[review] Sofirn SP33v3 26650 light (kit version)

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Lightbringer
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[review] Sofirn SP33v3 26650 light (kit version)

My newest addition to the Sofirn family is the SP33v3. I’ve got the v1, and the new niceties of the v3 had me curious, so of course I had to get one. LOL

The light comes in a colorful orange and black, but otherwise nondescript, retail box. It has the Sofirn logo and visuals, and a sticker on the back gives the product name. Inside is a formed clear plastic tray housing the light and all goodies, as well as a multilingual product manual insert. Included are a glassine envelope with lanyard and extra O-rings, the usb-C charging cable, and adapter sleeve to be able to use an 18650 cell in a pinch. The version I got (kit) comes with a nice 5000mAH 26650 cell in Sofirn livery. I haven’t checked/tested the cell in an analysing charger yet, but all Sofirn cells I got to date have met or exceeded the rated capacity, so I have no doubt this one also clocks in at least 5000mAH.

 

Box and light, left. Box, light, and all accoutrements, right.

The SP33 is a single 26650 light which is a bit thicker than typical 18650 lights. The difference is that 18650 cells are 18mm in diameter, whereas 26650 cells are 26mm in diameter, which sounds like a big difference but not really. The SP33 is a meaty light with good heft to it, but fits very comfortably in the hand. It’s heavier than most 18650 lights, and while I wouldn’t everyday-carry one in a pants pocket, it certainly would be doable in a jacket pocket, or kept as an around-the-house light. In fact, the diameter and placement of the sideswitch gives it near-perfect “hand-feel”. Anyone who’s got a WK30 or similar light knows this quite well.

The SP33 uses a 3V version of the Cree XHP50.2 and a FET driver. That means that output is unregulated and drops proportionately as the cell voltage drops, but potentially allows more output in “turbo” with a fully-charged cell. Me personally, I prefer regulated output (as in the v1 and probably the v2), even if maximum output isn’t as high. If you keep the cell fully charged and need/use “turbo” levels often, you’ll like the v3 better. I believe that’s 3500lm for the v3 vs 2500lm for the v1/v2, so the choice is yours.

View of the reflector and the XHP50.2 LED.

The beam from the ’50.2 is pretty smooth, but still exhibits the “Cree rainbow”, ie, white hotspot, yellow corona, bluer spill. It’s not too bad, though, and doesn’t have any bullseyes or other artifacts. White-wall hunting, it’s noticeable, but in real life, not really. Brightness in a light this size is quite impressive. Use ceiling-bounce and hit turbo, and it’s as bright or brighter than flicking on the room lights. Rated 3500lm? I believe it. LOL

The UI isn’t a “standard” one like Narsim or Andouille, but for simple operations it’s close. I went right to ramping vs stepped, because it’s just a naturally wider range of output, and you dial in the brightness you want. In stepped mode, the jump is from 1lm on moonlight to 150lm on low. If you want only, say, 10-20lm, then 1lm would be way too low, and 150lm way too high. So ramping lets you get the perfect amount of light you want/need.

A quick rundown of the UI in ramping mode is that it’s simple click-on and click-off. Doubleclick gets you to turbo, tripleclick to strobe, and quadclick will switch between ramping/stepped if on, else locked-out if off.

In stepped mode, you click on, then hold the button to cycle between low/medium/high. Press’n‘hold from off for moonlight, doubleclick for turbo.

In ramped mode, you can directly run the full gamut from moonlight to turbo via ramping. Clicking on, the light often eats a press’n‘hold, so if the light doesn’t brighten/dim when you do it, just let go and press’n‘hold again and it will. I haven’t found if it’s a timing issue (eg, having to wait 3sec or whatever) or some other reason, but just keep that in mind.

The SP33 comes with a variety of goodies. As above, there’s a lanyard, extra O-rings, usb-C charging cable, and 18650 adapter sleeve. The manual recommends only 26650s and 21700s, but 18650s can be used in a pinch. Just don’t (you read that right: don’t) use protected cells whose protection circuits can cut out if you crank it up to turbo. The light has built-in protection, so protected cells are unnecessary.

Internals of the SP33 showing the rather beefy springs for good current-handling.

Fit and finish on the light is great. Flawless ano, no dings anywhere, not even a hint of dust behind the front glass, etc. A nice stainless-steel bezel crowns the front of the light. Diamond-cut knurling is grippy without “bite”. The ’50.2 is perfectly centered in the reflector. The button, Sofirn name + model, and the bacon-in-a-triangle symbol are all aligned, all nice attention to detail.

The SP33 fit and finish.

Directly opposite the switch is the charging port covered with the usual rubber flap. It’s nice and thick, not flimsy at all, and seems to seal well with a nice firm press. The switch light flashes red while charging, turns blue when finished. Simple!

View of the rear of the light and its charging port.

The light tailstands quite nicely, and the recess at the end would fit a nice beefy 1” magnet in case you’d want it to stick to metal surfaces.

The SP33 tailstanding.

All in all, wow! Big Smile Great light, built-in charging, hella bright as well, and while I’d sacrifice some brightness to get full regulation, lumen-hounds will certainly appreciate the extra 1000lm. Add to that full ramping from moonlight all the way to turbo, and you got a great all-around light for house, car, anywhere. Color me impressed. Big Smile

 

Comparison of the SP33 and all-too-common tulip-head zoomie.

Finally, a comparison of the SP33 and an all-too-common tulip-head zoomie. Don’t worry, it’s not mine. LOL For about the same size, you get a way better light with the SP33.

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Lightbringer
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Oh, c’mon… no comments comparing the size of the ’33 with a zoomie? I thought that’d be a hoot.

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No figurines, no comments.

Big Smile
Lightbringer
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Tired

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Ok, that smiley is sufficiently touching.

I like your comparison. I think we’re all shocked we never had this obvious idea ourself. Thanks for the review, Lichtbringer Beer

amishbill
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It sounds like the UI is not far off from the original. I’m good with that, as the super muggle-friendly UI of the original is one of the things I loved.

Now I have to go look at the differences between the V1, 2 and 3 and decide if I need another variant.

DIY LT1 battery wrap image. "PDF on Google Drive":https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IHIEOi1NXu868IYNCzIM7D2Ulpxchmww

Fresh Sanyo NCR18650GAs already wrapped "for sale HERE":http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69120 if you like.

Lightbringer
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I noticed something interesting with the UI, though, and wondered if it’s just mine.

Click-on to its last-set level, then click’n‘hold. Most other lights I have, ramping defaults upward, and you gotta click’n‘hold again to go downward. On my ’33, it always defaults downward, and then a second click’n‘hold defaults upward.

I thought it would occasionally “eat” a click’n‘hold, but this explains it. I usually ramp down to minimum anyway (got enough unpleasant surprises getting blasted in the face at full turbo), so when it’s already at minimum, the first (“eaten”) click’n‘hold tries to go down further from minimum, and of course doesn’t.

Not saying the default-downward is good or bad, just different.

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I’ll take the zoomy any day as its used by military forces all over the world. LOL

 

djozz quotes, "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

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old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

xevious
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How is the throw? Has the beam distance increased any?

Didn’t see these mentioned —> LVP: yes; Thermal regulation: yes

Lightbringer
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I’m not really a throw-freak, as I tend to use lights closer-in, so couldn’t really say.

Didn’t run down any cells yet, either, so that’s also an assumption that LVP works as advertised. LOL

Thermal reg, yep, noticed a bit of a stepdown after leaving it cooking for a while.

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