THIS ITEM IS BEING WRITTEN on a computer put together with components made in China. I’m sitting on an office chair made in China.
I read in Time that 95% of the world’s socks now come from a single town in Guandong province. In fact most of our consumer goods now come from China.
The Lenser Frogman, that handy little diver’s torch that many of you have received as a subscription gift from this magazine, is claimed to be made in Germany but I’ll bet it too is made in China, even if it’s for the German manufacturer.
The problem with any item manufactured anywhere in the world is that it can often be made for less cost in China. If any manufacturer elsewhere develops a market for a product, you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be copied by some other manufacturer in China.
Which brings us to the Shallow Light I was sent. It can evidently be purchased for one-fifth of the cost of a Frogman.
Why would anyone want to pay more It’s such a good copy, with exactly the same logo of a frogman on the side, that it would seem naive to buy a Frogman instead.
My dad never lived to see the unprecedented rise of China as an industrial power. When he was alive, it was the time of the Red Guards and the Red Azalea, and he used to say: “You get what you pay for” and “Pay up and be smart”.
I always keep these two maxims in mind.

Superficial Similarities
So should I now readjust my thinking A side-by-side comparison confirms that these two lights, the Lenser Frogman and the Shallow Light, look exactly the same, although the Frogman D14 is 45g heavier, indicating that the materials used are that bit more generous. Perhaps the clue is in the name.
Both torches have solid Perspex fronts under shrouds that provide both a lens and reflector. The shroud of the Frogman is metal, whereas that of the Chinese interloper is metallised plastic. Both appear to use similar high-output LEDs as a light source, although their shape is different.
The front of each light unscrews to access the four AA batteries. The Frogman comes supplied with these. Both fronts screw down to bear on a single O-ring and a flat plastic gasket to provide protection for the batteries.
Both lamps have external switches held in place by a little hexagonal-ended screw. Both are easily switched on and off with a thumb. Both are supplied with generous wrist lanyards. Both provide virtually identical beams, although the Shallow Light’s beam is slightly patchy with a little less peripheral light, though it’ll do.
The output doesn’t seem too different, so for a shop-counter comparison the Shallow Light wins on price.
Of course, the cheaper lamp doesn’t appear to have the same electronics inside as the Frogman, so this can only make a difference to the burntime. The Lenser Frogman has gold-plated battery contacts and a switch that promises to give it greater longevity, especially after any accidental flood. The manufacturer claims it to be waterproof to 60m.
There was no information available for the other, so I took both lamps away for a week’s diving to no deeper than 35m in Egypt.
I made sure to use them both at the same time, and kept them in my BC pocket when I wasn’t using them. I wanted to treat them as harshly as you would!

In Use
To begin with, the two lamps appeared to work identically. As the Frogman loses power, the electronics reduce the light output, so that you are never left in the dark. After 20 hours it was still good enough to see my computer by. The Chinese version did not appear to provide that sophistication.
More interestingly, the Frogman has a domed front to the solid lump of Perspex that forms its reflector and lens, whereas the Chinese version is flat.
This resulted in an image of the LED of the Chinese version getting projected onto it, which looked as if it was being burnt.
The other small detail, which I discovered only once I got home, was that the inside of the Chinese version was decorated with a sprinkling of water. So, close – but no cigar!

Beuchat Four LED, £295
Metalsub XRE 500-R, £189

BURNTIME 20hr reducing from 150 to 7 lumens
SWITCH Mechanical
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%

DEPTH RATING Good in the rain
SWITCH Mechanical
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%