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BigBlue VL 1300 video light


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#1 uwxplorer

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Posted 20 December 2010 - 01:08 PM

My dive shop pointed this new product to me:
http://www.bigblue.c...-contained.html
Anybody can comment on it or in general the reliability of this company's products?
Thanks,
X.

#2 HDVdiver

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Posted 20 December 2010 - 04:33 PM

Their specs claim that the beam angle is wider underwater than it is on land...:good:

#3 uwxplorer

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Posted 20 December 2010 - 10:47 PM

Their specs claim that the beam angle is wider underwater than it is on land... :good:


Good point. I remember having thought "oh, cool!" and leave it at that. A typo I suppose?

#4 wolfeeldiver

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 10:36 AM

I shoot sometimes with the BB 1x30w LED, which is a very similiar light. Essentially same light specs. Its a pretty narrow beam, but bright. I personally prefer the 1x30W because the light is near neutrally bouyant. The new 1300s is a little negative.

#5 uwxplorer

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 10:41 PM

I shoot sometimes with the BB 1x30w LED, which is a very similar light. Essentially same light specs. Its a pretty narrow beam, but bright.


It looks indeed very similar, but what is confusing is that the site reports that both lights (VL1300 or BB) have a divergence angle of 85o, when your comment is that the beam is narrow. If you are shooting videos with it, I suppose that you mean that the light appears as a bright spot rather than illuminating the field (or part of it) homogeneously?
Directed toward a wall, my lights (UK AquaSun eLED with a home-made diffuser) appear to have no significant hotspot and be pretty spread out (I would say ~60o), but in practice, they appear as spots on my wide-angle shots (unless I am within a few feet of my subject).
The VL1300 comes with an "optical convex glass lens" in front, which, depending on the size of the LED and its distance from the focal point of the lens could result in more or less divergence. The BB light is described as just having a "tempered optical glass" window in front, which would likely preserve the LED divergence angle. But then, why are both they spec'ed as having a 85o angle?
Mystery of marketing...

#6 wolfeeldiver

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Posted 24 January 2011 - 10:02 AM

I have shot videos with the BB1x30. Samples posted on my Youtube page. Just to clarify my prior comments about the BB1x30... It has a very nice, evenly diffused pattern underwater. There are no hot spots. A nice even circular spot. The LED is behind a flat port. However, when compared to my Sunray 1000 light heads output, at the same distance, and underwater, the BBx30's angle of coverage appears to be narrower than that of the Sunray 1000. However the light is more intense with the BB1x30.

I have not had my hands on a VL1300. The BB1x30's specs and the new VL1300 look to be very similiar. I wonder if the specs got messed up in the "translation" when writing the documentation.

Edited by wolfeeldiver, 24 January 2011 - 10:11 AM.


#7 uwxplorer

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Posted 05 February 2011 - 05:49 PM

I just got one VL 1300 (I was planning to buy Sola 1200's, but they are back ordered for who knows how long). I tested it in the store and the beam appears to be pretty wide and very homogeneous. Interestingly, the claim of a wider angle underwater is actually repeated on the box. I'll check next week-end what really happens under water, although I don't expect any magic...
Compared to the Sola 1200, they come with a lot more gadgetery (ball mount, hand grip, red and yellow filters) and they are made of a solid black-anodized aluminum (which makes them heavier, probably, but definitely not as heavy as my AquaSun). The battery pack can also be changed (Ni-MH rechargeable batteries). This also means the light can be taken apart (and flooded if not careful). This is actually a bit of an annoyance because in addition to being able to remove the cap at the back of the light to change the battery (in principle that is not needed very often), you HAVE to take apart the front of the light to charge it! In other words, remove the front lens, the LED head and access the connector for the charger INSIDE the body.
That's not very different from my AquaSuns (I need to open the light to remove the battery and be able to recharge it), but here you need to expose the O-rings on the body while charging. I'll have to find a way to protect them as much as possible when charging...
So in summary, lots of O-rings (2 on each end) and a bit of a dust hazard when recharging the lights. The Sola 1200 seems easier to handle in this respect (quick charge between dives without opening the light). In principle the light should last 80+ minutes at full power, and they are easy to turn down or off (with a ring switch) when not in use, so I don't expect that this will be much of a practical annoyance in 3-dives/single-day trips. We'll see.
I'll dive oil rigs next week-end and report on what I find out.

#8 briand123

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Posted 09 February 2011 - 09:17 AM

My dive shop pointed this new product to me:
http://www.bigblue.c...-contained.html
Anybody can comment on it or in general the reliability of this company's products?
Thanks,
X.


I read the specs. For video, 6500k is quite a bit on the blue side of white. Underwater, I would rather be slightly on the red side of white if you're going to be off from 5500k. There are now LEDs that can do that w/o using filters. Thing is, they are so new I don't know of any companies actually using them in production designs at this point.

#9 uwxplorer

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 08:33 AM

I read the specs. For video, 6500k is quite a bit on the blue side of white. Underwater, I would rather be slightly on the red side of white if you're going to be off from 5500k. There are now LEDs that can do that w/o using filters. Thing is, they are so new I don't know of any companies actually using them in production designs at this point.

Assuming that the spectrum shown on the Light & Motion website is that of the Sola, the attribution of a color temperature is a bit problematic, as it is comprised of two main "peaks":
Seca700tt.jpg
(from http://www.uwimaging.../sola1200v.html >> Lumen Test >> About)
A black body spectrum is single-peaked as shown here:
600px_Black_body.svg.png
(from http://en.wikipedia....body_radiation)
This pedantic comments being said, I happened to be at the opening of Blue Water Photo in Santa Monica yesterday, where I was shown the Sola 1200 (now I know why they were back-ordered for other dealers!). Since I was coming back from my first dive with the VL1300, I asked to make a comparison of the two lights (in the store).
My qualitative impression is that the Sola emits a whiter light than the VL1300 and if anything, the VL1300 emitted a yellower light (so a "cooler" temperature in black body theory). Brightness is difficult to gauge, but I had the feeling that the Sola was brighter than the VL1300. But again that's difficult to assess objectively, especially when the light color is different.
Scott Gietler, the store owner, thought the Sola was more uniform and since he is much more experienced than me, I will trust him on that. He also commented that the Sola is way lighter than the VL1300, which is true! But considering that Peter had to put some weights on his system to stabilize it (as discussed here), I am not sure it is really an advantage...
Also, to me, the divergence angles seemed to be very similar. Note also that the Sola has a narrow beam setting (it uses a set of 3 center LED as opposed to the peripheral ones when in flood mode). My impression is that the Sola would be a perfect wrist mounted dive light... and video light for very negatively buoyant video rigs.
The most important thing for me is that the VL1300 performed very well underwater. Unfortunately, I was diving rigs, so the largest surface that I could illuminate were the pilings, which are maybe 3-4 feet in diameter. They were very well lit by my center-positioned light from a few feet away. Therefore I expect that with two of these lights arranged symmetrically, I will get a good coverage of my Fathom WA90 lens' field of view for reef or wreck diving.
To be continued when I get my second light...
X.

PS: BTW, the VL1300 come with two wet filters: a yellow and a red one. I did not try them and don't have any plans to do so.

#10 uwxplorer

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 07:19 PM

I have now purchased two of those lights and used them enough to be able to report about them.
First, a quick look at the way I am mounting them on my housing:
Big_Blue_Lights_small_XM.jpg
I am using a ball-to-L&M handle adapter and two ULCS arms on each side (one large buoyant arm and one standard one with additional large Styx float). That's an expensive setup (I had it already) but I don't think the flexible arms used by peterbkk with his Sola 1200 would have been sturdy enough for those relatively heavy lights. On the other hand, I don't have any positive buoyancy issue. If anything, the whole assembly is a bit negatively buoyant (and front heavy obviously).
The rope in between the two arms is just to prevent unwanted extension of the arms and is a safety feature in case one of the handle attachment gets loose (or breaks), which I hope will never happen! The other rope with a piece of tubing around it is what I instruct the DM or guy helping on the boat to handle the housing with. It is wrapped around the base of the housing handles and clipped to itself on both sides using quick release clips.
I like the way the light output level is controlled: a ring on the front of the lens allows switching between 3 levels + off and is very easy to manipulate (butter smooth really). It's not as convenient as having control from the handles, but that's not available with the Sola 1200 either, so...
Since a key element to the performance of the lights is the front lens, I tend to be a bit worried that it will get scratched or banged up in the rinse bucket, so I always have a color filter on each light when I don't use them (red on one and yellow on the other on this picture), which I flip back when I dive. They are just slid on the front part of the light and held by the friction of two o-rings, but I have already lost one in a rinse bucket, so I will need to find a way to secure them a bit better (or leave them in the rinse bucket).
The light output is very uniform, bright enough to light up your subject from several feet away (and in fact too bright from a few feet away at full power). I still need to get used to the fact that the light distance and orientation needs to adjusted when the distance of the subject is changed significantly. But I am definitely very happy with this setup. Videos will soon be viewable on my YouTube channel...

Now a note of caution is warranted: I have noticed that after each dive (be it in a relatively shallow pool or after 20 min at 90'), I always find a tiny drop or two of water in between the two O-rings that form the seal in the light head (and in fact at the back of the light too, where the battery is installed). I am monitoring that to see whether it will get worse. There is still a second O-ring to pass to become a real problem, but the bottom line is that I recommend checking this after each day of diving carefully (and taking good care of the O-rings).
This is actually pretty much a natural thing to do, since the head needs to be opened to recharge the light. I have found a way to prevent this to be a dust hazard: I put the light body in a zip-locked transparent plastic bag with a single hole in it, through which I introduce the charger connector.
Charging is actually relatively fast (there is a faster mode, but it is supposed to reduce the battery life, so I avoid using it) and the battery lifetime seems to be sufficient at least for a 3 dives day at full power. Again, it is very easy to turn down the lights when unused, so I suspect that more dives could possibly made on a single charge.

I hope this information can be useful for others. BTW, the light package comprises a wrist mount so that the light can be used as a dive light as well (a bit long for that, I would say).

#11 peterbkk

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 04:33 AM

But considering that Peter had to put some weights on his system to stabilize it (as discussed here),


I think you misunderstood my post about putting weights on the system. The L&M with the 3 x Sola 1200s, without any weights or floats is just slightly negative, perfect for UW handheld shooting. For handheld shooting, I never use the weights.

The purpose of the weight system is for those "swim away" shots when there is a shy creature (garden eel, goby shrimp) that gets nervous when a diver is blowing bubbles nearby. I put the weights on to the housing, place it pointing in the right direction, turn it on and swim away. The weights stop it rocking around. Usually the critter will soon carry-on its normal behaviour then I swim back and collect the light.

Regards
Peter

#12 uwxplorer

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 07:22 AM

I think you misunderstood my post about putting weights on the system. The L&M with the 3 x Sola 1200s, without any weights or floats is just slightly negative, perfect for UW handheld shooting. For handheld shooting, I never use the weights.

The purpose of the weight system is for those "swim away" shots when there is a shy creature (garden eel, goby shrimp) that gets nervous when a diver is blowing bubbles nearby. I put the weights on to the housing, place it pointing in the right direction, turn it on and swim away. The weights stop it rocking around. Usually the critter will soon carry-on its normal behaviour then I swim back and collect the light.

Regards
Peter


My bad. Have you ever considered using a rebreather?
JKD.

#13 uwxplorer

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Posted 08 May 2011 - 09:28 AM

At long last, a first video with those lights:

Overall and so far, I am really pleased with them.

#14 uwxplorer

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Posted 07 August 2011 - 06:57 PM

An unedited clip showing the VL1300 in action (night shot, wide-angle using the CX550 in a L&M housing with the Fathom 90 lens:

#15 nathicastro

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Posted 07 August 2011 - 07:32 PM

An unedited clip showing the VL1300 in action (night shot, wide-angle using the CX550 in a L&M housing with the Fathom 90 lens:


Hey! Thanks for posting that! Very helpful!
The lights are arranged just like the previous photo you posted, right?

#16 uwxplorer

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Posted 07 August 2011 - 08:22 PM

The lights are arranged just like the previous photo you posted, right?


Pretty much, yes.
Again, I have had zero problem so far and I am very satisfied with the lights. They hold their charge for at least 3 dives and the charger has "quick" charge option if needed (which will reduce the overall lifetime of the battery, though). That clip was taken during dive 5 of the first day in a recent trip. I can't remember whether I recharged the lights, but I suppose I did.
Big Blue has also recently released a spare battery module (although I couldn't find it on their website, but I was told so at the recent Scuba show in Long Beach). According to them, it is essentially a complete body (without the head and LED), so it should be simple to replace in-between dive (charging the old one in the meantime).

#17 4divers

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 12:13 PM

I have been diving with the 2x30vl for a while now and liked them. I looked at the vl1300 and in my oppinion having the battery in the light makes it harder to posion your light and you gonna have diviculty to keep them in the position you want.

A buddy of mine has the light and motion 1200 solar lights. eventhough they are nice he constantly has to tightening his ball mounts. Even underwater they sometimes get so loose that they swing arround.

P.S. check out some of the videos I shot on Vimeo with the vl 2x30

#18 peterbkk

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 02:50 PM

A buddy of mine has the light and motion 1200 solar lights. eventhough they are nice he constantly has to tightening his ball mounts. Even underwater they sometimes get so loose that they swing arround.


You should recommend to your buddy to use the 1/2" locline arms recommended by L&M. I've done hundreds of dives with L&M lights, both the older Sunray and the Sola 1200s, on locline arms and never had a problem with them swinging around. With the locline, they stay where you put them. The beauty of locline is you can curl the arms up during ascent, putting the lights and arms alonside the housing, making a nice compact housing to hand up to the boat.

Regards
Peter

#19 4divers

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 08:31 PM

You should recommend to your buddy to use the 1/2" locline arms recommended by L&M. I've done hundreds of dives with L&M lights, both the older Sunray and the Sola 1200s, on locline arms and never had a problem with them swinging around. With the locline, they stay where you put them. The beauty of locline is you can curl the arms up during ascent, putting the lights and arms alonside the housing, making a nice compact housing to hand up to the boat.

Regards
Peter

Thanks for that info, I will forward this to my buddy.

Cheers

Ab

#20 Quebecduf

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 06:50 AM

Hi, I am new to this . I dive since 1 year now, having my Advance OW . I live in Quebec city where the water temp is about 45f during summer. My first language is french. I go to south 2 or 3 times per year. I love video since many years and love doing montage with Adobe premiere.

Last week I did purchase an Equinox Hd6 for my Canon hv20. Yesterday I purchased one Bigblue vl1300 with arm for the Equinox. For now I am diving and testing the housing in the pool. I am planning to do under ice dive and Dominican Republic in April.

Question 1 : In DR do I need the light ? When do I use the color adapter in front of the housing ( red ) and when do I use the color filter in front of the light .

Question 2 : If anybody use the same housing and camera, how to you setup the camera, focus and white balance. To get the best result.

Thank you