This is where dedicated focus lights come into their own. They need to be bright, compact and have an even beam.
US underwater photography specialist Ikelite believes it has a solution with its Vega lamp. I took one to Egypt to see how it fared in really brightly sunlit underwater conditions.

The Design
The Vega packs a lot of light power into its compact body. It has seven high-output LEDs delivering a maximum of 2000 lumens, with switching that allows output levels to be adjusted to quarter, half or full power.
Ikelite’s special diffuser, embossed with its octopus logo, gives an extremely even beam of light without any visible hotspots. The coverage of 65° is relatively tight, and during the tests cut through the water like a hot knife through butter.
The Vega is powered by a rechargeable, sealed lithium-ion battery. Burntimes are quite limiting by today’s standards, with stated durations of 180min on quarter power and only 45min on full power.
The switching mechanism is located at the rear of the torch in the form of a large, easy-to-turn dial. This switches the torch on and scrolls through the power-output settings.
The dial can be locked for travelling, and in the locked position covers the gold-plated charging connections to negate the chance of a short circuit when travelling.

A ring of six small LED indicator lights shows the power level selected in blue and the remaining battery life in red, so the user can identify the state of play at a glance. The Vega weighs in at 318g and measures 142mm x 50mm diameter, and is depth-rated to 90m. The light delivered is bright and white at a colour temperature of 5700 Kelvin.

In Use
I attached the Vega to the top of my camera-housing using a 1in ball-mount and clamp system that’s small enough to be unobtrusive.
I also used it as a handheld dive-light on a couple of night and dusk dives.
The output was impressive, delivering a tight, even beam of light that in really bright sunlit conditions illuminated the front of my subjects and allowed my camera focus system to work its magic.
The relatively short burntimes weren’t an issue during the daytime dives, as I used the torch only periodically for shooting divers and corals with the sun behind them.
On the night and dusk dives I mostly used the torch on its lowest setting of quarter power, upping the power levels only to shoot short video-clips or to focus in awkward conditions. This allowed me to get two one-hour dives from a single charge.
The battery and power-level indicators were really easy to read, even in bright sunlight, and were discreet enough not to be a distraction during the night dives.
Charging was an easy affair. The two-pin gold-plated wet connector just plugs into the back of the torch – there’s no need to strip the batteries out and fiddle with O-rings or screw caps.
It took just short of three hours from flat to full via the mains adaptor.
As is standard fare at the diver Tests labs, I put the fully charged lamp in my hi-tec yellow bucket of water on full power and timed the durations. The Vega switched off after 47 minutes. On its lowest setting it gave up the ghost at 175 minutes, so the results were as close to Ikelite’s claimed burntimes as I could reasonably have expected.

Conclusion
Ikelite has taken full advantage of the latest in LED technology and produced a torch that is something of an all-rounder.
The Vega can be used as a handheld dive-light, or as an impressive focus light. It’s OK as a standalone light for shooting macro stills (although nowhere near as good as dedicated strobes) and cuts the mustard as a video light when set to full power.
The limited burntimes were a little disappointing considering today’s battery technology, although for my real-life usage they proved more than adequate.
The Vega is a “looker”, with its metallic red head and black polycarbonate body, and the LED display at the rear was very useful and one of the best I’ve seen.
All in all the Vega proved useful in very bright light conditions, enabling me to overcome the challenges associated with this type of photography.

PRICE £430
SIZE 142 x 50mm
WEIGHT 318g
OUTPUT 2000 lumens (full power)
BEAM ANGLE 65°
COLOUR TEMPERATURE 5700K
DEPTH RATING 90m
MATERIALS Technopolymer plastics
BURNTIMES STATED 180min QP, 45min FP
BURNTIMES TESTED 175min QP, 47min FP
CONTACT www.camerasunderwater.co.uk
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