(Yet another) Olight S1A Review

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(Yet another) Olight S1A Review

Well, since Olight contacted so many people on BLF to review their new S1A it looks like there’s been a small flood of S1A reviews sticking around the top of the AA/14500 category for a bit.

I’ll try to keep it minimal.

On AA/Lithium Prmary – 4 mode, with hidden strobe
On 14500 – 5 mode (turbo added), with hidden strobe

In The Box
Light, instructions (17 different languages – impressive!), lanyard, Olight branded lithium primary

(Sorry about the crappy lighting in some of the images…got lazy and didn’t turn the other lights on)

First Impressions
Well, I have to say that the light came packaged perfectly; opening it up showed no signs of defects on the ano, clip, or TIR. The Olight battery came installed in the light with a plastic insulator preventing contact at the tail. The lithium primary measured 1.84v.

My favorite thing about the light, prior to turning it on, was the small cotter pin attached to the lanyard string. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I loathe threading the end of a lanyard into some of those tiny holes on lights. I think it was just the simplicity of the idea that made me happy.

Left to Right – Nitecore 14500, Windyfire 14500, Eneloop, generic SK68, Nitecore EA11, Manker T01, Olight S1A, Olight supplied lithium primary

Olight supplied manual

I waited a week or so before I decided to post anything here as I wanted to be able to speak to durability, finish (after being in my pocket on a regular basis), and UI/usability.

Before I continue…I’ve never been a fan of lights with optics, but that has mainly been due to my love (and need) of throwers. I usually take a small 14500 or 18350 light out fishing in the early mornings before sunrise, and I prefer it to be small but with as hefty a turbo as i can manage. The key is, however, it needs to be able to throw a beam up the side of a hill or over a long open stretch. I’m probably making poor assertions based on my limited experience, but reflector lights have always been better.

After running the light for the past week using both eneloops and a windyfire 14500, I have to say that I’m really coming around to it. I compared the beam and output on various levels to a Zebralight sc52w, and it’s brighter on turbo (14500 only) and the mode spacing, despite having less options than the sc52, is really comparable and well done.

The mode spacing is much better than the Nitecore EA11. It’s not as bright as either a T01 or an EA11, but it’s plenty bright enough to be in my EDC rotation. I’ve begun to like the even beam profile and smooth wall of light it produces. I do notice the slightly squarish beam, however; it’s not bad enough to bug me. It really stands out when you rotate the light when pointed at a wall or ceiling. In normal use, it’s negligible. I’ve also been carrying the light in my pocket, and to date, there aren’t any scratches on it. I’ve been carrying it with keys and change with no signs of durability issues on the finish.

Something else that I thought I wouldn’t like was the magnetic tailcap. I thought that was more of a gimmicky thing at first, but after carrying it around, I found myself – more than once – sticking it to a metal door, a car hood, the side of a washer, and a fridge. I guess I didn’t know what I was missing!

A little about the UI
The light features a small side switch which can be a little difficult to find if you’re hand isn’t trained to know how you’ve oriented the clip in relation to the switch. I haven’t any issues with the light turning on in my pocket, so that’s a plus.

The UI is fairly simple, and for an EDC light that’s a big plus to me. The light turns on with a single click and will resume in whatever mode you last accessed (memory).

From off, you have the ability to go directly to moonlight if you press and hold for 2 seconds.
From off, you also have the ability to go (almost) directly to turbo, or high if using anything other than 14500. Simply double click the switch and the light will quickly turn on and immediately jump into turbo. There is a slight delay in getting there, as the light has to turn on in the last mode first and then switch to turbo, but it’s not enough of a delay to make it obnoxious. If you absolutely have to have turbo at your beck and call at all times, I could see some frustration with this light.

In order to change modes, you press and hold the switch and it will scroll through modes in ascending order (L>H/Turbo). The one thing that I haven’t decided if I’m bothered by is this: you can ONLY access moonlight mode from the off position. Once you exit moonlight and begin scrolling through modes, you cannot get back to it without turning the light off and then back on again. For those that want to know, the light has hidden strobe accessible by three rapid clicks.

I didn’t bother posting all the measured specs, weights, etc. since there are plenty of other members who did that already. I just wanted to offer up a more opinionated review.

It’s a really good little light. Solid, reliable (so far), light, durable (also, so far), convenient – I like it. It certainly won’t be replacing my small “throwy” lights like the T01 and BLF X5, but it’s quickly finding a home in my EDC pocket.

Lastly – quick n’ dirty beamshot comparison to give an idea of the beam profile and hotspot
Left to right – T01, EA11, S1A

The Miller
The Miller's picture
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: 12/14/2015 - 12:08
Posts: 9908
Location: Charente France

Nice review
Cool that you actually used it before posting a review.
I agree it are the little things like that aid to put the lanyard on that can really put a smile to ones face Wink

scrumpypaul's picture
Last seen: 1 week 3 days ago
Joined: 03/19/2015 - 18:29
Posts: 758
Location: East Durham, UK

It looks like the free review samples are only in Northern America.

Lydia contacted me asking if I’d like a free sample for review, but then later said she’d passed my details to the person in charge of UK marketing for Olight, though I’m yet to hear from her. Oh well, never mind.

Last seen: 23 hours 5 min ago
Joined: 08/14/2016 - 04:53
Posts: 563
Location: Canada

Any chance you could take a photo of the S1A beside the SC52w?

Last seen: 1 week 1 day ago
Joined: 02/07/2012 - 13:06
Posts: 399
Location: NorthernCA

Sorry it took a while to get a picture up – here is the S1A next to a Zebralight sc52

hank's picture
Last seen: 5 hours 28 min ago
Joined: 09/04/2011 - 21:52
Posts: 8768
Location: Berkeley, California

Has anyone heard from Lydia, the Olight rep, recently?
I’m not aware of a way to search for when the user was last online when the account was used for sending PMs.