Cuttlefish,

really a metamorphosis!

Check out and buy

 

Light & Motion Sola 1200 Video: Practical test

The light system Sola 1200 Video in practice

Compact and powerful

To anticipate: With this Sola 1200 Video you will get a really small miracle of light systems and it seems incredible how much power is possible with modern and long lasting LED technology.

This yield of light-power was some time ago only possible with very large and extremely heavy halogen light systems, which are being replaced more and more.

Using first time

Before first use you should fully charge the batteries and then run at least once before the first auto-off. This will "calibrate" the batteries, the status of capacity and the moment of auto-off can be better evaluated by the electronics.

Basically, lithium-ion batteries have very low self-discharge, so no special care is needed. The charge is possible in every state, but a new calibration is occasionally useful. Best storage of the batteries is a cool place with about 50-70% charge capacity.

The performance of the Sola 1200

  • Illumination with max. wide angle of Sony HDR-CX 550
  • Illumination in Spot-mode

The illumination is during normal operation very homogeneous without visible light spots. Only from a distance of less than 20 centimetres the center becomes increasingly brighter, the closer you are holding the lamp against a wall. The angle of illumination is sufficient more than 60° (in water), to the edges the light intensity decreases slightly. (Image flood). By using of two Sola 1200, the illuminated area is large and more than adequate, so a correction of the lamp position is hardly necessary.

The three power levels are optimally graduated and provide the right adjustment for each motif. Since you have to switch each light separately in comparison to the Sunray, it also offers advantages. In order to image natural looking shadows, it’s possible to adjust one of the both Sola one power level smaller.

The light of the Sola 1200 is very powerful so that for night dives the middle power level is more than enough, to strain the fish unnecessarily. In this condition more than two full night dives are possible without having to recharge.

In my last review I have compared the Sunray 600 LED with the performance of 50 watt HLX tank systems and found that the Sunray seems brighter than the halogen system in normal operation under water. Because the Sola 1200 twice as strong as the Sunray 600 LED, you can certify the Sola 1200 a better performance than a 50 Watt HLX in surge operation. That’s really amazing by a total weight of 530 grams compared to 3500 grams of the double tank system, which also requires large and bulky buoyancy bodies to be tared well.

  • Extremely example: Recording in a blue pool
  • Recording with manual white balance by artificial light

The colour temperature of 6500 Kelvin (daylight) offers significant advantages under water. The white LED light has a higher range by its wavelength than that of halogen lights; the coloured light of Halogen with red components is absorbed much more.

Since in increasing and supposed colourless depth the light conditions reduced more and more, the LED light of the Sola is more advantageous because of its favourable colour temperature and higher range.

I would like to repeat myself in regard to the white balance under artificial light. The manual white balance, even with the use of video lights with optimal daylight colour temperature, is a very useful and simple method to get true colours without processing on computer. In a night dive, once saved, this value must be not changed during the dive. For this purpose I put my reference disc simply under an elastic band that stretches over the housing.

More information about the manual white balance you will find in our review to the housing Stingray G2+. There you can check also why there can be problems even with optimum color temperature of the video lights. (Extremely example: Recording in a blue pool)

The specified operating hours of Light & Motion are reached immediately with the first charge of my both Sola 1200.

Floating position with housing Stingray G2+

  • Light & Motion Stingray G2+ with 2x Sola 1200 Video
  • 2 small weights for the battery rails of the Stingray

If you mount the two Sola 1200 on the Stingray G2, the weight in water is optimal. In salt water the buoyancy is about 60 grams negative, the whole equipment is light as a feather.

However, the housing lifted about 130 grams in salt water and both Sola produced 190 grams negative weight. Therefore the equipment turns with the display to the surface, because the two lights are mounted near the front. This can not be changed by adjusting the lamp position, so i look for a solution.

For this reason, I'll use my two weights of 100 grams, which are inserted into the battery rails of the housing. Now the housing is light negative. At the upper end of the flexible arms, directly under the Sola, I'll mount little floating bodies, each of them with 100 grams positive buoyancy. The weight distribution is now corrected and the whole equipment is perfectly tared. The housing floats himself in a horizontal position, really a fantastic floating position.

It is noteworthy that the whole system is very streamlined. There are no battery tanks or very large buoyancy bodies, no disturbing cables, no screws, which are required to remove the lighting system. Simply brillant.

Operation in practice

The operation of the Sola 1200 is very simple and unambiguous. To directly switch to the highest performance, you can move the switch forward three times within a really short time. Nevertheless, I would liked to see the Sola with a separate power switch that switch on/off the light with a single pulse. This would be more user-friendly if the previously selected output level would be activated after power up.

Below two example-videos in Full-HD as download

Download Sepia 1080i
Download Clownfish 1080i
 

To assess the quality of the provided sample videos, the monitor should have a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

 

More information

After diving:

The Sola 1200 does not require excessive care. Since it is maintenance free, care is limited to the wash in fresh water. You should check and clean the spring of the switch, to avoid blocking by ingress of sediment.

Storage after holiday:

Since the light don´t have a separate power switch and the battery is not removable, the Sola 1200 is in permanent stand-by mode. The self discharge of the battery is faster and uncharacteristically for a Li-Ion battery. You have to check and charge the battery more times during storage.

Suitability for travel:

Enough space for the whole equipment in the Lowepro Nature backpack AW

As already mentioned, the total weight of the two Sola 1200 including the two chargers is unbeatable. The weight of my previous lighting system with more than 4000 grams I could reduce to about 2200 gram with the Sunray 600 LED. With the purchase of the two Sola 1200 it was able to reduce the total weight to indescribable 680 grams including both chargers.

Now the complete equipment including spare parts and 8 AA batteries with charger will be placed without problems in my backpack Lowepro Nature AW II. The total weight of the equipment including backpack is now less than 9 kg and is probably undercut any more.

Using the Sola afloat

Since the 1200 Sola has an overheating protection and turns in this case one step down, it can also be used very well as a video light above water. The strong aluminium frame serves also as a heat sink and eliminated excess heat slightly.

Tip: Protection for the Sola 1200

Rubber rope protect the Sola 1200

Just when I mount the flexible arms to one of the Sola, one segment is broken. If one of the arm parts cracks during diving, the light goes lost into infinite depths.

For this reason I put a rubber rope into the flex arm. This will secure the Sola because the loop at the other end of the rubber rope is placed around the menu handle.

 

Plus/Minus & Conclusion

Plus:

  • Incredibly compact and lightweight
  • Powerful and homogeneous light
  • Long burn time
  • Maintenance free
  • Small charger
  • Color Temperature: 6500 Kelvin (daylight)
  • Quality workmanship

Minus: 

  • No separate power switch
  • Self-discharge during storage by permanent stand-by circuit
  • Spring should be checked after each dive

 
Conclusion:

I never thought that this tiny and compact video light offers such performance and I am really happy about the new acquisition. The fitness for travel and all other advantages of the Sola 1200 confirmed my decision and I am more than happy with the new lighting system, which will hopefully delight me for a long time.

Cart:

Your cart is still empty.

 

Currency

Buy with PayPal

Light & Motion Stingray G2+ Review

Innovative, light and compact!
Read here our extensive review to
the Light & Motion Stingray G2+!