Armytek Wizard Pro v3 headlamp/right angle review (18650, XHP50)

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maukka
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Armytek Wizard Pro v3 headlamp/right angle review (18650, XHP50)

Disclaimer: The Armytek Wizard Pro v3 XHP50 (White) was provided for testing by the manufacturer free of charge

Wizard Pro v3 XHP50 with a magnetic usb charger is the newest version of the high end 18650 headlamp made by Armytek. It sports a Cree XHP50 emitter with heavy emphasis on durability. It’s also one of the largest and most powerful 18650 headlamps on the market.

Features and manufacturer’s specifications
Battery: 18650
Input voltage: not listed
LED: Cree XHP50, available in warm and “white” (tested)
Waterproof: IP68, 10 meters, 2 hours
Impact resistance: 10 meters
Mode memory: yes

Manufacturer’s output specs
Maximum output: 1800 lumens
Other output levels: 900/390/165/30/5.5/1.5/0.15 lumens
Beam distance: 130 m
Light intensity: 4200 candela

Measured dimensions and weight
Length: 110.5 mm
Head width: 29.3 mm
Handle width: 20.5 mm
Tailcap width: 24.5 mm
Weight: 73 g for the light (with pocket clip), 45 g for an 18650 battery, 43 g for the headband

More info on the manufacturer’s product page:
https://www.armytek.com/products/flashlights/headlamps/armytek-wizard-pr...

Box and contents

The light is packaged in a colorful retail box, which shows the light through some plastic.

Bundled in the box with the light:
Magnetic usb charging cable
Headband
Pocket clip
Two spare o-rings
User manual

User interface

The Wizard Pro is controlled by a backlit electronic switch.

The switch and UI is identical to the Armytek Prime C2 Pro so most of this paragraph is just copy-paste. However, according to Armytek’s specifications there’s no support for two lithium ion batteries. I didn’t try and fry my sample with two 16340/18350s.

The button is excellent and has a distinct click to it. Double and triple clicks are no problem unlike on some mushy switches. There’s a backlight on the button. Three yellow flashes in succession every two seconds means that the light is running warm, three red flashes repeated every second means it is getting too hot (60°C claimed, 70°C tested) and will lower the output to protect the emitter and battery. The output will increase again if the light is cooled down as long as the battery is still up to the task.

The button light will flash every five seconds while the light is on. By default this behavior is disabled on firefly modes, but can be enabled. The color of the flash will indicate if the battery is almost full (green) or under 75% (yellow). When the battery voltage gets low, the flashes are yellow (<25%) and finally red (<10%). These can be distinguished from the heat warning because they occur once every two (yellow) or one second (red), not with triple flashes.

There are seven brightness levels in total which are grouped into three sets:

Three firefly modes
Three main modes
Two turbo modes
Three special modes: strobe, beacon high, beacon low

Operation is as follows

From off:
Single click turns the light on on previously used brightness (includes strobe and beacon modes)
Double click turns the light on on main mode group (sub mode is memorized)
Triple click turns the light on on turbo mode group (sub mode is memorized)
Quad click turns the light on on special mode group (strobe, low beacon, high beacon)
Press and hold cycles the modes from the lowest upwards all the way to turbo 1, release to select mode

From on:
Single click turns the light off
Double click switches from main to firefly or from firefly to main or from turbo/special to main
Triple click switches to turbo modes
Quad click switches to special modes

If any of the turbo or special modes was used previously, a double click from off flashes briefly that mode before settling on the main mode group. This isn’t a big problem even at night as you can always hold the switch down and start cycling the modes from the lowest firefly mode.

There’s two operational modes, general and tactical. The default mode is the general, which corresponds to the UI described above. In tactical mode the switch is momentary with mode memory. The light will be on only when the switch is pressed down. Changing modes is not possible in the tactical mode.

To access tactical mode unscrew the tailcap to 1/4, press the switch and tighten the tailcap again keeping the button pressed. To return to the general mode press the button and while keeping it pressed unscrew the tailcap to 1/4.

Physical appearance

The newest version of the Wizard Pro has some fins near the head. Otherwise the appearance hasn’t changed on this iteration.

The magnetic tailcap has some genius engineering behind it. To charge the battery (any standard 18650), you open the tailcap just a bit which activates the metal tailcap contacts via the partly anodized threads on the body and tailcap. Even if there is live voltage on them, there’s a diode preventing current from flowing and causing possible problems when the contacts are shorted. The center contact is recessed so this doesn’t happen whenever the light is attached magnetically to a metal surface.

The end of the cable lights up during charging. Red means charging, green is ready.

The headband holder is very easy and fast to use. Just slide the light in on the clearly marked gaps. Aiming is easy but the light is not going to fall. Using the headband when the pocket clip is attached isn’t impossible but requires fiddling with the clip angle.

I wished the headband came pre-assembled from the box, since it will take a couple of minutes going through the instructions to get it right.

Spring in the tailcap and a raised button on the driver side enable users to choose whatever style of 18650 battery they might have.

Armytek 3200 mAh battery measurements

The bundled 18650 3200 mAh battery is of good quality. It was tested by charging it at 1.0 A to 4.2 volts and discharging at 8 watts down to 2.5 volts. 8 watts equals the power draw when the Wizard Pro is used on the turbo 1 mode. This test was done after numerous runtime tests so it represents the performance after some use.

Length: 65.1 mm
Width: 18.5 mm
Weight: 45 g
Protected: no
Capacity: 3012 mAh
Energy: 10.8 Wh
Internal resistance: 0.06 ohm (measured at 8 amps)

Armytek offers several different batteries with their lights, but mine came with a 3200 mAh one. The cell under the Armytek wrapper is most likely an LG INR18650 MH1, since some revealing text can be made out through the heatshrink and that’s what 3200 mAh rebranded 4.20 volt batteries usually are. The internal resistance also matches my MH1 cells.

Discharge curve at 8 W

Discharge curve at 8 watts down to 2.5 volts. Voltage blue, current red. Blue/red: Armytek 3200 mAh, pale blue/red: Sony VTC6. Total energy of the cells at 8 watts is identical (10.8 W) -> runtime is the same. The battery is not a high discharge one, but quite enough for the Wizard Pro. The LG MH1 is rated for 10 A discharge.

Charge curve

Charging with the integrated USB charger takes a bit over 7 hours with 0.7 amps drawn from the usb power supply. I would like something a bit faster, but if you usually charge yours overnight this is fine. After charging I measured the voltage at 4.09 and 4.13 volts. The first test was done straight from the box, the second one much later. When topped off in a SkyRC MC3000 the cell received 319 mAh and 108 mAh more capacity.

Size comparison

18650 battery, Olight H1R Nova, Olight H2R Nova, Armytek Wizard Pro v3, Skilhunt H03, Zebralight H600Fd Mk3

The Wizard Pro is the biggest headlamp I have tested.

Beamshots

[I]Finnish summer is here and it pretty much never gets dark. I’ll post some outdoor beamshot comparisons as soon as possible.[/I]

Beam, tint and color rendering

Thanks to the diffusing TIR optics, the beam is smooth and floody even with the multiemitter XHP50. There is no artifacts and practically no color shift, which is ideal.


The white Wizard Pro is just a tiny bit warmer than a cool white light. The tint is slightly biased towards green, but the difference is not really noticeable without a side by side comparison. Reportedly the warm white Wizard Pro is truly warm so there’s a neutral 4500-5000 K option missing.


Next to the truly neutral Zebralight H600Fd, the Armytek does look a bit cool, but all of this depends on the ambient light and the conditions your eyes have accustomed.


Tint in different brightness modes. As is usually the case there’s some shift when the current is increased. Tint is greenish on the lower modes. In reality it’s not very bad without a reference, since the tint doesn’t change from the center to the edge, see below.


Tint in different parts of the beam with the corresponding duv values (distance from a neutral black body radiator, positive number means green/yellow tint, negative rosy/magenta/pink). There’s pretty much zero shift, nice!

Spectral data and color rendering

For spectral information and CRI calculations I use an X-rite i1Pro spectrophotometer with HCFR, Babelcolor CT&A and ArgyllCMS spotread for the graphs and data. For runtime tests I use spotread with a custom script and an i1Display Pro because it doesn’t require calibration every 30 minutes like the i1Pro.

Explanation of abbreviations

CCT = correlated color temperature, higher temperature means cooler (bluish)
CRI (Ra) = color rendering index consisting of 8 different colors (R1-R8), max value 100
CRI (R9) = color rendering index with deep red, usually difficult for led based light sources, max value 100
TLCI = television lighting consistency index, max value 100
CQS (Qa) = Proposed replacement for CRI, RMS average of 15 color samples
CRI2012 (Ra,2012) = Another proposed replacement for CRI, consists of 17 color samples
MCRI = Color rendering index based on the memory of colors or 9 familiar objects
NEW Read more about the IES TM-30-15 method
TM-30 = The newest color rendering method using 99 samples. Preferred for comparing LEDs.
TM-30 (Rf) = Accuracy of colors, fidelity index. Replaces CRI.
TM-30 (Rg) = Gamut of colors, saturation index. Higher number means more saturated colors.
Tint dev. (“Duv” in the CTA screenshots) is the tint’s distance to the black body radiator line in the CIE graphs. The higher the number, the greener the tint. 0,0000 means absolutely neutral white and negative numbers mean rosy/magenta tint. Anything over 0,0100 can be described as visibly green.

If you have an hour to spare, I recommend watching this presentation on IES TM-30-15 which also shines light into color rendering in general.


Runtimes and output

Since I don’t have a professional sphere with a reference calibration light source, all the lumen measurements are just approximations. Lumen and candela measurements were taken with an Xrite i1Pro spectrophotometer, not a lux meter.

Runtime on max output (Turbo 2) with and without external fan cooling.

You can witness the thermal regulation doing its work by decreasing output when the light gets too hot and increasing after cooling. In some situations this results in slow oscillation when the controller hunts for the correct output vs. temperature. This change in brightness is not easily perceivable.

Runtime on the 2nd highest mode (Turbo 1) with and without cooling.

The Wizard is a bright headlamp. Not quite as bright as advertised, but for all practical applications, perfectly adequate. There’s rarely any need for over 500 lumens on a headlamp anyways, which is pretty much where the output stabilizes on the turbo modes after a while. Some driver inefficency makes for a bit shorter runtimes than on the competition.

The light will not turn abruptly off when the battery voltage drops very low. It stays a bit under 40 lumens for a long while, so you’ll have a bit of light.

Output comparison in room temperature with the Olight H2R.

The final brightness after stepping down is not that much different.


The temperature regulation works well on the Wizard Pro. With enough cooling, it can sustain output of over 1000 lumens until the battery is drained.

The boost driver is also excellent. I was able to access turbo with lesser batteries (NCR18650B) even when they were half drained.

As usual I tested the efficacy of the Wizard Pro using a Sanyo 18650GA battery on 400-800 lumen mode with fan cooling.

The Armytek runs a bit behind the pack on its turbo 1 mode. The efficacy is better on the dimmer main modes, but won’t match the current champ, the Olight H2R.

Temperature

The temperature regulation keeps the head of the light at about 60 °C by adjusting output. This is quite hot to touch, but the system will keep the light from damaging itself and simultaneously allowing as much light output as is possible.

Here’s the temperature of the head after 60 seconds and 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, the body is too hot to hold.

PWM

There’s no PWM on any mode.

There’s some 1 kHz output noise whenever the side switch led flashes. This is not visible nor audible.

Standby current

As the switch is electronic, there is a small current being drawn from the battery even when the light is not turned on. I measured the parasitic standby drain at 8 µA. This means it would takes tens of years to drain a 18650, but of course the battery’s self discharge rate is faster.

Verdict

There’s not much to critizise about the newest Wizard Pro especially for the sale prices it’s going at the moment. It is a great product all the way from its retail presentation to the performance and usability. The familiar matte finish feels special and makes for a grippy surface without aggressive knurling. Machining and build quality overall is excellent.

With the included pocket clip and the well designed headband retaining mechanism the Wizard transforms easily to different purposes. There’s also a strong magnet in the tailcap, which helps mounting the light straight to ferrous surfaces.

Usb charging works reliably albeit a bit slowly. The tailcap contacts are not live when it is screwed all the way in. Even in the charging position there’s a diode preventing current from flowing out.

The electronic side switch has a good tactile click to it and after a while, the user interface will grow on you. There’s instant access to all the three main mode groups (firefly, main, turbo) as well as mode memory. There was no inductor whine or other distracting noises from the driver on my sample.

The cool white version has a pretty neutral tint with no excess of green or blue. On the lower modes the tint skews towards green, but thanks to the minimal shift on different parts of the beam, it’s not offensive without a neutral reference. The beam is very nicely diffused without any artifacts. It is ideal for close distance work and powerful enough to light up the whole trail in front of you. I do wish that there would be a true neutral white option between the cool and warm white lights somewhere between 4500 and 5000 K, preferrably at a higher CRI as well.

As for the turbo modes, they’re just that. Lots of light for a while. In practice the Wizard Pro is able to sustain 500 lumens during the summer months at ambient temperatures over 20 degrees. External cooling helps with this and in some situations the light may able to output 800-1000 lumens without stepping down.

The driver is not as efficient as on the best ones on the market, but other than that, the Wizard is a splendid headlamp. And as usual I’d also like a neutral white (4500-5000 K) option with high CRI. There are a lot of Cree XHP50 options for that.

+ Consistent tint throughout the beam (no tint shift from center to edge)
+ Excellent finish and build quality
+ Headband is easy and fast to use
+ Great tactile feel of the switch
+ Instant access to all main mode groups, including firefly and special modes
+ True firefly modes
+ Very low standby drain
+ Real thermal control with a two stage warning light on the switch (yellow – red)
+ No timed stepdowns, flat regulation as long as the light is cooled adequately and the battery is up to it
+ Turbo is available with drained lower current batteries too (18650B at 50 % works fine)
+ Safe magnetic tailcap charging system
+ Waterproofing and impact resistance (not tested)
- No real neutral white and high CRI option available
- Charging could be faster than 7 hours
- Quite big for an 18650 headlamp
- Tint gets greenish on lower modes
- After prolonged high output, the light cannot be held with bare hands due to heat

Edited by: maukka on 06/20/2017 - 08:52
DB Custom
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Very elaborate review, thank you for the effort in detail. Wink

Worries me a bit that they think it’s safe to have a headlamp that gets too hot to hold. Slow roasted monkey brain anyone?

I have the same light in the previous version. The warm white is quite orange in nature, I really don’t prefer it at all but have been using it in low modes. Very seldom does mine see the high or turbo levels. Worthy to note, the emitter is on a copper mcpcb which is glued to the inside of the head directly opposite the optic, which means the absolute hottest part of the light is that which is closest to your forehead. The headband and it’s clip are much narrower than the light is long, so this has the hot back side of the lights head extended out beyond the holder, pointing directly at the forehead with nothing between it and me except that cloth strap.

Nice to see that they added cooling fins, wish the cooling fins were directly at the source of the heat instead of as far away on the head as they could be.

I’ll not say it’s not a good light, it actually is… you just have to get acquainted with the UI and use it accordingly. The driver is deeply potted in a black epoxy, not much chance of a driver modification. I’ve considered changing the emitter in mine to a more neutral white, just have yet to do so. They do strongly believe in red loctite, so disassembling one is not an easy task… (mine’s been opened, quite a chore with some light to medium aesthetic damage.)

Thanks again for the extensive review.. nicely done.

keengeorge
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G'Day Maukka, smile

 

Thank you Very Much for a Superb review.

 

Best Regards,

George

 

SteveMidwest
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Very good maukka! Thumbs Up

Thank you so much for all of your hard work, in bringing us this review.

I too have the V2, and really like it. I think it’s time to upgrage to the V3. Cool

SKV89
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Wow great review! I like how it is so concise and the beam comparisons are so useful. Also I love the efficacy lm/W comparison table.