Review: Aurora SH-3AA - XM-L T6 - 800LM - 26650/3xAA

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ezarc
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Review: Aurora SH-3AA - XM-L T6 - 800LM - 26650/3xAA

Aurora SH-3AA
(Also available as the UltraFire SH-3AA)

Summary



Battery 3xAA or 1×26650
Switch Forward tail clicky
Modes 5 Hi>Med>Lo>Strobe>SOS
LED type XM-L T6
Lens Glass
Tailstands Yes
Price $29.10
From DX.com

Pros:

  • Takes 26650s and AAs (18650s in sleeve etc)
  • Tailstands
  • LED perfectly centred

Cons:

  • Dirty inside
  • Unexpected flickering on high
  • Disco modes (pro for some)

My initial thoughts upon un-boxing was how light it is for how fat it appears, soon followed by how flawless the machining on the outside even though the anodizing seems to resemble a low gloss black paint I am sure it anodising.

Disassembling the light, the tail threads felt dirty and gritty, the head even more so. The threads are pointed and thin so I would recommend cleaning and lubricating them right away.

The battery carrier was probably the cheapest they could source, I would gladly pay a extra $1-2 to have received one of higher quality. More about that later.

I was quite pleased with the aluminium reflector, it was one of the smoothest I have ever seen. The base is also flat where it sits on the star, I presume it will also aid in cooling.

Inside the tail cap seem to have good machining then appears that someone has manually grinded it down for some reason.

The star is very dirty, I only noticed in the picture that there appears to be something on the emitter as well. I’m not sure if it is there or just a camera trick because I looked a few times and couldn’t see it myself. The pill also looks rather scratched up but it has no effect on usability.

Looking in from the tail end it is very dusty and greasy inside as well, the driver appears to have a sloppy solder job but I’m sure its better than I can do.

A size comparison of the Aurora SH-3AA with the NiteCore EA4

Another size comparison of the Aurora SH-3AA with the JetBeam PA40

And now for some beamshots:
(all light pictures are using freshly charged eneloops)

Above the white post in the fence is about 75 meters, the trunk on the big tree in the background is about 100 meters. These shots were all aimed at the white fence post.

Above all are aimed at the tree trunk in the background aprox 100 meters away.

Final words and thoughts:
When I un-boxed and inspected it was at the same time I took the photos, I was a little disappointed at first but there was really nothing that effected the performance or outward appearance.

Now that a few days have passed it being dirty and having odd marks and uneven grinding inside don’t bother me at all. It doesn’t really affect the appearance or function and I am just happy that the reflector isn’t all scratched up or dirty. This is a budget light after all so I cant expect perfect and premium.

My only real concern was the battery carrier, I can’t actaully test it but I feel it may be restricting its full potential. After testing I was playing with it outside for about 10 minutes then started to notice it flickering, my first thoughts were the batteries must be going flat already. Later that night after putting them on the charger they all only took around 200mAh to top up. This suggests to me that the carrier is not sufficient or there may have been a bad earth. I am not familiar with voltage sag so I don’t know if that could also be a possible cause.

The Aurora SH-3AA makes my JetBeam PA40 look dull in comparison, and to my surprise it has a very similar output (maybe slightly lower) to the NiteCore EA4 yet it has a tighter/brighter hotspot and throws considerably further.

Overall I was more impressed with this light than I though I would be, its exceeded my expectations on AA’s thats for sure. I expected it would under-preform unless a Li-ion was used.

I plan to look around to source a better battery carrier, then perhaps after a bit more testing it will make a great gift for a family member or friend.

Edited by: sb56637 on 08/26/2014 - 17:06 Reason: sb56637 replaced <!-- break --> with <!--break--> via Scanner Search and Replace module.
garrybunk
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Thanks for the review!  I know someone posted previously about their UltraFire SH-3AA (or Aurora)  burning up and dying.  Light still seems a bit on the pricey side.

-Garry

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Tumbleweed48
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I have one of those too, and my AA battery carrier failed after one insertion/extraction. Now it will very reluctantly deliver barely visible light while flashing rapidly (if it does anything at all) with fresh Eneloops.

Fortunately it works tolerably with 26650s, although it does get a frequent case of flickering hiccups with them as well. It throws a lot of light when it works so I have to call it useable, but I don’t trust it at all. Mine was filthy and gritty when it arrived, but it seems to be expected nowadays that you spend the first hour cleaning and lubing…

I keep trying to convince myself that some where along the way I’ll find one of these Chinese Crapfires that works as advertised. And yes, I’m quite aware that I now fit Einsteins definition of insanity. Oh, well. You can’t even buy a drinkable bottle of Scotch for $29 nowadays, but the money would have been better spent on Scotch. Oh – and I can’t open it or close it without munching the O-rings, grease or no grease. I certainly wouldn’t buy another one.

ezarc
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@ Garry, I think it would have been worth it if I didn’t run in to the flickering. Something this bright on AA’s would be hard to find for less than $30. For 26650s there are better options. I actually don’t like 3AA lights (threaaphobia) and this was my first but I wanted to try one.

@ Tubmleweed, That doesn’t sound good at all, even flickering on the 26650s then it must be more than just the carrier problem.

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Those 3AA holders are probably the same ones I buy to mod. They are all junk. I have not found a good 3AA holder made in China yet. You will loose a lot of power through those holders. When I did my tests with the stock versus the copper mod, the stock ones robbed about 1/2A of power due to resistance.

I like that light as far as tint and how well it throws. I think with a low resistance battery holder it would be a great light, but I wonder if the flickering isn't the driver.

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nice review, thanks! but the ea4 looks so much better overall, if you NEED to use AA

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That’s exactly the same reason I bought an EA4 in the blink of an eye. I already had lights with battery carriers, and quality lights they were, Fenix’es and an Olight S65. Even these are cumbersome if you try to change your batteries in the dark, standing. There is always that danger of dropping and breaking your battery carrier too. EA4 is much better with its direct battery insertion and its size. Twice the money but it can easily save you a couple of lithiums and a charger.

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Thanks for the review ezarc.

 

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ezarc
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@ OldLumens, Yep I suspect it could be the driver too or a combination of both. Seems strange that it will work for 5 mins or so before flickering.

@ Jacko & Kokopelli, My EA4 is actually getting sent back for exchange I just haven’t been able to send it off yet. It is better than the Aurora in pretty much every way, but its crappy to hold being so short.

I find when I put my thumb on the switch the body doesn’t even go half way down my palm and I have nearly no grip unless I put a awkward hold on it.

A lot of people wont agree but the PA40 is still the king of 4AA flashlights in my books even though its not as bright as the EA4.

If only NiteCore made a EA8 next…

vēer
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Thanks for review, ezarc, really nice beamshots there!

It looks like EA4 is quite a bit brighter than SH3AA in your beamshots, so how come they appear almost equally as bright to you and you say that Aurora throws further?

ri chevy
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Nice review! I did not know that the 26650 and the 3-AA battery holder were the same size. Can you provide a photo of the 26650 and the battery holder please?

ezarc
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vēer wrote:
Thanks for review, ezarc, really nice beamshots there!

It looks like EA4 is quite a bit brighter than SH3AA in your beamshots, so how come they appear almost equally as bright to you and you say that Aurora throws further?


The EA4 is brighter and flooder.

I think the reason it appears very similar or brighter is because of the hotspot is tighter, if you look at the white post in the first pic and focus on it there is virtually no difference in brightness in the immediate area. The grass looking like its lighting up really bright is a combonation dry/dead grass in that area and the spill lighting it up more on the EA4 than the than the SH-3AA. So its a little bit of a optical illusion with the camera picking it up so brightly there.

The 2nd pic if you take a look at the white parts on the tree trunk where it is focused and ignore the rest its pretty much exactly the same apart from a slight change in tint but not brightness.

But having 2nd thoughts now after writing this I was only taking the hotspot in to consideration, if it was a actual lumens comparison (overall light in a white sphere) in I would think the extra spill alone of the EA4 would add another 100+ lumens over the SH-3AA (at a unprofessional guess) yet still being a lot brighter than PA40.

If I have the chance I might take some longer distance beam shots as well but its a matter of borrowing the camera I have been using at my brothers place and taking it somewhere else, but I wont have the EA4 soon so that just depends if the timing is right before then.

I’ll remove the “appears to be 800 real lumens” or similar part after having though about it, trying to guess where it goes on the scale between the PA40s 468 lumens and the EA4s 860 lumens is too hard but its a lot closer to the EA4 end of the scale.

ezarc
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ri chevy wrote:
Nice review! I did not know that the 26650 and the 3-AA battery holder were the same size. Can you provide a photo of the 26650 and the battery holder please?

Sorry, I don’t own any 26650 batteries or I would have been happy to take a photo for you.

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I had considered this as my first xm-l light, but from this review i am glad i decided against it (due to chatting with a few experienced BLFers Smile )
I’m sure the battery carrier sucks, but a better one won’t help as much as you think, i tried the batteries in physical contact on a bench (eneloops) and still didn’t break 2A, the voltage sag just seems to be too great. 4AA might do the trick (like your EA4 incidently)
In additional support of my finding, using non eneloops ranged from 0.87A to 1.7A in the same test, so i think that lends credence to the voltage sag theory.

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vēer
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Thanks ezarc, would be great to see longer distance comparison, take your time ;)!

Tumbleweed48
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RE: The battery carrier – it is somewhat larger than a 26650 battery. In fact I rolled a couple of layers of card stock around the 26650 to keep it from flopping around in the tube. Without measuring, I’d guess the difference is a good 1/8 of an inch diameter. If the tube wasn’t the quality of a toilet roll (and it didn’t blink like a mole caught in the sunshine), it would make a good candidate to hog out to 32 mm.

ri chevy
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No problem. Thank you anyway. Smile

PhatPhil
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ezarc wrote:
If only NiteCore made a EA8 next…

Had an email from Nitecore this morning. The EA8 will be released soon :bigsmile:

ezarc
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PhatPhil wrote:
ezarc wrote:
If only NiteCore made a EA8 next…

Had an email from Nitecore this morning. The EA8 will be released soon :bigsmile:

Thats awesome, no indication of how soon?

I have emailed NiteCore twice regarding the emitter in the neutral EA4 but they have never replied. The box said its “U2 Warm” but others say it has to be a T6 so I tried to get a answer straight from them but it was no good.

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Thanks very much! Frontpage’d and Sticky’d.

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