Focus Light Buyer's Guide

Focus Lights for underwater photography - Buyer's Guide

Focus lights are essential equipment for underwater photography. Light, color and contrast are all key components of how a camera is able to focus on a subject. Unfortunately underwater we quckly lose all three making it challenging for cameras to focus quickly and accurately without assistance. This is why a quality focus light is always recommended with your underwater photography kit.

Look for a light that is small, easy to attach to your camera system, includes both a white and red mode. Many fish and marine creatures do not see the red spectrum since it disappears underwater, so a red light can be used to focus without scaring shy critters since they don't see the light. Some lights will offer advanced features such as auto shut off, or have a higher lumen rating allowing you to use them as a back up video or dive light. Choose the best light to fit your shooting needs and budget.

 

FOCUS LIGHTS FOR UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY:

Bluewater Photo 1000 Lumen Focus Light

*Versitile, Compact & Great for Macro*

The Bluewater Photo 1000 Lumen Focus Light is an exclusive focus light from BWP. It features a bright and wide white light in a compact body. In addition, it also has a red light which is great for skittish creatures. In addition, it comes with a snoot which is great for producing creative macro photos.

  • 1,000 Lumens
  • 100° Wide White Beam and Red Focus Beam
  • Modes: White, Red and SOS
  • Comes with a snoot for macro shooting
  • Double o-ring seal
  • Compact and lightweight
  • 80 min battery life on full power

Light & Motion Sola 1200 Photo Light

*Easy to Use, with Red Focus Mode*

The Light & Motion Sola 1200 Photo Light has been a long time popular standard for high end focus lights. It features quality LED's with a wide white beam and red focus beam. Fully sealed to prevent flooding with an easy to use magnetic slider switch the light is also extremely light and compact. It's a perfect companion to any underwater photo rig.

  • 1,200 Lumens
  • 60° Wide White Beam and Red Focus Beam
  • Fully sealed - no o-rings to grease!
  • Compact and lightweight
  • 50 min battery life on full power

Big Blue AL1200WXP Focus Light

*Small, Wide Beam Angle & Long Battery Life*

The Big Blue AL1200WXP Focus Light is a tiny, easy to use single beam, 1,200 lumen focus light. This light features a wide white beam with multiple power levels. The single push buton control is very simple to operate. The best part about this light is it's long battery life, 2 hours on full power and up to 20 hours on low. This is great if you dive often in places where you cannot recharge or swap batteries safely between dives.

  • 1,200 lumens
  • Wide beam angle of 120°
  • Small and compact
  • 2 hour battery life on full power, up to 20 hours on low!

FIX Neo Mini 1000 WR

*Auto Shut Off When Strobe Firing, White & Red Mode*

The FIX Neo Mini 1000 WR is a 1,000 lumen focus light with a clean wide white beam and a red focus mode. The light includes an auto shut off mode which turns off the light in tandem with your strobes firing to prevent any backscatter or lighting issues in your photo. Easy to use with a single push button and easy to charge / replace the battery along with it's small size make it a perfect companion for the underwater photographer.

  • 1,000 lumens
  • Wide beam angle of 95°
  • Auto shut off when stobes are fired
  • White and red beam
  • 60 minutes battery life on full power

Kraken Sports Hydra 1000+ WSR

*Multiple Modes and High Powered Focus Light*

The Kraken Sports Hydra 1000+ WSR is the most universal of the focus lights available. This light features a wide beam, spot beam and red focus beam. In addition it has an auto off feature which shuts the light off for 1 second when a strobe fires. WIth 1,000 lumens and a wide 100° beam angle all in a compact body it's a great choice for all levels of photographer.

  • 1,000 lumens
  • Wide beam angle of 100°
  • Wide, Spot, Red Beams
  • Auto flash off feature
  • 85 minute battery life on full power

 

OTHER USEFUL GUIDES:

 

Differences between a Focus Light and a Video Light:

What really is the difference between a focus light and a video light? They all have similar features, look basically the same and function the same, so how can you decide which to purchase. Here's a few key things to look at:

Power:

A focus light will be lower powered where as a video light will have a stronger beam. Typically the output of focus lights range from 300-800 lumens and video lights are ideal from 2000 lumens and up (some high end lights go upwards of 10,000 lumens!). There are a variety of lights in the middle range from around 800-2000 lumens that can easily double as both a focus and a video light without having too strong a light for focus, or trying to shoot video with a minimal amount of light.

 

How is the output measured? Focus & Video Lights are rated in terms of LUMENS. A lumen is a unit of measurement marking the total amount of visibile light that is emitted by a source. There is a highly scientific explanation behind how lumens are measured and the standard base for the rating, if you would like to learn all about it, please read this wikipedia article.

Beam Angle:

Most underwater photo or video related lights will have a wide beam in order to fill the full field of view of a lens. When shooting with a wide angle lens this may not be possible, so two lights should be used. For some focus only lights you'll find a narrower beam (60 degrees or less) and with video lights you'll see a wide beam option (60 degrees or more).

 

Beam angle is important not only in how wide of a field your light covers, but it also has a dramatic effect on the brightness of a light. The wider the beam, the more diffused the light power will be as it is spread over a wider amount of space. This means two video lights with the same lumen rating, but different beam angles will appear to have different powers. The one with the wider beam angle will look less powerful when shooting from the same distance.

Features:

Typically for a focus light you'll find added features like a RED light mode which can aid focusing when shooting shy critters that will hide or swim away from a bright white focus light (such as shrimps, small fish, etc). With video lights they will often be flood only, or may include a spot mode which is useful when using the light as a dive light (for signaling your buddy, pointing out something specific, etc)

Can't any light be a Focus Light?

Pretty much, yes. Any light will add color and contrast back into the scene which is what aids your camera in focusing. Higher powered video lights can often be used on low power as focus lights.

 

What you want to avoid for a focus light is a very powerful, focused (spot) beam that could create hotspots or weird lighting in your image or video. This happens when you have ambient light being recorded by your camera and is dependent on your camera settings. Likewise when using a red focus light if ambient light is recorded in your image the red light will cause a red-cast on your image.

 

If any light can be a focus light, is any light a video light? No, not necessarily. While you can use a lower powered light for video, especially when shooting macro, it limits the settings and control of the scene that you have. For most video shooters, there is no such thing as too much light and often folks aim for the best and brightest lights available. Video lights should also have a wide, even beam (avoiding hot spots in the center of the light). Beam consistency and good beam edges help create better, evenly lit footage.