Review: XTAR D35 Diving Light with 3x XM-L U2 LEDs

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peteybaby
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Review: XTAR D35 Diving Light with 3x XM-L U2 LEDs

This is a short review of the XTAR D35 diving light, a new triple XM-L U2 light that uses 3x 18650 cells in parallel.  I’m not a diver though, so my review won’t cover how this light works under water.  (why did a non-diver buy a diving light?  I like the UI and beam profile.)

Here it is in my hand:

I bought it here: http://www.szwholesale.com/xtar-100m-diving-cree-flashlight-p-4301.html?osCsid=056db6544e8b81a3ac5e5fc7e758bb87

XTAR’s specs:

XTAR D35 100m Diving CREE XM-L U2 LED Flashlight

ANSI Illumination levels:   High      Mid       Low      Strobe     SOS      Preset
Luminance:                  2350Lm    800Lm     200Lm    2350Lm     2350Lm   15-2350Lm

Duration:                   1.5h      5.5h      25h                          500h-1.5h

Max Range : 475m(on land)
Max Intensity: 56500cd
Impact Resistance: 1.5m
Water Resistance: Underwater 100 meters
Bulb: 3x CREE XM-L U2 LED
Crust Materials: Anodized aircraft 6061 aluminium alloy, type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
Working Voltage: 2.75~4.2V
Battery: 3x 18650/18700(Recommend protected batteries)
Switch: Magnetic switch
Size: Ø 83.0mm
Head diax Ø 46.5mmBody diax 214mmlength
Net Weight : 870g
Excluded batteries
Additional Functions: Memory function, Modes base.

XTAR’s pictures:

Here are XTAR’s Facebook pictures of the D35, including a comparison photo with the XTAR S1 Search & Rescue light (the S1 is the longer light):

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.452909861397905.102327.267104746645085&type=3

You will notice that the D35 looks very similar to the S1.  It’s because the D35 is built on the S1’s foundation.  It has all of the features of the S1, plus some very significant improvements.  In this review, I’ll mention only briefly some of the features that the S1 and D35 have in common because those features are described in detail in reviews of the S1…

Excellent reviews of XTAR S1:

http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?337182-XTAR-S1-(Production)-Review-(3-x-XM-L-U2-1-3-x-18650)

http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?330637

http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?337169

Differences between the D35 and S1:

These are the differences (that I know of) between the two lights.  Note that I don’t own an S1 and have never held one, but I’ve read several reviews and comments about it.

The D35:

  • is shorter (240 mm for the S1, 214 mm for the D35, according to XTAR), and lighter (888 g for the S1, 870 g for the D35, according to XTAR).
  • has an easier-to-grip magnetic control ring.  It should be easier to turn one-handed than the S1’s ring when wearing gloves, or under water, or in the rain, etc.
  • has a thicker glass lens to withstand water pressure down to 100 m depth.
  • has two more fixed modes, Low and Mid, on the control ring.  This is, in my opinion, the biggest and best difference. Also, the Strobe and SOS modes that are on the S1’s control ring are relegated to the D35’s Select position (more on that later).
  • starts its ramping at maximum output, slowly drops to minimum, then to SOS, then strobe, and then starts ramping down from maximum again.  I believe the S1 ramps up and down when in Select mode.

First impressions:

This is a big, solid, heavy light!  It feels really well made.  I have medium-large hands, and as you can see from my picture, this is not a dainty light.  It makes all my other lights look and feel like toys.

On the other hand, it’s not super long, and is pocketable if you have big pockets.

The reflectors are quite large in diameter, but what surprised me was how deep they are.  I guess it’s that diameter and depth that let the D35 produce good throw.  Here's the D35 beside the Dry:

The control ring is nice and smooth, and doesn’t require very much effort to turn, which is a plus for me.

The D35 is very stable when tailstanding.

Output modes:

The D35 has three fixed modes: Low, Mid, and High.  The Low mode is not the lowest output that the D35 is capable of.  It can drop down to 15 lumens, but the Low mode is set to 200 lm.  Mode spacing is very good.  Unlike some lights (e.g. the Dry 4-mode) where Turbo and High modes are not very different, the D35’s mode spacing is perfect.  High mode is 2350 lm, Mid is 800 lm (about 1/3 of High mode), and Low is 200 (about ¼ of Mid). (All outputs were measured by integrating sphere, says XTAR)

I find the Low and Mid modes suitable for most of my outdoor uses, but it’s great to have the High mode available with a small turn of the ring.  If I’m going for a walk on well-travelled trails, I’ll usually set the Preset mode to the minimum 15 lumens, or close to it.  That way I get in effect a 4-mode light.  If I think I’ll need strobe, I’ll set the Preset to the Strobe mode.

Some lights overheat on their highest setting, so that you have to manually switch down to the 2nd-highest setting, or the light steps down automatically for you.  The D35 can run at maximum output with no overheating issues.  I ran it on High for about 40 mins, and the head felt only a little bit warm.

Strobe and SOS modes:

As mentioned, these modes are available from the Select position of the control ring.  To access them, turn the control ring to the Select position.  The output will ramp slowly from maximum to minimum to let you choose an output level for the Preset position.  After ramping down to the minimum output, the D35 will switch to SOS mode for a few seconds, and then to Strobe mode, and then repeat the cycle.

At any point, you can rotate the ring back to the Preset position to lock in the current mode or output level.  Quite clever I think, and it lets them “hide” the dreaded blinky modes while providing two more fixed-output modes on the main ring positions.

Beam profile:

I wanted a light with a fairly large hotspot, but a relatively narrow spill, and a gradual transition from spot to spill.  That’s what the D35 has.  I have a 5x XR-E throwy light, but the spot on that light is too small for most uses.  You have to “paint” the spot around, and I don’t like doing that.  The Dry is all flood.  I like that sometimes, but many times I want some flood, plus as much throw as I can get.  The D35 is the best of both worlds: decent throw, plus a fairly wide hotspot.

Here's the D35 (right) beside the Dry (left) (Note: the Dry is neutral-white)

When I ceiling-bounce both, the Dry lights up the room a tiny bit brighter than the D35 does, due to its greater overall output, but as you can see, the D35 has a significantly brighter hotspot, resulting in greater throw.

PWM:

Some people are very sensitive to PWM; others are not.  I’m not, but I do see the PWM in some of my lights.  I rarely notice the PWM on the D35 in normal use, and when I do, it doesn’t bother me.  If I try to see it, by waving my fingers fast in front of the light, yes I can see the D35’s PWM, but I don’t often wave my fingers in front of my light when in normal use.

Mechanical & ergonomics:

The D35 is built very solidly.  It’s a little bit head-heavy but not too bad.  When I carry the D35 with my arm hanging at my side, I hold the light with my hand right up against the base of the head.  Or, if I’m changing modes frequently, I hold it with my thumb and forefinger around or overlapping the control ring, sometimes touching the fins on the head. The other 3 fingers support the barrel.  This way, the light is balanced in my hand, yet I can switch modes easily.  See the picture at the beginning of this review for one of the ways I hold the D35.

The grip on the barrel is excellent because of the knurling and grooves on the body.  I’ve walked with the D35 for an hour without getting tired of holding it.

I really like the magnetic control ring.  This is my first light with a control ring and I think I’m spoiled now.  Turning the ring can be done easily with the fingers and/or thumb of the hand holding the light.  That’s great because I like lights that allow one-handed operation, and this light does.

One way of holding the D35 is with the thumb resting on one of the grooves in the control ring, so that whenever you need to change the output, you can simply move your thumb left or right.  In fact, you can sort of achieve a momentary-on with this light by using your thumb to move the ring left or right starting from the off position, and not clicking the ring into place.

The raised ridges on the ring make it easy to turn one-handed with gloves on too.  I haven’t tried it under water, but I’m sure it would be easy to turn one-handed under water too.

The D35 uses a thick AR-coated glass lens to resist the pressure of 100 m depth in water.  This is of course great for divers, but also good for non-divers, because it means the lens is very tough.

You can lock out the tailcap to eliminate parasitic drain with a small turn of the tailcap.  When loosened this way, the tailcap is still very solidly attached to the barrel.

Pocketability isn’t as bad as you’d think.  You definitely need a big jacket pocket, and a jacket that won’t easily slide off your shoulder from the D35’s weight. I usually wear a rain jacket, and the pockets on mine are easily big enough for the D35.  Some people will probably use the included shoulder strap or lanyard though.

Beamshots:

See the previously mentioned reviews of the XTAR S1 for lots of beamshots, which should be identical to the beamshots of the D35.

The LED tint is I believe a 1C bin, which is in the cool white range, somewhere between 6000 K and 6500 K.  Many people will be happy with the 1C, but when I compared it side-by-side with my 5A3-tint-bin Dry, I definitely preferred the 5A3. The 1C isn’t as cool as some other cool-white XM-Ls I have though.

Conclusion:

I bought the D35 because I already had the Dry 3x XM-L and I wanted to try a throwier light but one that wasn’t a pure small-spot thrower.  That is, I still wanted a useful general-purpose outdoors light, but one that would let me see farther than the all-flood Dry does.  I use my high-powered lights to walk my dogs on trails in the woods or beside creeks, and often I’m the only person around, so I need to see as far as possible.  The other lights I considered were the Fenix TK70, the Sunwayman T60CS, the ThruNite TN30, the not-yet-released ZebraLight S6330, and the JETBeam RRT-3 XM-L.

I chose the D35 because it (same as XTAR S1) supposedly has the 2nd-best throw out of those lights, and the one with the best throw, the TK70, is definitely not pocketable, which ruled it out for me.  The Spark SP6 was another potential contender but it’s too expensive for me.

In addition to throw, other features I was looking for were:

  • Either a magnetic control ring or a side switch, for one-handed operation (the Dry can be operated one-handed, but it takes a bit of finger contortion to press the tailcap switch).
  • Constant regulated output for about an hour (the Dry’s output drops steadily).
  • Minimum IPX7 waterproof rating (the D35 is IPX8).
  • At least 3 modes, including a Low mode
  • No worrying about overheating on High mode

The D35 delivers on all points.  It’s a little bit heavier than I’d like, but I’m glad to have all that thermal mass.  It’s larger in diameter than I’d like, but without the diameter I wouldn’t get the throw I wanted.  It’s really rugged, and of course completely waterproof, which is essential in Vancouver’s rainy winters.

I would have been satisfied with a side switch, but a control ring is the ideal UI for me, and I like the operation of the D35’s control ring very much.  For me it’s almost the perfect UI (see next section).  It’s great to be able to dial in whichever output I want with a flick of my thumb, instead of having to tap-tap-tap my way through the modes.  And one thing that I haven’t seen mentioned very often: with a clicky switch, you can only go in one direction.  If you have say 4 modes, and you’re on mode 4 and you want to get to mode 3, you can’t click backwards once; you have to click forward 3 times.  With a control ring, you can go in either direction.  Very nice.

The throw is very nice.  I can see distant trees and trail features much more easily with the D35 than I can with the Dry.  I’m very satisfied with the D35’s beam shape.

I like that I can just pick up and use the D35 in any situation.  I don’t need to know the battery charge state (because regulation is flat), I don’t need to baby it to keep it from overheating, and I don’t have to protect it from rain, snow, puddles, or even oceans.

Things I would like to see changed on the D35:

  • There should be a “stop” on the control ring, so that it takes a significant effort (need to use two hands) to push the ring to the Select mode.  That would prevent accidentally changing your customized Preset level.  And if they can do that, then also move the strobe and maybe a beacon mode back to the control ring, but also behind a “stop” when you rotate the control ring past the High mode.
  • The pointer mark on the control ring should be black, not white, because it’s hard to see the white paint on the silver ring.  This would be less of an issue if there were a stop before the Select mode, because sometimes when you’re unsure which position the ring is in, you could just rotate it randomly left and right to figure it out instead of looking at the ring.  You don’t want to do that the way the D35 is designed currently though, because you would lose your customized Preset level whenever you accidentally push the ring to the Select position.
  • I’d like the option to choose neutral white XM-Ls.  I understand that “U2” is probably a bigger marketing buzzphrase than “neutral white”, but I personally would rather have T6 NW than U2 CW.  At least it’s easy with the D35’s construction to swap out the LEDs, which I may do some day.
  • I’d like a turbo mode that automatically steps down after a minute or so.  The D35 doesn’t get hot, even if left on high for long periods, so there should be some headroom there to let it deliver 3000 lm for short bursts.

Note: I paid for this light with my own money, and was not asked by XTAR to write this review.  I was able to buy one of the first production units directly from XTAR because I helped in a small way with the development of the light, but I do not work for XTAR or sell XTAR products, or have anything to gain by promoting XTAR products.

 

Edited by: sb56637 on 09/02/2017 - 12:34
peteybaby
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Added vendor link.

jacktheclipper
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Nice light you have there .

What I do

 

Chicago X
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Thanks for the review.

The machining and ergonomics look to be top-notch.

http://wardogsmakingithome.org/index.html

War Dogs, Making it Home - Rescue Dogs for Returning Vets

peteybaby
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Thanks guys. I’ve added a couple more pictures.

sb56637
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Very well done review! Nice looking like too. Frontpage’d and Sticky’d.

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

peteybaby
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Thanks!

After using the D35 for over a week, some further thoughts:

Lights with control rings are awesome.

I’m really impressed how the D35 never gets hot, and to my eyes at least, the output doesn’t fade.

I love the beam shape. Before I bought the light, I was unsure if the beam would be too tight, with not enough spill, but it’s actually just right. There’s just enough spill that you can see stuff dimly to your left and right when the light is pointed forward. The “scalloped” shape of the spill has been mentioned in other reviews, but I never notice it in normal use.

On one of my walks this week, I started with the Dry for 15 minutes, then switched to the D35. After switching, I really liked how the D35 threw further than the Dry, and how I didn’t have to strain to see distant objects.

The D35 might not be a pure thrower, but I think this light is way more useful than a pure thrower, at least for me. I wouldn’t want to be able to see a bear 700 m ahead of me, but not the bear’s angry mommy 5 m ahead of me and 1 m to the side. Smile

With my other lights, I often switch to the lowest mode that I can see adequately with, to keep the lights from getting warm or to preserve battery life. But with the D35, I find I leave it on High most of the time even if I don’t really need all that light, just for the sheer fun of it, because with the D35 there’s no need to worry about overheating or fading, and my night walks are usually an hour or less so the batteries will last for the whole walk (and I have at least two spare lights, of course).

As mentioned before, I’m not very sensitive to PWM, but I almost never notice the PWM on the D35 in normal use.

I like that the batteries simply slide into the barrel of the light. No battery carrier to fiddle with.

Deata
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Nice!I love this light!

DON KIDIK
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Enjoyed the review very much[thanks] and wondered what main diffrences would be in real life[in hand use]. I have the S1[thanks woody],its certainly not a pocket light.Anyone that would look at it and think it may be,needs to see an optician,ther one of the Fantastic four or they live on the Moon.The light looks heavy and it is,the reflector is wider than the Mersey Tunnel entrance,so combats,jeans,or anything outside santas sack .Wouldnt do the job for carrying safely and cumfy.You know your carrying this light.The light does come with a nice velvet pouch with draw string[carry over sholder]which works fine .Im a big fella and without the control ring[which is excellent] the light would need Harry Houdini to select anything but the floor with one hand.I find once your familiar with the control ring its easy to remember wher your at in the sequence and dont need to look for the marker/pointer much.The head is a weight on its own and the light i find is then weighted toward the well machined head.A firm grip is needed and big hands do help.My daughter struggled to use the light and swopped me[back] for my TM11 when out spotting along the River,its no toy as youve said.Its a proper piece of quality equipment that is fit for the purpose.Other than that,its superb.Every aspect of the light is top draw.I would like to read a review from someone who had used the Divers version[D35]for diving and how they find the weight.Which in water i would think isnt an issue,along with the heat aspect[if ther is any] also.When i first looked at the light[D35] i thought,,,wow,thats a big boy,larger than most lights ive seen[have] for diving,i bet its a fairly weighty animal.Jaws would do a runner if he spotted ya carrying that im sure.

Thanks again for the info,im tempted even more now to try the D35.

DON