Friday, January 27, 2006

TillyTec HID 35 underwater light

I met Tilly at Boot 2006. He's one of the original men behind Green Force. Until he went his way and formed his own company. TillyTec's modular lights are fully compatible with Green Force's components.

Disappointed by Green Force's misinformation and lack of improved models, and having some reservations about their HID lights, Tilly had no trouble convincing me to try out one of his new power lights.

Modularity & expandability. Not to mention compatibility with my Green Force set-up, i.e. umbilical cable & Flexi II battery pack.

Power: with an output equivalent to a 125W halogen bulb, this High Intensity Discharge light shines very brightly indeed (5500°K).

Burn time: combined with my Green Force Flexi II NiMh battery, TillyTec's HID 35 burns for about 90'. Coupled with a TT 3 battery pack, it can shine for up to 200': enough for long exploration dives.

Robustness is a critical requirement when cave or wreck diving. Luckily this light head is build so as to withstand some rough treatment. Meaning the bulb shouldn't burst just because you bump or dump it. And supposedly it will even keep burning should the light head get flooded for some reason.

Great light for technical diving purposes.

A HID bulb's lifetime is primarily measured in number of times one can power it on & off. With an expected 2000 switches, this one should last for a while.

HIDs have a warm-up & cool-down delay, meaning they can't just be switched on & off at will.

It is not possible to dim the light's output, nor change the beam's angle from spot to flood. Remark that while you can slightly adjust the beam's focus while underwater, it's not really recommended to do so, due to the risk of flooding should any dirt have lodged itself on the lens's o-ring.

You can choose from two reflectors and two glass types depending on your lighting needs. The standard light head comes with a 10° reflector and clear glass lens providing a nicely focused beam.

For use with my digital camera, I also bought an 80° flood reflector and frosted glass lens, in order to reduce, if not avoid, any hotspot. The frosted glass spreads out the light more evenly, further increasing the flood reflector's beam angle to about 100°, thereby however also reducing its intensity. Note that while adequate, this solution's not quite optimal yet for videography. Compared to a dedicated video light head though, it's a very affordable alternative.

A Goodman handle is available as optional accessory, and highly recommended for e.g. cave or wreck diving, where having one's hands free for other tasks may be crucial.