Last weekend was the Monterey Shootout, a three day event where underwater photographers meet in Monterey, California to shoot (still photography and video), process and submit their work to be judged. On the last day, at the awards ceremony, the winners are announced and incredible prizes are given out to the winners. I’ve participated in this event since the late 1990’s.
This year was special for me because I was going to shoot with the system I put together using the Aquatica NEX5 housing that I won at the competition last year! I bought the camera last fall and have enjoyed shooting it topside since then. Finally the week before this year’s competition I bought all the parts needed to take it underwater. One thing I was really excited about was the camera’s capability of shooting HD video as I’ve wanted to try underwater video for a long time.
I was really lucky to be put in touch with Tim at Nocturnal Lights who loaned me a pair of Luna 4 V LED video lights for the weekend! Video lights are necessary for good video because the water filters out the red light and if you don’t have lights your video (and still images) will have a green or blue cast. I have a new still photo strobe to use for the NEX5 but was going to use my focus light for video which wasn’t ideal as it had too narrow a beam and didn’t produce enough light to cover the entire frame.
I was so happy when the Luna 4 lights arrived! My Sony NEX system is small and some video lights are HUGE! But the Luna 4’s are small, maybe 6.5 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. When attached the system was still small and easy to carry and maneuver underwater. (Check out the picture, doesn’t it look nice?)
The lights seemed to be fairly neutral to slightly negative as far as weight underwater. And they were really easy to use, even when wearing thick 5 mm gloves! The lock pulls down easily and then the collar twists to set the lights at Low or High power. The light was even and the beam was nice and wide for good coverage without falling off on the edges and leaving a circle of green in my video. And they were so powerful! The Luna 4’s lit up the kelp forest bringing out the beautiful pinks and purples of the coralline algae encrusting the rocks.
The only downside to the lights is that they only last about an hour underwater so I kept turning them off to save battery. Once or twice I forgot to turn them back on when shooting. I also tried using them on low power to save battery but it was so dark under the kelp forest that day that I really needed full power most of the time especially since I was shooting wide angle. Unfortunately I only had one battery pack per light and would recommend having spare battery packs to switch out between dives so as to not have to worry about how much charge you have left. The battery pack is inside the back port which twists off to allow easy access to remove the battery pack for charging. And just being me I have to add that I really liked the pink/purple color.
In summary, if you’re looking for a compact set of video lights, give the Luna 4 V’s a try. I haven’t tried any other types of lights but I thought these were great!
I apologize in advance for the shakiness. Please keep in mind this is the first time I have used video underwater but I plan on keeping up and practicing and getting some better clips up soon!
The lights were loaned to me for free, however, the opinions on this page are my own.
Check out my friend Walter Marti’s Vimeo channel. He was nice enough to put me in touch with Nocturnal Lights to borrow the lights.