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#81 CompuDude

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 12:57 PM

A buddy of mine showed me a new focus light he's been using with great success lately, after trying (and rejecting) a number of others. It's the "I Torch VDO" from a Canadian company: http://www.itorch.ca/i-torch-vdo.html

4x AA for 1.5-10 hours, depending on the power settings. YS mount included. Push-button switch, at the back of the light.

He said it cost about $200, putting it in the same realm as the Patima light I was also considering, and in between the two big blue lights (price-wise).

I'm trying to find a US-based dealer that lists the light on their website as we speak... so far I only see a Canadian shop selling it for $295 (Canadian).

The Patima light I have been considering is the Big Bear PL50 ($225 at Reef)... anyone know anything about it? Looks a little large, but otherwise specs seem decent... perhaps comparable to the Fix 500 but $75 cheaper.

Edited by CompuDude, 01 February 2010 - 12:58 PM.


#82 Gus_Smedstad

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 07:14 AM

That I-Torch VDO light looks pretty good. They're claiming 600+ lumens from LEDs totaling 9 watts, versus 500 lumens @ 15 watts from the BigBlue and 500 lumens @ 12 watts from the Fisheye. That implies higher efficiency LEDs, which is possible since I found several references to LEDs yielding 100+ lumens / watt. It's also possible they're just exaggerating, and that a lab test would show lower actual output.

In any case, that doesn't seem all that important. "Bright enough," low power consumption, a selection of power levels, and a wide beam seem more important to me. Burn time is always going to be a combination of the watt-hours available (roughly 12 watt-hours for 4xAA NiMH, 24 for 8xAA), and the power consumption (which is why a reduced power levels are attractive, you don't always need 500+ lumens).

As you say, finding it for sale is difficult. The US sites they list as dealers don't mention that specific light, and the one place I found it online was in Hong Kong and out of stock. They had it priced at $299.

One thing that would concern me about the Patima Big Bear is the beam characteristics. The photo at Reef Photo makes it look like it has a very bright hot spot, surrounded by a dimmer beam. It's very different from the 500DX image.
Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Of course, the real problem with all of these images is that only the Fisheye photo is useful. You can't really tell what the beam is quite like from the BigBlue and Patima photos, only the Fisheye image shows it projected against a wall.


- Gus
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Canon 40D, Ikelite housing, 10-22, 60mm, 100mm, Ikelite strobes


#83 CompuDude

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 10:30 AM

FWIW, bvanant on this board is the buddy I spoke of (didn't realize he was on here until yesterday)... he has the Fix 500 as well and prefers the i-torch. Says it's brighter, as well (which backs up their claim of 600 lumens vs. 500 on the Fix). Not infinitely adjustable, but it's telling that he prefers the i-torch, when he owns both.

The I-Torch is also smaller than the Fix light, and uses only 4 AAs instead of 8. You do get a shorter battery life, however. I'm not sure what the battery life is on 1/2 power, but if it's double the full power's 1.5 hrs, this probably means a battery swap will be needed partway through long dive days, but I suspect it'll get me through most just fine... and even if you need 8 batteries total, and using only 4 at a time means you spend more time with fresh batteries. Still, for me, coming from the Fix Mini, I strongly suspect even low power mode will give more light than I have now.

I agree an updated focus light shootout would be great to see!

Edited by CompuDude, 02 February 2010 - 10:31 AM.


#84 Gus_Smedstad

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 11:24 AM

Yes, you'd expect twice the burn time with half the power draw, unless the light's power management wasted energy. If anything, it should go a bit longer, because battery capacity is better at low current draws. We know the I-Torch's draw is about 1.9 amps at full power, which is really, really high. I strongly doubt you'll get 90 minutes of burn time at full power. Even a Sanyo 2700 is likely to give you maybe 70 minutes at that kind of draw - stated battery capacities assume a 10 hour discharge. Of course, maybe the stated 9 watt (3 bulbs x 3) draw is high, but given the claims of brightness, that doesn't seem all that likely.

However, it's worth noting that you really don't need the light on all the time during a daylight dive. Unless you're shooting crevices or the underside of a wreck, ambient light usually gives you enough for easy focus. It's night dives where focus light burn time really matters, and I suspect the I Torch will probably last long enough for intermittent daylight use and a full night dive.

EDIT: deleted the incomplete sentence.

- Gus

Edited by Gus_Smedstad, 03 February 2010 - 08:35 AM.

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#85 bvanant

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 02:00 PM

Yes, you'd expect twice the burn time with half the power draw, unless the light's power management wasted energy. If anything, it should go a bit longer, because battery capacity is better at low current draws. We know the I-Torch's draw is about 1.9 amps at full power, which is really, really high. I strongly doubt you'll get 90 minutes of burn time at full power. Even a Sanyo 2700 is likely to give you maybe 70 minutes at that kind of draw - stated battery capacities assume a 10 hour discharge. Of course, maybe the stated 9 watt (3 bulbs x 3) draw is high, but given the claims of brightness, that doesn't seem all that likely.

Given how high the current draw is, I'm surprised the

However, it's worth noting that you really don't need the light on all the time during a daylight dive. Unless you're shooting crevices or the underside of a wreck, ambient light usually gives you enough for easy focus. It's night dives where focus light burn time really matters, and I suspect the I Torch will probably last long enough for intermittent daylight use and a full night dive.

- Gus

I am using the Eneloop or other low internal discharge batteries and during a trip to the Philippines, I was getting more than 60 minutes at full power and much more than 80 minutes at 2/3 power. The beam is quite broad as you would expect for video use but very usable on my Subal housing. I like the FIX light as well, but it weighs quite a bit more and I am a weak little guy whose arm gets tired shooting one handed. Both lights are very very nice, the FIX is mostly infinitely adjustable which is a pretty good trick with LED lights but for most dives, I pick up the I-torch. I used the BigBlue on the wetpixel ultimate Indonesia trip and it was also quite nice but a bit heavy too and the control ring was a bit flimsy.


Bill

Edited by bvanant, 02 February 2010 - 02:02 PM.

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#86 knyc2000

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 12:42 AM

Just saw on the Inon Japanese Website that they are releasing 3 new lights.
LE550-W, LE550-S, and LE240.

The LE240 uses only 2 AA batteries and is 240 lumen.
The default beam angle is 20, can be increased to 40 with W40 filter (included in package)
An optional W50 filter is also available.
This could be a good option to consider...

I have used the LE250 which uses 3 AA batteries, it performs very well, the only complain is the body is a bit long.
The LE240 seems to be a perfect replacement.

Chai

#87 Gus_Smedstad

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 08:54 AM

I am using the Eneloop or other low internal discharge batteries and during a trip to the Philippines, I was getting more than 60 minutes at full power and much more than 80 minutes at 2/3 power.

I have a bunch of those Eneloops - they're 2000mAh at 400ma draw. I'm not really set up to test draw over 500 ma, but I found a site testing them at 1.2a, and he got about 1850 mAh at that level (NiMH do hold up to high draw well). So 1.850 x 1.2 x 4 = 8.4 watt-hours gave you 60+ minutes, which implies the actual load is about 8 watts at full power.

It'd definitely nice to hear from someone who has used all 3 lights we're discussing. I'm halfway wishing that I'd gone with the I-torch light, given your recommendation, but I suspect the differences are minor. Especially since I'm lugging around a DSLR housing, so the difference in weight is small compared to the total weight of my rig.

- Gus
My Flickr Dive Photos
Canon 40D, Ikelite housing, 10-22, 60mm, 100mm, Ikelite strobes


#88 bvanant

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 01:48 PM

I have a bunch of those Eneloops - they're 2000mAh at 400ma draw. I'm not really set up to test draw over 500 ma, but I found a site testing them at 1.2a, and he got about 1850 mAh at that level (NiMH do hold up to high draw well). So 1.850 x 1.2 x 4 = 8.4 watt-hours gave you 60+ minutes, which implies the actual load is about 8 watts at full power.

It'd definitely nice to hear from someone who has used all 3 lights we're discussing. I'm halfway wishing that I'd gone with the I-torch light, given your recommendation, but I suspect the differences are minor. Especially since I'm lugging around a DSLR housing, so the difference in weight is small compared to the total weight of my rig.

- Gus

It isn't so much the total weight but the top heavy nature of the focus lights. I tend to shoot one-handed and I can tell the difference in the two lights by the amount of arm strain at the end of a couple of days. But both the Fix and the Itorch are great lights either is very fine. I have been doing a bunch of battery tests at various loads, I will put up a report in a few days.
Bill

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#89 Gus_Smedstad

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 06:22 PM

I received my Fisheye 500DX from Reef Photo today. It's bigger than I remember the HG20DX being. A good bit bigger. It's almost like having a third strobe, in terms of bulk.

It seemed pretty nice, and I didn't have the problem HarryM did with his copy - fairly clearly he got a defective light. It didn't seem quite as bright as I was expecting, so being nerdy, I decided to test. I did my best to replicate the test conditions described in the Backscatter Focus Light Shootout. I shot a white surface at maximum output at a distance of 12" and noted the metering at 100 ISO. I assume the article images were shot at 100 ISO - the photos are missing their EXIF data, so I can't say for certain, and the article doesn't say.

Posted ImagePosted Image

As you can see, beam width is very similar. The article specifies a white balance of 3200K, which makes the 500DX's beam appear very blue, even though it's white to the eye. I make the beam at about 20" in diameter at 12", where the article says the HG20DX is 18". However, the 500DX has a very definite 5" diameter hot spot, where the HG20DX's beam is very uniform.

I'm less certain of the metering. I did try and duplicate the article, but even a slight difference in distance from the camera will make a definite difference in exposure. I measured 1/60th at f/10 and 100 ISO. 2 stops wider implies the 500DX only puts out 1/4 the light of the HG20DX, despite drawing about half the power. I can see why the 1000DX exists, though using 8 AA's instead of an expensive proprietary battery seems like a real advantage. I can easily stock a spare set of NiMH AA's for a lot less money than the $150 price of an extra lithium battery.

I also tried the light at minimum power, and metered at f/4 and 400 ISO. That's 4 stops, or about 6% of maximum brightness. Fisheye claims 150 minutes with 2000mAh batteries at full power, so 40 hours at minimum power? I suspect less, but I'm not really interested in testing that.

What matters in practice? I've only done a few dives with a real focus light, instead of relying on my dive buddy illuminating the target with her primary dive light. Beam width definitely matters, since you can't count on the light being precisely aimed at your target at macro distances, and your subject may not be center-frame at longer distances. The light doesn't have to be strobe-bright, it's not supposed to be a source of light in your photo, just enough for autofocus to work reliably.

At macro distances, beam brightness is almost a disadvantage, since it might add a hotspot to your photo. For longer distances, brightness matters, but a bluer LED beam almost certainly penetrates water better than a ~3600K incandescent light like the HG20DX. I think a really fair comparison would be underwater, and distances of 3' or so.

- Gus
My Flickr Dive Photos
Canon 40D, Ikelite housing, 10-22, 60mm, 100mm, Ikelite strobes


#90 jugglematt

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 02:26 AM

hi guys
focus lights are an ongoing subject , for me shooting with a compact i have to say a focus light is essential.

ive had a fisheye fix48 led light for about 1 year which worked well untill a recent leak , good unit but a bit heavy , i decided to not bother with the repair (if it can leak once it can leak again )

after some thought i went for the inon LE 250 , i mainly chose this unit because of the long battery life and compact / light weight design i think batt life is around 130 mins using the enlops . ive just done 2 dives with the unit and it works well , it delivers similar to slightly more light to the ifisheye fix 48 .
i would say if your thinking of doing any video shooting or macro work with the light and no strobe , id go for the LE 550w,

hope this is helpfull to some folks

Regards
Matt

#91 tdpriest

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Posted 30 April 2010 - 04:39 AM

Why has this thread morphed into "focus lights", which are, of course, quite different from "aiming lights"?

Tim

:)

#92 harrym

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 02:15 PM

Explain the difference between the two terms.
Harry M
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#93 Nicool

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 08:15 AM

Hi guys,

I'm also interested in getting a focusing light for my D300 Ikelite housing, especially when mounted with the Nikon 105 Macro.
The Inon LE 240, 250, and 550 series look great! I like the idea of the red filter, supposed to be less scary for underwater wildlife (anyone knows if this works)?
Also, they have varying angle coverages (from 20 to 75 degrees). Anyone knows a good reason (other than price) to prefer a small angle coverage?

dive safe!

Nicolas

#94 jugglematt

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 10:00 PM

Hi guys,

I'm also interested in getting a focusing light for my D300 Ikelite housing, especially when mounted with the Nikon 105 Macro.
The Inon LE 240, 250, and 550 series look great! I like the idea of the red filter, supposed to be less scary for underwater wildlife (anyone knows if this works)?
Also, they have varying angle coverages (from 20 to 75 degrees). Anyone knows a good reason (other than price) to prefer a small angle coverage?

dive safe!

Nicolas


Hi Nicolas
i purchaced the le 250 thinking a brighter light would be too much , after using it for a dozen dives i now feel the le550 would be ok , the wide would be best i think for general photography , aiming and video work .
the redfilter really reduces the light output , but i have not used it underwater ,if you were planing on swaping filters underwater you would need to attach little lanyards to them as i think they could float away quite easily .
small angle coverage is for a spot type light ,wider is better . i think

the inon LE ligts are very good , compact , low weight . and like everything built by inon , top quality , THEY JUST WORK. it feels like a light that it built to last.

the only other decider is batt life , 60 min LE550 ,,, or 130 min LE250 ,, unless im diving at night i usually dont run my light all the time , so i guess a LE250 lasts around 3-4 dives and the le550 lasts about 2 dives .
Matt

#95 TimG

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 12:45 AM

Explain the difference between the two terms.



Hey Harry

A focussing light is aimed at the main subject and is used to help the camera's autofocus get a lock.

Strobe aiming lights are used to make sure the strobes are aimed at the area that you want them to light. This may not necessarily be the same as the central subject - think WA shots of a diver on a wall or wreck. You light the nearby corals but focus on the diver (maybe!)

Tim

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#96 Nicool

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Posted 16 May 2010 - 01:47 AM

Hi Nicolas
i purchaced the le 250 thinking a brighter light would be too much , after using it for a dozen dives i now feel the le550 would be ok , the wide would be best i think for general photography , aiming and video work .
the redfilter really reduces the light output , but i have not used it underwater ,if you were planing on swaping filters underwater you would need to attach little lanyards to them as i think they could float away quite easily .
small angle coverage is for a spot type light ,wider is better . i think

the inon LE ligts are very good , compact , low weight . and like everything built by inon , top quality , THEY JUST WORK. it feels like a light that it built to last.

the only other decider is batt life , 60 min LE550 ,,, or 130 min LE250 ,, unless im diving at night i usually dont run my light all the time , so i guess a LE250 lasts around 3-4 dives and the le550 lasts about 2 dives .
Matt


Hi Matt,

Sounds great! I'll probably go for Inon then. One last question worries me: they don't say if this light would automatically shut off when the strobes fire. Is it the case?
If not that's too bad, because it probably has a negative impact on your pictures...

#97 TimG

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 02:12 AM

Yep, the Inon light shuts off when the strobe fires - and then switch back on afterwards. It works well.


Hi Matt,

Sounds great! I'll probably go for Inon then. One last question worries me: they don't say if this light would automatically shut off when the strobes fire. Is it the case?
If not that's too bad, because it probably has a negative impact on your pictures...


Tim

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www. timsimages.uk


#98 jugglematt

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 02:23 AM

Hi Matt,

Sounds great! I'll probably go for Inon then. One last question worries me: they don't say if this light would automatically shut off when the strobes fire. Is it the case?
If not that's too bad, because it probably has a negative impact on your pictures...



Hi Nicool


the subject of auto off has been discussed elsewhere also but

i have found the stronger light output of your strobe, means that i hardly ever see the focus light in my photos except

when im shooting slow shutter , eg 1/30 or 1/15 sec with apeture wide open with strobes set wide apart

this is when im shooting deep , low light , in shadow , so not very often .
definitely not in macro / closeup shots



so in 95% of my pics i don't see my focus lights effect in the outcome ,

but in answer to your question .no auto off , but i think they are the best focus light out there at the moment
Matt

#99 Aqua_soul

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 07:04 AM

Explain the difference between the two terms.


Hi harrym, my understanding is as follow. An aiming ligth is used to see in which direction you are aiming a piece of equipment. For example your strobes. In general the lights buildt into strobes are for aiming and not for assisting the camera to focus. In most cases, should you use those lights as focus lights, you will end up with lots of backscatter.

A focus ligth is thus a dedicated light to cast light where you want the camera to focus.

#100 CompuDude

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 11:05 PM

Yep, the Inon light shuts off when the strobe fires - and then switch back on afterwards. It works well.


but in answer to your question .no auto off , but i think they are the best focus light out there at the moment

So there are two different answers here... who is right?