Quick Look Review of Sofirn SF36W (3000k)

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DavidEF
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Quick Look Review of Sofirn SF36W (3000k)

The Sofirn SF36W is a single 18650 hand-held general purpose flashlight. Sofirn asked me to review the newest revision which utilizes a warm white emitter, and they gave me a link to buy the light on Amazon. I received a cardboard retail box with product labeling printed on the outside. Inside the box I found a plastic tray which held: the SF36W flashlight with a Sofirn branded 18650 cell inside, a single-cell 18650 USB charging cradle, a USB charge cable for the cradle, a user manual, a pair of replacement o-rings in a small Zip-loc style bag, and a lanyard. The light has a clip already installed, clipped around the battery tube. Although the cell was in the tube of the flashlight, it was electrically insulated by a small plastic spacer placed between the bottom of the cell and the tail spring of the flashlight.

The Sofirn SF36W is listed as being a 1000 lumen flashlight, utilizing a CREE XP-L V6 emitter. The emitter is warm white, with a color temperature of 3000k, but I don’t know exactly what bin. Some customers had requested a warm white version around 3000k, and Sofirn came through! The listing also says it has IPX8 waterproofing. I haven’t tried using the flashlight under water, but there’s an o-ring on both ends of the battery tube, and the anodized, square-cut threads are lubed at least on the tail-cap end, where the light is meant to be opened for changing the cell. There is no mention of what type the anodizing is, but it looks and feels nice. It did produce a tiny scratch when I rubbed the edge of a scissor blade against it, so it’s not type III anodizing for sure. The knurling on the tube is nice and grippy, but not so aggressive that it would be uncomfortable to hold. The listing doesn’t say anything about low voltage protection, so it will be up to the user to know when to recharge the cell. The Sofirn SF36W has a reverse-clicky switch in the tail cap for on/off operation and to handle mode changes. The tail-cap has thumb cut-outs so that the button is easy enough to press while wearing gloves. But, it has enough of the metal rim left around the button to be stable while tail-standing. There is a groove in the battery tube for the belt clip, which works very nicely.

The UI is simple and intuitive. A click of the tail button will turn the light on or off. A softer press of the button while the light is on will change modes. There are four ‘levels’ through which to scroll from lowest to highest. When you’ve reached the High mode, another soft press will start over at moonlight mode, and so on up through the modes again. At any point that you turn the light off, the mode level will be memorized, and the SF36W will return to that mode when you turn it back on next. The SF36W also has a hidden strobe mode which alternates between a fast strobe and a slightly slower one. To turn on strobe, you must double-press twice while the light is on. After that, any press or click from strobe returns to the last used ‘normal’ mode. If you turn the light off with a full click, then when the light is turned on again, it will return to the mode last used before the strobe was activated.

The Sofirn SF36W is certainly not a thrower, but it has a decently tight hot spot which smoothly transitions to the spill. It’s actually a bit tighter spot than I normally prefer for my general use. However, the warm tone of the light means that the objects in my field of vision are more meaningful. What I mean by that is that it’s easier to actually ‘see’ what I’m looking at. When I shine the light at the grass, or a bush or tree, it looks like grass, or bush, or tree. With neutral white lights like I normally use, those things would look almost artificial. Everything looks like a white wash, with faded colors in the background. This warm white light brings the natural colors to the foreground. When shining the flashlight around, I don’t ‘see’ the light hitting the objects, I just ‘see’ the objects, and they are well lit. Even when white-wall hunting, the light doesn’t ‘look’ as bright to me. But it does its job. I could use the SF36W in place of a flashlight that has a wider hot spot and it would be at least as useful to me. The rating of 1000 lumens output on High means that the XP-L is under-driven. I think it could actually stand to be cranked up a bit. The head of the flashlight heats up some but not too much while shining on High mode. The SF36W should be safe enough for even a child to hold, as long as they aren’t handling the Li-Ion cell inside.

Speaking of Li-Ion cells, we need to talk about the cell that came with the SF36W. It’s a 18650-size cell re-wrapped by Sofirn. The label says it’s rated at 2800mAH capacity. I’m sorry that I currently don’t have a way to test and confirm the listed specs of the cell. I wish I did, because there are so many possible variables in the world of Li-Ion cells. But, there are a few things I can tell you. One is that I don’t think it’s a cheap cell or a fake because it has some amount of weight to it. High quality cells that I own include brands Sony, Sanyo, and Panasonic. The 18650 cells made by these brands weigh around 45 grams each on my digital kitchen scale. I also have a couple of rubbish 18650 something-or-others I bought online years ago, that weigh only 32 grams each. The Sofirn cell weighs 47 grams, which is perfectly in line with the quality cells, when considering the extra label material wrapped around the Sofirn cell. I also used this Sofirn cell in a few different flashlights, including the Sofirn flashlight in this review, and it seems to work well enough. I wouldn’t be afraid to use it myself or to recommend it to others at this point. I also tested the included charger by using it to recharge the Sofirn cell after it had been discharged in testing the flashlights. Once the LED on the charger changed from red to green to indicate the charge was complete, I tested the voltage of the cell with a digital multimeter. It was at 4.16 volts. It’s not the 4.2 volts that people look for when charging Li-Ion cells, but at least it erred on the side of safety by undercharging. I wouldn’t be afraid to use this charger for charging cells that I use in my own flashlights.

The Sofirn SF36W is a nice little flashlight for people who like a warmer color temp. This one comes with a cell and charger, making it a convenient buy. It can be carried in a jeans pocket, or clipped onto a belt, or kept in a woman’s hand-bag. It’s bright enough for normal daily use. It’s simple and intuitive to turn on/off and to change modes with the reverse-clicky switch and easy UI driver. The charger is simple but it works and should be safe. The cell works fine also. I could recommend this set to anybody I knew that was looking for a hand-held flashlight with warm white light output for general purpose use, as long as I knew they would properly handle the required lithium-ion rechargeable cells.

Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone.
-Ayn Rand

Lightbringer
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Concur! The SF36W is a really nice light!

I was gonna gift a bunch of lights for Christmas, but this one I’m keeping for myself. Big Smile

 

Now, if I only I could pull the pix off my phone for my own reviews… (Don’t ask.)

Or, just recreate the shots with my real camera. Ugh. Lotta work to redo…

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stephenk
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Good to see more warm white options, just a shame that it is yet another light with a two frequency strobe.

DavidEF
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I generally prefer the look of Neutral White light better. But, I must admit that for what a flashlight is really made for (lighting up stuff so you can see it) a Warm White light is much, much better. I feel like I’m actually seeing the objects rather than just seeing the light that’s shining upon the objects! It’s a huge difference! Even with less light (fewer lumens), the Warm White light gives me a better understanding of my surroundings. I’m not seeing more, I’m seeing better.

P.S. I really need to find a better word to use sometimes instead of better because I used the word better a lot in this post! Silly

Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone.
-Ayn Rand

stephenk
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I just use warm white for night photography as it contrasts well against cool white light.

Lightbringer
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DavidEF wrote:
P.S. I really need to find a better word to use sometimes instead of better because I used the word better a lot in this post! Silly

You’d better…

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vwpieces
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What is the Sheef Life of the battery?
Thanks for the review!

puglife2
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nice review! i ordered mine 3 days ago

I like warm lights and I can not lie