Key parameters of spearfishing torches
Best torches on the market have been selected and presented in the torches Dossier. Now we have done much more, with the Super Test to analyze the best torches as never done before by anyone, and we have shot videos to confirm the truthness of our results (as always!). Torches have been measured in their lighting efficiency in the caves and cracks in the rocks, weight in sea water, battery life, materials, design and dimensions, functionality of the switch. You will be able to choose your preferred torch, even though we definately found our number 1!
We have already presented materials of the torches in the Torches Dossier, where we have verified that materials go from aluminium, both for the body and the head of the torch, such as for Salvimar Daylight, Sporasub Eyelight and Epsealon Red Bullit, to solutions with plastic material, such as polycarbonate and glass fibre (Cressi Lumia) or glass loaded Nylon (Seac Q5), or a mix of the two, (glass loaded nylon body and aluminium head, as for Mares EOS). Certainly plastic materials are lighter, while aluminium is much more resistant to shock and offers a much better look.
Design & dimensions
Two aspects are key for what concerns design of the torches: anatomy and dimensions. An anatomic shape permits to hold correctly the torch while diving, feeling it with the hand, even if wearing thick gloves, and without having to look at the torch itself for the right position. Here Cressi Lumia is by far the best, with perfect asymmetrical shape that permits excellent and automatic grip, to which a well dimensioned switch adds another strong asset. Good, in such a way, are also the Sporasub Eyelight and the Seac Q5 (the latter far too big). The small switches of Salvimar Daylight and Epsealon Red Bullit added to the torches almost symmetrical shape (less the Salvimar, more the Epsealon) make them quite difficult to hold in the correct position without looking at them, especially with thick gloves.
These two last torches, though, are also the most compact ones, and their dimensions make them perfect to be positioned on the arm with the help of an elastic band, releasing them when needed. The Epsealon Red Bullit in addition can also use the Holter to position it on the back of the hand.
Regarding dimensions, good are also Sporasub, Mares and Cressi, still of reduced dimensions, while Seac Q5 has totally out of scale measures, and in such sense is really uncomfortable to handle when spearfishing and freediving. All dimensions, such as length and diameter of the listed torches, can be easily checked out in the technical data sheets downloadable in the Torches Dossier.
Among all the switches, excellent is the one of the Cressi Lumia, well feelable with the thumb, and with three different positions, off, on unstable and on blocked. Very comfortable is the “on unstable” solution, which permits to move from off to on smoothly without the “click”, which blocks the switch in its position. When releasing the switch from “on unstable” it automatically returns to off position. The blocked position is instead obtained when pushing harder all the way back or forth the switch, a solution that partially protects from accidental turning on of the torch.
Good is also the well perceivable Sporasub Eyelight switch, still with sliding movement, without blocking solution and no automatic return to off position once released, but with a rigidity that keeps the switch in the position it has been left. Good dimensions, evidently, for Seac Q5, even though the smooth switch gives some slight problem of the thumb slipping, while quite good is the Mares solution. Epsealon switch has too small dimensions and a sliding which tends to be too loose and to lose its position, and eventually lead to unwanted turning on of the torch. All is different with Salvimar, which uses a button, very well designed but difficult to find with the thumb.
For the weight we do not consider the one out of water, but in the sea, as many torches could be heavy but have a good volume of air inside them which reduces final weight felt in the water. We have measured all values and show the weighing process in a video below. See results in the following chart:
|Brand||Model||Weight in grams|
Best ones are Mares and Cressi, made of plastic material and that, even though loaded with 4 AA batteries, thanks also to some volume of air inside, finally have the minimum weight in the water (the absolute best being the Mares EOS). Good result for the Epsealon Red Bullit that, thanks to an aluminium body with thin walls, has a reduced weight. As anticipated, a torch which out of water is very heavy like the Seac Q5, due to its dimensions and 8 AA batteries, finally is not too bad in the water thanks to internal air volume. Still, the torch by Seac is the heaviest among the plastic ones. Finally, two compact ones with 100% aluminium structure, with thick and strong walls as Salvimar Daylight and Sporasub Eyelight result to be the heaviest.
Lighting efficiency in a hole
And here we have what is probably the most important parameter among the ones analyzed, the lighting efficiency in a hole in the sea, that we will see is not necessarily proportional to the total light produced by the torch, a value that could impress us in a shop trying the torch out of water. In fact, finally, this test has completely changed initial impressions. Torches analyzed can be divided into ones with a wide ray of light, such as Salvimar Daylight, Sporasub Eyelight, Seac Q5 and Epsealon Red Bullit, or with a more concentrated ray, as Cressi Lumia and Mares EOS (see the Torch Dossier and the related technical sheets to read solid nangle of ray of light). The two latter ones would initially, out of water, give the impression of a less “powerful” ray of light, but in the end in the test of illuminating the holes in the rocks the depth of the ray of light of these torches has gone beyond all expectations, and in particular Cressi Lumia shows record lighting efficiency, with a ray of light always capable of illuminating deep down all holes and cracks in the rocks. Same concept, but definately less powerful, the Mares EOS. Good are also the torches of the first group, but with a less deep effect and a sensation of a too wide ray when it comes to the norrow cracks in the rocks, with a consequent partial reflect of light back to the diver. The latter are better, surely, in wider holes and caves.
Since, though, the appreciation of the lighting efficiency can be very personal, depending on one’s needs and personal techniques, we have shot videos of each torch in the same hole and cracks for your direct evaluation.
(Epsealon Red Bullit)
Another extremely important parameter to evaluate quality and performance of torches is battery life, whether they are working with rechargeable batteries, such as Salvimar Daylight, Sporasub Eyelight and Epsealon Red Bullit, with specific characteristics seen in the Torches Dossier, or working with standard Alkaline batteries, such as Cressi Lumia and Mares OES, with four AA batteries, while Seac Q5 uses 8. For the test we have chosen Duracell batteries.
Also, in this case we have made videos with time laps to show real and unquestionable results. Unfortunately we had to work twice as the test initially made showed the Cressi Lumia shutting off in advance due to its special auto shut off system, that prevents the discharge of batteries and overheating of the LED if the torch is accidentally switched on and left on. Second test has so been done after a couple of months, when Cressi sent a new Lumia with reprogrammed circuit to avoid switching off and so let us do our battery life test. By the time we carried out the second test, unfortunately, the batteries left inside the Seac Q5 had generated galvanic currents that had damaged the circuit of the torch making it unuseable, even though the batteries themselves were not damaged and no liquid had come out. Same has in a very limited way happened also on Mares EOS, which still was useable, while on Cressi Lumia remained just as new. Such situation has not been present at all on recheargeable battery torches. Be careful then to take out batteries from torches with traditional batteries. Such situation in the end, has not permitted to use the Seac Q5 in the second test, but, anyway, we had already measured its battery life in test 1 (even though timer had switched off we have calculated time with video time bar).
Second test and video has been so necessary due to the modified Cressi Lumia. Well, it was good to wait as once more Cressi Lumia demonstrated outstanding performance , with batteries lasting beyond 3 hours and 10 minutes, always at maximum power thanks to the special circuit designed by Cressi. After the first phase, Cressi Lumia has started to flash indicating that battery life had reached residual 20%, but still not leaving the diver with no light. Flashing, by the way, slows down when batteries loose more and more charge, but finally Cressi Lumia has reached beyond 9 hours and 10 minutes with the light flashing, when finally we decided to stop the video. Great performance also by Mares EOS, that reaches 3 hours full intesity (to consider the first video and not the second, where it is evident the Mares EOS has some problems in the first phases when the light was not intense as in normal conditions). Also, Seac Q5 has good values and reaches 4 hours and 30 minutes, after that reducing power slowly without switching off. We must in this case though consider Seac Q5 has 8 AA Alkaline batteries instead of 4, so total time has to be halved.
Shorter are the lives of recheargeable batteries torches, with the Epsealon Red Bullit that switches off after only 50 minutes, followed 10 minutes after by the Sporasub Eyelight. Definately better the Salvimar Daylight, that obtains a great result and more than doubles the two direct competitiors, reaching 2 hours and 30 minutes. Salvimar Daylight, in addition, is complete with a very useful LED that indicates battery charge: green full, yellow half, and red almost completely out of charge.
|Epsealon||Red Bullit||50min R|
|++ much longer life with reduced power (or flashing)||+ longer life with reduced power||R: Rechargeable|
On the basis of the results seen and the measures made, and with the test in the sea of each torch, you can check out our final comments and click here for marks table in PDF.
Cressi Lumia: it is the Queen of the Dossier, a torch thought, designed and manufactures in a totally new way, where shape, size, design of the switch, battery life, finishings and, in particular, efficiency of the light beam, are always at top level. Real “Made in Italy” makes the difference here.
Salvimar Lumia: by far number 1 among aluminium torches, it is refined in every detail and very compact, with a useful led indicating battery charge level. Ray of light looses something as it is a little too wide and not so penetrating in our opinion, but surely works well in wider holes. Position by Salvimar is that ray of light must lighten all the cave from outside with a wide ray; different schools of thought.
Sporasub Eyelight: Very nice and refined, a functional switch, even if a little hard, a very good ray of light, but does not last much.
Mares EOS: Simple solution in plastic material, does not appear to be extremely refined, but finally is very good in compactness, weight, battery life and light ray penetration (even though not very powerful).
Epsealon Red Bullit: nice and compact, light ray is not among the best, battery life is low and switch is not very functional.
Seac Q5: We do not know why Seac has sent the Q5 with its unacceptable dimensions for the test of spearfishing (and freediving) torches, but surely it could be more interesting for scuba diving). Not particularly refined, positive are the good ray of light and the 3 LEDs. Quite good battery life, but with 8 AA Alkaline batteries, far too many. Negative effect given by the galvanic currents, destroying the circuit only after 2 months of the high quality Duracell batteries left inside the unused torch.