It’s not everyday that I fall in love with an imaging product. But during the past few months I’ve grown to love my Sola 8000s for their simplicity, elegance, and power.
I’ve used my lights in South Africa, Cocos Island, the Gulf of California, Monterey Bay, the Indian Ocean, and many other areas. In every location they’ve performed beautifully and often in very demanding conditions. I’ve subjected these lights to more than 100 hours of diving and they remain solid.
During an expedition in August with Conservation Law Foundation, Mission Blue, and National Geographic, I used the 8000s to illuminate an undersea mountain called Cashes Ledge, some 80 miles off the coast of Maine. Cashes Ledge is unique in the Gulf of Maine because its underwater mountains shield one of the last remaining examples of what an undisturbed, thriving ecosystem should look like. It hosts a remarkable diversity of marine life including the Atlantic wolffish, rare blue sponges, and the red cod.
Facing rough seas, fading light and an approaching storm, our team had less than 30 minutes to make a dive on Cashes Ledge after a 6 hour crossing. Dr. Sylvia Earle, cinematographer Evan Kovacs, and I hit the chilly Atlantic water and made our way down 40 feet to the bottom. With precious seconds ticking away, I switched on my Sola 8000s and voilà, Cashes lit up like a stadium! It was an incredible sight to watch the incredible swaying kelp hug the bottom and countless schools of fish pass by. It was like watching a rolling carpet of life, undulating with each passing sea.
The dive went quickly and I felt fortunate to bag a few clips of Sylvia exploring this beautiful area. My Sola 8000s were fantastic and once again provided a beautiful beam of light without skipping a beat. There are many things I love about the Sola 8000s and here are a few specifics that really stand out:
-They power up quickly and I can adjust the output to match my shooting needs on the fly. I typically toggle to full power and then back down when not shooting to save battery power. With the numeric display I can manage my burn times to match my shooting needs. This is a wonderful upgrade over the 4000s.
-The Sola Video 8000 lasts about 50 + minutes at full power, but I never kill the batteries unless I leave the lights on full through the entire dive. I often come back from dives with 20 - 30% of my battery remaining.
-The fast charger is the real deal. I use it to charge and top-off the light between dives. My batteries will typically always be charged and ready to go at the end of a surface interval.
-The 90 degree beam angle is awesome for my professional work and I use some of my widest lenses without worrying about dark edges or drop-off.
-The 8000s have a beautiful, compact design, which is a huge advantage when I travel and can’t afford to carry extra weight.
While the Sola 8000s have factory sealed batteries, I also run a set of strobes that have interchangeable batteries. There are pros and cons to both, but I’ve been really happy with not having to carry and switch-out batteries with my Solas between each dive. With the fast charger and numeric display, I’ve been able to manage and charge my lights efficiently, without adding weight to my bags and paying for added airline charges. In addition, a light that is factory sealed cuts down on on-site maintenance and provides peace of mind while I’m thousands of miles from home.