DEVELOPMENT STORY

Designing a light source that clearly visualizes the underwater world at its most beautiful

—— What we wanted was a light that would bring the sharpness and clarity of daylight to underwater scenes’ beauty.

The reason we developed the RGBlue series is simple. We wanted to create a light that would render underwater scenes as beautifully and as naturally as possible. Because light is absorbed by water, its intensity decreases the deeper you go. In addition, water absorbs all colors except those with short wavelengths such as blue. As a result, the original colors are also lost underwater. To see colors underwater with their original vividness, you have to use a light with very high quality, one that’s as close as possible to sunlight.


LEDs are increasingly being used as household lights, as well as light sources for televisions and other electronic devices. These lights are also very efficient when it comes to power consumption, which has made them a popular choice for underwater light sources. An LED light can allow users to shoot underwater for a much longer period. On the downside, the light tends to be bluish — a tendency that is enhanced when the light intensity is higher. The goal that drove us to create RGBlue System01 was to implement an ideal light underwater source that would exploit the power-saving characteristics inherent to LED light, while producing the kind of light quality that would render the underwater world at its most beautiful.


RGBlue is the culmination of years of dedication and experience, drawing on the technological expertise we developed over the course of a decade spent producing OEM underwater photographic equipment such as underwater housings for major camera manufacturers. All of that knowledge and expertise, as well as a commitment to exceeding the most stringent quality standards for underwater equipment, has been brought to bear in each and every RGBlue product we make.

—— What is the ideal light for underwater photography?

The development of underwater light System01 began with the joint development with an LED manufacturer of an LED device to implement the ideal light for underwater use. What we aimed for was a light source that could represent natural colors and irradiate a wide area evenly and simultaneously. Ordinary underwater lights in the past have used multiple LED devices with high intensity in order to ensure brightness. However, the light produced is often too bluish and uneven, and tends to be accompanied by the multi-shadow effect, which consists of multiple unnatural overlapped shadows in the field of view field.

To solve these problems, System01 adopted an LED with single-plane light generation and provided it with characteristics optimized for underwater shooting such as high color rendering(*1) for accurate representation of colors as well as optimum color temperature(*2). This has made it possible to achieve high light quality that is very close to that of natural light.

The maximum light intensity of System01 has a total flux as high as 2200 lm – more than bright enough to provide excellent illumination, while its light distribution (irradiation angle) is as wide as 100°, which is sufficient for movie shooting, as well as for wide-angle shooting. In addition, System01 is provided with a condenser lens to increase illuminance by reducing the light distribution angle to 60°. To condense light with high accuracy, the design of the condenser lens takes advantage of advanced technology used with deep-ocean research vehicles.
*1: The standard for expressing thow close the characteristics of a specific light come to natural light (solar light). Color rendering is higher as this figure approaches 100.
*2: The color temperature represents the color of the light emitted by a light source. The color temperature is higher with colder colors and lower with warmer colors. The color temperature of solar light is estimated to be between 5000K and 6500K.
―― Module replacement is possible thanks to elimination of the risk of water leakage.

One of the biggest problems in underwater photography is water leakage. Once water gets inside the light unit and mechanism, shooting is no longer possible. To avoid this, RGBlue products have been carefully designed and rigorously tested to ensure that water can never penetrate under any circumstances.


The simplest way to keep water out is to integrate the light and battery and apply waterproof treatment. Simple as it is, however, this design actually makes things more complicated for users. Battery-intensive users, including professionals, need to have several spare lights on hand when they are shooting. While this problem can be dealt with by adopting an interchangeable battery design and keeping several backup batteries on hand, such a design increases the risk of water leakage at the light-battery junction. Given these facts, we decided that the best solution would be to design a system that combined the advantages of both the integrated design and interchangeable battery system by creating separate, fully waterproofed modules. System01 has high water resistance  at depths up to 100 meters, and each of its Light and Battery modules is provided with  IPX6(*3) equivalent waterproof capability so any possibility of water leakage is eliminated even when they are connected. A bayonet mechanism is used to connect and disconnect the modules so operation is easy and reliable. Our comprehensive waterproofing design can also be seen in other RGBlue products, for example with a remote control system we are currently developing for simultaneous intensity control of two System01 units, which is connected through optical fiber cables to eliminate any concern about water leakage.


RGBlue`s modularized design offers another benefit in addition to the interchangeable battery module; it lays the basis for flexible system configuration and easy system expansion. For example, you could select different light modules according to your purpose. In fact, we are scheduling the launch of light modules with different color temperatures and color rendering indices. These light modules will also be equipped with a bayonet mechanism for easy module interchange.

*3: IPX6 is a liquid ingress protection standard whereby water projected in jets from any direction shall have no harmful effects.