Sunday, November 1, 2015

i-Torch v25 FishLite Focus/Video Light Review

i-Torch with their sub-brands Venom and FishLite, has been making lights for many years now. Located in Hong Kong and distributed through i-Torch Canada, owner Kelvin Lee has produced innovatively designed lights that are a good value with their quality design, output and beam strength.

This year they brought out the I-Torch v25 FishLite. At first we thought it was an update to their older and popular V24 light, but in actuality if was a new product somewhere between their more expensive Pro6+ light and the V24. With the same 2800 lumen output, and adjustable white and red output, it also has the same size as the Pro6+, only lacking the purple color used for fluorescence photos. Most divers don’t miss this and they don’t miss the higher $450 price of the Pro6+ either.

The V25 FishLite has 4 steps of white, and two of red light, along with an SOS flashing mode. It’s switch has a built-in “airline” safety mode that requires 5 quick pushes to activate it, then a longer push to turn the light on and switch between it’s modes. It utilizes the now-familiar colored light bezel for relative remaining battery strength that changes from green to white to red as the battery runs down.

All of the iTorch lights come with a YS-mount and the V25 comes with two batteries and a separate charger. Changing the light to a ball mount is not currently possible, so a short YS-Ball arm must be used with a ball mount.

I had a chance to use the light as a focus/fill light quite a bit on my Solomon Islands trip as the airlines didn’t load my camera bag with strobes. I tried various cameras with it; an Olympus TG-4 in shallow water, an Olympus E-M1 on deeper dives, as well as an LX-100 and Sony A7II once my bags caught up with me.

The light worked very well in all conditions and it was neither too physically large, nor lacking in power. I used a small tray and arm to add it to the TG-4 without a housing and it allowed me to take close in photos quite well, giving a more even beam that the on-board flash. On the E-M1, I coupled it with the amazing new Olympus MZ 8mm f1.8 PRO lens as a fill in light, shooting available light in deep water and using the V25 as fill to add a little color and detail for close focus/wide angle shots. With the LX100 and Sony A7II, it was bright enough to used for focus, even at wide angle, in darker conditions.

The V25 battery easily lasted an hour, as it is rated at a 70min burn time on high. I rarely used it on high, and turning it up and down greatly extends it’s burn time. Having the extra battery ready-to-go on the charger, meant I never had to wait for a recharged light, and the battery charges quickly.

About the only negative of the light (and this is true of all single push button lights) is that to turn the light back up to high from a lower level, meant that you have to cycle through all of the mode settings. This can result in a lot of button pushing. More expensive lights, like the ITorch Venom series and Fix NEO lights have multiple buttons for mode and power.

The construction quality of the light held up well over the 25+ dives I did, with a twin o-ring seal (most all lights now have this) and aluminum construction.

The red light mode found on this light and others, is quite useful for night dives, saving your night vision and attracting much less krill that spoil shots with backscatter. It’s also useful while shooting shots of squid, crab, octopus and other critters who can’t see red light well. Most fish are still wary, but it does create a more calming tone.

The light was plenty bright to use as a dive light in the clear tropical waters I was in, but the wide 110° beam would dissipate quickly in more turbid conditions.

None of these lights have an auto off-on sensor, you just need to shoot faster than about 1/100 of a sec. Your strobes will wash out the light beam.

I didn’t get a chance to shoot video with this light, but my sense is that it should work fine for many compact cameras. For more serious videographers, it’s a bit underpowered at 2800 lumens as a true standalone video light, and having to push buttons down through red modes while shooting video would be tiresome. It therefore is more of an “all-in-one” focus/video light. But for power and quality at it’s low $349 price point, it’s hard to beat, and is one of our favorite lights this year.