Let there be light!
Intro page - Lanterns - Torches - Mini Torches - Technical Lights - Suppliers
Underwater torches are sometimes useful as primary diving lights, but more often than not they are used as back-ups to more powerful lanterns. Most are small enough to stow in a BC pocket until needed.
Exceptions are the Scubapro Blue Light, Pelican ProLite 4C and Markat Dive Light (and the identical Coltrisub Nautilus) because these are 28-32cm long. The Blue Light uses four D cells and is double-O-ring-protected as is the Dive Light/Nautilus, the former of which comes with a Kevlar lanyard.
An attractive-looking object, the Blue Light's output was a little disappointing, whereas the Dive Light/ Nautilus twins gave a bright but rather narrow beam. The Pro Lite 4C, as its name suggests, uses four C cells and gave a more useful light than the others.
Another torch we found too large to go into any BC pocket was the Ikelite Super C Lite HR. This has a massive, 9cm-diameter, rubber-covered front, and runs on a rechargeable ni-cad pack. It was one of the best performers in its class and clips neatly on to the weight belt, though it is best secured with a safety lanyard. It was sad that we experienced so much difficulty underwater with the detent of the on/off switch.
The Ikelite Mini C Lite was puny in performance by comparison, but it is a reduced-scale version which uses four C cells.
Performance stars in the underwater torch department are the Ikelite PC Lite, Princeton Tec 600 and Underwater Kinetics SL6. Smaller versions using four instead of six C batteries are the Tec 400 and UK SL4.These did not necessarily give less light but were usually found to throw a narrower beam for less burn-time. Both had a switching arrangement as simple as that of their larger relatives.
The sexy, anatomically shaped Technisub Lumen 4, Lumen 6 and Lumen 6 Rechargeable spread their glow, producing a lower brightness measurement in any given place but in a big, comfortable pool of illumination. Alas, we experienced some difficulty in taking them apart and fitting the dry cells needed.
The more conventional-looking Tektite 3C Torch gave a broad, even beam nearly as wide as the Lumens. It is a simple design with a reflector assembly that switches on when screwed down on to a double O-ring.
The Seeman Sub SeeLight 4 gave an average performance for its type and was only slightly negatively buoyant, as was the Mares Lucilla torch. The Lucilla is protected by two O-rings and is another jolly bit of anatomical Italian styling, but bulb-changing can be a trial. The similarly anatomical Scubapro Pocket Light gave a narrower, brighter beam.
The neutrally buoyant Underwater Kinetics Super Q Lite has the simplest construction possible. It is a narrow tube with a lamp reflector assembly at one end, a small ni-cad, and a screw-in plug at the other end that causes a contact between lamp and battery against a spring resistance to switch on and off. It gave a very narrow beam which was not particularly lustrous.
A brighter, tighter beam was revealed by the Pelican Super Sabre Lite. This has a novel clothes-peg-style clip enabling a diver to attach it to a BC epaulet. The smaller Pelican Super PeliLite gave the narrowest beam of any of the torches reviewed in this section.
The Technisub Quartz Mk2 has been a favourite of ours for many years. It produces a reasonable amount of light from eight AA batteries for a whopping nine hours and has proved particularly watertight because it has a magnetic switch instead of a through-body connection.
However, our choice for best all-round performer was the Ikelite PCA. A smaller version of the Ikelite PC, this produces a broader beam, is very bright for its class, fits easily into any BC pocket, and gives a very respectable burn-time from six AA dry cells.
|Ikelite||Mini C Lite||4C||360
|Ikelite||Super C Lite||Ni-cad||60||19
|Princeton Tec||Tec 600||6C||270
|Seeman Sub||See Lite 4||4C||n/a
|Technisub||Lumen 6R||6 x Ni-cad ||90
|Technisub||Quartz Mk2||8 A||540||2.6
||5.5||128||32||23*||Sea & Sea|
||8||330||20||28*||Sea & Sea|
|Underwater Kinetics||Super Q Lite R||Ni-cad ||72
||4||128||13||61||Sea & Sea|
|* inc batteries || n/a data not available|