Sunday, November 16, 2008

Spelunking Your Books

Inspired by a fellow visually-impaired photographer on Flickr (see the image of Sandra on the right), I went to my local outdoors store and bought an LED headlamp, the Tikka Plus, from Petzl. The headlamp is great for reading! I have been using booklights to supplement ambient room lighting for a while now, but have never been satisfied. My eyesight forces me to hold the book quite close, so these booklights are often obstructed by my own forehead. While the headlamp is not perfect, it is a significant advance in convenience and quality.

Personally, I would prefer a more diffuse light and one with more low intensity options. The light is designed to throw a wide beam outdoors or in caves, so the light hitting a page a few inches a way works more like a spotlight. I will experiment with some ways to diffuse the light a bit, possible some opaque paper, bu tI already look geeky enough with it on.

Hopefully, someone will come out with a headlamp designed specifically for the visually impaired, or at least for home honnyists whose need for close up lighting is similar. I have contacted Petzl with the suggestion.

Addendum: I have found a web site that has a headlamp specifically for the visually impaired। I can not say anything more about the lamp or the site as I have had no experience with either. Leave a comment if have any thoughts.


Sandra Miller said...

ROTFL...Tim thank you for posting my photo and headlamp "lightbulb"! I bet you LOVE yours now too!!! Love your blog post title.

I looked at the one you got too. There were so darned many to choose from it was mind boggling. Does yours have a diffusing feature? Mine diffuses 2 levels in each mode (spot and flood) by half clicking the button. Maybe yours does that too.

Oberazzi said...

Unfortunately, the store had only a few display samples that I could test. The one I bought only has different intensity levels. I wish I had been able to test one with diffuser option. I need to get a whole bunch in order to do a full review!

Anonymous said...

I use a headlamp too, for both reading and technical work, and found a nifty little one with a flip-over diffuser. It sold at WalMart for about $19 last year:

Rayovac SE1WHLT-B Sportsman Xtreme 1-Watt Multi Function 4 LED Headlight With Diffuser

* Rotating diffuser lens to illuminate a larger area
* Powered by 1 AA alkaline or NiMH battery
* 1-Watt Luxeon LED for 45 Lumens of very white light
* Other LED's: two red for night vision and one blue for tracking
* DC/DC regulated circuitry provides maximum light output throughout the life of the battery

The focused beam is brighter at ten feet than a 2D Streamlight Twin Task flashlight's xenon bulb. The diffused beam isn't perfectly uniform, but it's fine for reading and close technical work. The Luxeon LED runs for well over an hour on a single fully-charged NiMH AA cell. The dual red LEDs then light up when the Luxeon goes out from low battery voltage, so I've not been stranded in the dark fumbling for a fresh AA cell.