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Good quality dive torches; the choices

Discussion in 'General Scuba Diving' started by Wibble, Jun 29, 2019.

  1. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    I've had a failure of my Light-for-Me NW7 where the cable's broken. As usual, LfM are really slow in the support department and I'm going to need to persist in being able to get it repaired; probably taking months (it's been two weeks and no response...).

    So I started to consider my options and poked around to do some research on "if money's no object, which torch would I purchase".

    Firstly, like all projects, I need some form of specification. What is it that I Must have, should have and could have...
    • Must have long battery life - umpteen hours
    • prefer an umbilical battery driven light ('cos you won't drop them!)
    • Sharp 'signalling' beam that's bright. Something like 6 to 8 degrees. That works in brighter conditions if 'team' diving, or just looking in holes/wrecks, etc.
    • Need a wide light too. I like rummaging around inside wrecks, mines, etc. so need something that will light up the whole area. I want that wide light to work with a camera (my Paralenz) in video mode, or even stills mode. So it's got to be bright too.
    • It must be reliable
    • Given the broken umbilical cable, I'd like that to be replaceable, even if I end up changing it for a longer 'arse-mount' cable.
    • Would be nice if the torch would be head-mountable.
    • Variable focus would be nice, but just as happy with two beams
    • Should have brightness settings. The NW7 is too bright in clear mine conditions.
    So with that lot in mind I looked around at the options...


    Another Light-for-Me NW7. Did consider buying another NW7 to use whilst the other's away being fixed. But I'm so pissed off with LfM's service that I ditched that idea. I've also still not resolved my heating battery problems with them -- now in it's 7th month.

    The NW7's pretty good. I've had mine for 18 months now and like it. The beams are good and the wide one works well with video (as far as my awful photograpy goes!). It's quite big and there's no brightness setting: flat out on one beam, the other beam, or both beams. It has an annoying feature of the switch being knocked when it's 'parked' on one's RH chest D-ring, so keeps switching on when you're on the boat getting sorted for a dive.


    Halcyon Focus. Incredibly I had one of those a few months ago and sold it on. I just hate the stupid Goodman handle (which there is a proper handle replacement). I also dislike the ridiculous fiddly switch which needs a lock screw to be used. It's got a great focus feature, ultimately creating a square of light at the most focussed position -- great for signalling. The body's quite long, so it can't be helmet mounted.

    I don't like the battery. It's tiny and can be a sod to unscrew from the cannister. The charger's a yankee plug with some crappy british adapter. i.e. cheap and nasty.

    I've not played with the Focus 2 which is "brighter" than the first one. Halcyon don't use the normal Lumen measure, referring to the Lux output which relies on how focussed the beam is. I suspect it's nowhere near as bright as the LfM NW7 simply down to the size of the battery. The LFM will flatten a smaller (6.75 AH) battery in an hour; the Focus has a tiny battery and they quote 3 hours. So it cannot be as bright. I think it would be great for the diving elements of my diving, but not so good for the video/photography element.

    The Halcyon's also £1250 + Goodman handle.


    Light Monkey's 32W variable focus. In some ways it looks a little like the Halcyon, but uses a variable position of the emitter LED within the parabolic reflector. Alas this just doesn't work as well as the Halcyon's Fresnel lens which gives a smooth edge that 'grows' as it's adjusted. The LM has a blotch in the middle of the beam which gets a little larger, but not wide by any description. Definitely not of any use with video/photography. Real pity as the rest of the torch looks great. It also has differing output settings, so could be tamed for mine diving.

    I've not tried one in the water, but I would think it would be pretty good for diving.

    The Light Monkey cannister options are good and their quality is excellent. There's an excellent UK dealer who are extremely helpful - Deep-ideas.


    Ammonite torches are great quality. They don't have any video/wide beams. They've just the normal tight beam circa 8 degrees, and the 15 degree beams. Quite expensive, but good quality. I've got a couple of their backup torches which really have been brilliant -- lasted for years, work on every dive, look good as the bodies are made of Delrin.

    But no wide/video option.


    Finn Sub are another brand which are really good quality; lovely looking bits of kit. Alas no wide/video option.



    Greenforce. I must admit to a bit of bias here, but I find them to be a bit like a long torch with a cable attached. They're normally seen without a Goodman handle. TBH I'm just not keen on them, maybe they're just not shiny enough! Sorry for sounding pathetic as they're pretty modular and lots of people like them.



    Gralmarine. Have seen the odd one of these around and they do look great quality. They do a dual-beamed handheld torch "LED DUO half Video" which looks excellent. Alas it's a 15 degree primary beam which is too wide for signalling/team diving. Price is around £1250 for a 23AH battery, which is competitive.

    There's a London-based dealer.

    Alas I've got that nagging send it back to Poland thing going on -- must not tar them with the same brush as LfM. I have heard good things about them.



    And finally, there's Anchor dive lights and the "189 all singing and dancing" dive light. I've seen them at a couple of the shows and know they're based in Co Donnegal, Ireland. This light literally has all the beams I'd ever need. A wide "cold" beam -- good for caves/mines/wrecks, a "warm" wide beam which is apparently better for photography; a narrow signalling beam of 8 degrees; a "red" flood beam (not too bright) which is good for not disturbing fish; and a UV/blue light that's good for corals (I've never dived anywhere other than the UK, so will have to imagine that one). The wide and narrow beams can be used simultaneously, which is important to me in over head environments.

    The system's modular, so the cable can be switched out and easily replaced. The torch can be used with an integral battery (a-la Finn Sub). The switch also has a battery level indicator, bloody crucial if in overheads!

    When diving earlier this week, a guy on the boat had one. So I got to play with it on the boat and saw it in action on the wreck. It's a lot smaller than the LFM NW7, even with all the LEDs. It also has selectable dimmed settings and a 'memory' function to turn on in the same mode as it was turned off.

    The signalling beam was sharper than my LFM 4tec (thankfully I didn't flog it off when I bought the NW7). The video lights are free from artefacts, giving a nice even light.

    So I've ordered one. I've ordered the 'cave' cannister and the 'standalone' battery (which the guy on the boat was using) along with the Goodman handle. I spoke to Declan and got a bit of a deal -- the BSAC deal's running -- so that lot for just under £1k.

    I'll properly chase up LfM and get the NW7 and large heater battery repaired, then sell it on.
     
  2. Tribal Chestnut

    Tribal Chestnut Well-Known Member
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    You divvy!

    I’ve already answered this question for you.

    You know the answer yet chose to ignore it (sound familiar?? ;) )
     
  3. Tribal Chestnut

    Tribal Chestnut Well-Known Member
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    For serious videos get something specific, too much compromise either way otherwise I think.
     
  4. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    Scurion... lovely head torches. Can be used as standalone hand torches, but don't have the grunt for combined canister and video.

    Lovely torches though.
     
  5. Vanny

    Vanny Active Member

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    Just saying dirdirect.com good discounts on LFM :whistling:
     
  6. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    Really! I thought there were no discounts on LFM.

    Just waiting for the new torch to turn up and then I can have a good play.

    I've also bought a "tray" to hold the camera, so hopefully I'll get some steadier footage. I'll mount the torch on the balls on the top of the handles -- I'll add some pictures when it's all put together.
     
  7. Vanny

    Vanny Active Member

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    Sorry have you bought one already? I got lost in your original post above. ​
     
  8. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    Just bought, but waiting for delivery, an Anchor 189. It was playing with one on the boat last week that swung it.

    LfM are somewhat irking me with their slow support, so switch completely to a different brand.
     
  9. Vanny

    Vanny Active Member

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    Blimey, looks good , hope your pleased with it. Could’ve bought a rebreather for that :jawdrop:
     
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  10. NickPicks

    NickPicks Active Member

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    It comes with a FREE goodman handle though!

    It does look good.
     
  11. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    What astounds me is that paying circa £1k for a torch is considered cheap!

    However, having no torch (or a small backup) really shags your diving in the UK. Having a good one makes it massively better.

    What I'm really hoping for with this torch is it's very modular so I can use it as a cannister for normal diving, or a stand-alone torch for video or diving abroad.
     
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  12. nickb

    nickb Well-Known Member

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    The guys doing our photogrammetry are using two Keldan video lights at around £4k - each
     
  13. Tel

    Tel Super Moderator
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    We were sponsored by Anchor a couple of years ago (our pic is on the website :) ) and had some excellent small Series 1k
    torches that work great as a first torch and as good as a backup. Only issue was that they are so damn attractive
    and small they can easily go walkies :(

    Now looking to buy some more :)
     
  14. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    Actually an ikkle bit excited about this. I've always liked the Light-for-Me torches, but their aftersales has been seriously lacking. Admittedly the battery flood was my fault, but 7 months and only 2 contacts from them isn't good and, TBH, it's my fault for not chasing them harder.

    When I saw the Anchor 189 -- All Singing And Dancing -- torch in the flesh last week, it made my mind up. It's quite small, a lot smaller than the LFM NW7. I was also impressed by the signalling beam which on the boat was better defined than my 4Tec torch (which is 4 LEDs focussed on the same spot). The clincher was the guy had the 'integrated' version with the 35650 battery pack which was smaller than the Finn Sub. So something that's properly modular, with self-service batteries and the option of an interchangeable umbilical cable to fit to a belt-mounted battery.

    Am really looking forward to being able to dim the light too. The NW7's a great torch but it's really bright all of the time; even when it's too bright.

    We'll see what it's like as a day-to-day torch that's abused on every dive.


    I've also bought a holding two-handled tray for my Paralenz. The irony of that dive with the wrong gas last week was that I ended up with more video than ever before as I had to lurk around on the top of the wreck, not rummaging around inside as I normally would have. This video's OK, but if I had a better set of handles to hold it by, I'm sure the video would be better.
     
  15. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    The Anchor Dive Lights 189 series was delivered. I ordered the two batteries; the one you can attach to the back of the torch as a standalone torch (a-la Finsub, etc.), and the umbilical cable with the "cave" cannister.

    Pleased with the quality of the build. Seems strong and good quality components with two O rings for the torch side connections. Like the modular way its put together. There's a lot of components with it including a couple of 1" balls to connect the light to a camera. The cave cannister's a lot smaller than I expected. It apparently contains 8 18650 batteries, claimed to be 10Ah at 3.7v.

    The beams are very nice, cycling through: spot, spot+flood, flood (cold), flood (warm), red, blue.

    As the spot's got a reflector, it's got a halo around it. The beam seems pretty even, so the focus is good.

    Took it to Dover yesterday for its first outing. Was a very typical English dive with 2-3m vis and dark from 25m, so exactly the right place to try the torch out.

    Quite pleased with the spot which has a nice halo so not just a light-sabre. Will need to assess it in truly crap conditions, but I think that the dimming functionality will come in useful to reduce back scatter. So happy with the spot thus far.

    The flood beams are great. Was diving on a submarine (UC78) which has a hatch that would require cylinder removal and no-mount to get past the hatch -- something for another day :) -- so I dropped the torch with the flood beam inside the sub to light up the interior (as it's on an umbilical, obviously still connected to my waist-mounted battery. Worked really well. The 120 degree spread lit everything up so I could stick my head inside and see.

    I did take some video (not of this) which I need to have a look at.

    I'm pretty certain that the dual spot+flood will be great, but it will need to be played around using the brightness settings. Something to play with on the next mine dive.

    The warm setting makes quite a difference to what you see down there, adding back the missing red colour.

    I had a little play with the red beam. On the wrecks there were loads of blennies. I love those comedy fish with their big lips, high eyes and antlers on their heads. Blennies are shy(ish) and will run away when you point a torch at them. Given it was dark on the wrecks, I need a light to see by, so all I saw was blennies running away. With the red light on, dimmed to 50%, they didn't see the light coming, so sat there without moving.

    The one issue with the torch was the bolt holding the torch to the Goodman handle decided it had had enough of this world when I was hanging around on my 6m deco stop. It was a bit loose on the second dive and I'd tried to finger-tighten the bolt, but it's in an awkward position in the Goodman handle, so needs an Allen key which, of course, I didn't have on me. Anyway, with about 2mins to go and the torch clipped to my chest D-ring, It suddenly dropped down below me with the bolt and spacer falling into Neptune's Locker. The torch, obviously, was stopped by the cable and the Goodman handle was still clipped to my chest. Alas, the spacer's rather a specific piece of metal, so I'll need to get another one and make sure that next time I've used a spring washer and some Loctite. So we'll see what the after-sales is like!

    The torch and Goodman handle are both spotless from their first sub-aquatic outing which I hope means the aluminium and anodising is of good quality and resistant to scratches.

    All in all, I'm very happy with my purchase.

    I'll try to do some photos of the torch and beam. Would be interesting to compare it with the Light For Me torches it replaces.
     
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  16. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    And despite chasing several times, Light for Me still haven't responded to my emails about the cable replacement.

    So I'm downgrading their service and reputation to that of "avoid".
     
  17. furryman

    furryman hmmmm
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    If your're worried about after sales servicing and having to send it away, you really need to focus only on UK-made torches, otherwise you run the risk of import duty/reclaiming import duty on the shipments overseas of such hig-value items after Oct 31.
     
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  18. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    Apparently on November the first we're going to get tax cuts and more money spent on infrastructure, NHS, world peace, prosperity and any other made up nonsense spouted by that Johnson compulsive liar.

    Maybe we can lock them all in and burn down Parliament on the 5th? Oh, that was another European plot...



    At least there’s no language barrier when dealing with Anchor lights. The speed of their response for the Goodman handle spacer will be telling
     
  19. Tribal Chestnut

    Tribal Chestnut Well-Known Member
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    A very lucrative side-venture in smuggling might be viable.
     
  20. Wibble

    Wibble Fish don't talk
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    From Northern Eire to RUK?

    (RUK = whatever's left of the UK after Borixit)
     

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