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Review : OrcaLight SeaWolf 22,000 Lumen Video Light


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#1 Stuart Keasley

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 07:11 AM

Declaration of interest. This is a review of the OrcaLight SeaWolf. I don't own one (yet!), I can't rent or sell one to anyone else, I have absolutely nothing to do with the company.
 
Last month one of my Kowalski Video lights failed just before a scheduled shoot. I gave Alex Tattersall a bell to see if he had anything available that I could nab at short notice. "No problem, leave it with me" he said. 
 
A couple of days later I had a lovely surprise when the happy chappy from UPS knocked at my door with one of the early release OrcaLight Sea Wolf diving lamps.
 
Here's how it performed on the day.
 
Shoot Background
 
The shoot was in a pool based studio in Lancing, put together by Emma Critchley (http://www.emmacritchley.comhttps://vimeo.com/88790108), who was also the cinematographer, to generate a promotional piece for free diver Liv Philip (http://www.free-flowh2o.com). We supplied the camera and some of the lights, so my role was essential as hirer of equipment, I also went along for the day to provide technical assistance (and have a decent gander at the light).
 
Filming was on a Sony NEX-FS700 in an Amphibico Genesis housing, attached via SD cable to an Odyssey 7Q based top side.
 
The camera was set to record using 2K raw at a variety of frame rates (25p, 50p and 100p), with camera picture profile set to Sony Slog 2, providing ISO 2000 based on mid tone grey.
 
180 degree shutter angle was adhered to as closely as possible throughout (25p at 1/50th, 50p at 1/100th, 100p at 1/215th).
 
The shoot wasn't exactly ideal for a light test, the pool environment was dressed in black, Liv wore a dark grey wet suit, so the only things with any colour were her face and the blue shot line. However hopefully the following will still be of use, I know there are some more tests under way at the moment in far more exotic locations (I'm not bitter, honest).
 
Specifications
 
Taken from the web site, the current specifications are as follows:
 
- 22,000 lumens (no, that's not a typo)
- CRI 80
- Colour temp 5600 kelvin
- Power 50 100 200 watt LED
- CE and FCC approved
- Pressure rating 10 bar
- Battery capacity 1.5-6 hours depending upon usage
 
Whilst they have produced a fully functional unit to what I consider to be a very high specification, they are still developing and testing to push things further.
 
What's in the Box
 
The unit is supplied in a medium sized pelicase containing:
 
- Battery cannister
- 3 x Lithium Ion batteries
- Light head with attached umbilical
- 60 degree lens
- 90 degree lens
- Battery charger
 
Build
 
(All images on this section are from the OracLight web site)
 
The orca light is reassuringly rugged throughout, if you were unfortunate enough to ever find yourself boarded by pirates I reckon it would double up as a very effective flail, and still be fully operational once you'd knocked all the nasty vagabonds over the side and got back to your diving! 
 
ORCALIGHT-5-600x600.jpg
 
The battery compartment is fairly big, standing at 300mm high with a diameter of 114mm. It comprises of a single piece aluminium tube, a semi permanent bottom plate, and then a removable top plate with integrated permanently attached umbilical cord (1 metre in length as standard). As with everything else, the strain relief on the umbilical is cord is very rugged. Three Lithium Ion batteries (all less than 100 Wh, so flight safe) slide into the cannister and then attach to the top plate via decent sized and strong connectors.
 
ORCALIGHT-131-200x200.jpg
 
The top plate attaches to the cannister via two M5 allen key bolts, seal is via to large barrel o-rings. The plate needs to be inserted in the right position, then the bolts alternatively tightened to slowly draw the plate into place. This takes time and care, arguably a good thing to ensure that you've fitted the lid properly, however it's something that would become frustrating over time, especially if you are trying to install a fresh set of batteries in a rush. OrcaLight have confirmed that they are testing a new fitting method, incorpating a thumb screw and latch attachment, that will make removal and replacement of the lid far easier without negating the integrity, they will also be incorporating a connection point for the battery charger into the plate to alleviate the need to remove batteries for charging.
 
The light head is then permanently attached to the other end of the umbilical cord. The head comes as standard with two optics, providing 60 and 90 degree flood beams (45 degree and 120 degree versions will also be available soon). Changing the ligh thead optics is a simple task of unscrewing the retainging collar, removing the first light head and replacing with the other. The optics are made out of case hardened acrylic, and are about an inch thick, you'd need a jack hammer to break them!
 
ORCALIGHT-123-200x200.jpg
 
Both the battery compartment and light head have lots of handy connection points. The battery cannister has a slotted groove down each side allowing you to add a variety of fixtures and fittings, the one I used also had a stainless steel ring at the top and bottom, ideal for attaching d-rings or piston clips.
 
The light head comes with 1/4" UNC and M5 threaded holes, allowing attachment of ball heads, goodman handles and the like.
 
The current supplied charger only allows for charging a single battery at a time. With a charging cycle of about three hours per battery from empty, this is a bit of a drag. However as mentioned above, they will be adding a charging point to the top plate to allow battery charging in situ, and will also have a three way adapter available soon (which will allow charging of all three batteries simultaneously).
 
Operation of the light is via two switches. The first, on the battery cannister, connects or isolates the power (isolation disconnects the batteries from all circuitry and each other). The second, on the light head, goes from off, power setting 1 (about 6000 lumens), power setting 2 (about 11,500 lumens) and power setting 3 (about 22,000 lumens).
 
Both switches are big and strong, and moved smoothly, easy to operate even with heavy gloves.
 
ORCALIGHT-17-200x200.jpg
 
In Use
 
Needless to say, at full power, the light is incredibly bright!! Even at 1/3 power the output is the equivalent of four of my much loved but now quite paltry kowalski xenons! The light beam on both optics appeared to be nicely diffused with absolutely no sign of any hot spots. The manual (link at the bottom of this page) provides a luminosity plot for both optics showing spread and fall off.
 
Despite their size, neither the lamp head or battery cannister felt too unwieldy in the water. They were both negatively bouyant, but certainly not too much to handle (no figures on that, sorry!). For our shoot, the cannister was placed on the floor with the head attached to a lighting stand, however I'd have no issues clipping the battery cannister off to shoulder and hip d-rings and then either mountin the light on a goodman handle if lighting for someone else, or even off the camera if running solo.
 
The strength of the umbilical cable and strain reliefs allowed it to be used as a line to hand the light and cannister up and down from the side.
 
In terms of battery life, we ran the head at full power for a couple of hours (with breaks) before the light switched off. We were then able to switch down to power level 1 for another 20 minutes before the batteries finally discharged.
 
The following photos are frame grabs from a couple of the sequences. Each grab has two versions, the first showing the ungraded footage with a REC709 3D LUT applied in DaVinci Resolve, the second shows a version with a modicum of grading applied, blacks are levelled and crushed slightly, mid tones and highlights adjusted and smidging of saturation.
 
This shot was all about getting a backlit silhouette of the freediver on the surface. The initial intention was to use the sun through the window for the back light, and use the SeaWolf for fill from the side. However it quickly became apparent that the SeaWolf was actually providing more light than the sun! So we repositioned, all back light in the shot is coming from the SeaWolf. Camera was positioned mid water at about 2 metres depth, 2 metres away from the subject. Frame rate was at 100 fps, shutter speed therefore at 1/125th second, iris at F4
 
OrcaLight-SeaWolf-Shot1-ungraded.jpg
 
OrcaLight-SeaWolf-Shot1-graded.jpg
 
This is a short clip taken from the silhouette sequence with some grading applied.. all those light rays are from the SeaWolf!
 
 
 
This is a simple portrait, the orcalight was positioned about 3 metres from the subject, camera was about 1 metre off. As above, frame rate was at 100 fps, shutter speed 1/125th, iris at F4.
OrcaLight-SeaWolf-Shot2-ungraded.jpg
 
OrcaLight-SeaWolf-Shot2-graded.jpg
 
 
Conclusion
 
All in all, thoroughly impressed with every aspect, it's very close to the top of my want to have list! Needless to say, it would be perfect for lighting out in the open water, whilst the size and power would probably mean it would be better managed off board by an in water assistant, I wouldn't personally be averse to handling both light and camera myself. It would also be an excellent mid range light for studio based shoots, when budget and/or lighting requirements don't allow for a gaffer and full bank of AC powered lights.
 
 
Worth noting that OrcaLight are happy to customise to your requirements e.g you can increase or reduce the colour temperature of the light source, increase the CRI to +90 (this will reduce the overall luminosity) or increase or reduce the length of the umbilical cord. They also have a number of other products in design, as well as extensions to this light.
 
The manual is available from OrcaLight's web site at the following:
 
 
A very big thank you to Doug Anderson and Shane Newman at OrcaLight (http://www.orcalight.co.uk) providing the light, and Alex Tattersal at UW Visions (http://www.uwvisions.com) for setting it all up. Alex is the UK distributor if anyone fancies spending some money!

Edited by bottlefish, 27 March 2014 - 12:53 AM.

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#2 Ferg42

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 06:41 AM

Nice review Stuart. I've also been playing with the light in the Maldives, but didnt get as much chance as I'd hoped I would to use it. I will post some samples when I'm back home in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime I wonder if this review might get more of an audience in the Video equipment section- Drew?


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#3 Stuart Keasley

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Posted 06 April 2014 - 07:02 AM

Nice review Stuart. I've also been playing with the light in the Maldives, but didnt get as much chance as I'd hoped I would to use it. I will post some samples when I'm back home in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime I wonder if this review might get more of an audience in the Video equipment section- Drew?
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Thanks Fergus, looking forward to hearing how you got in with it.
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