We have been using the Light Monkey 9W 5.2 canister light for a few years now and it’s been pretty good for what we needed. And what we needed was to have a reliable LED light to dive in the murky Texas lakes, and on night dives. We used the 9Ws mainly for communication if we got separated enough that it was hard to see your buddy’s hand signals.
My opinion is that the use of a dive light, even during the day, is the best way to quickly signal your buddy. Think of your light as your voice. Now on a 20ft reef with crystal clear water it’s certainly not necessary but most of the time we dove in Texas, the water was pea soup, so a light really came in handy.
When we first got to Florida in July 2016, my trusty Light Monkey got dim and was putting out about half the output. This can happen to LED lights if the diode goes bad. The 9W is plenty bright but I really wanted something brighter. Albeit the 9W canister blows a normal recreational LED dive light out of the water, but compared to the gold standard 21W HID light, it just doesn’t have the punch. So I sent my 9W to light monkey and they replaced the light head. In the mean time while my light was getting fixed, I decided to give the Halcyon Focus a try. I got a chance to play with the focus when I was in Extreme Exposure in High Springs and really liked it. I also had read good things about the light and Tina and I really wanted to get something a little brighter for when we eventually do some cave diving. It seemed like a good choice.
The Halcyon Focus is considerably more expensive than the Light Monkey 9W so this was a big upgrade for me. And really comparing the two is not really fair but since the 9W is the only other canister light I have ever owned it’s my baseline. As I mentioned, the gold standard has been the 21W HID canister light and it has reigned supreme for years. And in truth I’ve never owned one so I really can’t give you the scoop on how either LED light compares to an HID. But I have friends that own them and there is enough information on the internet to get a pretty good understanding of the good and bad point of HID lights.
The key feature of the HID lights is the fact that you can focus the light into a tight beam or widen the beam to a large spot. However the HID bulbs can be expensive to replace, fragile and quirky. On the other hand LED lights theoretically don’t burn out and you don’t have to be as careful with the bulb. But the diode can go bad as in my case. Until now, LED canister lights have always lacked the ability to focus and many die hard tech and cave divers have stayed away from them for this reason. Furthermore LED lights can have a lot of back scatter and often times you hear that they do not have the punch like the HID. However LED dive lights have an advantage over HID with excellent burn times often exceeding 5 hours.
The Focus crosses the boundary between LED and HID and has some really great features that make it the best of both worlds. First of all it’s focusable. Halcyon accomplishes this with a rotating knob on the top of the light head. The knob moves the diode forward and backwards inside the light head. The light output is excellent either in a large spot light or a tight beam. The light head also features a switch to change from off, low, and high light output settings. The on/off switch is no longer on the canister which is nice.
Speaking of the canister; it’s much smaller than the typical 21W HID battery canister and in fact it’s smaller than my 9W LED. Overall burn time is very good at 5+ hrs, so no need for a big battery unless you are doing some serious diving. The battery screws into the canister head and is sealed with two o-rings. This should help eliminate the issue with flooded battery by forgetting to latch the canister.
The canister is machined from delrin and the light head is machined from aluminum and anodized black. The handle on the light head is made from delrin and is adjustable in both width and height. The best part is that it actually fits my wife hands pretty well. There is a built-in spot to tie your bolt snap and the bungee loop to clip off the light when shooting an SMB. The handle folds flat and as an added bonus it will protect the lens during transportation.
My overall impression of the light is that it’s excellent. I love the ability to have a really wide beam and then easily turn the knob into a tight spot. I have used it in some murky water here in Florida and it punches right through the silt. I can even use it as a video light if I’m close enough to what i’m filming. So far I’ve done 10 or so dives with it and I am very pleased. Time will tell how durable it is but it feels pretty solid so it should be fine for many years.
Light Specs From Dive Right In Scuba:
- 6 hours run-time with a 5.2 amp-hour battery pack
- adjustable-focus beam (Halcyon Focus only)
- fully adjustable handle
- 39,000 lux at 1 meter (Focus at max. power)
- weight is only 1.4 Kg