The Best Headlamp for Photographers

April 9th, 2016

As many of you know, I’ve been doing night photography almost exclusively for the past year and a half.  This has entailed a lot of time, money and testing of lights to properly light my subjects and create the effect I want, but being out in the middle of the night also requires good lighting for hiking in the dark.  In the past 2 years I’ve tried 3 models of Black Diamond headlamps, 2 models of Petzl headlamps, and a variety of other types of lights. I recently discovered a headlamp that is a clear winner over all the others.

A few personal beliefs:  1)  Red lights for night work are over-rated.  They do, in fact, impact the digital image, and 2) they are just a really poor light.  3)  I believe 200 lumens is the minimum power for safe route-finding in the dark.

Meet the Nitecore HC 30, 1000 lumens coupled with the longest-lasting batteries currently available and the lightest headgear package.  This ingenious design has every desirable characteristic for photography:

  1.  Infinitely dimmable down to 1%!  The most difficult property to find in night photography lights is a source that will go dim enough for long exposures.
  2.  Incredible run time!  My old Black Diamond 200 lumen lamp lasted about 4.5 hours on one set of 4 AA batteries.  This often necessitated a new set of batteries each night.  I could never go more than 2 nights on a set.  The manufacturer-claimed run time on the HC 30 at 210 lumens is over 7 hours and 1 hour at 1000 lumens.  In my first test of it at 1000 lumens it ran nearly 2 hours.
  3.  Incredible engineering.  The glass and reflector are so precision engineered and manufactured that there is near-perfect light dispersion; there are no hot spots or “shadows”.
  4. Design:  The design of the attachment device to the headwear allows for quick, easy detachment in case you need it to be free-standing for lighting a subject.
  5. Price!  Priced below $80 makes this a steal.

The only negative I have with this lamp is it’s Kelvin tempertature.  At 6200-7000 Kelvin it’s far too white for direct use in night photography.  Since most of my night work is in the desert southwest, I find I can aim it at a rock source that will reflect light to where I want it and that will temper the Kelvin down to about 4000.  Problem solved.  A better fix would be if Nightcore would offer an optional glass lens that would produce a lower Kelvin light.

HC30_EN_17 HC30_EN_14 HC30_EN_16

Comments are closed.