Niwalker NWK 550N3 - Beamshots added

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Woody
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Niwalker NWK 550N3 - Beamshots added

This is my first attempt at a “review” so be gentle. It’s lacking in any measurements of runtime, or output – so some would not even class it as a review – so it’s more my impressions of the light. My photographic excursion to a quiet country field last Saturday was an unmitigated disaster, so no outdoor beamshots just yet, though I’ll try to add them. Indeed, all my photographic exploits are pretty poor, but I’ll hopefully learn, and improve. At least I now have a good excuse to use the Canon DSLR I bought a few years ago, and until yesterday haven’t so much as transferred a photo to my PC. Anyway, thanks to members who responded to this plea

I was attracted to this light by the torture tests undertaken by run4jc on CPL

I then read Selfbuilt*UPDATED*-Review-RUNTIMES-BEAMSHOTS-VIDEO and HKJ’s’s http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?331971-Review-of-Niwa... review of engineering samples of this light’s big brother, the NWK750.

On this forum, coolperl also reviewed the NWK750 and a smaller light, the NWK220.

Recently Selfbuilt has reviewed the final version of the NWK750N1

So far, so good. They looked like serious lights, made by a serious manufacturer. Niwalker are a Tiawanese company, with a manufacturing place (and office) in China. They apparently have made lights sold under the Tiablo brand. What I found really interesting was that these reviews were on pre-production samples, and that the testing took place at the turn of the year, yet I hadn’t seen much (anything) of the final versions. I thought I’d try to get a NWK600 (the original name of this light – confusing, or what)?

I emailed Niwalker, who advised that the light would be released in July, and they didn’t have a UK dealer, but were trying to get one, and suggested I get the light from Going Gear. I was surprised they didn’t have any Chinese dealers (HK Equipment, or Intl Outdoor seemed like a good bet). Anyway, I left it for a while, and then contacted a few UK dealers to see if there was any change. Seemingly not. Then last week one arrived on my doorstep.. Well, it wasn’t actually mine, but my wife had bought it directly from Niwalker for me as an anniversary present (this Friday, 33 years, if anyone’s interested).

One thing I like, and haven’t seen much evidence of in other manufacturers, is the idea of sending engineering samples to respected reviewers, and incorporating their comments and advice in the final production model. Niwalker seemed very keen to take on the communities comments before releasing their lights. In fact, Selfbuilt reports that Niwalker will be changing the NWK750N1 to accommodate something he wasn’t happy about in the production model.

So, to the light itself.

Manufacturer’s Specifications :

Body Finish: HA III Mil Spec hard anodized mat black
LED : Cree XM-L U2 50,000 life span
Output: High:550, Mid:230, Low:10 lumens ANSI standard
Run Time: High 2hrs, Mid 6hrs, Low:50hrs
Operation: Tactical single high output or General multi-level output. To change between tactical mode and general mode is simple, just press and hold the secondary switch for 2.5 seconds.
Reflector: Smooth polished reflector, focused clean crisp beam
Waterproof: IPX-8 standard
Working Voltage: 3.4V-8.4V
Dimensions: Length:151mm Bezel diameter:40mm Body diameter:25.4mm
Weight: 150g
Light Body: Made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum
Lens: Toughened AR coated glass lens
Product Character: High output, rugged construction and immediate access to strobe
Lockout: Assures the NWK 550N3 will not inadvertently turn on
Design Features: Specially designed for security, self-defense, military, police, law enforcement, hunting and search & rescue

I found some variances between their web site description and the Operation Manual (A4 sheet) that came with the light, presumably because of last minute changes in production.

Mid output now 250 rather than 230, with run time reduced to 5.5h (from 6h)
Weight 155g (150) – on my scales it weighs 160g without clip or battery
Body width 25.5 (25.4)
I would say it is slightly longer than 153mm, including bezel

The light comes in a bespoke cardboard box, bit like Zebralights, with some nice goodies. A decent holster, good lanyard, clip and 3 orings are included. I don’t really want to use the clip – last time I fitted a press on one (from LD01 to Xeno E03, I scratched the E03. Kinda ironic that I wanted this light because of torture tests, yet don’t want to risk even a teeny scratch!


.

Build Quality

Anodising is matt black and looks as good as anything I have – certainly on a par with the little Sunwayman C10R I recently won. Looks better than any budget light (Solarforce, XinTD, Cyclone), but then, it’s probably more expensive.

Threads are triangular, thick and of very good quality. No chance of misthreading. They are anodised for lockout, to prevent accidentally turning the light on (though I haven’t used lockout, and haven’t had it come on accidentally.

The overall feel of the light in the hand is great. Although there isn’t much knurling, there are a lot of heat sink elements jutting out that help give a comfortable non-slip grip. A raised part of the tailcap means it doesn’t tailstand. My only concern is that the lanyard attachment point looks quite thin, and a split ring might cause some wear.

One thing I do like is that the removable rubber cigar ring has one straight edge, allowing the flat side to rest comfortably in the palm of the hand – a thoughtful touch.

The stainless steel bezel is only slightly crenelated, and unscrews easily to swop over the optional filters and diffuser.

I only have Panasonic based 3100 cells (Keeppower, Eagtac, Intl Outdoor, Panasonic). All are protected, and I’ve had no problems fitting any of these. There is a tailspring, and a raised button at driver end, so I assume flattops would work OK.

This gives an idea of the size, compared to a L2 and the XinTD C8:

User Interface

Main tailcap switch is forward clicky, setting three modes (High – 550lm, Medium – 250lm and Low – 10 lumen). For my use this is fine – the medium will give a very decent runtime, and is bright enough for most things. There is no memory – it always comes on in high.

A secondary tailcap side switch controls the instant strobe, which, once on, if held for 2.5secs, turns the strobe into a single high mode. Thereafter the main switch is high only, with momentary supported. As with all these things, it’s easier in practice than written down – certainly easier than I’ve written it down. I guess this is a “tactical” function for users that want to set the light up as instant strobe, or instant high. For me, I’ll rarely use strobe at all, and three settings are well spaced – I’ll be using it on my narrowboat (canal barge) and don’t need a moonlight mode on this particular light.

Beam Quality
The U2 cool white emitter is perfectly centred, and produces the tightest and best defined hotspot I have in any of my lights. Although it has a smooth reflector, it isn’t quite as throwy as I expected, probably because of the relatively small head, but is on a par with my XinTD C8 and gives a decent spill, It is a pretty white beam with no real colouration (edit my wife just said it looks slightly purple on the outside – I don’t see it mysef).

I tried some white wall beamshots, and realised I don’t have a white wall. Efforts against a white door made me realise a white glossy door gave off horrible reflections, so I remembered the old projection screen I had for colour slides back in the day, dug it out from my shed, and realised it was silver. So, I present, maybe, the first BLF silver wall beamshots – the bulge on my beamshot is caused by a crease in the projection screen, it’s not there against a yellow wall. Might cover the screen with a white tablecloth next time (though I’ll have to iron it first).

Photos at 1/25sec; 1/100; 1/800; 1/1600. ISO100, Automatic white balance, f3.5.

I can’t find any evidence of PWM even on the low modes. I can hear a very slight (inductor?) whine with it against my ear when in high mode, but it is only slight, with the light almost inside my ear. I’ve never really been bothered by PWM, but compared it with an L2 running the Manafont Ultrafire 3 mode drop-in. Ah yes, now I know about PWM! I’d say this is current controlled.

I haven’t much experience with current readings, but had a go with a cheapo multimeter (Tenma 72-7765). I found it pulls 2.16A on high. I couldn’t get any reading for medium or low, and wonder if this might be because of the double switch? As a kind of control, I also took readings from an L2 running the, Manafont drop-in and got 2.47A. A L2M, Intl Outdoor 2.5A drop-in, running from an eFest 18350 IMR drew 2.02A. This might all be a load of rubbish, because, as I say, I don’t have experience taking these readings.

The bottom line though, playing with the NWK550N3 in the real world (ie, outside in a field) was that it is pretty bright, and I can certainly believe the quoted output figures. I haven’t tried it with two 16340 or 18350 cells, but have no doubt that the light will handle them well. Working voltage is 3.4-8.4v. I haven’t done any run time testing, to see whether it cuts off after a while, but on high it gets warm, but nowhere as near as hot as, say the Zebralight SC600W, or the Manafont drop-in, or indeed most of my 18650 lights. There is no evidence of output dropping after, say 10 minutes.

Overall, I really like this light. It’s well built, rugged (see the torture tests, I’m not repeating them and getting my pristine light scratched, frozen, boiled, etc), feels good in the hand and gives out a good beam. I think Niwalker have done a good job.

Anything I’ve forgotten, please ask (except to say “where are the runtime and output measurements?”.). I’ll try to get outdoor beamshots next weekend.

Edited by: Woody on 09/06/2012 - 15:44
blueb8llz
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very nice. been waiting for your review. great on the picture as well, pretty good quality.
this light reminds me very much of my thrunite tn11s.

Woody
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Now updated with a review (after a fashion) of this new light from Niwalker.

gords1001
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Nice review woody, you don’t need actual numbers, your impressions give a real world account of what you actually feel about the light in your hand. Glad your anniversary pressent wasn’t a let down. Care to venture a guess on price?

Ledsmoke
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Thank you for the review Woody.

Don't worry about those run-time things. Those are not too important i'd say. Most of us carry plenty spare batteries or none at all Smile

Good to see you use that fine camera you have. Wonderful pictures. Nice silver wall shots too Wink ( Couldn't you iron the silver screen instead of a tablecloth? )

Seems the light has a really well defined beam profile for its size. I like that. But where on earth can one buy these if not directly from manufacturer? And what is the price range? Do you have any idea?

 

TY for any answers you may give.

~ Ledsmoke ~

Dutch humor:

[quote=djozz]

 I do not think that the BLF-community ben

Woody
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gords1001 wrote:
Nice review woody, you don’t need actual numbers, your impressions give a real world account of what you actually feel about the light in your hand. Glad your anniversary pressent wasn’t a let down. Care to venture a guess on price?

Well, it cost me a new Kindle Touch to return the favour, which arrived today :bigsmile: I think Niwalker said the list price was $115 when I asked a month or so ago. I still haven’t see it anywhere.

Woody
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Ledsmoke wrote:
Nice silver wall shots too Wink ( Couldn’t you iron the silver screen instead of a tablecloth? )

Seems the light has a really well defined beam profile for its size. I like that. But where on earth can one buy these if not directly from manufacturer? And what is the price range? Do you have any idea?

 

TY for any answers you may give.

Never thought of ironing the screen! To be honest I didn’t really notice until I saw the photos on screen, but I might try again with something white.

Tell me about trying to acquire one! I asked all the UK dealers I could think of without joy. The only dealers with Niwalker (the 750N1) that I’ve found are Going Gear in the US, and Intl Outdoor, but they didn’t have the 550N3 last time I looked – I guess they might get them in stock soon. In fact I asked Hank about the bigger light – they were offering a BLF $40 discount on the bigger light, but then the price rose after Selfbuilt’s final review. I think the 550 is around $115, but being a gentleman, haven’t asked. Well, I have, but she won’t tell me Big Smile

blueb8llz
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nice writeup there. is the nw brighter than the xintd?

_the_
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Thanks for the nice review of a very nice light!

Unfortunately it's a bit pricey for me..

=the=

 

Woody
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blueb8llz wrote:
nice writeup there. is the nw brighter than the xintd?

My XinTd C8 is brighter, and a nice light, but the NWK550 is in a different league. I’d say it’s up there with the likes of Klarus, Thrunite etc in terms of quality, as reflected by the price.

I have a cool white Niwalker – I doubt they will produce a neutral version (and my XinTd is v2, neutral)

At the weekend I’ll try to get some comparative outdoor beamshots, and will try tonight to re-do the white wall shots – i.e., change from silver lol.

Woody
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OK, I’ve changed the silver screen to a white(ish) cloth covered screen. Never did find the iron, so a few creases. I’ll learn. Only took half an hour to download and copy & paste the images this time.

Woody
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Just noticed that Going Gear have the NWK550N3 in stock – $125, though I’m pretty sure they offer a discount code on the Other Side.

One thing I should also have mentioned is that there was a 3 year warranty card included in the box. I guess for such a robust light they are confident enough to offer a lengthy warranty.