Even if you’re new to dive photography, you’ve probably heard about red focus dive lights. Odds are though, you aren’t totally convinced you need one or why having one is so important. Let’s take a few minutes to discuss both points.

First off, focus lights aren’t necessary for all situations, but they are highly recommended as they quickly allow your camera to detect contrast and therefore lock-in on an image, creating a sharper photo. The red hue of this type of focus light isn’t visible to most marine life, allowing you to get your shot without disturbing the subject of your photo. Don’t worry though, the focus light won’t appear in your images or cast a red hue and alter the true colors. Most lights on the market today are LED, although there are a few halogen options still available. To ensure you have the least amount of impact to your images, we recommend you stick with the LED red focus dive lights.

These lights usually mount directly to your camera housing, leaving both hands free so you can maneuver underwater and get the best shot. On night dives and in dark areas, you’ll also need a strobe light. These lights give out short bursts of light, similar to the flash on your camera, to illuminate the entire area quickly. Because you set up the shot and focused the camera with just the red light, you can easily capture images of underwater life without disturbing them.

When you’re ready to purchase your first light there are a few things to keep in mind — specifically, what is your budget, do you want it mounted and how do you intend to use your red focus dive light? Do your research first and then check with your local dive shop to find the red focus dive light that will work best for you.