PDA

View Full Version : Best LED torch - Cree or Luxeon?



wratterus
04-04-2011, 03:22 PM
After something with good battery life (5 hours +), small size (probably around 130mm - 150mm long, or it could be longer depending on how fat it is) and running off AAs or AAAs. Had a torch which I killed, had it for ages, can't remember the name of it but I'm pretty sure it used a Cree LED, and I was very happy with it. It met the above requirements.

http://www.trademe.co.nz/Sports/Camping-outdoors/Torches/Torches/auction-364839424.htm

Would something like that be any good? I'm hoping to spend around $50, but I want something that can handle a beating.

Does anyone own a similar torch, or have some knowledge in this area? I don't know a lot and am a bit unsure what I should go for. Thanks !:)

gary67
04-04-2011, 03:51 PM
Kathmandu are currently selling both types in headtorches, so if your over here go in and try them to see which you prefer. A lot will depend on the reflector of course. I made the mistake of buying a torch of TM once never again I want to be able to try them myself. I have a Luxeon in my caving lamp but is a home conversion of an existing Petzl Zoom headtorch. I do think the Cree might be brighter but not 100% sure which is why it would be best to go and do an experiment if you can

pctek
04-04-2011, 04:22 PM
http://www.trademe.co.nz/Sports/Camping-outdoors/Torches/Torches/auction-364839424.htm


Does anyone own a similar torch, or have some knowledge in this area?

Husband has one. Loves it.
The only thing LED torches aren't good at as lighting up an area from a distance, but it's pretty bright.

wratterus
04-04-2011, 04:49 PM
Husband has one. Loves it.
The only thing LED torches aren't good at as lighting up an area from a distance, but it's pretty bright.

That exact one?

forrest44
04-04-2011, 06:14 PM
Try dealextreme.com, they seem to have quite a few LED torches and such

Cree are probably the industry leader in terms of brightness/watt so I'd say go with them
(Mind you a "cree" torch could use any cree led from a while back...)

Ninjabear
04-04-2011, 07:33 PM
Doesn't need to be that exact brand when buying LED torches. They are all the same really. I have a 24 led and a 32 led torch. It's bright at short distances but I wouldn't use it for walking out at night since the beam isn't as strong as ones with a light bulb.
I tend to use it when maybe there's a powercut. I'll probably use it if I can't find something on the ceiling , basement etc.
Maybe I'll use it on my way to the loo.lol

Erayd
04-04-2011, 09:00 PM
The only thing LED torches aren't good at as lighting up an area from a distance, but it's pretty bright.


...They are all the same really. I have a 24 led and a 32 led torch. It's bright at short distances but I wouldn't use it for walking out at night since the beam isn't as strong as ones with a light bulb.I get the feeling that you guys haven't seen a modern LED torch - these days they'll quite happily compete with car headlights for both brightness and throw.

Wratterus: Could you be a bit more specific about what your requirements are? Ideally if you could cover all the stuff on this checklist (http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?276972-Flashlight-Recommendation-Checklist-Updated!!&p=3397680&viewfull=1#post3397680) - you've already answered a few of those, but not really enough to recommend you a light yet.

Also, if you're after a forum with real expertise in this area... give CPF (http://www.candlepowerforums.com/) a go (particularly the LED subforum) - you'll get a *lot* more info than you will here.

wratterus
04-04-2011, 09:48 PM
Crikey, righto... :p


2) Budget:
Less than $70.


3) Format:

____I want a flashlight.


4) Flashlight-specific format/size:


____Every day carry medium (4-7 inches).


5) Emitter/Light source:

____LED (known for efficiency, longevity, and compactness)

6) Manufacturer:

____I want to buy a light from a traditional mass producing manufacturer that is ready to go out of the box.


7) What battery type do you want to use?

____I intend to use rechargeable nickel chemistry (NiMH)


8) How much genuine out the front (OTF) light do you want/need?

____I want to illuminate my entire backyard or a campsite (150-300 lumens).


9) Throw vs. Flood: At what distance will you be most likely to use this light? Select all that apply.

____5-20 yards/meters (check out a noise in the backyard)
____30-50 yards/meters (I have a big backyard)
____50-150 yards/meters (I live in a very rural area/farm with wide open spaces)
I will be using it for up close work (example, under a car) but still want to be able to take it tramping and hunting.


10) Runtime: Not over-inflated manufacturer runtime claims, but usable brightness measured from first activation to 50% with new batteries (Measured on maximum output).

____90-120 minutes (Runtime is moderately important, but still not critical)
____3 hours + (I critically need this light to run on max for extended periods in between battery changes/charges).


11) Durability/Usage: Generally the old phrase “you get what you pay for” is very accurate for flashlights.

____Very Important (Camping, Backpacking, Car Glove-box).


12) Switch Type and location (choose all that apply):


____I want a tail mounted switch (found on the majority of today’s high end lights).


13) User Interface (UI) and mode selection. Select all that apply.

____A simple on-off with only one output level is fine for me.
____I want 2 light levels. (Brighter/short runtime and Dimmer/long runtime.)
either, on and off is handy but so are multiple light levels...

14)Material/Finish/Coating

____Anodized Aluminum – either type II or III (Hard Anodized) (Aluminum, specifically HA, is the most common material/finish for today’s flashlights).

Erayd
04-04-2011, 10:02 PM
Would you consider using LiIon rechargeables? The 3+ hour runtime at max brightness you've requested will be *very* hard to find in that form factor when using NiMH AAs (unless you're happy with long runtime at a lower brightness), but you'll be able to get something that gets close to that if you're happy to go with 18650s.

One other question that wasn't on the checklist - what kind of regulation are you after? Flat / full regulation (can run on constant brightness until the battery is drained).
Buck only (constant brightness until the battery voltage is below the regulation voltage, then direct-drive [slowly declining brightness] until the battery is flat).
No regulation, direct-drive only (rapidly declining initial brightness, continuing to gradually decline until the battery is flat). Not recommended, but can be cheaper.

Also... am I correct in assuming that your dollar values are in NZD, not USD?

Edit: If you're in the Wellington area you're welcome to look at a few of mine to get a feel for what is available these days, although I suspect mine are a little above your price range (although not by too much).

somebody
04-04-2011, 10:09 PM
I bought one of these last year: http://www.dealextreme.com/p/ultrafire-wf-502b-mc-e-bin-k-5-mode-700-lumen-led-flashlight-1-18650-39738

It's exceptionally bright, solidly built, and is cheap. It doesn't use AA/AAAs though, but the rechargeable batteries it takes aren't too expensive.

Erayd
04-04-2011, 10:16 PM
I second that suggestion Somebody - it fits the bill pretty well, although DX lights do tend to be a bit of a lottery as regards quality - some are great, some appear great until you abuse them, and some are just junk.

Wratterus, do note that if you get the light Somebody has linked, the runtime on max won't be great. It's bright as hell, but that particular LED will draw enough current to drain most 18650s in less than an hour. Runtime on the lower modes should be fine though, and will probably fit your requirements.

Note also that due to the die size, the long-distance throw isn't great, but it's so bright that you'll still get a useful range out of it, even taking that into account.

wratterus
04-04-2011, 10:17 PM
Would you consider using LiIon rechargeables? The 3+ hour runtime at max brightness you've requested will be *very* hard to find in that form factor when using NiMH AAs (unless you're happy with long runtime at a lower brightness), but you'll be able to get something that gets close to that if you're happy to go with 18650s.

One other question that wasn't on the checklist - what kind of regulation are you after? Flat / full regulation (can run on constant brightness until the battery is drained).
Buck only (constant brightness until the battery voltage is below the regulation voltage, then direct-drive [slowly declining brightness] until the battery is flat).
No regulation, direct-drive only (rapidly declining initial brightness, continuing to gradually decline until the battery is flat). Not recommended, but can be cheaper.

Also... am I correct in assuming that your dollar values are in NZD, not USD?

Edit: If you're in the Wellington area you're welcome to look at a few of mine to get a feel for what is available these days, although I suspect mine are a little above your price range (although not by too much).

Ah, I meant to get rid of the 3+ hour line. Don't need that long. Definitely want AAAs or AAs rather than 18650s. Buck Only would be ideal, but not super important, No Regulation would be OK.

I do like the look of the DX but really would like it to run on normal batteries.

The torch I had was a Mxdl brand, and had 3w LED. Anything even slightly better than that would be quite alright.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v249/UnknownVincent/LED/Dorcy1wSize.jpg
One in from the left, exactly the same. Looks like it was a luxeon.

Erayd
04-04-2011, 10:45 PM
Hmmm, I'd say this (http://www.fenixlight.com/viewproduct.asp?id=141), except it's about three times your preferred budget.

I'll have a hunt around and see what I can find that fits the bill...

Ninjabear
04-04-2011, 11:35 PM
I get the feeling that you guys haven't seen a modern LED torch - these days they'll quite happily compete with car headlights for both brightness and throw.

Wratterus: Could you be a bit more specific about what your requirements are? Ideally if you could cover all the stuff on this checklist (http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?276972-Flashlight-Recommendation-Checklist-Updated!!&p=3397680&viewfull=1#post3397680) - you've already answered a few of those, but not really enough to recommend you a light yet.

Also, if you're after a forum with real expertise in this area... give CPF (http://www.candlepowerforums.com/) a go (particularly the LED subforum) - you'll get a *lot* more info than you will here.

Uh...Most likely

I've only used cheap ones.lol

Ninjabear
04-04-2011, 11:40 PM
Hmmm, I'd say this (http://www.fenixlight.com/viewproduct.asp?id=141), except it's about three times your preferred budget.

I'll have a hunt around and see what I can find that fits the bill...


I suppose you look at the Lumen for the measurement in brightness?

Wouldn't it be something equivalent to this http://cgi.ebay.com.au/800-Lumen-Super-CREE-Q5-WC-LED-Torch-Flashlight-5-Mode-/290552425996?pt=AU_Sport_Camping_Hiking_Lamps_Torc hes&hash=item43a6462e0c ?

Just that the website you pointed out looks prettier?lol

Not sure how to tell the difference in quality other than reading what the lumen is..

Maybe there are different types of LED technology that gives more brightness than the other normal LED torches?

Erayd
05-04-2011, 12:29 AM
I suppose you look at the Lumen for the measurement in brightness?For total light output, yes. For throw brightness, the common measure is lux @ distance.

Note also that the figures for many lights are exaggerated by measuring lumens at the LED immediately after switch-on, not actual out-the-front lumens a few minutes after switch-on (LED brightness generally drops slightly as the die heats up).


Wouldn't it be something equivalent to this http://cgi.ebay.com.au/800-Lumen-Super-CREE-Q5-WC-LED-Torch-Flashlight-5-Mode-/290552425996?pt=AU_Sport_Camping_Hiking_Lamps_Torc hes&hash=item43a6462e0c?No. The light you've linked uses a Q5-binned LED, which is a lot less efficient, and uses 18650 LiIons, not AAs.

They also don't list the LED type, but noting the claimed brightness & price, it's likely to be an MC-E or similar. Unfortunately they don't provide a photo of the LED, and haven't noted it in the description.


Just that the website you pointed out looks prettier?lolHaha, the site I linked was the manufacturer's site (Fenix) - it's in their best interests to look pretty, their entire business is based on selling torches!

They're not top-of-the-line, but they do generally make very good lights, and have a reputation for solid designs with decent build quality. In my experience with their lights, that reputation is well deserved.


Not sure how to tell the difference in quality other than reading what the lumen is..LED brand, die type, package type, flux bin, tint, driver, and efficiency. Also worth considering the light body - materials, design, heatsinking, coating, seals, threads, switch type, switch durability, etc.


Maybe there are different types of LED technology that gives more brightness than the other normal LED torches?Depends what you mean by 'normal'. The lights you talked about in your earlier post would either have been using *very* cheap LEDs (likely standard 5mm package ones, judging by your description of the number of LEDs and the resulting beam), or very old technology, or both.

Decent modern lights generally use a single, much brighter LED (although some lights do still use multiple LEDs, those are generally battery-guzzlers, and only really needed if you're wanting to provide biblical levels of illumination). The downside is that these LEDs are more expensive, which means you're unlikely to find them in lights that fit in the 'cheap supermarket impulse-purchase' category.

pctek
05-04-2011, 07:50 AM
I get the feeling that you guys haven't seen a modern LED torch - these days they'll quite happily compete with car headlights for both brightness and throw.
.

Well how modern is modern? he bought the thing only a few months ago. He has hundreds of torches.
Shine it under a dark house and the immediate area is ok, but it isn't much good for looking further under.

gary67
05-04-2011, 09:09 AM
My mates caving light which is LED can light up a hillside at a minimum of 1/2 km away possible more but then it cost $900 my adapted light with a single 10W LED which cost $20 and gives an excellent spread due to the shape of the reflector runs on 3 AA's for 48 hours continuous use.

So it can be achieved it just requires shopping around

Cicero
05-04-2011, 09:42 AM
Well how modern is modern? he bought the thing only a few months ago. He has hundreds of torches.
Shine it under a dark house and the immediate area is ok, but it isn't much good for looking further under.

So to make husband as happy as Larry, spend $900.

Erayd
05-04-2011, 10:38 AM
Well how modern is modern? he bought the thing only a few months ago. He has hundreds of torches.
Shine it under a dark house and the immediate area is ok, but it isn't much good for looking further under.I meant modern design & parts, not when it was bought. If all it can do it light the immediate area under a house, then either it doesn't fall into that category, or you didn't realise it was set to a low output mode.


...my adapted light with a single 10W LED which cost $20 and gives an excellent spread due to the shape of the reflector runs on 3 AA's for 48 hours continuous use.

So it can be achieved it just requires shopping aroundMmm, it won't be 48 hours on max brightness though - the math just doesn't add up for that. 48 hours of light is certainly achievable from 3 AAs, but it'll be an awful lot dimmer than what the LED is capable of.

Being extremely generous with the batteries and assuming 3AH per AA, and ignoring voltage drop, that would only drive 10W for an hour. Alkalines would be even worse, as they don't handle high loads well.

utopian201
05-04-2011, 11:27 AM
Haha, the site I linked was the manufacturer's site (Fenix) - it's in their best interests to look pretty, their entire business is based on selling torches!

They're not top-of-the-line, but they do generally make very good lights, and have a reputation for solid designs with decent build quality. In my experience with their lights, that reputation is well deserved.


I'd say Fenix are pretty good value and are world class (in fact, I'd say it is one of the few Chinese brands that are world class). Not as durable as Surefire, but a lot cheaper with similar light output. 4sevens is also quite good.

I have the Fenix LD20 and its the only light I'll ever need.

gary67
05-04-2011, 11:33 AM
I meant modern design & parts, not when it was bought. If all it can do it light the immediate area under a house, then either it doesn't fall into that category, or you didn't realise it was set to a low output mode.

Mmm, it won't be 48 hours on max brightness though - the math just doesn't add up for that. 48 hours of light is certainly achievable from 3 AAs, but it'll be an awful lot dimmer than what the LED is capable of.

Being extremely generous with the batteries and assuming 3AH per AA, and ignoring voltage drop, that would only drive 10W for an hour. Alkalines would be even worse, as they don't handle high loads well.

After 24 hours it was half as bright but still more than enough to see and safely move around underground, at the end of 48 hours it was still usable but noticeably dimmer. I left it running at home when I got back and it still ran albeit very dim for 3 more days.

So after 48 hours I could still cave with it but wouldn't push it any further, this was a real world test and not just turning it on and leaving it running

wratterus
05-04-2011, 12:14 PM
So it looks like what I'm after doesn't really exist. :p I've upgraded my price range - Under $120.

What about one of these?

http://www.trademe.co.nz/Electronics-photography/Other-electronics/Torches/auction-365928815.htm

Erayd
05-04-2011, 12:31 PM
So it looks like what I'm after doesn't really exist.Nah, what you're after does exist, it's just not the easiest thing to find for that price (although certainly possible with a bit of digging).


I've upgraded my price range - Under $120.Now that opens up a whole lot more possibilities...


What about one of these?

http://www.trademe.co.nz/Electronics-photography/Other-electronics/Torches/auction-365928815.htmIdeal (although note that the 'turbo' mode runtime is a bit optimistic). The NZ dealer's site for that is here (http://www.fenixlight.co.nz/shop/l-series/ld-40) (I think he's the same guy as that TradeMe account).

I've bought stuff from him before via the website - he was great to deal with :D.


After 24 hours it was half as bright but still more than enough to see and safely move around underground, at the end of 48 hours it was still usable but noticeably dimmer. I left it running at home when I got back and it still ran albeit very dim for 3 more days.

So after 48 hours I could still cave with it but wouldn't push it any further, this was a real world test and not just turning it on and leaving it runningNot bad at all :thumbs:.

wratterus
05-04-2011, 12:35 PM
Ideal. The NZ dealer's site for that is here (http://www.fenixlight.co.nz/shop/l-series/ld-40) (I think he's the same guy as that TradeMe account).

I've bought stuff from him before via the website - he was great to deal with :D.



Sweet - done deal. :banana

Thanks a lot for your help - it's very cool how people with specialized knowledge on PF1 come out of the woodwork when the right question is asked. I would have more than likely ended up getting some cheap no name thing off TM if it hadn't been for this, so thanks. :2cents:

gary67
05-04-2011, 02:44 PM
Yeah I have discovered over the years that when it comes to some things you really get what you pay for and that with torches cheap really does mean crap

Ninjabear
05-04-2011, 07:40 PM
Where do you find the fenix torches from?Can you buy them from NZ or do i have to call china?lol

Erayd
05-04-2011, 07:45 PM
Where do you find the fenix torches from?Can you buy them from NZ or do i have to call china?lolhttp://www.fenixlight.co.nz/ is the NZ distributor. Note that they don't carry all models, but I suspect if you wanted one they didn't have they could probably get it for you.

wratterus
06-04-2011, 06:27 PM
Just got the LD40 - wow. Awesome. :D

Cicero
06-04-2011, 06:54 PM
Just got the LD40 - wow. Awesome. :D

I bought the E 20, didn't need but sod it......

wratterus
06-04-2011, 10:14 PM
After using the torch outside when it's properly dark, I say again, wow. Should be standard issue for all PF1ers. :drool

R2x1
06-04-2011, 10:33 PM
If you are using the torch it should NOT be properly dark.



When you find the switch, you will be amazed at the difference that makes - it'll be properly light.

somebody
06-04-2011, 10:38 PM
Erayd: you should ask the Fenixlight distributor for a discount next time you buy a torch, for all the customers you've managed to refer to them in just a matter of days.

Winston001
06-04-2011, 10:52 PM
Have had an assortment of torches over the years. Eveready with Xenon bulbs, rechargeables, LED head torches, Dolphin, Big Jim, pencil torches blah blah blah secret passage - oops, wrong idiom...

So anyway, I finally bought two of those squeeze-dynamo LED units from Hardly Normal. One under the seat of the car and one - umm...somewhere handy in the house (find it when I need to :D)

The point is I became frustrated with torches being flat when needed. The rechargeable simply died.

Overall my conclusions are:


Big Jim lamps with 6V battery are the bees knees. Don't know if they are still sold.
Dolphin waterproof with 9V is good and very robust
The new bright LED bulbs are miles brighter than standard so are worth paying for
A head torch is useful but not all-purpose
A dynamo backup torch is essential emergency equipment
There is no substitute when the chips are down, for a candle and matches.

Cicero
12-04-2011, 07:46 PM
Have had an assortment of torches over the years. Eveready with Xenon bulbs, rechargeables, LED head torches, Dolphin, Big Jim, pencil torches blah blah blah secret passage - oops, wrong idiom...

So anyway, I finally bought two of those squeeze-dynamo LED units from Hardly Normal. One under the seat of the car and one - umm...somewhere handy in the house (find it when I need to :D)

The point is I became frustrated with torches being flat when needed. The rechargeable simply died.

Overall my conclusions are:


Big Jim lamps with 6V battery are the bees knees. Don't know if they are still sold.
Dolphin waterproof with 9V is good and very robust
The new bright LED bulbs are miles brighter than standard so are worth paying for
A head torch is useful but not all-purpose
A dynamo backup torch is essential emergency equipment
There is no substitute when the chips are down, for a candle and matches.


I tried possum shooting with candle and match, not good.

Agent_24
12-04-2011, 08:15 PM
I'm happy with my Maglite that uses a Xenon bulb...

But they also do LED versions as well.

Cicero
12-04-2011, 09:27 PM
I'm happy with my Maglite that uses a Xenon bulb...

But they also do LED versions as well.

Ooooooh so 20th century:yuck:

R2x1
12-04-2011, 10:22 PM
Hot wire torches - how quaint.