Light & Motion has definitely raised the bar to a new level with the Sola Video Pro 8000
. L&M was able to redesign the Sola 8000 with some amazing new features while keeping it in the same compact style as the Sola 4000. Anyone who has used the 4000s knows how convenient it is to travel with a light that is as compact as the 4000s.
One of the new features that I absolutely love is the switch from airplane mode to dive mode. This new feature is very easy to use and is very clear to see if your light is on or off for safe traveling. This was personally great for me, being in a rush with last-minute packing, it gave me some added peace of mind on the plane that my lights were off.
Another new feature L&M has changed is the head design and the LED lighting system. The bezel that holds the head into place has holes in it to allow for water to flow freely behind the head. This was designed to keep the head containing the LEDs at a cooler temperature, helping maintain constant lighting and battery performance. The LED placement is designed to give a 90 degree beam at 8000 lumens for 50 minutes.
My favorite feature on the Sola Video 8000s is the LED operating system on the back of the light. L&M has now given you 7 variable settings for how much light you can use! 1K, 1.5K, 2K, 3K, 4K, 6K, & 7K. The OLED dashboard display shows you what setting you are at and tells you how many minutes you have left at that setting. This is incredibly useful and should now be the standard of any professional video light. Being able to see how much time you have left in minutes allowed me to plan my shots better and allowed me to be more efficient. Nothing is worse than seeing a light turn RED with your natural anxiety then kicking in, wondering if you are going to get the shot or not. That natural anxiety then causes you to rush a situation, which is more likely to cause you to make a mistake or chase off your subject. The OLED was amazingly accurate, allowing me to keep my calm until the last minute.
I did not test to see if the Sola Video 8000 lasted a full 40 minutes at full power. I didn't think it was a practical application to test the light that way, or at least that's not how I use them underwater. What I did do is two morning dives at or around 70 minutes each and then dove a third dive roughly 2 hours later in the early afternoon. I did this for 5 days.
Throughout the dive I toggled the variable settings to 8K when I needed it and back to low when I did not need it. Not once did I come back from the second dive and have an empty battery. Usually I came back with 1/4 to 1/2 of battery life left. After getting out of gear and rinsing everything from the 2nd dive, I would throw it on the charger, eat lunch and come back to a fully charged battery. It was roughly on the charger for 1 hour or more. The new fast charger says it will completely charge an empty battery in 1hour 45 minutes. What I found out later was that the charger charges 80% of the battery in the first 60 minutes. That is crazy fast!
The advertised 90 degree spread of light from the 8000s seemed to accurate. The falloff of light had a wide coverage and it was evenly distributed with no apparent hot spots in my footage. The lights were also bright enough that I could use them to shoot photos at a high shutter speed of around 1/800 with an aperture of f/5.6 and an ISO 400. The images that I took with the 8000s were tack sharp.
The buoyancy of the 8000s is slightly negative in water. I just added an extra float to the arms on my housing and everything was evenly balanced.
In summary, I was very excited to use the Sola Video 8000s and at the end of the week, I am excited to purchase a pair. I have been waiting for a set of underwater video lights to cover my wide-angle video needs and I believe I found the solution, the Sola Video 8000s!
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Jeffrey Honda is an accomplished underwater photographer and ambassador for Light & Motion.