THERE WAS A TIME WHEN EVERYTHING MADE in West Germany was thought to be good and everything made in East Germany was considered to be of poor quality.
Similarly, a later time came when everything made in Japan was thought to be good while anything made in China was thought to be bad.
Well, now that everything is made in China, any such rules have ceased to apply. The problem arises when it comes to differentiating products by brand, when individual manufacturers are identified only by squiggly writing that few of us in Britain understand.
I recently took two underwater lamps, both made in China, away to test. Both used the same LED, each powered by four AA batteries. One leaked.
I never discovered why it leaked. It had two O-rings protecting its watertight integrity but, more to the point, when the batteries got wet and gave off a gas, the plastic body of the lamp was unable to withstand the build-up of pressure, and the resulting bang made me and a few divers think a depth charge had been detonated in the water.
It was only later, when I pulled the lamp out of my BC pocket to use it, that I discovered that the body of the flooded lamp had split under the strain. So that was what I call a clear “fail”.
At exactly the same retail price and from the same British distributor, but from a different manufacturer, comes the Fusion X3. It employs the same 290 lumen high-output Phillips 3W LED powered by four AA batteries, but that is where the similarities otherwise end.

The Design
The anodised aluminium head screws down onto a plastic battery case, protected from leaking by two O-rings in line. I guess that a plastic head would not be able to dissipate the heat generated by the LED fast enough not to get damaged.
Both parts are protected from the school of hard knocks by a generous casing of silicone rubber that can be removed easily for rinsing in fresh water after an extended period of diving. This also provides a good grip.
There is a sliding magnetic switch on the plastic part with a sequential action. Press once to initiate the light and press again to extinguish it. There’s a slight time delay to this.
A lanyard is fitted to a loop at the end of the plastic part that holds the batteries. This will probably soon get broken, although the one I had on test endured a week’s diving without failure. The lamp is depth-rated to 95m.

The Beam
The parabolic reflector of this lamp takes advantage of the tiny size of the LED light source to pump it all forwards in what is a very narrow beam of around 7°.
As such, however, it was quite effective at indicating the position of such creatures as scorpionfish and stonefish in bright Egyptian sunlight to inexperienced divers who would otherwise not have known what they were meant to be looking at.
The beam has a natural daylight-looking colour and the manufacturer claims a burntime of more than eight hours.
The narrowness of its beam might make it less good for night-diving in clear water than for use in the more turbid waters found in temperate seas.
This lamp did not flood while I had it, so I can’t tell you if the plastic rear section is strong enough to withstand the increase in internal pressure.
All I can say is that it’s much more of a diving lamp than the other one was, and it’s very inexpensive.

UK SL3 eLED, £48
Lenser Frogman, £51
Ikelite Pcm2lite, £50

BATTERIES 4 x AA included
OUTPUT 290 lumens
BURNTIME 8.5 hours
SWITCH Magnetic
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