Way at the back of the exhibit hall of DEMA 2016 show was a first-time exhibitor from China named Orcatorch a manufacturer of dive lights. This company in the past had been represented by their US distributor. However, this year they wanted the opportunity to showcase their products directly to divers and to look for a distributor in other markets. Prior to the show, I had been in contact with them about the possibility of testing some of their product lines. They offered me an Orcatorch D520 to test, Some timing issues prevented me from diving with it until after the show was completed. While at the show I did get a chance to talk with representatives from the company and to look at their entire product line. The company offers fourteen different dive lights. Of these ten are handheld, three are canister video lights and one marker/signal light. Each of the lights seems well manufactured and felt good in my hands.
One of the items heavily mentioned in the company’s marketing is the ANSI/NEMA FL 1 standard and how they rate it. I had to look it up to see what the standard is all about. The standard is an effort by the manufacturers of flashlights and headlamps to establish a means of comparing different products. The use of LED and different types of batteries can lead to confusion as to how well a device meets consumer needs. Also, terms such as candlepower have become obsolete. The standard has a number of test that is conducted and a set of icons that are used to report the results.
The chart above looks impressive but I had to put my own spin on it. The rating of 1000 lumens is just slightly less than the old incandescence 75-watt bulb. Not something you would want to look directly at. Being a flashlight that light is reflected and focused. I looked at some good quality flashlights for land use. Maglite which is a very reliable manufacturer produces flashlights mostly with less than 500 lumens with only a few designed for public service use in the 600 range. Many dive lights on the market that the manufacturer claim as high power is also in the 500 lumens range. By those comparisons, this is a powerful light. There are, however, some dive lights in the 2,000 lumens and above range. How well that light is focused is also important. The beam distance is listed as 250 meters on land. I shined the light down the street and saw reflectors on mailboxes over 100 meters away, it may have gone further but it was hard to make out details at that distance. It is listed as pressure tested to 150 meters.
The runtime is a very important measurement for divers. However, the information presented is a bit vague. The standard is based on how long it takes a light to reduce the output to 10% of the initial lumens. But the test score does not tell you the light output between full and 10%. The 10% point can be very dim in an underwater environment. The old incandescent would start to get dimmer as the batteries ran down. With no scientific equipment, I decided to see how it works for me. I pointed the flashlight at a white piece of paper in a normally lite room then judged if the light became dimmer over time. After 2 hours, the light was as bright as when it started. I had to stop the test at that time. When I picked up the light after 2 hours it was too hot to touch. After the light cooled down, I turned it back on and put it in a sink with water. The light remains bright for another 30 minutes, then it became dim and flickered for 5 more minutes before shutting off. The manufacturer information says the light will work with a voltage level of 3 volts. The light comes with a type 18650 Li-ion battery rated at 3,400mah and a charger. The light is also able to take 2 type CR123A batteries. A spare battery will give you some additional flexibility between recharges.
My View Point
It is not perfect, however, overall, I do like the Orcatorch D520. The first thing that impressed me both on land and in the water was the feel. Orcatorch calls are palm size and that is how it does fit in my hand. The body of the flashlight fits nicely in the palm of my hand. The aircraft-grade aluminum has a solid feel to it, it has some weight to it but it did not feel heavy. I generally keep a backup light (Underwater Kinetics SL4) in the right pocket of my BCD, I found the Orcatorch D520 fit in well and was easy to remove and replace.
My first test dive with the light was a shallow dive on a sunny day. The concentrated light in the center of the beam worked very well looking into crevices and under rocks. Being as small as it is, it was easy to point and get in close when needed.
There was one negative point that I noticed on this dive. The user manual instructs divers to turn on the light before diving and wait until you surface to turn it off. This is great advice if it was for using the light as a primary light on a night dive. However, for a day dive or as a backup light this advice will limit the usefulness of the light. The reason given is that the light has a mechanical rotary switch. To turn on you hold the body and twist the head to tighten it. To turn off the light you twist the head the opposite direction loosening it. Before my dive, I examined how the switch worked. Where the head screws on there is a set of three O-rings. This creates the seal need to keep it from flooding both when the light is on and off. It does not take much movement of the head to change the state of the light. On my shallow dive, I turned the light on and then off about ten times. I had no problems with the light flooding, you just need to keep the movement small. My biggest fault with the Orcatorch D520 was that I found it very difficult to turn on with one hand. It was like closing or opening a jar, one hand on the flashlights barrel and the other hand to twist the head.
I found the palm-sized Orcatorch easier to use on a night dive than an older pistol grip primary dive light I normally use. The beam coverage was comfortable with a good center concentration. I liked that it was a strong light in such a small package. One drawback with this light as a primary is that it only has one intensity setting. The company’s video lights do have multiple settings.
- Cree XM-L2(U4) LED, max 1000 lumens output
- Uses 1*18650/2*CR123A/2*16340 battery
- Mechanically head rotary switch offers high-reliability underwater
- Water pressure resistant construction, depth rated to 150 meters
- Reverse polarity protection, to protect from improper battery installation
- Over-discharge protection function
- Aircraft-grade high strength aluminum material
- The latest diamond grade hard-anodized seawater-corrosion-resistance finish
- Alloy aluminum reflector with professional optical analysis
- Two sides coated toughened glass with high water pressure resistance under deep water
The Orcatorch has been tested using the ANSI/NEMA FL1 standard. The summary of the test are:
- Output: 100 lumens
- Runtime: 2 hours
- Beam Distance: 250 Meters measured on land
- Intensity: 14300Cd
- Impact Resistant 1 meter
- Waterproof: pressure resistant to 150 meters
- Working voltage: 3- 8.4v
- Dimension 134.5mm (length) x 24mm (diameter body) 30mm (head)
- Weight excluding battery 113.5g
- Included in the box: D520 light, 18650 battery, charger, O-ring set, and lanyard.
- US $59.95
- UK £54.99