A couple of notes about the video. It is shot entirely on a Canon G10 (buy the camera here, read my review of it here) point and shoot by my assistant Luke Padgett. Luke had been shooting with the G 10 when we went into Sub Solomon to shoot this picture. I'd asked him to put together a short video go along with my review of the Polarion PF 40 searchlight we were using to light the cave. As you can see he got a little carried away. It does, however, highlight the appalling things I did to the light in the few months I had it.
Read the full review on the next page
Ok, first off full disclosure:
I did not buy this light, it was lent to me by Ken Good of Polarion USA and it is a pricey pice of equipment. Ken assured me that there was not much I could do to hurt the light. If you have seen the video above, you know that I tried to prove him wrong. Well, I couldn't.
Polarion's Rod of Zeus (PF 40)
I used the Polarion PF 40 as a primary light while covering cave exploration in Tennessee on assignment for National Geographic. It is a stunning piece of equipment with no compromises in design or construction. Over the course of four months, I subjected this torch to a heinous amount of punishment underground. I used other lights that developed leaks after being constantly slammed into rocks, dragged through mud, and submerged in streams. Even a Pelican box was damaged and leaking by the time I got the shots I needed. But the Polarion, stowed in just a sleeve of duct tape and half-inch foam, stood up to more than 80 hours of intense caving.
Every time, EVERY TIME, it came out of the pack, it sparked up immediately. I brought it along nearly every time, knowing it was worth its weight as a compact, reliable, and flabbergastingly powerful light source. It lit up a subterranean cavern the size of the Louisiana Superdome. My assistants and I were among the first to ever see the entirety of the Rumble Room in real time. The light got quite a reputation and people volunteered to assist just to see it in action.There have been few other powerful lights tough enough to make it down there. I even strapped it to my assistant's harness as he descended a rope in the crush of an underground waterfall.
For photographic applications, there is one caveat. Though the torch generates true 4000K light on the spectrometer, the color really appears more green in the camera. Correcting for this caused some headaches - but nothing compared to when I didn't have it. I am sure that a little magenta cto gel would clear this up.
The Polarion is a HID (hi intensity discharge) light powered by a lithium ion battery. It is housed in a meticulously machined aluminum case about the size of a really big MAGLITE , but think of it as a Lexus headlamp that fits in your hand.
There are other HIDs out there, but because the Polarion was designed for military applications it is different from the others. Most HID have a significant delay from when they are turned on to when the light hits full strength. Not the Polarion, flip the switch and you have full power, immediately. My other hid light takes a full minute to warm up...
The included battery gives about 50 minutes of run time. All this quality comes at a premium. But from my point of view it is worth it. What is the point of me climbing hours up waterfalls to take a picture if my light doesn't come on when I arrive?