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Product Review Light & Motion Sola 600 Photo

By Greg Thomms Underwater Photography Enthusiast!

The Problem:

 Who has dived at night in the hope to get cool pic’s of the creatures from the deep? We all know they are more dosile and compliant at night – “sometimes”. Who has also endlessely fussed around, trying to set their torches and strobe focus lights in the correct position, to allow their camera to focus on that Macro shot? Frustrating!! If this is you, or even if you are thinking about UW Photography, consider the ‘Light & Motion SOLA 600 Focus Light’.

I’ve enjoyed some great dives with my buddies, whom have patiently assisted and waited for me to flap around the one critter for ages. They have held torches in zero visibility beneath wharfs, and acted as spotters for interesting critters. I really appreciate their patience! But, how frustrating is it when your camera doesn’t have enough light to focus, or the light brilliance is drowning out the colour of the critter. What about that Occy you spotted in prime position to be photographed and as soon as you apply some light, he recedes into his hole never to be seen again. Frustrating!!

The Solution: 

Scorpion fish by Greg Thomms Well I’ll tell you the solution… the ‘Light & Motion SOLA 600 Focus Light’!!!

Why do I say this? Recently I fitted a SOLA light to my “Serious Image Collecting Underwater Battleship”(NAUTICAM housed Nikon D90).  After all the frustration of trying to get in focus during both day and night dives, I decided to invest in a SOLA and it is pretty cool.

During a recent night dive on ‘Ammo Wharf’ I tried a little  home grown invention, a waterproof torch with a red filter fitted. This served to keep the Occy’s out of their hole and allowed my camera to focus. The only problem was positioning the torch, and stopping it from floating away – rubber bands employed and a little wiggle here and there and it ‘sort of worked’. Again Frustrating!!

I also enjoyed a couple of dives where others already had a SOLA 600 and I got to see it in action. One dive in particular was with Lee and Joey on the Rockingham Wreck Trail. Although only a short dive (poor vis and a lost buddy), watching Joey light up the little creatures with that Red light was superb. That definetely sold me… I have found the solution, SOLA light.

Reasoning:

Night dive at Rockingham Wreck Trail by Greg ThommsI also looked around at other solutions, and listened to other UW Photographers. There are quite a number of divers fitting the light to their system. This light was originally designed for UW video, but is proving its worth as a Camera focus light. I’ve even seen it quoted as ‘dead sexy’ on ‘WA Diver’ forums… Yes it is! I actually counted six cameras fitted with this very light during the recent PUPS shootout. Functionality, chargeability, simplicity, durability, and size are the main reasons for my choice.

It is literally ½ the weight and size of other lights, and it seems to last for a long time on one charge. It is factory sealed, with no o-rings to maintain and has a wet charging point which is easy to use. More importantly is the functionality; it has a three stage brilliance white light and a red light function. Now that is cool… a Red light to focus on the shy critters.

Performance:

 I love the fact that I can dive with my “Serious Image Collecting Underwater Battleship”(camera) and still see where I am going at night, whilst maintaining both hands on my camera. During a recent dive on the wreck at North Mole, my cool diving buddy (Bel) and I dropped in for a quick dive on the wreck. We dropped down and headed North towards our destination… not to be found! The set and rate of the above swell was pushing us West, hense we missed the Wreck.  Given the brilliant visibility, we gave up and explored the weedy bottom looking for strange monsters of the deep. As the light faded to black the torches came on and we contiued our exploration on our reverse journey. The SOLA was great, it allowed me to catch out some strange critters including a strange Sole fish and Snake eel. It stopped them from tracking away or disappearing into their holes. It also acted as a focus light for my buddy…                                                                                       

Juvenile flounder by Greg ThommsDuring a recent dive beneath one of our illustrious wharves, I discovered a small Cuttlefish that was loitering beneath a cross beam. As I tried to position and focus on him and even though it was the middle of the day, I realised I could use my new Focus light to make it easier for my brilliant D90 camera to find its target. Night and day, this light comes in handy and you not only have a focus light, but you can retire your primary torch to your BCD pocket as a backup. I have found the white light sufficient as a navigation light and the first two settings provide enough light in most conditions. On finding a critter of choice it’s a quick flick back on the switch and you are in ‘red light’ stealth mode. The red light is even and doesn’t leave any hot spots… meaning your strobe light will over ride the red to provide natural colour in your photo’s.

The switch on the light is easy to use, forward for White and back for Red. To turn the light off just hold the switch in the Red position for a few seconds. In addition, the switch can be locked into the central position to stop it from being inadvertently operated.

My Summary:

 This is a brilliant light, easy to use, easy to charge with long duration. It allows you to focus on your target without scaring them off. Fitting the light to my housing had no negative effect. Even though the light is slightly negatively buoyant, my camera remained trimmed and well balanced; I didn’t notice any adverse affect. The lights small size helped it to integrate with my strobe lights and was never in the way. A small light with a big punch, I won’t dive without it!!

For more information on the Light & Motion Sola 600 Photo Light click here.


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