Review: Folomov 18650S

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stephenk
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Review: Folomov 18650S

Folomov is a fairly new Chinese battery charger manufacturer, that has recently branched out into making flashlights. The newer cool white version of the Folomov 18650S flashlight has recently been featured by tube light painter Eric Paré. This review is of the warm white version. 

Disclaimer

This flashlight was sent to me for an honest review by Banggood. I received no commission from links or sales from Banggood. Product page.

Construction

The Folomov 18650S is a very compact 18650 tube light, with a head diameter of 25.5mm, and 99mm in length. The head diameter means that it is compatible with Light Painting Brushes, Light Painting Paradise, and Light Painting Tubes systems. It arrived with an included 2600mAh 18650 li-ion battery with integrated micro USB charging port. I’m not sure of the OEM manufacturer of the original battery, so cannot comment on the quality of the battery. However, charging terminates correctly at 4.21V. For those who already own batteries and chargers, it will accept button top protected batteries. At this price point, an included battery is an excellent addition. The light also came with spare o-rings, a USB charging cable, lanyard, clip, and well written instructions. 

The light has a smooth reflector, and unusually, a Nichia 216D LED. There is a single tail e-switch for control. The light is rated at IPX8 so should be reasonably waterproof. Build quality is good, and the light survived being lobbed over the fence (in packaging), and left in the pouring rain by Australia Post.  





User Interface

There are two mode groups, illumination mode (default out of the box) and tactical mode. To change between them the switch needs to be clicked 7 times, and the light will respond by flashing 6 times. 

Illumination mode:

A quick click from off enters the memorised mode (yay!). 

A long click (>0.5s) from off enters moonlight mode (0.5lm).

Clicking the switch cycles through ultralow (10lm) > low (50lm) > middle (150lm) > high (300lm) > turbo (900lm) > high (300lm) > middle (150lm) > low (50lm) > ultralow (10lm). (Claimed output)

Double click from off or on enters strobe mode.

Double click from strobe mode cycles through strobe (13Hz) > SOS > beacon modes (3 sec pulse every 8 secs). 

Single click from strobe returns to memorised mode (so you can move between turbo and strobe on the fly). 

Long click from on turns off the light from any mode.

Tactical mode:

A single click turns the light on turbo.

A double click from turbo goes to strobe (it is not possible to revert back to turbo in this mode).

A single click turns the light off from turbo or strobe.

A long click and hold for momentary on turbo (release for off).

The light can be electronically locked out by clicking 3 times from off. The same function reverts back. The light can also be locked out mechanically by slightly unscrewing the tailcap. 

There is also a countdown timer (only available in illumination mode), where 3 clicks from on adds 3 minutes to a countdown timer. Subsequent 3 clicks add 3 more minutes e.g. 3,6,9,12,… . This seems to work for any output mode. The light will also warn the user of low battery voltage by restricting higher output modes when the voltage is low. 

I really like the user interface for light painting photography and general use cases. Mode memory, single frequency strobe (13Hz), momentary functionality, and the ability to move between any mode and strobe on the fly is very useful. 


Light painting with the Folomov 18650S and a Denis Smith made Lightflute CH48. f/8, 30secs, ISO100.

Beam and Output

The Folomov 18650S has a smooth reflector, and unusually, a Nichia 219D LED emitter. This light is available in cooler white (5000-6000k CCT) with a 3400mAh battery, and warm white (3000k CCT) with a 2600mAh battery, from different online sources (see links in the conclusion).  Confusingly, the emitter colour temperature (CCT) is not stated on the packaging. I tested the warm white version, which has a “rosy” tint. The output was tested to be 20% lower than the claimed output in the top three modes, and thus I would state that the maximum output is around 760 lumens instead of the claimed 900 lumens. Despite this, I still used the same photographic exposure that I use for the 850 lumen Convoy S2+ (f/8, ISO100). The cooler white version would be expected to have a higher output. 



Tint Comparison (L to R) – Folomov 18650S Warm White, Convoy S2+ Warm, Neutral, Cool.

The Nichia 219D emitter and smooth reflector combination results in a relatively low peak beam intensity of just under 7000Cd. This is a good all purpose beam profile for illuminating a range of light painting tools, though I prefer flashlights with Cree XP-L or XHP35 emitters for illuminating longer tools. Whilst Nichia has a reputation for high CRI emitters, this one isn’t, it’s the usual 70+ CRI fare. I don’t understand why Folomov didn’t choose the Cree XP-L HD/HI emitter which has much higher luminous flux and current handling.

Due to the odd choice of emitter, the light heats up very quickly and the light steps down from max output to 40% between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. I would expect this from a 1600-2000 lumen flashlight, but not 760 lumens. I could not reproduce an issue that earlier reviewers have seen with the emitter being damaged by too high a current. Thankfully, no PWM was visible in any mode. 

Conclusion

Things I like:

Mode memory
Good steps between output modes
Single frequency strobe
Can move between strobe and any memorised output level on the fly
Floody beam is useful for many light painting tools
Included rechargeable 18650 battery, and other accessories are very good value for money
Compatible with Light Painting Brushes, Light Painting Paradise, and Light Painting Tubes systems. 
Good instructions
No visible PWM

Things I didn’t like:

Sub-optimal LED emitter choice
Lower output than claimed (warm white tested)
Very fast step down due to poor heat handling
Colour temperature (CCT) is not mentioned on the packaging 

The Folomov 18650S has a lot of potential. It is a very good value for money light, includes a 18650 battery with internal USB charging, and an excellent user interface for light painting. The warm white version should generally be better for illuminating scenes as it will render colours better, though this may be down to personal taste. Warm white lights are a rarity! The cooler white version (“starter flashlight” model) should generally be better for illuminating light painting tools such as tubes, swords, blades, and fibre optics. It may be neutral enough for illumination purposes as well. This light is somewhat let down by an odd choice of emitter, and resulting fast step down in brightness due to excessive heat (Folomov, please update this light with a Cree XP-L LED). Despite this issue, the Folomov 18650S is one of the best value for money flashlights currently available for light painting photography use cases.


Folomov 18650S beamshot – f/5, 2.5secs, ISO400.

tu_army
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thanks for the review. i think it is very nice compact flashlight.

lightboks
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There are only few things I did not like..

Firefly is nice but the next mode after selecting this should not be last memorised, but low.

Even worse.. since it goes LMHTHML.. when you are going down from turbo and turn off, the mode after firefly won’t even be the last remembered but you go to turbo instead.

Also.. direct access to strobe, but no direct access to turbo, which would be more useful. Except tactical mode of course.

Also, long press for off.. if you click around too fast instead.. strobe.

It is not bad at all, but I sold mine. Maybe they make another version with better interface. But I probably will just gwt an FW3A instead when it is out.

Other than that, a nice cheap compact light with unusual warm light.

stephenk
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lightboks wrote:
There are only few things I did not like..

Firefly is nice but the next mode after selecting this should not be last memorised, but low.

Even worse.. since it goes LMHTHML.. when you are going down from turbo and turn off, the mode after firefly won’t even be the last remembered but you go to turbo instead.

Also.. direct access to strobe, but no direct access to turbo, which would be more useful. Except tactical mode of course.

Also, long press for off.. if you click around too fast instead.. strobe.

It is not bad at all, but I sold mine. Maybe they make another version with better interface. But I probably will just gwt an FW3A instead when it is out.

Other than that, a nice cheap compact light with unusual warm light.

I don’t there will ever be a user interface that suits everyone’s use cases. For myself, mode memory for any mode, and instant access to strobe, and ability to go between turbo and strobe on the fly makes this light a good choice. Just wish it used a XP-L. My ultimate light would have variable strobe frequency and variable output, with mode memory and forward clicky (thankfully I have a modded light that does just that).
LightObsession
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I agree with lightboks.