Rant about Zebralight tint designations

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brjones
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Rant about Zebralight tint designations

Would like to stir up a little discussion. Opposing ideas (especially those with experience) are welcomed as long as they're respectful. ZL was one of the sacred cows of CPF, and I do admire George's creativity, so I'm still a little gun-shy. (Another post-traumatic-CPF disclaimer: I'm posting in the general LED flashlight forum, since the issue here is not about headlamps nor flashlight design, but tint choices by manufacturers.)

 

I'm miffed that Zebralight is calling the H51w "Neutral". It's listed right on ZL's website as 3700K! That is WARM in my book. To me, and I'm not an 'expert', but to me, Neutral is 4500-5500 or so. That's even if Cree lists 3700 as the very lowest number which can be considered neutral (on the borderline of warm). You can see it in Youtube comparison videos. It's a little hard to see, but to me, in those videos the "W" consistently looks slightly orangey. Not a nice yellowish which would be reminiscent of an incandescent (which would still be 'warm').

 

I mean, the "W" does not stand for "Neutral" after all, it stands for Warm! So why come up with a model name "H51w" (H51Warm), and then name it H51 Neutral! That kind of disrespect to the consumer's intelligence is not what I'd expect from Zebralight.

 

What got me miffed in the first place? Well, I bought one of the limited-edition "Warm" 4Sevens Quark Mini's. I was expecting an 'incandescent-like' experience. What I got was a light as if shining through a pumpkin (no hole in this jack o' lantern). Distractingly orangey. Very artificial. In no way like an incandescent.

 

The difference? 4Sevens DID actually sell a real Neutral version (looks like they don't anymore, unfortunately), which is what I should've gotten in retrospect. That said, their Cool is quite nice, no hint of blueishness. Zebralight doesn't offer a real Neutral. Just something ambiguously-named and, on paper, amgibuously binned between warm and neutral, but in my opinion much more like warm in real life (while calling it neutral).

 

ZL's "warm"(?)/neutral/whatever looks to me not as orangey as 4sevens warm, which is good. But, if I were dropping $64 for a flashlight, it had BETTER be what I want, and even more importantly, what it claims to be! And I think it's bizarre that ZL doesn't offer a "true" warm AND a "true" neutral too. I'd think there'd be more demand for Neutral tints than ZL thinks--but what do I know? Then again, if they can choose tint, why not make EVERYTHING neutral, because... it's... neutral. Which is what the eye expects. That's why they call it neutral. I guess cool provides better numbers on paper, but ZL's are not built for paper racing.

 

Such great designs, each to me had their own Achilles Heel. H30 was small enough for keychain, but could be turned on accidentally in pocket. H50 was twisty but not very bright for the price. Then they came out with recessed switches and updated emitters, but used XP-E's (argh!) instead of the next big thing at the time, which was XP-G's. Remember long after XP-G's came out, they only had XP-E's. There was no excuse for designing (traditionally floody) headlamps around the XP-E, of all things, especially when George acknowledged that they couldn't just switch to XP-G's due to die differences, hence... no XP-G's for you. Somewhere along the line, despite the 'best interface ever', I heard reports of the soft switch being overly easy to activate... which negated the usefulness of a recessed switch.... And when they finally got XP-G's (requiring a whole new design, and the wait), I thought that their naming their Warm model "neutral" was a slap in the face to those whose purchase decision would actually rides on that. (And if you're purchasing the "w" version, whatever it stands for, over the cool version, isn't that the basis of your decision?) The easy-press soft switch wouldn't have stopped me, but throwing in an orange LED and calling it Neutral is putting lipstick on a jack-o'-lantern. Albeit a very bright jack o' lantern.

 

4Sevens and Zebralight to me have interesting similarities. Both are owned by a Chinese American male who comes up with innovative designs and then gets the manufacturing offshored in China. Both provide good quality control, support, and have a personal interaction with customers (via CPF, unfortunately). George once personally answered a forum question of mine. Their secretary has answered my technical questions reasonably, or got the answer from someone who knew if she didn't (she usually knew). I really want to like their products. I wanted to be an owner. But I never took the plunge, and it was never over price alone.

 

Tangent: I think I remember reading a few years ago 4Sevens (David?) talk about an innovative headlamp design which he said got "stolen", and then produced by others. I always wanted to ask if that was Zebralight--but--that was CPF--I didn't have the guts to ask Smile . If anyone has any info on this, I'd definitely be interested to know. Regardless who it was, I think he should've pressed forward, as if the many Zebralight knock-offs have shown, there's room for more than one in the headlamp pool. I later also 4Sevens declare on their website that the design for the Quark Mini CR2 or 123 was being 'counterfeited'. I never was able to figure out who that was, or know if you can really counterfeit a flashlight design as long as the name is different (if so, Surefire is owed a lot!). I mean, really, at the end of the day it's just a small, well-designed twisty, which is the selling point. I wonder if it was iTP's A1 EOS? Strikingly similar, yet again no real breakthrough in features if you ask me.

 

 

- Circumcision, regardless gender, by definition causes sensation loss, and thereby usually causes difficulty later in life. Oppose amputation of children's genitals. ALL children. http://tinyurl.com/haszs6o

Edited by: Anonymous (not verified) on 08/14/2012 - 15:00
srfreddy
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The A1 came before the Mini 123. Also, Looking at illuminationgears beamshots, the H51w is pretty neutral, and is rated at 4200k by zebralight. The custom optics for the XPE cost them a boatload, and XPG's aren't much of an improvement over the XPE at low drive currents-and certainly not worth the definetly higher costs that would be transferred to the consumer. 

brted
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I'm seeing 4200K in the first few websites I've pulled up. I would consider that neutral. It's hard to get some of the pictures just right and tint comparisons seem to exaggerate the difference on most cameras, so what you see in a picture isn't always what you will see in person.

I agree on warm tints, though. I thought the Quark warms were way too warm and I also think there is too big a sacrifice in overall output to get a warm tint. Neutral seems like a good compromise. People who want high CRI lights push for warms, but I can see just fine with a neutral.

As for the 4Sevens headlamp, while I respect what David has done with his company and I'm pulling for him just because he is a local business, he has a lot of issues with other companies. His latest was to say that Fenix stabbed him in the back. Before that it was NiteCore and EagleTac. I'm not sure why he can't get along with these companies or why he expects them to get along with him anyway since he is directly competing with them by creating his own very similar products. It's like if they don't make him chairman of their board of directors, that they are uncooperative. To me he needs to make a decision on whether he wants to make flashlights or sell other people's flashlights. It is a fundamental conflict of interest to try to do both. If I was a flashlight maker, I wouldn't want him to be a reseller of my lights. Plus there is no telling when he is going to go on a rant against any given company, but won't give any details because somehow that wouldn't be professional. To me 4Sevens is entirely overrated and benefits from a lot of fanboy accolades at CPF. I have tried one of their products, a tactical Quark and couldn't believe how awful the preflash was. There's just no excuse for him not to have redesigned that circuit to get rid of that, and yet he won't even acknowledge that it is a problem (I returned mine). And yet 4Sevens is praised endlessly. He does seem to have upset a lot of people by selling too many greenish tinted lights. [/rant]

mitro
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If the only thing a company does wrong is add "W" where it should add an "N", then they're the company I'm buying from. Because unlike 4Sevens, ZL doesn't have to be begged to make neutral lights and doesn't put out puke green lights just to be able to say they're first.

srfreddy
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mitro wrote:

If the only thing a company does wrong is add "W" where it should add an "N", then they're the company I'm buying from. Because unlike 4Sevens, ZL doesn't have to be begged to make neutral lights and doesn't put out puke green lights just to be able to say they're first.

I have to agree- there are boatloads of polls on CPF M begging for neutral/high CRI, but no cigar. 

hazna
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we flasholics are hard to please.

A blog on keychain gadgets, pocket tools and more:

http://keychainpockets.blogspot.com/

Trancersteve
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On the Zebralight  site it states the H51w has a color temperature of 4200K

I wear my sunglasses at night.

brjones
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Touché on the 4200K. So--did I remember it wrong, or was it in the 3000's at some point? I'm not sure what is considered dead center neutral--I've always assumed around 5000 K. I do know the beamshots I saw brought back bad memories of the 4Sevens "Warm", albeit not as bad.

 

srfreddy, I looked up the link to illuminationgears, I think you mean this link:

http://www.illuminationgear.com/SIDEBYSIDE27729.html

...ironically, illuminationgears calls all these models "Warm" right on his own website, not neutral.

He also appears to do a personal tint test?, as he has the color temperature rated, and they differ between models. SC30 "Warm" and H31 "Warm"=3900K, "H60W Warm"=4700K, both of which depart from ZL's rating, and both somehow still seems warm-ish, not neutral to me on the white wall. I know about cameras and claimed variations in pickup, but actually the "warm" Zebralights look remarkably consistent to me whether on Youtube, or in online beamshots (looking most reasonable in these beamshots, though). Perhaps that's why srfreddy used the qualified term "pretty neutral". I'm not talking 'preference', I'm discussing objectively whether these really are better described as "Warm" instead of "Neutral". And that it's confusing/conflicting to name your model with a "w" for warm, and then advertise it as Neutral. What was clearest to me from those beamshots is the cool is brighter enough to be noticeable. And that both seem to be reasonable tints. I still think that a 'neutral' would be somewhere between those two cool and "w" tints.

 

I respectfully disagree with Mitro on this one, as someone purchasing a 'neutral' or 'warm' flashlight is going to be in the top 1% of educated, discriminating (and picky) buyers. And therefore, whether something is 'neutral' or 'warm' is not immaterial... nor should it be given willy-nilly treatment in marketing claims. Obviously from reading the other posts here, it can be a negative experience getting a tint other than what one was paying (a good amount) for, especially when it's a "specialized" version of an already high-end item.

 

Yes, we flashaholics are hard to please. It'd be hard to be George, where in my CPF days I saw people making strong requests for features which totally contradicted each other ("start on high!" "start on low!" "start on medium!"). It's just a mystery to me why a true neutral flashlight is such a rare animal, and why respected manufacturers like ZL and 4Sevens play fast and loose with their tint claims in general, risking credibility and respect they worked so hard to build up.

- Circumcision, regardless gender, by definition causes sensation loss, and thereby usually causes difficulty later in life. Oppose amputation of children's genitals. ALL children. http://tinyurl.com/haszs6o

mitro
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brjones wrote:
I respectfully disagree with Mitro on this one, as someone purchasing a 'neutral' or 'warm' flashlight is going to be in the top 1% of educated, discriminating (and picky) buyers. And therefore, whether something is 'neutral' or 'warm' is not immaterial... nor should it be given willy-nilly treatment in marketing claims. Obviously from reading the other posts here, it can be a negative experience getting a tint other than what one was paying (a good amount) for, especially when it's a "specialized" version of an already high-end item.

It is immaterial because there is no standard for what is considered warm and what is neutral. To me 3700K IS neutral. To somebody else its warm. They provide the color temperature in their specifications. What more can you want? (Well I'd like the actual tint bin, but I trust ZL when it come to emitter selection)

I

brjones
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What more could I want, you ask?

- A company not invoking both terms "warm" and "neutral" to describe a single product. As stated, it's confusing, ambiguous, and misleading. They could at least pick one wisely and stay with it. I'm sure you could agree with this, at least in principle. All they need to do is assemble their words better. Costs nothing. You know what I think? They can't make up their minds on it themselves. Which breaks my next two wish-list rules:

- If called neutral, should not look either cold or warm compared to high daylight, because it's neutral. This is probably the tallest order. But... as a rule, the light should look "white". If it looks anything other than "white", it's NOT neutral. Yes, some cool can look pure white. That's a good thing too. I'm saying "at minimum", neutral--by definition--should not have a recognizable hue, especially when the eyes are adjusted to regular daylight color. I haven't seen this in practice, but it sounds like others have.

- If called warm, should truly emulate the positive aspects of incandescent light tint. In other words, no orangey "jack o' lantern" effect. I'm not convinced this can be done, but I'm not convinced it can't. I haven't seen this in practice either. Just a bad attempt at it.

- Consistency in the above (end of tint lotteries and off-spec emitters--especially big batches of them which the mfr must know about, yet sends out anyway).

 

Tooo much to ask in a $60-ish flashlight??

 

Yes, indeed it's nice they provide a color temperature, but as the link to the screenshots shows, what they claim isn't necessarily what you may get. There is a range, and some will be surprised (i.e. at least slightly disappointed) at what they're calling neutral. Synchronistically, this thread showed up on BLF today:

http://budgetlightforum.cz.cc/node/987

 

The reviewer is trying to make the most of it, but was surprised at what they were calling neutral too. Also exemplifying my point, posters in the thread separately use the terms warm and neutral to describe the same thing, as if they're the same thing, and the ambiguity is never called to attention. This is a direct result of Zebralight marketing, and exemplifies my point perfectly. The thread starts off entitled "New warm zebralights". Then a reviewer comes in four months later and is calling the same item "neutral". And both are correct, going off ZL's info. Then the reviewer comments about his surprise at how "warm" and "yellow" they are (I guess at least it's not orange), then in true CPF fashion, actually mocks himself and implies he's stupid for being taken aback at how warm it looked when he got it. He should've trusted himself and had the self-confidence to speak his feelings without as much reservation. Because I know how he feels. He then carries on through the review obediently calling them 'neutral' nevertheless. This was exactly what I was talking about last night, almost prophetically. This is going to happen over and over again. It's not the fault of the consumer, and it's entirely preventable, just by the words ZL chooses.

 

You said there's no standard for warm vs neutral, but actually there is. That doesn't necessarily make the standard accurate, but Cree has a general 3-level division (I think I saw the chart on Cutter). And, on paper, ZL's "w" models (supposedly 4200K) are actually in what Cree would call Neutral territory, but on the 'warm side of neutral', lol, which is a contradiction in terms, hence my own disagreement with the standard--yet it's a standard nonetheless, which was my point. To me neutral, is a very specific thing (neither warm nor cool). And regardless of perception, it doesn't negate my 'wish list' you rhetorically requested.

 

It's easy to say that what one considers warm, another considers neutral. I know what you mean. But I think it's letting ZL off easy. That's like saying there's no standard for what a well-written song is. Maybe true. Then again, most "music" people can agree on whether a particular song is well-written or not, EVEN if they don't personally like the song. I don't "like" the song "sweet child o' mine" by Guns 'N' Roses... but I know it is a fabulous song, and also perfectly produced (a separate matter)--regardless my TASTES. There IS such a thing as warm and neutral, even if there's no line in the sand, regardless tastes being different.

 

Regardless the naming convention, don't the beamshots appearing for this thing look kind of orangey? It seems that evidence is already supporting that those seeking Neutral run a higher risk of being disappointed or at least nonplussed. The ambiguity could be resolved by asserting the existing w's as Warm, and introducing a 5000-5500K version and calling it the "H51n" (wait, isn't that a virus?). But that's not likely to happen, unfortunately.

- Circumcision, regardless gender, by definition causes sensation loss, and thereby usually causes difficulty later in life. Oppose amputation of children's genitals. ALL children. http://tinyurl.com/haszs6o

srfreddy
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brjones wrote:

What more could I want, you ask?

- A company not invoking both terms "warm" and "neutral" to describe a single product. As stated, it's confusing, ambiguous, and misleading. They could at least pick one wisely and stay with it. I'm sure you could agree with this, at least in principle. All they need to do is assemble their words better. Costs nothing. You know what I think? They can't make up their minds on it themselves. Which breaks my next two wish-list rules:

- If called neutral, should not look either cold or warm compared to high daylight, because it's neutral. This is probably the tallest order. But... as a rule, the light should look "white". If it looks anything other than "white", it's NOT neutral. Yes, some cool can look pure white. That's a good thing too. I'm saying "at minimum", neutral--by definition--should not have a recognizable hue, especially when the eyes are adjusted to regular daylight color. I haven't seen this in practice, but it sounds like others have.

- If called warm, should truly emulate the positive aspects of incandescent light tint. In other words, no orangey "jack o' lantern" effect. I'm not convinced this can be done, but I'm not convinced it can't. I haven't seen this in practice either. Just a bad attempt at it.

- Consistency in the above (end of tint lotteries and off-spec emitters--especially big batches of them which the mfr must know about, yet sends out anyway).

 

Tooo much to ask in a $60-ish flashlight??

 

Yes, indeed it's nice they provide a color temperature, but as the link to the screenshots shows, what they claim isn't necessarily what you may get. There is a range, and some will be surprised (i.e. at least slightly disappointed) at what they're calling neutral. Synchronistically, this thread showed up on BLF today:

http://budgetlightforum.cz.cc/node/987

 

The reviewer is trying to make the most of it, but was surprised at what they were calling neutral too. Also exemplifying my point, posters in the thread separately use the terms warm and neutral to describe the same thing, as if they're the same thing, and the ambiguity is never called to attention. This is a direct result of Zebralight marketing, and exemplifies my point perfectly. The thread starts off entitled "New warm zebralights". Then a reviewer comes in four months later and is calling the same item "neutral". And both are correct, going off ZL's info. Then the reviewer comments about his surprise at how "warm" and "yellow" they are (I guess at least it's not orange), then in true CPF fashion, actually mocks himself and implies he's stupid for being taken aback at how warm it looked when he got it. He should've trusted himself and had the self-confidence to speak his feelings without as much reservation. Because I know how he feels. He then carries on through the review obediently calling them 'neutral' nevertheless. This was exactly what I was talking about last night, almost prophetically. This is going to happen over and over again. It's not the fault of the consumer, and it's entirely preventable, just by the words ZL chooses.

 

You said there's no standard for warm vs neutral, but actually there is. That doesn't necessarily make the standard accurate, but Cree has a general 3-level division (I think I saw the chart on Cutter). And, on paper, ZL's "w" models (supposedly 4200K) are actually in what Cree would call Neutral territory, but on the 'warm side of neutral', lol, which is a contradiction in terms, hence my own disagreement with the standard--yet it's a standard nonetheless, which was my point. To me neutral, is a very specific thing (neither warm nor cool). And regardless of perception, it doesn't negate my 'wish list' you rhetorically requested.

 

It's easy to say that what one considers warm, another considers neutral. I know what you mean. But I think it's letting ZL off easy. That's like saying there's no standard for what a well-written song is. Maybe true. Then again, most "music" people can agree on whether a particular song is well-written or not, EVEN if they don't personally like the song. I don't "like" the song "sweet child o' mine" by Guns 'N' Roses... but I know it is a fabulous song, and also perfectly produced (a separate matter)--regardless my TASTES. There IS such a thing as warm and neutral, even if there's no line in the sand, regardless tastes being different.

 

Regardless the naming convention, don't the beamshots appearing for this thing look kind of orangey? It seems that evidence is already supporting that those seeking Neutral run a higher risk of being disappointed or at least nonplussed. The ambiguity could be resolved by asserting the existing w's as Warm, and introducing a 5000-5500K version and calling it the "H51n" (wait, isn't that a virus?). But that's not likely to happen, unfortunately.

 

Impossibles. Your eyes adjust to color temperature, and you really don't notice. There's no such thing as "daylight" color temperature, it varys greatly. Zebralight is "required" to call them neutral, as cree's guidelines are ANSI, and zebralight is also known for trying quite hard to get nice tint bins, unlike other companies *cough* 4sevens *cough*.