THERE HAS BEEN A REVOLUTION in underwater videography in the past year. Go on any dive trip, especially on liveaboards, and you’ll see lots of little plastic housings with tiny high-definition video cameras capable of capturing broadcast-quality footage of anything at which you can point them.
The problem with shooting footage under water is the lack of colour as the water filters out reds, oranges and yellows, leaving everything with a blue and cyan cast.
To get the true colours back into the images you need artificial light from a torch, and not just any old torch but a super-bright lamp designed specifically for the job in hand.
Enter the RGblue System 01 light, which is supplied in the UK exclusively by Ocean Leisure Cameras.

The Design
The RGblue lamp is designed specifically as a video light and can be used with multiple accessories to create a system that provides a total solution to shooting in the colour-drained underwater environment.
The specs are impressive, with four pre-set power levels from 500 to 2200 lumens delivered from a single COB (chip on board) LED.
This emits light from a single plane and solves the problem of irregular light distribution and the annoying shadow effect seen with multi-LED lamps.
Another feature that makes this light stand out from the crowd is the colour temperature. LED lights tend to deliver a very cold light, one seen as blue by the human eye. At the other end of the scale, the halogen lights of yesteryear delivered a very warm light, seen as orange.
The RGblue sits somewhere in the middle, with a very pleasing 5000 Kelvin temperature perfect for rendering realistic colours while maintaining vivid blues in the background.
The beam angle is around the 100° mark, which will more than cover the field of view found in most movie cameras. A condensing lens that screws into the lamp-head will tighten the beam angle to 60° and is supplied as standard.
Control of the light is via two push-buttons. Pressing them simultaneously switches the unit on. A single push of the right-hand button turns on the light.
Further pushes take the light levels up from 500lm through to 2200lm in four steps, while the levels are reduced in the same way but with pushes on the left-hand switch.
Charging is via an external gold-plated twin socket, so you don’t have to open the lamp to connect it. The clever electronic circuitry includes built-in safety mechanisms in the form of temperature sensors, over-current and short-circuit protection.
There is also an over-pressure valve to release any expanding gases that may be discharged from the lithium-ion battery.
When in use, a colour-coded light lets you know the battery-charge state. The RGblue is depth-rated to 100m.
An optional extra is a small mount that screws into the light-head and forms a platform for a GoPro camera housing. Like the handle-mount, this is constructed in anodised alloy and enables you to position perfectly any of the various GoPro housings.
The mount places the camera upside-down, but a single click in post-production on the GoPro software editing suite will sort out this little dilemma.
The handle-mount is compatible with a YS-type strobe arm, and allows the light to be incorporated into any camera set-up using 1in ball and clamp arm systems.

In the Water
I used the RGblue in two ways: firstly with a GoPro Hero camera set to ultra-wide HD movie mode, and secondly as a video lamp mounted to my DSLR housing for shooting macro video through a 60mm lens.
In GoPro mode it was easy to hold and shoot footage. The only problem was that the handle fouled my view of the GoPro’s rear LCD screen.
I thought that backscatter would be troublesome with the camera placed so close to the light source, but the perceived problem just didn’t manifest itself. In fact the final footage was as clear as my conscience.
The light could be seen falling off quite quickly in the camera’s wide-angle mode, but smoothly and evenly lit the foreground subjects with no visible hotspots or unwanted shadows.
The same could be said of the DSLR video footage. I had added the condensing lens, as the angle of view is very narrow through my 60mm optics, and the results were very pleasing, with colour rendered exactly as I’d expect if shooting still images with twin strobes.
The warmer colour temperature was a real advantage in this respect. However, I did need to increase my ISO settings to enable a tighter f-stop and maximise the depth of field, with the light set to its brightest setting.

Conclusion
There’s no hiding it – the RGblue video light system is an expensive piece of kit. But it does seem in this case that you get what you pay for.
It’s expandable, with screw-in snoots, red filters and alternative mounting options.
The colour temperature is ideal for underwater shooting, and sets this light apart.
One tip, however – if you want to shoot divers, turn it off.
Otherwise all you’ll get is footage of them with their hands covering their eyes!

SPECS
PRICES £699. Handgrip £45. GoPro mount £40.
OUTPUT 500 to 2200 lumens
CONTACT www.oceanleisurecameras.com
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%