Appeared in DIVER January 2008

John John Bantin has been a full-time professional diving writer and underwater photographer since 1990. He makes around 300 dives each year testing diving equipment.


MY 10-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER habitually wears a head-mounted lamp to read a book when she should be sound asleep in bed. Cave-divers are often seen attaching lamps to their heads or to their helmets. It leaves them hands-free, yet they can still see where theyre going.
It sounds like a good idea, doesnt it There are, however, a few good reasons why most scuba divers dont use head-mounted lamps.
Cave-divers are a solitary bunch. A buddy to them is someone who ferries extra tanks to base-camp while they forge ahead further into
a cave system. They rarely meet their buddies under water, but if they did they would dazzle each other with their lights as soon as they looked at each other.
Fresh water in caves tends to be uniquely sterile. This can afford a degree of visibility so clear it must be seen to be believed, but seawater is anything but sterile. Even the clearest is loaded with zooplankton and phytoplankton.
This is attracted towards the surface during daylight hours, and at night it is drawn to a light like a million moths to a candle. Have that swarming around a light by your eyes, and it could feel like swimming through a goldfish bowl full of daphnia.
Those little red worms that spiral through the water towards your light seem to be particularly fascinated by me. Ughh!
The diminutive S-Sun LED lamp features a head mount and an alternative mask-strap mount that cantilevers the lamp away from your head. Its adjustable for tilt as well as rake and, as every underwater photographer knows, getting light away from the optical axis of the viewing lens, in this case your eyes, means less detritus and plankton lit up in your field of view.
Otherwise you can simply strap the lamp to your wrist or grip it in your fist, using the wrist-mount like a soft version of a Goodman handle.

Light Source
The five LED light sources each has its own reflector and lens, and although this diving light is not really bright enough to be used as a primary, it is very useful to a photographer who might otherwise have his hands full on a night-dive, yet needs to see where he looks rather than where his camera rig is pointing.

Power Source
The S-Sun lamp is powered by two AA batteries, contained within it and protected from water ingress by a very skinny O-ring.
I noted that this O-ring could easily by distorted at the moment of closing the unit, and suggest you lubricate it lightly with silicone grease and make doubly sure its seated properly when you close the unit and lock it with a short twist.
It is claimed to give a burntime of 20-28 hours depending on the mode in which it is used.

The unit is operated in a sequential manner by a push-switch to obtain full power, reduced power for extended battery life, a flashing beacon, and to switch it off.

This lamp works well as a beacon in that its light is very visible from afar. However, as a useful beam it has only a short range. If it was for use on a bicycle you would be very visible, but you would not want to guide yourself down an unlit track with nothing more to light up the ruts.
I used it successfully for one dive. However, although it wasnt flooded, it never worked again during the trip, despite the fact that I tried fitting fresh batteries.
I got back to the UK and fitted some other AA batteries and it worked fine again - until I needed it! I can only suggest that there may be a degree of unreliability in the electronics.

OMS Ultra Bright Headlamp, £50

BURNTIME 20-28 hours
EXTRAS Head strap, wrist mount, mask mount
CONTACT Wets Best, 0117 9027800
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