VIDEO LIGHT EXPOSURE MARINE Action 100
Most of the latest lighting equipment seems to originate in the Far East, so it was nice to see some home-grown lamps arrive at the DIVER Test centre in the form of Exposure Marine's latest range of compact Action underwater lights. I took the Action 100 model to put through its paces.
The Action range comprises three variants, each delivering 1000 lumens of white light with 90-minute burntimes at full power but offering the choice of either 9°, 16° or 100° beam angles. The Action 100 featured here is designed as a flood video light.
The light source is a single Cree LED set against a polished reflector to distribute the wide-angle beam evenly. The body is crafted from aerospace-grade aluminium and has a black, hard-anodised finish with rubber shock absorbers at either end.
All internal components are factory-sealed to give the light a depth-rating of 100m. An internal, rechargeable 3100mAh li-ion battery powers the Action 100, which boasts a recharge time of three hours and capacity to provide up to six hours of constant light at its lowest setting.
The Action 100 has three output settings, high (1000 lumens), medium (500 lumens) and low (250 lumens). Each is accessed via a rear push switch and the maker’s “TAP Technology”, whereby a single tap of the light body allows you to scroll through the output range.
Battery status and power-output levels are displayed using a traffic-light system of green, amber and red LEDs positioned at the rear of the light body, along with gold-plated charging terminals and a stainless-steel plate to accommodate the magnetic USB charging- lead connection.
The Action 100 also features a flashing SOS and double-flash strobe mode and an intelligent thermal management system; this clever electronic circuitry controls the temperature of the LED to keep it as efficient as possible by preventing it from losing output at elevated temperatures. The light can be hand-held, mounted on a Neoprene hand-strap, or attached to a 1in ball-bracket for integration into underwater camera lighting systems.
I took the light under water in the UK to see how it performed. The first thing to strike me was the overall size of the body, because at just over 100mm long and 32mm in diameter it is truly compact.
It sat in the palm of my hand perfectly as I used it to light the way, but really shone (pun intended) on the top of my camera rig, set on a clip and ball-mount. The bright, even beam performed perfectly in assisting the camera’s focus system to work its magic.
On a few of the dives I set the DSLR to record video, using the Action 100 as the only light source. It worked OK, although I’m not sure I managed to get the best from it.
The DSLR video game is new to me and the final moving images were, I’m sure, poorly captured thanks to my inability to get to grips with the camera settings and techniques required for this genre of photography.
Using the Action 100 to light the scene for GoPro footage was a different ballgame. This genre of camera lends itself to easy use, and didn’t tax my grey matter.
As in all underwater photography, the closer you get to the subject the better the results, and this was apparent with the Action 100.
The 1000-lumen beam dropped off noticeably as subject-to-camera distance increased, although I still came back with some pleasing, well-lit footage.
The traffic-light system worked extremely well. It’s easy to see, especially with the light mounted on a camera rig.
The battery-status indicator takes precedence over the output indicators and is constantly displayed. When the output level is changed, its corresponding colour code is lit for a few seconds before the display reverts to battery status.
The TAP system can be disabled or the sensitivity adjusted through three levels, but when enabled with the light mounted on the camera rig, it worked like a charm.
This was especially the case at its most sensitive setting when wearing gloves. In fact it was by far the easiest way to change or scroll through the light-output levels, and places this light in a league of its own.
In hand-held mode I expected the light to constantly change its settings as inadvertent bumps or knocks became an issue.
In reality this wasn’t the case. It takes an accurate and reasonably sharp strike to the body to activate the system, but should it become an issue the system can easily be turned off.
The Action 100’s SOS flashing mode is entered via a long press on the rear power-on button. It will, I’m told, flash away for a minimum of six hours from a fully charged battery.
The strobe mode is entered in the same way and provides a series of twin flashes; this has the advantage of being instantly recognisable to onlookers.
This delightfully small, beautifully constructed underwater light packs a punch with its many features, output, runtimes and ease of use. The 100° beam is wide and provided an even pool of light without a central hotspot.
Maximum output might not be enough for discerning DSLR video-shooters but I found it more than adequate for action-cam use.
The distinctive TAP system was a joy to use, and not only makes these lights stand out from the crowd but proved an excellent feature when changing levels.
The lack of a travel lock might be an issue, but I hope the clever technicians at Exposure Marine will quickly incorporate this feature into their series of Action lights.
When they do, they will be perfect companions on overseas trips.
BURNTIMES: High 1.5hr, Med 3hr, Low 6hr
DISPLAY: Traffic-light system for output and battery status
BATTERY: Factory-sealed, rechargeable 3100mAh li-ion
CHARGING: USB cable via gold-plated contacts
CHARGE TIME: 3hr
TAP MODE: Off, high, medium and low sensitivity settings
SIZE: 107mm x 32mm diameter
DIVER GUIDE 9/10