Sharing the things I learned in this flashlight hobby

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tatasal
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Sharing the things I learned in this flashlight hobby

1. Do not order/buy more than one light a time. Chances are one of the lights will be liked “more” than other, or the rest of the package, that I tend to ‘forget’ the other light when in fact they both looked so attractive on the web when I decided to order them.

2. Do not order lights on sale (meaning dirt cheap) just because “I save so much off the regular price.” I surely may have saved much from the very good deal, but in the end saved nothing at all after giving it all away because “ I bought them for a song” lessening their actual and eventually regretting letting go, or simply for ‘wanting it’ because of sale price savings.

At the moment these two ‘lessons’ are what I can recall now and tell you about.

Hope you guys share yours as to let the rest of us avoid going the same way.

Edited by: tatasal on 08/08/2019 - 07:36
Jack Kellar
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Things I learned:

1. Have patience. Shipping from China takes a long time, and if it’s short then it’s because you got lucky.

2. There’s a whole world of fun to be found in messing with electronics. Soldering especially is almost a form of art.

3. Daytime often calls for more torch usage than night, no matter how long one or the other is at the time of the year. Especially for me, as I live in a location where the spring and summer days are longer but tend to be darker than the winter ones because of stormy clouds and power outages that don’t happen when it’s cold but savanna-dry and windless.

4. Being in the dark but with a convenient, easy and cheap (per watt) light source at your disposal is a liberating experience. Nowadays I don’t hesitate to sleep in absolute darkness, and got blackout curtains for precisely that effect.

5. Over time, good quality lights and batteries pay for themselves. They ease a good chunk out of the monthly electric bill’s cost too… as long as you don’t live with muggles that insist on having the overhead lamps on at all times when the sunlight isn’t getting directly inside the room.

6. Flashlights are hilariously misrepresented in media and fiction. Either their runtime isn’t a concern but they’re dimmer than my faith in the political system, or they’re as bright as a modern LED light but run out of juice in seconds. Not even minutes, seconds. Then again, most authors are muggles.

7. Tangentially related, but lighting and effects thereof are fascinating when used properly. Interior design and architecture that exploit it are even more interesting to me now.

Binford
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1) Do not buy things you don’t need, just because it is a deal, flash deal or on sale
Yes, there are a million items on sale overseas and they are cheaper than anything I could buy at a local Walmart. However, price discounts may lead to impulse purchases I may regret later because I don’t ever use the product at all. It is very easy to waste money online from Chinese vendors. Prices can be too good to not buy it – resist the urge unless you really need the item.

2) Hobby XYZ may lead to a substantial spend in other areas of life. Example: I found Gearbest when I was looking for cheap FPV parts and cheap tools for woodworking and electronics. In total, I have spent more than 1,000 $US in the last 2 years for all kinds of items I bought from them; most of the items are still in the packaging or were barely used. Yes, I did not buy the item locally after someone else imported it (= I saved a lot!); but I wouldn’t have needed them all in the first place.

3)
When it comes to flashlights, the purchasing pressure (peer pressure) increases when using reddit, online forums and chat rooms about the hobby. Other buyers make it appear that a deal is too good to pass up on when in reality it isn’t. I am sitting on more than 500 $US in flashlights and I honestly don’t use them. I remember I started looking into flashlights when I wanted a car charger for lithium cells. That was my first ever purchase and all the other lights and products came through online threads, affiliate blogs or similar means. Glad to have resources like BLF, but need to restrain myself a bit more in the future.

4) Additional expenses for hobbies
I bought so many additional tools, parts and equipment for the flashlight hobby to mod lights and improve lights in my house. This is a good learning experience, but the overall “nexus” of this hobby can be very addictive and all-consuming.

5)
Buying overseas is more work than it seems. there is price research, looking for reviews, comparing products, looking for discount codes, reading threads, then ultimately collecting points, ordering, waiting and also writing down all the purchases. When you get the product you check the quality/function, and read more about it as well.
I understand hobbies do take time, but the overall process of buying from China is not effort-less (and eventually selling locally via ebay also takes time).

I also noticed that the flashlight hobby forces me to spend more time at home, either in front of the screen or in the workshop. This is not a great situation for me personally when I wanted to do more outside, with friends, at the gym or simply with other hobbies.

tatasal
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@ Jack Kellar

—excellent observations you have in the list, especially: “5. Over time, good quality lights and batteries pay for themselves.” — really true

tatasal
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Binford wrote:
1) Do not buy things you don’t need, just because it is a deal, flash deal or on sale
Yes, there are a million items on sale overseas and they are cheaper than anything I could buy at a local Walmart. However, price discounts may lead to impulse purchases I may regret later because I don’t ever use the product at all. It is very easy to waste money online from Chinese vendors. Prices can be too good to not buy it – resist the urge unless you really need the item.

2) most of the items are still in the packaging or were barely used. Yes, I did not buy the item locally after someone else imported it, but I wouldn’t have needed them all in the first place.

3) Other buyers make it appear that a deal is too good to pass up on when in reality it isn’t. I am sitting on more than 500 $US in flashlights and I honestly don’t use them. I remember I started looking into flashlights when I wanted a car charger for lithium cells. That was my first ever purchase and all the other lights and products came through online threads, affiliate blogs or similar means. Glad to have resources like BLF, but need to restrain myself a bit more in the future.

Oh, shucks, in my experiences, these points of yours, and never be more true. Don’t ask me why I’m saying it’s true!!!

lampliter
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1. Springs on the driver boards of some lights break off easily.
2. Have enough simple to use lights with batteries on hand to pass out to the neighbors when it goes dark. (They could also be used to trade for other necessary items).
3. Have at least 4—4bay chargers on hand with a solar charging station.
4. Realize that the flashlight hobby is addictive. Hat

Out of clutter find simplicity---Einstein

jf_smm
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I’d amend the rules re: buying lights on flash sales to read don’t buy lights you don’t already know just because they are cheap. I have lots of great lights I picked up for a song but I knew they were great before I bought them.

Lightbringer
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You will need much shelf-space for many Shelf Queens that accumulate.

Or in my case, storage boxes for Box Queens (as in taken out of their boxes to test and then put back in and away for Just In Case).

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Geuzzz
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Just wait for the ti version to release… Learned that a lot of times, but keep making the fault of buying the alu version first.

Yokiamy
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1. There are always newer, better, more beautyful, nicer tint, better output, nicer color, better ano, special edition, limited edition, BLF edition, better heat dissipation, new bare aluminium, farther throwing, better flooding, easier EDC-ing, etc etc light released after you just have pulled the trigger, after days of research for your new light.

Then you receive it after 4 weeks, and the whole process repeats Facepalm

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

korpzgrinda
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One thing I learned is in certain cases, it’s much better to “roll yer own”, as Lightbringer has put it before Big Smile lol

And also, don’t be hesitant in actually using your lights! They are tools, not toys! Well, some…

aginthelaw
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Sounds like it’s time to start a sales thread

never fear shadows…it means a light shines nearby

Macka17
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As said. Patience
NEVER less that 30 days from China. Though 99.7% of them get here.
Amazing when you think.

We always buy more than we want.

I started off following the leader. with every latest torch on sizes I was interested in.
Have thrown away over 20. Nobody interested in torches out here. Earlier Zoomies etc. rural coastal Queensland. City 50 kliks away.
Have another around 37, here in drawer. Hanging on doors, beside chair for watching tv fiddling
With a coupla knives.

Nowadays.

All sized torches I’d ever need are well covered. and I have ALL that I’ll ever need.
Plus.
My old eyes. DO NOT need. stronger, Wider, Longer, beams anymore.

All I do now. is look for Nice stainless. Copper (drool). Ti.
and switch around the ones I use every coupla days.

With MY fingers and eyes. I’m past the age/stage of internal fiddling that small.
I Fark them up mostly. As I learned over 4 or 5.
So keep my fingers to myself.

Great hobby. Can get exxy, depending on volume bought.
Same as Knives. Just bought myself a new Japanese Kitchen Santoku (I have 3 already)
for my birthday in June. $470. Which is just a lower mid range knife.
Cost wise, but beautiful. To me.
We NEVER bloody learn. Do we.. I’ll never use it. Just love it’s looks, feel, and balance.
My fav is 7 yrs old and still floats as she works in my hand.

Keep collecting. There will always be another one you want.
Need or not.

The Burgh
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Yokiamy wrote:
1. There are always newer, better, more beautyful, nicer tint, better output, nicer color, better ano, special edition, limited edition, BLF edition, better heat dissipation, new bare aluminium, farther throwing, better flooding, easier EDC-ing, etc etc light released after you just have pulled the trigger, after days of research for your new light.

Then you receive it after 4 weeks, and the whole process repeats Facepalm

This is exactly, positively, absolutely the very best #1 there will ever be in this thread.

Until the next one…

There will always be more darkness than I have lights.

pennzy
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1000 lumens in a small light will get hot.

power911
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in my experience

-do not buy a light that you cannot repair yourself. (my otr m3 driver died and never got a chance to repair)
-your current light isn’t bad or outdated, you’re just greedy and want everything

“Have you forgotten about all those who called you a Bringer of Woe and hunted you like an animal?”
“Normal humans don’t go around killing people and burning towns!”
“Don’t worry. I’ll go with you! So you just follow me and no arguing, okay?”
“Humans m

Jack Kellar
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power911 wrote:

-your current light isn’t bad or outdated, you’re just greedy and want everything

Unless it’s a M@g-Lite.

aginthelaw
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power911 wrote:
-your current light isn’t bad or outdated, you’re just greedy and want everything

There’s no hope for me…save yourselves

never fear shadows…it means a light shines nearby

Scallywag
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For me:

  • Be honest about buying the light. If you want it for asthetics or because it’s cool or basically as a toy, you have to be ready to admit, accept, and (most importantly) budget for that appropriately
  • If you are really going to say the light fills a need – or, okay, at least fills a plausible use-case – actually define that use-case. I wanted a light that ran efficiently on NiMh/Alkaleak/14500, had a tail switch, and was smaller than my SC62 by enough to justify using it with 14500 instead of just carrying the SC62. But then I got the Ti version because (and I admit this) it’s cool. I didn’t need the Ti version.
  • Budget. To me, Budget Light Forum doesn’t mean a forum full of cheap lights. What it does mean, is make sure you remember what your budget is. Your budget will be different than anyone else’s. One member may have more disposable income in a month than another makes in a year, so don’t try to “keep up” with others. If the Joneses are buying every new Imalent and all the McGizmos and Oklumas and stuff, that doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong buying an S2+ twice a year.
  • Don’t try to get into modding thinking you’re saving money. Between all the tools, all the stuff you break, and all the parts you buy, it won’t be that cheap, and then next week there will be a new light/host/part that gets your mod done with 25% of the cash. I bought an L6 host and a separate XHP70.2 for a mod not too long before Simon started selling the fully assembled XHP70.2 L6 for less than I paid for the earlier combination.

In the end, it’s a hobby. Make sure you have an acceptable “hobby” budget, and accept that you’re spending your money to have fun. And don’t be afraid to enjoy lights that aren’t all that “special” in the eyes of others, just get what you want out of the hobby. That’s what it’s for and part of why I love this place, I’ll figure out exactly what I want out of a certain light and then someone else will have the complete opposite preference and that’s fine! Or even better, someone will have an idea I never did and change my mind Smile

EDC Rotation: ZL SC62 | Jaxman E2L XP-G2 5A | Purple S2+ XPL-HI U6-3A | D4 w/ Luxeon V | RRT-01 
EagTac D25C Ti | DQG Slim AA Ti | UF-T1 by CRX | Olight S1 | Klarus Mini One Ti
L6 XHP70.2 P2 4000K FET+7135 | Jaxman M8 | MF02 | Jaxman Z1 CULNM1.TG | Blue S2+ w/ ML Special
In-progress: Supfire M6 3xXHP50.2 
Others: Nitecore EC23 | Nebo Twyst | Streamlight ProTac 1AA | TerraLux LightStar 100

WalkIntoTheLight
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Buy 1 quality light that is what you want, rather than 2 or 3 cheaper lights that do about 90% of what you want.
You will be using that 1 quality light far past the time when you’ve shelved the cheaper lights.

I’m still using Zebralights I bought over 5 years ago, and my more modern Zebras I use every day. I seldom use budget lights longer than about 2 months before I get tired of them. (There are a couple of BLF group-buy exceptions.)

Jack Kellar
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Scallywag wrote:

  • Budget. To me, Budget Light Forum doesn’t mean a forum full of cheap lights. What it does mean, is make sure you remember what your budget is. Your budget will be different than anyone else’s. One member may have more disposable income in a month than another makes in a year, so don’t try to “keep up” with others. If the Joneses are buying every new Imalent and all the McGizmos and Oklumas and stuff, that doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong buying an S2+ twice a year.

This is so true, it cannot be stressed enough. Flashaholism (at least on this community) is not a competition.

koziy
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First lesson I learned was that lumens aren’t everything and a flashlight with a balanced beam that puts out about 200-300 lumens is going to cover pretty much all my uses. Likewise, a focused 300 lumen beam can easily out-throw many floody 1000 lumen lights, so peak candela number and pictures of beam shots can mean just as much as the raw lumen output.

For an EDC light, UI, ergonomics and form factor are the biggest factors. If I plan to carry a light in my pants pocket but the pocket clip doesn’t retain the light or too much of the light sticks out the top of my pocket, then it won’t get carried. Likewise, if I can’t access my preferred one or two modes easily from turning it on, then it won’t get carried.

I personally like to try out a wide variety of flashlights and then just sell the ones that I don’t prefer. Reviews can be helpful, but I need to establish a baseline of my own first, which helps me separate the marketing from the reality.

With Chinese flashlights, price range is not necessarily a predictor of flashlight quality or performance, but is most definitely an indicator that the packaging will look nice. Some of my best flashlights came in flimsy, generic-looking cardboard packaging, while some of my least favorite flashlights came in really nice packaging with magnetic flaps and color photos printed on the outside.

Scallywag
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koziy wrote:
I personally like to try out a wide variety of flashlights and then just sell the ones that I don’t prefer. Reviews can be helpful, but I need to establish a baseline of my own first, which helps me separate the marketing from the reality.

This, for me, in a way. I have a couple lights around that I just don’t like. I figure there’s two options: mod it, or get rid of it. But getting rid of it presents some interesting opportunities:
  • Giveaway (did one already and I recommend this. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!)
  • Sell (kind of feels disappointing, because you’ll never get what you paid unless it’s somehow a collectible)
  • Trade (I think this feels best)
  • Just throw it away (Not recommended)

EDC Rotation: ZL SC62 | Jaxman E2L XP-G2 5A | Purple S2+ XPL-HI U6-3A | D4 w/ Luxeon V | RRT-01 
EagTac D25C Ti | DQG Slim AA Ti | UF-T1 by CRX | Olight S1 | Klarus Mini One Ti
L6 XHP70.2 P2 4000K FET+7135 | Jaxman M8 | MF02 | Jaxman Z1 CULNM1.TG | Blue S2+ w/ ML Special
In-progress: Supfire M6 3xXHP50.2 
Others: Nitecore EC23 | Nebo Twyst | Streamlight ProTac 1AA | TerraLux LightStar 100

Relampago
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People are not much different from wildlife and will usually respond accordingly to a powerful, silent beam of light. Aggravated wildlife/people will not be deterred.

“Electricity is really just organized lightning”
― George Carlin

tatasal
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My first two ‘good’ lights were the Zebralight SC600 and the Klarus XT11, way back in 2012.

It always had charged batteries in them, seldom used, as months came to years. Then I started buying some other lights.

Years later when I owned 2 Lumintop SD75s and a Nitecore EA11 wherein these 2 lights has horrendous parasitic drain and ruined sets of 18650s and 14500, only then I realized the design advantage of minimal or negligible drain lights

I buy lights to enjoy them, not babysit them with lock-outs, etc.

Lesson? Avoid lights with high parasitic drain like the plague.

koziy
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Scallywag wrote:
koziy wrote:
I personally like to try out a wide variety of flashlights and then just sell the ones that I don’t prefer. Reviews can be helpful, but I need to establish a baseline of my own first, which helps me separate the marketing from the reality.

This, for me, in a way. I have a couple lights around that I just don’t like. I figure there’s two options: mod it, or get rid of it. But getting rid of it presents some interesting opportunities:
  • Giveaway (did one already and I recommend this. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!)
  • Sell (kind of feels disappointing, because you’ll never get what you paid unless it’s somehow a collectible)
  • Trade (I think this feels best)
  • Just throw it away (Not recommended)

Hey, money is money, and even a little bit of extra cash in my paypal account is welcome when moving to my next flashlight purchase. That said, I’ll usually wait until I have at least four or five flashlights to sell at a time, sometimes quite a few more. That way, it doesn’t seem like I’m going through a ton of work photographing, packing, labeling and driving to the post office, just to get back $7 on a flashlight I only paid $15 for.

Jack Kellar
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tatasal wrote:
My first two ‘good’ lights were the Zebralight SC600 and the Klarus XT11, way back in 2012.

It always had charged batteries in them, seldom used, as months came to years. Then I started buying some other lights.

Years later when I owned 2 Lumintop SD75s and a Nitecore EA11 wherein these 2 lights has horrendous parasitic drain and ruined sets of 18650s and 14500, only then I realized the design advantage of minimal or negligible drain lights

I buy lights to enjoy them, not babysit them with lock-outs, etc.

Lesson? Avoid lights with high parasitic drain like the plague.


This is why I’m never buying a Nitecore that isn’t a keychain model with integrated battery. They are consistently atrocious with parasitic drain.

Relampago
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I recently discovered I will gladly fork over money for color options, regardless of “need.” The same can be said for led varieties.
I also discovered how a multi emitter light on its lowest setting can be more than enough light in the absolute dark.

“Electricity is really just organized lightning”
― George Carlin

xevious
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  1. EVERYTHING GETS CHEAPER! We’re still on the upswing curve of LED progress. So, newer lights displace older lights, generally speaking. There’s no rush. Of course, there have been some unusual flashlight offerings that disappear and then become coveted. But they’re a very small fraction of the overall range of offerings.
  2. The only thing you may want to look out for are very desirable emitter tints that may eventually run out and become difficult (and costly) to obtain. Like the Nichia 219B 9080 sw45.
  3. Minus Green Filters… can do wonders for an undesirable tint! You really don’t lose that much output.
  4. Never throw a flashlight away. Give it to someone else!
tatasal
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Relampago wrote:
The same can be said for led varieties. I also discovered how a multi emitter light on its lowest setting can be more than enough light in the absolute dark.

Oh well, I discovered this too…and what a welcome surprise.

When I started this hobby in 2012, my mindset then was lumens, lumens, and more lumens. My 2,200-lumen Fenix TK70 was my king then.

Eventually I keep on reading people talking about moonlight mode, or something like it’s not ‘low’ enough (which is a complete opposite to the lumen wars).

Fast forward to today, though I managed to get by (suffered is more appropriate) from a lowest of 20 lumens for years, now that I put my FW3Cu SST20 4kk beside my bed, set to its lowest mode for trips to the bathroom, only do I appreciate what those supposedly ‘jerks’ were talking about!

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That’s why I like my Cometa. Even on moonlight, the beam’s spread so wide and evenly that there’s not even any glaring hotspot to ruin your dark-adapted vision.

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