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L&M Sola 600 - User reviews & opinions?


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#41 Drew

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 12:10 AM

I use the Belkin Mini Surge USB protector only uses flat pin sockets but it has a warranty that includes plugged in devices. It's my preferred travel brick. I just travel with an adapter for whichever country I'll be in. Haven't had a problem with them yet.

It seems the Sola charger failures aren't related to the voltage fluctuations but a manufacturer issue. If the failure rate on the WP trip is an indicator, then it's a big deal.

What I suggest you do is ask the resort to find a voltage regulator for you. The usual little red ones in Indo aren't expensive and any decent resort should have them. A bigger issue is when the resort switches between main and generator power. That's when power variations are greatest and I've seen all sorts of things blow because of that.

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#42 peterbkk

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 01:54 AM

I use the Belkin Mini Surge USB protector only uses flat pin sockets but it has a warranty that includes plugged in devices. It's my preferred travel brick. I just travel with an adapter for whichever country I'll be in. Haven't had a problem with them yet.

It seems the Sola charger failures aren't related to the voltage fluctuations but a manufacturer issue. If the failure rate on the WP trip is an indicator, then it's a big deal.


On a recent trip to Raja Ampat, there were two new Sola 600s on board. Neither had charging or flooding issues. In fact, everyone was very impressed. The failures on your trip might have been from a early batch or just a nasty coincidence.

The chargers are just a standard 8.4V 1.0A OEM charger that L&M must have sourced to meet their battery's charging input requirements. It is not an L&M manufactured product. The 3 pin plug is the only thing unique to L&M on the charger.



Seems like that Belkin surge protector is perfect for the job, providing both protection and three outlets, and can charge my iPhone. I can save more space and weight in my luggage. If they offer a warranty on connected devices, they must be confident that they can deal with most spikes.

http://www.belkin.co...oduct_Id=400738

I'll see if I can find one at Sim Lim, here in Singapore.

But, is it true that, for any surge protector to function, the earth pin must be connected to an earth? That might invalidate its protection in some Asian locations.



I've run three cycles now with my 3 x Sola chargers and, so far, no issues (touchwood). Before the next trip, I'll make sure that I have run at least 5 or 6 cycles.

One reason I chose to go with the 3 x Sola 1200s rather than wait and get 2 x Sola 4000s, is that having 3 lights and 3 chargers gives a bit more redundancy to the system if something does go wrong. I can lose 1 light and 2 chargers and still function normally. I can lose 2 lights and 2 chargers and still shoot macro.

Of course, when the Sola 4000 arrives, I'll be sorely tempted by all that POWER...

Regards
Peter

#43 Captain_Caveman

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 06:20 AM

I have used mine every day for the past five weeks or so.

I use them for video and switch them like crazy. I don't use the red (and am a bit annoyed that they have the cheaper version out now without the red, but there you go).

I'm more than pleased with their function, haven't had any issues with charging or flooding, all in all they perform almost flawlessly.

The only small niggle I have with them is the switches sticking. It's not a show-stopper because I come to expect it now and only a couple of times has it caused a problem - flicking the switch from low to medium power, the switch stays up and the light turns off. Now I move the switch up and down with my fingers instead of flicking it up hoping for it to return. Again not a big issue.

Overall I'm more than happy with these lights.

I use...

Canon 5d2
Aquatica Housing
8" Dome
Sigma 15mm
Sola lights





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#44 Drew

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 08:41 AM

On a recent trip to Raja Ampat, there were two new Sola 600s on board. Neither had charging or flooding issues. In fact, everyone was very impressed. The failures on your trip might have been from a early batch or just a nasty coincidence.

The chargers are just a standard 8.4V 1.0A OEM charger that L&M must have sourced to meet their battery's charging input requirements. It is not an L&M manufactured product. The 3 pin plug is the only thing unique to L&M on the charger.


Well seeing that there were over 1 dozen Sola lights on the trip, 2 chargers failing is a pretty high number of failures. Then you have at least 5 floodings in this thread alone and issues with the controls as well. Obviously the floodings may be user error (but it is a sealed unit so that's unlikely), but then why would L&M replace in such quick fashion. There seems to be an issue.

L&M put their name on the charger so they have to be responsible for it. Product liability doesn't go straight to the OEM manufacturer, bypassing the client for which the product was made for. It's great that they are working on replacing the chargers but it'd be nice to know what the issue was.

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#45 RedSeaDiver

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Posted 15 December 2010 - 03:12 AM

I'm in Tulamben, Bali at the moment, and a few people here have purchased Sola 600's in the last few weeks and they certainly are pretty annoyed with L&M for not mentioning the new models on their website so they could purchase the new photo model. A few of them have emailed L&M about it but they haven't received any replies which isn't helping L&M's reputation at the moment.
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#46 jacquesdiving

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 08:14 PM

I bought a Sola Photo 600 in Jan 2011 in Hong Kong. Since L&M's lighting product is not popular in HK, I'd like to share my "story" here and see if anyone can give me some advice :)

I ordered a NEW version of Sola Photo 600 from a local dive shop, emphasizing that there should be 3 levels of red LED intensity ...

When I first got my light in early Jan, ONLY the RED LED could be turned on with 1 level of intensity. The white LED didn't work. Funny enough.

I immediately asked dive shop staff to send it back to L&M for replacement/repair. Staff told me that it's a programming problem. L&M reloaded a new programme into the light and sent it back to me within a week or so.

After re-programming, the white LED worked, BUT there was STILL 1 level of red LED intensity!!! How come?!

Since I needed the light for my diving trip in late Jan, I asked the dive shop staff to tell L&M of the issue, and would send the light to L&M for replacement after I return to HK in early Feb.

To my surprise, I talked to the dive shop staff this morning. They said they were still waiting for L&M's response.... How come?? No response in 2 weeks' time??!!

What does that mean? Does it mean L&M would only handle its mistake once?

Given the price of Sola 600, I expect a high-quality product with all functions fully tested before sales. The worst of all is, the so-called "fixed" light still does NOT work properly according to what L&M promised.

Even if L&M agreed to fix my light for the second time, I still need to pay for the courier to send it all the way to USA!! It's NOT my fault, but I got punished :)

I just wonder if I should switch back to using low-end focusing lights made locally here in HK.... they are not bright enough, they don't have red LED, but they WORK! I never need to return and repair....

Hopeless.....

#47 jacquesdiving

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 12:38 AM

Hurray ;) !!!! Rays of hope!!

Just received a phone call from dive shop. They said L&M is going to send me a new light as replacement at no extra cost. Really exceed my expectation!!

Looking forward to receiving the new light - hope it works perfectly well :D

#48 SALGADO

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 03:25 AM

Just another unhappy situation:
After reading Alex Mustard review, and as I was looking for one, I decided to have one.
I order one SOLA 600 at end of 2010, but haven't been able to use it, but after 2 months I decided to check it... and it was dead...
Tried to charge it all night, and still nothing.
Contacted L&M and they told me to send it to them (I had to pay the P&P), and waiting to have it replaced, at least that was what they said...
I'm waiting...
Augusto

#49 antacid

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 04:32 AM

good to know that at least L&M is doing their best to fix the situations..

honestly i sometimes wish mine would die so I could try to swap it for the Sola 600 Photo instead. Will be nice to be able to choose between spot and flood! Sucks that it was only announced 1 week after i got mine. ;)
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#50 peterbkk

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 04:37 PM

Sorry to hear some people are having some hassles. But, I know from experience that L&M do stick by their customers and will solve any technical issues.

If I was you, and the light is definitely not functioning to specification, I would ask the shop where you bought it to swap it with one from their stock and let them deal with getting it replaced by L&M.

My Sola 1200s are working beautifully.

Regards
Peter

#51 peterbkk

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 06:50 PM

I order one SOLA 600 at end of 2010, but haven't been able to use it, but after 2 months I decided to check it... and it was dead...


Did you charge the battery before you put it away for 2 months? All Li-ion batteries need to be stored in a fully-charged state. If you leave them empty for too long, they can change their internal polarity and become useless. If storing for long, get them out every few months and charge up the battery to full.

Regards
Peter

#52 FrankD

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 01:49 PM

Did you charge the battery before you put it away for 2 months? All Li-ion batteries need to be stored in a fully-charged state. If you leave them empty for too long, they can change their internal polarity and become useless. If storing for long, get them out every few months and charge up the battery to full.

Regards
Peter


Good to know, but not an excuse for what I would consider to be normal storage conditions for a great many divers. If a $600 device becomes unusable after 2 months of not being used, that is a design flaw, not a user issue.

#53 leepix

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 10:56 AM

Good to know, but not an excuse for what I would consider to be normal storage conditions for a great many divers. If a $600 device becomes unusable after 2 months of not being used, that is a design flaw, not a user issue.

I had a battery specialist tell me something a long time ago. He said ALL rechargeable batteries lose some juice over time, its just their rate of discharge which varies. AND more importantly, once a rechargeable battery cell goes below a certain minum state of charge (again varies as to battery type), they can NOT be recovered. I have bought the Maha C9000 programmable charger, but still can NOT overcome the above.


Bottom line: ALL rechargeable batteries MUST be recharged REGULARLY

#54 derway

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 12:02 PM

Has anyone compared this to the i-torch video pro?

http://www.itorch.ca/videopro.html

Seems the same specs as per light output, and red leds.

Price is a hell of a lot less. And it uses AA batteries!

Jack Connick sells them, over at optical ocean sales.

Edited by derway, 16 March 2011 - 12:08 PM.

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#55 JackConnick

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 09:14 PM

We spent some time in our calibrated test chamber (the shop bathroom) yesterday a-b-ing a bunch of lights. I can't really discuss our findings too much here as I am a dealer and forum rules don't allow it, I think.

But anyway I would say the i-Torch is a decent light, well built and with a greatly improved light quality. Very even, but it has a hard edge that means you'll find yourself adjusting it's aim a more. Users seem to like them and they are popular.

The Solas are just so much nicer, albeit at a higher price. Very even, brighter, whiter and a soft edge that just gets dimmer towards the edge, much less fussy. Tiny, sealed and rechargeable.

My customer liked the warmer i-Torch for his video light and decided he could buy two as opposed to one of the Solas.

I have to tell you having a red focus light is great. We were just night diving at Molokini on Maui and the "sea-lice" was thick. I switch to red stealth mode and had no problems, got nice clean squid shots without backscatter.

I'll try to find some time to write a blog article on some of these lights, but there are so many now.

Jack

Edited by JackConnick, 16 March 2011 - 09:15 PM.

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#56 antacid

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 09:22 PM

I thought the i-Torch was pretty nice too, but I had trouble finding a dealer in Singapore.

Then I was sold by the small size and weight of the Sola 600. i can't imagine adding another 3-4 lbs on top of a 30lb camera rig with strobes and arms.
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#57 derway

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 10:35 PM

Yeah, the red really appeals to me.

And the itorches only way 10 oz. or 300 g versus 283g for a sola 600.

Of course, you need to add 4 AA.
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#58 JimSwims

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 04:17 AM

I'm interested in having my Sola600 refitted to the Sola600 Photo standard and have sent an enquiry to L&M via their contact form on their website
to see if it is being offered. The enquiry was sent on the 14th but I have yet to receive a reply. Has anyone one else had the refit done?

Cheers,
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#59 SALGADO

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 04:28 AM

Just another unhappy situation:
After reading Alex Mustard review, and as I was looking for one, I decided to have one.
I order one SOLA 600 at end of 2010, but haven't been able to use it, but after 2 months I decided to check it... and it was dead...
Tried to charge it all night, and still nothing.
Contacted L&M and they told me to send it to them (I had to pay the P&P), and waiting to have it replaced, at least that was what they said...
I'm waiting...
Augusto


Just received a new SOLA 600 (an updated version).
They kept what they promised.
No complains apart from the false start... Eager to go in the water
Augusto

#60 peterbkk

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 06:30 AM

Just received a new SOLA 600 (an updated version).
They kept what they promised.
No complaints apart from the false start... Eager to go in the water
Augusto


Don't forget to keep those batteries charged up. As soon as practical after a dive, charge them up. If you don't use them for 2 months, charge them up again. Always keep them charged up...

Regards
Peter