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    Night Diving & How To Choose A Torch

    September 02, 2021 3 min read

    Night Diving & How To Choose A Torch

    A dive torch is an essential piece of scuba diving gear that helps ensure your safety underwater. Picking the right one for you can take a bit of time and consideration. Diving torches help you underwater, especially in low light conditions. Most modern torches are LED. The old style halogen torches generally don't provide that competitive level of brightness. Now, for most recreational diving, you're looking at small torches. As technology gets better, the newer torches become very, very bright for very small compact packages.

    In a broad overview, there are two types of torches: the wide angle torch and the narrow beam torch. Each type has a big effect on how that light beam presents in the water. Whilst it’s common for people to say, "I need the brightest torch ever," there are a few important things to put into consideration first.

    What are you using it for? What's the water like? What's the visibility like? Are you using a camera? Is it for video? Is it for still photos? These are just some of the questions you’d want to ask yourself first.

    Narrow Beam Torch

    Narrow beam torches are your best multipurpose, all round torch. It creates a narrower beam of light. What that means is, based on if you're diving at nighttime or in bad visibility, the beam of light just projects much further in distance, in a narrow column of light. So you can look a lot further away at smaller things, it doesn't provide that broad spread of vision.

    You have it set for where you want to shoot because most little action cameras have got what's called a wide angle lens. It means that if you see a shark 20 meters away, you could film it, when you pull it up on your screen, it's not going to look very clear.

    For wide angle lenses it's very important to remember that if you want to get good underwater photos, you need to get the distance right. You can adjust the torch light on a wide angle beam to a significant depth of field to be reflective of what you're using the GoPro for.

    For example, if you got something in front of you, you would want to be close enough to it and adjust the torch so the beam spread light around it. You might want to have a second torch so you've got good illumination over your whole subject.

    The reason why a narrow beam torch may not be ideal for underwater photos is that if you've got a wide angle lens and say your beam focus of light is 60 degrees, 40 degrees etc, you'll have a dark area around your subject matter that won't be illuminated effectively.

    The best application of narrow beam torches is for general usage. Especially for night dives when looking under crevices, wreck, etc, but they’re not ideal for video.

    Wide Angle Torch

    Wide angle torches, on the other hand, provide a much wider spread of light. What that means is, with this wide angle spread of light, it doesn't penetrate as far in the water. So instead of going 10 meters or 5 meters, for example, it can only reach about 2 to 3 meters. This is because the wide angle torch is designed for use with a camera, video cameras in particular.

    And you look at the small compact size, considering that almost everyone these days is diving with a camera in some capacity. Wide angle torches are the perfect accompaniment for diving cameras.

    Night Diving Etiquette

    In night diving, when you’re doing the okay signal in darker visibility or if you've got your hands full (say you're holding a camera and you've got a torch), just move the torch in a circular motion. “O” for okay. The other option is to get the torch, if your hand is free, at night, and just shine it straight on your hands for the okay signal, so your buddy can go, "Cool, you can see me okay," so you're good to go.

    The other thing is, if someone's trying to get your attention and you've got a torch, avoid pointing the camera straight in their face because they're going to be seeing spots for the next three minutes, or more, based on how bright your torch is. If you’re trying to get their attention or you're trying to find them, don't shine the torch in their face to get their attention, shine it near them. You can also get their attention with a rattle or underwater noise maker.