Review of Orcatorches

I had the pleasure of being asked by Scuba Scene to test and review three Orca Torches this month. The Orcatorch D520; D820V and the D900V. 

ORCATORCH D520

  • Size: small. Perfect for a focus light for underwater photography, as it doesn’t get in the way of the photographer.
  • Rating: 1000 lumens, slightly less than the old incandescence 75-watt bulb. Other dive lights claiming to have high power are in the 500 lumens range. And so by comparison, this is a powerful light. I understand that the brightest light is attained when alkaline batteries are used, but did not test it as the light it emitted with the supplied rechargeable battery, was more than adequate.
  • Pressure tested to 150 meters.
  • Runtime: I was told it would last around 40 minutes with the supplied rechargeable battery, if left on the entire dive. This is long enough for most divers and so I think this is sufficient. Indeed, it never ran out while I was using it, although I did turn it off in periods when I knew I wouldn’t need it. It can also take alkaline batteries, and the runtime is apparently longer although I have not tested this.
  • Beam: The beam is not concentrated into a hot spot, and I found it was the perfect brightness and strength to light up macro subjects, thus enabling easier focus. It goes on/off with a small twist underwater. A small SCUBA mask mount can be purchased so that you don’t have to hold it all the time.  I didn’t try this but I don’t think that having a light shining past my eye all the time in the water would work well, for me.
  • Shortcomings: It took me some time and effort to find a way to attach it to my underwater photo housings with a top mount and have suggested the manufacturer that they make this small device for future shippings. 
  • Cost: Varies according to ZAR value against the dollar,  but online   I would purchase here in South Africa  @ around R1100
  • Overall: I love this torch for a focus light. I can see the benefit for non-photographers of having it attached to your wrist or BCD. The body of the light fits nicely in the palm of a hand. The aircraft-grade aluminium has a solid feel to it, but it did not feel heavy. I would definitely purchase these lights as focus lights for the underwater housings in my school.

 

ORCATORCH D820V

Moving onto the second strongest I was asked to test The D820V

  • Size: medium/small at 15.5cm. Good for a torch or a large/strong focus light for underwater photography. Made from high quality milled aircraft grade aluminium.
  • Contents in box: the light, a 26650 4000mAh Li-ion battery, micro USB cable, wrist lanyard, spare O-Rings and a mounting bracket. Very well presented.
  • Output Rating: 1200 lumens. Other dive lights claiming to have high power are in the 500 lumens range. And so by comparison, this is a powerful light. There is a low power setting, which is 400 lumens, and this is handy for close-ups and macro work.
  • Pressure tested to 150 meters.
  • Runtime: I left the light on for 2 hours underwater and it lasted the full time. This is more than enough time for the average user even if you are performing a double tank dive off a boat.
  • Lights: In addition to the 4 x white LED’s there is a pair of red and a pair of UV LED’s. I did enjoy having them all packaged into one relatively small unit.
  • Beam: Very white and even. The beam is not concentrated into a hot spot, and I found it was the perfect brightness and strength to light up macro subjects, thus enabling easier focus.
  • Shortcomings: I would have preferred a wet connect for charging. I think it’s a weakness that one has to open it up and charge via USB.I was only testing one and found the beam to be too narrow for a super wide-angle lens shooting video on a DSLR. I am positive that two of these torches would do the job perfectly.There is no doubt that one D820V is fine for a smaller point and shoot type camera and less of a wide angle lens. It would be perfect for macro subjects.
  • Overall Review:I enjoyed the single switch, on top of the head, that controlled everything by pressing it a different number of times. I found it simple and easy to use although I may have looked like a disco underwater as I was getting used to the different number of presses.I love the fact that it is compact and neat. I think it is the perfect light for videographers starting out and I think it would pair up very well with smaller systems such as the GoPros. I used it for video and I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of light it emitted, but I definitely would have preferred two, as I found the beam was slightly narrow for the super wide-angle fish-eye lens I was using on a DSLR I think this is the perfect size for a travel/photo/video dive torch. It fits well in the hand and in a suitcase.
  • Cost: a very affordable ZAR 3600 (price dependent on exchange rate ) 

ORCATORCH D900V

And finally on to my favourite- the big kahuna- the D900V

  • Size: medium. A good weight and size for an uw torch or a large/strong focus light for underwater photography. Made from very high quality milled aircraft grade aluminum.
  • Contents in box: the light, Li-ion battery, wrist lanyard, spare O-Rings and a ball-joint mounting bracket. Very well presented.
  • Output Rating: @2200 lumens, this is a very powerful light. There are low power settings as well as neutral white and cool white settings. This is handy for close-ups and macro work, or for saving power.
  • Pressure tested to 150 meters.
  • Runtime: There is no problem at all. It seems to run for ever- Different strengths give you different run times but at 250 lumens you have 18 hours!
  • Lights: There are four different colors. Nine LED’s provide illumination, with four neutral LED’s, 2 x red and 2 x UV LED’s and then also a cool white spot beam. I did enjoy having this entire array of useful lights packaged into one very powerful unit.
  • Beam: The main white beam is very even. The beam is not concentrated into a hot spot and has a spread of approx 120 degrees. There is an 8 degree focus beam which doesn’t’ scare away small critters.
  • Shortcomings: No shortcomings, for videographers, that I could find. Perhaps for a diver without something to mount it on it might be a pain to carry around when not in use. I guess it may have some bracket or way to attach it to SCUBA gear that I don’t know about. I think the safe-lock mode should be better explained in the small manual.
  • Overall Review: I loved the magnetic fast charging system. It was the best charging system I’ve ever used. Foolproof. I found it simple and easy to use once I’d gotten used to the settings. I think it is the perfect light for videographers. Just one of them lit up the reef beautifully. I also used it for a few stills wide-angle photos ( see below ) and was pleasantly surprised. There is no doubt it would be a perfect light for macro subjects. I loved diving with it, even without a camera. It lit up the reef in ways I’d never experienced before and I don’t think I ever want to dive without one again. I would love to test two for wide-angle stills as I think they could be a good alternative to strobes, which are currently ridiculously expensive. I didn’t think I’d ever say this- but I have!
  • Cost: Commensurate with its exceptional quality at around ZAR 6500 depending on the exchange rate. It should last you a very long time, as I can’t see how you’d break it.

Below are two photos I took on a wide angle dive with just one D900V. I think the colours are incredible for a torch and i”m excited to try some more.

I do hope I gave you some insight into this amazing product and should you want to purchase in South Africa- you can do so online at Scubascene

If you are interesting in learning more about underwater photography or video shooting in water then take a look at my underwater photography and videography training program