review: L3 Illumination L10C (Nichia 219B version)

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ToyKeeper
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review: L3 Illumination L10C (Nichia 219B version)

This is a quick review of the L3 Illumination L10C-219 from SBFlashlights.

(image copied from SBFlashlights)

The L10C is an improved version of the L10. First, let’s go over its specs from the manufacturer:

  • Nichia NVSL219AT-H1 4500K, 92 CRI, B10 Bin
  • Four modes of output: firefly(0.09lumens 147hours) -> Low (3 lumens, 30hrs ) -> Medium (30 lumens) —> High (120 lumens, 1.5hrs) ->  (Tested with Ni-mh battery with actual capacity 2500mAh)
  • Note:  3 mode model removes Firefly mode of .09 lumens.  Low, Medium, High only
  • Stable current regulated circuit, stable brightness
  • Uses one 1.5V AA battery (ni-mh, alkaline ). 14500 batteries are not recommeded, because they heat up quickly.
  • 20-gram weight (excluding batteries)
  • Made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Premium Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
  • Waterproof to IPX-8 Standard
  • Toughened double ultra-clear glass lens
  • Candle mode (Capable of standing up securely on a flat surface to serve as a candle)
  • Size: 16.7×96mm
  • Mode switch: Forward click switch to scroll from low to high.
  • No mode memory, always starts on Firefly mode
  • Screw on secure deep pocket clip
  • Release date: 2014-06-20

Some of this information isn’t updated yet. For example, it has a Nichia 219B, not a 219A. I’m not sure the weight is correct either, but I don’t have a way to measure it. And the button is a reverse clicky, not a forward clicky.

Differences from the L10


The biggest difference is the “C”. This could mean “clip” or “clicky”, but both are true. The L10C is, basically, the L10 with a clip and rear clicky button. But those aren’t the only changes:
  • Upgraded to 219B emitter (was 219A). Tint is slightly colder and output should be slightly higher at the same power levels.
  • The L10C is significantly longer, 96mm instead of 79mm.
  • The L10C doesn’t work as a twisty, it’s click-only.
  • The L10C has a spring inside so it won’t crush batteries like the L10 did.
  • The L10C pill has a much thinner foam layer, and some small changes in the shape of the brass around the foam.
  • The L10C tailstands, but is not as stable as the original L10. This is because of the cut-outs to allow easier access to the switch.
  • The L10C’s head can tighten all the way without turning the light on. No more gap between head and body.
  • And, of course, the L10C has a screw-on clip and a reverse clicky button.

Comparison to other similar lights


The L10C is relatively long for lights in its class, but it remains pretty narrow. In this line-up we have the CNQG Brass Beauty (1×18650), L10C, Thrunite T10T, EagleTac D25A Ti, Zebralight SC52, and the original L3 Illumination L10.

And a somewhat closer shot with only its nearest siblings — L10C (grey), L10C (black), T10T, D25A, and L10:

Note: The L10C’s clip can be adjusted a few degrees to either side; it’s only crooked here because I forgot to straighten it first.

… and once more with just the L10 and L10C, to better show the difference in length.

Measurements

I measured the light output of my L10 and L10C on a fresh Eneloop, and got the following:

L10-219A:

  • Moon (spec = 0.09 lm): 0.07 lm
  • Low (spec = 3 lm): 3.93 lm
  • Med (spec = 30 lm): 29.05 lm
  • High (spec = 120 lm): 113.1 lm

L10C-219B:

  • Moon (spec = 0.09 lm): 0.09 lm
  • Low (spec = 3 lm): 4.22 lm
  • Med (spec = 30 lm): 29.97 lm
  • High (spec = 120 lm): 120.3 lm

It appears that the 219B is a few percent (3% to 7%) brighter than the 219A, but this is based on a sample size of one for each item so it could be individual variation.

On a 14500 cell, I got much brighter results. However, most of the levels dropped off pretty quickly, so either the cell was sagging under the load or the emitter was overheating… these levels aren’t sustainable:

L10C-219B (14500 cell):

  • Moon (spec = 0.09 lm): 0.18 lm
  • Low (spec = 3 lm): 71.4 lm
  • Med (spec = 30 lm): 233.8 lm
  • High (spec = 120 lm): 372.4 lm

I don’t recommend using this light with a 14500 cell. Moon mode is still pretty decent, and low is usable (though a bit high), but medium and high will likely overheat.

Inside the L10C


The L10C’s pill has some minor changes compared to the L10. Mostly, its foam pad is much thinner, and it has more raised edges around the pad.

Inside the body, it has a spring at the tail end:

The tail end can unscrew to reveal the components of the switch:

The rubber switch cover has a plastic ring over it. So, the switch itself should be waterproof at shallow depths due to the rubber boot pressing down around it, but anything above the boot could easily get wet. Nothing functional is in the wet zone, but it might take a while to dry off the tail end after getting wet. (please excuse the gunk on the switch, I had it floating around in my purse for a while before I took it apart for pictures, and the rubber picks up dust easily)

The switch can actually be used without the boot over it, though this will also make it no longer waterproof:

Back to the front end, here’s the L10-219’s emitter, a Nichia 219A:

The L10C upgraded to the Nichia 219B, which is more efficient and achieves a slightly colder tint at the same high CRI:

The Nichia 219B is somewhat easier to see in my other L10C:

Beam shots


The beam looks almost identical to the original L10-219. The only visible difference is a slightly colder tint, closer to 5000K. Both are pleasantly floody, and are one of the only EDC lights I don’t feel I need to add diffuser film to. Most lights go for a wider, throwier reflector… which I then end up diffusing.

(pics coming later)

Overall impressions

The L3 L10-219 is (IMO) one of the nicest EDC lights on the market. It’s a great size and shape, has nearly perfect output levels and beam pattern, has a great UI, a very nice neutral white tint, the best CRI on the market, and is relatively inexpensive compared to other lights in its class. It really was only missing one thing, a screw-on clip. The L3 L10C-219 adds that clip.

I could do without the clicky button. I preferred it as a twisty, with completely silent operation which worked in both overhand grip and handshake grip with one hand. And I’m a little disappointed by the length of the L10C, since it’s longer than the DQG 18650 and almost as long as the 1×18650 CNQG brass light. But it’s still quite narrow, which makes it feel a lot better in my hand than a 1×18650 light.

I’d like it better if it came in the original L10’s size as a twisty instead of a clicky. I might try drilling out holes in an older L10’s tail so I can attach the clip, and swap the new head too since it has a nicer emitter. The L10C head works on a L10 body (but the L10 head doesn’t work on a L10C body).

I’m very happy to see a L10 model with the new Nichia 219B. The 219A was nice, but I really like the slightly colder tint of the 219B.

The reverse clicky takes a fair amount of pressure to click on or off, but it only takes a slight tap to change modes while it’s on. It’s a bit on the easy side to change modes by accident. However, it’s also easy to scroll back around to the desired mode.

I’ll need a few nights to really test it out, but overall the L10C-219 seems like a nice upgrade to what was already one of the best EDC lights in the world.

Update

I just realized why it’s a little wobbly while tail-standing. It’s not the cut-outs for button access… the clip is attached just a bit too far back:

I hope to get beam shots soon, comparing all six of my Nichia 219 lights and some others with a similar color temperature. This 4500K to 5000K tint area is really quite a sweet spot. Some lights may be difficult to compare directly though, since they don’t have matching lumen levels or beam patterns.

Edited by: ToyKeeper on 07/10/2014 - 17:46
saypat
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Appreciate the review ToyKeeper. Thank you for the photos. I’m preferring the black after seeing these, maybe the orange. After reading this, for me, I’m glad I didn’t preorder one, too long. I may go back and have a look at the original orange Nichia however. Thanks again….

patrick

Mr Floppy
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That is quite a tall switch. I don’t think I’ve seen a forward clicky in that shape or height.

Nice review, hoping to see your beamshots

ToyKeeper
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Mr Floppy wrote:
That is quite a tall switch. I don’t think I’ve seen a forward clicky in that shape or height.

FWIW, the switch isn’t a forward clicky. To turn it on, the user must fully click and then release; it won’t turn on until the button is released. However, a light tap while on will turn it briefly off to change modes. So, it’s a reverse clicky instead.

A forward clicky would come on with a light tap, and only require a full click in order to stay on. After full activation, a light tap does nothing on a forward clicky.

To turn the light on in “medium” mode, a reverse clicky would be “click, tap, tap”. To do this on a forward clicky, it’d be “tap, tap, click”.

Mr Floppy
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ToyKeeper wrote:
FWIW, the switch isn’t a forward clicky.

Sorry, I should have said should anyone with to swap out the switch to a forward clicky. Might be a bit hard to find a good fit.

NLE
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Thanks for the review Toykeeper. I’m glad you posted it so soon after you got the light!

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I didn’t really get to do much testing last night… my partner kind of followed me around all night and kept turning the lights on. Sad

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Thanks, very good review!

Appreciate the all the pics.
Always like seeing comparison pics of different lights side by side, very helpful.

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T10T or L10C? What one do you like better?

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Livinloud wrote:
T10T or L10C? What one do you like better?

It’s not really that simple. Both are good.

The L10C-219 has a better tint, better modes (not missing “low”), floodier beam, lighter/narrower body, no mode memory, and a lower price.

The T10T NW has a nice titanium body, throwier beam, longer runtime on medium, mode memory, works as a twisty, and has a diffuser cone.

Different people have different preferences, so maybe some of those differences speak to you?

What I’d really like is the L10C-219’s emitter and driver in the T10T’s body. Or perhaps an old L10 in titanium or steel with a clip and 219B emitter.

geo10
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This L10C looks like a nice AA light

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ToyKeeper wrote:
Livinloud wrote:
T10T or L10C? What one do you like better?

It’s not really that simple. Both are good.

The L10C-219 has a better tint, better modes (not missing “low”), floodier beam, lighter/narrower body, no mode memory, and a lower price.

The T10T NW has a nice titanium body, throwier beam, longer runtime on medium, mode memory, works as a twisty, and has a diffuser cone.

Different people have different preferences, so maybe some of those differences speak to you?

What I’d really like is the L10C-219’s emitter and driver in the T10T’s body. Or perhaps an old L10 in titanium or steel with a clip and 219B emitter.

I’d like the combination of the 219b & t10’s ability to use as a twisty.

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Thanks for the review ToyKeeper. My order of Tiara A1 got canceled by HKE because they are out of stock. I’m thinking of getting the T10T now but I’m not sure because L10C looks interesting too with that Nichia and well spaced modes. The only thing that kept me from buying an L10C a few days ago is the $15 shipping. I could just add a little amount of money and get the T10T with that titanium goodness.

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I just bought a T10T and debating buying a D25A Ti. I already have the L10 and love it but I love titanium so much! Not sure if I want to spring for a L10C now or wait to see if they do mpre color options

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ToyKeeper
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geo10 wrote:
This L10C looks like a nice AA light

It is a nice AA light. One of the best, IMO.

harry218 wrote:
I’m thinking of getting the T10T now but I’m not sure because L10C looks interesting too with that Nichia and well spaced modes. The only thing that kept me from buying an L10C a few days ago is the $15 shipping. I could just add a little amount of money and get the T10T with that titanium goodness.

The T10T NW is pretty nice. The main complaints I have about it are: no “low” mode, and no way to get rid of mode memory. The L10 and L10C have what I consider a nearly-perfect mode selection, and I love how it always starts on the lowest level… not to mention the best tint available anywhere. It’s not even a tint, really — it’s just white.

The L10C is still a small light; it’s just longer than I thought it would be. The length isn’t such a bad thing though, since it’s easier to hold. The original L10 sometimes felt like it was almost too short.

I should add a shot comparing it to the popular SK-68. The L10C is tiny in comparison.

The $15 shipping definitely makes things difficult though. That makes the two lights practically the same price.

Livinloud wrote:
I just bought a T10T and debating buying a D25A Ti.

If you’re interested in the D25A Ti, you might want to look for an older model, or wait until next year. The ones currently available are kind of … not so great. I ordered one in January but they ran out, so I didn’t receive it until EagleTac made a new batch. And it seems the current batch has issues: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/32165

If the D25A actually lived up to its specs, it’d be an awesome light. But mine is way off spec in several ways, and some of those are systemic issues that pretty much everyone seems to have (others seem limited to just this batch). For example, it claims there’s no PWM… but that’s just blatantly false and has been for a long time. What concerns me most is that the moon mode is forty-seven times brighter than any other “moon” mode in my collection, and therefore not a moon at all… and the AR lens turned a high-CRI neutral-white Nichia 219 into a low-CRI yellow beam with a bright blue ring around it. It’s a really nice host, but I kind of want to rip its guts out and replace them with something else. If it were large enough to fit a qlite in, I probably would have done so by now.

First time I’ve ever been unhappy with a light with a price over $10.

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The D25A I am interested in seems to be an older one since its the full Ti head with a XM-L and not the XM-L2 like on the new one

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Thank you ToyKeeper, great review – I want one.

FWIW, I ran a low mode runtime tests on my twisty L10 219 using old Eneloops (~1600 mah by a C9000) and got 49 hours at what I meter to be 2.5 lms (47/ET lumen scale). Great regulation, it should do 60 hrs on a 2000 mah cell, so the spec is way understated.

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I’ve been wanting to get accurate numbers for runtime on the L10 / L10C, but I don’t really have good equipment to test it.

All I can say is that it feels like it lasts a lot longer than spec, and the closest I’ve found to a measurement also suggests the same. Selfbuilt measured medium mode on an alkaline cell and got 7 to 8 hours, and when I’m primarily using moon and low, a battery lasts almost as long as it would in a Zebralight. So, I was guessing the 30 hour figure was a very low estimate. Plus, selfbuilt’s graph (medium mode) shows the L10 getting higher efficiency than any other lights near the same level.

Maybe I should just leave one on and check it manually to get a ballpark estimate. No nice graphs like some reviews provide, but at least a better idea how long “low” lasts. I suspect the 60-hour estimate is probably pretty close.

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Don’t have any more tools than you – I have to manually check the light in the light box every xx hrs and log it on a piece of paper – a PITA.

I did run a medium test as well – 7.5 hrs @ 20 lumens on a ~1600 mah Eneloops so call it ~9 hrs on a new cell. I usually don’t test the higher modes – I rarely use high modes so don’t care, don’t want to burn my lights up, and rather rely on SB’s results. My lumen scale is, of course, going to be significantly lower than yours/Selfbuilt for reasons we’ve previously discussed, but at least we seem consistently in the same ballpark.

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Last night, just two nights after I got a couple L10Cs, I apparently managed to damage both of them. D’oh. Or, at least one of them anyway, and the other one stopped working.

I was going out for a bike ride and tested my black L10C first as sort of a force of habit. But it didn’t turn on. I came back in to do some tests, and determined that the pill no longer responds to power. No idea why. I used it an hour earlier and it was fine, and nothing happened to it.

So, I swapped it for my grey L10C and went out. While getting onto my bike though, I somehow managed to snap it on something which pulled it away from the place it was clipped and flipped it downward onto the concrete. It still works fine, but now it has some dents on the head and tail. All my older L10s are now in better condition than my brand new L10Cs.

I’m a bit confused about the black one just suddenly not lighting up any more. If I had dropped it or something, I’d assume I managed to damage the driver. But nothing happened to it; it simply stopped responding to power after sitting unused for an hour. Maybe a solder joint is loose or cracked, and I could fix it myself. I’m not sure. But when I tried to remove the pill, I discovered that the L10C pill is apparently glued in a bit more firmly than the old L10 pills. I couldn’t get it to budge.

Hrrmph.

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I despise glued threads.
Great review ToyKeeper.


Counterfeit 18650s, 2,<a href=“http://

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Looks very nice, I have been waiting for colder tints on Nichia219.

Beamshots available anywhere to check the difference? Smile

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Just picked up a D25A Ti from 2012 to go along with my new T10t. Cant wait to get them in so I can do a nice review of all of these lights.

Do you think that all the L10C mifht have the problem you discovered or shall I order one now? Id assume since the L10 was perfect that it might just be select ones that have issues???

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CheapThrills wrote:
Beamshots available anywhere to check the difference?

I’ve been meaning to… just ridiculously busy the past few days, and I probably will be for a few more days.

Livinloud wrote:
Do you think that all the L10C mifht have the problem you discovered or shall I order one now? Id assume since the L10 was perfect that it might just be select ones that have issues???

I can assert that not all have the issue I ran into, since my other one got thrown onto concrete and still works fine. And as soon as I get the L10C pill out, I might be able to determine what the issue was… I just need to get myself some leather work gloves so I can actually try to unscrew it while it’s heated up. And, of course, find time to do it, which might be scarce this week.
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Thanks for the review. I bought one for my dad and one for myself, but had to wait until yesterday to really play with it as I wanted to give him first choice on the color.

The l10 had been on my radar for some time for an edc light but the clip concerned me and I want sure I’d like a twisty. When I saw the l10c, it was an instant order and I’m really impressed. The modes are great (moonlight seems brighter than specs, need to compare it to my zebralight h52), I love the switch, the beam is very nice and the effeciency is one of the best in class. My zebralight h52 is still my go-to backpacking light, but the price on the l10c makes it a very affordable and effective edc for me. I may even bring it as a backup for my h52.

Fantastic light!

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gregfortune wrote:
The modes are great (moonlight seems brighter than specs, need to compare it to my zebralight h52),

FWIW, Zebralight’s moon modes are low even by their own lumen scale. After calibrating my light box so that it matches my ZL SC52 almost perfectly (from 2.7 lm to 108 lm, anyway), I get about 0.10 or 0.11 lm for the “L2a” mode spec’d at 0.34 lm. And I get about 0.07 to 0.09 lm for my various L10 units, on that same scale. My other Zebralights are also lower than spec, but that’s okay since the level they actually run at is almost perfect for my purposes.

In any case, you may find that your L10 moon mode is very close to the highest moon mode on your Zebralight, despite the specs being different by a factor of about 3. And I think this is due to an error in ZL’s specs, not an error in L3’s specs.

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ToyKeeper wrote:
After calibrating my light box so that it matches my ZL SC52 almost perfectly (from 2.7 lm to 108 lm, anyway), I get about 0.10 or 0.11 lm for the “L2a” mode spec’d at 0.34 lm. And I get about 0.07 to 0.09 lm for my various L10 units, on that same scale.

That’s great info. I suppose I was a little biased as I remember reading (selfbuilt, I think) that the L3 L10 moonlight mode was widely variable between lights and I assumed the same would be true for the L10c. When I noticed that the moonlight mode seemed brighter than my H52, I assumed I had one of the brighter L10s. That will teach me to assume, eh?

I don’t have a way to do any objective measurements myself so thanks for the correction. And either way it ends up, the L10c modes are pretty close to perfect for what I need out of my pocket light. The moonlight mode is nice for checking on the kids when they are asleep, low is great for inside a computer or under a desk, medium is a decent walking around in the woods level and high is not a bad “WHAT WAS THAT SOUND?!” level.

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Moon modes do tend to vary a lot more than other modes, on pretty much all lights. At such a low power level it seems more sensitive to the variation in individual components. However, Zebralight still tends to measure low on moon modes, and the L3 L10 measures a bit closer to its actual spec. On average, that is… but some L10s are quite a bit brighter on moon than other L10s.

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I took my broken L10C apart today, the one which spontaneously stopped working for no apparent reason. At least, I took the pill out of the head. I had to heat it up to melt the glue, but after that it was pretty easy.

I’m not 100% sure, but it looks like the black wire may have simply disconnected itself from the driver inside the pill. Bad solder joint or something, probably just cracked and fell off. Fixing that promises to be interesting, since the only way to get at it is to unsolder the MCPCB wires then unsolder the driver from the pill. Maybe remove the foam battery pad first to avoid melting it. I’ll probably wait until I’m not quite so busy.

However, that aside, I have more L10s to test now. It should be interesting to see how much the output varies from unit to unit.

Oh, also, it seems that the newest 2014 batch of non-clicky L10-219s now use the 219B emitter. I just discovered that yesterday, and it was a pleasant surprise. They probably won’t be very available until old L10 stock is cleared out though.

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ToyKeeper – Thanks for the review. Do you happen to have an L08 in addition to your L10 and L10C? It would be cool to see a picture of the whole family standing next to each other.

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Nope, I don’t have a L08. I don’t really have any interest in one, since it’s mostly just a L10 with a fraction of the battery capacity. However, selfbuilt did a nice review on it.
http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?383111

Sorry for all the delays; I’ve been extremely busy lately and haven’t had time to do much on lighting projects or reviews.

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