Astrolux MF04 thrower review (The BLF-GT killer?)

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ChibiM
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Astrolux MF04 thrower review (The BLF-GT killer?)

ASTROLUX MF04 REVIEW


 

INTRODUCTION:

Throughout the review I will talk about the Atrolux MF04, but it is the same light as the Mateminco MT35 Plus.

From specs this is going to go after the BLF GT that I also reviewed. The MF04 is going to be a very interesting competitor when it comes to long-range flashlights.

I, and many others, have been looking forward to this extreme far reaching flashlight since it was announced. It is supposed to reach as far as the BLF GT, but then at a lower price.

 Specifications:

Brand/Model   Astrolux MF04
LED XHP35-HI (CW)

Working voltage

8.4V
Battery 4x18650
Switch Side only
Modes 4+3
Blinkies SOS,Strobe, Beacon
Mode changing Side Switch
Anodizing HAIII

Tailstand

Yes
Lock-out Electronic
Momentary On No
Lens Coated
Reflector Smooth
Waterproof IPX7

 

WHAT YOU'LL GET IN THE PACKAGE:

  • Astrolux MF04 flashlight
  • Carton box with a plastic handle
  • Atrolux Manual
  • Spare O-ring
  • Tripod mount screw
  • Carry strap

After waiting for 2 months for shipping I finally received it, after paying $60 on import taxes. Here in the Netherlands we have strict import rules, and this one didn't get throught it, even the invoice said it was valued at $60..... so I paid the same for import fees and taxes as the light itself.

But nevertheless I finally received the flashlight. Inside a carton box with enough padding.

HANDLING OF THE LIGHT

Keep in mind that this is not an EDC flashlight LOL. The body seems to be a little off-balance compared to the longer BLF GT. Although the body is much shorter than the BLF GT it does however provide enough grip. Because the head is so big compared to the body, it is a little front-heavy. Depending on how strong your wrists are, this might become a little annoying when using it extensively.

The switch is a bit recessed in the body which is a Pro! This means that it is less likely to activate accidentaly. And it also helps to "find" the swith on the feel when in complete darkness.

Does it tail-stand?

  • Yep!

TRIPOD HOLE

Because I do photography, I own a Manfrotto tripod with a special 029 head. It uses the Manfrotto hexagonal quick release plate! And guess what! This light also doesn't fit, just like the BLF GT :--)

But Astrolux did something differently. They changed the size of the screw-in tripod mount hole to a larger size so you could use a different kind of tripod. But they also included an attachment in the plastic bag, that makes the tripod hole the regular size. Just notice that this little attachment is actually screwed onto the lanyard attachment.

astrolux-in-hand

BUILD QUALITY AND ANODIZING 

Anodization is the actual coating on the flashlight. The quality of this particular light is fine. It is however rather sensitive for finger prints etc. I was lubing the big O-ring behind the front lens element, and touched the head afterwards that left some clear fingerprints. Check the pictures below.

For the rest the build quality has nothing to complain about. The bezel was rather easy to take off, and below I will be talking more about the threads etc.

THREADS 

The threads came slightly lubed, and werent sharp. The threads between body and head fit well, as well as the threading on the tailcap. Again, this is done professionally without any problems.

LED, LENS BEZEL AND REFLECTOR

The reflector is made of aluminum and is smooth. But not as smooth as butter :--). If you look up close you can still see some machine-rings. Plastic reflectors tend to be the smoothest.

  • Diameter head in: 118 mm
  • Diameter head outside: 135 mm

The bezel is of aluminum, and not stainless steel unfortunately: -). This makes it a little less bling..

The dimensions are  equal to the BLF GT. See the comparison below. The BLF GT on the left, and the Astrolux MF04 on the right.

THE LED

XHP35-Hi LED for max throw but without having a pencil-type-beam.

DIMENSIONS:

Flashlight manufacturers mainly show dimensions in millimeters.

  • Length Astrolux MF-04: 235 mm
  • MF04 head diameter: 136 mm 
  • MF04 Width reflector: 125 mm 
  • Width body and tailcap: 52 mm
  • Lens Diameter 131.7 mm
  • Lens thickness 3.14 mm

WEIGHT:

  • Weight Astrolux MF04 empty: 1290 gr / 2.84 lb.
  • Weight Astrolux MF04- with Samsung Q30*4: 1460 grams / 3.2 lb.

Compared to the BLF GT, the head is the same! So in theory they would "throw" the same as well, unless of course there is a different emitter and driver used..... which there is. Check the pics below for comparion.

BATTERY CARRIER:

The battery carrier has a metal construction. It is best to use high drain, button-top 18650 batteries . The carrier is designed specifically for buttton tops, and flat tops won't touch the positive pole.  At the positive poles on the battery carrier are plastic rings/washer to prevent from reversepolarity, inserting your batteries the wrong way can cause a short. The good thing is that these little plastic washers are easy to pry off.

Protected batteries won't fit!

My Panasonic NCR18650B's cells with protection do not fit because they are too long for this battery-carrier. So you have to use un-protected batteries.

See the pictures below how this works. One thing to keep in mind, that it is easy to pry off, but impossible to put back. LOL.

WARNING : this will probably void any warranty! So do it at your own risk!

Solution: Another way to use flat-top batteries is by using small magnets. But you need to be very careful because they could end up making a short as well. So I wouldn't recommend this for long-time use, unless you'd solder them to the batteries.

USER INTERFACE:

Fortunately this one has a simple user interface again, unlike the BLF GT :--)

There are 2 mode groupt. 1 main, and 1 for the blinkies.

The main group has 4 modes,: Moon, Medium, High and Turbo. The second (and hidden) mode group consisnt of a Strobe, SOS and Beacon.
A Beacon mode can help save lives.. It will flash at max power for a split second. This extend battery life to max, and you are still able to show your location! SOS could be used as well, but the batteries would run out of juist much quicker.

The UI

From the OFF position:

  • 1 short click: back to last mode
  • Double click: Turbo
  • Triple click: blinkies menu
  • Long press: electronic lock-out

From the ON position:

  • 1 short click: runs through the menu from mMoon to Max.
  • Double click: Turbo
  • Triple click: blinky modes (with a single click you go through the 3 options.)
  • Long press: flashlight turns off

Blinkies:

Yes, the MF04 has some blinky modes, and you can enter the blinky menu by clicking 3 times quickly from the OFF position. It will start at Strobe, then with a single click to SOS and Location Beacon. Yet another click will turn the light off again.

MOMENTARY ON:
  • Nope!

ELECTRONIC LOCK-OUT:

  • Press and hold the switch for about 3-4 seconds when the flashlight is turned off. If you use the switch, nothing will happens. Hold it again for 3-4 seconds to return to normal use.

BACKGROUND LIGHTING

  • Behind the switch cover is a very small LED. This stays on as long as the light is turned off. When you do a lock-out, the LED will switch off! This can be handy to save some battery life.

PERFORMANCE:

Unfortuately I had a very hard time to measure the battery amps. And it is impossible to unsolder 1 LED wire to measure amps, and didn't want to break anything before taking it outside. I think it is more important for this kind of flashilght to measure "throw" and not battery life. 

Another thing that you need to keep in mind is that the battery life really depends on a few factors, and not just the mAh a battery is supposed to have. Some batteries will last longer than others while in Turbo mode. So sorry I don't have any numbers here at the moment.

HOW FAR CAN THE ASTROLUX MF04 THROW?

Everyone is waiting for this one... will it out-throw the BLF GT?

Fist I measure indoors at 5 meters (16.4ft). But you have to calculate the Lux into Candle (cd) first and this little tool helps with doing that: https://www.rapidtables.com/calc/light/lux-to-candela-calculator.html

Measured at 5 meters

  • Astrolux MF04 throw is: 825kcd on Turbo (4 Samsung 30Q batteries)
  • BLF GT throw is: 802kcd on Turbo (4 Samsung 30Q batteries)

Measured at  10 meters

  • Astrolux MF04 throw is: 1.027Mcd on Turbo (4 Samsung 30Q batteries)
  • BLF GT throw is: 810kcd on Turbo (4 Samsung 30Q batteries)

Measured at  15 meters

  • Astrolux MF04 throw is: 1.19Mcd on Turbo (4 Samsung 30Q batteries)
  • BLF GT throw is: 814kcd on Turbo (4 Samsung 30Q batteries)
  • BLF GT throw is: 834kcd on Turbo (4 Samsung 30Q batteries + 4* Pana NCRB)

I tested them both with the same Samsung Q30 flat top batteries (using the magnet trick I mentioned earlier for the MF04). My measurements always seem to be a little on the lower end compared to others. Astrolux claims a throw of MAX 1460000cd 1.4million candela. 

Conclusion is that my Astrolux MF04 throws quite a bit farther than the BLF GT!

OVERALL CONCLUSION OF THE ASTROLUX MF04

 

PROS:

  1. Cheaper than the BLF GT
  2. #1 LED FLASHLIGHT with the most throw
  3. One of the farthest reaching LED flashlights in the world
  4. Carry strap included
  5. Simple user interface (and I am really glad about that!)

CONS

  1. Tripod hole has 2 sizes (in case your tripod has a different size screw)
  2. Because of the nature of this beast, the light is a little front heavy.
  3. Still not cheap
  4. Anodizing is a little sensitive for fingerprints

OVERALL RATING

 
Excellent

So far so good. I have only tested it for functioning, quality and throw, and it's come out very very positive. I must say that I don't have it long enough to say something about the long-time use. If I think I need to downgrade it.. I will do it here. Currently this is the farthest throwing stock LED flashlight in the world.

 
Edited by: ChibiM on 08/03/2018 - 16:32
klrman
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Thanks for the review Chibim, easy to follow and right to the point   After reading it, I am now even more eager for my Mateminco MT70 Plus to arrive as I am expecting  the same overall quality of the MF04.  

I wonder if they made the battery cage smaller on the MF04 than the MF02 as you are the second person that said protected cells don't fit.  I have no problem with my Protected Keeppower 18650's fitting inside the MF02 cage but maybe they are shorter than the NCR18650B's, I will have to measure them. 

ChibiM
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You might be correct klrman. I dont own the MF02. And maybe the pannies are longer!

maukka
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Looks like your GT is underperforming quite a bit.

And too bad about the missing momentary turbo. That’s the greatest thing.

There’s a typo in the first table saying XHP35-HD.

LichtAn
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Nice review! Big Smile
Interesting that even going from 10 to 15 meters gives you such a big difference. I measured 1.1Mcd at 14m. But sadly that’s about the whole length of our house, so I can’t go away any further. Is yours cool or neutral?

P.S.: In your specifications it says XHP35-*HD*

ChibiM
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Thats what I thought already from the beginning. But that might have been my lux meter I thought. But after all my MF04 outperformed my GT.

 

Good point. The GT is neutral and MF04 is CW.

 

Edit: table updated with correct LED

wolfdog1226
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Thanks for the review!

How many Lumens is it? I do not see that mentioned.

It certainly throws very far! I would say it may be the longest throwing STOCK flashlight in the world!

The TN42vn w/ Oslon and GTvn W/ CFT-90 throw further. The Oslon w/ much less lumen and the CFT-90 with much more.

My TN42vn 90 is close in output but w/ the huge hot spot and massive lumens is my choice.

I prefer a light w/ more lumens and great throw like the MF04 and especially my TN42vn 90 [5000L/1Mcd} than a pencil beam light.Although, my only Oslon thrower is an Eagletac M25C2vn T and it is 552Kcd!

TN42vn w/ Oslon

Spec 5 Oslon Flat Black 6500K – Pencil beam, Max Throw, Low output
Lumen: 700-850
Intensity: 1.1-1.3Mcd
Throw: 2098-2280m

TN42vn 90

*Spec 6 CFT-90 5500K – Best Lumen with near max throw in neutral tint
Lumen: 5000
Intensity: 1Mcd
Throw: 2000m

  • For the CFT-90 CW and NW have the same specs/output. That is not the norm but for this LED it is.

GT w/ CFT-90
Spec 5: CFT-90 5500K, ~4500-5000 Lumen, +1.5Mcd, +2450m Throw

Nothing is set in stone. There are obviously some variables. the biggest is these are measured by Three different people w/ Astrolux having very high numbers. I would tend to believe V54’s numbers and your numbers,,,even if they are a bit low.

I am sure if those[Oslon/CFT-90] LED’S were put in the MF04 it would also do very well! Cool

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Environment molds a person. Perseverance changes them. 

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Very nice review!! Thorough & straight forward. Thank you…… Thumbs Up

You never know how a horse will pull until you hook him up to a heavy load./"Bear" Bryant 

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Flashaholics
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Hey Chibi, have you tried hitting a white building from around the claimed 2416m away yet?

My 4K Lumen Whore Reviews (MS18, X70, MS12, DX80, X80-GT, X45vn etc) - https://www.youtube.com/c/FLASHAHOLICS_GB

klrman
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ChibiM wrote:

You might be correct klrman. I dont own the MF02. And maybe the pannies are longer!

 

Just measured them.  My Protected Keeppowers are the same length as my Protected NCR18650B's from HKE but my  NCR's from Banggood are a few mm longer.

ChibiM
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Last week I went out and tried to do a short video.... failed... I saw the beams really clear in the sky, but the camera on my phone didnt pick it up. I probably have to go out and do it again. So there was a building I shined upon, but I dont know how far that was.. probably only 1km or less. 

 

Also I dont have a way to measure lumens yet. I bought a styrofoam ball which should become a sort of integrating sphere... but havent come round yet. 

Thanks Klrman. so it might be the different protection used on these cells.. Mine didnt fit. 

tatasal
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klrman wrote:

Thanks for the review Chibim, easy to follow and right to the point   After reading it, I am now even more eager for my Mateminco MT70 Plus to arrive as I am expecting  the same overall quality of the MF04.  


I wonder if they made the battery cage smaller on the MF04 than the MF02 as you are the second person that said protected cells don’t fit.  I have no problem with my Protected Keeppower 18650’s fitting inside the MF02 cage but maybe they are shorter than the NCR18650B’s, I will have to measure them. 

MT35Plus (left), MT35 (right):
Virtually the same dimensions, aluminium ends on the +, brass on the MT35, with protected Samsungs bought from FT several years ago.


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I have a mf04 and like reading reviews.. thanks for doing it..

Most astrolux will take any flat top and doesnt have to remove the white insulator..

I think mf04 have about 250 more lumen than blf gt.

Op, which do you like better ?

klrman
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tatasal wrote:
klrman wrote:

 

MT35Plus (left), MT35 (right): Virtually the same dimensions, aluminium ends on the +, brass on the MT35 !{width:70%}[img]https://i.imgur.com/6HbYj77.jpg[/img]! !{width:70%}[img]https://i.imgur.com/ZRjOL9j.jpg[/img]! !{width:70%}[img]https://i.imgur.com/G0JnKBA.jpg[/img]! 

 

Thought they were the same.

klrman
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ChibiM wrote:

 

Thanks Klrman. so it might be the different protection used on these cells.. Mine didnt fit. 

 

I have a spare battery cage and just tried to insert my longest protected NCR18650B from Bangood into and it went in no problem.  Maybe your batteries are even longer, who knows but I did zoom into your pic with the NCR's in the cage and I have a feeling they may fit as the bottom spring is not fully compressed in the picture.  I need to fully compresses my spring to fit the NCRs in, but it takes no effort to do so.

ChibiM
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Mine really dont fit, even if I use force. My favorite would be the MF04, because of the smaller size and weight..even though its front heavy. I also like the easy UI, without program modes.

klrman
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Has to be the longer batteries then.  

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That’s weird.. I can insert keeppower protected button top and acebeam protected into mf04 carrier.. fits perfect.. length is 69 mm.

1_DE9_D055-5_F5_A-4_F5_C-_B715-378_B21_EBC51_A
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ChibiM
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Look at the fist picture of the battery carrier. It just won't fit. I might have to change the decription as it might be specifically jist my protected pannies, but probably depending on the brand/protection. 

Kvistxxl
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Great review!
I’m going to buy the mf04 and batteries.
I just had a few questions. Does it have to be unprotected cells? And also, is button tops to be prefered?

ChibiM
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i wouldn't get protected button tops! Unprotected button tops are what you need!

Kvistxxl
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Okay, thanks!
Found the Samsung 30Q button top on NKON, will go for them then.

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Sounds like a good plan!