Review: Sofirn SP40 | Best budget headlamp

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Lumeniac
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Review: Sofirn SP40 | Best budget headlamp

A pair of budget headlamps was released recently, almost at the same time: Convoy H1 (see my review) and hero of this review – Sofirn SP40. Sofirn is actively advancing on the heels of Convoy. The price tag of SP40 is quite affordable, even with a battery it is lower than the coupon price for the popular Skilhunt H03 (which is almost never found at those prices). So, can SP40 replace H03 or not?

YOU CAN BUY Sofirn SP40 at:

➤ aliexpress in the OFFICIAL STORE
there is also better looking SP40 in another color here
Banggood
Gearbest
Amazon

The specification, in general, does not show any surprising, everything is expected for a headlamp of this size. The only thing that I can immediately notice is the lack of moonlight mode

i also can recomment best battery store ever – NKON.NL
i buy batteries there for years

PACKAGE AND APPEAREANCE.

Package is extremely primitive. Apparently, one single kind of branded and relatively good looking packaging is used only for 1×18650 flashlights (such as quite good for its 20 bucks SP42A).

The Sofirn SP40, like the barrel Sofirn SP36, is packed in a simple beige cardboard box without any identifying marks. Well, at least it is very thick and keeps the contents well.

The latter includes: a headlamp itself, a headband, a packet with o-rings, a charging cable, manual, 18350 tube (!), clip and optionally a battery.

Well, here’s the headlamp. Really regular design . Nevertheless, it looks quite neat and, for all its modesty, it is quite far from the same boruit, which I consider to be the closest price competitor from the side of the ultrabudget category.

As for the size, then here Sofirn SP40 is typical again with its 11 centimeters. Completely ordinary in size L-shaped headlamp. It would be worthwhile to compare it with H1, but the parcel with them is stuck in some kind of hole, so I can manage the well-known standard of all – S2 +.

But adding 18350 tube should please the more advanced part of the users (who else own 18350 batteries?). With the installation of this tube, the headlamp actually becomes the size of a thumb, extremely compact, below is a fairly intuitive photoshop comparison.

Now it’s time to take a closer look. The head strap is simple, without reflective elements and gel strip. Nevertheless, it is better than the same of convoy H1 (and it’s hard to find something cheaper). Anyway, the fabric is soft enough and the mount sits comfortably on the head.

A tail cap without a magnet, and this is not so bad, but strange. A magnet costs a penny, and convenience that it adds is disproportionate to difference in price. Now as they are put almost everywhere, it is strange that Sofirn missed this moment. upd! After i posted review of Sofirn SP40, they took into account my suggestions and it has magnet now

The spring in the tail cap is of an absolutely ordinary thickness. It is quite clear that inside it there is a place to install a regular round magnet.

Spring from the side of the head a little thinner. Given the brightness of this model, this thickness is enough.

The clip is simple. I do not see any practical sense in installing a reversed Olight style clip here. Sits tight, does not scratch anodizing while scrolling and removing. Taking it off requires a lot of effort. I would even say overly large.

Knurling is the same simple, classic diamond. Threads are well lubricated.

The rubber round button has a red-green backlight and protrudes slightly over the head.



As usual, the micro-USB charging port and the reflector are spaced on opposite sides of the head.
The first is closed with a thick and good-quality plug. It closes tight and is convenient to be lifted.

The reflector is shallow, textured with XPL at the bottom. As with all the rest – absolutely regular one.

The depth of the cooling fins is rather symbolic. I think that if it were not for charging port placed on the back side, they could be cut much deeper, like in the same H03.

The overall impression of the appearance can be described in one word – the usual. And I don’t see much of a drawback in this, in this form factor it’s hard to do something new in terms of design. And for sure, if the manufacturer went for it, it would lead Sofirn SP40 from the category of low-cost headlamps. Want a beautiful L-shaped thing? Search in a different price category. Here, the simplicity of appearance is directly linked to affordable price.

As for the build quality, I did not see any obvious disadvantages. Everything is quite normal.

UI

There is no lock mode, as usual we break the contact unscrewing tail cap.
*upd There is Lock mode with 4 clicks. *

In short, there are no difficulties. Is that unusual for me to see in the headrest brute force holding modes.
Yes, and I would have made instant access to Low on Hold.

Sofirn SP40 PERFORMANCE

There is no visible PWM blink in any mode.

The light distribution is quite common for such a combination of LED and shallow textured reflector, no surprises. For me, a textured reflector is more preferable than TIR optics, because usually I use a headlamp at a distance of 1-2 meters. I consider TIR optic to be it more comfortable at close range. Nevertheless, it is clear that here the side fill is very wide, wider than that of the H1. At the same time, you can compare the color temperature. 5500K is obviously far from the budget 6500K blue of the same S2 +. Personally for me, 5000-5500 are quite comfortable temperature. UPD Now there is a choice of 3000K, 4000K, 5300K light temperature

Yes, there is a clear hotspot in the center in the photo, but this is due to the fact that it was shot in a turbo near the wall. With brightness adequate distance, this will another differently. And the naked eye sees a much smoother transition from hotspot to sidelight.

The battery corresponds to the stated capacity of 3000mah. Charging current is good.


Playing in the same price range with Convoy, Sofirn SP40 has the advantage of more flexible UI and better stabilization. Alas, I expected to see the same thing as in 1×18650 flashlights (i.e., fully stabilized brightness), but I faced the same picture that could be expected from the Convoy. I’m talking about the gradual decrease in brightness as the battery is discharged.

Let’s see what’s up with the last one in my review of Sofirn SP40



As for the light. I would add the moonlight here in the hidden mode (on hold from OFF) and would make 50-150-400, instead of current gap between 90 and 400 seems to me too large. That is not that bad as it is,wellb, but you could just do better. Although, I admit that this is a matter of taste and someone else will find mode spacing comfortable.

In general, it is normal.
In turbo mode, the flashlight shines quite well. Mid-high by themselves (no matter the gap between them) is quite comfortable. I spent a couple of evenings in the country house with SP40 on, and the seemingly dull 90-mid Mid was quite enough for me. You can move around the site, take care ofBBQ. In the closed space of the garage it is much brighter.

As for those models that I took for comparison, the H03 does not shine much warmer, and it is noticeably less bright at the maximum.



It is clear that work at long range is not the strong point of the such products, but at the maximum Sofirn SP40 gives enough light to illuminate the road ahead at a distance of perhaps fifty meters.

There is video review. It is in Russian and i say the same there , you can simply go to 4:30 and see alive video.

General impressions.

Was the price of SP40 similar to H03, my impressions would be more negative. Mostly for its budget stabilization. But since we are talking about a budget product, for it`s price, the Sofirn SP40 seems to be quite a good choice. Way more interesting than all that can be found in this price range. I like it more than the Convoy H1 – the price is better, smaller in size, there is built-in charging and better UI. Of course, H1 has it`s own advantage like choice if CT and being easily moded.

Given its affordable price, the Sofirn SP40 can be a good and affordable gift. Yes, and in everyday life for the regular user, this headlamp will work well. The mode set, in general, convenient. In case of need you can briefly light all around in the turbo.

As for the rest, this is quite a usual 1×18650 L-shaped headlamp, which does not show absolutely nothing new. And, given the price, I would be surprised if Sofirn SP does it. In short, a strong middle-range product regardless the price and quite a good thing, if you evaluate the functionality relative to the price tag.

+ generous set with all you need.
+ built-in charge port
+ not the coldest light, there is no obvious loss to H03 \ H1
+ price
+ build quality and appearance
+ the ability to use 18350 batteries.
+ no choice of color temperature
+ magnet

- no moonlight (not critical)
- no instant access to low
- I would make a slightly different variation of modes, but this is a matter of taste.
- stabilization typical for budget products, the gradual slide of brightness as discharge.

Edited by: Lumeniac on 10/25/2020 - 10:36
Propeak
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Thanks so much Narmattaru, this is a very well put together review of a very decent headlight proposition.

The value is good. Although the lack of a magnet can be overcome I think the lack of a moonlight mode will probably disappoint many. Surprised this was just launched and uses normal microusb but then again it is on the lower end of the budget.

Thanks again, still has some good merits and is certainly a great addition for those that don’t care about moonlight mode!

Lumeniac
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you`re welcome 

 

i`m in touch with sofirn rep, we discuss improvements of new models. so i guess there will be magnet and moonlight in next version. 

Propeak
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That’s great news Narmattaru!

In that case I’ll consider buying one of the new ones as I wouldn’t get one without moonlight mode!

Chinaheart
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Is there a Sofirn SP40 version 2 or a new improved version ....

 

LightObsession
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Adding moonlight and magnet are welcome improvements.

I haven’t messed with mine in a while, but I also don’t think that I was real pleased with the UI. I preferred the UI on the D25S.

flightless22
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Nicely done.

That’s good news, a moonlight is desperately needed, lower than 3 lumens would be ideal.

Could you convince Sofirn to use Anduril with LH351D 5000k emitters? I believe this would be a big selling point and would better compete with Convoys upcoming upgrade to his light.

On last thing, perhaps they could switch to OP reflector? I would prefer a floodier 60º tir lens but an OP reflector would be the best middle ground flood/throw for most folks.

Propeak
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^^^^ I have to also agree with the need for Orange Peel and some good flood ^^^^
It’s a headlamp so even for night hikes good flood is required.
I’m surprised how many throwy headlamps there are…

Lightbringer
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…or just put a shallow-enough ⌀20mm reflector so that a TIR lens could be dropped in for those who’d prefer it?

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Ken Nichols
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Narmattaru wrote:
i`m in touch with sofirn rep, we discuss improvements of new models. so i guess there will be magnet and moonlight in next version. 

A Magnet would be great!
Did they mention a time frame of when the new model might be available?
I’m ready to pull the trigger but I will wait for Magnet version if it will be soon.

Lumeniac
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will ask tomorrow

 

Ken Nichols
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So, I just ordered my first SP40 a little while ago.

I got a $5 coupon from AliExpress and a 1$ coupon from Sofirn and it was on sale 22% off, so I got the 4000K – no battery version for $15.44 free shipping!
I couldn’t say no,They made me do it!

If I like it as much as I think I will, I’ll be ordering 2 or 3 more…

Thanks again for your review!

Lumeniac
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quote store rep

 

"the stock now dispatched from China all with magnet"

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Woohoo! That is excellent news!
I’ll post an update/pic when mine comes in a few weeks.

Chinaheart
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Hi, i also ordered 2 pcs Sofirn sp40 to Banggood.l last Sept 23. Does it have also a magnetic cap.

Thank you

 

netkai
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Narmattaru wrote:

quote store rep


 


“the stock now dispatched from China all with magnet”

Indeed. I ordered one from BG on Sep 20 and to my surprise it came with magnetic tail cap.

Lumeniac
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i also ordered 3 of them at official ali store, will check how strong is magnet

Ken Nichols
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My SP40 arrived today and it has a Magnet, Woohoo!

Sofirn SP40 Magnet!

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flightless22 wrote:
Nicely done.

That’s good news, a moonlight is desperately needed, lower than 3 lumens would be ideal.

Could you convince Sofirn to use Anduril with LH351D 5000k emitters? I believe this would be a big selling point and would better compete with Convoys upcoming upgrade to his light.

On last thing, perhaps they could switch to OP reflector? I would prefer a floodier 60º tir lens but an OP reflector would be the best middle ground flood/throw for most folks.

Any update from Sofirn on these suggestions?

agent80
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What are the lumens and battery life with a 18350?

jumii
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WARNINGPOSSIBLE FAULT WITH LOW VOLTAGE PROTECTION ON SP-40

Here’s what i have sent to Sofirn contact email:

“I have SOFIRN SP40 for almost 6 months. Recently I used it for several hours continuously. My understanding was that it has low voltage protection which protects the cell from discharging under 2,85V. Here is what has happened:
I use NCR18650B cell from Panasonic. The flashlight was running on high (not turbo – one level below turbo) for several hours (3-5 hours) continuously. And then it stopped sharp, it shut down completely. My understanding was that the 2,85V low voltage protection kicked in. Two minutes after that I have removed the cell from the flashlight and measured it with a UNI-T multimeter. The cell measured 2,46V!!!! This is a measurement with no load, therefore when the flashlight was still on there was load on the battery and I estimate the voltage must have dropped even lower, to ~2V.
Is this expected behaviour of the flashlight? Is it faulty? My battery cell is not safe to use anymore and I have to buy a new one because of it.”

I will wait for the reply and let you know. Maybe i will also sacrafise another 18650 cell, to test the low voltage protection and see the exact voltage where it cutts of. It could also be that the heat affects the cut-off voltage. I dont know. Also any comment will be much appreciated.

jumii
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So, here is the promised feedback:

I have contacted the Sofirn. We exchanged several emails as I have made some more tests and send the results back. They were quite responsive. Here are the conclusions if you don’t want to read the whole message:

  • I was unable to replicate the problematic scenario, where cell is drained
  • LVP kicked in between 2,64V and 2,746V. The range is quite big; also seems to be heat and current dependent. In my opinion 2,64V is too low for LVP. Many cells should not go lower than 2,85V.
  • Sofirn claims that this is ok and LVP works fine based on my testing. However, they said, they will talk to engineer, if there is a need to increase the LVP trigger voltage from 2,8V to 3,0V.

So, I have made four tests:
  • TEST 1: Room temperature. First test with the cell that came with the flashlight (DLGH INR18650) – The low-voltage protection kicked in at 2.703V. Room temperature
  • TEST 2: Room temperature 23,7C; NCR18650B cut off at 2,746V.
    o Cell recovers voltage after cut off (important for next TEST2):
    o +1s: 2.756V (+0.010V)
    o +2s: 2.775V (+0.029V)
    o +3s: 2.289V (+0.043V)
    o +4s: 2.795V (+0.049V)
    o +5s: 2.805V (+0.059V)
    o +6s: 2.813V (+0.067V)
    o Data is taken from video.
  • TEST 3: I suspected that temperature might have something to do with this. I tried to simulate generated heat by long runtime and having it on a head by putting it into regular oven and pre-heat it to ~40C (including the cell NCR18650B) and keep it at ~40C while it was running. The only problem is, I could not measure cell voltage in the oven, so my measurement had 6 seconds delay (until I take the flashlight out of the oven and remove the cell). I measured 2.73V. Assuming the same voltage regain happened in 6 seconds (0.067V), this means cut off happened at around 2.66V
  • TEST 4: Fully charge NCR18650B and let the battery run on »High« until empty on room temperature. When it cut-off I took me around 8 seconds to remove the cell and measure it with UNI-T voltmeter. It measured 2,716V. From previous testing experience, the battery regained around 0,07-0,08V in that 8 seconds, this means, that the protection kicked somewhere around 2,64V.

Measurements were made with UNI-T UT136B. I took several additional measurements with DT-830B (a cheap multimeter) to validate the accuracy of UNI-T. DT, was showing 0,02V less typically. But in my experience UNI-T is quite accurate in these voltages. I have two chargers for batteries: a professional CRP PlusarTouch competition and XTAR VC4. When I measure full cells with UNI-T they are always 4,2V(+-0,01V). Therefore, I assume my UNI-T is quite accurate.

I hope this helps someone and also, that they make a new version of SP40 with better LVP.

Lightbringer
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Me personally, I’d have LVP kick in at 3V or even higher (at load, terminal voltage sags). Any lower doesn’t buy much more runtime, as cell voltage at the tail end drops like a rock anyway.

Oh yeh, most cells have that “corner” as high as 3.4V-3.6V, and really start dropping like a rock beyond that. Check HJK’s charts for common cells’ discharge curves.

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jumii
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I agree. I also wrote that to Sofirn in the last email:
“So, I think you should increase the LVP to over 3,00V, even better to 3,3V. Liion cells hold very little charge under 3,3V. Also, the brightness of LED gets exceptionally low.

Check the results of how much capacity cell holds at different voltages on this web site:
https://lygte-info.dk/info/BatteryChargePercent%20UK.html
None of the tested cells had more than 3% usable charge at 3,3V. So, there is no benefit to drain li-ion cells below 3,3V. You are decresing cell’s lifetime and it can be dangerous if it discharged too deep. I suggest that you change this on your flashlight.«

Lumeniac
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new discount code added

 

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Almost a year ago I got a SP40 (for review). I haven’t used it for a few months. The Sofirn battery was in the light (approx. 3.8 V in March), head loosened almost a full turn (the light didn’t turn on), sitting untouched in a box. Today I grabbed it, tightened the head and it didn’t work. Checked the battery voltage: 1.71 V!

Don’t know how this could happen. With the head loosened the circuit shouldn’t be closed. Can’t find a damage in the anodization either. An internal defect of the battery?

I will keep the battery in a fireproof container for a few months the check if it discharges even more. But you all should check the voltage of your unused Sofirn batteries!

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Hmm, that’s really odd.

I was thinking I had an issue with my XTAR PB2C (new one, not the rubbery one), that it may’ve not gone to sleep and drained the cells down reeeeally low if kept “active” the whole time (a few weeks). It was a Sofirn cell, but I don’t recall if it’s protected or not.

Had to jumpstart it in dumb-charger, and it charged right up, and worked fine in a light, even on turbo.

I wasn’t “blaming” either the powerbank or the cell, just wanted to find out why that happened. Different cell, the PB’s doing fine, so it may very well be the cell that’s draining on its own.

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SammysHP wrote:
Almost a year ago I got a SP40 (for review). I haven’t used it for a few months. The Sofirn battery was in the light (approx. 3.8 V in March), head loosened almost a full turn (the light didn’t turn on), sitting untouched in a box. Today I grabbed it, tightened the head and it didn’t work. Checked the battery voltage: 1.71 V!

Don’t know how this could happen. With the head loosened the circuit shouldn’t be closed. Can’t find a damage in the anodization either. An internal defect of the battery?

I will keep the battery in a fireproof container for a few months the check if it discharges even more. But you all should check the voltage of your unused Sofirn batteries!


Three months later it is now at 1.02 V.
Lightbringer
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Had one in a SD light (dive-light, forgot which one) that the cell came out dead. Figured I didn’t tailcap-lockout enough, but it was a good full-turn to snug it up.

Dunno. I’d have to keep ‘em in boxes untouched and see if they drain. They’re usually topped-off after doing a capacity-test, so…

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