When it comes to exploring the underwater world a Sola light is not just for night dives. Even in clear water on sunny days with plenty of ambient light true colour quickly gets filtered out as we descend, so to bring back the real brilliance of the marine life we encounter, a dive light is necessary. If you are hoping to capture a quality image of said marine life, whether it be photo or video, lighting is essentially as important as the camera itself. Besides, some of the most interesting life tends to tuck itself away in shadowy places during the day and only venture out at night.
Sola underwater lights, by Light & Motion, have really been changing the game for recreational divers and even serious underwater photographers and videographers. There are several lines available from Sola to best suit your needs, but most share some common advantages.
One of the major advantages of Sola lights is that they produce a lot of light for a very compact unit. These lights do not add a lot of bulk or weight to dive gear, which makes them easy to travel with unlike most of the predecessors. And their factory-sealed lithium-ion rechargeable batteries come with a relatively small wall charger as well, so that the total travel space they take up is negligible.
Speaking of factory-sealed lithium-ion rechargeable batteries….. These batteries pack a powerful punch in a small, reliable package. Because the charger plugs into the body of the light, without opening up any of the internals, there is a great reduction in the possibility of user-error causing flooding or other damage to the light. O-rings and threads are not constantly put under stress nor are they exposed to dirt and debris that can impact the seal. Rechargeable batteries also reduce the need to find batteries while on a dive trip or to haul along multiple extra batteries. This also reduces a diver’s waste.
Sola’s user-friendly “dashboard” is a set of 3 LED indicator lights on the top of the body to indicate whether the battery is fully charged, partially charged or in need of charging. It also indicates what power setting the diver has the light on. Sola lights come with 3 brightness settings, the dimmer the setting, the longer the battery burn-time. Sola regulates voltage throughout use so that lumen output (brightness) remains constant throughout use. So, throughout your dive you won’t notice your light growing dimmer, but it lets you know when the batteries are low. This is great especially for underwater photography or video as divers don’t have to deal with diminished light quality on shots later in the dive.
Sola lights also feature a locking, easy to manipulate on/off mechanism that also controls the lights’ brightness and other settings when applicable. This mechanism is easy to handle even with thick gloves or dry gloves on. It can lock on so it doesn’t accidentally get bumped off during the most inopportune time during a dive or bumped on in transit thus draining the batteries before you get to the water. It also allows divers to activate a flashing SOS signal in case of emergency.
Sola Light – Dive Lights
Sola dive lights are currently available in 3 models. The biggest difference between them is their output:
Sola Dive 500
The 500 is a fairly affordable way to get into these small, convenient, but bright lights. With a maximum of 500 lumens, this ‘entry-level’ model provides a LOT of light to the recreational diver without breaking the bank. The Dive 500 does have 3 brightness settings, however, unlike its bigger brothers it only has a 12* spot beam as opposed to an optional spot or flood beam. The spot is effective for communication and for searching for creatures underneath overhangs or at night.
Sola Dive 800
The Sola Dive 800 is a very practical, very bright dive light. With 800 lumens it matches pretty much any other high end handheld recreational dive light and is much smaller than most. The Dive 800 allows for the diver to switch between a 12* spot beam and a 60* flood, meaning that it can also double as a decent little photo or video light in a pinch.
Sola Dive 1200
This light is currently Sola’s brightest offering in terms of their dive lights. As you may have guessed, the “1200” in the name refers to its maximum lumens. Like the 800, this light also allows for divers to toggle between a 12* spot or a 60* flood beam.
All sola dive lights permit divers to switch out the hand mount to use the one that suits them the best. We find that the most popular is the hands-free mounting straps – especially with thick gloves – but there is also a pistol grip and “technical” or “T” finger mount available. Additionally, these lights can potentially be paired with imaging mounts and therefore serve as basic photo or video lighting options.
Sola Light – Video Lights
Sola video lights share the compact nature of the dive lights. They are easily mated with lockline arms and are very versatile and convenient video lighting options. The flexibility of lockline, the small size of the Sola lights and the ever-decreasing size of cameras and housings means that underwater videographers can put together excellent, high-quality setups that will stow away in a wetsuit or drysuit pocket!
These LED lights offer consistent, soft white light bringing back the true colours of marine life that is quickly lost at depth otherwise.
Sola Video 1200 S/F
The introductory video light from Sola is already a powerful little beast at 1200 lumens. The video 1200 has a 12* spot beam and a 60* flood. The flood offers a consistent wash of light, which means no hotspots while shooting video. The spot is a nice feature for focusing a still shot or turning this light into a dive light with the right mounting changes.
Sola Video 2000F
The Video 2000F offers 2000 lumens with a 70* flood. This is a pretty serious video light, but saves a few pennies by eliminating the S/F option available in the 2000S/F. If you’re after a light purely for video and want something with some serious brightness, this is a great option.
Sola Video 2000S/F
Just like the Video 2000F this is a wickedly bright video light. This version offers both a 60* flood beam and a 12* spot, so it is slightly more versatile than the Video 2000S/F. Plus, you could make this one ridiculously bright little dive light, if you paired it with a hand mount.
Sola Video 4000
The Video 4000 is Sola’s brightest video offering and provides an incredible 4000 lumens with an 80* flood beam. This is a great option alone or as a set and really compliments the wide angle perspectives offered by popular POV video cameras. The 4000 is slightly beefier than the rest of the Sola line, but is still a compact option compared to other options available.
Imaging mounts allow for video and photo lights to be mated with a variety of imaging systems. These mounts are quick and easy to install and provide a secure platform for your lighting system.
Imaging mounts include the D-ring kit, photo mount kit, video mount kit and the YS mount. Light and Motion also make a variety of photo and video trays and arms to pair with these mounts and the Sola lights for optimal flexibility and minimalism.
Solo Light – Photo Lights
Sola Photo lights are an excellent addition to an underwater photography set up. Both the Photo 800 & 1200 have a red light option for focusing. Why red? Marine life tends to be unable to see this spectrum as red light doesn’t penetrate very far past the surface; in other words, this light doesn’t scare them off.
Sola Photo 500
The Photo 500 offers a 60* flood beam for a nice constant lighting effect (no hotspots) for your photos. Because of the quality and degree of this flood beam, the Photo 500 can also double as a decent entry-level video light as well. This is a great multi-purpose option for the diver just getting into underwater imaging that is seeking versatility and affordability without sacrificing the quality of product that they end up with.
Sola Photo 800
Sola’s Photo 800 gives you the option of using a red focus light or a white 60* flood beam for your shots. This is easily controlled through the main switch and easily manipulated even with gloves on. Like the 500, this light can be used for decent quality video lighting as well as photography.
Sola Photo 1200
Currently Sola’s most powerful Photo light, the Photo 1200 provides 1200 lumens of light on high power with a 70* flood beam of white light. It, too, allows for divers to switch to a red focus light if desired. This makes it a great complement to a strobe, especially now that modern still cameras also take quality video, the versatility of Sola’s high end photo lights is extremely useful for casual and serious underwater photographers alike.
Solo Specialty Lights
Sola NightSea Light
This unique offering from Sola offers divers, videographers and photographers a very cool experience and result: using true blue LEDs on a 60* flood it illuminates the bioluminescence produced by many marine animals and algae. True to Sola’s versatility this light also allows the diver to switch over to a white light (12* spot).
Sola Tech 600
The Tech 600 offers extended burn time, with exceptional brightness and penetration underwater. The tight 8* beam provides an effective tool for communication. The durable, factory-sealed body offers virtually no entanglement points. The Tech 600’s hands-free mount allows divers to manipulate other pieces of equipment without ever stowing their light.