Light & Motion Sola 15,000 Pro Video Light Underwater Review
The Top Professional Underwater Video Light from Light & Motion Impresses with a Powerful, Wide Beam
If you shoot underwater video, then it's no secret that you wish you had more light. Whether it be a sunny day or an underwater video light, more light allows videographers to take full advantage of their camera's sensor to produce the most detailed recording possible. Without a good source of light video can become noisy and in the case of underwater shooting, washed-out and blue or green. Video lights are the best option for underwater videographers that want the most vibrant colors, best contrast, and sharpest details. And if you need the best video lights, than look no further then the Light and Motion Sola 15,000 Pro Video Lights. They are the top, most powerful devices in the Sola lineup and we had the pleasure of taking two of them for test dives in cold, dark waters badly in need of some good lighting. The Sola 15,000s have been updated with a few new features that make them an even more tantalizing light for professional video shooters - especially wide-angle video shooters and those that need a hybrid topside and underwater light.
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U.S. MSRP: $1,499.99
Light & Motion Sola 15,000 Pro Video Light
Interested in learning more about video lenses? Check out this list of the best video lights for underwater photography.
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Our Full Sola 15,000 Pro Video Light Video Review Will be Released Shortly. In the meantime, please enjoy this footage recently captured with the upgraded Sola 15,000 and the Sony A7S III:
Sola 15,000 Pro Video Light Specifications
- 15,000 lumens of output on high power
- Beam Angle of 115 degrees
- Official Runtimes: 40 minutes on high output (15,000 lumens), 65 minutes on medium output (7500 lumens), and 900 minutes on low output (500 lumens)
- OLED Dashboard Display to monitor lumen out, charge percentage, and available runtime
- Watertight seal - no orings to lube before each dive!
- Charge time of 1 hr 45min with fast-charge technology
- Color Temperature of 5000K
- Includes a ball mount
- Depth rating: 100m
- Impact Resistance: 1m
- Weight: 984 grams
Build and Ergonomics
Like all Sola lights, the Sola 15,000 is a solid light and relatively compact for its output ability. That being said, it is heavier than other sola lights and is about the size of a strobe at 984 grams. We recommend using a full arm and clamp system to attach this light to your rig. It's a bit heavy for being attached to the top of a system, though we did that to shoot macro. In the hands, the light feels indestructible. It can withstand a 1 meter drop and is environmentally sealed. You don't need to open any part of this light or lubricate any orings. Just make sure you dry out the contacts before you charge the light, and give it a good freshwater rinse after each use. Make sure you move the switches when you rinse.
The light has an on/off switch which makes it really easy to turn on and off. To control the power level all you have to do is pull or push the power switch once and it will turn on. Then you can slowly move the power up or down by holding the power switch. Or you can move quickly through power levels by quickly pushing the switch up or down. The power switch is equipped with a lock that keeps the light safe from turning on while traveling with it. There is also an SOS mode in case you get in trouble in the water and need to alert your buddy or someone at the surface. One downside that we did note was that the power switch sometimes doesn't respond immediately when you push it forward.
The OLED display panel on the back of the light is very useful to keep track of your light when shooting underwater. It displays the current lumen level, the % battery power, and the runtime left.
The Sola 15,000 has an improved frosted front dome that acts as a slight diffuser, providing a wider beam angle of 115 degrees. It's a very sturdy dome and suffered no scratching or noticeable damage during our dives. In fact, the whole body of the light took strong current and surge like a champ - even when getting out of the water on rocky shores.
Overall Beam Quality
The Sola 15,000 produced an ideal beam for wide angle video. At 5000 kelvin, it features a fairly neutral color temperature that's slightly on the cooler side. We liked the color it produced. The beam is, of course, a whopping 15,000 lumens. And that sounds like a lot of power, but the beam angle is also 115 degrees. This means those lumens are evenly dispersed over a wider area. It's still an extremely powerful light, but if you're a serious wide angle video shooter, take a hard look at the Sola Advanced Kit with two Sola 15,000s. A combination of the wide beam and high power is absolutely ideal for wide angle video. Macro shooters will get more than enough light from one Sola 15,000 and will likely shoot at much lower powers than 15,000. That being said, this light is a great option for macro shooters because of the extremely long run time at lower power. We felt the beam was also great for taking photos and due to the wide, even dispersal, we did not get much backscatter in our photos. We noticed absolutely no hotspots in the beam - it's even and beautiful.
Runtime and Charging
Sola 15,000 for Underwater Video
The Sola 15,000 Pro Video Light is Light & Motion's top underwater video light. We highly recommend it for any serious underwater video shooters. Beyond the excellent ergonomics and compact form factor, the beam quality from the light is beautiful. For wide angle video shooters, there aren't many other options on the market that are better at this lumen output. Other competitors will not perform at a high lumen output for the duration of the life of the battery. Instead, they often lower in output over time. So if you need consistent performance, the Sola 15,0000 is the light for you. Macro underwater video shooters don't necessarily need that much light or a super wide beam angle. However, the massive benefit of the Sola 15,000 is the battery life at lower power levels. For example, at 2500 lumens, which is plenty for a lot of macro video, this light lasts 180 minutes. That's right - three hours!
Dual Sola 15,000 Pro Video Lights on the Sony A7S III
Sola 15,000 for Underwater Photography
The Sola 15,000 is one of the few video lights that we could potentially recommend for underwater photo - macro and wide angle. However, even with two Sola 15,000s we needed to shoot at ISOs around 640 to get good shutter speeds and apertures when shooting wide. Also keep in mind that at 15,000 lumens, you only get 40 minutes of output. But the benefit of shooting with video lights is that there are no longer recycle times, so you can shoot burst modes to your heart's desire. One final thing to keep in mind is that fish tend to be afraid of constant lighting at 15,000 lumens. So you will need to learn how to turn on the lights quickly and turn them off quickly to minimize scaring fish.
The Sola 15,000 is even powerful enough to take beautiful wide angle photos with great color while looking towards the sun. This photo of a wolf eel was taken with dual Sola 15,000 video lights, a Sony A7S III camera, Ikelite A7S III housing, and Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens.
The Light & Motion Advanced Kit sold at Bluewater is an awesome deal that includes two blue filters and two Sola 15,000 video lights. The blue filters are for a very specific purpose. If you want the best lighting in tropical blue water, especially with pelagic species, then you can attach the blue domes to your lights. This will allow you to do a custom white balance on your camera where the color temperature of your lights and ambient light is roughly the same. The resulting effect is accurate, even color with the light doing nothing more than illuminating detail and producing contrast in the scene.
The Light & Motion aquaterra kit allows you to adjust your Sola 15,000 video light for both topside and underwater usage! This vastly expands what you can do with your videography, and is especially great for nature photographers and videographers who need versatility above and below the water. With the aquaterra kit your light won't overheat above water.
- Lots of output (up to 15,000 lumens)
- Real time monitoring with OLED display
- Wide beam angle
- Long runtime at lower power
- Charges in 1hr 45 minutes
- 40 minute run time at 15,000 lumens
- Sometimes the power level switch doesn't respond immediately when you push it forward to turn the light on
After multiple days of diving with the Sola 15,000, we have been thoroughly impressed with the beauty of the beam, the ruggedness of the build, and the ease of the ergonomics. Wide angle video shooters finally have a powerhouse they can rely on to produce amazing, colorful underwater scenes. Macro video shooters have a machine that will allow them to record as long as they need. The only real downside of the light is the 40 minute runtime at 15,000 lumens. But even that is an improvement from the previous version of the light. So if Light & Motion keeps focusing on their R&D with this light, as they have been, we have a feeling that we'll see even better specs in the future. All in all, if you need the best performing underwater video light that Light & Motion has to offer, the Sola 15,000 is it.
Another wide angle photo take with dual Sola 15,000s!
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Feedback from using the Sola 15,000 underwater
"After using the Sola 15,000 light on several dives for both stills and underwater video, I can say that the light is truly a joy to use. Traveling with the light was easy, underwater it was simple to turn on and off as needed, as was controlling the power. The other divers at the resort simply referred to it as "the sun". The quality and evenness of the light was pure white and beyond perfect." - Scott Gietler
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