Review: Zanflare F1; 2xAA

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Cythras
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Review: Zanflare F1; 2xAA

DISCLAIMER: This light was provided to me free of charge by GEARBEST in exchange for an honest review.
Zanflare F2

Gearbest surprised many of us a little while back with the release of their first light, the Zanflare F1. They certainly did their research prior to manufacturing, with the light including many of the features that enthusiasts often look for in a well designed light. They had a very well built body and included good mode memory with dual switches, a sub lumen moonlight mode, turbo shortcut, battery level indicator, and a very (then) unique method of integrating a charging port on the device without compromising it’s ingress protection. Overall, it was a light capable of trading blows with many others on the market and hold it’s ground.

But now we have a new light, the Zanflare F2. One that trades away some of the features and performance of it’s older brother, in exchange for using far more common batteries, the ability to function the light without ever reading the manual, and perhaps most importantly, a much lower price. So is it any good? Let’s find out.

Much like the F1, the F2 ships well packaged in a nicely designed cardboard box. The light is nestled inside a closed cell foam, and included are a plain lanyard, 2 spare O-rings, and a black PVD coated steel clip, as well as a well written manual.

The light is attractively designed, with a larger head with heatsinking fins and a battery level indicator, a smooth tube with the spiral patterned knurling we first saw on the F1, and a more traditionally knurled tailcap with a reverse clicky switch under a black rubber boot.


Looking into the business end, we see a stainless bezel holding in the AR coated lense, a well polished light orange peel reflector, and an XP-G2 LED well centered by a white gasket. (The original preorder page when the light was first announced advertised an XP-G3, not sure why that was changed in production.)

Unlike some lights, while there is an O-ring between the lense and the reflector, there is nothing between the lense and the bezel to act as shock absorption.

The side of the head contains a translucent window with an LED underneath to display your current battery level when the light is switched on. Between 100-30%, the light is blue and disappears 5 seconds after the light is switched on. Between 30-10%, the LED will flash red slowly, one pulse every 5 seconds or so. Once the battery level drops below 10%, it flashes much quicker, and stays that way until the light turns off.

The body of the light is fairly standard, with only the unique knurling standing out. It consists of deeper diagonal cuts that spiral all along the length, as well as many much shallower cuts that go around the circumference of the light. While this causes the light to be smoother than the traditional cut, the flared head and tail of the light combined with the fins that can be used as jimping make the light very easy to hold.
The clip is mounted on the tail end of the battery tube, and is a titanium nitride coated spring steel. While very similar to the clip found on the F1, the F2’s clip is slightly shorter and narrower, less stiff, and features a straight cut as opposed to the diagonally cut F1. It secures the light well in your pocket, but a fair bit of the light will protrude due to it not being a deep carry design.

The threads are anodized, allowing the light to be easily locked out against accidental activation, which will come in handy for reasons to come.

The tailcap of the F2 is an odd design. It has a warded switch, with lanyard holes on both of the protruding metal bits. However, the warding does not accomplish it’s job to prevent accidental activation, as the rubber switch actually extends past the sides of the tailcap. Unfortunately, this also makes the light unable to tailstand.

The walls of the warding are also very thin compared to other lights with semi or fully recessed switches. If dropped on the tailcap, the sides will likely be bent in fairly easily.

However, the biggest flaw I’ve found with the light is what sits inside the tailcap. Unfortunately, the retaining ring will not come out, but I’ll try to explain what happens:
The type of rubber boot used has an extruded section that engages the piston of the switch. However, due to the very soft and flexible nature of the material used, the boot’s extrusion will often tweak over the side of the switch piston when pushed, either causing the light to be extremely difficult to turn on, or inversely, making it extremely sensitive to pressure, sometimes even not turning off.

That aside, the switch operates as it should, and the negative contact is made via a stainless steel spring in the tailcap.

USEAGE

The light has a very simple U.I., having only 4 modes and a simple reverse clicky.

LOW; 15lm > MED; 50lm > HI; 200lm > STROBE; 200lm > LOW…

The light has last mode memory, and will lock in the last used mode very quickly.
According to the manufacturer, the run times for these output levels are 32 hours on low, 8 hours on medium, and a measly 38 minutes for high.

However, my tests on a fully charged set of 1900mAh Eneloops gave me slightly over an hour and a half of constant output on high before it steps down to low. I’m not sure why they underrated their run time so dramatically.

COMPARISONS

Here is the Zanflare F2 next to a handful of other 2xAA lights, it’s older brother the F1, and a Convoy C8. Why the C8? You’ll see later.

From left to right: Zanflare F1, Zanflare F2, Olight ST-25 Baton (piece of garbage, that thing), JetBeam/Niteye EYE12, OG Maglight, Ultrafire C3, Convoy C8.

You can see that the F2 is not a short light, taller than all but the EYE12, which has a rotary switch for infinitely variable output. Combined with the non-deep carry clip, the light is not the most comfortable for pocket carry.

Here is a crappy beamshot:

From left to right: Zanflare F1 in high (200lm), JetBeam/Niteye EYE12 in max output (260lm), and Olight ST-25 Baton (in it’s flickery bullshit “550 Lumen Turbo” mode.) All lights running on freshly charged Eneloops.
The rings and artifacts are not nearly as noticeable in real life. Not surprisingly, when compared to the 2 other tube style lights the Zanflare F2 has a much smaller and brighter hotspot. Also evident is the light OP reflector, while it smooths out a beam better than the SMO on the Olight, the pattern still isn’t as uniform as the one from the heavily textured Niteye reflector.

But that small, tight hotspot with a wide useable spill reminds me of something…

As it turns out, the XP-G2 paired with a wider head puts out a beam nearly identical to the original XM-L Convoy C8 with an OP reflector.

And here’s the Zanflare running next to an OG Maglight with a fresh set of alkaleaks, just for shits and giggles.

CONCLUSION

So is it any good? Kinda. I think this light has a target demographic, and it isn’t the majority of us. This light is a 2xAA Maglight killer. You can throw it in a drawer and forget about it until the next power outage, and is the ideal light to give to friends and family to do the same. The beam profile can give the narrow spot the OG Maglight offers, while retaining a useable amount of flood. The straightforward U.I. means that even my grandmother could learn to use it. The strobe function, while a big negative to many of us, seems to be something well loved in the muggle world. But it offers all of this while retaining some of the qualities of the more enthusiast geared lights, such as the excellent fit and finish, AR coated glass, and a handy battery level indicator.

Considering the (current) regular selling price of $19.99 USD (and having been available for half that during sales), It’s really not a bad purchase. Everyone needs a light at some point, and despite how strongly we feel about it, not everyone needs lithium powered firestarters. I believe that this light is an excellent torch to replace all the aging Maglights out there, and is suitable for use by pretty much anyone. However there is one other light I feel like is also gunning for this spot though, and until I get my hands on one, I’m not sure which is the superior.

PROS

  • Excellent build quality
  • Underrated (and excellent) run times
  • Easy to use
  • Battery level indicator
  • Fairly attractive (imo) design
  • Very useful beam profile
  • Available in warm white

CONS

  • Glued head
  • Poor switch/boot compatability
  • Inability to tailstand
  • Non hidden strobe mode
  • No moonlight mode
  • Tends to roll a bit without the clip installed
Edited by: Cythras on 08/08/2017 - 09:11
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jch10400
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Thanks for the in depth review. I ordered a few of the these during the recent $9.99 sale and look forward to getting them. During the ordering process I found out:

There are two different models – the F2 and F2S. One has a moonlight mode, one doesn’t.
They can be ordered with CW or NW tints.

Cythras
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jch10400 wrote:
Thanks for the in depth review. I ordered a few of the these during the recent $9.99 sale and look forward to getting them. During the ordering process I found out:

There are two different models – the F2 and F2S. One has a moonlight mode, one doesn’t.
They can be ordered with CW or NW tints.

The F2 and the F2s differ in the minimum output mode, I believe the F2 has a 15 lumen min, and the F2s has a 50 lumen low. Neither of these can really be considered moonlight, which tends to be 3> lumens. Considering the F2s were quickly discontinued, I believe that it was just to use up a batch of early drivers with the higher minimum output.

WalkIntoTheLight
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Thanks for the good review. Looks like this might be a competitor to the old 4sevens 2xAA Quarks (I have a couple), if for no other reason than having a warm white LED option.

I like 2xAA lights, but other than my Armytek Prime A2 (500+ lumens), they all seem under-powered. 500 lumens should be easy with 2xAA nowadays, considering you can get that from a single AA (Zebralight SC5). I’m not sure why manufacturers of 2xAA lights don’t increase the output. 100-200 lumens is good for most use, but it’s nice to have the option of a good turbo.

Cythras
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I mean, my ST25 Baton is supposed to put out 550 lumens…

I would figure that getting high output like that requires a good boost driver, making them more expensive to manufacture. Seeing as most 2xaa are budget lights, it kinda makes sense.

EDIT: I think the Thrunite Archer and Maratac AA both but out around 500 lumens, as well as the newer version of my Olight

netprince
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I picked up 2x of these (lightning deal) for my kids. Output in my opinion is definitely underwhelming, but still better than the previous lights I bought for them…

And what is the deal with first and second mode? Almost the same output level from what I can tell…

EDIT: looks like I actually bought the F2S

Cythras
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netprince wrote:
I picked up 2x of these (lightning deal) for my kids. Output in my opinion is definitely underwhelming, but still better than the previous lights I bought for them…

And what is the deal with first and second mode? Almost the same output level from what I can tell…

EDIT: looks like I actually bought the F2S

That makes sense. The difference between 50 and 100 lumens is very little to our eyes, I believe we need approximately triple the lumens for out eyes to perceive double the output or something like that. My guess is that the F2s were built using prototype drivers before they finalized the mode spacing, hence the quick sale of all the stock at discount prices.