[Review] Another Acebeam W30 Review!

15 posts / 0 new
Last post
SaCRiiD
SaCRiiD's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/18/2012 - 22:09
Posts: 62
Location: Australia
[Review] Another Acebeam W30 Review!

The Opening Ramble

Flashlight technology has undoubtedly come a very long way from its humble roots. From the incandescent MagLites to the newer lithium ion LED powerhouses, flashlight manufacturers have constantly been striving to improve their product.

Once such area is flashlight throw. When I started reviewing flashlight back in 2012, the go-to budget light for throw was the Ultrafire HD2010 (the photos are likely down). Acebeam did not exist at the time, and any flashlight that outputted as much light as an Emisar was but a pipe dream. The only effective and semi-portable method of achieving throw and high lumen output was to utilise a xenon short-arc lamp, as did the Firefoxes FF4.

Fast forward a few years and lights began outputting more than 100,000 lumens (which in 2012 existed only as eBay scam lights) and throwing more than 300m in a package completely concealable in a closed fist (Emisar D1 w/ 18350 tube). The BLF GT was the throw king of the era, able to throw to a distance of 2.5km, with the caveat of being monstrously large and heavy.

Along comes the Acebeam W30 with its fancy Laser Excited Phosphor technology, full of hope and promise; a potential usurper of the BLF GT's thrower throne. A small thrower light that is able to propel 500 lumens worth of light out to a distance of 2.4km? I had my doubts, but upon seeing beamshots from other reviewers, I decided that this was a light that I maybe 100% needed in my collection. So, without further ado, here goes my review.

 

Intro 

The Acebeam W30 is a member of the new breed of portable lighting technology, utilising a Laser Excited Phosphor (LEP) module to catapult 500 lumens to a claimed distance of 2.4km. As a technology, LEP has been around for a while, with Wicked Lasers releasing their PhosForce attachment for their Arctic laser in 2013, and BMW releasing consumer LEP headlights as a premium option for their vehicles in 2014. However, only recently have we seen purpose built LEP flashlights this small.

I purchased this light from Liteshop.com.au (Australia) for total of $318.71 AUD during their EOFY sale. The light normally retails on their site for $374.95. I have never ordered anything from them before this light, but have noticed in the past that they seem to stock a broad range of enthusiast grade flashlights. I received the light 2 working days after I ordered it, quite reasonable for free shipping (though I think it might be an "order over $xx" thing?).

Disclaimer: I am not associated with Liteshop, nor have they given me any incentive/discount to write this review. I just needed this light in my life ASAP and they happened to have the cheapest price at the time (and weren't sold out).

 

The Package

The light ships in a solid cardboard box, similar to the design of the Emisar light boxes, except with glossy black printing. The package includes the light with the micro-USB charging 5100mAh Acebeam 21700 battery, pocket clip and the red filter lens installed. The two smaller boxes include the 18650 to 21700 adapter, lanyard and the charging cable. A warranty card, instruction manual and lithium ion safety guide are included. While it is admirable to see Acebeam include a good range of accessories, I do have a few minor gripes.

First impressions count!

 

The contents of the box.

 

Firstly, the pocket clip. Okay, sure, this light isn't as bulky as the GT or even the TN42, but still, I cannot imagine many individuals storing this in a pocket. Perhaps some may hang this light off a belt or waistband, though I personally would be concerned about the clip detaching.

A holster/head cover would have been a more appropriate inclusion in this case. Acebeam includes a holster their T27 thrower, so I do not see why this light lacks one.

This light does come with a red filter, though it would have been nice to see a green filter included too, as Acebeam does with the W10.

 

Accessories proudly displayed.

 

Now onto the battery adapter. Curiously, it is not simply a black PVC jacket with a positive terminal contact, rather, the whole thing is made from a single piece of machined aluminium. I think that this is a brilliant idea, though would be more suited to more high drain flashlights (Lux-Perpetua's review mentioned current draw being about 3A). Either way, a great inclusion.

Nicely machined 18650 to 21700 adapter.

 

However, as this light's included battery is not so much a 21700 but a "21750" due to the added length of the charging circuitry, normal 65mm unprotected 18650's such as a bare Samsung 30Q will not make contact with the terminal springs, and rattle around inside the tube (reminiscent of those "shake" self-powered flashlights). A protected NCR18650B works fine with the light though.

The length of Acebeam's cell also prevents it from fitting into my Nitecore D4 Digicharger.

 

A comparison of a few common battery types. From left to right, Keeppower 18350, Samsung 30Q, Panasonic NCR18650B, Acebeam's 5100mAh USB charging 21700.

 

Left: Samsung 30Q, right: protected NCR18650B in adapter

 

Build and dimensions

The light itself measures around 20cm in length and has a head diameter of 6cm. The filter appears to have a thread diameter of around 54mm, however I am unsure if a 54mm camera lens filter will fit. A 52mm lens cap will sit up right next to the lens of the light, not ideal for long term protective use.

 

The side of the light has an unnecessarily bright green indicator LED. I find this light exceptionally distracting when the light is being used in dark conditions for its intended throwing purpose and will likely be covering it with black tape.

Now that we're here, I might as well also cover the operation of the light. Click the forward clicky switch partially for momentary, and fully to turn the light on. Click again to turn the light off. There are no modes apart from the 500 lumen "on". With their included 5100mAh battery, Acebeam claims 1.75 hours of runtime. Ordinarily I would not touch a single mode flashlight with a ten-metre pole but in this case I think it is appropriate for its use case. The W30 is a very niche light, providing unmatched throw for its size. Low modes are unnecessary at such throw distances.

The switch does have a very satisfying click to it and has a stainless steel cover. Some prefer a black rubber boot, I personally don't particularly mind the aesthetic of the stainless cover, as it complements the stainless strike bezel at the front of the light. Plus, it could potentially be necessary for Acebeam's claimed 100m water resistance rating.

 

Stainless steel tail switch

 

The body and tail threads are all very nicely square cut and heavily lubed. The light is double o-ring sealed for higher water resistance, though I find the contact between the tail o-rings and the tailcap to be a bit loose. Your mileage may vary.

 

Left: tail threads, right: body-head threads

 

The springs of the light are both relatively thin but should not pose a problem due to the lower current draw of this light.

 

The driver board is held in by a orange anodised ring and epoxy-filled torx security screws. It appears that they really do not want people to disassemble this light; understandable given the blue laser powering this device. Which brings me to the head of the light.

 

Well-epoxied driver board screws. I am a fan of the orange anodisation.

 

Capturing a photo of the phosphor, mirror and lens system proved to be rather difficult, but an acceptable result was achieved with a D4 and strip lights. Right at the back is the yellow phosphor layer. The rectangular block in the middle is the diverting mirror, which is glued to the intermediate lens. There is an AR-coated glass lens on the very outside of the assembly. See below for a diagram of how I think the LEP module functions. Take it with a grain of salt, the diagram is based on what I can see through the front lens.

 

My schematic of the LEP module. Most likely inaccurate, but the concept should be similar. Feel free to use this.

 

Beamshots

Beamshots! I pitted this light against the Emisar D1 and D1s. I do not have a BLF GT for a fair comparison. Distance to the conveniently white building is around 150m, taken at f/5 1/4sec ISO560.

   

   

Top left: control, top right: Emisar D1S, bottom left: Emisar D1, bottom right: W30

 

Now for the real test. Distance to the far windowless building is around 2km. Night shots also taken at f/5 1/4sec ISO560.

Daytime control.

 

Night-time control.

 


W30 lights up the building slightly.

 

The light does appear to reach 2km, which is promising for Acebeam's claims. However, I have yet found a way to test the full 2.4km range of this beast, so I cannot confirm this claim.

Just for fun.

 

The beam profile is a perfect circle with almost no spill.

 

The very super controlled beam profile test. Lights are 2m away from a white wall. From left to right, Emisar D1, Nitecore MH20GT, Emisar D1S, Acebeam W30.

 

My light is the 6500K variant, however, it appears warmer than the Emisars (XP-L HI V2 3A - 5000K). When shone sideways on a white wall, the beam is quite warm at the peripheries and forms a gradient down very cool white near the centre.

 

A quick note about this light's build. While it is sturdy and well-anodised, my unit has what appears to be a small chip on the side of the front lens. There is also clouding and dust/sediment at the back of the convex lens. These factors don't appear to affect performance (though water resistance may be affected by the chip, that's neither here nor there as I don't plan on submerging this light), though it would be interesting to see if these quirks are limited to my device.

Edit 5/07/19: It seems that the clouding is the result of the high intensity nature of the beam, and is common among LEP flashlights.

 

  

Slight chip and haze.

 

Should you buy this light?

The W30 is truly a niche light. While I can see search and rescue patrol officers and hunters using this light to spot distant objects, most of the rest of the population would have very little use for this light beyond impressing friends and lighting up low-lying clouds. And no doubt, this is a very impressive, two-of-a-kind light (see the Maxtoch Xsword L2K).

Alas, it does cost more than $300 AUD, and for that price, you’re paying for the wow-factor. If you’re into that, then by all means, go for it. For me, it was worth saving up and eating ramen for a few weeks to afford. I really like this light, even with its little quirks, and I think that LEP technology could potentially be to LEDs what LEDs were to incandescent bulbs.

 

Size comparison of (from left to right), D1S, W30 and D1 (shorty)

 

Conclusion

Overall, the W30 is a very well designed, niche application light. It does what it is supposed to quite well, but is quite pricey If you own a W30 (or any LEP type light) or are intrigued by the concept, please leave any thoughts below. Thanks for reading my review!

Edited by: SaCRiiD on 07/04/2019 - 11:19
SaCRiiD
SaCRiiD's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/18/2012 - 22:09
Posts: 62
Location: Australia

Reserved for more beamshots, updates, etc.

Adhara
Offline
Last seen: 7 hours 17 min ago
Joined: 05/17/2018 - 01:57
Posts: 197
Location: Usa

“There is also clouding and dust/sediment at the back of the convex lens. … it would be interesting to see if these quirks are limited to my device.”

I have all of the production LEP lights, every model from every maker that are generally available (Acebeam W10 & W30 × 2, Maxtoch, Weltool). All of them have the appearance when on of more than usual dust/smear on the lenses compared to my aspheric LED lights.

After disassembling two and checking the lenses (I have tools/equipment to do so from my astronomical instrument hobby), I’ve come to the conclusion this is exaggerated by the light production mechanism compared to LED – the two lenses were inspected and found to be acceptably clean, and the visibility of dust/defects/etc. was much less when put in front of an LED jigged up for the test.

Were they to use higher quality lenses and clean-room assembly, these artifacts could certainly be reduced, but the price would be much higher for an unnoticeable performance change.

All are fun toys, priced fairly I think for what they are, but they’re no Maxabeam/Lexmax as far as practical use.

The upcoming 20,000,000 candela LEP may end up besting those latter two – I’m on the list and intend to do a shoot-out of the three.

SaCRiiD
SaCRiiD's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: 08/18/2012 - 22:09
Posts: 62
Location: Australia

Ahh, it’s good to know that the haze is just a side effect of having such an intense amount of light pass through it.
I agree that these do not replace traditional searchlights such as the Maxabeam, however I do admire the LEP technology used. It is still in its infancy and I think it has a bright future (pun intended?).
Looking forwards to your comparison Smile

Rdubya18
Offline
Last seen: 4 hours 53 min ago
Joined: 10/28/2018 - 18:42
Posts: 227
Location: Ohio

Very nice review . Thankyou

dmsoule
Online
Last seen: 49 sec ago
Joined: 08/27/2016 - 20:14
Posts: 184
Location: MN USA

Adhara wrote:
“There is also clouding and dust/sediment at the back of the convex lens. … it would be interesting to see if these quirks are limited to my device.”

I have all of the production LEP lights, every model from every maker that are generally available (Acebeam W10 & W30 × 2, Maxtoch, Weltool). All of them have the appearance when on of more than usual dust/smear on the lenses compared to my aspheric LED lights.

After disassembling two and checking the lenses (I have tools/equipment to do so from my astronomical instrument hobby), I’ve come to the conclusion this is exaggerated by the light production mechanism compared to LED – the two lenses were inspected and found to be acceptably clean, and the visibility of dust/defects/etc. was much less when put in front of an LED jigged up for the test.

Were they to use higher quality lenses and clean-room assembly, these artifacts could certainly be reduced, but the price would be much higher for an unnoticeable performance change.

All are fun toys, priced fairly I think for what they are, but they’re no Maxabeam/Lexmax as far as practical use.

The upcoming 20,000,000 candela LEP may end up besting those latter two – I’m on the list and intend to do a shoot-out of the three.

What is the upcoming 20,000,000 candela LEP that you are referring to?

Redlyne22
Redlyne22's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 hours 34 min ago
Joined: 12/25/2017 - 07:02
Posts: 152
Location: United States

Took the words out of my mouth. Ya, Please tell more about this upcoming 20 mil. candela led, whaaat!??!?!?or are you just April fooling use in july?

dmsoule wrote:
Adhara wrote:
“There is also clouding and dust/sediment at the back of the convex lens. … it would be interesting to see if these quirks are limited to my device.”

I have all of the production LEP lights, every model from every maker that are generally available (Acebeam W10 & W30 × 2, Maxtoch, Weltool). All of them have the appearance when on of more than usual dust/smear on the lenses compared to my aspheric LED lights.

After disassembling two and checking the lenses (I have tools/equipment to do so from my astronomical instrument hobby), I’ve come to the conclusion this is exaggerated by the light production mechanism compared to LED – the two lenses were inspected and found to be acceptably clean, and the visibility of dust/defects/etc. was much less when put in front of an LED jigged up for the test.

Were they to use higher quality lenses and clean-room assembly, these artifacts could certainly be reduced, but the price would be much higher for an unnoticeable performance change.

All are fun toys, priced fairly I think for what they are, but they’re no Maxabeam/Lexmax as far as practical use.

The upcoming 20,000,000 candela LEP may end up besting those latter two – I’m on the list and intend to do a shoot-out of the three.

What is the upcoming 20,000,000 candela LEP that you are referring to?

Sometimes being a newb is the best part of a hobbie

SKV89
Online
Last seen: 5 min 18 sec ago
Joined: 12/10/2017 - 12:46
Posts: 2798
Location: US

20,000,000 candela is like 20x the throw of the BLF GT and W30. I don’t think that is realistic in a consumer flashlight.

Flying Luminosity
Flying Luminosity's picture
Online
Last seen: 6 min 54 sec ago
Joined: 09/12/2017 - 13:33
Posts: 451
Location: UK
SKV89 wrote:
20,000,000 candela is like 20x the throw of the BLF GT and W30. I don’t think that is realistic in a consumer flashlight.

A flashlight with 20x the candela of another one has about 4.5x as much throw.

Adhara
Offline
Last seen: 7 hours 17 min ago
Joined: 05/17/2018 - 01:57
Posts: 197
Location: Usa

dmsoule wrote:
What is the upcoming 20,000,000 candela LEP that you are referring to?

Redlyne22 wrote:
Took the words out of my mouth. Ya, Please tell more about this upcoming 20 mil. candela led, whaaat!??!?!?or are you just April fooling use in july?

Microfire S90.

It is in pre-production tweaking stage, has been shown at last two shot shows.

It is not a toy, Think Maxabeam / Lemax Superpower kind of size and pricing, ~$4-5k

All Mil-Spec design/construction by an engineer out of Caltech. Meant for serious use, no ludicrous shit like lightning/disco modes included, no chance of accidental reprogramming found in such toy interfaces.

You can contact them to get put on the interest/reservation list.

SKV89 wrote:
20,000,000 candela is like 20x the throw of the BLF GT and W30. I don’t think that is realistic in a consumer flashlight.
It’s not a toy, that’s correct.
SKV89
Online
Last seen: 5 min 18 sec ago
Joined: 12/10/2017 - 12:46
Posts: 2798
Location: US

I looked it up. Very impressive. I wonder how many lumens it makes. Too bad the form factor is not in a hand held flashlight form factor. My dream thrower would be a smaller than BLF GT sized LEP light with 2,000 lumens and 10MCD. I would buy that for $1,000. Hope Acebeam makes one.

Flying Luminosity
Flying Luminosity's picture
Online
Last seen: 6 min 54 sec ago
Joined: 09/12/2017 - 13:33
Posts: 451
Location: UK

The Light Storm has a minimum beam divergence of 0.5° vs IIRC the GT’s 1.6°. Pretty sure it must be possible to calculate the lumens from that, assuming a similar hotspot / spill ratio.

Adhara
Offline
Last seen: 7 hours 17 min ago
Joined: 05/17/2018 - 01:57
Posts: 197
Location: Usa

Flying Luminosity wrote:
The Light Storm has a minimum beam divergence of 0.5° vs IIRC the GT’s 1.6°. Pretty sure it must be possible to calculate the lumens from that, assuming a similar hotspot / spill ratio.

I don’t recall if divergence microfire quotes is the half or apex angle, so it’s ~4800lm or ~1200lm.
AmericanDissent
Offline
Last seen: 3 weeks 3 hours ago
Joined: 07/18/2019 - 12:58
Posts: 2
Location: Florida

Adhara wrote:
Flying Luminosity wrote:
The Light Storm has a minimum beam divergence of 0.5° vs IIRC the GT’s 1.6°. Pretty sure it must be possible to calculate the lumens from that, assuming a similar hotspot / spill ratio.

I don’t recall if divergence microfire quotes is the half or apex angle, so it’s ~4800lm or ~1200lm.

They measure the apex angle. This is a very exciting new technology!
Agro
Agro's picture
Online
Last seen: 9 min 9 sec ago
Joined: 05/14/2017 - 11:16
Posts: 4423
Location: Ślōnsk

This LEP schematic is incorrect.
See Vinh’s disassembly:
https://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?460156-Acebeam-W30vn-The-LED-Thrower-R&p=5321298&viewfull=1#post5321298

Laser is located next to the phosphor. It shines at a mirror at the side of the light. This mirror redirects the beam 90° towards the central mirror which turns it by another 90°. Then it goes towards the phosphor.