Hi-CRI Zoomie options

I’m looking for a Hi-CRI zoomie for photography urbex work. After a lot of experimention with various lights including my trusty D4 219c, I’ve found that there’s no escaping the fact that a zoomie is the best type of light for light painting dark and underground spaces evenly for my photography. My C8 is brilliant and the throw is amazing, but its very focused hotspot makes lighting up close up areas impossible without leaving harsh streaks. This is why Zoomies are brilliant because you can light the end of a long tunnel, but also have nice even and soft light for the close up bits without blowing them out in the camera. Led Lensers are normally the weapon of choice here in the UK Urbex scene, but my little Lenser M7 has a truly awful tint and is just overpriced for what it is. People also seem to love the P7.2, but its just plain overrated IMO.

I’ve been looking for something that’s going to be tough and have a reasonable throw, but is also a manageable size, something around the size of a C8, maybe a little bit bigger.
For a short while I was using a SK98 clone with a 219c emitter that I swapped in. It was ideal at the time and very compact, but my poor soldering let it down and it shorted, resulting in a lot of smoke and some very burnt cable. Luckily the battery was OK, but I’m pretty sure the driver is fried.

The Jaxman Z1 XHP50 seems like a viable option, as well as UF T20 type torch, maybe something custom with a different emitter. In reality it doesn’t need to be super high CRI, just neutral white with reasonable colour reproduction.

Is there anything that I’ve missed worth looking at?

Hi there, welcome to BLF.

I’ve found that for underground photography I like a zoomie with as wide flood as possible. When looking for such zoomies it’s my experience that almost no one here at BLF really cares about flood width, it’s all about the fully focused end which has little interest to me.

Anyhow, my favorite zoomie for photography is a cheapo one but with replaced LED and driver. Actually, how I found BLF was through searching on modding lights because the cheapo zoomie has irritating mode change features, annoying blinky modes and a cold blue LED. If wideness of flood beam is of importance, and you can consider giving LED swap another try (and maybe driver swap too), then so far I haven’t found a zoomie that beats it. I mention it this thread: Zooming Model List (2018 Updated) Tell us about your newest zoomie! - #90 by Mike_C (post #90).

I also use a variety of fixed (non-zoom) floody lights depending on the photo. I have a thread where I post exploration photos every now and then: Exploration photos with my flashlights
The first seven are all taken with fixed lights with MT-G2 LEDs. The 8th and 9th photo (wagons/carts and tunnel) are taken with the cheapo zoomie I mention (with replaced LED and driver). I also built one of these zoomies with a MT-G2 for an exploration buddy, it’s a pretty decent light but requires 2 x 18350 cells. I’ll hold on building another until I can get a working boost circuit so I can use single 18650s in it: Mod: Zoomie with MT-G2

If wideness of flood is not so important, then the thread I linked to first could be a source of information for you. Plenty of decent zoomies in that list: Zooming Model List (2018 Updated) Tell us about your newest zoomie!

I’m also a light painter, and semi-retired URBEXer. I just use either a cool, neutral, or warm white Convoy S2+ for floody lighting, sometimes with diffuser. The difference between neutral white 70+CRI to 90CRI in a photo is not as much as you would see with your eye. Contrasting cool and warm white light sources is also very effective for URBEX photography. Some amazing work in longexposure.net (he used 4sevens quarks and Fenix diffusers).