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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

House of blue lights - Orca Torch D820V review

Disclaimer first. I do not work for nor am I affiliated with Orca Torch in any way. I did not pay for this product, Orca Torch were kind enough to send me a sample for testing.

Link: HERE

Ok so with that stuff out the way, lets get on with it. If you're not familiar with Orca Torch, then you should be as they have been making a splash (ho-ho!) in the diving community with their high quality, relatively inexpensive (compared to a lot of other brands out there) dive and video lights. I've used Orca dive lights before after borrowing them from other people and have been suitably impressed when comparing them to the usual suspects such as Underwater Kinetics, Princeton, Greenforce, Sealife and Kowalski, all of which I've used over the years, so I was keen to see how the this unit would perform.

Bearing in mind this a test unit for the D820V video light, so box branding, and possibly contents are yet to be finalised.

Unassuming on the outside......
Full of light emitting goodness on the inside
Arriving in a plain black box, sans branding, opening it up was like a Christmas morning, with just slightly less alcohol and fewer family arguments. The contents consisted of the video light, a 26650 4000mAh Li-ion battery, micro USB cable, wrist lanyard, spare o-rings and a mounting bracket. 

Now you're probably wondering "where's the battery charger?". Never fear my aquatic chums, for Orca Torch have a nice surprise for you. If you're like me and hate having to carry around multiple chargers, cables, etc, etc, when travelling around the globe, then you'll love this. Unscrewing the tail of the unit gives you access to the USB socket. Unscrewing the USB socket in turn gives you access to the battery compartment. Battery in, USB socket back in place and "Voila!", all you need to do for charging is unscrew the tail, plug in the USB cable and you're all set. No heavy, clunky proprietary chargers to carry around. Awesome.

USB cap unscrewed, battery cavity at the ready
USB cap in place and ready to charge.
There's also a handy LED indicator to let you know when the unit is charging and when it's good to go, so no guess work needed here.

Red for charging, green for "set lights to stun, Mr Sulu!"

Initial impressions of the unit are excellent, with high quality machine milled aircraft grade aluminium parts, clean threading and all sections come apart and go together easily with no sticking or grinding. Weight wise it comes in at 243 grams without the battery and 341 grams with the battery. For comparison, you're looking at 178 grams for a fully loaded UK mini Q40 LED. Length comes in at just under 15.5cm and the head unit being the widest part at 4.5cm and fits nice and snugly in the hand should you choose to carry it.

Just to give you an idea of size, I compared it to the aforementioned UK mini Q40 LED and an L&M Sola video 3000, just so you've got an idea of the size as you can see below. So it's not the smallest video light but it certainly isn't a porker either and will easily fit into a BC pocket if required.

D820V, UK mini Q40 LED and SOLA 3000
 I chose to use the supplied ball joint mount bracket to perch it on the camera port for my macro configuration, but you can mount it wherever your own setup and fancies take you.

Ready for super macro action
 Output on high power is quoted at 1200 lumens with a nice white even beam. There is a low power setting which is 400 lumens. But that's not all folks as the D820V has yet some more surprises in store. Take a look below and tell me what you see. I'll wait here..........

Can you see it?
Yep, in addition to the white CREE LEDs, you have a pair of red LEDs on top and a pair of UV LEDs below so you get all the colours of the rainbow in one neat convenient package. Again, I don't have the figures for the red and UV output but they were more than up to the challenge during night diving. Having used UV lights by L&M and UK, it was refreshing to have them packed into one unit as this negates having to carry around multiple lights as it really is a pain swapping from one to another when you want to use UV for picking out the colour at night or the red for making sure you don't scare away the critters.

The single switch on top of the head unit controls everything with a press turning the unit on at full power, a second press switching to low power, a third press for off. Holding the switch brings on the UV and a second press the red. Simple and easy to use. 

Press here to start........

You can get some idea from the shots I took with the light against the wall. A nice, even consistent spread in every case.

Let there be light!
"So enough waffle, how did it perform in the real world?" I hear you say. Well I can say that it acquitted itself admirably. I was very pleased with the performance in the water providing plenty of light during bright sunny conditions to allow me to more easily distinguish potential  subjects in the water and to allow the lens to achieve a lock with minimal hunting. For the shots below, I turned my strobes off and was using just the D820V as a light source.

 I left the light on full power for the duration of the dive which was just over 2 hours, and it lasted just fine. This is more than enough juice for the average user and something that would last over a couple or three of average dives before recharging would be necessary. The only thing I would liked to have seen is a wet connect for charging, negating the need to open up the unit but that's just a very minor niggle on my part. Maybe I'm just lazy or old or both.

In summary, this is a really nice video light, with the additional benefit of having the red and UV LED built in to a compact, very well made chassis with convenient to use USB charging capabilities. You can easily use this as a regular dive light at a pinch if you don't want to go nuts and buy multiple lights, this one would pretty much do it all for you. This is definitely recommended for photographers and videographer/action cam users out there, and if the price at release is in line with the rest of the Orca range, then this light would be very competitive against the "established" names out there. 

It easily earns itself a well deserved 8.5 out of 10 rating.

On a final note, if you're looking for a light, give the Orca Torch website a look as they have quite a varied selection and I don't think you'll be disappointed if you got one. Or two.

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