Field test Gates GT 14 lights
Review of Gates Underwater Products GT14 LED underwater video lights in green water.
The GT 14 features (amongst a number of other features) a wide angle light angle and maximum light strength of 14000 lumen.
Charging and burning length:
The charger came with 4 charge green LEDs. They indicate 25, 50 75 and 100% charge. However Gates has indicated that they will most likely a different / better charger.
The charging time of the batteries (Li-ion) is stated in the manual as 3 hours for 100% charge and 75 minutes for an 80% charge.
Starting from a battery after burning it down to the flashing lights (2 minutes burn time left) it took 61 minutes to get to 75% and 180 minutes to get to 100% charge.
During charging the actual charger gets warm but not hot. This is normal.
Burn time test:
With a fully charged battery the following burn test results were obtained. Time was measured from turning on and all red LED indicator light flashing (2 minutes burn time left)
Setting: 1 2 3 4 5
Lumen: 400 5600 8000 9700 14000
burn time: > 10 hrs 75 min. 50 min. 40 min. 30 min.
time: 16 hrs 69 min. 57 min. 52 min. 39 min.
So in general the burning time meets or exceeds the manufacturers indication. I am convinced that the 69 minutes is simply a matter of the battery not the light.
The lights come with a standard 1 inch ball mount which bolted to the housing of the light. This gives you the option of using many different arm types and brands. However one could use an
alternative mount by adapting the alternative mount to the 2 threaded holes (standard ¼ “ bolts).
In am used to both flex arms for lights as well as arms an knuckles for mounting lights. In both cases I found it necessary to add flotation to the light heads in order to have them stay in position
and not fall down. I “DIY-ed” a short sleeve over the battery part of the light. The weight of the light (with battery inserted) is 1417 grams or 3.14 Lbs. Once the floatation was in place the lights held in place without a problem.
The light head has a set of 4 large LED indicators on each side of the battery compartment / rotator switch. They indicate the same so no matter at which side of the light you look you get the same
information. When you insert the battery the top LED (on both sides) turn on and the red color indicates that the battery is ready to use. As long as you do not turn the actual light on this will
remain on. Once you rotate the switch (located at the end of the battery compartment against the back end of the light head) the indicators will signal the strength of the light you have chosen. A single pink
LED at the bottom for the scout setting (400 lumen) and as you increase power to 5000, 8000, 9700 and 14000 lumen the indicator LED will have respectively one (pink turns blue), two, three or four
blue LED lights. This indication will only remain on for 3 seconds. Then the two arrays of LEDs will indicate the remaining battery life with green and red LEDs. This happens every time you change the light strength. I find the 3 seconds rather short , especially if you deal with two lights. The difference in daylight between settings is not always that clear and with ticker gloves in colder water the clicks between settings are no always obvious. So in order to verify settings on both lights around 5-8 seconds might be better. It could be a matter of getting used to. I find that the LEDs are easy to see (partly due to their size). However I would personally prefer one
array constantly indicating strength and the other battery life. This would pose a problem with a “left and right hand light” and may not be practical.
Going clockwise it goes from 400 to 5600 to 8000, 9700 and 14000 lumen. However the switch can also go straight to the 14000 lumen if one turn the switch counter clockwise. This a handy if you
need the full capacity right away.
The lights themselves have a very nice evenly spread light and the colours at proper white balance setting hold very true to life. Due to the fact that I tested in green water under dark skies the most
effective setting was 5600 lumen. However for fill light on the foreground whilst shooting toward the surface the higher settings provided a very nice option to have the colors come through at a
higher intensity. I would have preferred a setting between 400 and 5600 but Gates will offer the option to program the lumen settings on a custom basis (at a cost) to meet your needs.
This is a great option if you know you need specific light strength requirements. The light at any setting is nicely and evenly spread. The 90 degree angle gives a great spread and the light also allows an easy bridge for high contrast situations like for example when filming sand and rocks at the same time.
Another observation was that with the strong light and a model, a presenter or light sensitive creatures there was a tendency to be blinded. The user guide says do not look into the light and
certainly even with 5600 lumen the light is very strong on the eyes of your fellow diver. Gates is contemplating which system might work best to hold a diffuser. I suggested to Gates that a flip up
system that holds diffusers , gels and folds on to of the light would be a great way to go. Certainly if there was a “click lock” system that would prevent the filter holder to wonder into the
light, the versatility of the light would be better.
The Gates GT 14 lights are a lighting solution that a lot of pro shooters will like for the light performance. I am not sure how the pricing will do for the pro/consumer market but that is not
where the light’s design is geared towards. The even light spread, the power and the relative long burning time will make this a light set that is like all the other Gates products; well designed ,
sturdy and made for the job. Another product that adheres to the Gates philosophy…”under-promise