Buying Guides

The Ultimate Guide to Underwater Video Lights

There are two types of lighting which are used underwater: Strobes (AKA flashes) and Video Lights (Constant LED Lights).  Underwater Video Lights are more popular than strobes since they allow shooting both video and stills.

After creating the Ultimate Strobe Guide, we wanted to share our thoughts on the second type, and help you choose the best underwater video light for your needs.

If you want to skip directly to the recommended video lights section, click here (Updated May 2021).

When trying to choose which underwater video light to get, you should consider the following features:

  1. Lumens – How strong the video light is.
  2. Beam Angle – How wide or narrow the beam is.
  3. Controls – Which buttons / dials / levers are used to operate the light.
  4. Modes and Levels – Which modes are available and how many power levels.
  5. Beam Quality – Is the beam nice and even or does it have hotspots.
  6. Mounts – Which mounts does the light come with.
  7. Batteries and Charging – How long does the battery last, how fast does it charge.
  8. Price – No explanation needed 🙂

Before we dive into these features in detail…

What is an underwater video light?

Strobe, Flash, Flashlight, Torch, Video Light… HELP!

Let’s set things straight. As we mentioned, there are only 2 types of lighting underwater:

Strobe – A Xenon based light bulb which can emit a very strong pulse of light for a brief moment.
Also known as a “Flash” (not flashlight!)

Constant light – A device which can emit a constant beam of light for minutes to hours, today commonly based on LED technology which can be focused to perform as a dive light or spread out to perform as a video light.
Also known as “Torch”, “Flashlight”, “Dive Light”, “Video Light” and unfortunately even “Strobe” in the topside industry, which is incorrect for the underwater photography lingo.

An underwater video light is basically a waterproof flashlight. There is some confusion due to the use of the word “flash” in “flashlight”, but don’t let linguistics mess with you. “Flash Light” and “Flashlight” are two different things!

Now that we got that out of the way, we’ll continue to discuss video lights!

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Main Features of Underwater Video Lights

There are several terms and features commonly used when comparing video lights. Let’s go over them.


Many people ask me – “how many lumens do I need for underwater lighting?”. This is perhaps the most important feature differentiating between video lights.

The power emitted by a light is measured in units known as Lumens. Without getting into the science of it, the more lumens a light outputs, the stronger it is. Common lumen ranges today are 500-1000 for a basic light, 2000-3000 for a medium range light and the most powerful ones can even reach 30,000 lumens (!!!).
An important thing to remember is that Lumens are measured by collecting all the light the device emits, so the actual brightness of the subject lit by the light will vary according to our next feature – Beam Angle.

Beam Angle

What is beam angle? A video light can be engineered to focus or spread out its light output in different manners. Focusing all the light to a very narrow beam with lenses and mirrors, will actually create a dive light, which is great for spotting out things or signalling to other divers. On the other hand, spreading the output to a 60 degree, 100 degree, or even a 120 degree angle, is much better for lighting up videos, so that you can cover the entire frame with 1-2 wide (aka flood) lights.

Most video lights will feature a 60-120 degree beam angle. This factor will determine how bright your subject would be in the frame just as much as lumen output. For example, lighting up a Grouper in blue water with a Sola 2000 Flood on 60 degree beam angle, will probably be more effective than using a 90 degree Sola 2500 Flood, even though it has lower lumen output.
However, when lighting up an entire coral system, you may prefer to get closer and use the wider beam light.

There are several types of lights available: Flood only / Spot Only (dive lights) / Flood & Spot / Variable Beam

The variable beam lights seem ideal but they usually can’t reach a very wide beam angle for video. There are add-ons available for some lights which modify the beam from flood to spot or vice versa.

Flood & Spot lights are the most versatile option and allow you to switch from dive light to video with a quick press of a button. This leads us to our next feature.


Over the years, manufacturers have created several types of controls for underwater lights, each with pros and cons.

1. Twist method – This method is quite straightforward. Twisting the light head all the way in will turn it off and unscrewing it slightly will turn it on. This is the easiest for the manufacturer to implement and lowers the cost of the light significantly, which is a big plus. However, this method risks corrosion of the O-ring after some time, increasing the risk of flood as well as risking potential flooding by human error – unscrewing it too far underwater without noticing and effectively destroying your light. Nowadays very few manufacturers use this method.

The early I-Torch Pro 5 used the twist mechanism
The early I-Torch Pro 5 used the twist mechanism

2. Push Buttons – The is the most common method used on most video lights. Using either 1 or 2 buttons to control the light is a safe and efficient method for powering up/down and switching between modes. A 1 button light will be more affordable than a 2 button light, but usability is greatly improved when using 2 buttons. A single button allows 2 types of presses – short press, usually switching between modes and long press, usually to power on / off. A 2 button light will allow more options such as one button for mode switching and the other for switching output levels, making the overall experience easier and faster.

Big Blue Black Molly video light

Big Blue Black Molly uses the push button method

3. Other – Some manufacturers have developed their own signature controls such as Sola’s sliding lever, which functions in a similar fashion as 2 buttons, but in a much more elegant way of gently pushing a single switch back and forth. FIX Neo lights come with 3 buttons and an LCD screen, creating a little control panel on the top which is incredibly useful.

4. Remote Control – This is a fairly new method, developed by Nauticam on their FIX Neo light system, as well as by Kraken on their Hydra series. By connecting fiber optic cables to the lights, as single master remote controller can control several lights at once, making it much easier and faster to change your lighting instead of setting each light separately.

Remote control for underwater video light

Modes and Levels

We have already discussed the two main modes – Spot (narrow beam) and Flood (wide beam). Another common mode included in video lights today is a Red light mode. The red light is very useful as a focus assist beam, since the camera can read it easily and use it to facilitate focus, while marine life are not disturbed by it, since it’s out of their visible spectrum. The red light is also to weak to show up in most photos so it won’t affect your overall lighting.

A cool mode introduced lately is UV or Blue Light. This is similar to black lights which are painfully familiar from those underground parties back in the 90’s. Essentially it’s an ultraviolet light which excites bio-luminescent organisms underwater and when paired with a barrier filter (yellow filter) it creates a unique glowing effect which looks great on photos and videos.

Light and Motion Sola video light with red light feature

Another mode which is included on some lights is SOS or Emergency. This causes the light to randomly flash a white light, indicating that you have a problem or you are lost. This can be very useful in emergency situations, but also very annoying if one of the divers sets it off accidentally and can’t figure out how to power it down…

Power levels are almost always implemented in some way, allowing you to control the power output from low, medium and high. Some lights have 3-4 modes and some have complete control from 0-100 in 1 unit steps (FIX Neo). Most lights are set to operate for about 1 hour on full power. Using the light on lower power settings increases usage time significantly, allowing you to use it for several dives before charging / changing batteries.

Generally, more modes and levels are great! However, this affects the complexity of the using the light and if you have just a single button to control many levels and modes, you may find yourself scrolling frantically between them while the once-curious-now-bored Hammerhead swims off to the deep blue.



Occasionally lights can be mounted with filters. There are various filters available which create different effects.

Yellow Filter – Which is quite common with Big Blue lights, helps warm up the light, creating a nicer quality of light and also assists in making the background more blue, since the camera adjusts the WB to the light’s temperature.

UV Filter – Some lights can be fitted with a UV filter in order to create the fluorescence effect. Remember you will need a yellow filter on the camera and mask in this case.

Red filter – Used to modify your light to a red light at night, so that you can use it as a focus light.

Blue filter – AKA ambient light filter. This is the latest trend and made famous by the production team “Behind The Mask”. The idea is that you mount a red filter on the camera or port, and a blue filter on the lights. When using that combination, your ambient light is corrected thanks to the red filter but the video light doesn’t come out red as it would without the filter, but rather comes out white! The two filters cancel each other out.

This creates wonderful results and when done right, looks very professional!

Beam quality

Beam quality is usually measured by how even the beam is across the output circle.

Using multiple bare LED’s may result in a less even beam than one single LED or a diffuser dome spreading the light out evenly. Some LED’s create a more even beam than others. Video light manufacturers will always need to compromise between an even beam, power output, price, heating and more factors which create various types of LED formations.

Another important factor is CRI rating (stands for Color Rendering Index). This number indicates how accurately the light will reproduce the true life colors of the subject (Ideal light = Daylight/Tungsten). The higher the number (closer to 100), the more accurate the color rendering will be. Check out this excellent video explanation of CRI.


Just imagine getting a new $1000 light which you intend to use on your $3000 system which you are taking tomorrow to a week in the Galapagos Islands, just to find out the mounts don’t match! Before you start creating MacGyver solutions with tie-wraps and sticky tape, go back a few days in time and order the correct mounts for your system! Most lights will come with one mount as default and additional mounts optional. Some arms will support one type of light mount or several.

Fix Neo Video Light

Usually you can’t go wrong with a 1″ Ball mount, or a YS mount which are easily interchangeable between them. Make sure you add a mount to your Sola lights since most of them come without.

It might be a good idea to get a second type of mount upon purchase. You never know when you might switch trays or lend the light to a fellow diver who wants to try it out before buying.


When creating cross brand systems, you might not be sure if the light will match your current setup or vice versa. Consult with our experts and they will figure that out for you.

Batteries and Charging

Most lights have a fairly similar battery life on full power of about 50-70 minutes. However, there are several different battery implementations:

1. Interchangeable rechargeable battery – The light can be opened and the batteries changed as needed. Each battery can be charged individually. This is the standard method and has the advantage of getting several batteries and switching them between dives. This method also increases the risk of flooding due to human error or bad O-ring maintenance.

bigblue vtl2500p open with battery

2. Factory Sealed lights – Sola lights are factory sealed, which means they are less prone to leakage due to human error. That’s a huge advantage and insures hassle free use for a long time. The downside is that you can’t replace the battery. That means you have to remember to charge between dives and if you aren’t near a power outlet for the whole day, chances are you will not use the light on the last dive. Light and Motion have implemented a new Fast Charge technology on their new lights, reducing the charging time significantly to about 1:45 hours, but this still doesn’t help if you forget to plug it in or if you don’t have an available power source.

3. Interchangeable Light HeadsNauticam‘s FIX Neo and I-Torch’s Venom series have created a line of interchangeable light heads which mount on the same base. This means that you can get a second light body without getting a whole new light as a new battery. It’s pricier than just a battery but still more affordable than getting a second light. You can also get several light heads and use them as needed on your light bases.

Fix Neo 3000DX video light head


We can babble on forever, but in the end, it all comes down to price. All the features we discussed here, may lead you to believe that you want the best, strongest, most versatile option available, but then you find out that it either doesn’t exist or will set you back a few thousands of dollars more than you expected. Indeed, creating a quality product doesn’t come cheap and you have to prioritize. Video lights range from $100 to $3000+ so you need to decide on your budget before hand and then consider your best options within that budget.

We gathered here some of leading underwater video lights in the market (Updated May 2021) to help you choose:

Kraken Hydra 3500S+ WSRU Underwater Video Light 

Kraken 3500 WSRU Video Light

This excellent and versatile video light by Kraken is capable of producing 3500 lumen of flood and 800 lumen of spot light. In addition, Red light is also available for focusing at night without scaring off the critters, and UV light for an exciting fluorescence dive. Easily controlled by two push buttons, YS and Ball mounts included, waterproof lighthead and more cool features. Did we mention the cool carrying case it comes in?
This is truly one of the best value lights you can get.

Update: The newer version 3500S has a built in strobe feature, triggered by a fiber optic cable, which produces a burst light of 4500 lumens. This is a great feature to use as a main strobe for macro shots or as fill light when pairing it with a main standard strobe.

Click to view the recent price of the Kraken 3500S

The same light is available in a 5000 Lumen version as well:

Light and Motion SOLA Video 3800F FC Underwater Video Light

Light and Motion SOLA Video 3800F FC underwater video light

The Sola video 3800 Flood is Light & Motion’s best value light, with a strong output of 3800 lumens and beam angle of 90 (expandable with optional dome). Factory sealed with fast charge technology for 1h 45m for full charge.

Click to view the recent price of the Sola 3800F

Light and Motion SOLA Video 2500 Flood Underwater Video Light

Light and Motion SOLA 2500F

The Sola video 2500 Flood is Light & Motion’s most popular light as of 2021. It is unique due to its price point of $299 (as of May 2021).  You get 2500 Lumens, US made, factory sealed L&M quality light for this price which is quite amazing.

Click to view the recent price of the Sola 3800F

BigBlue VL4200P Underwater Video Light

Big Blue BL4200P

Small and highly sophisticated light with 2 sets of LEDs featuring a flood and spot mode. This light is 2 in 1, a video light and a dive light. Depth rated to 100mts/330ft.

Wide beam can be set at 4 power levels. Red beam is offered in one low power level and SOS mode is also available.

Click to view the recent price of the VL4200p

Big Blue AL2600XWP II (AKA “Black Molly V”) Underwater Video Light

Big Blue AL2600XWP II (AKA "Black Molly V") Underwater Video Light

This is one of the best value lights available in the market. It’s tiny, it’s powerful and it has amazing battery life!

Capable of 2600 lumens, 120 Deg beam and even red light feature in a surprisingly small package! You can take it down to 100m, and max burn time on full power is 2hrs!

The AL2600XWP-II comes standard with built-in red LED’s for enhanced focusing and night video work.

The light comes with a Yellow removable filter, and a 1″ ball for easy video system mounting.

Click to view the recent price of the Black Molly V

Sometimes, you want the most powerful underwater video light you can get…

Big Blue CB15000P Powerful Video Light

Big Blue CB1500P Video Light

This Big Blue light is a little bit under $1,200 (as of May 2021) and offers 15,000 lumens.  Thats very very powerful and you would be surprised to see its body is not that big.  In the past such lights would require you to carry a battery the size of your air tank but today, its all packed in a small light.

Using a blue ambient filter is highly recommended which is why we included it as a kit with this light.

Click to view the recent price of the CB15000P

Kraken Solar Flare 12000 Video Light

Kraken Solar Flare 12000 Video light

High end 12,0000 lumen light with a 120 deg beam and comes even with a vacuum system to check for leaks prior to your dive.

Click to view the recent price of the Solar Flare 12000

And finally a mid range underwater video light…

Big Blue CB6500PB Video Light

Big Blue CB6500PB Video Light

A great flood only light, bundled with a Blue Ambient filter, a 120 deg beam and high CRI of 85.  The PB version also includes a UV light and Flourecense photography.

Click to view the recent price of the CB6500P

A Tray and Arms For Your Video Light

Video lights, as well as many other accessories have to be mounted on the housing.  You can mount them directly on the housing with a cold show mount but this is likely to generate Backscatter due to the fact that the light is close to the lens.

Video Light on a Cold Shoe Mount

As such we recommend mounting the housing on a good tray and mounting the lights on arms that are connected to the tray.

We have many options for an underwater tray and arm but better than that, we have many pre-made packages of video lights mounted on a tray and arms.

See some examples below:

Big Blue CB6500P Dual light package Big Blue VL10000P Video light Package Hydra 3500S Video Light PAckage

You can always search for a specific light on our website, for example VL4200P and see all the packages that include this light.

BTW, we have a price match guarantee and will match any price you see online.


Can you use a video light for still photography?

Yes and no. A video light can never replace a strobe as a main lighting source for photography due to a much weaker output. A medium range strobe would be about 10 times as powerful as a medium range video light. That’s because video lights produce constant light while strobe give just one short pulse.
However, for macro photos or even closeups, you definitely can use a video light or even a dive light (spot mode). For more info on that, read this.

One interesting option is I-Torch’s dual purpose lighting unit – Video light and Strobe in one light! The Symbiosis comes in two models – SS-2 and SS-1. And the newly released SS-3Read our review on it here.

How many lumens do I need in an underwater video light?

The more the merrier. Even very high output light will have a lower output mode, so you probably won’t encounter a problem of having too much light. However, high power output comes at quite a price, as well as size and heat problems. You need to find the right balance for you, which fits your budget and look at other important factors such as modes, controls, beam quality and more of what we discussed above.

These days the standard is 2000 – 5000 lumens, but remember that actual intensity varies with beam angle. That means a 60 deg 1600 lumen light, would actually feel stronger than a 120 degree 2500 lumen light, but with less coverage.

Should I use one video light or two?

If you want to go as compact as you can, one light is definitely enough. You can get a strong light with a very wide angle to cover all of your field of view, if you are shooting with a wide angle lens.

If you get two lights, you will have better coverage and better illumination of your subject, especially if they are hiding. Trying to get a hiding sea horse or blenny lit properly with just one light might be much harder than two opposite directions.

Which is the best underwater lighting setup for my GoPro?

Remember that a GoPro has a very wide view angle, so you want a light that will cover your entire frame. 2 lights here might be a good idea, especially with BTS’s excellent boomerang tray, the GPT-4. It adds stability to your footage and gives you excellent coverage from both sides, with whichever lights you choose. If you wish to stay even more compact, a single light with a pistol grip tray will be great, especially for those harder to reach places. Get a light that has a 120 degree beam to cover the entire frame. 2000 lumens will be a great number to start from in total, so either one light of 2000+ or two lights of 1000+. As we mentioned above, the higher the output the better reach you will have.

Click here to browse GoPro Lighting Packages

Read about choosing the best video light for your GoPro

Do you have any more questions on underwater video light that you want answered?

Let us know in the comments and we will be happy to update the FAQ section!

Ran Mor
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  1. Mike Corey October 19, 2015

    Very Helpful. Thanks guys!

  2. Jimmy Lockard October 19, 2015

    Great article. A must read for all to reference no matter what level of diving or photography one is at. Even after four decades diving, I still picked up some useful info and hints. Thanks Ran …..Jimmy Lockard

  3. Mark February 3, 2016

    Hi Ive got an ikelite underwater casing for sony HDR – hc3. Im looking for a decent light. Your black molly3 seems like the right thing but what connector could I use for the housing?

  4. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor February 3, 2016

    Hi Mark,

    The Black Molly 3 would be an excellent choice for a video light.
    I will try to find the correct mounting options for you to use with your housing and let you know via email asap.


  5. Dan March 22, 2016

    Hi Ran!
    I’m currently using a GH4 in a Nauticam housing with a 7-14mm wide angle lens, do you think 2 x ‘Black Molly 3s’ would be sufficient? Do you know how I could mount these lights to my housing?

  6. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor March 23, 2016

    Hi Dannie,

    The Black Molly’s are awesome! They’re very strong for their size and should be a nice solution for close-up videos with the 7-14mm.
    For night dives or caves they are more than enough.
    I sent you an email regarding mounting options.

    Let me know if you have any further questions!

  7. Michael March 28, 2016

    We shoot stills in cenotes in the Riviera Maya, called trash the dress sessions for newlyweds. Until now, we have done pretty well with available light, but would love to use a constant light instead of a strobe for backlighting, sidelighting, etc. Can anyone tell me what aperture a 5,000 lumen light will produce at 4 meters at 1600 ISO? Thanks.

  8. Bernat September 3, 2016

    Hi Ran,

    I’ve seen that some lights from Big Blue offer two different lumen outputs at 5.500K and 6.500K. What are the implications for underwater videography? What are the best white balance settings for both temperatures, specially when balancing with natural light? Where would you use the different light temperatures?

  9. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor September 13, 2016

    Hi Bernat,
    BigBlue produces some lights which are “Tri-Color”, which means they have cool white (6500K), warm white (5500K) and red.
    The warmer mode can produce more pleasant lighting, creating an overall better look for your video.
    It would be best to set the WB manually to the temperature the light emits, or maybe slightly colder than that, to make sure your lighting is a bit warmer. You will notice that with the warmer light, your background will be cooler, which might be more flattering to your subject.
    It’s hard to say when to use one or the other. I would recommend trying them both and see which result you like best.

  10. daniel belz January 31, 2017

    Hi, wish I had found you 3 days ago now totally confused I see you highlight 2 big blue lights I assume this is a good brand, I am just starting video/photo, would like an all round light to replace my canister lights to declutter, would like to just carry one, the thing that concerns me is the combo beam angle lights only have 1000 lumen output, how does this compare to my 21W HID, will be diving all over the world, but also in northeast NJ, dark and dirty, would like your opinion on a light from big blue VTL 6000 P for my purposes, also very open to your suggestions, Thanks for your help from me and others

  11. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor January 31, 2017

    Hi Daniel!

    Big Blue is an excellent brand – they make the best value lights in the market in terms of lumens per $$. The great thing about having a dual purpose light (spot and flood) is that you can use it mostly as a dive light, penetrating the darkness and spotting marine life, then switch to flood when recording video / shooting photos. When on spot mode, you don’t need as much lumens as flood, since the beam is much more concentrated. A 1000 lumen spot beam is very powerful and more than enough for most.
    The VTL6000P would probably be an ideal choice for you. Just remember that when it’s dark and dirty, you want to place you light as far away from the camera as possible and reasonable, to avoid backscatter, so make sure you get some long arms.
    Canister lights are nice only due to longer battery life, but as long as you get some spare batteries, you should be fine with regular lights and they are much easier to handle.
    LED technology has made some giant leaps in the past few years so upgrading from an older canister light to the new LED’s would be a significant upgrade.
    It’s hard to convert Watt to Lumen as they don’t describe the same units, but your light would be comparable to a 1000-1500 lumen LED light.

    Glad I could help. Let me know if you have any further questions!

  12. Scott Thomas May 1, 2017

    Another great article. What video light would you recommend for my Canon G16, inon S-2000 strobe combo. I have the 2 arms. It has the screw that goes through the top of the arm . thanks in advance!

  13. Tal Mor
    Tal Mor May 1, 2017

    Hi Scott,

    The Kraken lights are very popular and I would highly recommend them. Take a look at these 2 options:

    Please contact us for further consult.


  14. Kevin May 9, 2017

    Hello, I’m putting together a rig for my GoPro and it looks like the black molly is great a great option for a mix of power and budget. I’m more into macro video and wondering if duel black molly II would work or is it better off for the long run to get the black molly III. I still enjoying shooing wide angle but just enjoy capturing little creatures in motion

  15. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor May 10, 2017

    Hi Kevin!

    The Black Molly is indeed an excellent value light.
    If you do a lot of macro video, I would recommend the Black Molly III, which is more powerful. You will need more power when shooting with a narrower aperture. The tri-color feature wouldn’t be very useful for macro video, since it mainly determines the color of the background and the background is not all that important in macro video.

    Hope that helps!

  16. cam June 28, 2017

    Hey Ran, great article! I am shooting a compact tg-4 with pt-056 housing which has a cold shoe mount. I am looking for a relatively inexpensive video light for shooting more macro than not and ideally can mount to my cold shoe. What do you recommend under 400 or so?! thanks a bunch!

  17. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor June 28, 2017

    Thanks! Glad you liked it 🙂

    There are a few excellent options available.
    The Big Blue Black Molly is very popular:

    Another option is the Kraken Hydra 2000:
    With this mount kit:

    If you want to get one with spot feature as well, which can be nice for macro, try this one:
    With the same mount kit:

    I’ll be happy to offer any further advice!

  18. Anthony August 16, 2017

    What would you suggest when it comes to SOLA 1200 and SOLA 2500 with the different degree beams. I’m setting them up (2 Lights Ikelight Tray/w flex arms) with a GOPRO HERO 5. I’ve read the reviews saying the more light, the further away you can be but with my set up do I really need that much light. I know the 2500 has lower settings but what’s the point of getting it if I will always have it on the lower setting for my set up?


  19. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor August 16, 2017

    Hey Anthony!

    When shooting video underwater, you would rarely have “too much light”. Perhaps 2 x 30,000 lumens may be a bit too strong, but 2 x 2500 is definitely not too much. Especially when shooting with more basic cameras such as the GoPro, the more light you have, the better the quality will be, and as you mentioned, the further away from the subject you can be and still see the effect of the lights in the footage.
    If your budget allows, then definitely get the 2500’s or even 3800’s.
    You may lower the light intensity when shooting close-ups, but anything further than 1-2 feet, you want as much light as possible!

    Hope that helps 🙂

  20. Annabella October 6, 2017

    Hi, Ran
    I need to buy my first video light(s) and mount for a Hero 5. What would be a good, budget-conscious choice?

  21. Fahad October 16, 2017

    Hi.. I have a old Ikelite AF35 strobe and ikelite pro video light with dual tray… Now I am not using that ikelite housing anymore (Canon s95).. I am using a gopro mainly for video and have a sony RX100 IV… I am decided to invest on a good housing of Rx100… But for the time being I am using my gopro and want to invest on lights first..
    I have two short selection…
    Sealife Sea Dragon 5000 set (dual 2500) or Light & Motion sola 3000 (x2)… I am from Australia and I can get Sea Dragon one way cheaper than Sola..
    Now my question is, which light system should I buy? Or, should I buy one light and one strobe instead? Or, should I use my old ikelite AF35 with a single video light from either Sola or Sealife and invest rest of the money on sony housing?
    Or just simply stick with the old ikelite set? thanks

  22. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor October 17, 2017

    Hi Fahad,

    Whether to get 2 video lights or one video light + one strobe, depends mainly on what you plan to shoot.
    If you plan to shoot both photos and videos, then definitely one of each is a good idea. If you will focus mainly on video, then 2 video lights are the way to go.
    The AF35 is still usable of course, but there’s a huge advantage to shooting with a fiber optically triggered strobe, so that you don’t get any backscatter from the internal flash.
    Another limitation is that it’s hard to adapt the AF35 with the tray to fit a 2nd light that isn’t another AF35.
    The YS-01 or S-2000 are very popular alternatives.

    Both Sealife and Light & Motion make excellent lights. Some people prefer the advanced control switch on the Sola and a factory sealed light, so you don’t have to mess around with o-rings, and some prefer to be able to switch batteries and like the Sealife design better. It’s a matter of personal preference.

    Beam angle is also important. If you go with just one light, make sure it has a wide beam angle, especially for the GoPro, so it can cover most of the frame.

    Hope this helps!

  23. Allen hawkins October 28, 2017

    I have a nex 7 with Sony fish eye converter lens in a Nauticam housing with a dome port and two ys1 strobes on long arms. I would like to take luminescent creatures both movie and still shots. What filters and additional lights do you recommend. I also have a go pro fitted to the housing. PS great article. Very readable and inspiring

  24. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor November 2, 2017

    Hi Allen!

    Glad you like the article.
    For shooting fluorescence, you would need a yellow filter for your camera and UV / Blue lights.
    I’m not aware of any way to do that with a dome port, only with a flat port, or with your GoPro.
    You can also consider adding a filter directly on the camera lens, inside the housing. That should work too.
    For the strobes, it would be difficult finding an excitation filter, but perhaps there is a 3rd party company that makes these, such as Nightsea. We don’t carry them.
    I’ll be happy to recommend a video light with UV mode, such as the Hydra 3500:

  25. keith mckeone November 28, 2017

    what light would you recommend for a GoPro Hero5? I have just started into underwater video and looking for an upgrade from using just filters. great article, thank you.

  26. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor November 28, 2017

    Hi Keith!
    Glad you found the article helpful.
    Generally for GoPro I recommend a dual light setup, due to the wide FOV of the lens.
    This is a great entry level kit with 2 good quality lights which would work well:
    This package includes the more high end lights with several modes and stronger output:

    Hope that helps!

  27. George December 13, 2017

    Thanks Ran for your detailed article.

    I´m about to get new lights and what i´m wondering know about lumens and beam angles,
    How close is a 3800 with 100 to a 2000 with 60 angle? Or a 5000 with 120 to 3800 with 100?

    Do you have any experience with that?

    I have the Sola 2000 for a long time now, and will decide between a pair of Weefine 3800 Cri95 and Weefine 5000 Cri 80.
    I don´t know which one i should go for. I tend to the 5000. (longer burn time at lower settings and smaller aperture on WA shots)

  28. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor December 14, 2017

    Hey George!

    Glad you enjoyed the article.
    The 3800 at 100 would actually put out less light than the 2000 at 60. However, the coverage would be different. Two 60 degree lights will be needed to cover a wide angle frame, whereas a single 100 degree can be enough.
    Try the calculator on the bottom of this page:
    Enter the lumens and apex angle to get the intensity in Candelas.
    5000 with 120 is quite similar to 3800 with 100 in terms of intensity. But again, better coverage for fisheye lenses.
    With video lights, you can never have too much light. Well, almost never. The more light the better, you can always use it on a lower setting. As long as the light is reasonably sized, it’s best to go for the stronger one.

    I’ll be happy to answer any further questions!

  29. Kim December 19, 2017

    Hey there!
    Thanks for the article, very helpful!
    I recently bought an Olympus OMD EM1 Mark 2 with the Olympus PT-EP14 underwater housing – I’m really keen to film great white sharks in particular, and am going ocean floor cage diving next year. As big animals, I’ll be shooting on wider lenses, say 7-14mm or the 8mm fisheye, and the water depth is likely to be around 20-30m. Do you have any suggestions for the best video light/s to best capture these beautiful creatures?

  30. Tal Mor
    Tal Mor December 20, 2017

    Hi Kim,

    Video lights range from $200 to $2000 so the choice would very much depend on your budget.

    The popular choice is usually between $400-600 and I would suggest looking at the below lights in that range:

    Please contact us by email, chat or phone for more detailed information.


  31. Hugo May 23, 2018

    Excellent article. I am currently using a gopro hero 6 to record video. I am contemplating buying lights for my setup and hoping i can also use the lights eventually later in the near future with my Panasonic GH5 (i still need to purchase a underwater housing). what would you recommend? a set of light i can use now with my gopro and eventually with my GH5. Keep in mind i also need the light for night diving (I dont do macro, mostly wide view). Thanks

  32. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor June 21, 2018

    Hey Hugo!
    Sorry for the late reply on this one!
    Basically any video light you get for your GoPro can ultimately work with the GH5 as well, regardless of which housing you get, since these lights require no syncing or triggering of any kind.
    If you mostly need wide angle and night dives, I would suggest a wide angle beam only, such as the Kraken Solar Flare Mini capable of 8000 lumens, or the Big Blue VL4000P if you need something more affordable.

  33. abdullah August 25, 2018

    Hi ran
    I don’t know what video light should I buy , one video light 3000 lumens its enough for “video” when I used at 10m in the morning for example ?
    or I should have 2 video light 3000 one left and another right ?

    second Q/
    it’s 3000 lumens enough for “photography” also in morning ? if it is not , what should I do ?

  34. Tal Mor
    Tal Mor August 26, 2018

    Hi Abdullah,

    The fact is that you can never have enough light underwater. The more the better. So if you can afford 6000 lumens that is better than 3000 for sure. I think a minimum of 4000 is required for decent video.

    Regards, Tal

  35. Lam Kok Wai December 11, 2018

    Thanks for the article, very useful. Cheers!

  36. joseph shin December 17, 2018

    Was also looking to buy 2 video lights for my new go pro 7 and was looking at Kraken Hydra 5000S+.
    Question: Would lights scare fish? or worse, could a pair of 5000 lumen floods hurt fish?

  37. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor December 17, 2018

    The Hydra 5000 would be an excellent choice!
    Yes, some fish definitely shy away from lights and some don’t mind it at all. It’s a compromise you have to live with when you add lights, but the benefits are huge.
    Videos come out so much better with lights. You just need to practice the technique – make sure you maintain perfect buoyancy, let the fish get used to you by hanging around a bit, and eventually even with lights they will become more friendly.
    To your 2nd question, no, it won’t hurt 99% of marine life. That being said, some critters may be more sensitive. For example – Pygmy seahorses have rather sensitive eyes, so it’s best to minimize their exposure to bright lights.
    All in all, plenty of divers use UW lights and get amazing results while staying respectful towards marine life. The Hydra 5000 is a perfect choice and you can’t go wrong with Kraken lights!

  38. Dana Wenzel May 1, 2019

    Has anyone tried using reflectors or would the light just not reach the subject due to being under water?

  39. Kurt Riehl May 15, 2019

    Hi Ran,
    I’ve been using 2 blue lights on my FX7G and the videos and pic’s have come out great. The biggest result I’ve seen is there is much less backscatter to clean up in the pics . That being said I’ve added a strobe to the set up using a cold shoe 6” arm, your right about some critters not liking the video lights. Now I have the best of both worlds and am ready for anything.
    Thanks again for another great article.

  40. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor May 15, 2019

    Hi Dana!

    Sorry for the late response. Yes, you can definitely use reflectors underwater. You are correct to assume that it’s harder to get light to reach your subject underwater, but you simply have to take that into account.
    It’s best to use a reflector with sunlight, which is much stronger than artificial light. If you are reflecting artificial light, make sure you do so in an indoor pool or at night / twilight, otherwise the sunlight will overpower any light reflected.
    We just wrapped up an UW fashion workshop with Zena Holloway, and she taught a technique in which she uses a gold reflector underwater to bounce back a beam of sunlight on your model, during the day, to fill in the shadows with a nice warm light.

  41. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor May 15, 2019

    If you get a very long arm for your strobes, and position them well, you’ll see that you can minimize the backscatter with strobes as well!
    Using a strobe is definitely easier for freezing the subjects and getting sharper results.

  42. Jack Barron February 19, 2020

    What about black background with macro capturing video? Is there a video light that can angle down to catch a macro critter and achieve black background as a snoot does for still macro photography? I am using an olympus Micro 4/3 with 2 sea and sea strobes and 2 light and motion 800 video lights. We are going to Anilao in the spring.

  43. Jack Barron February 19, 2020

    There are snoots for still photography to achieve black background. Is there such a video “snoot” light to capture video on macro subjects and get the same type of black background also?

  44. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor February 19, 2020

    Sure there is. The Kraken snoot light is a great option.
    However, positioning might be difficult. You would probably need to use a tripod for the light separately, so that the light stays still.
    You should be able to get good results with blennies, slow nudibranchs, shrimp and any other fairly static critters.

  45. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor February 19, 2020

    See my first reply!
    I think that’s a great option and you’ll have a lot of fun with it in Anilao. Just make sure you position the snoot on tripod where it doesn’t hurt anything – coral or marine life.

  46. Javier September 16, 2020

    Do you have any advice for getting a dive light for macros during night dives? I have a camera with flash, but the flash isn’t very good underwater.

    My budget is about $150-200, but if its really good I could go a bit higher. I’m still in high school.

  47. Ran Mor
    Ran Mor September 25, 2020

    Hi Javier!

    The Hydra 1000 FE is a great little light, which has the option to be upgraded with color filters and snoot for advanced macro lighting options.
    It’s generally used as a focus light but can work for macro as well, you just have to be very close to your subject with it.

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