Appeared in DIVER October 2007

John John Bantin has been a full-time professional diving writer and underwater photographer since 1990. He makes around 300 dives each year testing diving equipment.


They are expensive. When you own an army with a fleet of C130 Transports you dont have
to concern yourself with excess-baggage costs, but we civilians are in a different category. So
I assume that most owners of MetalSub lamps are travelling in the front of the plane, with commensurate baggage allowances.
Of course, many of us simply pile our kit into the back of the car and head for the coast. Subject to keeping the rear suspension off its mounting points and not getting stopped by the boys in a jam-sandwich during the journey, weight is not a consideration.
Robustness is, and a MetalSub lamp will endure the rigours of the close company of thoughtless club dive buddies, as easily as it would withstand the attentions of hostile insurgents in a less inviting place.
All that said, it was nice to try one of these lamps with a new lighter-weight travel battery.

Light Source
The HID126 lamp uses a High Intensity Discharge bulb for a big light output, while still giving a long burntime. The bad news is for those who have already spent all their money on a MetalSub HID125 thinking it was the ultimate lamp. The HID 126 with its improved electronics is actually much brighter.
I enjoyed lining it up against the beam of the lamp of the proud owner of another make of HID and, in my sadistic way, blasting it out with the MetalSub. This lamp probably gives the best beam of light of any I have tried.

Power Source
Other MetalSub lamps come with a battery-pack that has a mounting thats probably the best of its type in the world. Ambient Pressure Diving has adopted it for mounting bail-out tanks to its rebreathers.
This travel battery has a simpler mount. It is fitted to the users tank in the same way but doesnt enjoy the advantage of a quick-disconnect system. Its also a smaller capacity 12V 4amp/hr ni-cad battery-pack, so the burntime is reduced.
I found that it was more than enough for an hour-long night dive. Not having to break it open to connect it to its intelligent all-voltage fast-charger made recharging it a painless process. An indicator light at the rear end of the lamp glows green to yellow to red, an estimate of the amount of charge left in the battery-pack during use under water.

A magnetic reed switch eliminates any danger of leaks at this point. Its big and chunky enough to suit the most ham-fisted squaddie.
Like any HID, you need to turn it on and let it warm up to full output. The longevity of an HID depends more on the number of times it is fired up than the length of time over which its switched on. You shouldnt turn this one off before it has warmed up, and should avoid turning it on and off during a dive.

The MetalSub HID126 gave a pleasantly warm light, unlike a lot of cheaper HID lamps, which can be unpleasantly blue in output.
I was not disappointed - the beam was well-focused into a cone of light that was fairly tight yet perfectly evenly diffused across its width.
It penetrated the water extremely well. Crinoids such as feather and basketstars were curling up under its withering light-sabre effect from a distance of many metres. During daylight hours it served me well, lighting up and revealing parts of the reef in glorious reds and yellows. It was blindingly good!

PRICE £642
BURNTIME 90 minutes
EXTRAS Fast charger
WEIGHT 2.4kg
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