Jan 03, 2019
I was very excited to receive a pack of two Divepro Vision Pro + underwater torches when I became a brand ambassador. The specs were unbelievable! 15.000 Lumen with 98CRI; 160 degree beam. Battery lasting for almost an hour on full power. All of this, on a small, less-than-a-kilogram package is a dream come true. Put that in an affordable price and it maybe the dream comes true for many others.
What matters to me most, however, are not the specs, but:
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. (Update: I switched most of my underwater video production to Black Magic Pocket Cinema, so you can find some links to videos in here.)
Divepro Vision Pro + underwater torches 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 (4000K, approximately) has a similar effect as some of the highest quality strobes on the market (Subtronic, 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 4000K 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.
A first experience in the shallow (3 to 5 metres deep), shooting the resident school of Yellowstriped Scad at the Drop off, Tulamben. As I cross through the school, some fishes stay just centimetres away from the dome and torches. The light is still smooth and pleasant, despite them being silvery and reflective.
On unpredictable or big subject underwater scenarios, when distances suddenly change, the warm tone can be a problem, as you will have your subject changing from blue to yellow or red on the same take. That can be corrected with Divepro’s own blue filters (they have two tones of them). You lose over 1 stop of exposure, so you won’t have anything near the 15.000 lumen. In real close distances (under 1 meter), the yellow tone will still show, despite using the filters.
You will notice it on the scenes when the batfish are nearly touching the lights, despite heavy post processing correction and the raw abilities of the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K. Find the camera / housing review in here.
Having said so, I would personally prefer, for such powerful torches, a colder temperature (5000K “ish”). I find distracting to have a noticeable source of light on the scenes. On close focus wide angle scenarios, it can be a bonus, though. Anyway, that’s the price you pay for having a one-torch-suits-all.
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. On most scenarios it’s imperceptible, which is the biggest compliment it can get. I couldn’t be happier on this regard.
The downside is, 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. Blue filters do reduce the beam wideness, but not to a point where the light circle becomes evident.
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.
Boga wreck – laying between 20 and 37 metres deep, with average to poor visibility. Notice the transitions from torch to ambient light in the exterior shots.
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.
Divepro Vision Pro + underwater torches 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 minimises 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 also be outstanding. Buttons, like in most Chinese made UW torches are not the most sturdy, and manufacturer’s depth limits should be taken with a grain of salt (no pun intended). They will, however, hold on though a lot of abuse, if recreational limits are respected.
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.
Longhorn cowfish (Lactoria cornuta) juvenile, in Tulamben. This one shot with a 60 mm macro lens. Auto white balance it’s fairly accurate but still there is some excess of purple reds, which here taken care of, within possible, on PP. Overall, the light is pleasant, involving and the transitions are smooth.
Hairy squat lobsters, also known as barrel sponge crabs, (Lauriea siagiani), with some moray eels in between. Shot entirely with a cellphone (Oppo Reno 4 Pro). Some scenes had a a wet lens (AOI UCL-900) Either used a single Vision Pro + or the pair, depending on if I wanted to accentuate the shades, or having a smooth, involving light. A blue filter was also used, in the torches.
Also for wide angle shooting it produced very good results.
In this footage, made with old Nikon D810 camera, both blue filters were used, in different scenes. Colours rendered nicely despite camera’s limits on bitrate, which translate in not so much post processing.
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.
Pterapod-Cavolinia, less than 2 cm in size, shot on a bonfire blackwater dive, in Tulamben. Two Vision Pro + torches were used – one hang to a cable, marking the spot (the bonfire), so the divers wouldn’t get lost. Another is placed under the camera, pointing up, for focusing /critter spotting. The wide beam of these torches is excellent as the critters don’t tend to gather at the same point, and it’s easy both to focus and to spot them.
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). Charging plugs tend to get loose on the cable side. If you see the green light, you must check if its the result of a charged battery or lack of contact, by gently twisting / shaking it.
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 that much). 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 Divepro Vision Pro +, I’m keeping mine and happily using them on most, if not all, future underwater video assignments.
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.