TWENTY POUNDS USED TO BUY enough fuel to fill my car’s tank. Now it takes almost £70- worth. Does this mean that there are fewer gas-guzzling cars being bought Not if the roads of West London are to be believed. People still want off-road 4x4s even if it was proved during winter that few of them know how to drive them through a couple of inches of snow.
It’s the same with lots of stuff we buy. We buy it because we want it.
We have seen a revolution in battery technology and high-output LEDs, giving us conveniently small lamps that fit into a BC pocket, yet are brighter and burn for longer than anything that was in our wildest dreams just 10 years ago.
However, there will still be those who want something even bigger and better.
A new wave of diving lamps is meeting this demand, marrying the latest hi-tech batteries in larger amperage ratings to brighter lamp-heads.
While a very usable lamp pushes out around 200 lumens, some of these new lamps are emitting as much as 5000 lumens. It’s a pity that the effects of water and its turbidity limit the use of such lights, because they would otherwise be bright enough to light up a whole wreck in one go.
I saw several of these new-wave super-troupers demonstrated at the international DEMA show but, call me old-fashioned, I like to test for these pages things that you can actually buy, and the Metalsub XRE5000 head is in stock at its distributors as I write.
Metalsub lamps are made in the Netherlands, and conform to a military specification. This one marries a big battery-pack to a separate lamp-head via an umbilical pressure cable.
Metalsub lamps used to be thought lovely but fiendishly expensive. Thanks to other manufacturers, especially those in the USA, entering the market with even costlier products, the price looks more attainable now.
If you already have a Metalsub KL1256 HID cablelight head, you can buy the XRE5000 module and substitute it. The same applies if you have the latest XL13.2 handheld torch.

The Lamp-head
The UK distributor sent me the XRE5000 module already fitted into the lamp-head in the KL1256 cablelight. It has no fewer than 14 high-output LEDs controlled by a dual electronic driver, and each LED is set in its own individual reflector, arranged behind borosilicate glass that is more than 7cm in diameter.
The whole thing is as big as some lamps that come complete with integral power source. It is 21cm long, and fired up using a magnetic switch that rotates once released from its big detent.
The 1m-long pressure cable is permanently and securely wired into the lamp-head.

Switching
Two click settings of the leak-proof magnetic switch give two brightnesses, and the unit is infinitely dimmable if you find the spots between the clicks. The only reason to use full power would be if you wanted to punish someone – it’s that bright.
It makes a difference when used on daylight dives in the sunny Red Sea, because you can light things up to reveal their natural colours.
A 2000-lumen module is also available.
A small stainless-steel shackle takes care of stowing the unit to a D-ring via your own karabiner or clip.

Power Source
The lamp-head was sent to us together with the PR1209 12V 9A battery-pack, which it plugs into courtesy of a bayonet fitting to a substantial connection plug and socket.
The battery-pack is big, and snaps with precision onto a mount that is fitted to the tank using the BC camband.
In the past I’ve likened this battery-pack and mount to something you might find on an armoured vehicle. The military-specification anodising helps with this impression. Expect to get a little over an hour’s burntime when the XRE5000 is at full power.

Charging
A coloured LED at the back of the cablelight indicates how much battery charge is left, both during use and during the charging process.
Green indicates 50-100%, while orange shows that between 20 and 50% of the battery charge is left. Red means that you are into 20-10%, while a flashing red says that the battery charge is on its last legs.
The intelligent charger goes into trickle charge mode once a full charge has been achieved, and the ni-mh battery can be recharged at any state of charge without damage or memory effect.

Beam
Colour temperature is roughly equivalent to daylight, so I’m sure there will be other divers on night dives who complain that this torch is roughly equivalent to daylight in output too. It is almost as bright as the Metalsub HID200, but much more robust.

With this sort of light output, it should be good enough for use with a digital camera, but the version I had gave a bright spot surrounded by a wide peripheral beam, which is too uneven for that. Even so, it is one of the brightest lamps we have ever tested.
I lent it to Gary Fox of Dive Action Diving Services for a couple of dives in the Red Sea, and he told me: “There’d be no goblins in the deepest underwater ginnel, not leet up with one o’ they lamps!”

COMPARABLE LIGHTS TO CONSIDER:
Greenforce and Divewise both have comparable lamps in the pipeline

SPECS
PRICE XRE5000 Module alone, £372 KL1256/PR1209/XRE5000, £1153
BATTERY PR1209 ni-mh 12V 9A
CHARGE TIME 4.5hr
HEAD 14 x high output LED
BURNTIME 70min
SWITCHING Full- and half-power plus infinitely dimmable.
DEPTH-RATING 240m
MOUNT Metalsub Quick Release
CONTACT www.cpspartnership.co.uk
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