View Full Version : Dive Light Help me choose.

08-08-2007, 11:07
Ok so I am still new at this whole diving thing, and now am getting ready for my night / limited vis specialty. I know that the LDS will supply a light for the class, but I like to own my gear. I also sail and camp so a multi tasker would be nice.

I want suggestions on lights that will not break the bank, (under 100 is a requirement!) but will still be worthwhile as a light.

If I can get a better light that is Incandescent vs LED for the same money, I will take the Bulb. That being said, if the LED is much better for a little money, what is the difference.

Most dives I will do will be under 1 hour and bringing extra batteries is not a problem as long as I can replace the batteries.

Please list any recomendations, along with why you like that light. Its good and bad points.


08-08-2007, 11:28
There are some good lights out there that are affordable. You can get something like this http://scubatoys.com/store/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=ShockwaveLED for $109. Take your 10% off for being a scubaboard memeber and it drops to less than $100. Throw your $10 or $50 gift certificate in and you can get it for half price.

You could go with one this http://scubatoys.com/store/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=UKC4eled and add the LED module later on. That would get you in around $50. But the burn time is less, and it's not as bright.

This one http://scubatoys.com/store/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=UKC8 is a little brighter than the second one listed, but still incandescent.

For a touch over $100 (after your discount) you can get a package like this http://scubatoys.com/store/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=UKELedPak which will give you a primary, and a backup light along with some other toys. Always a good option.

As far as batteries, they add up quickly. I'd suggest a rechargable pack for the light if it's available or heavy duty batteries that you throw in a charger.


08-08-2007, 11:44
Seriously though, buy the best you can because a good light is invaluable for night diving.

08-08-2007, 14:45
Have a look here, it might give you some ideas and information :smiley1:


I ended up deciding on the Princeton Tec LED Miniwave - supposed to provide the same light, but it's smaller (which suits me) and just doesn't last as long as it doesn't have as many batteries in it. Lots of people had good things to say about these LED lights.

08-08-2007, 15:09
Seriously though, buy the best you can because a good light is invaluable for night diving.

Best advice you will receive. Also do not forget you need a backup light as well, in addition to a tank light but that can often be just those snap green glow sticks. I went with the UK eLED plus, I like it, but it is not in your price range. I prefer the LED lights as they just seem to penetrate better than incandescents for the same lumens. They also do not have a bulb that will burn out on you and last longer on a set of batteries. There are LED lights in your price range and I suggest you look at them.

I left HID lights out of this discussion based on the $100 price limit.

08-08-2007, 15:14
Have a look here, it might give you some ideas and information :smiley1:


I ended up deciding on the Princeton Tec LED Miniwave - supposed to provide the same light, but it's smaller (which suits me) and just doesn't last as long as it doesn't have as many batteries in it. Lots of people had good things to say about these LED lights.

Just ordered the same light from ST. I looked at all of the lights and found this to be the best bang for the buck, by far. I think ST sells it for $89

08-08-2007, 17:27
I use a uk hid light cannon for primary and a uk q40 eled plus for backup have made about 10 dives with them and love them so far

WV Diver
08-08-2007, 18:13
It's my personal opinion that Princeton Tech lights are not your best choice. I'm no light expert but I have used several of these lights over the years and I just don't think they are a good choice for long lasting durability. Granted I have always used the lesser priced ones, never the higher priced ones. Those $20-$40 ones that will fit into a BC pocket or the cheaper priced pistol grip styles that mostly use 4C batteries.

They work well, while they work, they just don't seem to have a very good lifespan. We use them up fairly quickly. The switches seem to be the biggest problem as they are not designed to last. I only use them because they are the gear that is provided for me.

For my personal use I don't think, for comparable pricing, that you can beat a good 4C, 8C or larger Pelican light. Those elecronic switches are the berries. They are bright and last and last. The Pelican pistol grip 4C cell light is about the same price and twice the value and the 8C light is the same light only bigger.

Like I said it's just my opinion, for what it is worth. In defense of Princeton Tech I know a lot of people who do like them but I will pass it up for a Pelican light everytime.

08-08-2007, 19:05
I've foiund that I prefer my smaller BC pocket/backup light for some day low viz dives because it is easier to operate and that helps keep the dive equipment mangement issues at a lower level (less stress).

08-08-2007, 21:38
Things to consider when buying a light:
1) How you want to hold the light?
i.e. pistol grip or a more traditional flashlight style.

Pistol grips are fine for night diving but don't store
very well if at all in a BC pocket if you want to carry it
along during the day for occasional use.

2) Do you want a twist on/off or a real switch?

Some folks prefer real on/off switches.

From posts I've read on SB, some
folks are flooding their Q40 eLED+ lights. I'm
assuming it is because they are used to using MagLites
and are accidently turning the end the incorrect
The direction you turn the end is backwards from one
MagLite unscrews (counter clockwise) to turn on and the
Q40 eLED+ screws on (clockwise) to turn on. Get confused,
and you may unscrew the Q40 end too much trying to turn
the light on and accidentally flood the light.

3) Beam width & Hotspots.
Some lights have a very narrow beam while others
fan out. Narrow beam Lights work well for peeking
under ledges during the day. Lights with center hotspots
are good for being able to point out things to your
buddy. i.e. if you only have a very wide angle beam
with no hotspot, you may not be able to point out that
octopus or small arrow crab at night.

From the lights I've played with:
IkeLites have very bright & narrow beams.
Similar for the UK SL4/SL6 incandescent series.
UK SL4/SL6 are not quite as bright or narrow beams
as the Ikelites.
The PT C4 miniwave LED has a very bright but very wide beam.
No real hotspot which makes pointing out small things very
The UK C4 eLED. Not quite as bright as the PT miniwave but
has a slight hot spot in the center. The UK beam is not as
broad/wide as the PT miniwave.
The UK Q40 eLED+ has medium width beam. Wider than
the IkeLites but much narrower than the UK C4 eLED.
Defintely not as bright as the UK or PT C4 LED lights.
I've used the Q40 eLED+ as a primary light in clear
waters but most folks tend to want a bit more light
and consider this only as a backup.
Wife just bought a UK SL4 eLED. Beam seems really
narrow and bright. Not as bright as the Ikelites.
Definitely has a center hotspot.
Haven't tested it yet under water.

4) Type of light (Incandescent, LED, HID, etc...)
In the <$100 price range, I think HID is out.

LED lights are the most robust type of bulb. They
essentially don't wear out and there is not a filament to
break. They also tend offer the highest light for the
battery life.

The different types of bulbs have different types of light.
The same coral or fish will appear different colors with the
different types of light.
The LEDs while appearing "whiter" are not really full
spectrum. Contrary to what many folks say, LED lights
are not a "truer" light.
I have noticed that they tend to have a bluish tint and
some of the colors in fish or corals don't show up quite
as well as under non LED light.

Never used an HID so I have no experience with these.

LED lights are catching up in brightness to the incandescent
and HID lights. I have noticed that my Q40 eLED+ while
very nice to use in very clear Caribbean waters even
as a primary on some dives, it is all but useless during
the day for peeking under ledges. It just doesn't show up hardly at all.
Lights like the IkeLites or the UK SL4, or U SL6 work
great during the day.

Another quirky thing to keep in mind is that incandescent
lights attract blood worms at night. LED lights do not.
My wife used an IkeLite PCa and she would always have a swarm
of worms around her light and hand, while I had
none around my Q40 eLED or PT C4 MiniWave.
I prefer not to have the worms myself. But if you ever
intend to feed blood worms to a brain coral,
which is a very fun and cool thing to watch, you will not
be able to do this with a LED light.

5) Next, decide how much light and battery life
you need.

It is always a trade off. Brighter lights tend to
use more battery life. Some of the LED lights
like the C8 versions are VERY bright and have up
to 20 hours of life.

My personal feeling is that it isn't worth going to
C8 versions because the light is the same as the
C4 versions. The difference is the battery life is double
in the C8s. However, the size is much bigger and the
weight is much heavier.

6) Can the light be use for extended periods above water?

Certain lights like the IkeLites cannot be used for long
periods of time above water. The super high itensity bulbs
generate so much heat that they can melt the reflector
and housing after 10 minutes or so.

7) Special brightness control circuitry
The UK LED lights have special circuitry that ensures
nearly a constant brightness for the majority of the life
of the batteries. After this time the bulb will start to dim
and when most of battery is consummed, it will turn
the brightness down by 90 %. This will allow the light
to be used for literally days in a low intensity mode.
It also will keep the power drain low when the battery
life is low, which prevents the generation of hydrogen gas.
This is particarly good for rechargeables like NiMh or even
(My wife had an IkeLite explode in her hand when using
rechargeable batteries)


So adding it all up. You are looking for a multi-use light.
One that can be used for a primary scuba light
and for sailing & camping.
Given the multi use desire. That would seem to make
the pistol grip lights less desirable. They just don't
pack as easily.

Also, keep in mind that I believe a night dive should
be a night dive. i.e. You want enough light to see
all the night critters but not so much to scare them
off and turn a night dive into a day dive done during
the night.

To me the best value buy right now is the UK SL4.
Not sexy but at less than $20, it can't be beat.
This light is used by all the dive shops as rentals at
all the places I've been. (I'm guessing it is because it is simple and rugged)
Great brightness, works well during the day,
4-5 hour burn time, fits in most BC pockets so
you can keep it with you even during the day.
You can use rechargeables, as long as you don't push them
for more than a couple of hours.
At that price you could get more than one to use the extra
one as your backup or keep a dedicated one for diving
and another for the other uses.
<$40 is hard to beat for two lights.

Moving to LED, my current favorite is the UK SL4 eLED.
Narrow beam with good brightness. I like the form factor
and that it easily fits in a BC pocket so it can be taken on
all dives. There really isn't anything else in it's price
range that has this.
Ok, there are a few others less than $100,
like the IST 3W with rechargeable batteries.
However, I'm not a fan of aluminum. The threads tend
to give off shavings which can catch in orings and
cause failures. Not that I know this happens in the IST
light, but this has been a failure in the Glo-Toobs.
Ignoring that, the 1.5 hour burn time is too short for me.
If I used it any during the day, it would need to be
recharged before the night dive. The IST is VERY small

I bought a PT C4 miniwave LED last year.
(Man LED light prices have really gone up since then)
It was a tossup between it and the UK C4 eLED.
At the time I couldn't really compare them other than
at the LDS (Scubatoys). I picked the PT because
it was rated as being slightly brighter and the
prices were very close.
After seeing them both under water. I'd get the UK.
Its a slightly narrower beam and it has a hot spot,
appears nearly as bright and has slightly longer battery life
specs. Currently, the UK C4 eLED is quite a bit cheaper than
the PT miniwave LED light.

So In terms of LED lights I'd rate them:
1) UK SL4 eLED.
2) UK C4 eLED
3) PT C4 miniwave LED.

I know its pretty long.
Hope it helps.

--- bill

WV Diver
08-08-2007, 21:40
Dang bill, do you put this much energy in everything you do? YOUTHEMAN.

08-09-2007, 07:23
The UK SL4 is a favorite of mine. Very robust, plenty of light and easy on my small hands and in the luggage. You know you don't need to light up the entire ocean

08-09-2007, 08:13
BIll, WOW what a fantastic post.

That is a great bit of informaiton you posted up there, and many of the issues that I had not thought of you listed. Thanks

I think I will look at the LED options as I have 3 strobe/backup lights that I keep on the boat for fishing season. (Yes they are rated to 300') They are all incandescent so a mix of both is a good idea. I understand what you are saying about the color of light as I still shoot film, and use filters for different types of bulbs.

Again, great info and thanks.

Everyone else, thank you for your input. It was not overlooked, and I will look at those options also. Hmmm. If I save up my $10 certificate and the 10% discount, and maybe if I can get to the $50 I will be able to get a combo pack....

08-09-2007, 09:05
I too have a Princeton Tec LED light, and I love it. I would recommend it to anyone.. For less than $100 I do not think you can beat it...


08-10-2007, 06:16
OK, so I think I am down to the
Princeton Tec Miniwave
UK C4 eled.


08-10-2007, 09:34
Great post Bill. Extremely well written.


08-13-2007, 14:41
Bill, I am PMing you the next time I buy anything; new reg, fins, house, car.

I agree with the UKC4 and the PT miniwave. I have the minwave and just used it on a noght dive, where someone had the UK. Although my light was brighter (my low setting was comparable to his high) his beam was able to point things out clearer. This was especially noticeabel where the vis was lower. My light also tended to illuminate more particles, and I was forced to set my light lower. This was similar to fog and high beams when driving a car. Good luck on your choice. Both are good lights

08-13-2007, 15:03
The UKSL4 looks like a good deal.. So that alone is good for night diving?

08-13-2007, 18:59
I have the UK SL4 ELED as my primary dive light.
I loved my PCA for the narrow spot beam and used it as a primary light until it started popping open from rechargable batteries. Also doing longer dive trips with lots of night dives I really wanted some longer battery life. Our next trip could possibly have 15 night dives; the PCA battery life of about an hour and half and no rechargeables....no way I'm lugging around a bunch of AA's.
The SL4 eled gives me the "spot" that I like and isn't tooooo bright like my husbands PrincetonTek....

Yeah.....Bill is my husband and he does put this much energy into everything.....trust me I live with it everyday......

08-14-2007, 01:07
I've done multiple dives with my UK C4 LED light and love it. Never had a problem and it never hesitated on me once. My vote goes to that little light

08-14-2007, 11:21
I have a PrincetonTec Shockwave as a primary, but have been really amazed at the brightness and versatility of my new UK C4 Led light... it's my favorite new dive accessory :)

08-14-2007, 12:01
Can the $20 model suffice?

08-18-2007, 12:56
Can the $20 model suffice?

I think so, but it really depends on what you are looking for.
The SL4/SL6 lights have a narrow beam with
a bright hot spot center.
Ikelites are the same but a bit brighter and narrower.
If you are looking for a wide type of beam, SL4/SL6 isn't it
and you'd be happier with the UK C4/C8 or the PT shockwave/miniwave
series lights. Wide beams tend to work much better in clear
water than in murky water.
If you want longer battery life, you'll have to jump up
to an LED light.

I noticed that the dive ops at Capt Don's in Bonaire and
at CocoView in Roatan rented out regular UK SL4 lights for
night diving when I was there last year (2006).

--- bill