I was very excited to receive a pack of two of these torches when I became an ambassador for the brand. 15.000 Lumen with 98CRI; 160 degree beam; lasting for almost an hour; on a small, less-than-a-kilogram package is a dream come true. Put that in an affordable price and it maybe a dream come true to many others.
What matters to me most, however, are not the specs, but:
- Are these torches capable of helping to shoot a professional quality underwater video (or photos)?
- On which ways (if any) could I integrate them on my workflow?
These are the answers that I was seeking, for the last weeks, and which I’m answering next.
I do most of my shooting on Nikon D810. While some will argue that it’s not the best tool for video (no reliable autofocus / zoom focus / focus peaking, only 8 bit, and Full HD), the sensor is very capable when it regards to colour accuracy and low light performance – therefore, I consider it good enough for reviewing purposes.
1. The light
Vision Pro + produce great colours even on auto white-balance, both in macro (where they are the only light source) and in wide angle (where there torch light must match ambient light). The yellowish overall tone (5000K, approximately) has the same effect as the highest quality strobes on the market (Subtronic, Hartenberger, Seacam, Ikelite) which is, producing a lovely blue ocean tone while preserving the nearby objects’ colour spectrum.
From empirical observation, purple-pinks are a bit over saturated. The led specs (find them here) confirm that, as the Relative Spectral Power distribution chart show the light peaks both at 450 nm (ish) which is a shade of blue and at 560 (ish) nm, which is a tone in between the red and the orange. Put those together and you have the pink-purple tone. It’s almost unnoticeable in the shallow (where, in fact, it adds some nice popping saturation) but unpleasant at low light blue depths (below 25 / 30 metres, where it’s very noticeable and looks unnatural). This is not a problem by itself, as it can either be solved on PP, or in camera by choosing 5000K white balance and then removing the excessive purples with the green / purple slider (assuming your camera has it). Overall, there are more circumstances where that’s beneficial than inconvenient.
The 160º circular beam is a dream to work with, specially if using ultra wide angle or fisheye lenses. There is no worries with the transitions (which are always smooth), nor with unwanted shadows, bright or dark spots . That’s the kind of torch, one often doesn’t realise it’s there, by looking at the footage, which is the biggest compliment it can get. I couldn’t be happier on this regard. The downside one can’t prevent backscatter by changing its orientation – (something we often do with strobes and with narrower beam torches). Also, in a confined room (like the ones on the shipwreck from the video below) there will be probably too much light on the walls. That can be dealt with by, carefully planning the shooting angles. On the contrary, approaching and shooting a school of fish in the blue, is much easier than with any other torches I used.
This is part of the beam itself but now we’re looking at the front, not to the sides – again, that was a good surprise. The advertised 15.000 lumen easy penetrate over 3m of dark blue water, at 25m+ deep. They to it smoothly and pleasingly with a nice transition from the blue tones to some green, until it gets the full spectrum, under one metre distance.
I cannot tell if the 15.000 are absolutely true, but these torches to a fantastic job on keeping the ISO within acceptable levels for full frame shooting at reasonable distances, specially when using a 15mm Sigma Fisheye lens.
2. Design and handling
Vision Pro + are relatively small (19 cm) and light (over 800 grams) when seen on paper, which seem to be good news. The straight front glass is much less prone to hitting and scratching than a curved tome, which is very good. Bravo, for the glass design!
However, in reality, the small size means they are very negative underwater (the manufacturer advertises only 350 grams, though). That, combined with the ball mount, just 3 cm from the front, makes them really rear heavy. They put a lot of stress on the arms, specially if shooting wide-angle, which seems to be the main purpose of these torches. A rotating ball mount on the battery itself would minimise the problem. Also the on / off power button is opposite to the ball mount meaning that often it will be out of sight. It’s very hard to check battery power, as the display is a ring around the button which changes colour as the power is spent (blue, from 100% do 60%, green from 60% to 20% and red below that). (Note: Divepro later communicated they are currently offering it with a rotative ball mount in the battery, as suggested so it won’t be a problem if you grab this model.)
These torches have two modes 15.000 and 4000 lm selected by repeatedly pressing the button. Stepless mode can be adjusted by continuously pressing it. I didn’t find it very useful, firstly because it takes too much time (the subject would be gone by the time you succeed), secondly because there is no indicator on the amount of power used, so it’s impossible, in practise, to match two torches. A visible slider with a light indicator would be much better. A remote control solution would be outstanding.
3. The uses
So far, I’ve successfully used them as the only light source for macro video shooting, and loved it. Check the videos below on different size creatures and techniques.
Also for wide angle shooting the produced very good results.
Finally I’ve used them for setting the “bonfire” and for focus light on black water dives. The wide and soft beam is outstanding to keep the little critters around without concentrating them in one spot.
Vision Pro + comes with a battery cap and a charger. At first I ignored the cap and an insect caught fire after landing on the battery contacts. Do use the cap to prevent it! You should unplug the charger after finish charging. If you plug it while disconnected to the main power source the green led lits. That means the battery is powering the charger. I cannot tell how long does it take for the charger to discharge the battery but one must remember not to leave them plugged if on live aboard boats or places where the electric current is not always on. Charging time is not advertised and, so far, I could not measure it accurately. I believe it’s over 3 hours, though.
Running time seems to be accurate (check the specs, below)
5. Summary: the good and the bad
- The colours (CRI – Colour rendering index) and temperature.
- The beam and light penetration.
- The optics design.
The “not so good”:
- The ball mount location (the newer model will be offered with a rotative ball mount on the battery).
- The button / indicator location and the way it controls the features.
- The battery contact design.
Some years ago, only high budget, professional, productions could have this sort of Under Water light solutions. Now everyone can have them as they are small, reliable and affordable. Jaunt / Divepro made a fantastic product which works and can be an essential creative working tool for under water video shooting (and stills too, though I didn’t test it). It’s still not perfect and I believed it will be improved. The way it is, with a price of US$1630.9, it’s a steal. (I remember paying US$600 for a 2500 lumen torch with mediocre CRI, not so many years ago. As for the Vision Pro +, I’m keeping mine and happily using them on most, if not all, future underwater video assignments.
Specs (according to the manufacturer):
- Led: CREE CXB2530 LED
- Colour temperature: About 5000K
- Colour Rendering Index: CRI98
- Runtime: 15.000 LM High: about 55 mins / 4000LM Middle: about 190 mins / 150 LM Low: about 100hrs.
- Output levels: High > Low (Stepless dimming and Memory function) – Quick Flash S0S (Double press.)
- Lens: Optical Lens
- Switch: Waterproof Button
- Body material: Durable aircraft-grade aluminium
- Angle of light beam: 170º in air / 160º in water.
- Surface Treatment: Premium type III hand – anodizing
- Body Colour: Black
- Battery: 14.8V ~ 51.8 WH Samsung 3500 mAh battery pack (built in battery pack)
- Waterproof: IPX-8, 100 Meters underwater: 350 grams (with battery pack)
- Dimensions: 189mm (L)* 51mm (dia. of body)* 65mm (dia. of head)
- Weight: 815 grams (with battery pack); Underwater:
- Protections: Short-Circuit, Over-Charge, Over-Discharging, Low-Voltage, High-Temperature
- Impact resistance: 1.5 meters
- Package list: 1*Vision Pro+ Light + 2*O-rings + 1*Battery Charger + 1*Internal Battery Pack + 1*User Manual
- Price: US$1630.9 (There may be discounts for big quantities and dive instructors. Please ask Divepro for a quotation.)
Geeks may want to peep into the led’s own specs: https://www.cree.com/led-components/media/documents/ds-CXB2530.pdf
Find more about Divepro UW torches in here.