I REMEMBER BEING INVITED out on a weekend dive by the good fellows at my local diving club back in the 1980s. They were short of numbers, and I was the make-weight.
We headed off in the club RIB to dive the Kyarra off Swanage. I was designated a buddy, and was doing my best to fit in.
Just as I was about to roll into the water, my buddy asked why I was carrying a hefty lamp. You won't need that! he said. I left it behind.
Shortly afterwards, I found myself above a gloomy seabed, swimming along encumbered by a very frightened buddy who wouldn't let go of my arm. I was finding our way by the pathetic glow of the little back-up torch I always carried in my BC pocket.
Times have changed. Ive learned to take impromptu advice from other divers with a pinch of salt, and lamp technology has so improved, thanks to high-output LEDs and high-output batteries, that I can now carry a really effective back-up lamp that can double as a main light. These two examples from Intova should be a case in point.
Intova makes its products not in the Far East but in the Far West, in Hawaii. These lamps are solidly built from anodised aluminium, and are similar-looking, if different in what they do.
Their prices are also very different, although they both use the same 4.7W CREE ultra-bright LED, outputting 130 lumens of light.
The Compact Torch measures around 14cm long, while the Mini Torch measures slightly less at 12.5cm. Both have lanyards included.

Beams
The Compact Torch offers a concentrated beam that is appropriate for using in poorer visibility, when you don't want to be blinded by backscatter.
The Mini Torch produces a beam thats spread wide and, of course, this means that its light is spread more thinly. Its not so bright.
This is more useful as an aiming light for photographers but, be warned, it still has a hotspot. Youll need to turn it off when you take a picture, unless youre using an exceedingly powerful flash.

Power Supply
The Compact Torch uses three AAA batteries for a five-hour burn-time, whereas the wide-angle Mini Torch employs two CR123A lithium batteries. This will power the little lamp for up to 10 hours, which is probably enough for a weeks night diving. However, it is not bright enough to consider using as a primary diving light.
The end-cap bearing the push-switch is unscrewed to access the batteries in each case.

Switching
Both lamps are switched using a press-button at the rear. This magnetic switch, which obviates leak problems, is pressed once for full power and again for one-third power.
The packaging of the Mini Torch also promised a strobe function, but I never found it until I read the instructions that came with the Compact Torch, which told me to press and hold for the strobe. This system is used for both lamps.
The advantage of having a proper switch is that the lamp makes for a reliable back-up. It is unlikely to run down its batteries un-noticed because it came on in your pocket.
At the same time, it is unlikely to have flooded in the interim when you didnt need it.
The disadvantage of the type of push-switch used in these lamps is one I found using the original and similar little Scubapro Novalight a couple of years ago - it becomes unreliable at depth.
I gave both lamps to an unsuspecting dive guide who was modelling for me when I dived around the Don Pedro in Ibiza recently. He reported that one lamp didnt work, and that the other ran out of battery charge.
In fact at the depth we were at, 38m, it was the water pressure that was causing problems.
I proved that both lamps worked perfectly, once we were back in the shallows.
So, as with lamps that use a screw-down lamp-head to make contact with the battery and so act as a switch, if you use one of these little lamps youll need to switch it on before you enter the water, and switch it off only when youre sure you wont need it again during the dive. Sorry, Intova, youre close but no cigar!

SPECS
COMPACT TORCH / MINI TORCH
PRICE £37 / £48
LAMP 4.7W CREE LED
BATTERIES 3 x AAA / 2 x CR 123A
BURNTIME 5hr / 10hr
SWITCHING Full, 30% and strobe
BEAM Concentrated / Wide-angle
CONTACT intova.net

MINI
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%

COMPACT
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%