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Choosing the light - Great video light with option to make good photos

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Hi guys,

 

I decided to buy Panasonic GH2 with Nauticam Housing and now I am in process to select the right light for me. First of all - 80% of use of GH2 is for video, I just love to shoot video and make some clips . I like to make wide angle shots and also macro.

 

I came to videography from uw photography, so I also *love* to make some nice photos. I know, it is not possible to make both in 100%, but I just want to get as much as possible from my setup. So the question is:

 

Which video light you would choose, to make great videos and good photos ?

 

First of all, I know, I can not make perfect pictures using video light comparing to strobes (Z240/D2000/S2000). From all, what I read till now, the really great video lights are:

 

- Light and Motion Sola 4000

- FishEye Fix Aquavolt 3500 (thanks to Davide for nice review) - also they got 5000 version

- Keldan Luna 8 LA-V High CRI LED Video Light 2012 - quite expensive, very powerful

- SeaLife SL980 (I am putting it here only because they state it is video AND photo light)

 

The best would be to find the video light which got option for flash. Any recommendations ?

 

Thanks

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Choosing and using an underwater video light is, in a way, getting more complex as the choice of products available increases. A few years ago the choice was limited to a handful of very expensive HID designs...now seems that more and more manufacturers are offering some sort of LED light. That's just the point..."some sort of LED" light. The choice becomes even more involved for the photographer (like myself) who wants to take stills as well as video during the same dive, without doubling up on strobes and LED lights.

 

It's a personal choice but by way of guidance I will just make several points:

 

1) Google is your best and unbiased friend...see what's out there, check out the specs/prices/knowledge of subject shown in the manufacturer's website. Make a shortlist of possible alternative products that interest you. Don't be shy about emailing the manufacturers with any technical questions you might have.

 

2) Compare apples with apples...not with oranges. Compare different units of similar true power output...i.e. 4000/5000 @ THE SAME UW BEAM ANGLE (e.g. 120 degrees or 80 degrees).

 

3) Consider battery design and safety (and Airline regulations for carry-on or shipping in different regions).

 

4) Price/value for money. The days of overpriced but underperforming product is rapidly ending. A very good LED video light shouldn't cost much over $1500 these days. (compared to the $3000 HID's of several years ago).

 

5) Since LED is really the only way to go...how up to date is the LED emitter technology (particularly in terms of Lumen per Watt output and video desirable Chromaticity characteristics). This can vary enormously...from 160 Lumens per Watt (CREE XM-Ls) to abysmal, sub 100 Lm/W (cheap emitters). The latter is actually more common (the more emitters, the less efficient is a reasonable assumption)...even in some expensive lights currently on the market. Again, email the manufacturer about this if their website doen't give relevant specs. 250 Lumens per Watt has already been demonstrated by CREE and should be available to manufacturers in the near future. Expect 8000 Lumen compact lights to become common and affordable in the next year or two.

 

6) How functional is the design for real world use? Interchangable batteries? Double O-ring sealing? Field repairable? Switch ergonomics? Bouyancy characteristics?

 

7) Do they actually go out and use their own products :)

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I like the Fisheye 3500s and the new 7000s - the 5000s have been discontinued and mine were replaced FOC by Fisheye with the 7000s, kudos to Fisheye. The remote control facility is going to be really useful especially as I intend to mount the 7000s out of arms reach...

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Which video light you would choose, to make great videos and good photos ?

 

 

 

First, make sure whichever light you buy has enough coverage for the widest lens you plan to use.

 

For photography, you need the most powerful light you can find. Even that won't come close to the intense blast of a strobe but, if you can get a really bright video light, it'll work for some close-up and close-range photographs. But, remember the big difference is timing. A strobe fires for a tiny fraction of a second (e.g. 1/10,000), freezing all movement. Using a video light, the light will be on for the entire shutter opening. If you are using say 1/60th of a second, a lot of movement (i.e. blurring) can occur in that time. Good for nudibranchs; Hopeless for tuna...

 

Regards

Peter

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First, make sure whichever light you buy has enough coverage for the widest lens you plan to use.

 

For photography, you need the most powerful light you can find. Even that won't come close to the intense blast of a strobe but, if you can get a really bright video light, it'll work for some close-up and close-range photographs. But, remember the big difference is timing. A strobe fires for a tiny fraction of a second (e.g. 1/10,000), freezing all movement. Using a video light, the light will be on for the entire shutter opening. If you are using say 1/60th of a second, a lot of movement (i.e. blurring) can occur in that time. Good for nudibranchs; Hopeless for tuna...

 

Regards

Peter

 

That's true, but in reality motion blur is just as much a problem with strobes...unless there's very little ambient light. If there is a reasonable amount of ambient light a rapidly moving subject could still result in ghosting due to one image being exposed by the flash...and the other still being exposed by the open shutter after the strobe light has finished.

 

A powerful LED video light comes close to the output of a medium sized strobe these days.

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Hi guys,

 

thanks for help, I did my homework and made a little list of ~4000 Lumens lights (LED). If I didn't put some light into list - let me know.

 

From the list I can remove Mangrove VC-4L6 and SEASTAR LED 4000 they are quite heavy for traveling, but Mangrove got very good price.

 

So there are 3 lights left, all of them are very similar:

Keldan Luna 4V - reviews are good, 5000 maybe 5500 kelvins is really nice.

L&M Sola 4000 - got "air" mode, 6600 kelvins - so light is little bit more "cold", one can see power of light

 

Fisheye FIX Aquavolt 3500 - 115 angle comparing 90 angle of previous, 6500 kelvins, can fine-setup the output level, just 498grams, which is hard to believe

 

It is hard to decide, I like Keldan, because of warm light comparing others two, Sola 4000 is nice because of "air mode", Fisheye for its angle - but quite cold light.

 

It would be much more easier to decide, if there is some video light, which would work as a strobe also...

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If canister lights are a possibility, you may like to consider these - http://light-for-me.com/index.php/en/ I've seen these first hand as the range of lamps is dispalyed at my local dive centre; NDAC, Chepstow, UK. They are very good...

Edited by Timmoranuk

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@HAK, I dont want HID lights - I think LED is the way now, I think there are also quite heavy and there is not much technical specs on website such as how many power positions they got and so on, I didn't see any review.

 

@Timmoranuk I am not sure, which lights you mean, I didn't find any video lights around 4000 lumens there

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2ge:

 

You can always send a email to them. I called once: it's quite wide angle about 140 degrees if I remember right.

 

The battery is heavy, but then you do not need so much weights and you can locate it with your belt or tank. The actual lamps are light ==> good for the arms.

 

It is very similar than Lightmonkay / SALVO.

 

But it's anyway your money ...

 

I also prefer LEDs but my wallet prefers HIDs.

 

Tec info from the web side:

Dimensions 28 × 8,6 cm Burn time (h)

~2 Voltage (V)

11,1 Depth rating (bar)

14 Color temperature (Kelvin)

6000 Capacity (Ah)

20,4 Light Intensity (lumen)

10 000

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I bought the Mangroves several weeks ago and they are great. A lot of light for a 'sort of' competitive price. I have cables on my lights and housing, so these are great.

They are very well made. Stay away from cheap rubbish like the Bonica lights. Poor quality and bad service.

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This thread is similar to this :)

 

I use two Fisheye Aquavolt 3500 for video: Gorgeous...

Paying great attention to arms position they cover the entire FOV of a Lumix 8mm fisheye (on 2x 20cm nauticam arms).

On the 7-14mm there no problem and actually I keep my arms nearly close because they are too wide.

 

Anyway for photo use I agree with Peterbkk, other things must be taken in account.

 

PS

 

On photos I'm a noob :) What is the lumen output in that fraction of a second of an average strobe at maximum power?

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I use 2 Subtronic Fusions. These are combined switchable flash/video lights with quite enough power:

 

- flash 2 x 160 joules

- video lights LED: 2 x 2800 Lumens = approx 2 x 40 Watt, beam 2 x 110 degrees.

 

http://www.subtronic...mid=143&lang=en

 

The "shortage" here is the battery power supply. However, with 2 x 2.4 Ah and shooting not continuously in video mode, I seldom ran out of power supply during a regular 1 hour dive. And it doesn't come cheap.

 

In addition, I keep a Keldan Luna 4V on top/in the middle of the housing which comes with another 4000 Lumens.

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Can some techy dude fill me in on the relationship between watts / lumens / joules,

 

Without going too technical...

 

Watt/Joules/CV measure the power. We could say the current drawn by the lamp/light emitter

 

Lumen/Lux measure the light intensity which is the real important value.

 

In the old age of simple incandescent lighting, watt and lumen were used indifferently just because a given X watt buld would emit the same light.

But actually they are apples and pies.

 

Nowadays we have HID, LED and the above approximation doesn't make sense anymore.

A bulb will emit a portion of light and a portion of heat. A Led is very efficient that means that with the same power (current drag) is capable of emitting far more light. Where does it go the remaining energy? Heat.

 

I hope I was clear with my basic English :)

 

Bye

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Keep one thing in mind:

1000 Lumen is not necessary the same bright as 1000 lumen of another lamp or used with another reflector.

I see that some manufacturers use the lumen of the LED and not of the light emitted by the lamp.

My 180 Lumen 10° focus light on the Z-240 is - because of it's 10° beam - brighter than my 4000 lumen 120° Mangrove video ligh.

Unfortunately there is no standard test for dive or video lights to provide a valid and useful tool for comparing the effective light output,

like th GN for strobes, even if some manufacturers use their own values like Watt/Seconds or Jule.

The German dive magazine "Unterwasser" made a big test of dive lights with staggering results:

- only L&M Sola 1200 reached their advertised power, well 2% lesser

- Hartenberger did not advertised the power, thus not a liar and their lamps are of legendary quality and engineering

- the rest had between 40-66 % lesser lumen than advertised

For any German speaking persons, the test can be found here: http://www.lightando...m/wattluege.pdf

 

Chris

 

P.S.

In any case, a video light may work for macro and/or night dive or low light ambients,

but a strobe is always much more powerful.

Edited by ChrigelKarrer
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ChrigelKarrer, thanks for info, and others too. In the end I decide to buy 2xL&M Sola 4000, one of the reason was safety in plane. I am also happy L&M advertise what they sell and I take this company as "big" brand name in business, Keldans are great for sure too, and FY Aquavolt also. It was hard decision, and as I wrote - I just bought L&M because of that safety lock, I am pretty sure, all of them are great.

 

So it is time to shoot something nice!

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Good choice, i am sure you will be happy with them.

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I just sold a friend's Keldans for him this week. I posted in the classified section and they sold the next day. I also use the Keldans and love them. I have reviewed both the 4's and 8's and like that they have a very long burn time, are extremely well built and designed and are self contained. People who use the Sunrays seem to complain a lot regarding the burn time not being as advertised.

I do think that too many companies make too much of a big deal regarding the lumen output. The L & M HID lights burned at 997 lumens which was equal to their later model LED lights set on the medium setting. I still have a pair but haven't used them for years. They were fine lights but a bit too cool of a color temp for much of my night shooting. With the LED 2000s for macro, it was too much so I used to go down to 500 lumens for tight shots. Regardless, I know of no light that will have a significantly longer throw than any other light.

Look for a nice even spread of light without hot spots and a daylight color temperature that is not too cool for night work.

Edited by Steve Douglas

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