Appeared in DIVER October 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.


ITS SEXY, ITS SILVER AND ITS VERY BRIGHT. No, Im not talking about Jane Fonda in Barbarella. This is the new aluminium underwater lamp from Oceanic. Its smooth contours allow it to sit in the hand really comfortably, and its very nicely balanced.
Its a lot less expensive than some of its rivals, too. It was just a pity that its smart shiny silver finish suffered with pitting after a few dives.
It really needs a wash and polish after each immersion in the sea, rather than simply being chucked in a wet kit box.

Light source
Light-emitting diodes have revolutionised handlamps since the new high-output ones were developed, and manufacturers realised that simply bunging a group together didnt work, as a small reflector cannot be designed properly unless the light source is a point.
Multiple LED lamps now have multiple reflectors, and this seems to work. The OP33
has three 3W LEDs, each set in its own deep parabolic reflector. The effect is startling.
Not only that, but 9W in total consumes very little power, considering the amount of light produced, and the reflectors are super-efficient at pushing that light forward.

Power source
I prefer to carry only one size of battery, so it was a bit of a blow to find that this lamp used three C-cells rather than a pack of AA batteries.
However, as the burntime is 12 hours, one set more than took care of a weeks night-diving, with enough left over to see me picked up by the surface cover if I missed the boat.
The aft part unscrews when you need to get at the batteries, and double O-rings provide protection from leaks, but there should be no reason to take it apart during a single weeks dive trip. It has a great depth-rating of 200m.

Thank goodness the OP33 has a proper reed switch. On is on and off is off. There is no clever electronic switching sequence to befuddle my poor brain when Im breathing nitrogen at pressure and in the dark. A detent stops it coming on when you dont want it to.

The reflectors have been perfectly designed to push all the light forward, and that light is so collimated, or parallel, that it forms a very even beam.
I found it mildly embarrassing when I did a night dive along the wharf at Tufi in PNG.
My guide was busy pointing out harlequin ghost pipefish and flamboyant octopus, but my light was making his look very puny and uneven.
The OP33 seemed capable of petrifying small animals from a couple of metres away. At
a distance of 1m, the hot centre of the beam was about 30cm across, with an even peripheral halo of about 1m.
The colour of the beam is about the same as daylight. My guides torch beam was about the colour and output of the candles on my last birthday cake and, many lights as that had, it just didnt compare!

Dive Rite 300 LED, £335
Effesub Pharo 330 LED, £200
Seac-sub LED, £229

Divernet Divernet
$179 (Batteries included)
BURNTIME 8 hours
EXTRAS Lanyard included
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