Mini Review: SupFire F3-L2 Zoomable

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Tom E
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Mini Review: SupFire F3-L2 Zoomable

This is a quick mini review. I bought this light for the listed price from farfarled (BLF username) who has a store on DHGate, product listing here:

      dhgate.com SupFire F3-L2

Features:

  • XM-L2 emitter (probably T6 1A)
  • plastic aspheric lens
  • nice SupFire quality, similar style as the M6, L6, SupFire C8, etc.
  • excellent tail-stander
  • wide flood (only stock zoom light I have that beats it is the T6-875)
  • comes with a typical triple AAA carrier
  • typical 5 modes, no memory, but reset to 1st mode (high) in about 3 secs
  • nice size pill - solid pill top, but machined out to fit a 16mm MCPCB

 

Shown here with am assortment of zoomies:

Here it is with a SK98 clone and a Sipik SK73 original:

The F3's head is larger but so is the lens:

The F3 on the left, and SK73 on the right:

The SK73 on left, F3 middle, and the 875 on the right. The SK73 has a DD stock driver, so it cranks output and heat (does 3.75A tail). The 875 is modded with a U2 2C, 3.5 amps - it also is the widest flood light I have. The F3 does well against it, pretty much equal to a Poppas 26650 zoomie (sold under many generic names):

The pill:

View of the inset MCPCB:

The driver. This is the style where you can easily bypass the current limiting resistors by moving the + LED wire to the pad on the left that is before the resistor bank Simple way to boost the amps. Mine went up from 1.52A to 2.2 or 2.5A on a better cell, keeping the stock wires. A very simple amp boost mod!! -->

Tailcap parts. Typical for zoomies - this the type of switch that makes contact with the housing by a tab. I'd rather have a more reliable PCB mounted switch - easier to replace with an Omten, better contact, more reliable:

 

I took measurements on the stock light, but had some inconsistencies. I'm not sure if it's the switch, driver or something else. My first guess was the switch, replaced it, and still has the inconsistent readings. Tailcap amps is about 1.9A, OTF lumens is roughly 350-425, and throw about 10-14 kcd. I can't say for certain that it's just my specific unit or common to this design.

Currently this light is $12 shipped to the US, and the listing says this reduced price is good for only 3 days. The quality for this price is excellent, so for me, it's worthwhile keeping and improving. It sure would be nice to know if any other F3's exhibit this problem, but I only notice it in the lightbox. It doesn't flicker, but usually when first turned on, it does well, maybe about 425 lumens, then switching modes and returning back to hi, it does lower output. Sometimes cycling it goes back to the hi-hi, or somewhere in-between. At least there is no flickering, so most users would probably not notice it, but sure bugs me.

Overall I'd recommend it - excellent value, and looks easy to crank up the amps by moving the LED wire. The zoom works by sliding the head in-out, and works very smoothly, not too loose, with an o-ring on the pill, and one other lower down. With the head pulled out, it focuses well - you can see the dots on the XM-L2 dye clearly.

Update 07/31/2014:

 Certain I found the cause of the lower output - it is the switch. Stupid me - easy to isolate it by jumpering the battery  with the light in the lightbox. When jumpered, it measured consistently higher, about 100 lumens higher. I have an Omten in the same form factor (from FT), but it's not exactly the same fit - Omten is slightly larger, so, I'm trying to dremel and cut the plastic retainer to fit the new switch - out of time right now, will try again this eve.

Update 08/01/2014:

Ok - got some more modding done, keeping the stock driver. I tried moving the + LED wire before the resistor bank and after upgrading to 22 AWG wires, and amps went way up, getting close to 4A, but in further testing, it would only work in hi mode after it heated up, then cools down - back to normal modes. So stock driver has 8 2R2's (2.2 ohms), I removed 4, and added two R220's (0.22 ohms). Now I'm getting 3.35A or so on a Efest 35A or LG HE2. Less output, but still has the loss of modes problem Frown. So decided to go with a Samsung 28A cell (4.35v type), and with this cell it does 3.0A. Oops - testing while I write this and it still locks up in hi on the Samsung, just takes a little longer. Here, as it is, is the details of the mod:

  • XM-L2 T6 4D (from FT) on a 16mm Noctigon
  • GC Extreme thermal grease, sanded pill top smooth, sanded down the Noctigon to reduce thickness to try to get better focus (stock MCPCB is 1.0 mm thin)
  • 22 AWG LED wires
  • resistor mods as described as above: removed two 2.2 Ohm, added two 0.22 Ohm resistors
  • 22 AWG wires on both springs
  • replaced defective switch with a Omten (needed minor dremeling to fit it
  • NO-OX-ID applied on contact areas and pill thread
  • Nyogel on tail threads and O-rings for the zoom slider

These are numbers using an Efest 35A cell:

 

Mode

Amps

Lumens

Throw (zoomed)

Hi

3.35A

850-792

28 kcd

Med

1.62A

476-466

 

Lo

0.79A

241

 

 

 

 

 I'm really liking the neutral tints in zoomies. The flood and zoom-in modes are so much nicer - eliminates the blues Smile. The mode spacing is not so great, for me. This is like 100%-50%-25%, but I'd prefer 100%-30%-5%, or a lower scale of 100%-25%-2%.

 

Edited by: Tom E on 08/01/2014 - 21:00
light junkie
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Great Tome E now I don’t know which zoomie I am going to get I can only afford one, and I don’t know if I should go with Dealmetic s new light of the supfire? Choices, choices Thanks for the heads up on a quality zoomie

Lj

tristanxoxo
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Hi Tom, thanks for the review! Looks like a really nice cheap zoomie. I wish it had a clip though.

How does the size of the flood of the SK73 compare to the SK98 clone?

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Thanks for going to the effort Tom E.

 

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

                      "My man mousehole needs one too"

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.

 

Tom E
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tristanxoxo wrote:
Hi Tom, thanks for the review! Looks like a really nice cheap zoomie. I wish it had a clip though. How does the size of the flood of the SK73 compare to the SK98 clone?

The SK98 has a slightly larger flood area. I can fit the SK73's flood inside the SK98's. The SK98 always did have a nice wide flood, but the F3's is slightly larger, and the 875 larger still.

ImA4Wheelr
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Nice review and photos.  Looks like a decent value for the price.  Thanks Tom E.

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Thank you for the review. Such a shame there is no clip. That is a dealbreaker for me. I loove zoomies though and always welcome another review of them. (I cannot count how many sk68 reviews I have read LOL )

Love the quality though. Love it!

~ Ledsmoke ~

Dutch humor:

[quote=djozz]

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Tom E
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Added more info to OP. Driver is 22mm. Will add lens measurements. Based on the shape, looks like you can add a clip with a little work. Not sure of clearance - where to mount.

Tom E
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Okay - finally got the flaky loss of output fixed, corrected, gone!! The replacement Omten switch fixed the problem. This is the Omten switch that fixed it:

https://www.fasttech.com/products/1203605

Since that was my last, I'm ordering 2 packs of two more. SmileSmile Just hope FT doesn't pull a fast one and now ships a cheaper clone (no, they wouldn't do that).

Now it's doing 411 lumens OTF on high, 228 on med, 112 on low -- all tested in full flood mode. You may not think 411 lumens is so good, but, it's at only 1.52A, it is an XM-L2 probably T6 on aluminum, and it is a zoomie -- zoomies are notorious for high % loss's even on their best position of full flood.

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thanks for the review. so once modded, would it be brighter than your t6-875?

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blueb8llz wrote:
thanks for the review. so once modded, would it be brighter than your t6-875?

All depends - hard to compare unless they have the same exact mod done, and I rarely do that Smile. I don't see any reason they would differ significantly, in this case, it would come down to the aspheric optics, and they look about the same width. The 875 is a 20mm driver while this one is 22 mm, so the pill is wider. For the 875, for heat sinking I used 2 pennies - fit them well - perfect in diameter. This F3 has a pretty nice thick pill top and pennies are too small for it. Ideally, I would want to add some copper, screw down the MCPCB like I did on the 875, and use a 22 mm driver, or piggyback a 17 on it. I did move the stock LED + wire and upgraded the wires to 22 AWG and amps went up close to 4A on an Efest 35A cell, but I lost mode changing after a minute or two, as it heated up. Also, I upgraded to a XM-L2 T6 4D (from FT) - like the tint better than the 875.

I'm really not liking the mode spacing - way too close, the medium is over 50% and the low is probably ~30%, so I'd much prefer replacing the driver for my own use. I try to mod/post about the stock driver as much as possible to save others the cost/time/work, but this driver for me, has got to go.

Tom E
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OP updated with mod details. This the latest mod "for now". I'd prefer a custom driver, but keeping the amps somewhat in control at 3.2-3.5A or so.

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ttp://slickdeals.net/f/7713635-supfire-f3-l2-cree-xm-l2-5-mode-led-flas…

https://www.myled.com/p9098-led-flashlight-cree-l2-1100lm-5-mode-white-l
Use the code “15SD32” for discount.
Just tried the code and it currently works.
I bought two of these so far, no regrets.

EDIT
Just ordered (March 14th) another 6 Supfire F2 L2, total was $36 Smile

Fritz t. Cat
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Mine arrived today, from the BLF Deal Alert Thread. It is indeed a very nice medium sized 18650/3xAA zoomy. It’s bigger than the SK-73 or ZeusRay: thicker battery tube, wider head and lens and longer. Nice knurling. The head slides on two o-rings. Solid pill. Even thermal compound under the star, but it wasn’t spread out, probably because there were chunks of shavings all over the pill, probably including behind the star. I fixed that and switched positive driver outputs. It is most similar to a Smiling Shark SS-100 and others of that style, or even the CNQ Zoomy Host with Ahorton lens, with build quality in between those two. The focal length of the lens is also intermediate between those two.
I payed $6.90 and it lists on MyLED for $10.08, which is still a good deal.

Flashlight designers should look at lighthouses and pottery.
这些谁设计的手电筒应该看灯塔,以及在陶器。

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Mine arrived today also and am quiet impressed at the quality for such a cheap light.
I would like to swap the + wire on the driver but I want to make sure I understand correctly where it goes. Does it go just to the left of that square thing with the 8 legs?

Fritz t. Cat
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Yes. That looks the same as what I just did. The spider is the control unit. I unsoldered the red LED+ wire from the top left and soldered it to the pad to the left, in the picture, of the 8 legged IC. First, I checked that my cheap multimeter reads only around 0.2 Ohms between these two points.

Flashlight designers should look at lighthouses and pottery.
这些谁设计的手电筒应该看灯塔,以及在陶器。

Beachlogger
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Fritz t. Cat wrote:
Yes. That looks the same as what I just did. The spider is the control unit. I unsoldered the red LED+ wire from the top left and soldered it to the pad to the left, in the picture, of the 8 legged IC. First, I checked that my cheap multimeter reads only around 0.2 Ohms between these two points.

Ok, thanks

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I am a little confused and a newbie, is just moving the wire good enough as a simple mod?

Will the lights modes not work after the mod, or only if also upgrading the wire? Not sure what to make of these 2 statements.

“This is the style where you can easily bypass the current limiting resistors by moving the + LED wire to the pad on the left that is before the resistor bank Simple way to boost the amps. Mine went up from 1.52A to 2.2 or 2.5A on a better cell, keeping the stock wires. A very simple amp boost mod!! —>”

“Ok – got some more modding done, keeping the stock driver. I tried moving the + LED wire before the resistor bank and after upgrading to 22 AWG wires, and amps went way up, getting close to 4A, but in further testing, it would only work in hi mode after it heated up, then cools down – back to normal modes. “

Beachlogger
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Welcome, I can only answer the first part, moving the wire was good enough for me, made a big difference, the modes are still in tact after the wire move. The light is just as bright as the zeusray now, just wish I would have bought a few more.

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arcsum68 wrote:
... I tried moving the + LED wire before the resistor bank and after upgrading to 22 AWG wires, and amps went way up, getting close to 4A, but in further testing, it would only work in hi mode after it heated up, then cools down - back to normal modes. "

I saw the same problem - mentioned it in the 8/01 section in the OP... Frown

arcsum68
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Thanks guys, I bought 2 recently and wish I had a few more for that price. Now all my previous flashlights seem like the batteries are dead, and of course I want more.

My buddy has a Streamlight TLR-1 HL that is rated at 630 lumens that blew me away camping.

How close am I with this one realistically (stock and moving the wire)?

What should I buy next that would be equal to or more than the Streamlight?

The Zues looks pretty good and I have more than enough batteries after learning that I could raid laptop battery packs. Too many actually as I have another 4 battery packs waiting for me to harvest. Already have 12 Panasonic cells and 4 others in a clearish red wrap. Everything so far has been a protected cell.

arcsum68
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I am not even sure why I am so interested in this, its kinda blowing me away. I suppose this is normal? Cash

Tom E
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oh boy - 630 is rather pathetic Smile. One of my ZeusRay's is like 1,400 lumens. 800-1000 for stock lights is getting more common, but that's with the more pricey brands. I got 18650 EDC lights doing 800-1200 lumens though - pretty common. Actually my modded MXDL 16340 light (~$5) does bout 900 lumens in a neutral tint Smile.

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arcsum68 wrote:

What should I buy next that would be equal to or more than the Streamlight?

To use as is, I like the Sipik SK-73.
To modify, I like the CNQ Zoomy Host, http://www.cnqualitygoods.com/goods.php?id=1957 with Ahorton lens http://www.illumn.com/ahorton-27-2mm-aspheric-glass-lens.html , XM-L2, and Qlite driver. It takes some work to make the bezel ring fit the lens, but without it, it has no more useful aperture than the SK-73 does. Best built zoomy I have, either way.

Flashlight designers should look at lighthouses and pottery.
这些谁设计的手电筒应该看灯塔,以及在陶器。

n10sivern
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I’m almost tempted to modify one of my 3 F3’s to a 22mm FET. I’d probably solder the LED to a noctigon, change out the switch, but keep the wires smaller for a little resistance. Should be a LED blower/hand warmer.

Three tomatoes are walking down the street- a poppa tomato, a momma tomato, and a little baby tomato. Baby tomato starts lagging behind. Poppa tomato gets angry, goes over to the baby tomato, and smooches him… and says, Catch up.

arcsum68
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Happy Easter.

The Sipik is rated at 450 lumens per the website. Is that underrated, or is the Streamlight overrated? Or is it not actually brighter than the Streamlight?

Also, by moving the wire on the F3, what can I expect the lumens to be barring any mode related issues?

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Moving the wire should get performance similar to the Sipik SK-73, which has direct drive in stock form.

Flashlight designers should look at lighthouses and pottery.
这些谁设计的手电筒应该看灯塔,以及在陶器。

Tom E
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Modified this light last night with a 22mm DD + 1 7135 driver using the BLF-A6 firmware configured for the two steps on the OTC and 2 mode groups - nice! Measured an insane 6.5A at the tail on a fully charged LG HE2:

in full flood: 1,367 lumens @start,  1,200 lumens @30 secs

These #'s are somewhat low for 6.5A, but it is a 4D tint, and aspheric optics are usually higher loss's than reflectors/lens. It's still pretty awesome though, heats up pretty quick of course.

I didn't add any extra heat sinking, but did screw down the 16mm Noctigon to the pill top with brass screws.

Fritz t. Cat
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No the tail cap threads are triangular and have only moderately good fit on my example. I don’t recall where I got mine, I think it was a Deal Alert.

Flashlight designers should look at lighthouses and pottery.
这些谁设计的手电筒应该看灯塔,以及在陶器。