Review: Ultra Fire UF-980L

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Foy
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Review: Ultra Fire UF-980L

A Hot Rod Flashlight for Experienced Users Only

I've held off doing this review because I wanted to find a better location to show throw.  I will post up pictures of this light's ability to throw when I find a suitable location but I could wait no longer to sing my praise of this incredible flashlight.  The Ultra Fire UF-980L is a flashaholic's dream come true and that very fact makes it a very bad choice for a casual user.  Right out of the box, the 980L is an over-the-top performer.  Consistently drawing over 4.50 amps at the tail (on high), any output estimates below 1,000 lumens must certainly be well below the retina searing arc of lightning blazing out the front of this powerhouse.  >>>update>>>  After Match posted his findings on T6 lumens/amps draw, it is evident that this light is not over 1,0000 lumens and when you factor in driver/other losses . . . it may appraoch 900 lumens (Foy's guess) so, YMMV.  Read on to see why I feel this awesome flashlight is definitely not for beginers.

Bottom line for people that don't like Foy and/or his opinion:  It aint perfect but if you're into flashlights, the 980L will put a smile on your face.  At $43, it will out-shine lights costing triple or more and this Ultra Fire is finished as well as any quality budget light curently available.  Some may argue this is not a budget flashlight.  To that I say; it is a budget 1,000+ lumen flashlight that I'm willing to bet you already want to own.

 

What I like:

- dazzling output

- quality lathe work/machining

- simple design/absence of overwrought pretentious styling

- stainless tail cap (I knida like the bezel too)

- GITD lens o-ring is fun

What I do not like:

- gets hot, hot, HOT!

- machine work on stainless tail-cap bling a little sloppy

- edge of hole at reflector base bumpy/uneven

- tail-cap is part of knurling - would have looked better with uninterupted knurling

 

Ultra Fire UF-980L T6 Memory LED Flashlight from Manafont http://www.manafont.com/product_info.php/ultrafire-uf980l-980lumen-t6-memory-led-flashlight-118650-p-5513 

emitter:   Cree XM-L/T6

modes:    3-mode - hign, medium, low

battery:   18650

switch:    tail-cap, reverse clickie (will not tail stand)

lens:       glass (coated?)

ordered:  5-3-11

received: 5-14-11

price:      $43.00

Specs do not include an IPX rating but a shower with Foy did not result in any ingress.

nominal amps draw at battery base:

high >>       4.50

medium >> 1.25

low >>         .20

maximum measured amps on high: 4.78

maximum measured surface temperature of flashlight on high: (fahrenheit)

151° at head

143° at top of knurling

140° at tail cap (side)

reflector size:

26mm deep

40mm top of head

26mm base

Features/Value

You get a simple 3-mode high/medium/low UI that works beatifully with a reverse clickie.  Mode memory is not fussy with annoying seconds wait for retention and output spacing seems just about perfect.  The stainless steel crenulated bezel is a nice match for the machined SS tail-cap and the glow-in-the-dark o-ring is fun, if not  marginally functional.  Of course this light's claim to fame is the XM-L emitter driven to within an inch of its life.  There are perhaps several Cree dies,  properly driven and with this flashlight's superb SMO reflector, that would make this a very nice torch.  It is the T6 emitter and specifically, how it is driven in this application however, that makes this C8 size flashlight a value at this price point.

Design/Build Quality

The UF-980L is reasonably well built and is fairly straightforward in design and construction - a thing I happen to admire in a flashlight.  Bling is confined to the mild strike bezel and styled stainless steel tail-cap, both of which have grown on me such that I may just leave this particular bezel alone.  The only other comment I must offer concerns how the pill screws into the head.  Upon reassembly I discovered the pill does not seat against anything.  Threaded from the top or bottom, it will simply continue turning until it falls out the other side.  It's a little tricky to reassemble so that it is threaded to just the right depth so that the reflector, lens and subsequently, the o-ring is not squished out from under the bezel or if it's too deep . . . the tail-cap will not screw on all the way and the lens rattles loose.

I think machine quality could have been a little better here.

Let's talk about heat, shall we?

I measured 140° at the tail-cap, 143° at the middle of the tube and . . .

 . . . a hand scorching 151° at the head.

It usually settles down to about 4.50 amps but on a fresh battery, it is not unusual to get 4.70 or higher.  This is why I say you won't want to lend this guy to a novice.

Yes, the back of my hand is a little dry.  I live in Vegas and the water is as hard as a middle-aged show girl.

Wife walked into frame during shooting.  I've told her to stay out of the "studio" (her kitchen) but she doesn't listen.

As I mentioned above, this light deserves some beam shots that give a better idea of its throw capabilities.  These are coming but until then, the Uglywall facility will have to do.  As usual, the cactus plant is 55 feet away, shutter speed is 1/4 second @ f2.8 and both flashlights are using a Solarforce 18650/2400 battery.

Also, pool is being refilled following a weekend acid washing that Foy did not enjoy.

First is a 5-mode XM-L/U2 hosted in everybody's favorite; a Solarforce L2P.

Now the Ultra Fire UF-980L.

In real life, the difference is dramatic.  The 980L kills this L2P/XM-L combo in terms of spill, hot-spot, throw and any other thing you can think of.  And remember; this particular L2P is well endowed with one of the latest U2 XM-L drop-ins pulling over 2.5 amps so, it is certainly no slouch.  The 980L absolutely slaughters one of the brightest P60 combinations you can build.

It's hard to hate a light this powerful but be warned; it must not be used on high for much longer than five minutes or so.  I can say quite emphatically that it is impossible to hold something that is 150°.

Leaving this flashlight unattended turned on high is stupid and very dangerous.  Pointing this flashlight in a person's face is stupid and dangerous.

Owning the Ultra Fire UF-980L may be stupid, can be dangerous and is without question, the most fun a flashaholic can have for $43. 

I highly recommend this flashlight without reservation.

Foy

 

UPDATE

A lot has been said about the UltraFire UF-980L and with so much glowing praise, the perceived legend can often eclipse reality.  The 980L's performance pratically begs for hyperbole but in the unlikely event exaggeration is suspended temporarily, the 980L is still fairly over the top.  I've had this torch for eleven months and in that time I've done everything possible, trying to make it fail.

I have failed.

4.5+ amps for 45 minutes?  About a dozen times with no ill effects.  I've even fed it 6 amps from an IMR for about 5 seconds a couple of times.

Dropped, stepped on, kicked, torn apart/pieces strewn all over the place courtesy two cats with no sense of personal space, motor oil, ATF, sand, dirt, spilled Coke Zero all over it, dunked in Greased Lightining . . . the only thing I haven't done to it is fire a 180 grain SJHP from my 44 mag.  (with all due respect to Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson)

To all who predicted: "that much current will 'burn out' the emitter, trust me" Foy says, "I gotcher emitter right heeere."  Do performance gains over 3.5 amps decline rapidly?  Of course it does and I certainly do not want all of my lights pushed like this.  I also suggest that the illogical insanity of (near) 4 amps is precisely why the 980L is viewed with such reverence.  I said it almost a year ago and I stand by every word; the UltraFire UF-980L is a flashaholic's flashlight that will amaze and entertain like no other torch you've ever experienced.

If you haven't already, do yourself a favor; get your hands on a 980L.

 

youwillnotregretitFoy

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Edited by: sb56637 on 08/26/2014 - 17:22
trooplewis
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I wish you would tell us how you really feel...   Smile

 

 

That emitter star looks surprisingly like the one in my T60 Ultrafire. Clearly not the same driver, but I believe the star is the same.

I wonder if you run the 980L on High for 5 minutes at a time, how long the emitter would last. Will it smoke itself to death?

Rats, finally sold my 2010 509hp Mustang...now I can buy more lights!

Sold the red one too! Now guess what I drive, doing my penance for 500 hp commuters...

http://dreammustang.com/

http://i884.photobucket.com/albums/ac47/Ha

Oldienea
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As usual nicely garnished with these nice glossy pictures. Thanks Foy.

IwantoneIwantone-gimmegimme!

 

Foy
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Oh, I've ran it longer than 5 minutes.  During temperature testing it was on for about 15 minutes.

Foy

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jacktheclipper
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Foy , you could sell ice machines to Eskimos .

Or tanning beds to vampires .

Match
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Excellent review, Foy!  It appears the driver is only working during med and low mode, and is DD in high.  Good heavans don't put an IMR cell in this light!

Despite that, it's pretty...it's bright... and I find myself wanting one Smile

wiljen
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uh oh, my paypal finger is twitching again.

soytnly
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What gives you the right to spend my money like that...again?

Dave

fishinfool
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AsusualanothergreatreviewbyFoy.   

 

Don wrote:

"But as I said long ago, you are more likely to be killed by a dead fish dropped by a seagull in the Sahara Desert than by a lithium ion

how2
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66.11° at head

61.67° at top of knurling

60.00° at tail cap (side)

All in celsius

Foy how hot was the battery?

Anagoge
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Has anyone modified one of these to tailstand and could then recommend the parts to buy (I assume a different switch mechanism or silicone tailcap)?

E1320
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Mine tail stands, I simply added an o-ring to the rubber boot on the switch it gives just enough clearance. I would also like to add that the driver on mine failed and I am currently waiting on Manafont for a replacement.

I am already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.

JohnnyMac
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Bravo! Nice review.
bravo 

All we need now is for someone to accurately measure the lumen output of this bad boy to see how much extra light vs heat it is pumping out.  Everyone has always said that over 3.0A the XM-L only puts out more heat and not much more light. Your 980 seems to slap that theory in the face.

sixfink
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JohnnyMac wrote:

Everyone has always said that over 3.0A the XM-L only puts out more heat and not much more light. Your 980 seems to slap that theory in the face.

 

4.5 amps... I wonder how far this will affect premature aging and possible failure of the emitter.

JohnnyMac
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sixfink wrote:

JohnnyMac wrote:

Everyone has always said that over 3.0A the XM-L only puts out more heat and not much more light. Your 980 seems to slap that theory in the face.

 

4.5 amps... I wonder how far this will affect premature aging and possible failure of the emitter.

Considering that you'd be unlikely to use it in high mode except for show and only for short periods I don't think it would burn out the emitter too prematurely. What I'd worry about more is the emitter desoldering itself from it's base. Considering how the temps Foy recorded only vary 10 degrees from the head to the tail cap I'd say this torch is VERY well heat sinked...rather amazingly, really. What I'd like to know is how many minutes until the temp stabilizes on high. If it ramps up to 150 in 5 minutes and is still there after 15 minutes then I'd not worry too much about it dying too quickly from heat.
HID45
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sixfink wrote:
4.5 amps... I wonder how far this will affect premature aging and possible failure of the emitter.

Well if standard life of XML is about 50000 hours (over 5,5 years) and because of overdriving it is reduced to lets say fifth, it would still be 10000 hours, which is over one year. I'd say it's enough for most.

I would want a light like this but I'm far too deep in the DIY madness to buy a ready-made light. No. I must try to build one myself, fail, get 1st degree burn trauma in the process, start a mild fire, breathe toxic fumes from bursting Li-ion cells, blind my other eye by looking directly at it and spend hundreds of euros doing so. Before ordering this light from a vendor. That's how I roll.

καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν

JohnnyMac
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HID45 wrote:

sixfink wrote:
4.5 amps... I wonder how far this will affect premature aging and possible failure of the emitter.

Well if standard life of XML is about 50000 hours (over 5,5 years) and because of overdriving it is reduced to lets say fifth, it would still be 10000 hours, which is over one year. I'd say it's enough for most.

I would want a light like this but I'm far too deep in the DIY madness to buy a ready-made light. No. I must try to build one myself, fail, get 1st degree burn trauma in the process, start a mild fire, breathe toxic fumes from bursting Li-ion cells, blind my other eye by looking directly at it and spend hundreds of euros doing so. Before ordering this light from a vendor. That's how I roll.

LOL!
trooplewis
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I'd like to see how beamshots from this light stack up to some of the lower-wattage HID lights.

Rats, finally sold my 2010 509hp Mustang...now I can buy more lights!

Sold the red one too! Now guess what I drive, doing my penance for 500 hp commuters...

http://dreammustang.com/

http://i884.photobucket.com/albums/ac47/Ha

DrJones
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Dammit Foy, now I had to buy one, though I just got myself a TK35...

At least I can compare them then Smile 

mizjif
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I ordered one too and can't wait to compare it to my tk35 ;D

sixfink
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HID45 wrote:

Well if standard life of XML is about 50000 hours (over 5,5 years) and because of overdriving it is reduced to lets say fifth, it would still be 10000 hours, which is over one year. I'd say it's enough for most.

 

I'm just saying...!

E1320
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I hoping they stand behind the warranty and send me a new driver.

I am already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.

Foy
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I didn't measure how hot the battery got but when I took it out it seemed only slightly less hot than the flashlight - probably over a buck-twenty fahrenheit.  When you consider it's drawing 1.25 amps on medium, LED life can be preserved by simply using medium most the time.

Planing some throw beam shots . . .

Foy

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Can you note the reflector size/depth for comparison to other lights, or did I miss it?

I'm also trying to determine whether to pony up for this or just get the trustfire f15 for like half the cost.

Reading this makes you smarter: http://lesswrong.com/

Cheer chan
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it looks great!

sb56637
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Wow, this thing sounds barely street legal! Watch out for your eyes at that temperature, and try to dodge the flying aluminum shrapnel. At the same time, it does sound like an incredibly fun light...

Great review as usual Foy! Incredible photography and teardown. Frontpage'd and Sticky'd.

Budget Light Forum ...where Frugal meets with Flashlight!

dorpmuller
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I'm gonna get shot... just had to order one now! Can't wait!

Rich

"I am the flashlight king! I can light anything!"

Foy
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agenthex - Here ya go . . .

Should have included it - will update

Foy

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agenthex
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Thanks!

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handy
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Oh my...

Another monster turns out here Surprised 

richadsc
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Wow, this thing sounds barely, order one now! Can't wait?

 

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