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Good Article about Focus Lights


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#1 james

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 10:46 AM

Hi Gang,

In case you haven't seen this article, it's an excellent piece comparing all of the available focus lights:

http://www.backscatt...rticle.php?ID=5

Enjoy,
James
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#2 SilvioMarchena

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 11:40 AM

[quote name='james' date='Jun 22 2006, 02:46 PM']
"In case you haven't seen this article, it's an excellent piece comparing all of the available focus lights:"

For the purposes of still photography:
He doesn't appear to find relevent the benefits of LEDs vs. bulbs, in terms of effect on photo subjects. I also do not understand the high merit he seems to place on beam intensity. For today's level of AF that is a non-issue. These are, for all intents and purposes, assist lights. And for that job should be either limited in intensity or adjustable.

Apart from those two issues I think it is a fairly competent comparison, but those two issues do not give me much confidence in the final opinions on each unit.

I also don't understand the importance of color temp on a light that will be overpowered by the strobe. And though he did go thru the process of distributing that info he did not make it an issue of opinion.

Of course for video both color temp and intensity are issues of importance.
Cheers,
Manaul


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#3 segal3

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 01:43 PM

An SOS mode will flash the morris code for either Save Our Souls or Save Our Ship (debatable) which is internationally recognized.


The article was good...but the blurb of history was a bit inaccurate. Morris code? :D
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#4 Arnon_Ayal

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 02:57 PM

Just one note regarding the UK Mini Q40, when using this type of light its better to diffuse the light by diffusers on the glass or by wrinkled aluminum foil, its give much wider beam more like the others light in this review.
Another issue, I'll be glad to see also some led lights in such comparisons.
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#5 bmyates

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 06:49 PM

Thanks for the link, James. This is a topic I'm very interested in. As you know, I have one of the Fisheye Fix lights. Unfortunately, after using it on one trip, I haven't been able to get it to work since! :( No sign of flooding/leaking, etc. - just won't work! It's past warranty, and I'm really torn as to whether to spend any money fixing (no pun intended) it or buying a new battery to see if that's the problem. I remember reading not long ago here on Wetpixel that someone had either two or three of them die on one trip! :( Although it seems to offer the perfect combination of features as far as I can see, I'm just not sure it is a reliable enough light to spend any more money on!

So I'm seriously considering some of the other options. I'd like to be able to use AA batteries (both so I don't have to buy expensive extra proprietary batteries, and so I don't have to carry yet another charger), so I'm seriously thinking of the Sea & Sea -- a good balance of power and diffusion (better than the other two AA-powered ones in the review). I'm not keen on most of the LED lights; I've got a 44 LED light (Fantasea I think), but don't find its light sufficient to focus with, at least not with longer macro lenses (100mm or 150mm) at night.

One question: is there any reason I can't use Lithium AA batteries in any of these lights, instead of NiMH or alkaline AA batteries? The biggest drawback of the Sea & Sea (as I see it) is only a 40 minute burn time, and without adjustable power output, that's not even enough for one night dive! Since lithiums last at least 3-4 times longer, I could get at least two full night dives out of a set...but I'm not sure if they can hurt the light itself in some way... :D

Bruce Yates
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#6 Glasseye Snapper

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 08:17 PM

One question: is there any reason I can't use Lithium AA batteries in any of these lights, instead of NiMH or alkaline AA batteries?  The biggest drawback of the Sea & Sea (as I see it) is only a 40 minute burn time, and without adjustable power output, that's not even enough for one night dive!  Since lithiums last at least 3-4 times longer, I could get at least two full night dives out of a set...but I'm not sure if they can hurt the light itself in some way...  :D

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Check battery voltages, I believe the Lithium ones are 0.2V or so less so you won't get the full light output. However, that wouldn't hurt the bulb and if it is enough light the longer duration may be worth it. Again check the info on the package as I may be wrong on this one.

Bart
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#7 cor

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 08:35 PM

I was recently on a long trip to PNG and the Solomon Islands. My wife and I both use the FishEye, we have 2 chargers and 4 batteries and 6 bulbs. In theory the Fisheye seems like a good light, but during this trip these lights turned out to be an utter and complete source of frustration.

First of all, as the article mentioned, some of these chargers and/or batteries are faulty. Not just problematic, they are basically unusable, and dont seem to have reliability as their main source of concern. Within 2 days of our 6 week trip, 2 of the 4 batteries failed to charge anymore. This left us with 2 batteries, with a 2 hour charge time each. If that wasnt enough, the remaining 2 batteries only worked in a specific charger. We couldnt interchange the batteries anymore. So if a charger would die (luckilly it didnt) we would be screwed.

We also burned through the bulbs much faster than the 32 hours (which I find a little low already) they are supposed to last. Fortunately I had also brought about 8 store bought, $2, replacement bulbs. They turned out to work nearly as good for my purpose as the original $38 bulbs, so I guess that was a good thing then :D

I was really disappointed. We met 2 other people during this trip who were totally frustrated by their fisheye lights. It's not like you're talking about a $25 light. It's a bleeping $500 light. It's such a shame though, because when they work, they are really nice. But I dont want to sit on a liveaboard fiddling with my focus light for hours a day when I want to be shooting images, I actually went back to a simple Ikelite PCa for a while to avoid the battery frustration.

Another source of frustration is the leak alarm. I think they should rename it 'humidity alarm' (and who would dive in an area with high humidity anyways?) At one point during the trip, all 4 fisheyes on board were blinking their leak alarm lights without any sign of water within 10 feet of the lights. I gave up on even looking at it anymore, and was contemplating trying to figure out how to disable it.

On the plus side. I flooded my Fisheye near the end of the trip. It was operator error. Replaced the bulb (again), was tired, went to bed, forgot the next morning that the front o-ring wasnt properly inspected. It was a full flood, with all the gore that comes with flooded batteries. (No, the leak alarm led wouldnt have helped me, as i hadnt turned the light on yet, and the leak alarm only works with the light turned on). Why is this a plus? Well, I actually got the light to work again. I opened it up (bit of a hassle), cleaned everything out with fresh water, brushed off all the goo, sprayed the small circuit board with contact spray, used a hairdryer, left it in the engine room overnight, and presto..it worked again. Now thats quite cool.

It also gave me the opportunity to take apart the battery pack and see why these things are so erratic. It became immediately obvious that these batteries are not adhering to the KISS principle id prefer for long tropical liveaboard trips. It has a circuit board inside, no doubt to support all the cool features of the light, which to me seems like asking for trouble. The more complicated parts, the easier it is to fail id say.

I know I sound a bit negative, which I wish I wasnt because really, when they work these lights absolutely rock. Being able to change the intensity underwater is a real plus. We were able to properly photograph basket star shrimp simply by turning down the intensity to the lowest setting. And the wide beam makes for real easy pointing.

if I can ever fix these battery frustrations im sure id recommend this light to anyone.

Cor
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#8 betti154

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Posted 22 June 2006 - 09:38 PM

I can support everything cor has said. I my last trip to both Palau and Vanuatu, I was able to use the Fisheye for 1/2 the fives, and then I simply couldn't charge it.

When I get home they charge again if (and only if), the god are with you and the charger base decides to engage.

Warranty and spare part support (nbamely bulbs & batteries) in poor at best too.

As cor said, "when" they work they rock.
Damien Siviero
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#9 Ryan

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Posted 23 June 2006 - 11:33 PM

While I probably drink more fix light koolaid than anybody else on the planet, but I remember the hassles caused by the light this one improves on, and I can't imagine diving without it. Ok, I could dive without it, but I'd just shoot wide angle.

Fisheye as a company has been excellent to work with. They recognize problems as they pop up, and are constantly implementing improvements. An example is the on/off switch lock, which has been reworked so that you can't lock the switch accidentally underwater. The battery issue is no exception.

In response to a high failure rate, Fisheye started testing all batteries in house before shipping. This solved much of the problem, bringing the failure rates for customers under 10% in January. They were rejecting an unacceptable number of battery packs, though, and decided to switch vendors to a Japanese company. This caused the rather long backorder on lights and batteries many of my customers have just endured. I'm told that initial quality numbers from the new battery supplier are very good, w/ 1% initial failure rates.

I've said this dozens of times, but we jump at the opportunity to replace any battery packs or chargers that aren't functioning correctly. Fisheye is 100% behind us.

Bruce, your problem sounds like a simple connection issue, sometimes caused by accidentally inserting the batteries backwards which can mash the contacts in the light. This is easy to fix.

Optional long life (100hr) bulbs are available for these lights. They are expensive, as this is a custom design for fisheye (the globe shape, frosted), but the spot tip $3 hardware store bulbs tend to have a less even beam. The longer life bulbs do sacrifice some intensity. I dive a lot, and I can't remember the last time I changed mine.

The circuitboard that Cor mentions is standard practice in lithium ion batteries, and has nothing to do with supporting any features of the light. It is there to protect the battery from fast charge rates, and regulate input voltage. This is a very important piece of safety equipment that keeps the battery from exploding.

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#10 cor

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Posted 24 June 2006 - 01:11 AM

Hi Ryan, thanks for your response. It makes me feel a little better. Backscatter has asked me to send the faulty batteries/chargers back (although this is the third time im sending them back, so forgive me for being sceptical).

What worries me is that 2 of the 4 batteries I got in the last exchange did not fail immediately, but after about 5 or 6 charges. Nothing I did after that would make it charge again. And the remaining 2 batteries often need a minute of juggling inside the charger before they actually 'take'.

I'll be sending 3 of the batteries and both chargers back to backscatter, and hopefully it'll be fixed next time.

About the bulbs. In the last 2 months alone I did about 150 dives with my camera. Id guess i took my focus light in about 50 of those dives. With about an hour average per dive, that would be 50 hours of use, 2 people, so 100 hours. We used 5 bulbs in total, with an average of 20 hours per bulb, way below the rated 32. I think I'll try the long life bulbs. While using the storebought $3 bulbs, I noticed I rarely need the full intensity. So i gladly give up light for longer lasting.

About the circuit board. Thanks for explaining what it's for. I suppose preventing explosion is a good cause :D

Regards,

Cor
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#11 3@5

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Posted 24 June 2006 - 06:02 AM

...snip...
While using the storebought $3 bulbs, I noticed I rarely need the full intensity. So i gladly give up light for longer lasting.
...snip...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

cor, do you have a reference for those store bought bulbs? i think i may just stock up on a few...
thanks :D
/paul
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#12 ce4jesus

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Posted 24 June 2006 - 06:09 AM

Two thoughts crossed my mind when reading the review. 1. Do I really need something else I have to adjust underwater and 2. Wouldn't an LED with its use of standard AA's, forever-last bulbs, diffused light, and long battery life make a perfect focus light?
Gary
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#13 james

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Posted 24 June 2006 - 08:12 AM

CE: try an LED light before you decide. I used to use one that I got as a gift from my grandma that had about 12 LED's and used 2x C cells. Even w/ that much power it was still not strong enough.

I'm about to try the Nocturnal Lights product and I'll let y'all know what I think in a short review.

Cheers
James
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#14 ce4jesus

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Posted 24 June 2006 - 09:34 AM

James,
My wife just got me the Suprema 44 for dad's day. I haven't used it yet but there are some crayfish dying for a photo op at the bottom of a freezing lake next to my house. As soon as I can muster enough temerity, I plan on giving it a try. Anyway, I'll be interested in reading your review.

Thanks,
Gary
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#15 SilvioMarchena

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Posted 24 June 2006 - 11:23 AM

[quote name='ce4jesus' date='Jun 24 2006, 10:09 AM']
"Wouldn't an LED with its use of standard AA's, forever-last bulbs, diffused light, and long battery life make a perfect focus light?"

In my view it does. The fixation with Fix lights and beam intensity is curious to me, not because of anything specific to the design of the light or it's reliability, but because it uses bulbs.

After using a Fix Light myself and then migrating to an LED it is apparent that many photo subjects are more comfortable with LED than bulb. I attribute that to heat output, but I could be incorrect on that point as it may have something to do with light properties that I do not understand. But in any case the subjects seem far less skittish with LED than bulb.

For my money LED is the only way to go and beam intensity is a non-issue. My D2x locks on focus quite well without assist, but with the gentle beam my LED projects it has never hunted in even the darkest conditions.

I would not go back to a bulb focus light for any reason.
Cheers,
Manaul


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#16 NWDiver

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Posted 24 June 2006 - 05:10 PM

Have to say my Fisheye has been very reliable along with the batteries and I have way over 32hrs on the bulb. It is my primary light when night diving with camera in hand.

#17 meister

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 10:02 PM

It appears Fisheye has a new light on the market:
http://www.fisheye-j...48dx/index.html
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#18 cor

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 10:18 PM

Wow, that looks like a very nice light.

Cor
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#19 betti154

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 10:34 PM

The list posted states that the new LED version uses the same body as the HG20DX.

Does anyone know if you have get a different head/globe for the HG20DX and turn it into the LED version?

I'm not saying I'd want to, but the idea is interesting.

damien
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#20 cor

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 10:37 PM

I definately wouldnt want to. I like the fact that it uses AA batteries instead of some funky battery that has quality control issues :lol:

Cor
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