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Recommendations for a focus light


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So I'm considering purchasing a focus light. I have a light now that I'll use sometimes but it's really just a big video light. So I'm looking for recommendations and why. I'm considering the Kraken Hydra 1500+ WSR. Also looking for something as I build to do some blackwater in the near future.

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Personally, i do not like the one-button focus lights. They overload too many functions on the single button, with long presses and short presses, which make them complicated to use.

Kraken makes two button lights as well, where one button controls mode and the other power level. These are much better IMHO.

Edited by Dave_Hicks
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I’ve got a Sola P800 which should be an excellent focus light. Easily adjustable red/white and brightness. But their charging system I find dodgy. I think they’re a popular focus light but I don’t think I can recommend them. 

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59 minutes ago, TimG said:

I’ve got a Sola P800 which should be an excellent focus light. Easily adjustable red/white and brightness. But their charging system I find dodgy. I think they’re a popular focus light but I don’t think I can recommend them. 

I had a sola for years, and after a while it became a problem to keep the charge contacts clean enough to work. They also don't have user serviceable / swappable batteries. If it runs out of power between dives, it's done. After some time, the battery won't hold a charge anymore and needs to be returned for service. 

 

It's usually best to invest in a light that has a field replaceable battery so you can carry two.

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I like things even simpler a light you twist to turn on and twist the other way for off.  You don't need anything particularly bright for macro work as you are in close and the AF system doesn't need a huge amount of light.  They don't have fancy functions such as red light or off on flash, but with the low power the strobes totally overpower them:  I have the INON torches a 330 and a 1400F mounted in their torch holders. 

 

Torches:   http://www.inon.jp/products/le_light/lineup.html

 

Torch mounts:  http://www.inon.jp/products/le_light/acc.html

 

Add a a tall cold shoe mount and you are set:

 

https://www.scubapix.com/essentials/arms-clamps-trays/mounts/25322-long-light-mounting-stem-for-cold-shoe/

 

I use the supplied diffuser to spread the beam to 60° as it makes aiming them a bit easier.  An added bonus is the external o-ring below the head keeps crap out of the o-rings and they basically never need servicing, the only chance for grit or hair to get on the o-rings is when you change batteries and you only need to inspect them.

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I've been reasonably happy with my Kraken Hydra. It's very versatile, and it's the only focus light I've been able to find that's still available that can be configured to automatically turn off when a strobe flash is detected. Not something that's necessary in most situations, but it can be nice to ensure you the focus light isn't introducing any additional colour-cast when shooting with the red light. 

 

The downside to it is that the battery life isn't very long - it only lasts about one dive if you keep it on full power the whole time, and it takes some time to charge so I bought a second battery to swap between dives.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Even if the price has grow up a lot in the last years and the quality of the buttons is getting down with each new version, me and some of my dive partners have been using this chinese diving torches for years https://es.aliexpress.com/item/1005003416026342.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.main.3.6dfb71e60NAPpf&algo_pvid=b126115e-3507-4451-b3aa-896adf429855&aem_p4p_detail=202401181233001582522761348160000439163&algo_exp_id=b126115e-3507-4451-b3aa-896adf429855-1&pdp_npi=4%40dis!EUR!112.92!59.85!!!120.19!63.70!%4021038e8317056099799656540eb44f!12000027370551359!sea!ES!2040584551!&curPageLogUid=qd6dCTn2kINB&utparam-url=scene%3Asearch|query_from%3A&search_p4p_id=202401181233001582522761348160000439163_2

They have been with me a lot deeper than 40 meters with no issues and they have been with me in a lot of trips. The oldest one that i own must have around 1000 dives. I don't believe they give the 20.000 announced lumens, but if is around 10.000 for me is more than enough, anyway I always use it in he half power. With good batteries i have done 100 minutes night dives. It never switch off when low battery, it simply gives less light. 

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On 1/6/2024 at 11:44 PM, Buddha said:

So I'm considering purchasing a focus light. I have a light now that I'll use sometimes but it's really just a big video light. So I'm looking for recommendations and why. I'm considering the Kraken Hydra 1500+ WSR. Also looking for something as I build to do some blackwater in the near future.

I use one of these as a focus light. It's pretty good overall, the red light is nice during night dives for skittish critters.  My only complaint is that if you turn it off, when it's turned back on it doesn't remember the last mode/brightness it was set to. For example I use it on low power in the flood mode as a focus light. If I turn it off, when I turn it back on, it resets to 100% power in spot mode, requiring a long press to switch to flood mode, then 2 more presses to get to 25% power.

 

I also use it as a focus light during blackwater dives, along with an Inon LF800-N 5 Degree I hold in my left hand for spotting things. I think this is ideal so I don't need to constantly change the Kraken from spot to flood and swing my entire camera rig around when looking for subjects.

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On 1/6/2024 at 12:24 PM, Dave_Hicks said:

I had a sola for years, and after a while it became a problem to keep the charge contacts clean enough to work. They also don't have user serviceable / swappable batteries. If it runs out of power between dives, it's done. After some time, the battery won't hold a charge anymore and needs to be returned for service. 

 

It's usually best to invest in a light that has a field replaceable battery so you can carry two.

What's your experience on battery life with the Sola lights?

 

My Sola focus light is going on around 8 years old and still works great. I agree with the contacts, I need to give them some love to clean them up on occasion.

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I went through two Sola lights.  Both failed for no apparent rerason, just outside of warranty.  Cost to repair was not reasonable.  Some people seem to love them but I am done with Sola and for that matter, I try to avoid things with rechargeable batteries that are not user replaceable batteries like a 18650, etc., that can be easily purchased.

 

I have had good success with the Kraken lights including the 1500 WSR.  I use red lights a lot and would not get a dive or focus light without red.  I agree that single button interfaces can be annoying, but a light that works is my first priority.

 

Inon focus lights are good, but I don't think they currently make one with a red LED and I don't really think I would want a  screw on or snap on red filter.  I believe Weefine lights are made by the same people who make Kraken and there are a couple of different models under that name.

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FYI - It is possible to replace the battery of a Sola light. If you don't mind buying an AliExpress battery pack and doing a bit of soldering. I replaced my sola battery after it wore out and used it for a year or two more. At which point I dropped it from a great height and cracked open the body. ~dead~

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I've just bought and used a Backscatter Macro Wide 4300 video light, it has a macro mode that is great for a focus light, also has a red light and you can use as a video light when you want to. Easy battery swap (uses the same batteries as the MF-2) too. I went from a Sola Photo and this is definitely an upgrade. I also used this for Blackwater this week and it was great.

Edited by Mark Chivers
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we use Solas for video and I use on occasionally for a focus light, but mostly I use a Fix Neo 1500. Red, spot, flood and you can turn it down to very low levels in 1% increments.

Bill

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