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Question about red modeling/focus light

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I'm buying a couple of the new Sola 800 modeling lights, and I'm curious if the benefits of using a red focus light to prevent startling underwater creatures is pretty universal across the various species, or if it is only helpful with certain species.

 

Most specifically, I'm wondering if the red light is helpful with pygmy seahorses and mandarin fish. Both species are challenging to photograph without scaring them off or having them turn away from the camera.

 

Also, Sola claims that the pure red light from red LED's works better than white light with a red filter. Has anybody had a chance to compare to see if this is true?

 

Thanks

 

Mike

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I received the lights today, it's amazing how compact they are and how even the beam is. I think they are also going to make my macro rig less top heavy underwater, although with their tiny displacement it might not make as much difference as I think.

 

How much smaller can they get?

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I'm buying a couple of the new Sola 800 modeling lights, and I'm curious if the benefits of using a red focus light to prevent startling underwater creatures is pretty universal across the various species, or if it is only helpful with certain species.

 

Most specifically, I'm wondering if the red light is helpful with pygmy seahorses and mandarin fish. Both species are challenging to photograph without scaring them off or having them turn away from the camera.

 

Also, Sola claims that the pure red light from red LED's works better than white light with a red filter. Has anybody had a chance to compare to see if this is true?

 

Thanks

 

Mike

My understanding of seahorse vision is that they can see colors well and my observation is that even with the red lights pygmys (Lembeh and Philippines) still turn away when the red light is on. My observation with the mandarin fish is mixed; in some cases they appear to not be bothered as much by the red light but in Ambon they were equally shy with either red or white. As for the red light vs. red filter sounds like marketing BS to me but I suspect it has more to do with total intensity than with color; observing mandarins with very dim lights it didnt seem to matter what color they were and I would dearly like to see the data supporting the LED vs. Filter claims.

 

Bill

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My understanding of seahorse vision is that they can see colors well and my observation is that even with the red lights pygmys (Lembeh and Philippines) still turn away when the red light is on. My observation with the mandarin fish is mixed; in some cases they appear to not be bothered as much by the red light but in Ambon they were equally shy with either red or white. As for the red light vs. red filter sounds like marketing BS to me but I suspect it has more to do with total intensity than with color; observing mandarins with very dim lights it didnt seem to matter what color they were and I would dearly like to see the data supporting the LED vs. Filter claims.

 

Bill

 

 

Thanks for the reply Bill. Good information. Where ddi you do a Mandarin fish dive at Ambon? We were there but were not offered any Mandarin opportunities.

 

I'm going to Tawali in PNG in January, and they have a shore dive with Mandarins. Do you have any hints to help me bag a decent shot? I spent quite a lot of time under Sam's dock in Palau and never got one I was happy with.

 

Mike

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I think one overlooked aspect of the red light at night is that the "sea lice" and other tiny worms and such do not gather in front of your lights and rig. I am able to get much better macro at night using the red feature that way.

 

Jack

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Another overlooked aspect of the red modeling light is that it doesn't affect your exposure as much. When I was using a white modeling light and manual (non-TTL) exposure, I found the white light overexposed the photos and/or changed the shadows resulting in undesirable photos. The red light, particularly when used at a low setting minimizes that and seems to make for a better-exposed image.

 

-Gina

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I think one overlooked aspect of the red light at night is that the "sea lice" and other tiny worms and such do not gather in front of your lights and rig. I am able to get much better macro at night using the red feature that way.

 

Jack

 

That certainly is a benefit of the red, you don't get covered with worms so much.

 

Bill

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The red light was definitely an advantage in Banda with the mandarinfish.

 

The downside is that everything is red in your viewfinder, so it is harder to find the critter.

 

I've not used the red light on pygmys.

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Mike, I've shot video with red filteedr light and results are mixed because some sealife can see red, especially from powerful sources. I suspect just because it's filtered doesn't mean there aren't other wavelengths. The whole red bulb=more narrow wavelengths is probably true, but whether that band of wavelength is in the blind spot of all sea creatures.

I've found red light does help with creatures like bobbit worms. Dusk/night fish tend to react less to the light, so long as it's not too intense. Good luck.

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No scientific evidence, but I had the feeling that the mandarin fish in lembeh didn't mind the red light too much..... I also agree with Jack that tiny critters do not

gather in front of your lights. I enjoyed myself switching between white and red and clearly noticed the difference. When white was on i got "attacked", while when the red light was switched on i was left alone.

Peter

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I think one overlooked aspect of the red light at night is that the "sea lice" and other tiny worms and such do not gather in front of your lights and rig. I am able to get much better macro at night using the red feature that way.

 

Jack

 

That really is a plus, I despise those little buggers. Especially when they swim in your ears.

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The red light was definitely an advantage in Banda with the mandarinfish.

 

The downside is that everything is red in your viewfinder, so it is harder to find the critter.

 

I've not used the red light on pygmys.

 

 

I was just on the Belize Aggressor boat and have been using the 45 degree finder on my nauticam housing for the d90. i have about 75 dives on the 45 but at night using the Inon Z240's red filter and 105 macro on one of the night dives made it seem just impossible to find a creature because the light was so dim.

 

So frustrating!

Yet i agree, it seems on many creatures, the red light seems to disturb them slightly less.

 

Allan

Edited by allan

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I was just on the Belize Aggressor boat and have been using the 45 degree finder on my nauticam housing for the d90. i have about 75 dives on the 45 but at night using the Inon Z240's red filter and 105 macro on one of the night dives made it seem just impossible to find a creature because the light was so dim.

 

So frustrating!

Yet i agree, it seems on many creatures, the red light seems to disturb them slightly less.

 

Allan

I think you have to differentiate between the color of the light and the intensity of the light. I believe (based on observation but no rigorous data) that many fish will not be disturbed by very low intensity of light be they green/red/blue or white while in my hands at least, I have observed that the bright red light of the Sola lights does not lead to much more friendliness from the fish. Of course that might be because I am there huffing and puffing but to me at least I am not convinced that the red light has much difference on fish. Invertebrates and worms as Jack points out definitely an improvement.

 

YMMV

 

Bill

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When I photographed Mandarin fish the red light really seemed to help, it did not startle them and my lens focused faster. - Scott

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