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Thread: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

  1. #1

    Default Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    Hi everyone,
    I am interested in a new dive torch.

    A typical dive for me:
    Freediving/spearfishing in 1m to 8m depth in the sea normally half an hour after last light in the evening. I do pre-dawn dives rarely.
    An average depth is about 4m to 6m.

    We cover quite alot of ground as we're either looking for something for the table or once that's happened then just looking around at interesting fish and life u/w.
    Mostly it's diving over sand in bays with a reef edge to follow. This is in the UK. Water temperatures are about 12C to 18C.

    Normally a dive is at least an hour and a half. The longest dive is about 2 and a half hours. I'd go for three hours if I could. The longest theoretical dive is an hour before low water to three hours up = four hours. After that, the tides are too strong.
    There is alot of diving down and resurfacing (freediving/snorkelling).
    If I'm with someone then we normally do one up/one down and follow the person down. They can be down for 30 seconds to 45 seconds as it's dynamic swimming along the bottom scanning left and right.
    We also scan from the surface in the shallows if it's clear.

    I often turn my torch off when I'm on the surface and then turn it on for a dive down. Friends leave their torches on.
    If we catch something then the other person will shine a torch on them while they sort out the fish etc.

    So, I originally started with a Ikelite PCa. It had either 4 or 6 AA batteries and was pretty rubbish! Not much light but it worked.
    Around 2006 maybe (?) I bought a FaMi Power LED 40. This was a massive step up from the Ikelite in terms of light output and build quality. It had 4x AA's. Possibly 200 lumens? Not sure.
    In 2010 I borrowed a Magicshine P7 (2x 18650's) and liked it enough to buy a Magicshine XML.

    Currently still using the Macigshine XML.
    Things I like :
    Small in the hand. Small diameter means it's easy to carry & fish with.
    The max output is quite good (it says 900 lumens but it's less for sure - maybe 600 lumens?).
    It's quite robust - I rinse it and look after it unobsessively and it's still working. Got banged a bit on the rocks.
    Cheap: It cost something like £50.

    Things I don't like:
    Run time! On max output it lasts less than 2 hours. I often run it on the lowest output (200 lumens? Similar to the FaMI output) to increase the run time but then I see less....
    Switch: It's a ring dial that just turns between off / min / mid / max. It's now sticky and hard to turn with 3mm gloves on. As mentioned, I turn it off between up/down dives to save run time.
    Cutout : the torch switches off abruptly at about 2 hours. I don't take a spare so either have to follow my buddy or head back to the shore.

    Also, I dive with a friend who made his own umbilical torch with a maglight head and 6x or 8x 18650 belt pack. His torch is awesome! He has the torch on max for the entire dive with no dimming. It's a tight throw with a little bit of flood. When I follow him from the surface I see everything lit up (I was 6m above him on the last dive and saw everything better than with my own torch on the bottom....).
    I have torch envy

    Sooo... In an ideal world I would have a torch that is small in the hand, much brighter than my Magicshine, lasts on max output for 3 hours then gracefully steps down the output rather than cutting out.
    Ideally with an easy switch between max and a lower setting (just need off / low / max).

    I don't mind if it's umbilical or not. Never used umbilical but my friend seems to get on ok with it.
    I'm not sure if 18650 is still a good solution but I have noticed the 26650 batteries - I'm easy either way.
    (In fact I bought some green 18650 batteries 'NCR18650B' 3400 mAh several years ago to use with the Magicshine but they had flat ends and didn't work. A friend said that they were dangerous as unprotected. Will have a read about that.... they seem to work in my bike torch tho').

    What are the best 18650 batteries for a torch at the moment? i.e. if I get better/newer batteries will I get 2.5hrs on max with the Macigshine XML? (cheapest/easiest solution!).
    From my limited understanding I need capacity rather than current. So a higher mAh battery like the Sanyo NCR18650GA 3500mAh/10A will be more suitable than the Sony Konion US18650VTC6 3120mAh/30A ?

    We'll often go a few days in a row due to the tides. So the recharge time will have to be overnight (probably not an issue!).

    I have noticed that there are other emitters around now like the XHP70. Will have a read about that but is it a better solution for what I've described above than the XML's?

    Anyway, I think I will buy a torch rather than make one. I have too many other projects on the go at the moment.
    Budget.... ideally around £150 but I could go up to £200+. I this achievable?

    Because it's freediving/snorkelling close to shore I don't think I need the uber-reliability of the more professional torches? If the light cuts out (happens often to me due to run time) then it's a 5min max swim back to the beach (I'm not metres down in a cave system... ).

    Anyway - if you guys could point me in the right direction I'd be very grateful.
    Thanks,
    Island.

  2. #2
    Flashaholic Keitho's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    Not having personal experience with dive lights, I'll answer a couple of your easy questions first.

    18650 or 26650 cells will be more weight efficient and volume efficient than AA options. For the power requirements you mentioned, you're probably talking about at least a 3x or 4x18650 light. 26650 cells are much less common, meaning slightly less time and effort seems to be spent on development, manufacturing improvements, etc. But, if you find a good 26650 light, go for it--it has the same chemistry as 18650, and should be pretty close on price and performance.

    The unprotected flat top cells you have are only "dangerous" if you use them in a light or charger without built in protection circuitry (unheard of in any decent modern light). However, some lights demand button tops, some demand flat top, some work with both.

    As a starting point, you might want to check out the video review by Vinh of the D45VN. That is his pick for a dive light, and I trust him. It is a 70.2 3x18650.
    https://skylumen.com/products/acebea...n-diving-light

    Good luck!
    Last edited by Keitho; 08-28-2017 at 06:08 AM. Reason: fixed typo, added link

  3. #3

    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    Thanks Keitho, I had a look at the video (you can tell he doesn't dive ). The official site has the Acebeam D45 listed as follows:
    4000 lumens - 1.4hrs
    1500 lumens - 2.2hrs
    750 lumens - 6.2hrs
    With an XHP70 and 3x 18650's.

    I had a look at one of their non-dive torches the K60:
    5000 lms - 1hr
    3400 lms - 1.5hrs
    1700 lms - 3hrs
    XHP70 with 4x 18650's

    I also looked at some videos of the K70 vs the K60.

    I'd say that the K70 has too tight a beam for my use. The K60 beam pattern looks good for freediving/my specifics and I wonder if the D45 would have a similar beam pattern?

    With the D45 I would have to run it at 1500 lms to get the 2.2hr dive time. The K60 at 1700 lms for 3 hrs is more where I want to be (or higher lms) but I doubt I could take the K60 down to 8m in the sea.

    It's a start though. I like the looks of the XHP70.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic Keitho's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    I'll let others jump in with their opinions on the D45 beam pattern. The K60 is a much different design, so I do not expect a similar beam between the two. For any light, it will be most efficient (get the most lumen-hours out of a single charge) if it is run well below its max output. So, if a given battery/light combo gives you 4300 lumens for 1.4 hours, it will give you 2150 lumens for well over 2.8 hours.

    I did want to point out, however, that the D45VN is different than the stock D45. The "VN" is modified by Vinh himself. A typical mod will include an emitter change (in this case, an XHP 70 to an XHP 70.2), improving heatsinking, and tinkering around with the other parts to squeak some more power and/or efficiency and/or throw out of a light. He is very responsive to emails, so I would definitely recommend emailing him directly (through his website) with questions about the beam, his mods, shipping overseas, etc. He sells a K60VN and a K70VN, so he might be best qualified to answer your comparison questions between them, and about how deep he thinks those might be able to dive. (I'm not affiliated with him in any way, I'm just a loyal customer.)

  5. #5

    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    I am no diving light expert. Let me lead with that.

    And with that said, I would not recommend the K60 or K70 at all. Too big, too heavy, and not intended for the water pressure that 10m of water may bring.

    I only have one dive light, the Xtar D06. It is rated for 900 lumens and I tested it fairly close to that (don't remember exact #).

    It is single 18650 and uses a slider switch to go brighter/dimmer. A very simple interface. It has a very thick head and tube construction to take the water pressure, and double o-rings to keep water out.

    I've taken it in the lake and I regularly let my kids play with it in water. No issues. I paid about $45 for it in 2016 on sale. It will use those 18650B batteries you own.

    Downside is that on the bright setting, it won't last 2 hours. So you'd want to adjust up and down as needed to balance battery and brightness.

    Of course that brings up another point... when diving, you should really have 2 if not 3 lights. At 6m deep you should be able to find your way up without it, but what if...? So I'd suggest not to rely on just one. (And 2 single 18650 lights will weigh a lot less that a 4x18650 light like the K60 or K70.

    As to other questions.. the XHP70 is a quad die emotter, like having 4 leds in one. But it can be power hungry, s hence more batteries.

    Vinh's lights are great. Nice build quality and higher output, but runtime is typically reduced (due to higher output). He does no runtime testing. The D45 is well regarged though and if you want something multi-battery, the D45 (in Stock or Vinh form) should be solid.

    Final thought to repeat... buy a dive light for diving. Non diving lights aren't built as thick or tough.

    Hope this helps a bit.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    Check it out fenix sd20

  7. #7
    peter yetman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    This just popped up in my RSS Feed. Dunno if it's any help.

    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...59#post5126659

    P

  8. #8

    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    Yes you might want to wait and see Nitecore DL10

    i believe it will be similar to SRT7 model, i am
    expecting 1000 lumen and a smal size flashlight.

    Also as I said i have a fenix sd20 you might want to check. It works 2x 18650, 1000 lumen and relatively small for free diving/spearfishing. It has battery indicator level test mode and red light extras. $100

  9. #9
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    Just to expand on batteries for s bit... 26660 can have more capacity than 18650s, but not to the extreme. More like 2/3 more, 5000mAh for 26650 and 3000mAh being fairly typical numbers for good modern 26650s and 18650s.
    When it comes to current draw on the other hand, it's not uncommon for 18650s these days to allow for 20-30A, while a 26650 might only allow for 10A, so the smaller 18650s are often more powerful, although at a smaller capacity. Two 18650s will beat a 26650 in capacity as well though.
    Another side to this is that the capacity is typically measured at half an amp. The more current, the less capacity, and this is in relation to the current capability of the battery. Real world performance can be closer than the numbers would indicate.
    If you find a great 26650 light, by all means do get it, but I wouldn't prioritize the size of the cell. Either will do just fine.

    Unrelated, don't get any light that is "IPX8 2 meters for 30 seconds" for example, but do get one that is an actual divelight. While rated for 2 meters, it's something else when it's actively used under water, buttons might be pressed, and so on. Sorry if I'm just mentioning obvious things here.

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* lucca brassi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    http://tovatec.com/product/fusion-1000/ , http://tovatec.com/product/fusion-530/, http://tovatec.com/product/fusion-260/

    depends how big hands you have and weight you want to handle also space.

    variable beam for searching wide and spot for holes , high light output , big battery capacity ,sliding magnet switch, nice shape , good brand
    Last edited by lucca brassi; 08-30-2017 at 02:46 AM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    Thanks guys, useful info.

    I've been thinking about it more:

    -> 3hr runtime at 1500+ lumens

    That's pretty much the goal I'd say.
    I've been diving with various people recently and all of us have torches rated around 1000 lumens (but are less - more like 600lms?) and they all diminish rapidly at 2 hrs or so.
    I'm looking to improve on my Magicshine torch (less than 2hrs at about 600lms).

    Acebeam D45 : 1500 lumens - 2.2hrs (3x 18650's)
    Fenix SD20 : 1000 lumens - 3hrs (2x 18650's)
    Nitecore DL10 : ?
    Tovatec Fusion 1000 : 1000 lumens - 3.5hrs (2?x 26650's)

    x
    Xtar D06 : runtime is an hour at 900 lms x (not long enough. I need around 3hrs).

    I'm kind of leaning towards te Acebean D45 but would ideally like a little more run time at slightly higher lumens. Maybe a 4x 18650 would be a good solution?

    I don't understand how the Fenix SD20 has a longer runtime on 2x 18650's than my Magicshine.
    Is it just more modern/efficient drivers and emitters?
    What is the theoretical max lumen/runtime for 2x 18650's? (Roughly).

    Thanks,
    Island.

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* lucca brassi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    tovatec have only one 26650

    https://www.amazon.com/6000mah-Li-io.../dp/B00AR6CRQC it have 22,2Wh of energy that mean cca 2h operation at full power (for 10W led) . With mode 50% or 30% it will last 4 h or 6h

    but zoom it will made it strong even at lower levels .

    https://www.simplyscuba.com/products...h.aspx#Reviews

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    PS : http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...(XHP70-3x18650)

    http://www.cree.com/led-components/m.../ds-XHP702.pdf

    that led have max power cca 28W ! let's say operative cca 25W .......and you have 7,4Wh *3 = also 22,2Wh ............someone have to learn math

    Mode1: Low - 350lms (12.5hour)
    Mode2: Mid - 750lms (6.2hour)
    Mode3: High - 1500lms (2.2hour)
    Mode4: Turbo - 4000lms (1.4hour)
    Double Press: SOS - 350lms
    Working Voltage: 8-12.6V
    Max beam distance: 374 meters
    Impact resistance: 1.2 meters
    Switch: Magnetic Control Switch
    Moderately texturing (orange peel) finished reflector
    Underwater 200 meters
    Peak beam intensity: 35000cd
    Size: 166.5mm (length) x 58mm (head diameter) x 43.9mm (tube diameter)
    Weight: 436g (without battery)
    Made of durable aircraft grade aluminium
    Surface treatment: premium type III hard-anodizing.
    Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating
    Copper base plate for more efficient heat

    *Runtimes has been tested using 3*18650 2600mAh (High Drain?) batteries.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I recommend you to forget all about these lumens if you them not understand fully .
    Last edited by lucca brassi; 08-30-2017 at 11:43 PM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    Well a friend has bought the Fenix SD20 and some other friends have bought a Sofirn diving torch (3x XPL / '3000 lumen' / 4x 18650) from Amazon uk for 60.

    I'm going to see the performance if the weather improves this week.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    I've never been diving. But flashlight designer Don McLeish dives as part of his photography career. And while it's almost certain that all of his lights would function quite well at those depths, he actually makes a light specifically designed for diving as well. It comes in two different flavors. The Aqua Ram and Aqua Mule. As far as keeping things cost effective, this is not a cheap light. Custom stuff is more money. But the quality is virtually second to none.

    As an alternative option Jason Hui at Prometheus Lights/Dark Sucks makes the Alpha light, which would handle the task easily and is always on the short list of my favorite lights of all time.

    Just keep in mind the Aqua Ram has a reflector, the Aqua Mule is a mule light as the name suggests. No reflector at all. Just pure flood. The Alpha is a "flood" type reflector light, so the beam pattern and light distribution should be sort of half way between the two Aqua lights.

    More expensive options, and only you can decide if the fancy custom stuff is worth it. For me, mass production stuff almost never offers what I'm really looking for.

    Let us know what you end up using and what you think of it!

  15. #15

    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    From discussing this with my dive buddy who built his own torch, he reminded me of the need for throw more than flood in our waters.
    I think that he built some floody torches for spearing/freediving but they just lit up the backscatter.

    So even the D45 will probably be too floody with its XHP70?

    How about the XHP50.2?

    I don't think that I have found what I am after.

    How hard is it to make an umbilical torch?
    I'm thinking about a smallish head with XHP50.2 (multiple?) a good reflector for throwing and a decent battery pack for dive time.
    What sort of costs are involved?

  16. #16
    peter yetman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    Nitecore DL10 is live if you're interested...
    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...95#post5131395

    P

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* DIWdiver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    To get 1500 lm from an XHP70, you'd need 900-1500 mA, depending on the color temp and CRI you pick. Say you go middle of the road and need 1200 mA. The Vf is typically 11.75 at that current, for a total power input of 14.1W. Say your driver is 80% efficient (fairly conservative), your batteries need to supply 14.1/0.8 = 17.6W. Over 3 hours, that's 17.6*3 = 53 W-hours.

    A high-end 18650 cell is 3500 mA-H at 3.7V, or just about 13 W-H. So you need 53/13=4.08 cells. So a 4x18650 light should just barely be able to meet your goals, if well made using a very good LED, high efficiency driver, and good batteries.

    If you go 26650, they are up to 5500 mA-H at 3.7V = 20.4 W-H. Three should give you some extra, two would be short on runtime.

    If you cheap out on the light and/or the batteries, you are likely to sacrifice efficacy in the LED, efficiency in the driver, credibility in the output, and capacity in the batteries. You might make your runtime if you sacrifice output, and you might make your output if you sacrifice runtime, but you won't get both.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    @peter yetman - absolutely useless for my needs (1000 lumens at 1hr 15 / single 18650 - I am looking at 3 times that on all counts as specified previously) but thanks anyway as it's interesting to read about.

    @DIWdiver - thanks, that is very useful. I am clueless by my own admission on building torches and understanding electronics but keen to learn - it can be a little overwhelming for a beginner so I appreciate the breakdown. Will get reading...

  19. #19

    Default Re: Recommend me a freediving torch - longer runtime/ brighter output needed

    Bought a Uranusfire XHP50 x2 26650 from a friend for 40.
    He bought it to put an umbilical in the back - new one on order for him.

    Good spot.
    Good light levels.
    Good variable slider switch. Suits my dive style - thumb it back to low when on the surface, thumb it forward for more light when diving down (freediving; not scuba).
    Good price.
    Reasonable run time - about 2 hours+. Not ideal but will take a spare.

    Although it's not the ideal of what I wanted, it is quite good and I like the spot/brightness/switch. My friend will add an umbilical to his and I might do the same over winter to increase run time.

    Dived with friends using the Sofirn torch (x4 18650 / x3 XPL) and it looked bulky and I didn't like the switch. Good runtime though.

    Nothing ideal on the market that ticks all the boxes at the moment for me - so will compromise and use the UrXHP50 (from aliexpress in case anyone is interested).

    Thanks for all the info and input.

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