This light was kindly sent to me for review by GearBest.
Coupon: GBLED2016 Price: $27.81
No other payment was received for this review, and a free flashlight does not stop me from being critical if required during reviews.
Convoy have an increasing reputation for quality, well constructed lights at a budget price point. The Convoy C8 is Convoy’s popular 18650 compact thrower, and has been through quite a few different revisions. This review is of the new (late 2016) clear anodized (silver) version of the C8, sent to me by GearBest. This comes hot on the heels of the popular, and very stunning clear anodized Convoy L6.
Note that some of clear anodized Convoy C8s being sold by different sellers are different in specification. This version has 8*7135 chips for high output (2.8A). This is the maximum number of 7135 chips found in the stock versions of the Convoy C8. The user interface (UI) in this version is new and improved “Biscotti” Convoy UI for 7135 chip based lights. This light also has AR glass, and DTP board.
Note: C8 is a generic name for similar large head 18650 throwers. C8s from different manufacturers vary highly in quality.
The Convoy C8 has an XPL HI emitter, a good choice for maximising throw in a compact light. The reviewed light has a V2-1A emitter, and is thus cool white. Neutral white U6-3A and warm white U3-7A are also available. The LED was perfectly centered.
The Convoy C8 has a wider head than the body, and smooth reflector to maximise throw. The body accepts 18650 li-ion cells. I tested it to fit cells between 65mm and 68.9mm in length, and up to 18.7mm in diameter. The battery tube has springs at both ends which allows for both button tops, flat tops, most protected, and unprotected 18650 cells.
The threads were smooth and well lubricated. The tail cap has a clear rubber boot, which felt good. The glass is anti-reflective (AR) glass, and is perfectly clear. Internally, the LED is mounted on a DTP board. The only included accessory was a lanyard. Built quality is excellent as is expected from Convoy.
The clear anodization creates an very cool silver look to this light – very space age, and beautiful light to look at!
I’m not a modder myself. However, the Convoy C8 is well known to an excellent choice for modders. It is fairly easy to swap out the stock driver for a driver with even more output (e.g. FET driver). Below is an x-ray of the Convoy C8’s internals.
The new firmware (known as “Biscotti”) is massive improvement over the previous user interface on the C8 which had a few quirks related to memory mode. The 12 mode group options and reverse clicky switch should suit most user requirements, other than those who require forward clickies for momentary output. Options included or excluded from some mode groups include moonlight, strobe, bike flashing, SOS, and battery check. The mode groups are as follows:
1 0.1%, 1%, 10%, 35%, 100%, strobe, biking, battery-check
2 0.1%, 1%, 10%, 35%, 100%
3 100%, 35%, 10%, 1%, 0.1%
4 1%, 20%, 100%, strobe, biking, battery-check, SOS
5 1%, 20%, 100%
6 100%, 20%, 1%
7 0.1%, 1%, 10%, 50%, strobe, biking, battery-check, SOS
8 0.1%, 1%, 10%, 50%
9 50%, 10%, 1%, 0.1%
10 1%, 10%, 35%, 100%
11 100%, 20%, strobe
12 100% only
Changing mode groups and turning memory on/off is fairly easy process, starting with 10 taps to enter configuration mode. I managed to stuff it up a few times before I learnt to tap the button instead of a full click. Fast reaction times are also required.
I currently have mine set on mode group 2 – 0.1%, 1%, 10%, 35%, 100% with memory on. To advanced to the next mode requires a tap, rather than a full click. Memory mode (when on) works well. I really like this user interface!
Due to a known “overclocking” issue, the current versions of this firmware runs faster than usual. This means that low and mid modes have higher output than the mode would suggest, and the flashing modes flash twice as fast than expected. This should not be a major issue for most users, and is expected to be rectified in later revisions.
The new firmware includes low voltage protection. When the cells are nearly discharged output steps down to moonlight output, and the light continues to run with moonlight output for a few hours. This means that user won’t be suddenly left in the dark. Eventually the low voltage protection will kick in. The cell used for testing was at a resting voltage of 2.91V at 2 hours after the low voltage protection kicked in. The light can also be locked out by slightly unscrewing the tail cap threads.
Heat at 100% power is managed quite well for such a small light. I manually stepped down after 7 minutes (in hot 26C ambient heat and no wind) as the head was getting too hot for my liking (I’m quite cautious). In cooler ambient conditions, the C8 should be able to run the light on high for considerably longer. Heat is not an issue at 50% or lower modes.
Aside from the usual initial drop in output (due to li-ion voltage drop) immediately after turning on, the Convoy C8’s output is relatively stable, declining slowly as the battery discharges. Thus maximum output can be sustained with no automatic step downs until a manual step-down is required due to heat management. I personally like the Convoy’s lack of automated step downs, though it does mean that the user needs to be aware of the risk of overheating (i.e. don’t leave the light alone for long periods of time on 100%). Automated step downs only occur as part of the low voltage protection on discharged cells, which was explained in the previous chapter. I do not have the equipment to produce runtime graphs – sorry!
Output was tested to be between 950 and 1000 lumens at 30 seconds (with freshly charge Sanyo NCR18650GA cells) based on a ceiling bounce test. Lux was not tested, though other reviews show the Convoy C8 XPL HI 1A to have an lux measurement for approximately 65k cd. The throw certainly has a “wow” factor, and provides useful illumination well beyond 200m. Despite many new entries to the compact 18650 thrower market, the Convoy C8 still has more throw than the majority of competitors. Interestingly, on only 10% mode, it out threw my LED Lenser P7.2 (on full zoom) on 100% power.
The beam is typical for a thrower, with a small intense hotspot, and less bright spill beam. If you want a brighter, wider spill beam, and less intense hotspot, look at the floody Convoy S2+ instead.
Convoy are well known for having a choice of tints in most of their lights, something which other manufacturer need to learn from! The reviewed 1A tint is cool white – this sample was fairly pure white with only a slight hint of yellow around the hotspot. No blue or green tints! The CRI appeared to be in the typical 70CRI range. The cool white tint allows for higher output and throw than the neutral and warm white options. As more of the beam is reflected back by airborne particles, then it created more of a mid-air light sabre effect in photos. The neutral white and warm white options will have better colour rendering, but less output, and less of the mid-air light sabre effect. Whilst I prefer neutral and warm tints in floody lights, I prefer cool white in throwers for the above reasons. Hats off to Convoy for having multiple tint options in their lights, something more “premium” flashlight manufactures should learn from.
The Convoy C8 has impressive throw for such a compact light. With no automatic step down, and impressive throw, this light has better “real world” output and throw than some of the newer, and more expensive compact 18650 throwers that have recently hit the market. The flexible but simple user interface has options that should suit most users. The build quality is far above the low price point. The choice of tints is excellent. Finally, the clear anodising looks very cool. This light comes highly recommended!
Note: the trees are 220m away!