 PM

While Green Force makes some fine lights, I had a client who's brand new Green Force flooded on its first dive and he was stuck on the boat without lights the rest of the trip.
Light & Motion's LED lights, the 2000's have done an excellent job for me as I can switch between lumens settings to get just the right amount of light I need. For macro work, the highest setting is way to powerful, so I just drop the lumens setting on the fly and go for it.


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#17 CamDiver


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Posted 01 May 2009 - 08:36 AM

There was once a time when I though 5,000,000,000 watt lights would be the dogs for filming. I was then spoken to by a wise sage of senior years, and many BBC productions. Putting his words to use I found that for macro the most you need are twin 30w heads, LED's if poss but if not then Halogen is fine. Color correct in post. For wide, white balance, there are no lights available to light up that 1000 degree wide lens fov that everyone is talking about, and HAS to have.

Ohhh, how I wish I was a manufacturer.......


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#18 CanadianJen



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Posted 13 September 2011 - 10:24 AM

Hi all....I have a question about Xenon HID lights. I have a set of Dive Rite 24 Watt video lights. One light wasn't firing, and on inspection, it was discovered that there was a loose wire and a fuse that was blown. Very nice German made ballast in these lights, and after a few fuse replacements, the bulb blew. These are automotive bulbs and we found a local guy who sold bulbs and kits, and had the H3 base 35 watt 6000K bulbs. There were not any 24 watt bulbs listed anywhere.

Here is where it gets a little tricky. Most HID lights used for diving run in the 6000K range for out put, and this gives them a nice white colour with a hint of blue at times. We were told that you can under-power bulbs or over power bulbs, and all that it does is change the life span on the light. What we also found was that by under-powering the bulb, it alters the lumen output and thus alters the colour temperature. So, we bought 35 Watt HID 6000K bulbs to run off of the 24 Watt ballast, and when compared to the other light (that was not changed), these new lights appeared to have a slight yellow tint to them as opposed to the crisper more natural light from the other bulb.

So, my question out there is....what should the starting colour temperature be on these 35 watt bulbs be to achieve to 6000K output from the 24 watt ballast? I know that folks will say...well just replace the ballast. This might happen eventually, but the ballasts are square and need to be cut down a bit on the packaging to fit into the circular light. The ballast that I have is aluminum, circular, and it works just fine. We were thinking of maybe getting the 8000K 35 Watt bulbs and seeing if they get us closer to the desired colour temperature.

Any thoughts and input are appreciated :)

Edited by CanadianJen, 13 September 2011 - 10:26 AM.