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The Ultimate Focus Light For Night Divers


By: Shawn Miller

Author Shawn Miller setting up a cuttlefish shot. Photo by Russell Gilbert.

The Light & Motion Sola Photo 1200 is the most popular modeling light used for underwater macro photography.  I have been using Sola lights for over seven years now.  All Light & Motion lights are easy to use, lightweight, and reliable.  My favorite feature of the Sola Photo 1200 is the red-light option.  This feature enables the user to photograph marine life without disturbing them.  Some marine animals do not see red light.


My favorite features of the Sola Photo 1200:

  • Factory sealed body for flood-free performance

  • Compatible with a ball mount, YS mount, and Loc-Line

  • SOS Mode – Emergency function

  • Adjustable light output – 1200 lumens (white light max)

  • Red light feature

[caption id="attachment_106279" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Nauticam housing - Nikon D500 with Sola Photo and GoBe lights[/caption]

The red light feature works outstanding underwater.  Get creative with blending red and white light during your dives.  The first picture shows a Nudibranch backlit by the red light, the second is an artful shot of a Sea Cucumber enhanced by red light.

  [caption id="attachment_106287" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Backlit Nudibranch and Sea Cucumber Art[/caption]

My favorite subjects to photograph with the Sola Photo are nudibranchs, sea turtles, and cephalopods during night-dives.  These animals are less affected by the red light.  Check out the eyes of the cuttlefish in the following pictures.  The first is with the red light and the pupil is wide open (dilated).  But when you add white light, the pupil becomes constricted.  The cuttlefish looks irritated by the bright light.

  [caption id="attachment_106284" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Cuttlefish with red light vs white light.[/caption]

The Sola Photo is also a great for creative dive portraits as the light can be turned down for a proper exposure.   The red light pulls attention to the face,  whereas a white light would be a distraction.

  [caption id="attachment_106289" align="aligncenter" width="810"] Scuba diving with a spin[/caption]

The Sola Photo 1200 is one of my essential pieces of gear.  It was designed to aid in camera focus of the marine life without distracting them, but I find the light is much more versatile than that.  It sets up creative imagery that results in photos that stand out.  If you ever find yourself diving off of Okinawa, let me know and I'll bring Sola Photo and Nightsea lights for you to experiment with!


About Shawn:

Wildlife photographer and naturalist Shawn Miller specializes in capturing the flora and fauna of Okinawa, Japan. Equally, at home on land and underwater, Shawn has documented rare and endemic species from birds and reptiles to nudibranchs and shells. Shawn specializes in creating motion in still photographs, fluorescence photography, environmental awareness and the protection of endangered species.  Learn more about Shawn at

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