Zebralight H52w / H52Fw / H52 / H52F review

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ToyKeeper
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Zebralight H52w / H52Fw / H52 / H52F review

This is a preliminary review of the ZL H52w I received today (2013-11-20) from Illumination Supply, and how it compares to earlier models (H51w final rev, SC52). I'm expecting more lights soon though, and I intend to add details about other H52* models as they show up.

First, the good news:  The H52w is a nice upgrade over the H51w in almost every way.  Tint, runtimes, output, build, etc.  The only downside I've found is that it seems a bit less throwy (at the same levels) due to its larger emitter (but throw is usually not a big concern for headlamps).

Differences from the H51w:

Output   
 H52wH51wComments 
Tint4400K4200KThe H51w always looked like an ugly yellow to me, but the H52w is a much nicer tint. It's much closer to the "gold standard" Nichia 219.
Hotspot12 degrees11 degreesVisually, the difference looks more significant; the H51w seems significantly more throwy at similar output levels but also lights up a smaller area. 
Min/Max Output0.01lm to 280lm (500lm on Li-Ion)0.18lm to 172lm 
Special modesStrobe group (3 clicks, 2 modes), battery check (4 clicks)Strobe is a sub-level of 'high'The battery check is a great addition, and it's nice having strobe in its own group instead of being attached to H2.  Strobes are 4Hz or 19Hz at maximum output, and appear to have a 50% duty cycle.
BatteriesAA or 14500AA only I'm using protected 14500 batteries, Sanyo 840mAh from Intl-Outdoor. 
Runtimes

3months@0.01lm

2months@0.06lm

3weeks@0.34lm

4days@2.7lm

27hrs@12lm

12hrs@25lm

7.5hrs@50lm

3hrs@108lm

1.7hrs@172lm

0.9hrs@280lm

 

16days@0.18lm

3days@2.2lm

26hrs@7lm

8hrs@26lm

2.4hrs@86lm

1.7hrs@120lm

0.9hrs@172lm

Brighter and longer-lasting.
Build   
Smaller

76.5mm x 21.8mm

81mm x 23mm

 
Lighter

32 grams

35.8 grams

 
Switch

Smaller, recessed, off-centered.

Bigger, more textured.

The H52w switch is harder to activate by accident, but also harder to activate on purpose.  It's also much quieter, without the loud 'click' of the H51w switch.  The off-center less-textured H52 switch is somewhat harder to find in the dark though, especially while wearing gloves.
Clip attachment points

Two

One

The H52w clip can go on the tail or the base of the head, instead of just the tail.
Heat fins

Beveled edges, goes all the way around the back of the head.

Sharp edges, interrupted along the back of the head.

 
Tailcap

Small circle removed, like on the SC52

Completely flat

 

Differences from the SC52:

 H52wSC52Comments 
StyleAngled (headlamp)Straight (flashlight) 
Tint4400K4800K?The H52w is a nice, neutral 4400K, just a bit warmer than my Nichia 219 4500K.  The SC52 appears slightly warmer (and greener) than a XM-L T6-3C (4800K-5000K), so I suspect the SC52 is actually about 4800K, not 6300K as advertised.
BodySmoothRibbedOnly the SC52 has a logo
Size/Mass76.5mm x 21.8mm, 32 grams78.2mm x 23.6mm, 40 grams 
ClipClips on, dark finishScrews on, silver finishThe H52w clip may damage the body after attaching / detaching it many times.  My H51w has scratches and minor damage from its clip.
ModesSeparate group for strobes (2 modes)Strobe is a sub-level of 'high'Strobe on the H52w is easier to reach, harder to activate by accident, and includes more options.  Win!

Many traits are identical (or at least very similar) between the H52w and SC52: Output levels, run times, beam shape, button design, tail cap.  Also, both models use PWM on the L1 level, but only when powered by a Li-Ion battery.  No other levels appear to use PWM.  It's slightly strange for PWM though, as it appears to be toggling between two levels rather than simply on and off.  It appears to flash at around 3kHz or 4kHz, but I can only compare visually to other lights.  (the speed seems faster than my iTP A3 EOS @ 2.5 kHz but slower than my Convoy S3 @ 4.5 kHz)

What's in the box:

With its siblings...  Zebralight H51w, SC52, H52w:

I should mention that, even though the H52w in this picture is much darker than the other two Zebralights, you can't count on this when ordering.  I specifically requested a unit with dark-colored anodization, and the guys at Illumination Supply did a great job picking one out for me.

Also, I think the shiny bit in the H52w's clip groove is a bit of wax (or something similar) which I haven't rubbed off yet.  The dark bit in the H51w's clip groove is most likely part of the clip's finish which has rubbed off.

From the side:

... and from the back:

Next to some other AA, AAA, and CR123/16340 lights:  (SK-68, JETBeam RRT01, ZL H51w, SC52, H52w, L3 L10, iTP A3 EOS, DQG Tiny AAA IV)

... and compared to a wider variety of lights: (Skyray King, XinTD C8 V4, Convoy S7, Convoy S3, DQG brass beauty, SK-68, JETBeam RRT01, ZL H51w, SC52, H52w, L3 L10, iTP A3 EOS, DQG Tiny AAA IV)

The business end of three Zebralights:

For closer comparison, here are the emitters individually:

ZL H51w, XP-G:

ZL SC52, XM-L:

ZL H52w, XM-L2:

... and the buttons on three Zebralights.  I find the H52w button is the hardest of the three to press, and the H51w button is the easiest.  The H51w is the only one I've managed to turn on by accident:

Compared to the earlier model (H51w), the H52w is slightly shorter:

Another little improvement in the H52w is the new beveled edges on the heat sink fins.  They're no longer sharp like on previous models:  (maybe it's just that I have soft skin, but I've actually cut myself slightly on the H51w fins)

My H52w is brand new and in mint condition aside from a bit of dust which got on it over the past couple days.  However, my H51w is well-used and has gone everywhere with me for over a year.  The only sign of wear on my H51w is some minor damage on its clip groove, from repeatedly putting the clip on and pulling it off again.  This happens a lot because I keep the light clipped to my purse.  Here's my H51w in its usual place:

Because of this, the clip groove has lost a small amount of metal:

I expect the H52w will have similar results, just a slight amount of damage over time.  However, the rest of the finish is almost perfect even after a year, and my SC52 is virtually flawless despite being carried and bumped for about six months.

I attempted to do some beam shots...  but the results are pretty poor. I'll have to try again later; the images do not look like what my eyes see in real life. However, it may at least serve to give a rough idea what the tints are like, and relative sizes of hotspots.

ZL H51w @ 7lm (left), ZL H52w @ 25lm (top), ZL SC52 @ 25lm (right), L3 L10-219 @ ~30lm (bottom).  The H51w gets a significantly brighter hotspot (more throwy) at similar output levels, while the H52w lights up a much wider area (more floody).  If I recall correctly, I had to use a lower setting on the H51w to get a similar lux as the other lights:

Without the L3 L10-219.  ZL H51 (left), ZL H52w (middle), ZL SC52 (right).  To my eye, the H52w looks the closest to white, and the H51w looks much more yellow than in this picture.  The SC52 doesn't look anywhere near this green in person:

Zebralight says the SC52 is a color temperature of 6300K, but I don't believe it.  Here is the SC52 (left) next to a Convoy S7 XM-L T6-3C (right), which is about 4800K to 5000K.  Visually, the SC52 looks only a tiny bit cooler:

Here is the SC52 (left) next to a Convoy S3 XM-L U2-1A (right), which is about 6500K to 6700K.  In person, the SC52 looks quite warm in comparison.  I also have a shot with the SC52 next to my iTP A3 EOS, but it looks almost identical to the S3:

That's all I have for now; more details coming later.

Edited by: ToyKeeper on 11/23/2013 - 16:43
Calmaja
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Very nice, looking forward your full review. Thanks.

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Original post updated 2013-11-23 with lots of pictures and a pitiful attempt at beam shots.

reppans
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Can you comment on the relative brightness of the 0.34 sub-lumen levels of the H52 and SC52 vs the 0.18 mode of the H51w? My SC52 is significantly dimmer than my H51w (a 1st gen PWM model) and was wondering if it was sample variation… It does explain the longer runtime though.

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I don’t know about the original H51w, but I can compare my final rev H51w to the new H52w.

The H51w has a smaller emitter and a more focused hotspot, so I would expect it to throw better at similar lumen ratings. The H52w has a much more efficient driver though, and can get both more lumens and longer runtimes even if the hotspot doesn’t look as bright due to being more floody.

Here’s a shot of the H51w at 0.18lm (left) vs the H52w at 0.34lm (right). To my eye, the H51 has a smaller, slightly brighter spot, and the H52 has a larger spot. I can’t easily compare the spill brightness right now because it’s daytime and I need a bigger room. Either one works nicely as a night light, bounced off the ceiling in my bedroom — bright enough to see the whole room clearly but not enough to keep me awake.

Both have a brighter spot than the L3 L10-219, which is spec’d at 0.09lm. The L10 is actually a more appropriate level for my 4am trips to the restroom though; 0.34lm on the H52w is bright enough to be a little uncomfortable… and the 0.06lm setting on the H52w seems just a touch too dim (but is still quite usable).

Results are similar at the next setting up (H51w at 2.2lm vs H52w at 2.7lm). The H51 seems to have a smaller, slightly brighter spot which is brightest at the center, and the H52 has a larger, slightly dimmer spot which appears subtly donut-shaped. Also, I couldn’t get my camera to show it, but… in person the H51w looks sickly yellow to me while the H52w looks much closer to white:

In any case, pretty much every level shows a similar result — H51w has less overall output but a smaller/brighter yellow spot, while the H52w has a larger, whiter spot. The H52w has a much higher maximum output though, so its brightest setting should still throw farther than the H51w.

I’ve found that the H51’s narrow spot is nice for looking at things far away while biking, but the H52’s wider spot works better for almost everything else. I tend to bring my XinTD C8 while biking though, so I don’t exactly need much throw in a headlamp.

reppans
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Thanks for that… unfortunately we have different H51w versions then. However, here’s a group moonlight mode shot, my H51w (not included) measures ~ 0.2-0.25 lms and is about the same as the D25A

Here’s another of the SC52 between the 0.09 T10 and the L10-219 which may be a better reference point – from the sounds of it, your 0.34 mode is brighter than the L10 but the 0.06 mode is dimmer. It shows all three ML modes, the last is tail standing and you can see the emitter… does that seem about right to you?

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I’m looking for a place to do beam shots more similar to yours; I think it gives a much better view of how things look. I don’t have a lot of white walls though, and it seems my camera’s color receptors are on different wavelengths than my eyes are.

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Okay, I got some vaguely passable moon mode shots:

The overall setup: XinTD C8 V4 at 5mA, ZL H51w at 0.18lm, ZL H52w at 0.34lm, ZL SC52 at 0.34lm, L3 L10-219 at “0.09lm”. In person, the H52w and SC52 look a lot more similar in brightness; I think the H52w emitter must have a color spike at a frequency my camera doesn’t pick up.

Here is the same thing, but with no overhead lighting:

And the same again, but the H52w and SC52 are on their 0.06lm settings:

… and a couple shots of the four smaller lights at their “low” settings, 2lm to 3lm:
(H51w at 2.2lm, H52w at 2.7lm, SC52 at 2.7lm, L3 L10-219 at “3lm”)

reppans
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Thank you Toykeeper for taking the time to post those comparison pix. Using L10-219 as a control, it does seem that my SC52 sample is quite consistent with your SC52 and H52. As an FYI, I think the L10-219 specs are simply carried over from their XPG2 version and so are significantly overstated (I measure the 0.09/3/30/120 specs to be 0.02/2.5/20/80 on the 219 version). I also think the L10 uses a very similar driver to the T10 since both spec the same 0.09/147hr moonlight mode, but I found the T10 XPG1 to be quite accurate on lumen specs (0.09/9/125 spec vs 0.1/10/125 my measurement). Your SC52w does seem to also take a pretty big hit in output from the cool white (a camera is going to be more accurate than our perception).

Glad you also posted the L1 low modes since that is the other mode that seems way off, although not nearly as bad as ML mode. Here is a shot of the Quark AAX, L10-219, SC52 all on their ~3 lms specs, but which I measure at 3/2.5/1.5 lumens, respectively. As you may know from photography, any light that is shown as pure white in a photo is overexposed and therefore cannot reflect true brightness, although the spill will be fairly comparable.

Thank you again for posting the comparison pix – as a night vision/low lumen/runtime enthusiast, the true 0.3/3 lumens on the Quark AAX are by far my most often used modes. I was baffled at how ZL could get 3x/2x (respectively) the runtime/efficiency specs for what are supposed to be the same level outputs. The output difference on my example clearly explains it, and I was just trying to see if my example was an anomaly, but I think you have confirmed otherwise.

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reppans wrote:
I think the L10-219 specs are simply carried over from their XPG2 version and so are significantly overstated (I measure the 0.09/3/30/120 specs to be 0.02/2.5/20/80 on the 219 version).

The specs for both XP-G2 and n219 are carried over from the original XP-G version, so both are inaccurate.

I have both L10-XPG2 and L10-219, and I’ve found that the n219 is brighter on moon/low, they’re about the same on medium, and the XP-G2 is brighter on high. This fits with the power/output curves I’ve seen from Match and other sources; the n219 is more efficient than XP-G2 at low levels but less efficient at high levels.

As for as hard lumen numbers, we might be running into the two different scales used by different manufacturers. I don’t know which (if either) is correct, but I’ve been going by the scale used by Zebralight and selfbuilt. On that scale, I suspect my L10-219 gets somewhere around 0.12lm / 3.2lm / 30lm / 115lm… but this is only a guess and I don’t have a way to measure directly. Got any suggestions for a lux meter?

Anyway, I enjoy lights with good moon/low modes. I use ~0.1 to ~10 lumens most of the time, and only rarely want more than that. I end up using my L3 L10-219 the most, but I expect a H52Fw will get used quite a bit too (as soon as it arrives). The SC52 is great too, but I find I mostly use it as a night light ever since the L3-219 showed up.

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Fantastic comparison and review!

BLF LED database – collaboration spreadsheet and latest news about where to buy LEDs
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/19342

reppans
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ToyKeeper wrote:
..As for as hard lumen numbers, we might be running into the two different scales used by different manufacturers. I don’t know which (if either) is correct, but I’ve been going by the scale used by Zebralight and selfbuilt. On that scale, I suspect my L10-219 gets somewhere around 0.12lm / 3.2lm / 30lm / 115lm… but this is only a guess and I don’t have a way to measure directly. Got any suggestions for a lux meter?

I agree… I use a significantly more conservative lumen scale employed by Eagletac, Foursevens and Thrunite (I’m a moonlight mode collector)… which tends to be ~25% lower than the “ZebraBuilt” scale. I found this scale matches ti-force’s reviews, who claims his lumen estimates to be “very accurate” using sphere’s calibrated by lights that have been tested in professional laboratories. Selfbuilt doesn’t claim (see his methodology page) lumen estimate accuracy – he just stresses relative accuracy, with which I agree.

As an example SB finds 280 ZL lumens (SC52) to be 290, 277 ET lumens (D25C) to be 450, 280 47s lumens (QAA2X) to be 420, and 145 TN lumens (N1A) to be 240. It’s a bit more complicate than that, there’s some conservatism built in from the manufacturers too, but that should provide a decent picture. I agree with SB’s relative numbers, guess it just depends on the scale you prefer to use.

As far as objective measurements… if you are using a DSLR for your pictures, then you can simply use that to measure lumens – be happy to explain how if you’re interested.

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Thank you for the review, ToyKeeper! I really want one now. :bigsmile:

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reppans wrote:
ToyKeeper wrote:
Got any suggestions for a lux meter?

As far as objective measurements… if you are using a DSLR for your pictures, then you can simply use that to measure lumens – be happy to explain how if you’re interested.

Haha, no. I don’t have a DSLR. I’m using a relatively inexpensive snapshot camera, an ELPH 110 HS. It’s good for what it is, but it has nowhere near the manual controls I would like. Eventually, I’ll get myself a lux meter and build a simple lightbox… but I can’t justify buying a DSLR that I wouldn’t use very much (my cheap camera does almost everything I need, and is small enough to keep with me).
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Chloe wrote:
Thank you for the review, ToyKeeper! I really want one now. :bigsmile:

I suspect you would be happier with a floody ‘F’ model, or perhaps an all-flood H502.

I’m eagerly awaiting a H52Fw… should be very useful for my purposes. And, depending on how things go, I might decide to sell the other models after adding them to the review.

What I’d really like is a H52Fd, but I don’t know if they’ll ever make one. Slightly cooler tint, much higher CRI, and a frosted lens. I suspect (or hope) that the next few years will see a big focus on higher CRI and/or wider-spectrum lighting, so we can get actual white instead of weird tints.

reppans
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ToyKeeper wrote:
Haha, no. I don’t have a DSLR. I’m using a relatively inexpensive snapshot camera, an ELPH 110 HS. It’s good for what it is, but it has nowhere near the manual controls I would like. Eventually, I’ll get myself a lux meter and build a simple lightbox… but I can’t justify buying a DSLR that I wouldn’t use very much (my cheap camera does almost everything I need, and is small enough to keep with me).

Gotchya, anyways thanks for helping me confirm my SC52 is “normal” much appreciated.

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Thanx for the review… Love both the h52w and the h502w! Wink

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Thanks for a very nice review ToyKeeper. By chance have you tried to buff the clip groove clean? Based on my experience it is actually the metal/finish of the clip not the light that is wearing off.

Current Favorites:

BLF Q8, Thrunite TC20, Convoy L6

 

 

 

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I haven’t tried to buff the clip groove clean, but based on how my H51w and SC52 are holding up, I assume that the discoloration in the clip groove is not damaged anodizing. It’s probably the clip’s color rubbing off onto the light.

However, on my H51w, the silver corners of the clip groove (where I took close-ups) are definitely damaged aluminum. The clip tends to come off at an angle so it rubs up against that groove edge pretty hard, and after a year of this it has some visible damage.

The SC52 has the hardest, most durable finish I’ve ever seen on an aluminum object. It got EDC’d on the outside of my purse for a while and got banged and scraped and dropped and abused and it still appears to be in nearly mint condition. Other lights I carried that way have battle scars, but the SC52 is still pristine. The H52w I received looks like it might have an even thicker anodized layer than my SC52, so I expect it will last a long long time.

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Also, I got a friend of mine to look at my light tints. She paints and has very good color perception. She agrees that the Nichia 219 is easily the purest white, but she also confirms that what my camera shows isn’t far from the truth. The SC52 has a blue-ish tint and a green corona, the H52w has a pink tint and light tan corona, and the H51w is an even shade of yellow/tan all the way through.

I hope Zebralight will make a H52Fd or H52Fn (floody 5000K daylight Luxeon w/ 85+ CRI, or floody 4500K Nichia 219 w/ 92+ CRI). The Cree tints are a bit weird, and I’d prioritize good color over more lumens.

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If only Zebralight could start using high-CRI LEDs with high run times… Maybe they are already working on it!

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Chloe wrote:
If only Zebralight could start using high-CRI LEDs with high run times… Maybe they are already working on it!

You mean… like the ZL H502d? It’s 85CRI 5000K and has run times almost as long as the the new H52 line. Also, it’s a true flood “mule” headlamp, which I seem to recall you liking.

Or there’s the H51Fc (which is discontinued and on clearance), if you wanted something warmer with a pseudo-flood beam instead of full flood.

I’ve been pretty tempted to grab a H502d, but I don’t usually want a mule… A pseudo-flood beam (frosted lens) seems better for my purposes.

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It’s only 85 CRI. ;_; But it’s nice to see something other than the ubiquitous Cree. Big Smile

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I just got the H52 and H52Fw I ordered back in October, and plan to update the review with more details soon.

So far, I can say that the H52Fw has a gorgeous floody beam, and the H52 may be the first “cool white” Zebralight without a green tint. But I’ll show more about what that means with pictures.