Focus and Video Light Buyers Guide

Focus and Video Light Buyers Guide

 

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Bluewater's Recommendations | Differences Between Focus & Video | Brands 

 Comparison Charts | Beam Angle TestsMounting Options

 

Purchasing a focus or video light for your underwater housing can greatly improve your photos and video footage. However, deciding which light to buy can be quite a chore with the vast variety of light options available today. Here our are recommendations to help you make an informed decision and find the perfect light for your needs.

If you have any questions on focus and video lights for underwater photography please don't hesitate to contact us.

 

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.

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Video Light Brands:

There are a wide variety of underwater focus and video lights available and each manufacturer has their own special features to set their lights apart. Here's a brief overview of the different brands for underwater focus and video light options.

 

 

Fisheye Fix: 

This light manufacturer that focuses and high quality photo and video lights with high tech features.

Features:

  • Small, compact size
  • Removeable battery allows for quick changes between dives
  • Able to charge from rear of light - minimizes flooding if you don't open the light to remove battery
  • Wide 90 degree beam angle in water
  • Very even beam with good edges and minimal fall off
  • Unique digital display featuring light power and battery life remaining
  • Ability to control light level by individual percentage
  • Includes YS Mount

iTorch:

Nice, affordable lights in a variety of sizes, lumens and with wide beam angles.

Features:

  • Small, compact size
  • Removeable battery allows for quick changes between dives (most light options)
  • Some light models include a free spare battery
  • High lumen ratings
  • Wide beam angles (90-120 degrees on land)
  • Includes YS Mount

Keldan:

Top of the line, best available video lights for the discerning videographer. High quality, extremely high powered lights featuring wide beam angles and color balanced LEDs.

Features:

  • High powered - 4,000-10,000 lumens available
  • Color balanced LEDs - all lights have at least a CRI of 82 and CRI of 96 avalable in the 8M model
  • Larger light due to larger, more powerful battery
  • Removeable battery for easy changes between dives
  • Domed front port on several light versions allows for widest, clean edged beam possible

Light & Motion:

A long standing brand well known for their dependability and quality. Light & Motion is made in the USA and features a 2 year warranty which is rare to find.

Features:

  • Small, compact size
  • Integrated battery - never open the light, minimizes the risk of flood.
  • 60 -90 degree beam angle in water.
  • Very even beam with good edges and minimal fall off
  • Easy to use magnetic switch control
  • Light maintains full power, does not dim as battery life drops
  • Most lights do not include the mount - will need to purchase mount, usually $15-25.

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Bluewater's Recommendations:

All the lights we sell are great quality and will work fantastically underwater, however they each have their own unique features and functions. Here's our recommendations for which light to get and why. 

On a Budget:

  • iTorch Venusian III - this small light comes in under $200, includes a YS mount and spare battery and is very easy to use. It offers a wide beam with 800 lumens. 
  • iTorch V24 Fishlite - this light is very similar to the Pro6+ only it lacks the UV light. Coming in at 2400 lumens, with both wide white and red options for only $349 make it a great deal.
  • Light & Motion GoBe 500 Spot - if you're looking for just a great small focus light, this is an excellent option. It's only $179 for this 500 lumen light with a spot white beam. What sets the GoBe apart from other lights is the interchangeable light heads, and its versatility to be able to be used fully on land as well.

Best of the Best:

  • Keldan - the Keldan lights are precision engineered with top of the line LED's and truly wide angle beams. Offering a domed port on their lights allows for the light to maintain the full beam angle underwater. All the lights have a CRI rating of 82 or higher, and the new 8M Modular system allows for interchangeable lightheads for creative video lighting. All the Keldan lights are high end, coming in at 6000 lumens or higher!
  • Light & Motion Sola 8000 Pro - recently released, the 8000 Pro video light offers a stunning 8000 lumens. Paired with redesigned components to ensure proper functionality (a flaw in the old 4000) and a very useful digital display with lumen power and battery life information, this light is an excellent high end option.

A Techie's Dream:

  • All Fix Neo Lights - the new line from Fix Neo offers great light options with true wide angle beams and high quality LED's. In addition the lights have a great digital display showing battery life and the power setting. To add to that, users can not only change the power in increments of 25%, they can also fine tune the light by 1% increments from 1%-100% power. For the Fix Neo 2000 SWR - users also have the ability to blend the white and red lights creating a warm pink hue which can really make your colors underwater pop even more. 
  • Add in a fiber optically controlled remote for the Fix Neo lights, and be able to control up to four lights with the touch of a button directly from your housing's handle.

Most Bang for your Buck:

  • iTorch Video Pro6+ - this light is small and easy to use. It has an interchangeable battery (and comes with a spare). The light features both wide white and red beams and a UV beam! While the UV beam is not quite powerful enough for photography, its great for looking at the flourescence underwater. With all these features packed into a low price point of $439, its basically a no brainer.
  • Light & Motion Sola 800 Photo - the workhorse of the Sola light, this option includes both white and red wide beams. It is fully sealed to minimize any risk of flooding and charges easily from the back of the light. Currently on sale for only $279, this light is a definitely steal!

Pure Video:

  • Keldan 4X Video - 6,000 lumens with a domed port for the widest angle of view underwater, the Keldan light just can't be beat. Keep it simple with their easy to use control wheel for power adjustments, and the interchangeable battery allows for quick and easy battery swaps between dives. 
  • Light & Motion Sola 3000 - this light is perfect for those wanting a compact, simple light for just video shooting. High lumen rating of 3000 and a wide 90° beam angle make it a perfect, no frills video light. Light & Motion's new "Fast Charge" Sytem gets your light back to full power in just 1 hour, 45 minutes, so you can easily charge up between dives! (Go from 0 to 80% in just an hour).
  • Fix Neo DX 2500 - this light from fix offers a great 2500 lumens and wide 90° beam angle. Add in the useful digital display and full power control (change by increments of 1%!) gives a videographer a light that can be perfectly tuned to the power needed. 

When Color Matters:

  • Keldan 8M Video Light with CRI Head - this light offers the best of everything. High powered, 8,000 lumens balanced at 5,600K which is produced from high quality LED's that have a CRI (Color Index Rating) of 96! This scale (out of 100) gives feedback on how the light faithfully reproduces colors based on a series of standardized tests. For underwater this means, redder reds, better skin tones and overall more pop from the colors. 
  • iTorch Venom C92 - this 4,000 lumen light offers a CRI rating of 92, the next best light on the market for color reproduction. 

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Focus Light Comparison Chart:

Note on beam angles - these are the Manufacturer's stated beam angles. During our video light tests (in water) we found beam angles for iTorch to be the same as that of Fix and Light & Motion (stated 90° lights) which leads us to believe that iTorch measures the beam angles topside, which allows for the 120° rating. Keldan 4X topped the tests with the widest beam. To see beam angles compared, click here.

Name

Lumen Rating

Beam Angle

Features

Our Thoughts

Price

iTorch Venusian III

800

100°

White Beam

Red Beam

Small and great for focusing, also works well for macro video

$189

Light & Motion GoBe 500 Spot

500

60°

White Spot

Interchangeable Light Heads

Good option on a budget, interchangeable heads allow you to modify the light

$179

Light & Motion GoBe 700 Wide

700

60°

White Beam

Interchangeable Light Heads

Nice light with a variety of interchangeable heads makes this light very versatile.

$299

Light & Motion Sola 800 Photo

800

60°

White Beam

Read Beam

Classic, easy to use switch, great for focus and macro video

$399

Fix Neo Mini 500 FS

500

spot

White Spot

Auto Shut Off with Flash

Unique light perfect for focus only with high tech features

$249

 

Mid Range Video Light Comparison Chart:

Name

Lumen Rating

Beam Angle

Light Modes

Our Thoughts

Price

Fix Neo 1200 SW

1200

90°

• White Beam

• White Spot

Great dual purpose light for video (or focusing) and with spot beam for signaling other divers or creative lighting

$599

Fix Neo 2000 SWR

2000

90°

• White Beam

• White Spot

• Red Beam

Excellent video light, good power, wide beam and multiple features

$799

Fix Neo 2500 DX

2500

90°

• White Beam

Perfect for video with smooth wide and bright beam

$799

iTorch Video Pro6

2800

120°

•White Beam

•Red Beam

•UV Mode

Excellent tiny light perfect for focus or video, UV mode is not bright enough for photography

$439

iTorch Fishlight V24

2400

120°

•White Beam

•Red Beam

Good alternative to the Pro6+ if you want to save some money. No UV mode.

$349

iTorch Venom 38

3800

120°

•White Beam

•Red Beam

•UV Mode

Nice upgrade from the Pro6+ adds useful digital display and better button control

$725

Light & Motion 1200 Photo

1200

60°

• White Beam

• Red Beam

Very useful dual purpose light with easy to control magnetic switgh

$599

Light & Motion Video 1200

1200

60°

• White Beam

• White Spot

An alternative to the photo if you do not want a red light option

$599

Light & Motion 2100 S/F Video

2100

60°

• White Beam

• White Spot

Excellent high end video option, fast charge replishes light quickly between dives and narrower beam creates a bright looking light at distance

$799

Light & Motion 2500 2500 60° • White Beam Excellent wide only light for video, narrower beam creates more powerful looking light at distance   $699

Light & Motion 3000

3000

90°

• White Beam

True in water 90° beam angle makes it excellent for video, includes locline mount

$799

 

High End Video Light Comparison Chart:

Name

Lumen Rating

Beam Angle

Light Modes

Our Thoughts

Price

iTorch Video Pro 7

5000

120°

• White Beam

• Red Beam

High powered video light for a low price

$875

iTorch Venom C92

4000

120°

• White Beam

Color balanced LED’s reproduce better red’s and skin tones

$975

iTorch Venom 50

5000

120°

• White Beam

• Red Beam

• UV Mode

Multi use high powered light

$975

Keldan Video 4X

6000

110°

• White Beam

Best option for compact high power with wide beam and smooth light

$1,540

Keldan Video 8X

10,000

110°

• White Beam

Incredible power results in excellent color reproduction

$2,190

Keldan Video 8M

8,000 +

110°

• White Beam

• Exchangeable light heads

Unique light that offers incredible power and ability to customize with specialized light heads

$2,090

Light & Motion 8000 Video Pro

8,000

90°

• White Beam

New body design keeps light cool in water and useful digital disply gives readout of power and battery life

$2,299

 

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Video Light Mounting Recommendations:

Hot (Cold) Shoe & Clamp - This is the most common mounting option, as most underwater housings offer a cold shoe mount. Simply slide the mount onto the housing, then use a clamp to secure it to your light. Note - your light must have a ball mount to use this. For Light & Motion, select the ball mount option when purchasing your light.

 


For any light with a YS connection, make sure to add the ULCS AD-SS
to your order so that you can use the ball & clamp attachment.
 

 

ULCS Long Clamp - use this clamp in exchange of the standard clamp in the mounting option above if you have a large or long port on your housing. It adds a couple inches to your mount so that your light sits farther forward and is not blocked by your port. 


 

M10 Mount - some housings, like Nauticam and some Recsea options have an M10 mount. This is an alternative option for mounting your light than the cold shoe. Many folks prefer this because it screws into the housing and is harder to accidentally dislodge than the hot-shoe adapter is. 

 


1/4-20 Mount - Aquatica and Ikelite DSLR housings feature a simple 1/4 - 20 threaded hole on the top of their housings, use a simply ball mount from Ultralight to be able to mount your focus or video light in place of the Hot-Shoe adapter above. 

For Aquatica us the BA-HB (pictured). For Ikelite you'll need the AD-1420-IK from Ultralight Control Systems. 


YS Direct to Hot/Cold Shoe - Nauticam & Ultralight both offer direct YS mounting stems for the hot shoe mount. These options are less expensive because you only need to purchase 1 part (two for Light & Motion - choose YS mount as the option when purchasing your light). The mounting stem slides right into the cold shoe and then your light attaches directly to this light. The only caveat is you have limited range of motion for moving your light, so this is best for focus lights. 

 


Mini Flex Arm - Beneath the Surface makes a great little mounting system which also works from the Hot / Cold Shoe on your housing. Simply slide this piece into the cold shoe mount, and you have a 6" flex arm that gives you more articulation for aiming your light and can also help move the light forward if you have a large port. This is available for Light & Motion Sola mount, or YS mount lights. 

 


Hand or Wrist Strap - Light & Motion and iTorch both offer hand straps that sit the light directly on the top of your hand. This is useful if you want to have it double as a dive light, and if you do not have a mount on your housing, (such as Ikelite and some cheaper polycarbonate housings).

 


 

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Beam Angle Tests:

To get a relative idea of the actual beam angle of a variety of different lights, we did our own tests here at Bluewater. Using a large bucket filled with water we are able to nicely see the actual beam angle of the light, here are the photo results. 

Keldan Video 4X
 
Sola 8000 Video Pro
 
iTorch Video Pro7
 
iTorch Venom C92
 
Fix Neo DX 2000 SWR
 
Light & Motion Sola 3000
 
iTorch Venom 38
 
iTorch Video Pro6+
 
Fix Neo DX 1200 SW
 
Light & Motion Sola 800 Photo
 
Light & Motion GoBe 700

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2015-03-05
Get the facts to aid in selecting the best focus or video light.