Dive Torch Survey - Results


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width=100% BEAVER SILVER ASTRO LIGHT£149
This good-value lamp uses a domestic 6V spotlight that can be purchased in hardware hypermarkets. The dichroic reflector looked red but the lamp produced a surprisingly blue beam of light with a tight hotspot and a gentle peripheral halo. It has a simple on/off switch with a lock and a neoprene sleeve to reduce its weight when immersed.

Ni-mh battery. Charging time 8-10hr. Burntime 60min. Max depth 100m.
Dry weight 815g. Weight immersed 280g. Light source: 6V Halogen. (Maximum Brightness Factor 7.2)

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width=100% BEUCHAT 3050£299
French-made, this lamp may look a little old-fashioned but it does the job well. It comes with a neoprene sleeve to help improve buoyancy when under water, and overall it is well-balanced in the hand. It has a simple rotating on/off switch with a lock, and a low-battery warning light. Anodised aluminium with rubber and plastic buffer zones make it a tough proposition. Its beam was satisfyingly even and broad.

12V ni-cad battery. Charging time 2hr. Burntime 100min. Max depth 100m. Dry weight 1770g. Weight immersed 540g. Light source: 20W Halogen. (Maximum Brightness Factor 32)
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The FA + MI lamps tested below are part of an extensive range of tough units from Italy. They are made using anodised aluminium with plastics fittings. Each is switched by a magnetic device operated by a collar rotating around the barrel of the lamp, and use multiple LEDs. Output reduces in stages automatically as the residual battery power is reduced.

width=100% FA + MI POWER LED 40£189
The rechargeable version of its sibling Power 50 reviewed below, this lamp has one fewer LED and slightly less light output but offers a much longer burntime between charges. A pressure-relief valve protects against build-up of battery gas. The lamp produced a cool beam of light with a bright hotspot with a broad and gently diffusing outer halo.

6V ni-mh battery. Charging time 3-6hr. Burntime 8hr variable. Max depth 200m. Dry weight 780g. Weight immersed 350g. Light source: Three LEDs. (Maximum Brightness Factor 6.0)
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width=100% FA + MI POWER LED 50£228
The reliability of alkaline batteries dispenses with charging problems too often encountered, though you could always substitute ni-mh cells in the same size. These are mounted on a chassis. Each of the four LED lights each has its own reflector built in to the lamp-head. This unscrews like the battery chamber, and both are protected by single O-rings. The cool beam of light was exceptionally diffuse yet accurately focused.

Four AA alkaline batteries. Burntime 3hr. Max depth 200m. Dry weight 740g. Weight immersed 340g.
Light source: Four LEDs. (Maximum Brightness Factor 7.6)

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Imported from Belgium to the UK by the Lumb Brothers, GreenForce lamps like those tested below are truly modular, and can be swapped around in endless permutations between lamp-head and battery-pack. They are made from a combination of anodised aluminium and plastics, and each is switched on by screwing the lamp-head down onto the battery-pack to make a contact. The lamps are protected from flooding bymeans of three spaced O-rings.
width=100% GREENFORCE AA12 TRISTAR PLUS£278
The triple LED head of anodised aluminium is mounted on a slim battery-pack of matching material. A pressure-relief valve protects against build-up of battery gas. The cool-colour beam of light was one of the nicest and most evenly diffused of any of the lamps tested alongside it.

12 AA ni-mh batteries. Charging time 5hr. Burntime 4-6hr. Max depth 500m. Dry weight 840g. Weight immersed 350g. Light source: Three LEDs.(Maximum Brightness Factor 6.8)
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width=100% GREENFORCE DIAMOND PLUS BACK-UP£99
A conveniently small lamp that can be easily stowed away in a pocket until you need it. Its cool-colour beam of light was quite unfocused and patchy across its width. Its obviously only bright enough for use as a back-up lamp in case of failure of your main light.

Two 3V lithium batteries. Burntime 6hr. Max depth 350m. Dry weight 210g. Weight immersed 85g. Light source: single LED. (Maximum Brightness Factor 1.8)
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width=100% GREENFORCE FII PRO£286
The brute of the GreenForce range, its anodised lamp-head is mounted on a plastics battery pack with a rather avant-garde shape. A pressure-relief valve protects against the build-up of battery gas. It produced a big broad beam with a slight amount of patchiness.

12V ni-mh battery. Charging time 5hr. Burntime 90min. Max depth 350m. Dry weight 1315g. Weight immersed 580g. Light source: 30W Halogen. (Maximum Brightness Factor 10.4)
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width=100% GREENFORCE FLEXI FUNSTAR£199
A single LED head is mounted on a plastic battery-pack. A pressure-relief valve protects against build-up of battery gas. It produced a very tightly focused beam of bluish light.

Eight AA ni-mh batteries. Charging time 5hr. Burntime 16hr. Max depth 350m. Dry weight 685g. Weight immersed 260g. Light source: single LED. (Maximum Brightness Factor 6.8)
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width=100% GREENFORCE FLEXI FUN TRISTAR PLUS£250
The Tristar triple LED head is mounted on the plastic Flexi Fun battery-pack to make a slightly more economical version of the AA12. A pressure-relief valve protects against the build-up of battery gas. The head is identical to that of the AA12 TriStar Plus, so the beam
was the same.

Eight AA ni-mh batteries. Charging time 5hr. Burntime 4hr. Max depth 350m. Dry weight 745g. Weight immersed 275g. Light source: Three LEDs. (Maximum Brightness Factor 5.6)
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width=100% HALCYON SCOUT LED£140
From the USA, this is a tough little back-up light that is a favourite with certain types of technical diver. It is switched on by screwing the head down onto the batteries to make a contact. Its single LED did not produce a lot of light but it will burn for a stupendously long time. The Scout is milled from solid Delrin. It produced a tightly focused beam of light with little peripheral halo effect.

Three C-cell alkaline batteries. Burntime 50hr+. Max depth 150m. Dry weight 390g. Weight immersed 175g. Light source: single LED. (Maximum Brightness Factor 3.5)
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width=100% HALCYON SCOUT MINI LED£133
This little Scout is milled from solid Delrin. Its tightly focused beam proved not to be very bright but its little LED draws so little power that you will never remember how long the batteries have been in it. Secrete it away in a pocket and keep it for emergency use, or use it on every dive and wait for it to run out of power before you have to give up diving for golf!

Two C-cell alkaline batteries. Burntime 500hr+. Max Depth 150m. Dry weight 295g. Weight immersed 130g. Light source: single LED. (Maximum Brightness Factor 1.8)
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JMD lights are strongly made in the UK from anodised aluminium and represent simple, straightforward design and good value for money. There is an extra-cost option of a fast charger.
width=100% JMD A5070 UMBILICAL£290/330
The only umbilical lamp included in this price range, the battery-pack is attached to your tank and its weight is substituted for weight on your belt, so the weight immersed is very low. This lamp is made of anodised aluminium and switched by rotating the nicely milled lamp-head against its knurled grip. The battery-pack has a fixed connection and is less finely finished. The Fast Charger option puts it beyond our price range. The lamp produced a beam of light a with very small hotspot that was even enough, though not perfect.

12V ni-cad battery. Charging time 16hr (or 3hr with Fast Charger). Burntime 70min. Max depth 150m. Dry weight 3555g. Weight immersed 220g (head only). Light source: 50W halogen. (Maximum Brightness Factor 48.0)
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width=100% JMD L2075£165/188
A smaller and less-expensive version of the L5060 below, this is small enough to stow in some pockets. Maximum brightness of the beam was similar to that of its larger brother but it achieves this by concentrating the light into a far smaller, irregularly shaped hotspot.

6V ni-mh battery. Charging time 12-16hr (3hr with Fast Charger). Burntime 75min. Max depth 150m. Dry weight 1095g. Weight immersed 600g. Light source: 20W Halogen. (Maximum Brightness Factor 25.6)
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width=100% JMD L5060£195/220
British-made of anodised aluminium and switched using a simple rotating knob, but now with a locking device to prevent accidental use. The lamp produced a tight beam of light but with a hotspot that was slightly uneven.

12V ni-mh battery. Charging time 12-16hr (or 3hr with Fast Charger). Burn time 60min. Max depth 150m. Dry weight 1610g. Weight immersed 920g. Light source: 50W Halogen. (Maximum Brightness Factor 24.0)
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German-made KOWALSKI lamps used to be very expensive, but a change by the UK distributor to direct marketing has resulted in them becoming more affordable. Made from anodised aluminium, what they also have in common is the facility to be charged via an external connection and without having to break open any O-ring seals, so they rarely fall victim to a flood. A system of coloured LEDs indicate battery condition both during use and charging. Kowalski lamps are heavy but each one comes with a matching neoprene sleeve that helps to reduce weight in the water.
width=100% KOWALSKI 620 SPEED£270
Quick charging renders the relatively short burntime less important, because the lamp can be recharged between dives. It uses a special over-run bulb. A bright well-focused spot beam indicates a well-designed reflector.
The lamp has a variable power output via a rotating lockable switch.

7.2V ni-cad battery. Charging time 80 min. Burntime 45min. Max depth 200m+. Dry weight 1100g. Weight immersed 390g. Light source: 20W Halogen with adjustable output by dimmer control. (Maximum Brightness Factor 22.4)
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width=100% KOWALSKI CLASSIC 620£199
This lamp is identical to the more expensive Kowalski 620 Speed except for the electronics required to charge it quickly and safely. It uses a special over-run bulb. The beam shape was identical, although the output of this example was slightly greater, which we put down to the vagaries of automatic electronic charging. The lamp has a variable power output via a rotating lockable switch.

7.2V ni-cad battery. Charging time 4hr. Burntime 45min. Max depth 200m+. Dry weight 1100g. Weight immersed 390g. Light source: 20W Halogen with adjustable output by dimmer control. (Maximum Brightness Factor 24)
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width=100% KOWALSKI CLASSIC 1250£260
The brightest star in the companys firmament, this has a massive output 31 times brighter than the weakest lamp reviewed here. Its beam is very well-focused to a tight spot thanks to an accurately designed reflector. Like other Kowalskis, its rotating and lockable switch allows different lower brightness settings/longer burntimes.
It should not be used out of the water.

12V ni-cad battery. Charging time 8.5 hr. Burntime 40min. Max depth 200m+. Dry weight 1620g. Weight immersed 450g. Light source: 50W halogen with adjustable output by dimmer control. (Maximum Brightness Factor 61)
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width=100% SEAC SUB X LED£229
(handle£24.99 extra)

Ergonomically designed in all-aluminium and anodised, this lamp has a magnetic switch operated by rotating a plastic collar, and offers very useable output from its three LEDs, with a long burntime. Output reduces in stages automatically as the residual battery power is reduced. A pressure-relief valve protects against build-up of battery gas. It produced a good high colour temperature hotspot with an evenly diffused halo surrounding it.

Eight AA alkaline batteries. Burntime 16hr variable. Max depth 200m. Dry weight 805g. Weight immersed 375g. Light source: Three LEDs. (Maximum Brightness Factor 6.0)
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width=100% TEKTITE EXCURSION LS4£100
Solidly constructed from anodised aluminium with a soft rubber shroud, this lamp in the style of a conventional torch has a high-quality milled finish. It is switched on by screwing the shroud onto the batteries to make an electrical contact. Its single LED head is identical to that of its smaller sibling the Sea Ray 4, it has a much longer burntime and is single O-ring protected. US-made. The beam produced a tight hotspot with a broadly diffused halo.

Three D-cell alkaline batteries. Burntime 20hr. Max depth 300m. Dry weight 845g. Weight immersed 450g. Light source: single LED. (Maximum Brightness Factor 2.0)
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width=100% TEKTITE SEA RAY 4£100
Not very bright, this tiny back-up light is solidly constructed from aluminium, anodised black. It has a good-quality milled finish, and is switched on by screwing down the rubber-covered shroud onto the batteries to make contact. This is a weak point for any back-up light, because you never know how far to unscrew it so that it neither floods nor switches on in your pocket when under pressure. Single O-ring protected, US-made, this lamps beam proved identical to that of its larger brother the Excursion LS4.

Two 3V Lithium batteries. Burntime 3hr. Max depth 150m. Dry weight 200g. Weight immersed 75g. Light source: single LED. (Maximum Brightness Factor 2.0)
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width=100% TREBLE-LIGHT SILVERLINE MX14£289
German-made in attractive silver anodised aluminium, this lamp offers simple Teutonic efficiency at a lower price than other models in the extensive Treble-Light extensive product range. It is switched on/off by a rotating three-position switch (three brightness settings) with a lock. Its beam was bright, but disappointingly ill-defined at the edges.

4.5V ni-mh battery. Charging time 5.5hr. Burntime 55min. Max depth 300m. Dry weight 1285g. Weight immersed 500g. Light source: 50W Halogen with variable output. (Maximum Brightness Factor 38.4)
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Made in America using high-impact plastics, Underwater Kinetics (UK) lamps have a long pedigree and have proved a favourite with British divers. Comparatively light, each lamp is protected from flooding by a single O-ring onto which the rubber-covered front shroud bears down. Front lenses are plastic, so should not normally be used out of the water.
width=100% UK LIGHT CANNON 100£200
Not a huge light output for an HID (High Intensity Discharge) lamp but a very long burntime because it uses a low-wattage bulb and ballast. In some ways it misses the point of HID (huge output at a high cost for the bulb and ballast). That said, this range has proved popular. It has a lock on its switch. Its beam was of a cold light that is less evenly diffused and focused than some of its siblings reviewed here.

Eight C-cell alkaline batteries (or ni-cad option). Burntime 3-4hr. Max depth 150m. Dry weight 1325g. Weight immersed 270g. Light Source: HID. (Maximum Brightness Factor 7.6)
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width=100% UK SUNLIGHT D4R£110
The D4R has been almost a standard among divers who want good value combined with good performance. It has two bulbs of different outputs that can be mechanically switched under water to vary burntime, or to provide a back-up should one fail. The switch has a lock included. The lamps beam was broad and supremely even, with only a gentle fading at the edges. It may not be the brightest tested here but it offered a very comfortable effect.

Four D-cell ni-cad batteries. Charging time 14-16hr. Burntime 3hr. Max depth 150m. Dry weight 1165g. Positively buoyant when immersed. Light source: 5.8W Halogen. (Maximum Brightness Factor 7)
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width=100% UK SUNLIGHT D8R£170
The D8 is the big brute of the UK line-up, although by modern standards it is not that bright. It has two bulbs of different outputs that can be mechanically switched under water to vary burntime or provide a backup. The switch also has a lock. It produced one of the most evenly diffused broad beams of light of any lamp reviewed alongside here.

Eight D-cell ni-cad batteries. Charging time 14-16hr. Burntime 13.5hr. Max depth 150m. Dry weight 1900g. Weight immersed 300g. Light source: 14W Halogen. (Maximum Brightness Factor 8.0 )
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