It was only the impact of an EU Directive outlawing the use of cadmium that dragged him into the 21st century.
His lamps remained heavy because they needed big batteries to power the traditional halogen bulbs he favoured.
Now, if youve been unaware of the high-output LED revolution, you have probably been away diving for some years on a remote Pacific atoll without any Internet connection. Even Mr Kowalski realised that the future for his super-Teutonic lamps was limited, so he probably gave a deep sigh of resignation and went back to his drawing-board. This new Kowalski LED lamp looks like no other made before it.
It is still made from heavily anodised aluminium, but it is much more anatomically shaped and torch-like than the lantern-style lamps Mr Kowalski previously designed.
It needs no separate handle. In fact, at about 30cm long, it sits in the hand and feels like a weighty cosh. It is exceptionally well made.

The unit has a high-output Cree MC-E 10W LED that looks totally unlike a conventional bulb.
It is set in a parabolic reflector thats around 3cm deep and sits behind a thick chunk of borosilicate glass. Dont turn it on while looking at it. Its dazzle will leave you blinded for more than a moment.

The rear end of the torch unscrews to allow the insertion of three C-cells. These can be of the disposable alkaline type, or you can substitute rechargeable cells. Kowalski supplies these together with an intelligent charger as an extra-cost option. The cap is protected from leaking by two large-gauge O-rings.
Three fresh cells will power the lamp for five hours. Its quite hard to keep track of how much is left in a lamp with these long burntimes, but it will give light for a further six hours-plus at reducing output, so you shouldnt be left in the dark.

Screwing the end cap tightly down switches on the lamp. I dont recommend taking the Kowalski LED into the water switched off, because there will always be the danger that unscrewing it too much will precipitate a leak.
Ive had long email exchanges with a reader who got himself a free back-up lamp (of another make) with a subscription to this magazine and took it with him on many dives in a switched-off state. The day he needed it, it was found to be flooded.
I believe he was sent a replacement, but Im afraid to say that the problem was probably user error. I believe the only way to be sure that a lamp with this type of switching system is leak-proof is to enter the water with it already switched on and not switch it off until safely out again.
The Kowalski LED can be safely used in air, so there is no problem. If you want to turn it off while submerged, occlude it with your hand.

The beam is variable and can be adjusted by rotating the front section of the lamp.
Doing this actually moves the LED within the reflector. Cree LEDs of this type are made up of four sections.
I noted that in most positions of beam adjustment one could make out the four parts of the light source when the beam was aimed
at a flat surface. So the beam tended to be very slightly patchy, but not enough to be disconcerting.

Fa & Mi Power LED 18, £179
Seacsub X-LED, £229
Scubapro Phad 8, £359

PRICE £180 (£245 rechargeable)
BURNTIME 5hr (plus 6.5hr at reduced output)
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