Astrolux MF02S NW review (XHP70.2, 4x18650)

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maukka
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Astrolux MF02S NW review (XHP70.2, 4x18650)

Disclaimer: The Astrolux MF02S was provided for testing by Banggood free of charge

Product page: https://www.banggood.com/Preview-Astrolux-MF02S-XHP70_2-6000Lumens-8Mode...

Tracking link for purchase: https://goo.gl/Qy7A5b
Coupon code code 7dc412 for a discounted price of $108

There seems to be a trend for flashlight manufacturers to release high output XHP70.2 versions of their previous XHP35 HI throwers. Astrolux did this to the MF02 and came up with the MF02S. The body is physically identical to the original, but instead of the small die domeless emitter there’s the big boy in its place.

If you’re here only for the numbers, here they are:

Manufacturer’s specifications
Battery: 4×18650 (accepts button tops by default, protected and unprotected both fit)
LED: Cree XHP70.2 in neutral (5000 K) or cool white (6500 K)
Reflector: smooth (SMO)
Lens: -
Waterproof: IPX7
Switch type: electronic side switch
Mode memory: yes
Low voltage protection: yes
Thermal regulation: yes
Lockout: electronic and physical
Tripod socket: yes
Body material: Aluminum
Anodizing: HAIII
Color: black

Manufacturer’s output specs
Maximum output: 6000 lumens
Other output levels: 35, 508, 934, 2800
Light intensity: 270000 cd
Beam distance: 1039 m
Special modes: strobe, sos, beacon

Measured dimensions and weight
Length: 189 mm
Head width: 84.3 mm
Handle width: 52.0 mm
Tripod plate maximum width: 24mm
Weight: 815 g plus 185 g for the batteries

Box and contents

The light comes in an all white cardboard box with a shiny outline of the MF02S embossed on it.

Bundled in the box with the light:
Holster
Lanyard
Shoulder strap
Two spare o-rings
Manual
Tripod adapter / mounting ring

Physical appearance

The side switch is located in a recess, so it’s not too easily activated by accident. It also has a green breathing backlight which makes the light easy to find in the dark.

Battery carrier holds four 18650s in 2S2P configuration (8.4 volts with full batteries). The carrier can be inserted to the body both ways. There is no electrical contacts on the body or tailcap. Both the positive and negative are at the end of the battery carrier and make contact at the head.

There’s white spacers at the positive ends in the carrier which prevents contact if the batteries are inserted the wrong way round, but also prevents the use of flat tops. These can easily be removed though.

I would periodically check the screws that hold the posts together to the end caps. Continuous inserting and removing of batteries may loosen them as you twist and turn the carrier in your hands.

The tripod hole acts as the mounting point for the lanyard and shoulder strap ring. Many tripod base plates will be too big and hit the large fins on the light.

The bezel is well tightened and will probably not open without proper tools. I couldn’t open it after 5 minutes of trying even with rubber strap wrenches. It would probably need heating and a lot of elbow grease.

The driver resides under a heavy duty retaining ring attached with torx screws. There’s a double spring on the driver.

The body is physically identical to the original MF02. The finish is smoother and shinier than my early sample of the MF02. The switch has also been redesigned and is now less protruding and mushy. A clear upgrade! Astrolux uses the new switch on the current MF02 as well.

MF02S top, MF02 with XHP35 HI bottom.

User interface

The light is operated via an electronic side switch. There’s a green pulsing backlight that helps locating it in the dark. The firmware is not complicated but also lacks any programmability. For more options check out Lexel’s driver offerings, with which you can convert this light to a 4S battery configuration with NarsilM user interface. Assuming you are able to remove the darn glued bezel!

Operation is very simple. Click to turn the light on (last mode memory), click to advance modes (low-med1-med2-high-turbo), long click to turn off. Turbo shortcut is a double click.

Special modes are activated via a triple click and advanced with a single click (strobe-sos-beacon-off). Special modes are not memorized.

Electronic lockout is activated with a long press from off, which is a poor choice, as it’s disengaged the same way. This makes it easy to accidentally unlock the light when it’s pressed down in a bag for example. Thankfully physical lockout is possible by a half turn of the tailcap. Use that instead.

What is lacking is a shortcut to the low mode from off. For this, you have to first unscrew the tailcap to cut power. This is easy to notice as the switch backlight turns off when power is lost.

Triple click for special mode has to be done fast enough, and isn’t easily activated by accident when cycling normal modes.

Size and beamshot comparison

The shootout comprises of
Astrolux MF02S (NW XHP70.2)
Convoy L6 (NW shaved XHP70)
Acebeam K60 (NW CRI90 shaved XHP70)
BLF Q8 (NW XP-L HD)

The Astrolux MF02S is stock of course. The BLF Q8 has the stock emitters, but the tailcap springs have been bypassed for a boost in output. The Acebeam K60 has had its original cool white XHP70 replaced with a high CRI and shaved (dome removed) XHP70. The Convoy L6 has the stock XHP70 emitter dedomed. No mods to the electronics were done, so the latter two have lower output than they would if they were stock.

To be honest, the MF02S makes all the other look kinda wimpy. It has an addictive mix of flood and throw and the tint rainbow doesn’t look that bad in a mixed real life environment. The low CRI is visible most of the time, and that’s where the modded Acebeam K60 shines.

Individual beamshots
Astrolux MF02S
Convoy L6
Acebeam K60
BLF Q8

Individual beamshots
Astrolux MF02S
Convoy L6
Acebeam K60
BLF Q8

Beam and tint

The beam exhibits the largest tint shift I’ve tested to date. The light starts quite neutral from the hotspot, turns warmer and greener in the corona and returns back to the original tint in the spill. This was expected as the XHP70.2 is known for it especially when used with a large smooth reflector.

With the combination Astrolux has managed to make the MF02S quite throwy, but it’s the potential buyers responsibility to decide whether they want that at the cost of beam consistency. The big beam with a very intense hotspot will undoubtedly draw attention and there’s nothing wrong with that. I just prefer an even tint in my flashlights.

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

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.

CRI data on turbo measured from the hotspot

CRI data on Medium 2

CRI data on Low

Output and runtimes

The unregulated output handily exceeds manufacturer’s specification of 6000 lumens. With half drained batteries the maximum output drops just a little to 6550 lumens (at 30 sec). Output stays very high even on mostly discharged batteries. Throw isn’t as good as promised at 185 kcd (880 m) vs. spec of 270 kcd (1039 m).

Mode spacing is badly chosen and not even close to what the manual states (35-508-934-2800-6000). The visual difference between med 1, med 2 and high is very small (1.5x), but significantly larger from low to med 1 (38x!) and from high to turbo (2.4x). Ideally the low mode would be lower and there should be at least one mode between it and medium 1. Medium 2 is not needed.

Better spacing could be for example:
Moon (1-3 lm) – 100 – 400 – 1200 – 3000 – 7000

Total system efficacy is very good at an average of 125-143 lm/W throughout the runtime depending on mode.

The beam is quite throwy at 26 cd/lm thanks to the big smooth reflector.

Standby drain

There’s significant parasitic drain on the batteries when the light is switched off but the switch backlight is active. This is understandable due to the electronic soft switch and especially its backlight

Standby current
3.7 mA at 8 V
3.3 mA at 6 V

Electronic lockout mode doesn’t significantly change the drain (other than it being steadier at 3.5 mA because the switch led is off).

It would only take about a month to drain four 3000 mAh batteries.

Remember to always physically lock out the light by opening the tailcap when the light is not in use!

Low voltage protection

Low voltage protection turns the light off at 5.43 V (2.72 V per cell)

Switch backlight turns from green to red at 6.84 volts (3.42 V per cell)

Starts blinking red at 6.07 volts (3.04 V per cell)

Flicker

I measure the flicker optically from the LED with a Thorlabs DET36A/M photodetector and an oscilloscope.

Thanks to the high frequency there is no visible flicker, even though high amplitude ripple is imminent on a scope on any other mode than turbo.

Flicker frequency: 20 kHz
Snob index: 0% (not visible)

Flicker measurement on low

Medium 2

Other modes
Medium 1
High
Turbo

Temperature

My testing was done indoors in 25°C ambient temperature.

Despite high power output (and consumption), the MF02S doesn’t get very hot. The temperature limit is set quite low so it steps down quickly and you can hold the light indefinitely on any mode. Highest I measured was 52°C at the one hour mark after the light had been first started on turbo. Medium 2 is well below uncomfortable at 45°C.

For some the temperature regulation might feel too aggressive. Reactivating turbo is possible, but if the light hasn’t cooled off enough it’ll step down almost instantly. It could feel frustrating, since the light isn’t even too hot to the touch yet. For sensitive hands the behavior has its advantages, since you’ll never hurt yourself.

Verdict

Astrolux took its MF02 and replaced the throwy XHP35 HI LED with one of the highest output emitters, the XHP70.2. The result is an addictive mix of flood and throw from a relatively reasonable sized light. It makes many other lights look underpowered.

The heavy construction instills serious confidence. The light weighs a lot more than you’d expect just by looking at it. Thanks to all the mass the MF02S doesn’t heat up like lightweight hotrods, but pumps out oodles of light. Even more than the manufacturer’s spec (7200 vs. 6000 lumens). Most of it is also available with nearly empty batteries.

Throw, however, is nowhere near the advertised value of 270 kcd at 185 kcd. In throw distance the difference doesn’t seem so huge though (1039 m vs. 860 m) and it’s still more than on many popular smaller throwers (~130 kcd Lumintop GT Mini or Emisar D1S for example). But only for shorter bursts due to the stepdown which drops the intensity to the 60 kcd range.

One known recipe stands: XHP70.2 + smooth reflector equals huge tint shift in the beam. If you can’t decide between a cool and neutral white or green and rosy tint, the MF02S is for you. It has all the color temperatures and tints you could ever want. All within the same beam. And no, this is usually not a good thing. But if you just want a whole lot of light and long runtimes even at 1000 lumens this may be the one for you.

UI deserves some critique as well. There’s no direct access to the lowest mode from off, and the light has mode memory. So if you previously had it on turbo, you must first remember to unscrew the tailcap to reset the output to low as not to blind your dark adapted eyes. Long press for electronic lockout and release is also stupid. Mode spacing needs a rework as the three middle modes are too close to each other.

Always remember to open the tailcap when you don’t use the light. Otherwise the light will drain a set of batteries in about a month and ruin your batteries.

+Massive output of over 7000 lumens with addictive mix of flood and throw
+Most of the output is accessible even with almost completely discharged batteries
+More throw than on some smaller dedicated throwers (at least for short bursts)
+Great efficiency (lots of light for a long time)
+Will not burn your hands
+Good tactile switch
+Comes with a holster, lanyard and a shoulder strap
-Bad mode spacing
-Temperature limit very conservative and not user adjustable
-UI is not programmable
-Output not regulated (flat)
-Large tint shift within the beam
-Very high parasitic drain in standby mode (just one month to drain a set of 3000 mAh batteries)
-Long click for electronic lockout and release
-No shortcut to lowest mode from off (unless cutting power first)
-Lowest mode quite high at 34 lumens
-Bezel is glued on very tight, not modder friendly

Edited by: maukka on 08/22/2018 - 07:21
BlueSwordM
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Oh I absolutely loved it when you said Tint shift is too large for the measurement to be meaningful

I would love it if Cree would offer factory domeless emitters, rather than us having to dedome the emitters ourselves to get a passable tint.

Also, for some reason, this driver looks like a beefed up S42 driver, meaning it’s crap.

It’s using a badly regulated boost driver, has a bad UI, no shortcut to lowest mode, long click for lockout, high parasitic drain.

Personally, if not for the high lumen throw, I would just get the XHP70.2 Haikelite MT07S.

Much better UI, except for NarsilM, using an 80CRI 4800k XHP70.2, perfectly flat regulation across all modes, direct access to moonlight, very low moonlight, and low parasitic drain.

Edit: Corrected some things.

maukka
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BlueSwordM wrote:
Oh I absolutely loved it when you said Tint shift is too large to be measured

No problem measuring it, but no use stating the color temperature or duv with a single number in the table since it’s so different depending on where you measure.

“Tint shift is too large for the measurement to be meaningful”

I don’t think it’s a FET. You get almost maximum output by resetting turbo with low battery, so it has to boost.

BlueSwordM
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Oh sorry, forgot to copy the rest of the sentence Facepalm

Thanks maukka.

On one hand, if it wasn’t for the massive tint shift of an XHP70.2 and bad driver, that would have been such an awesome light.

What kind of sag is there though if it’s a boost driver? I don’t think it’s driver thermal throttling, or cost cutting high power parts, or just bad design. Otherwise, it would not suffer on lower modes.

Is it because of the springs perhaps limiting the max current by quite a bit, and the driver has to pump constantly higher current because of the voltage sag, or is it something else entirely perhaps?

Bad feedback loop? I don’t really know.

TheShadowGuy
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The huge tint shift and horrid mode spacing… Sick

Excellent review even though it is disappointing to see such a promising light have so many dealbreaking issues.

Dioda
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Thanks for the great review. It is such a shame to see the potential of the MF02 host ruined by crappy driver, pathetic mode spacing, high parasitic drain and too cautious thermal control. NOT for me, at least in the stock form.

EasyB
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I don’t understand why some of these light companies have such inaccurate output and intensity specs. Sometimes it’s motivated by dishonesty just trying to sell more lights to the people who don’t know any better. But sometimes like here with the output actually underestimated, it seems like it’s just sloppy and inadequate preparation.

Edit: this does look like a great light, still. I was just in a bad mood when I made the above comment.

adam7027
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Thanks Maukka for your work you put in reviewing this flashlight.

Contrary to a few definitely attractive properties of the MF02S, with this aggressive gluing + dull and unusable emitter (Sorry Cree, I have to be honest) regarding tint and beam quality + limited driver UI, I have no current interest in this light.

Astrolux, please:
1. don’t glue the bezel (deal breaker because of the 2.)
2. forget XHP70.2 AND 70 CRI (probably the worst combination for a ‘mainstream’ emitter) – plenty of light without proper color fidelity is not that useful, even less useful, when it is far from consistent across the beam (currently, the main deal breaker for me)
3. if XHP70.2 is necessary for a given flashlight, use M4 binned 90 CRI emitter (M4 is available for 5000K CCT and above XHP70.2 – and is just 3 bin lower, than P2), as besides the better color rendering ability, they suffer still much, but noticeably less from tint shift
4. implement ramping, or provide more even mode spacings for the driver UI (e.g. 15 lm, 120lm, 600lm, 1800lm, 3500lm, 6000+ lm)
5. also, please provide at least two different presets for heat management (e.g. the current cautious, and one with +10°C limits)

I am still happy with my NW MF02 purchase, as XHP35 beam seems to suffer much less from tint shift – but unless these issues won’t get addressed, the MF02S would be a step back from MF02 for me.

lexvegas
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Thanks for posting the review! I just got mine in today and was a bit sad I didn’t have one of your amazing reviews yet. Smile

I have to agree on all points. I will certainly be breaking in to mine and either hacking on the driver in-place or doing a custom driver at some point.

I also got it in my head this was a 1×26650 light, so you can imagine my surprise when I opened the package. . .

Ed: I would love to see a OP reflector for this.

Newlumen
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Thanks for the review.. so mf02s do 7570 turn on and 7180 @ 30 sec.. thats crazy.. are you sure banggood didnt send you a special version of mf02s ? Just kidding.

I have a modded mf02 xhp70.2 and it only do 5800 lumen.. mf04s is doing 6230 lumen.

If this mf02s is doing 7000 lumen, then i might have look into it.

sb56637
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Fantastic review Maukka, thanks very much! That is an enviable light indeed.

Budget Light Forum ...where Frugal meets with Flashlight!

will34
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Thanks for the review… I wish the turbo stepdown could be less severe, for a light this size it can do a lot more than 2,000lm.

Mark M
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I have one on the way, bought directly from Mateminco on Aliexpress. I also have a driver coming from Lexel so it will be interesting to see what I can manage to do stock and modded, maybe I won’t have to switch the emitter but I have a few 5000K 70.2 sitting here ready. Plus way better firmware so I am excited!

Thanks for the review.

ledstadium
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Thanks for sharing the reviews it is very informative.. Thumbs Up

maukka
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Banggood asked me, so here’s a tracking link and a coupon code.

Tracking link for purchase: https://goo.gl/Qy7A5b
Coupon code code 7dc412 for a discounted price of $108

lexvegas
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I had a go at removing the bezel today, took a mini butane torch to the bezel and got it pretty hot. No Joy. The strap wrenches just twist eventually. I even checked if it was a sneaky left hand thread!

I’m not giving up, but it certainly is on there tight. I’m willing to ding the finish, especially on the bezel, as the light really does need a new UI.

Mark M
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I put my flashlight head in a vice and used an oil filter wrench. I folded a few paper towels to protect the stainless steel from the oil filter wrench and the finish on the head from the vice. I also had to grind down a spot weld on my oil wrench so it would not damage the head. It still took considerable force.

lexvegas
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That’s what I’m thinking I’m going to do, too. Did you still have to heat yours? I have a 3000K 80+ CRI 70.2 on the way from mtn, and i’m planning my own custom buck driver for Narsil/Andruil.

Mark M
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No heat.

lexvegas
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Just finally got it off! Had to mount it in my vice with terry cloth, jaws across the switch/mounting hole. Took some serious effort. Red loctite.

lexvegas
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Yeah, totally marred the F out of the head. Guess I’ll just file it down and move on. I’d rather have a functional UI with a good emitter than a shelf queen I dislike using.

lexvegas
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Is there anodizing fix paint available? Lol.

Mark M
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Ugh I should have mentioned my vice jaws have no teeth. Eek. Black sharpie or reanodize?

lexvegas
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I’m thinking I’ll just sand it down and maybe do a “contrast” plasti dip in orange where I dug in. For those in the future. I’d recommend a thin sheet of plywood as a guard. My vice didn’t have teeth, it was just that stuck.

Does anyone have info on the MCU on the driver? Markings say 8208SRBN and 1715 below that. I can probably find an Atme chip to swap if not. I’ll probably end up doing a custom driver anyways, but a 4-ch buck driver isn’t bad as is.

lexvegas
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According to This it may be a MC96F8208S. The page appears to have a link to a data sheet.

Mark M
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Sorry about your light, I used a lot of force and I did not mar mine. I feel horrible.

lexvegas
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Don’t worry about it! This is going to be a more utility light after I’m done modding it. It’s going to get banged up anyways. Besides, I think an orange contrast band wouldn’t look bad either.

lexvegas
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One final spam, what’s the etiquette on BLF for the sort of stuff I’ve been posting? Should I start a new thread?

Mark M
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I think at this point since me and you have become so off-topic it would be better to move to a new thread. Although I would guess this will still be useful to other users.

maukka
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It’s okay guys. BLF is about modding and that’s exactly what you’re doing. Great job on the bezel. I think I’ll leave mine alone after already pulling some muscles on my neck while trying to open it Smile

Banggood: please don’t glue things.

SKV89
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Those lumen numbers are pretty insane for a single XHP70.2.

I’m surprised Astrolux/Bangood still use glue on their flashlights after so much protest from BLF.

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