ThorFire S1 Dive Light Review

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Kalihi
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ThorFire S1 Dive Light Review

ThorFire has asked me to do a review of their S1 dive light, so here are some of my thoughts and photos.




L-R: ThorFire TD26 26650 Dive Light, Thrunite T10, ThorFire S1 Dive Light

My usage case is night snorkeling and swimming – not SCUBA diving. My previous night snorkeling light was the ThorFire TD26. I had waited for a while to do this review, since the light got to me during a time of year when the waters near me are pretty silty with low visibility, but I decided that I couldn’t keep ThorFire waiting any longer.

Controls and Interface:


The S1 has only a single control: a ring that rotates counter-clockwise from off to low, then medium, then high. It seems like a good idea, but didn’t prove as handy as I had expected when underwater. First, the handle, while at a good angle for use while walking on land, puts the light at an angle where angling it down to the seafloor puts your wrist at a really awkward angle, making it impractical to use your hands to assist in swimming while obtaining useful illumination at the same time. Second, holding the light in a standard flashlight grip, which would have put the controls at my fingertips, was difficult due to the girth of the light preventing my fingers securely wrapping around it while holding it with a relaxed grip at a useful angle, which made holding on to the light while paddling with my hands (or counter-balancing a paddle from my free hand) a chore. What I actually ended up doing was more loosely holding the light with my fingers cupped/wrapped around the base of the body with the light pointing away from my palm. This gave me a lot of flexibility for angling the light while still being decently secure in my grip thanks to the shape of the base, while also still allowing me to use my partially cupped palm below the light for maneuvering myself in the water. The downside to this grip was that my fingers were as far away from the control ring as possible, somewhat defeating its usefulness.

On land, holding the light by the handle means that the tabs on the control ring never quite fall where your thumb or index finger can reach them, and the ring is too slick to move without contact with those tabs. But the tabs are positioned perfectly for when you wrap your hand around the body of the light. It’s just a question of whether or not you’re comfortable wrapping your hand around a body that wide – significantly larger in diameter than a SRK/BLF Q8 style light. Ultimately, I love the control ring idea, but the execution still needs more work on its ergonomics for this light.

Beam:
Definitely a wider beam than the TD26 (which was similar to a Convoy C8 XM-L2), maybe similar to a Nitecore MH20. It’s a good balance for underwater use.


ThorFire TD26 (beam left to right) and ThorFire S1 (right to left)

Mode Spacing:
ThorFire doesn’t provide the lumen numbers or run times for this light. I would guestimate Low to be around 500 lumens, Mid to be around 1,000 lumens, and High to be 2,000+ lumens.

Color Temperature/Tint/Color Rendering:
Color temperature is very neutral, with color rendition comparable to that of the 4750K-5000K LEDs in the BLF Q8. Very nice! In comparison, my TD26 has slightly less saturated colors and a minor yet noticeable greenish tint.

Construction and Fit/finish:
This is a well-put-together beast of a light! The S1 has three Cree XP-L emitters, each with its own deep, yet relatively narrow reflector. A reversible battery carrier takes four 18650 cells, button or flat top. When the carrier is inserted one way, jolting the light forwards will cause the light to momentarily shut off. When inserted in the other direction, jolting the light backwards will cause it to momentarily shut off. I suspect that this is due to a combination of relatively weak battery springs and my use of short, unprotected flat-top cells. Sometimes, tail-standing the light (something it does very, very stably!) and then sliding it across a rough surface is enough to get the light flickering. It isn’t really a problem – just a quirk.


The battery carrier, which works fine with flat-top cells.

All edges on the body are nicely broken and the anodizing is very uniform. The grip groves on the body work pretty well and don’t damage neoprene gloves.


The threads between the body and the head are triangular-cut and non-anodized.


Two of the three lenses have swirls on the inside, kind of like someone tried to clean them incorrectly. It doesn’t seem to affect the beam, though.

Waterproofness:
The light can be opened only in one place – the junction between the body and the head. This junction is sealed with two O-rings. I have never seen any water get past the O-rings, but again, I just snorkel, so I don’t go very deep.

Overall:
Interestingly, I found more use for this light above the water than under it. The handle works great for carrying the light naturally at your side as you walk and still keeping the light pointed where you need it. The simple interface lets you hand the light to non-enthusiasts without needing to teach them mode shortcuts. And the ultra-stable tail-standing ability and large battery capacity makes it great for ceiling-bouncing during power outages. Color rendering is surprisingly good as well.

But the ergonomics just didn’t quite mesh with me for underwater use. Replacing the handle with a pistol grip would help, but that would still keep you from easily reaching the ring to adjust the light with one hand (which I frequently need to do for underwater photos or video). Still, the light’s four-cell runtime certainly ensures the S1 has appeal for use underwater or in other conditions where changing batteries is difficult.

Edited by: Kalihi on 02/08/2018 - 02:16