Shine a Light!


Do you remember the magic when mobile phones first became available to ordinary folk? I had one. Do you remember when battery technology advanced so that you could buy a phone that was actually hand-held? It was about the size of a brick. I had one of those too!

It was only a generation ago but if you had said then that schoolchildren would today have a device, a sliver of glass and chrome, slipped into their pocket that would give them immediate access to all the information available in the world, nobody would have believed it.

But it's now true and part of that revolution was only made possible by modern battery technology.

That same technology is available across the technological spectrum and nowhere is it more visible in diving than in the duration or burn-time available from modern diving lamps. That has been combined with light-source technology too. Modern high-output LEDs combined with the latest batteries puts a bright long lasting torch into the hands of any diver when only a few years ago we went into the water with massive lamps (thanks to the size of their battery compartments) that inevitably dimmed disappointingly during the dive thanks to the drain of their inefficient tungsten bulbs.

Today I recommend a lamp with high-output LEDs. When you look at the performance of even a simple torch such as the Scubapro Nova Light 230 Dive Torch or Mares EOS5, what it does is simply outstanding for the price. Years ago, a lamp superficially like that would have been considered nothing but as a back-up dive light in case the primary dive torch failed. Today it can be used to execute an hour's night dive with perfect confidence.

Want something brighter? A little Light and Motion Sola 800 Dive Torch will cost three times as much but it is tiny, has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery built in that can be recharged with recourse to opening up the lamp with the risk of mishandling causing a flood later, and its 1200 lumen output can be adjusted to half and quarter power while it is mounted on the back of a hand.

If that isn't bright enough, there are larger and brighter versions that deliver up to 2000 lumens of light and can be used to shoot video by. If you are still hooked on a longer burn-time, the products of FinnSub and Metalsub give the option of a separate rechargeable battery pack (that mounts of the tank, for example) connected by an umbilical cable but quite frankly, these are designed for use by those doing very advanced dives.

Remember, it's not just the brightness of the dive torch but the size and shape of its beam that's important. Luckily, it's something you can see by turning a lamp on in a less bright corner of the dive store. Always ask about the burn-time too. A narrow beam may be useful in poor visibility but my first visit to the wrecks of Truk Lagoon was spoiled because I took a lamp with too narrow a beam and missed a lot of details when in the confines of holds and engine rooms. Luckily, I had the good fortune to go again and you can bet I was sure to take a dive torch with a broad and even beam the next time I went!

Happy Diving - John Bantin