Review: Saintfire K25

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Lensman
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Review: Saintfire K25

...And as promised I'll share my opinions with you. This is the first review I've tried to write; also my first LED torch. And first didge camera and computer. Sorry for the disclaimers but it's important that you know to keep expectations on firefly mode. Here goes..

This is it http://www.manafont.com/product_info.php/saintfire-k25-xre-5mode-memory-led-flashlight-set-1aa2aa-p-7297, and Saintfires own site http://www.saintfire.com/. I've no testing/measuring equipment, and wouldn't know how to use it, so for most tech details I suggest you check the links; as far as I can judge the info seems accurate, though I strongly suspect that the claimed 230 L output is (very) optimistic. That said, I've been playing with testing the K25 with ordinary Duracells and there is the option to run it on 14500's if you change the "PCB"(huh? explanation welcomed); you guys would know far better than I if this would make any significant difference or not.

1) Delivery/ Box Contents/1st Impressions Etc.

From Add To Cart to Sign Here took six working days. No probs of any kind. Impressive; thanks Mana. The box itself is thick cardboard with a lift up lid and a magnetized front flap. Not as fancy as it sounds, but adequate for storage/delivery. You get a spare rubber switch cap (orange again), two O rings, a holster and lanyard. I have average hands for a bloke, and the lanyard is just the right size to slip on but not accidentally off again, but really big guy might find it constrictive. The holster is un-padded and single stitched but it seems adequate. Again it's an excellent fit for the torch, with three ways of attaching it to yourself; seems like design trumps build quality here, but it would do for me (if I ever use it). Note that no pocket clip is included, or operation manual, though the UI is simplicity itself Hope this image works

2) Build Quality/Handling

Initial disappointment is the wobbly tailstand. The switch cover protrudes by less than a mm, but it's enough to matter. Might be moddable; advice welcomed. Tailstand

Build quality feels commendably solid, more so than either the Mini Mag or the Ultrafire 501A host that I bought by mistake, thinking it was a complete torch! There is a very slight, brief battery rattle if you waggle the torch vigorously, or rap it against your palm, but not significant. Threads are square (I think) and all lubed; they screw together very nicely and you'd have to work hard to cross them.Threads

The head section threads are the only ones not anodized. One concern is that the four tube sections don't screw tightly together, leaving shallow grooves. This seems a deliberate design, but I can't help wondering what effect these gaps - about 1mm deep and wide, the photo is a bit deceptive - will have on waterproofing. And dirt collecting..

Card

Despite the barrel ribbing, lack of knurling does make the torch a bit harder to grip than it might be. I find the "cigar grip" the most intuitive hold with this light. Anti roll collar and crenellated bezel are both discreet rather than aggressively functional. The bezel is just about right for an EDC, the anti roll could perhaps do with being a bit more effective, but it's a lot better than nothing.

3) Modes/UI

As per the spec, this is a 5 mode light. Low(10L) Medium(80L)High(230L) plus strobe and SOS. The output figures are the company's, and I suspect that 230L on max is (very) optimistic. Although to be fair, Ive been running the K25 on ordinary Duracells, and there is the option to use 14500's instead. But the brightness levels are certainly well spaced,. Measured from 1 meter away with a sekonic lightmeter, each level is almost exactly two stops brighter than the one before. With the meter set to ISO 200 and a shutter speed of 1/60th sec , low mode gives a reading of F1.4, mid = F2.8, and high reads F5.6. Sorry guys, I've no clue what this might be in lumens or lux whatsits, but maybe someone can translate.

The switch is a reverse clicky, so there no momentary on. Or off, come to that. A soft press of 2 secs or under takes you instantly to the next mode; longer than 2 secs takes you straight back to low mode. If you're already in low mode to start with, the longer press takes you back to it without going anywhere else, so I guess low mode is the only one where you can have a momentary off.

Is this the driver?

Other end

I have to say that cycling through the modes is effortless and instant. The switch is a bit sensitive and ocassionally I did it by accident, but it only takes a second to go all through and back to where you were. In this way you blinky haters can bypass strobe/SOS mode by simply not staying long enough to let it come on.

There appears to be no programmable memory. There was no manual, so I may have missed a trick here, but it seems that with the K25 you get what you're given. And whatever mode you click off from, it always switches back on in low mode. Takes less than a second to step up to max, but some of you may find this irritating.

4)Light output/Beams/Runtimes

The brightness impressed me immediately, but then I'm used to a Mini Maglite which sets a very low bar in this respect. What surprised me though, was the wide and very useful spill from such a small head, especially as the reflector is so comparitively deep, and appears smooth.

Head

LED

I haven't tested run times, but I can say that so far I've had iit on full output for about 45 minutes, mid and low a bit less, and so far there are no signs of diminished output. I'll keep you posted on this.

This is the bit I've been dreading. For a photographer (albeit film only) these attempts at beam shots are embarassing, but hopefully better than nothing. All exposures were on ISO 200 for half a second at F3.3. They are the K25 on low, mid, high, followed by the Mini Maglite on tightest focus. The door is 4 meters from the lens.

K25 on low

K25 on mid

 

This gap here is an accident. As I've written all this, I have several times lost pictures and chunks of text by trying to make this look as professional as possible. I'm not gonna chance it again, so I'll fill the space here with this meaningless drivel.  I lost half the review when I tried to preview it, so this time I'll just post, typos, ommisions and all. Hope y'all don't mind too much... Next shot is high mode.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High

 

Mini Mag

 

I told you I like the candle mode. This is with the snoot fitted, bought from Mana at the same time. It's not dedicated to this flashlight, and I had to sand a mm from the inside. 2 min job.

With diffuser cap

 

And here without the diffuser. I confess both shots were deliberately over exposed by a stop because this shows much more accurately what the eye sees at the time.

Tailstand

 

 

And here at 1/25 sec with the K25 on med. Had to speed the exposure to avoid whiteout

Mag VS K25 on med

K25 on high from 12th floor window. Too much light pollution/competition really.

From 12th floor on high

You can just make it out, on the roof structure on the low rise block opposite. Target is about forty meters away from flashlight. Not as impressive as I would have hoped. In the shot below, the target area is a bit further, maybe sixty meters.

Cemetary

Sorry for the poor quality, my camera is pure auto focus and it couldn't see. In the shot below, the two trees are 71/2 and 15 meters away respectively

Tree

And the obligatory white wall(actually ceiling) shots to try to show beam pattern. The ceiling is about 2.2 meters, or 7 feet, from the lens. Here on high mode

White ceiling

...and below on low mode

Low mode ceiling

Below with the Mini Mag and the Ultrafire 501A. I had a shot of the K25 in single AA format but couldn't get it downsized/transferred to Photbucket/uploaded here. Lost in translation.

With others

And finally in 1 AA mode

In K10 mode

 

5)Summing up

Well, I've certainly learned a bit, not least a real appreciation of all those who regularly write fuller - and better! - reviews than this one; these things take work, man! Hats off to you guys. And from now on,I'll treat company beam shots with healthy scepticism. Even without digital assistance, a generous dollop of over exposure can make a single AAA Mag Solitaire look like a TK41 (well, nearly). Also, sadly, I discovered how quickly the novelty of a bright new LED wears off leaving you hungry for more Lumens. But I'm NOT a flashaholic. Honestly. It's ok, I can handle it...Although that Ultrafire 502b XML T6 looks nice. 900 lumens! And it's only £18...

For a first LED light, I'm quite pleased overall. Things I like are (1) Solid build (2) Instant mode change response from soft press (3) Well spaced outputs (4) Splittable into single AA light.

I'm not so keen on (1) Wobbly tailstand (2) Tube sections don't screw tight against each other (3) No momentary off in any mode other than low.

Other points which might be significant for some (1) No programmable memory (2) No body knurling except a the tail cap, and that's pretty subtle (3) Anti roll collar works, but not brilliant (4) Top section won't unscrew - no access to LED or reflector. (5) Tailswitch would be very difficult with thick gloves (6) SOS cycle too slow

I realize that this is a far from expert review. I could have waited until I was more knowledgeable to post it, but I know a few members are interested in this light so I thought better to do it now and hope it helps. I'll watch this thread as closely as time permits over the next few days so if you want to ask me anything I'll do my best, just don't be offended if I don't get back to you straightaway as I'm mega busy at the moment and can't stay glued to the PC. Good night for now.

 

Edited by: sb56637 on 09/02/2017 - 11:43
Tas62
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Plenty of useful information......and great pics.(Even shows what the manufacturer describes as 'Micro textured reflector').

On the 'wobbly tailstand' I've seen some users solve this by paring off some of the nib on the underside of the switch cap.

jacktheclipper
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Thanks for the review .

What I do

 

spottie
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thanks Lensman

jekostas
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That's actually a pretty nice looking package, all told.  What's the anodizing like?  Thick, thin, even, bare spots, etc.?

SashiX
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Amazing review, Lensman Wink Very good description and HQ pics. Good job.

Lensman
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As a noob, it felt a bit presumptious to attempt a review so I appreciate the feedback.

@ Jekostas:

I'm afraid anodizing is yet another area where I've a lot to learn, but as far as I'm able to judge I would say that on the K25 it seems thin but very even. There are no hints (yet) of anything like bald spots, or patchiness, and I would have to say that the soft sheen finish appears very uniform. VERY close scrutiny under good light shows just a couple of almost microscopically tiny glints of silver showing through on the sharpest outside corners of the bezel crenellations. I guess that's how it starts, but at the moment you really have to squint to see them.

Davx
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Good review. The beamshot are really useful to understand the real "power" of this flashlight.

"There are always new jobs, women, and apartments......there is only ONE BLF." - Chicago X (27/03/2012)

keltex78
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Nice review! Just one question though... How does brightness on 1x AA compare to 2xAA? Also, regarding the 14500 use, I would think you could get away with using a single 14500 cell only; any comments from anyone else about that? That's how my Ultrafire C3 works; I have a choice of 1x AA, 2xAA, or 1x 14500 (my favorite configuration). Less runtime but the smaller package and brighter light than 1x AA. Of course, I deny any responsibility if you put a 14500 in the light and fry the driver! Sealed

 

 


Keepin’ the “B” in BLF

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It sounds like the XM LEDs won’t really be suitable for flashlight use. Pity…

VFMaddict
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The Saintfire site says 14500 only after a driver change.  So I would not risk even 1*14500 in this light.

Nice review.

As I've said before Lensman flashaholism is easy to catch.....Smile    If the bug has bitten then the cheapest next step is a Sipik SK68 clone as you will not need to buy lithium's or a charger.   The SK68 runs on 1*AA and I can vouch that this site has the clones with the decent solid pill.

"You are making progress if each mistake you make is a new one."

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Lensman
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@ keltex78:

Good Q, thanks for reminding me. The short answer is that single AA configuration compares very well with 2 X AA, if a little strangely. I actually wrote it up in the original review, but it was one of the chunks that went missing. Can't find the notes now, so I'll re-measure and post results later this evening. Stay tuned..

Lensman
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Ok, I've re-taken the light readings with the K25 in single and double AA form, using brand new batteries, and also the part used pair which were fresh when I first loaded them but which have now been used to generate about 45 minutes of full power output and about half that on mid and low modes combined, so there are four sets of readings: (1) in single AA mode with a part used battery, (2) single AA brand new battery, (3) 2 X AA part used, and (4) 2 X AA brand new. Out of curiosity I also took a reading from the Mini Maglite on tight focus with fresh batteries for comparison. All readings were taken with the Sekonic lightmeter's invercone pointed directly into the brightest part of the beam and held 1 meter from the torch lens. All readings were taken with the meter set to 1/60th second at ISO 200, the batteries are ordinary Duracells.

Hmm. In reply to keltex78's question above I said that the results are a bit strange. Well... With the readings I quoted in the main review I said that there were very close to exactly two "stops" difference in output between the three modes, which means that mid and high were outputting roughly four times the brightness as the mode below. With the meter settings the same as for this test, I quoted low mode at F1.4, mid at F2.8 and high at F5.6 but, either I made an error before, or mid output has changed, as it's now showing a reading of F4, which is three stops brighter than low mode, not two stops, and only one stop lower than high mode output. I checked several times; during this test, mid mode reading of F4 was consistant with either one or two AA's, part used or brand new. Anyway, these are the results in full.

1) In 1 X AA mode, part used battery: Low = F1.4, Mid = F4, High = F4.8 (i.e. F4 1/2).

2) 1 X AA, fresh: Low = F1.4, Mid = F4, High = F5.6

3) With 2 X AA, part used: Low = F1.4, Mid = F4, High = F5.6

4) 2 X AA fresh: Low = F1.4, Mid = F4, High = F5.6 1/2

The Mini Mag measured F2 1/2. Sorry if all the F stop stuff is confusing or not what you're used to; it's the only way I have to measure the output. But, as the readings are all relative to each other, the above figures show that basically the torch has almost identical outputs in both its 1 X and 2 X AA configuration. The only mode to show a difference is high, which is actually almost impossible for me to detect with my eyes. Quite impressive.

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I've read it a couple of times now and its well written and full of the info I like.

And i seriously consider getting this light as a gift for family and friends since the 1 AA/2AA is just perfect for non flashaholics. And it seems it has a very good driver since the output is so similar in either 1 or 2 AA mode and I like that since sometimes runtime is just what it is about.

Thank you Smile

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Lensman
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Thank you Ledsmoke, very glad to be of help. I think you've nailed it, actually; this torch might not offer much to excite flashaholics but it's ideal for family/friends/edc. Seems very well made and reliable, as soon as you handle it you can tell it's an obvious step-up in overall quality from so many of the budget offerings. So far the HA finish remains unblemished.

I find the splittable battery tube extremely useful and I use it quite a bit in single AA mode; it's probably the closest I have to an EDC. About 1cm longer than a Sipik 68, a bit slimmer, and nicer to handle. It easily lays sideways at the bottom of an "outdoor" type shirt pocket. And of course it will seem VERY bright to people outside of the flashlight fraternity Wink.

I mentioned the "nit-picks" in the review. Only thing I might add now a few months down the line is that the strobe is a bit too fast, especially for use as a bike light (although people will certainly see you coming!) and SOS mode is ridiculously slow; nearly 25 seconds to go through one S-O-S cycle!  

If I ever put the K25's waterproofing to the test it will be by accident; hasn't happened yet, not sure how well it would survive a dunking, or a drop from height onto a hard surface. Build quality suggests it might well be ok. 

Naturally I can't speak for long term reliability or QC variations, but up til now my sample has been excellent. The price is higher than many of the BLF favourites but, so far at least, it seems worth the extra. I feel the K25 is not so much an expensive budget light, but rather a bargain priced quality item. I'd be very interested to read an expert head to head comparison with a Fenix or 4Sevens equivalent.

Overall I honestly recommend this light. There are very few mentions of it here at BLF, I haven't even heard of anyone else buying one. If you go ahead with it I'd appreciate hearing your opinions. Good luck.

 

JohnnyMac
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Nice review! Great first attempt. Cool

kreisler
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saintfire. never heard of it before.

Great review, thanks!!

*FMI* i got 4 i/o sh
esrevenge
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Thanks for the great in-depth review, very well written and informative.  Looks like a great light from your pics and write-up.